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Volume 11, no. 1:

Lully Studies. Edited by John Hajdu Heyer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. [xix, 311 pp. ISBN: 0-52162183-6. 50.]

Reviewed by Rose Pruiksma*

1. Introduction

2. Genealogies and Social Networks

3. Lully’s Public Stage

4. Lully’s Afterlife and Later Influence

5. The Subtle Shapes of Lully’s Musical Architecture

6. Lully and his Literary Collaborators

7. Conclusion

References

1. Introduction

1.1 The tricentenary anniversary of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s death in 1987 renewed interest in Lully’s life and music and provided the impetus for a number of publications.1 The first book to appear, a collection of essays edited by John Hajdu Heyer (1989), celebrated the life and work of musicologist James R. Anthony (d. 2001). In his introduction to this volume, Paul Henry Lang remarks on the significant scholarly achievements evident in its essays, closing with the following statement: “[W]e can look to future scholarship in this field with confidence and large expectations.”2 In the intervening years, a new complete-works edition of Lully was begun, at least three new Lully biographies appeared in French, and two more major collections of essays were published, underscoring the vitality of the field and the wealth of sources, resources, and scholarly approaches to the material.3

1.2 The collection of articles in Lully Studies, also edited by Heyer, lives up to Lang’s expectations in every way. With an introduction authored by Anthony, this collection of eleven essays bears witness to the continued vitality of the field. Five of the contributors to this volume also contributed essays to the 1989 publication mentioned above, and all have added important pieces to our understanding of the music and culture of this period.4 The individual essays stand alone, but they also read harmoniously as a collection. From close study of documents, musical sources, literary sources, and musical analysis, the various scholarly vantage points represented here lend themselves to a variety of complementary groupings. Jérôme de La Gorce’s essay on Lully’s origins opens the book; Manuel Couvreur revisits the issue of Lully’s biography—specifically his non-noble origins—in the context of Proust’s characters and Écorcheville’s biographical work on Lully in the early twentieth century.

2. Genealogies and Social Networks

2.1 Three of the articles in this volume take genealogical sources and interconnected familial ties as their starting point. Jérôme de La Gorce definitively locates Lully’s family in Tuscany, where his father raised his social position by marrying the daughter of a miller. Employing his archival expertise, La Gorce provides a much more complete picture of the Tuscan Lulli family and their activities in Florence than had previously been available. Manuel Couvreur also treats Lully’s biography, although from a radically different angle—that of the influence of early musicological investigations into Lully on Marcel Proust’s novels. Exploring links among musicologists, composers, writers and their politics, Couvreur suggests that Proust’s fascination with names and familial connections—and particularly the ways that one might improve one’s social standing through marriage—might have been influenced by Écorcheville’s genealogical study of Lully. Patricia Ranum explores a similarly complex web of familial relationships in her article on Lully’s opera privilege and his attempts to regulate and control music in Parisian theaters. The ties of common patronage and family relationships among Perrin, Cambert, Charpentier, Guichard, and Molière that she traces present a tantalizing glimpse of life among performing artists in seventeenth-century Paris. The patronage of both the houses of Orleans and Guise, Ranum argues, was essential for the success and well-being of these individuals. Lully’s regulatory reach did not extend to the private theaters of the nobility, nor could he afford to move overtly against those supported by some of the highest-ranking nobles at court. Ranum’s work invites increased attention to patronage beyond the court of Louis XIV to enable a more richly textured and accurate view of patronage and power in seventeenth-century France.

3. Lully’s Public Stage

3.1 Treating a different body of sources—architectural drawings, set designs, and plans for stage machinery—Barbara Coeyman helps us imagine what it was like to hear and see Lully’s operas in the theater of the Palais Royal, home of the Opéra until its fiery demise in 1761. Drawing on her work on theaters for court ballet, Coeyman invites us into a crowded, potentially unruly, smelly theater, where sightlines were not ideal for all, and where spectacular effects may well have failed to live up to what their designers and inventors had imagined.5 Her conclusions raise important questions about how we read sources pertaining to Baroque opera in performance, balancing the ideal vision of the stage designer, composer, and librettist with the physical realities of the space.

4. Lully’s Afterlife and Later Influence

4.1 Both Carl Schmidt and Catherine Cessac focus on musical sources. Schmidt’s essay on the Amsterdam editions of Lully’s music expands upon Herbert Schneider’s extensive cataloging of sources in his thematic catalogue and his work on the Amsterdam editions of Lully’s orchestral suites.6 Schmidt compiles valuable information regarding the nine printers who published Lully scores in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, including connections among several of the printers through apprenticeship and marriage. The Appendix, describing the Amsterdam prints, including full title pages, a list of pieces in the order in which they appear in the print, and their current location, is of particular use.

4.2 Catherine Cessac’s close scrutiny of Sébastien de Brossard’s arrangement of Alceste opens a window onto the afterlife of Lully’s music away from the court-supported Opéra in Paris. Positing the likelihood that Brossard’s source for his arrangement was a Philidor score of the opera, Cessac leads the reader through a close comparison of Brossard’s edition and the Philidor score of Alceste (F-V Ms mus 94). Detailing the various alterations Brossard has made, such as rescoring pieces for four-part string ensemble and reworking choral sections, Cessac presents Brossard as a musician anxious to preserve and present old music to new audiences.

4.3 Herbert Schneider considers Lully’s impact on Gluck’s operas in a wide-ranging examination of contemporaneous responses to Gluck’s operas and later critical responses to and evaluations of Gluck’s music with respect to Lully and Rameau. For the sake of this article, Schneider focuses particularly on declamation and recitative as conceptualized by a number of eighteenth-century writers on opera in order to explain the commonplace that Gluck adopted Lully’s conception of opera in putting drama before music. This essay teems with multiple voices summoned in support of Schneider’s larger point and presents a complex picture of the continued image of Lully into the eighteenth century through the lens of Gluck’s reception.

5. The Subtle Shapes of Lully’s Musical Architecture

5.1 Musical analyses presented by Rebecca Harris-Warrick and Lois Rosow add an important dimension to Lully scholarship, revealing the wealth of variety and ingenuity present beneath the highly polished surface of his music. Harris-Warrick dispels the myth that French Baroque dance music is all metrically regular and locked into four- and eight-bar phrases. Instead of rigid patterns, Harris-Warrick shows us fluid forms capable of working with various step combinations. Her investigation of Lully’s phrase structures demonstrates that even the phrasing of the minuet was subject to the composer’s fancy; a minuet by Lully could as easily have five- or seven-bar phrases as four or six.

5.2 Lois Rosow directs our attention to the ways that Lully musically shaped Quinault’s dialogue scenes. As with Harris-Warrick’s analysis, Rosow’s work reveals the flexibility of Lully’s structuring of these scenes; his responses to Quinault’s text and the fluid boundaries between recitative and air were driven by an understanding of how subtle details of phrasing, mode, and strength of cadence might be employed to create dramatic continuity without monotony. Rosow’s treatment of air and recitative and the ways Lully blurs the lines between them is particularly valuable.

6. Lully and his Literary Collaborators

6.1 John Powell’s essay on the pastoral in Molière treats the numerous appearances of pastoral characters in Lully and Molière’s joint ventures. Powell situates their pastoral scenes in the context of a pastoral tradition in serious literature that was outmoded by the middle of the seventeenth century. In contrast to the serious tradition, Molière and Lully more often employed pastoral elements for their comic potential; hence, Lully’s ultimate turn away from the pastoral mode in favor of tragedy.

6.2 In his consideration of the libretto for Isis, Buford Norman argues that this work was an experiment of sorts. Unlike the less spectacular and very serious Atys of the previous year, Isis presents a unified theme—liberty—instead of the more conventional pair of steadfast but troubled lovers. Quinault and Lully seem not to have been aiming for high tragedy in Isis, but rather were intent upon inventing a series of opportunities for remarkable spectacle, vivid music, and sharply contrasting emotional states underscoring the power of music, dance, and spectacle to move an audience.

7. Conclusion

7.1 The entire collection exhibits Heyer’s editorial care, down to the judicious ordering of the essays, so that as one reads through the entire set in sequence, common threads emerge. A welcome addition to the literature on Lully, this volume marks the continued vitality of scholarship in this field. The multiplicity of topics and methods encourages re-examination of commonly held ideas regarding this music in the light of new evidence, new ways of reading, and continued imaginative re-hearing of the music.

References

* Rose Pruiksma (rpruiksm@bates.edu) currently serves as guest drummer for the Bates College gamelan ensemble. Her research interests encompass seventeenth-century court ballet, music and national identity in seventeenth-century France, and music and court culture in general.

1 Two issues of Early Music 15 (1987); Jean Baptiste Lully and the Music of the French Baroque, ed. John Hajdu Heyer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); and Jean Baptiste Lully: Kongreßbericht, Actes du Colloque Saint Germain en Laye, Heidelberg, 1987, ed. Jérôme de la Gorce and Herbert Schneider (Heidelberg: Laaber Verlag, 1990).

2 Jean Baptiste Lully and the Music of the French Baroque, 5.

3 Jean-Baptiste Lully, Œuvres complètes, Musica Gallica, ed. Jérôme de La Gorce and Herbert Schneider (Hildesheim: Olms, 2001–); Jérôme de La Gorce, Jean-Baptiste Lully (Paris: Fayard, 2002); Philippe Beaussant, Lully ou le Musicien soleil (Paris: Gallimard, 1992); Manuel Couvreur, Jean Baptiste Lully: musique et dramaturgie au service du Prince (Brussels: M. Vokar, 1992); and Quellenstudien zu Jean-Baptiste Lully / l’Œuvre de Lully, études des sources: hommage à Lionel Sawkins, ed. Jérôme de La Gorce and Herbert Schneider (Hildesheim: Olms, 1999). [See also vol. 10, no. 1 (2004) of JSCM, devoted entirely to Lully’s Persée and dedicated to the memory of James R. Anthony. —ed.]

4 Jérôme de La Gorce, Herbert Schneider, Rebecca Harris-Warrick, Carl Schmidt, and Lois Rosow. Their scholarly contributions to the field are both widely-known and too numerous to list individually here.

5 Barbara Coeyman, “Theatres for Opera and Ballet during the Reigns of Louis XIV and Louis XV,” Early Music 18 (1990): 22–37.

6 Chronologisch-thematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Werke von Jean-Baptiste Lully (LWV) (Tutzing: Schneider, 1981); “The Amsterdam Editions of Lully’s Orchestral Suites,” in Jean Baptiste Lully and the Music of the French Baroque, 113–30.

 


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