Paris: A Musical Gazetteer

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This is a concise gazetteer--part reference, part guidebook--to the musical landmarks of Paris, which until the early 20th century was arguably the musical capital of the Western world. Intended for tourists as well as scholars, the book contains biographical portraits of fifty major musical figures of the past 230 years who resided in Paris, with detailed information about where they lived and what they did. Descriptions of sites are arranged by category, including theaters, churches, schools, publishing houses, and composer museums. Simeone offers a list of the most significant musical sites in Paris, as well as four walking tours designed for visitors who have only a few hours to explore. The sites are also keyed to Michelin maps and nearest Metro stops.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Simeone (music, Univ. of Wales) has written an informative and specialized reference on the musical history of Paris. The guide begins with a history of Paris, then continues with biographies of the many composers, performers, and others connected with the musical world who have passed through the city, with special reference to any of their known residences. Liberally illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of old prints and photographs, the book includes four walking tours and also describes the musical associations of churches, museums, schools, theaters, and other landmarks. Although map references and Metro stops are cited, no maps are included. The short, choppy biographies make for less-than-satisfying reading, but the comprehensive nature and organization of the book may make it useful for large music or travel collections. Most travelers will do just as well with more general guides.--Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
paper: 0-300-08054-9 An interesting and useful guide, written in a competent, but dry style. By the reign of Louis-Phillipe, Paris was Europe's cultural capital and, like Vienna, attracted many of the greatest musicians and composers of the era. While much has been written of the musical scene in Vienna at the time, much less has been written about Paris, and Simeone, a lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Wales, attempts to fill the gap with a well researched and comprehensive Baedeker of the city's musical scene. It includes biographies of the major composers who made Paris their home, the addresses, locations of their graves (if in Paris), and listings of all important musical locales, arranged by arrondissement and street, along with the nearest Métro stops. Also found are four walking tours and copious photographs, contemporary and historic. Simeone gives us small details that add pleasure and interest (e.g., composer Marcel Dupré, organist at Saint-Sulpice for 65 years, was also the organist at the wedding of the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson). Of Joseph Canteloube, arranger of the celebrated Chants d'Auvergne, Simeone writes, `During the early 1920s he made several pioneering music broadcasts for French radio. . . . The first of these [on Scarlatti] was broadcast on 28 January 1924 under difficult circumstances: rain was leaking through the studio roof, and an assistant had to hold an umbrella over Canteloube as he played.` Simeone is a genuine scholar of both music and Paris and he has thoroughly researched both subjects. Just the same, our pleasure would be enhanced if Simeone had been able to write in a livelier style. While hiswriting isclear and factual, it seldom rises above the expository. Rife with information, it is a pity that a book on such a rich topic should be written in the arid manner of a college textbook on macroeconomics. Style notwithstanding, any visitor to Paris with an interest in music will find this guide indispensable.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300080544
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Read an Excerpt


A Musical Gazetteer
By Nigel Simeone

Yale University Press

ISBN: 0-300-08053-0

Chapter One

The Scope of the Gazetteer

As far as I am aware, this is the first gazetteer to the musical monuments of Paris, though a brief account of some major landmarks was written by Guy Ferchault in 1937. Information about where musicians lived and worked in the city is often hard to find, and it was curiosity about such biographical details that led me to write the present book. My intention has been to chart the Parisian activities of some of the great musical personalities who lived in the city: where they had their homes, where their works were performed, where they received their education, where they are buried, and where they are commemorated.

Paris occupies a unique position as a musical capital. As well as being the home (though less often the birthplace) of almost every great French composer in the last four centuries, it is the city where Chopin, Donizetti, Liszt, Mozart, Prokofiev, Rossini, Stravinsky, Verdi, Wagner, and many others spent extended periods of their lives.

This book is not intended as a guide to the present-day musical life of the city; its purpose is rather to provide documentation on historic musical locations, to set musical events into the context of the city itself, and to direct the reader to sites of musical interest (including those no longer extant). Two points should be stressed: first, many of the locations listed in the gazetteer (including almost all the private addresses) are not open to the public; second, some entries are a record of what was once at a particular location rather than of what is there now.

The musicians in the first, and longest, section of the book include many of the most significant French composers of the past two hundred years (with a few from earlier periods), as well as some of the most celebrated foreign musicians who spent parts of their working lives in the French capital. The lives of all these personalities were, to a greater or lesser extent, bound up with the history, the politics, and the wider artistic life of the city itself.

An apology is due to readers who seek, but do not find, a particular composer in the gazetteer. Limitations of time and space have been significant factors. I must take full responsibility for the process of selection, though the decision to omit musicians was made only with the greatest reluctance, or when adequate documentation proved impossible to find. To give one example, Manuel de Falla, Debussy once joked, "moved more often than Beethoven" during his years in Paris, and I found it no easier to track Falla's Parisian dwellings half a century after his death than it was during his lifetime. Occasional visitors to the city, such as Bruckner, Grieg, Mahler, Puccini, Rimsky-Korsakov, Sibelius, and Johann Strauss the younger, are not included in the directory of musicians (though several are mentioned elsewhere in the gazetteer).

Churches with significant musical traditions, theatres, and concert halls where important premieres took place, some important musical institutions and orchestras, and a selection of music publishers and instrument makers are described in separate sections. There is also a list of libraries, museums, and galleries with holdings of material relating to music in the city, especially from the period since around 1750 which is the gazetteer's principal concern. The large number of present-day street names commemorating musicians in Paris are listed, and the gazetteer is completed with an index of locations arranged by arrondissement and by street.

Using the Gazetteer

Buildings listed as private addresses in the gazetteer are not open to the public unless otherwise stated. Many older buildings have been demolished or rebuilt beyond recognition. Locations are given on the basis of Michelin grid references for Paris (used in all Michelin maps of the city, for example, Paris Plan, nos. 11 and 14, and Atlas: Paris et Banlieue, no. 25). The grid reference is followed by the nearest Metro, RER, or SNCF station(s); for example, in the entry on Bizet, "22 rue de Douai, 9e (D13, Metro: Blanche)" indicates that the address is in the ninth (9e) arrondissement, at Michelin grid reference D13, and that the nearest Metro station is Blanche.

It will be necessary for the prospective visitor intending to use the gazetteer for locating addresses to have a street atlas such as the Michelin Paris Plan (no. 11 or no. 14) that includes Metro and bus maps. Seasoned visitors to Paris will already know that travelling by bus is one of the most interesting ways of seeing the city, and many of the locations listed can easily be reached by bus. Tickets for the public transport system may be used on the Metro, the bus, the RER, and SNCF trains within the specified zones. For visitors wishing to follow a trail around districts with strong musical connections, the index by arrondissements should be of use for planning itineraries. Though it has not been my intention to write a travel guide, the four walks around areas of musical interest will, I hope, be of use to a visitor less familiar with the city. For those with limited time, a list of ten outstanding musical landmarks follows the walks.

Four Musical Walks

Paris is, of course, a wonderful city to see on foot. The four walks included here take in some of the most significant musical landmarks, and several sites of more general interest. The longest of the walks is Walk 1, which would take most of a day, with appropriate stops at some of the many cafes en route. Walks 2 and 3 explore parts of Paris which are not always on the itinerary of visitors to the city but which have some fine musical associations. Allow most of a day for the longer version of Walk 2 (or less than two hours for the short version). Walk 3 can be done in half a day, though it is worth taking longer to spend time in the Opera, the Trinite, and Montmartre Cemetery. Walk 4 includes a stroll up the Champs-Elysees, one of the most famous of all Parisian avenues. For specific locations, readers are referred to the appropriate entries in the gazetteer.

Walk 1: A Circular Walk from les Invalides

Michelin Paris Plan maps 29, 30, 31, and 43

Begin at Invalides Metro station and walk towards the Hotel des Invalides onto the esplanade des Invalides. This was the scene of the displays of oriental music which so astonished Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, and others at the 1889 exposition. Turn left onto the rue Saint-Dominique. Opposite the Ministry of Defence, the fine basilica of Sainte-Clotilde can be seen behind a small park. The first organist at this lovely nineteenth-century church was Cesar Franck, and his successors included Charles Tournemire and Jean Langlais. After visiting the church, walk down the rue de Martignac for about a block and turn left onto the rue de Grenelle. You will pass the Musee Maillol on your right. On reaching the carrefour de la Croix-Rouge, cross over onto the rue du Vieux-Colombier, and the mighty towers of Saint-Sulpice soon loom into view. The church has a wonderful musical tradition-for instance, Charles-Marie Widor was organist there for more than half a century and his assistants included Gabriel Faure. The Cavaille-Coll organ is one of the finest in Paris, and the church as a whole is an architectural marvel of the first importance. From here, walk along the rue Saint-Sulpice, and at the end turn right onto the rue de Conde; then bear left onto the rue Crebillon, which comes out into the place de l'Odeon with its magnificent theatre, the scene of so many important musical events, including many of the concerts of the Domaine Musical. Walk along one side of the square down the rue Corneille onto the place Paul-Claudel, perhaps taking time out for a short stroll in the nearby Jardin du Luxembourg (in the footsteps of Jean Valjean and Cosette in Les Miserables); then (from the place Paul-Claudel) walk along the rue de Medicis, where Francis Poulenc lived for many years at no. 5. On reaching the place Rostand, angle left, take the first (sharp) left onto the rue Monsieur-le-Prince, where Camille Saint-Saens lived at no. 14 from 1877 until 1889. On reaching the carrefour de l'Odeon several blocks on, cross the boulevard Saint-Germain to the rue de l'Ancienne-Comedie, which in due course becomes the rue Mazarine. This comes out at the back of the Institut de France, where many celebrated French composers attended performances of their cantatas composed for the Prix de Rome. Walk left along the quai Malaquais, which becomes the quai Voltaire. Wagner stayed at the Hotel du Quai Voltaire (plaque outside). From here it is a short walk to the glorious Musee d'Orsay, with its many exhibits relating to music, and to the RER station there. Alternatively, continue along the quai Anatole-France (and then the quai d'Orsay), past the Assemblee Nationale and the Foreign Ministry, and finish at Invalides Metro just down the rue Robert-Esnault-Pelterie, the first turning on the left.

Walk 2: Passy

Michelin Paris Plan maps 27-28

This is a peaceful walk through a very distinguished residential area of the city. The seizieme was home to several great French composers, including Debussy, Faure, and Dukas, as well as to some of the most important patrons of the arts, notably the princesse de Polignac and the vicomtesse de Noailles.

Begin the walk at Trocadero Metro station. From the place du Trocadero, walk up the avenue Georges-Mandel, a broad road boasting some impressive private houses-including no. 36, where Maria Callas spent her last years. At the intersection with the rue du Pasteur-Marc-Boegner you will see the glorious Polignac mansion on the left, now home to the Fondation Singer-Polignac. Walk along the side of the house, noting the magnificent windows of the music room. Turn left onto the rue ScheVer, where you will pass the house where the vicomtesse de Noailles had her salon (plaque outside). On reaching the major intersection of this hilly street, you have a choice:

a) If time is limited, turn left onto the avenue Paul-Doumer, and as you near the Trocadero, you will see the walls of Passy Cemetery on the left (the entrance is on the rue du Commandant-Schloesing). The cemetery is just a few metres from the Trocadero and a short walk across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower (from the cemetery there are fine views of it). Though Passy Cemetery has rather fewer visitors than several larger cemeteries in Paris, it includes the graves not only of two of the giants of French music-Debussy and Faure-but also of one of the greatest French painters, Edouard Manet. From here, return to Trocadero Metro, or walk through the Palais de Chaillot and its gardens before crossing the Seine to the Eiffel Tower.

b) For a longer walk, continue along the rue ScheVer (crossing the avenue Paul-Doumer), and turn right onto the rue Vineuse. This runs down to the place de Costa-Rica and a fascinating part of the district. Walk down the rue Raynouard, take the steps on the left down the avenue du Parc-de-Passy, and turn right onto the avenue Marcel-Proust. On the left is the rue d'Ankara, where Dr. Blanche had his famous clinic, visited by Charles Gounod on several occasions. Continue along the rue Berton, passing the gardens of the Maison de Balzac (a beautiful house, well worth a visit; the main entrance is on the rue Raynouard). If you do not have time to visit, continue along the rue Berton and rejoin the rue Raynouard. Almost immediately on the right is the rue des Vignes, where Faure lived for many years at no. 32. Continue until reaching the top. Turn right onto the avenue Mozart. La Muette Metro station is ahead of you, and the Jardin du Ranelagh on the left. It was in these gardens that Rossini's Passy villa stood (in the avenue Ingres). Unless you are visiting the Musee Marmottan (with its outstanding collection of Monets), walk back up the chaussee de la Muette to La Muette Metro. If you are feeling energetic, continue along the rue de Passy until you reach the place de Costa-Rica once more; then either walk up the rue Vineuse to Trocadero and Passy Cemetery or turn down the rue de l'Alboni to Passy Metro station. From here, the Metro (line 6, direction Nation) is an astonishing experience, an aerial journey across the Seine, with marvellous views.

Walk 3: From the Opera to Montmartre Cemetery

Michelin Paris Plan maps 6, 18, and 19

The Palais Garnier is perhaps the most famous of the musical landmarks of Paris, and a visit to the inside of the theatre is not to be missed. The auditorium is closed when rehearsals are in progress, but even so there is plenty to see. Once you have left the Opera, it is worth walking around the building, to get a real impression of its epic scale. From the place de l'Opera, turn left onto the boulevard des Capucines, which becomes in due course the boulevard des Italiens. Turn right down the rue de Marivaux and follow it along the side of the Opera-Comique onto the place Boieldieu, where this historic theatre can be seen to best advantage. Walk back along the other side, via the rue Favart, and retrace your steps along the boulevard des Italiens until you reach the rue de la Chaussee-d'Antin. Rossini's residence in central Paris was on the corner (an almost invisible plaque celebrates the fact, on a building which has been altered beyond recognition). Continue right, up the rue de la Chaussee-d'Antin, where Chopin, Mozart, and others stayed.

The imposing facade of the Sainte-Trinite can be seen at the top. This splendid nineteenth-century church, with its recently restored interior, was where Messiaen served as organist for more than sixty years. To the right of the Trinite find the rue Blanche, where Franck lived as a young man at no. 45, and then, when he was newly married, at no.69. Walk up it for several blocks and turn left onto the rue Ballu, where Lili and Nadia Boulanger lived. Their house is now in the place Lili-Boulanger (plaque outside). Turn right onto the rue de Vintimille, where both Debussy and Berlioz lived for short periods (at nos. 11 and 17, respectively). The next intersection is with the rue de Calais, where Hector Berlioz had his last address, at no.4. Across the aptly named square Berlioz is the rue de Douai. Here, at no. 50, Pauline Viardot lived for many years and held her celebrated salons. Other famous musical residents of the street were Georges Bizet at no. 22 and Maurice Ravel at no.40 bis (the latter for a few months in 1901). From the rue de Douai, rejoin the rue Blanche and go left along it until it reaches the boulevard de Clichy. This busy and noisy thoroughfare was home to Arthur Honegger (at no. 71) and, for many years, Darius Milhaud (at no. 10). Walk left along the boulevard until you come to the avenue Rachel.


Excerpted from PARIS by Nigel Simeone Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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