Event Date: Friday 11 June, 2010 – 10am-6pm
The Boardroom, 2 Gower Street, London
Unsettling Scores: A Study Day on French Musico-Poetics from Banville to Duras
David Evans (St Andrews):
Communication Breakdown: Debussy, Banville and the Trouble with Serenades
It is a commonplace of art song criticism to imagine the poem and the setting as completing each other, creating a harmonious whole. What can we say, though, of poems which deal with the failure of both music and poetry? In this paper I will examine Debussy’s settings of Theodore de Banville’s ‘Pierrot’ and ‘Serenade’, arguing that Debussy forces us to confront the tension between the materiality of art’s formal mechanisms and our belief in the transcendent beauty of the artwork. With reference to recent research on musico-poetics, I suggest that Debussy’s settings represent a crisis in post-Romantic poetry and music whereby the arts no longer mutually support each other, but rather, call each other, and themselves, constantly into question.