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Subject: 'An Aristocratic Art'
From: Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Genevieve Castle Room <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Thu, 29 Jun 2017 23:03:27 -0400
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Commentary by *GĂ©rard *Jean Aubry.

====Begin====

The art of Claude Debussy is full of intelligence and sensitiveness. It is
not an art calculated to appeal to the crowd; yet I cannot see that he
therefore lays himself open to reproach, he above all. And a reproach (if
reproach it be), which may be addressed to all French art. I cannot see the
tragedies of Racine, one or two operas of Rameau, the comedies of Alfred de
Musset, the sculpture of Rodin as art expression meant for the great public.

Whether or not one wishes it, French art always remains, in *nearly* all of
its best exemplifications, an aristocratic art, an art of cultured and
well-educated people; an art created for *subtle minds and discreet hearts*.
It is not in accord with French tradition to cry out, or to make a show of
one's sentiments. And that which we may thus lose as regards power, we
gain, perhaps, in penetration and delicacy.

One may prefer another art. This is a matter determined not alone by the
individual intelligence, but also by the individual temperament, the
physical character, the national custom of the auditors. Yet, if one
follows the road of delicacy, of refinement and subtle intelligence, the
road of discreet feeling in the art of causing words and sounds to say all
that they are capable of saying, and even that which it would seem they
could not say, I do not believe it possible to go further than French art
has done, and there is nothing which more characteristically testifies to
the fact than the work of Claude Debussy.

====End====


It is difficult to disagree with him, but I would be more interested in why
he wrote this in an American journal (*Musical Quarterly*) in 1918 (apart
from the obvious fact that it is an obituary) and what that might say about
French anxieties over Anglo-American views of France as World War I comes
to an end.

>"And that which we may thus lose as regards power, we gain, perhaps, in
penetration and delicacy"

..... which is exactly how France sought to position itself in the 1920s

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