Notes de musique

This collection of musical criticisms by Ernest Reyer was published in 1875 by the booksellers and publishers, Charpentier and Co.  In its preface the composer candidly admits the reason for this publication, that “Today, more than ever, musicians have plenty of leisure time for more than music.” This disillusioned comment is perfectly justified from his personal experience. After the success of his ballet, Sacountala (1858), on a libretto of Theophile Gautier, followed by that of his comic opera, La Statue (The Statue) in 1860, which was performed sixty times before Reyer stopped its run in a fit of anger over the slovenliness with which the director, Leon Carvalho, allowed it to be performed, the composer did not see his works performed in France for almost twenty-five years. His opera Erostrate was rejected by the director of the Paris Opera, Alphonse Royer, but was performed in August 1862 for the opening of the new theater that Edouard Benazet had built at the Casino of Baden Baden. That same theater brought out Reyer’s Maitre Wofram the next year and invited him to conduct a concert in 1865. However, the Franco-Prussian war of 1870 put an end to the composer’s activities in Germany. In the aftermath of the Commune (1871), the artists of the Paris Opera, now organized as a self-governing body, put on Erostrate inexpensively and with very poor staging. The work was dropped after two performances. Reyer, who was then working on his opera Sigurd, was unable to have it accepted by the successive directors of the Paris Opera. This long dry period ended in 1884 with the very successful creation of Sigurd at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, which was followed by performances in Covent Garden, Lyon, Monte-Carlo and finally Paris in June of 1885. By publishing this collection of his writings, Reyer, who could not get his works performed, was perhaps trying to remind his colleagues of his existence, while striving to be elected at the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He had withdrawn his candidacy in 1869 in favor of that of Felicien David. In 1872, Victor Massé was chosen instead of him and so was François Bazin in 1873. He was elected in November 1876 to the seat previously occupied, first by Hector Berlioz, then by Felicien David.

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digitized editions
genreMusic CriticismArticle Collection
place of publicationParis
years of publication1875