'a harmony parallel with nature': Cezanne's music

Sunday 16 January 2011

15.00 - 17.00, the Foyer

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN

harvesters in field, some working some resting; hill in background with buildings
Paul Cézanne, The Harvest, 1877, ex. collection Emmanuel Chabrier, © Galerie Tamenaga


Emmanuel Chabrier: from Pièce Pittoresque, 1880

Claude Debussy: L’Enfant Prodigue, 1884; from Pélleas et Mélisande 1902

Musical Director / Piano: Alisdair Kitchen
Director: Joseph Timmons

Cast to include: Emilie Alford; Katy Compton; Christopher Jacklin

When Joachim Gasquet found an ‘interior music’ in Cézanne’s painting we should remember the modernist vocabulary he employs is as evocative of his cultural moment as the works he discusses are themselves. It is nevertheless illuminating to consider the frequent recourse of critics to musical analogy to account for Cézanne’s method, from Emile Bernard and Roger Fry to Meyer Schapiro. This event explores such metaphorical language through performance, animating these analogies through a fully staged production of Debussy’s Prix de Rome winning Cantata, L’Enfant Prodigue, 1884, together with a scene from his ground-breaking opera Pélleas et Mélisande (started in 1893, performed 1902). Debussy’s non-linear melodic construction and fragmentary counterpoint resonate with the innovations in Cézanne’s technique. From this perspective, we consider how archetypes of spatial painting have temporal resonance, arresting and distilling attention for longer than is expected. In complement to The Card Players exhibition, we include rural-inspired music by Cézanne’s friend and patron, Emmanuel Chabrier, whose arrangements transpose tradition into music that recognises its roots, but is itself progressive. The combination of innovative method and conservative subject is arguably mirrored in The Card Players, works recently described as ‘staged rather than observed from local life.’


Open to all, free admission but numbers are limited. Advance booking by Thursday 13 January 2011 is essential.  Please contact: ResearchForumEvents@courtauld.ac.uk

Organised by: Dr Charlotte de Mille (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

The event has been made possible by the generous support of the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange


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