By Joscelyn Godwin
Occultism and esotericism flourished in 19th-century France as they did nowhere else. Many philosophers sought the foremost to the universe, and a few claimed to have came upon it. within the unitive imaginative and prescient that resulted, song normally performed a big half. This account starts off with the anti-Newtonian "colour harpsichord" of Pere Castel, and closes with the disciples of Rene Guenon and their fierce anti-modernity; in among are the main figures of Fabre d'Oliver, Charles Fourier, Wronski, Lacuria, Saint-Yves d'Alveydre and their disciples. tune was once for them a mix of technological know-how and artwork that can carry perception into the cosmic order, or even into the brain of God. Theirs was once a "speculative music" within the culture of Pythagoras, Plato, Ficino, and Kepler, akin to is mostly suggestion to have died with the arriving of the Enlightenment. to the contrary, as this ebook exhibits, it flourished extra vigorously than ever. the writer provides his topics straightforwardly, explaining the various problems of their works and giving a context for his or her usually extraordinary ideals. He indicates how speculative song pertains to perform, treating specifically the circumstances of Satie and Debussy, as composers accustomed to occultism.
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Additional info for Music and the Occult: French Musical Philosophies 1750-1950 (Eastman Studies in Music, Volume 3)
Fabre d'Olivet must have had good connections both in musical and Protestant circles to have obtained this important commission. The conductor of the oratorio was Rochefort, Deputy Director of the Imperial Academy, and he brought the Academy's orchestra with him. Fabre d'Olivet and Rochefort were old associates: they had collaborated on an opera, Toulon soumis, with libretto by Fabre d'Olivet and music by Rochefort, given at the Paris Opera in 1794. 13 The great day of Fabre d'Olivet the composer came and went; but he was not the man to let it pass into oblivion.
Harmony is nothing but a garment, more or less diaphanous, more or less suitable, which one throws over a beautiful body like gauze, silk, linen or wool, allowing one to discern its forms and outlines, disguising them, or altogether suppressing them. Melody without harmony is always something; harmony without melody is nothing. The one is a lovable nymph who pleases despite her nakedness; the other, a rich drapery that can only please to the degree that it is worn with grace. 6 Fabre d'Olivet joins the theorists mentioned in the second chapter who believe that melody is much more fundamental than harmony.
Villoteau seeks to prove: . . that this art accompanied the first traditions of history, laws, sciences, arts, and in a word all the moral and physical knowledge of every ancient people. It was even the exclusive means allowed by the legislators of the greatest antiquity for transmitting this knowledge. They constantly opposed the substitution of writing for this essentially traditional art. 47 Thus music holds the place of honor in the hierarchy of civilizing functions: a place that it occupies in practically all esoteric visions of the prehistoric past.