Musical Learning And The University
( Originally Published 1915 )
While this movement was going on in the artistic world, scholars were taking their share in it, and music was beginning to invade the University.
But the thing was brought about with some difficulty ; for among these serious people music did not count as a serious study. Music was thought of as an agreeable art, a social accomplishment, and the idea of making it the subject of scientific teaching must have been received with some amusement. Even up to the present time, general his-tories of Art have refused to accord music a place, so little was thought of it ; and other arts were indignant at being mentioned in the same breath with it. This is illustrated in the eternal dispute among M. Jourdain's masters, when the fencing-master says :
"And from this we know what great consideration is due to us in a State ; and how the science of Fencing is far above all useless sciences, such as dancing and music."
The first lectures on ;Esthetics and Musical History were not given in France until after the war of 1870. They were then given at the Conservatoire, and, until quite lately, were the only lectures on Music of any importance in Paris. Since 1878 they have been given in a very excellent way by M. Bourgault-Ducoudray ; but, as is only natural in a school of music, their character is artistic rather than scientific, and takes the form of a sort of illustration of the practical work that is done at the Conservatoire. And as for Parisian musical criticism as a whole, it had, thirty years ago, an almost exclusively literary character, and was without technical precision or historical knowledge.
There again, on the territory of science, as on that of art, a new generation of musicians had sprung up since the war, a group of men versed in the history and æsthetics of music such as France had never known before. About 1890 result of their labours began to appear. Henry Expert published his fine work, Maîtres Musiciens de la Renaissance, in which he revived a whole century of French music. Alexander Guilmant and André Pirro brought to daylight the works of our seventeenth and eighteenth century organists. Pierre Aubry studied mediæval music. The admirable publications of the Benedictines of Solesmes awoke at the Schola and in the world outside it a taste for the study of religious music. Michel Brenet attacked all epochs of musical history, and produced, by his solid learning, some fine work. Julien Tiersot began the history of French folk-song, and rescued the music of the Revolution from oblivion. The publisher Durand set to work on his great editions of Rameau and Couperin. Towards 1893 the study of Music was introduced at the Sorbonne by some young professors, who made the subject the theses for their doctor's degree.
This movement with regard to musical study grew rapidly ; and the first International Congress of Music, held in Paris at the time of the Universal Exhibition of 1900, gave historians of music an opportunity of realising their influence. In a few years, teaching about music was to be had everywhere. At first there were the free lectures of M. Lionel Dauriac and M. Georges Houdard at the Sorbonne, those of MM. Aubry, Gastoué, Pirro, and Vincent d'Indy at the Schola and the Institut Catholique ; and then, at the beginning of 1902, there was the little Faculty of Music of the École des Hautes Etudes sociales, making a centre for the efforts of French scholars of music ; and, in 1900, two official courses of lectures on Musical History and Æsthetics were given at the Collège de France and the Sorbonne.
The progress of musical criticism was just as rapid. Professors of faculties, old pupils of the École Normale Supérieure, or the École des Chartes, such as Henri Lichtenberger, Louis Laloy, and Pierre Aubrey, examined works of the past, and even of the present, by the exact methods of historical criticism. Choir-masters and organists of great erudition, such as André Pirro and Gastoué, and composers like Vincent d'Indy, Dukas, Debussy, and some others, analysed their art with the confidence that the intimate knowledge of its practice brings. A perfect efflorescence of works on music appeared, A galaxy of distinguished writers and a public were found to support two separate collections of Biographies of Musicians (which were issued at the same time by different publishers), as well as five or six good musical journals of a scientific character, some of which rivalled the best in Germany. And, finally, the French section of the Société Internationale de Musique, which was founded in 1899 in Berlin to establish communication between the scholars of all countries, found so favourable a ground with us that the number of its adherents in Paris alone is now over one hundred.