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The 1945 Stravinsky Debates: Nigg, Messiaen, and the Early Cold War in France

Author(s): Leslie A. Sprout


Source: The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter 2009), pp. 85-131
Published by: University of California Press
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The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 26, Issue 1, pp. 85131, ISSN 0277-9269, electronic ISSN 1533-8347.
2009 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests
for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Presss
Rights and Permissions website, http://www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintInfo.asp. DOI: 10.1525/
jm.2009.26.1.85.
85
An earlier version of this article was presented at a panel on
music and the early Cold War sponsored by the Cold War and
Music Study Group at the American Musicological Society na-
tional meeting in Quebec City in November 2007. I would like to
thank Peter Schmelz for inviting me to participate on this occa-
sion, and Danielle Fosler-Lussier, Peter Schmelz, and the anony-
mous reviewers of this journal for their helpful suggestions in re-
vising the article. Special thanks to Kathleen Juliano at the Drew
University Library for assistance in obtaining research materials.
Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own.
1
Concerts by the Orchestre national in the fall of 1944 included a Prokoev festi-
val, a memorial concert for Maurice Jaubert and Jehan Alain (both killed in battle in
June 1940), and the premiere of the French-Romanian composer Marcel Mihalovicis
Symphonies pour le temps prsent, composed when Mihalovici was in hiding in Cannes. See
Radio 44, the ofcial guide to Radiodiffusion franaise, for further details.
The 1945 Stravinsky
Debates: Nigg, Messiaen,
and the Early Cold War
in France
LESLI E A. SPROUT
Unlike the war, which left behind death, destruction, and suffering,
the occupation inicted wounds that were not so much physical as
moral and political, and that still have not nished healing.
Philippe Burrin, La France lheure allemande, 19401944
After the liberation of Paris in August 1944,
French musicians and audiences joined in embracing music that had
been inaccessible during four years of German occupation. Free weekly
performances by the Orchestre national, broadcast live to a nationwide
radio audience, featured the works of previously persecuted French
composers as well as neglected foreigners.
1
On January 11, 1945, Manuel
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Rosenthal and the Orchestre national inaugurated the seasons most
ambitious undertaking: a series of seven monthly concerts devoted to a
survey of Igor Stravinskys music (table 1). The first two concerts, con-
sisting of some of Stravinskys most well-known works, met with enthusi-
asm from critics and audience members. Meanwhile, on February 27 in
a program by the Socit prive de musique de chambre, Parisians had
the opportunity to hear the neoclassical music Stravinsky had com-
posed in America for the first time (table 2). To the dismay of their el-
ders, a small group of students, among them Serge Nigg and Pierre
Boulez, protested noisily during this concerts French premiere of Stra -
vinskys Danses concertantes. The program of the Orchestre nationals
third Stravinsky concert on March 15 had been announced in the
press, and the students came prepared. As Rosenthal attempted to con-
duct the French premiere of Stravinskys Four Norwegian Moods, the stu-
dents in the balcony made prolonged use of the police whistles they
had brought with them expressly for that purpose. Most French critics
rose to the composers defense. Although the French premiere of the
Symphony in C on April 12 passed without incident, the resulting press
skirmish lasted into the summer months.
Boulezs biographers have interpreted the student protests at the
1945 Stravinsky festival as a sign of the growing inuence of Ren Lei-
bowitz and his successful promotion of twelve-tone composition in post-
war France. As Joan Peyser put it, Leibowitz was the gure behind this
demonstration but Boulez was the young man at the center of things.
In their accounts, the February 27 and March 15 concerts are con-
ated, and such details as performers and date are omitted. What re-
mains constant is the decisive choice young French composersBoulez
chief among themare said to be making of serialism over neoclassicism.
2
By elevating Boulezs and Leibowitzs participation in the 1945
protests, Boulezs biographers foreshadow the 1950s debate in the west
over the merits of serialism versus neoclassicism, as well as Boulezs
prominent role in that debate. Mark Carroll makes explicit the larger
implications of the biographers story when he writes that Boulez had
joined classmates of Messiaens 1945 harmony class at the Conserva-
toire in heckling Stravinskys Four Norwegian Moods at the Thtre des
Champs-lyses because he, like Adorno, was of the opinion that neo-
classicism was being used against the innovations of the Second Vien-
nese School.
3
Carroll sees the 1945 Stravinsky Festival as a precursor
86
2
Joan Peyser, Boulez (New York: Schirmer, 1976), 33; Dominique Jameux, Pierre
Boulez (Paris: Fayard/Fondation SACEM, 1984), 30; Jsus Aguila, Le Domaine Musical:
Pierre Boulez et vingt ans de creation contemporaine (Paris: Fayard, 1992), 178. See also An-
toine Gola, Rencontres avec Pierre Boulez (Paris: Julliard, 1958), 911.
3
Mark Carroll, Music and Ideology in Cold War Europe (New York: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, 2003), 96.
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to the return of the composer himself to postwar Paris in May 1952 for
Luvre du XXe sicle, a month-long international festival of the arts dur-
ing which Stravinsky conducted several of his own works, including the
Symphony in C. The indirect funding that the festival received from
the State Department and the CIA, together with the artistic biases of
Stravinskys friend, Nicolas Nabokov, who organized the festival as Secre-
tary General of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, have provided Car-
roll and other scholars with a direct connection between Stravinskys lat-
est music and early Cold War politics.
4
By repeating the biographers
87
4
Ibid., 1011; Frances Stonor Saunders, The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the
World of Arts and Letters (New York: The New Press, 1999), 11328; Ian Wellens, Music on
the Frontline: Nicolas Nabokovs Struggle Against Communism and Middlebrow Culture (Burling-
ton, VT: Ashgate, 2002), 4562. Carrolls erroneous claim that the 1945 Stravinsky festi-
val was associated with 1945 commemorations of the liberation of Paris stems from his
misreading of Golas Rencontres.
TABLE 1
Stravinsky Festival programs, Orchestre national
(Paris, JanuaryJuly 1945)
January 11 Scherzo fantastique, op. 3
Suite from The Firebird
Le Sacre du printemps
February 15 Capriccio for piano and orchestra
Les Noces
March 15 Jeu de cartes
The Faun and the Shepherdess
Four Norwegian Moods, French premiere
Symphony of Psalms
April 12 The Nightingale
Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments
Symphony in C, French premiere
May 24 Mavra
Le Roi des toiles
Apollon musagte
Petrushka
June 21 Feu dartice
Suite no. 1
Persphone
July 5 Suite no. 2
Oedipus Rex
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version of the 1945 festival, Carroll subsumes the immediate postwar pe-
riod in France within a synchronic view of the early Cold War era, one in
which the polar opposites of the 1950sU.S./Soviet Union, modernism/
socialist realism, serialism/neoclassicismhad become operative even
before the ghting in Europe had ceased.
Yet to ignore chronological distinctions between the spring of 1945
and that of 1952 is to miss crucial subtexts in the 1945 debates, and
thereby to diminish the contributions that the study of very early post-
war (and even late wartime) events might make to our understanding
of music in western Europe during the Cold War. The predominant in-
terpretation of the 1945 protesters as young champions of serialism dis-
regards the fact that it was the exoticism and mysticism of Messiaens
music, not the serialism of Schoenbergs, that became the next topic of
debate in Paris even before the furor over Stravinskys music had died
down. After all, as Carroll notes, the protesting students were still in
Messiaens harmony class at the Conservatoire, not in private lessons
with Leibowitz. The standard interpretation also erases Niggs central
role in the controversy, for Nigg participated not only as one of the stu-
dent protesters but also as a composer and critic. Niggs 1944 Concertino
for piano, percussion, and wind instruments was premiered at the Febru-
ary 1945 chamber music concert that was the occasion of the initial
protest against Stravinsky; his April 1945 article in the newspaper Com-
bat provided the student protesters perspective to the press debates
that followed the protests.
5
At the same time, the extent to which the
88
5
Nigg, La Querelle Strawinsky, Combat (April 1415, 1945), 2. Founded as a clan-
destine resistance newspaper in 1941 and edited by Albert Camus from 1943 to 1947,
TABLE 2
Concert program, Socit prive de musique de chambre
(Paris, February 27, 1945)
Luigi Dallapiccola Tre Laudi (193637), with Marcelle Bunlet, soprano
Jacques Ibert Capriccio for ten instruments (1938)
Darius Milhaud Four Sketches (1941), French premiere
Serge Nigg Concertino for piano, percussion, and wind instru-
ments (1944), with Monique Haas, piano; world
premiere
Igor Stravinsky Danses concertantes (194042), French premiere
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1945 debates was motivated by the participants wartime experiences
foreshadows the enduring legacy of the German occupation during the
early Cold War years in France.
The 1945 protests against Stravinsky were not about the decisive
embrace of a single musical style; rather, they were about the desire of
young French composers to play an active role in shaping the postwar
future of music in France, even as they were still uncertain as to what
stylistic shape that future would take. In 1945, the protesters could ini-
tially agree that the latest version of Stravinskys neoclassicism, almost
universally embraced by their elders, was intolerably retrospective. Soon
afterward, however, the emerging ideologies of the early Cold War
linked modernist musical styles with political freedom in the west, and
more accessible music with socialist political commitments in the East.
These new ideologies divided the protesters and profoundly affected
their aesthetic and political developments.
Boulez later wrote that the concerns that Nigg and other young
French composers had begun to express immediately after the war
about social commitment and communication with their audiences rep-
resented an ideology that lled me with horror, and that appeared to
me above all to serve as a screen for conformity.
6
Yet as Stephen Walsh
has pointed out, Boulezs aggressive refusal to engage directly with poli-
tics in his music was atypical: For those less detached the question of
how a progressive (that is, avant-garde) art should relate to a progressive
(that is, egalitarian) politics was one of the most important issues of the
day.
7
Niggand not Boulezrepresented the experiences and hopes
of the postwar generation in two respects: the aesthetic opinions of a
group of young composers whose entire adult musical education had
taken place during the German occupation of Paris, and the political
aspirations of the young French men and women who ocked to the
French Communist Party (PCF) at the wars end. Nigg joined the PCF
in 1944, was a founding member of the Association franaise des musi-
ciens progressistes in 1948, and published several articles in the French
press between 1948 and 1955 on the importance of social commitment
in art. Niggs steady political adherence to the PCF from 1944 to 1956
contrasts with the stylistic inconsistencies in his music during the same
period, during which he experimented with styles as diverse as exoticism
89
Combat became one of Frances leading postwar newspapers, with a leftist political orien-
tation that was independent of any political party. See Norman Stokle, Le Combat dAlbert
Camus (Quebec: Presses de lUniversit Laval, 1970), 2038.
6
Pierre Boulez, From the Domaine Musicale to IRCAM: Pierre Boulez in Conver-
sation with Pierre-Michel Menger, Perspectives of New Music 28 (1990): 7.
7
Stephen Walsh, review of Music and Ideology in Cold War Europe, by Mark Carroll,
twentieth-century music 1 (2004): 312.
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(the 1944 Concertino), strict twelve-tone composition (the 1947 Vari -
ations), socialist-realist settings of French folk songs for workers cho-
ruses (published by Le Chant du monde in 1957), and orchestral
music modeled on the works of Vincent dIndy (the 1954 Piano Con -
certo). Niggs participation in the 1945 Stravinsky debates gives us oc-
casion to examine both his earliest musical compositions and the politi-
cal opinions he would express with increasing ideological fervor in the
1950s, even as he struggled to nd the compositional voice that would
best reect his political convictions.
Henry Rousso, in writing about Frances lingering Vichy syndrome,
has described the years from 1944 to 1947 as a rocky period of mourn-
ing for the tragedies of the occupation, a period left incomplete by new
fears of global conict and the resurgence of anticommunism in France.
8
The students who protested Stravinsky in 1945 made their aesthetic
choices based on their educational experiences during the occupation;
the scandalized older generation could not separate their opinions of
Stravinskys latest music from their own lingering grievances about the
war. But as Rousso reminds us, it was not only the controversies of this
early period that were affected by the occupation. The French experi-
ence of the occupation continued to affect the aesthetic and political
perspectives of French composers well into the Cold War that followed.
Stravinsky in Paris, 1945
The press debates that followed the 1945 Stravinsky protests in
which Nigg played a leading role are the surviving traces of the passion-
ate discussions that took place among musicians, critics, and concert-
goers, both in private and in public, in early postwar France. These de-
bates, and the music being debated, demonstrate the range of possibili-
ties that existed for modern music in postwar France before global con-
cerns, in the form of the escalating tension between the United States
and the Soviet Union, overshadowed local ones once the Cold War had
begun.
9
In her study of French musicians and the Cold War, Michle
Alten argues that the French coalition governments pivotal decision in
mid 1947 to expel its communist ministers and accept U.S. economic
90
8
Henry Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, trans.
Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), esp. chap. 1, Unn-
ished Mourning (19441954).
9
Similarly, Danielle Fosler-Lussier describes the chaotic period of open and free
discussion in immediate postwar Hungary as a rare opportunity to glimpse Hungarian
musicians ideas about their musical future just before their choices were restricted by
the increasingly severe policies of the Communist regime that came to power in 1948.
Fosler-Lussier, Music Divided: Bartks Legacy in Cold War Culture (Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2007), 1.
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aid through the Marshall Plan created pressures on the PCF to stie
freewheeling musical debates in the immediate postwar period in both
communist and non-communist newspapers.
10
The pre-1947 debates
about Stravinskys music provide a rare glimpse of a world preoccupied
by the conicts of the occupation, beset by anxiety about the future,
and yet, at least in Niggs case, remarkably open as to what musical pos-
sibilities awaited the emerging postwar generation. Examination of
these debates allows us to see what the French thought of those possi-
bilities before the hard lines of the Cold War were drawn.
The audience for Stravinskys latest music at the chamber music
concert on February 27, 1945, heard Roger Dsormire conduct Danses
concertantes alongside the recent music of four other composers. The
ve pieces present a revealing snapshot of the range of new music be-
ing performed in Paris at the time. The sounds of the pieces by Stravin-
sky, Darius Milhaud, and Jacques Ibert would have already been famil-
iar to French audiences. In general, their three pieces share similar
concerns with dance, neoclassicism, and concertante style. Two of Mil-
hauds Four Sketches, op. 227, a 1941 set of short piano pieces that he
had transcribed for chamber orchestra, are based on New World dance
styles: a habanera (Alameda) and a rumba (Sobre la Loma), which
Milhaud had already evoked in his ballet La Cration du monde. Iberts
more pronounced concern for concerted writing in his Capriccio from
1938 was shared by Stravinsky in his Concerto in E

(Dumbarton
Oaks) from the same year. Yet in the two pieces performed on Febru-
ary 27, Ibert and Stravinsky treated melody, rhythm, and instrumenta-
tion quite differently, as is evident in comparing two concerted pas-
sages. In example 1a, a solo episode for bassoon from Iberts Capriccio,
the melody is lyrical and sustained, drawing on an octatonic scale, with
a steady, almost percussive rhythm in the accompanying strings. Both
melody and accompaniment emphasize the prevailing meter, even
when utilizing irregular patterns of off-beats and triplets. The harp,
which here contributes occasional rapid scalar ascents to the accompa-
niment, plays a predominant role in the middle and nal sections of
the piece. In example 1b, a solo French horn passage from the Thme
vari of Stravinskys Danses concertantes, the melody is pentatonic, dis-
junct, and punctuated by rests. Neither the melodic accents nor the
spare accompanying gures that shadow the melody correlate with the
triple meter of the passage. The austerity of this melody, its lack of for-
ward motion in either pitch or rhythm, and the spare instrumentation
of its accompaniment, demonstrate the continuity between Stravinskys
91
10
Michle Alten, Musiciens franais dans la guerre froide (19451956) (Paris:
LHarmattan, 2000), 5051.
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92

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prewar neoclassical works, such as the Dumbarton Oaks concerto,
and several of the compositions he wrote in America during the war.
The reappearance of the music of Ibert, Milhaud, and Stravinsky in
Paris in the 194445 season was a signicant homecoming for all three,
even if music by Ibert and Stravinsky had appeared on French concert
programs during the German occupation.
11
The performances of
Stravinskys Danses concertantes and Milhauds Four Sketches were French
premieres of recent music by prominent French exiles in America, and
Iberts Capriccio was by a composer whose music had been marginalized
in wartime concert life for political reasons.
12
Not surprisingly, most
music critics reviewing the concert xated on the novelty of hearing
Stravinskys American music for the rst time, and they responded with
hyperbolic praise. Gone were the accusations of academicism that had
greeted the Dumbarton Oaks concerto, whose June 1938 European
premiere had been Stravinskys last concert appearance in Paris before
the war.
13
The earlier negative critiques were swept aside in 1945 by
critics eagerness to embrace the return of a major musical gure to the
French scene. As Georges Auric wrote in his review, the French pre-
miere of Danses concertantes brought to us a message from the man of
genius who dominated our youth; the piece was a new masterpiece by
our matre, whose musical language has arrived at a surprising point of
perfection.
14
Likewise, Jean Winer rejoiced that after four years of
penitence, during which [we received] not a note, not a sign from
97
11
Wartime performances by Charles Munch and the Orchestre de la Socit des
Concerts du Conservatoire included Iberts Ouverture de fte, Concertino da camera, and
Flute Concerto as well as four performances of Stravinskys Firebird and one each of Le
Sacre du printemps, Les Noces, the Symphony of Psalms, Jeu de cartes and the Concerto in E

(Dumbarton Oaks). For wartime orchestral performances in Paris, see Alexandra


Laederich, Les associations symphoniques parisiennes, in La Vie musicale sous Vichy, ed.
Myriam Chimnes (Brussels: ditions Complexe, 2001), 21733; see also Programmes
soumises la censure, Archives of the Socit des Concerts du Conservatoire, Music De-
partment, Bibliothque nationale de France. Stravinskys music also appeared regularly
on the programs of the Concerts de la Pliade, a series founded by Gaston Gallimard and
Denise Tual in 1943. For the programs of the Concerts de la Pliade, see Nigel Simeone,
Messiaen and the Concerts de la Pliade: A Kind of Clandestine Revenge Against the
Occupation, Music & Letters 81 (2000): 57578.
12
As director of the Acadmie de France at the Villa Medici in Rome since 1937,
Ibert was closely allied with the Ministry of National Education during the Popular Front
years. Ibert chose not to return to Paris to participate in the occupied capitals musical
life, spending the war instead in the south of France and Switzerland. See Grard Michel,
Jacques Ibert: Lhomme et son uvre (Paris: Seghers, 1967), 7074; see also Alexandra Laed-
erich, Catalogue de luvre de Jacques Ibert (18901962) (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1998),
xi.
13
See 1938 assessments such as that of Boris de Schloezer, who wrote that the
Dumbarton Oaks concerto represented the most dismal, the attest academicism, in
Stephen Walsh, Stravinsky: The Second Exile: France and America, 19341971 (New York:
Knopf, 2006), 7778.
14
Georges Auric, Tibor Harsanyi, Les Lettres franaises (March 3, 1945), 5.
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Stravinsky, Danses concertantes had arrived in Paris: It is love at rst
sight, and at the same time a lesson in strength, equilibrium, and
beauty.
15
Roland-Manuel declared that Stravinsky, who had surprised
his admirers several times in the past, did so once more with Danses con-
certantes, in which a sort of happy abandon was without example or
precedent in the feats of this strong man. He also revealed, and cele-
brated, that the program was organized so that Stravinskys piece was
performed twice.
16
Nearly absent from the critics responses was the fact that two of
the pieces on the program presented distinctly different approaches to
composing new music. In Tre Laudi, Luigi Dallapiccola was experiment-
ing with twelve-tone procedures in idiosyncratic ways. The opening
soprano melody consists of a twelve-tone row and its retrograde, over a
B-minor triad played by the woodwinds, muted brass, harp, and lower-
strings harmonicsa much richer use of instrumentation than in
Stravinskys Danses concertantes (ex. 2). The symbolic use of twelve-tone
rows against a sustained triad to represent, in the words of Raymond
Fearn, the splendor of the stars in the rmament, is limited to the
opening measures; the rest of the piece is diatonic.
17
The newest music in the concert was the world premiere of Niggs
1944 Concertino for piano, percussion, and winds. Audiences in Paris
had already heard Niggs music during the German occupation: his Pi-
ano Sonata no. 1 in 1943, performed by Yvette Grimaud only two years
after Nigg had begun his studies with Messiaen at the Conservatoire, and
Niggs rst orchestral composition, the symphonic poem Timour, per-
formed by Dsormire and the Orchestre national in February 1944.
18
Although Nigg has since destroyed the score and parts of the Concertino,
contemporaneous documents describe in detail its musical style.
19
In late
1945, Fred Goldbeck at Contrepoints asked several composers to answer a
short survey about their own music. Nigg described his earliest composi-
tions as strongly colored by exoticism and primitivism; he wrote of mu-
sic that is atonal, in the sense that it is not tonal, but in no way dodeca-
phonic . . . [and] more contrapuntal than harmonic, with a large role for
98
15
Jean Winer, Danses concertantes dIgor Strawinsky, Arts 7 (March 16, 1945): 4.
16
Roland-Manuel, La Musique: Les Danses concertantes dIgor Strawinsky, Combat
(March 9, 1945), 2.
17
Raymond Fearn, The Music of Luigi Dallapiccola (Rochester: University of
Rochester Press, 2003), 34. Dallapiccolas brief juxtaposition of twelve-tone composition
with modality in Tre Laudi pregured his more extensive use of both in his better-known
Canti di prigionia.
18
Both performances are listed on Niggs website at the Acadmie des Beaux-Arts,
where he was elected in 1989: http://www.academie-des-beaux-arts.fr/membres/actuel/
Musique/Nigg/che.htm.
19
Claude Chamfray lists the score of the Concertino as destroyed in his 1966 cata-
logue of Niggs works: Serge Nigg, Le Courrier musical de France 13 (1966): 57.
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the j ournal of musi cology
rhythmic pedals. In program notes for a 1947 concert, Nigg specied
that the inuence came from exotic music and Le Sacre du printemps. A
subsequent report in Contrepoints on Niggs recent activities reveals that
the Concertino belongs to this initial phase of Niggs compositional de-
velopment, when he was strongly inuenced by the music and aesthetic
preferences of his teacher Messiaen.
20
Claude Rostand was the sole reviewer to acknowledge not only that
Stravinskys music shared the program with the works of Nigg and the
other three composers, but that Danses concertantes and Four Sketches had
also met with vocal protests from the audience. Rostand shared the
other critics tendency toward hyperbole when it came to describing
Danses concertantes: If music, in its diverse forms, has ever been able to
express the most inexpressible beauty, surely it is here, in this language
whose terms are nearly inhuman. Rostand did not mince words about
the young cretins who, the other night, attempted quite unnecessarily
(and quite pitifully) to manifest their imbecilic bad humor against
Stravinsky. Whereas Rostand was intrigued by the novelty of Dallapic-
colas Tre Laudi, with its surprising expressiveness and surly, rugged
melodic line, his review of Niggs Concertino took on a patronizing
tone: [Niggs] music is far from indifferent, even if it is not always
pleasant. It is merely necessary to advise him not to depend on formu-
las that were tested now almost thirty years ago, and that he otherwise
manipulates with skill and ferocity.
21
Presumably, with Niggs own de-
scriptions of his music as primitive, atonal, and contrapuntal, Rostands
reference could be either to the Stravinsky of Le Sacre or to Schoen-
bergs early atonal worksboth equally invalid in Rostands eyes as
models for a twenty-year-old composer in 1945.
With all but one of the reviews of Danses concertantes published by
March 10 (and thus well in advance of the third Stravinsky Festival con-
cert on the fteenth), the stage was set for the generational conict
that manifested itself at the Thtre des Champs-lyses and in the
press for several weeks afterward. When critics and composers pub-
lished their opinions about the protests against the Four Norwegian
Moods, they described the students rejection of Stravinskys latest works
as unpatriotic, disrespectful, and hopelessly out of date. Roland-Manuel
compared the 1945 protests with those that met the premiere of Le
Sacre in the same hall thirty-two years earlier. The students mistake was
102
20
Une enqute (suite): Serge Nigg, ou les convictions combatives, Contrepoints 3
(MarchApril 1946): 7879; Concerts de la Pliade, program, February 13, 1947, 1617
(Papers of Denise Tual, Music Department, Bibliothque nationale de France); Bruno
Valeano, Sur quelques jeunes musiciens, Contrepoints 1 ( January 1946): 64. Niggs sur-
vey responses, although not published until the March-April 1946 issue, predate the Janu-
ary 1946 issue of Contrepoints.
21
Rostand, La Musique: Strawinsky et Milhaud, Carrefour 29 (March 10, 1945): 5.
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to idolize the revolutionary Stravinsky of 1913 and denounce the
academic Stravinsky of 1945: They are wasting their breath, for this
great artisan has never concerned himself with either one.
22
Auric
made the same comparison and warned against any return to the mod-
ernism of the past: It took us twenty years, but we nally rid ourselves
of an absurd conception of modernism that seems to me today to be
completely outmoded. Make no mistake, Auric continued: the night
of March 15, the young musician was Stravinsky. He will be there in
twenty years, in a century. At that moment, we will no longer be here.
Neither will most of the mediocre compositions, hastily written and arti-
cial, that I would have hoped not to mention. The reference is a
thinly veiled jab at Niggs Concertino, which Auric had indeed failed to
mention in his review of the chamber music concert of February 27.
23
The angriest of them all was Rostand, who decided that this time,
the young cretins of the initial protest needed to have Stravinskys im-
portance to France spelled out for them. Using language that had spe-
cial resonance scarcely six months after the liberation of Paris, Rostand
declared:
Mr. Igor Stravinskya Russian, as we all knowhonored France by
becoming a naturalized French citizen. Nearly his entire stunning ca-
reer has taken place in France and by France. He honored us by
premiering in Paris the majority of his most important works. He
honored us by occasionally looking into our national culture to enrich
his genius. He honored us by bringing to the contemporary French
school certain aesthetic or technical elements that gave it, in part, its
grandeur and its vitality. He even did us the honor of being a genius.
And now, after a ban of ve years whose stupidity is equaled only by
the intolerant imbecility now shown to him, there is a pitiful attempt
to attack him with some absurd recrimination at the rst sign of his re-
turn among us!
Rostand followed his emotional outburst by marveling, somewhat disin-
genuously, that the Norwegian Moodswhich he described as admittedly
not among Stravinskys loftiest creationscould have inspired such vi-
cious protests, about which there was nothing spontaneous.
24
103
22
Roland-Manuel, Signication de quelques coups de sifet, Combat (March 25
26, 1945), 2.
23
Auric, Strawinsky ou lternel renouvellement, Les Lettres franaises (March 24,
1945), 5; Auric, Tibor Harsanyi, 5. Nigg later claimed that Rosenthal retaliated against
him for his role in the protests by canceling his plans to perform Timour with the Or-
chestre national. Nigg, quoted by Jean Boivin in La Classe de Messiaen (Paris: Christian
Bourgois, 1995), 65.
24
Rostand, Strawinsky contre les imbeciles, Carrefour 31 (March 24, 1945): 5.
Stravinsky also expressed skepticism about the spontaneity of the protests, writing to
Rosenthal that the sincere and spontaneous manifestations against the Sacre in 1913
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The matter might have rested there, had not Rostands heated
rhetoric generated an equally heated response. Andr Jolivets April 4
article Enough of Stravinsky! turned Rostands nationalist rhetoric on
its head. If Rostand had raised the specter of a wartime ban on Stravin-
skys music, Jolivet made reference to the live public concerts hosted by
the German-run Radio-Paris at the Thtre des Champs-lyses during
the occupation to promote the superiority of German over French mu-
sic. And now, Jolivet complained, we are called to the same theater to
adore a new idol whose Frenchness was only temporary. Our compatri-
ots ought to realize, Jolivet insisted, that Stravinsky has taught us noth-
ing in the realms of rhythm, melody, orchestration, or formal architec-
ture; that French musicians nd these diverse elements of musical
composition in their most advanced form in our own tradition. For
Jolivet, the 1945 Stravinsky festival was the last circle of hell [in
French, a play on words between cycle Strawinsky and cycle denfer] that
French music must cross in order to merit the radiance that the French
ought to help it to attain.
25
The references by Rostand and Jolivet to the recent German occu-
pation were highly charged in the spring of 1945. Questions of whose
music had been banned by the German occupying forces, as well as the
legacy of German propaganda in occupied Paris, were hotly debated
even before Paris was liberated. Rostands goal was to elevate Stravinsky
for having suffered a wartime ban on his music in France; Jolivets was
to associate Stravinsky instead with the parade of German composers
promoted during the occupation at the expense of the French. Neither
claim holds much factual merit. Stravinskys music was openly per-
formed in occupied Paris by the major French orchestras, which sub-
mitted their programs to German censors in advance, as well as by
chamber music series such as the Concerts de la Pliade. Munchs June
1944 performance of Les Noces even shared several soloists with Rosen-
thals in the second Stravinsky festival concert of February 1945.
26
104
[were] comprehensible because of the violent character of this score. . . . But one doubts
the spontaneity of a howling manifestation against the Norwegian Moods, the elements that
could provoke boisterous protestations being totally absent. . . . Unless I am mistaken, it
seems that once the violent has been accepted, the amiable, in turn, is no longer tolera-
ble. Stravinsky to Rosenthal, January 12, 1946. Quoted in translation in Stravinsky: Se-
lected Correspondence, ed. Robert Craft (New York: Knopf, 1984), 2: 347.
25
Andr Jolivet, Assez de Strawinsky, Noir et blanc 8 (April 4, 1945): 114.
26
The singer Joseph Peyron and the pianists Monique Haas and Francis Poulenc
performed in both concerts. Simeone, Messiaen and the Concerts de la Pliade, 577.
See also note 11. Joan Evans has shown that Stravinskys music was heard frequently in
Germany until September 1939, after which time his status as a French citizen made Ger-
man performances of his music problematic. French citizenship, of course, was not a
cause for censorship in German-occupied France. Evans, Stravinskys Music in Hitlers
Germany, Journal of the American Musicological Society 56 (2003): 58184. For a discussion
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Apart from the novelty of featuring the music Stravinsky had composed
in America for the rst time, the 1945 Stravinsky festival represented a
striking degree of continuity with concert programs from the occupa-
tion. In Stravinskys case, what had changed after the liberation was not
the style of the music being performed as the ability of the French to
now react freely in public to the music they heard.
Jolivets resentment against Radio-Paris and its pro-German propa-
ganda was widely shared. During the occupation, the Grand Orchestre
de Radio-Paris attracted French musicians and conductors with gener-
ous salaries and a programming schedule dominated by music broad-
casts. Festivals ranged from the inevitable Beethoven and Wagner cele-
brations to occasional showcases of new German talent, for example
Werner Egk, who led the orchestra in October 1942 in an evening-long
concert of his own works, including an excerpt from his opera Peer
Gynt, the production of which at the Paris Opra in October 1943 was
broadcast live by Radio-Paris.
27
After the liberation, the focus of French
anger was against composers such as Egk, whose music had been re-
viewed favorably during the occupation by French and German critics
alike, and not the venerated German classics whose music had domi-
nated the programs of all the symphony orchestras in occupied Paris.
There was even less animosity against foreign composers as a group.
28
Roland-Manuel, in one of the rst issues of the newspaper Les Lettres
franaises to appear after the liberation, wrote disdainfully that the mu-
sic of recent German composers presented an inappropriate model for
the French, owing to a romanticism that is out of step with modern
life, even as he advocated that the French not reject the German clas-
sics simply because the Germans had denigrated French music.
29
In an
atmosphere where new music from several countries was featured in
105
of the postwar rumors that the Concerts de la Pliade performed music of banned com-
posers in deance of the Germans and the persistence of such rumors in recent scholar-
ship, see my Messiaen, Jolivet, and the Soldier-Composers of Wartime France, Musical
Quarterly 87 (2004): 26364.
27
Egks appearance with the Grand Orchestre de Radio-Paris was announced in Les
Ondes 78 (October 25, 1942) for broadcast on October 29.
28
On the positive reviews that performances of Egks music received in occupied
France, see my Music for a New Era: Composers and National Identity in France, 1936
1946 (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2000), 25657, 31621.
29
The article also gives details of the clandestine activities of French musicians in
the resistance. Roland-Manuel, Roland-Manuel nous dit laction de quatre ans de musi-
ciens franais, Les Lettres franaises (September 16, 1944): 7. On French musicians and the
resistance, see Daniel Viriex, Front national des musiciens (printemps 1941-automne
1944), in Roger Dsormire (18981963): Actes du Colloque, ed. Nicolas Guillot (Paris:
Comit pour la celebration du centenaire de la naissance de Roger Dsormire, 1999),
4762; see also Guy Krivopissko and Daniel Virieux, Musiciens: une profession en rsis-
tance? in La Vie musicale sous Vichy, 33351.
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the Orchestre nationals 194445 broadcast concerts and embraced by
the French press (and the audience that lled the theaters), Jolivets
nationalist diatribe against Stravinsky was decidedly out of place.
It did not take long for people to say so in print. Three days after
Jolivets article appeared, Le Figaro published a response by Francis
Poulenc on its front page. Unlike ustered critics such as Rostand,
Poulenc proclaimed that young people had the right to reject the mu-
sic of their elders. But the pseudo young people, presumably the
forty-four-year-old Jolivet, who owe the meager varnish of modernism
that covers their own works solely to the researchalready surpassed by
the composer himselfof the Stravinsky of 1913, were a much more
serious matter. All contemporary music, in France and elsewhere,
stemmed from Stravinskys work, Poulenc proclaimed. He then coun-
tered Jolivets innuendo with some of his own:
We ought to have the decency to acknowledge our debt; lets not push
the debate to the level of nationalism, as has, imprudently, one musi-
cian, of whom one only asks that he forget a certain incidental music
written inadvisably during the occupation to celebrate the eightieth
birthday of the most illustrious German playwright. I suppose that my
frankness in setting the record straight may earn me several enemies.
Far from bemoaning this fate, I celebrate it.
30
The incidental music in question was composed by Jolivet for the play
Iphigenie in Delphi by the Nobel laureate Gerhart Hauptmann during its
1943 production in French translation at the Comdie-Franaise. The
production, in honor of Hauptmanns eightieth birthday, was planned
by the director of the Comdie-Franaise, Jean-Louis Vaudoyer, under
pressure from the Propaganda Staffel in Paris to expand the theaters
offerings by German playwrights.
31
The irony that Poulenc meant to
highlight was that Jolivet, who was now objecting strenuously to Rosen-
thals celebration of a foreigner, had himself participated in one of the
innumerable festivals in honor of German cultural gures during the
occupation. Despite Poulencs insinuations, Jolivet was never under any
suspicion for his wartime activities. Poulencs public reminder of Jo-
livets participation in the Hauptmann production was inopportune,
106
30
Poulenc, Vive Strawinsky! Le Figaro (April 7, 1945): 1.
31
On the involvement of the Propaganda Staffel in the production, see Marie-
Agns Joubert, La Comdie-Franaise sous lOccupation (Paris: Tallandier, 1998), 17886;
and Jean-Claire Vanon, Andr Jolivet (Paris: Bleu Nuit, 2007), 7778. On Jolivets involve-
ment as composer and conductor for the production, see Christine Jolivet, Chronolo-
gie, in Portrait(s) dAndr Jolivet (Paris: Bibliothque nationale de France, 2005), 151. Jo-
livets incidental music for Iphigenie in Delphi was published and recorded in 1957 by
Path Marconi as Suite delphique.
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however, coming so closely after Jolivets January 1945 appointment as
music director at the Comdie-Franaise.
Whereas Poulenc reacted to Jolivets nationalist call to arms against
Stravinsky with insinuations about Jolivets wartime activities, Roland-
Manuel chose instead to sarcastically recount the decidedly cosmopoli-
tan inuences on Jolivets compositional development. On April 12 in
Combat he described how, back in the good old days [aux temps joyeux]
of the interwar years, the likes of Schoenberg and Varse ( Jolivets
teacher from 1930 to 1933) had given to French music a fresh, native
avor and found inspiration in the most authentic sources of our na-
tional tradition. Jolivet had in turn been so obligingly attached to the
manifestations of French genius that he followed every new (and for-
eign) trend that came along. Roland-Manuel saw the controversy as a
new Querelle des Bouffons: the title of his article. In his opinion, the
protesters efforts to protect French music from the foreign inuence
of Stravinsky would be as unsuccessful as the eighteenth-century parti-
sans of the tragdie lyrique had been against the incursion of Italian opera
buffa in France.
32
Young French Composers in 1945
Finally, on April 14, one of the protesters spoke up about their
activities in print. Having already published two articles by their own
music critic, Roland-Manuel, the editorial staff at Combat decided to re-
spond positively to the protesters request for equal treatment.
33
That
the job fell to Nigg seems appropriate, for his music had already g-
ured in the debate. The most recent reference to Nigg had appeared in
Combat only two days earlier, when Roland-Manuel had linked Niggs
Concertino with Jolivets recently premiered Chant de Linos to argue that,
by protesting Stravinskys music, Jolivet and his little band of partisans
were only barking at [Stravinskys] heels.
34
It was a metaphor already
used by Poulenc, albeit more crudely, when he spoke of little yappy
dogs . . . lifting their legs at the pedestals of statues.
35
Yet whatever musical similarities may have existed between the self-
avowed exoticism of Niggs Concertino and Jolivets use of ancient Greek
funeral laments as a model for Chant de Linos, the two composers justi-
cations in print for rejecting Stravinsky in 1945 could not have been
more different. Most notable is the complete absence of nationalism in
Niggs provocative explanation of the protesters motivations. Nigg
107
32
Roland-Manuel, Une nouvelle querelle des Bouffons, Combat (April 12, 1945), 2.
33
Unsigned editorial, Combat (April 1415, 1945), 2.
34
Roland-Manuel, Une nouvelle querelle des bouffons, 2.
35
Poulenc, Vive Strawinsky! 1.
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chafed at the remarkable unanimity in favor of Stravinskys neoclassi-
cism as a model for new composition in postwar France. Instead of the
Querelle des Bouffons, with its nationalist overtones, Nigg sarcastically
evoked later eighteenth-century musical quarrels that had been re-
solved in favor of an established genius: So, no defenders of Salieri?
No one for Piccini? Everyone has recognized Mozart and Gluck; what
joy! Nigg listed the labels applied in recent articles to the protesters
for having expressed their skepticism: conformists of non-conformity,
neo-academics, and devotees of modernism at any price. What is
all this jargon hiding? he asked. Incontestably, a guilty conscience.
36
That one loaded phrase encapsulates the gap between the genera-
tion that had come of age in occupied France and its elders. In the
minds of French critics, the end of the occupation was an opportunity
for French composers to pick up where they had left off in 1939, when
the war had begun and several French musicians had been mobilized to
ght in the armed forces. Their rediscovery of Stravinsky was a grand
leap backwards, a phrase coined by Serge Guilbaut in reference to the
fall 1944 Picasso retrospective in Paris.
37
Guilbaut interprets the post-
war embrace of Picasso as an attempt by the French art world to erase
the nightmare of the occupation and return to the point at which the
war had intervened. In the case of Stravinsky, the return was to an imag-
inary version of prewar Paris, one where Stravinskys new music had
met with universal praise, not the mixed reception that had actually
greeted the composers nal prewar appearance in the capital in 1938.
Such a return made no sense to French composers of Niggs gener-
ation, who were intensely aware of their own place in history. Niggs
emphasis on the necessity of meeting present-day demands conrms
Guilbauts analysis that this concealment was certainly therapeutic
but would not allow Paris to take charge of the enormous ideological
and emotional transformations that the postwar had in store.
38
Ought
we, asked Nigg, to prolong or end denitively the neoclassical current
that for nearly thirty years has dragged in its wake every mediocre ele-
ment, and nds its justication in the decadent works of a great man?
Rather, he asserted, the contemporary artistic production of the so-
called young imbeciles who protested Stravinsky ought to at least bear
what he called the traces of a profoundly felt uncertainty.
39
108
36
Nigg, La Querelle Strawinsky, 2.
37
Serge Guilbaut, Comment la Ville lumire sest fait voler lide dart moderne,
in Paris 19441954: Artistes, intellectuels, publics: la culture comme enjeu, ed. Philippe Gum -
plo wicz and Jean-Claude Klein (Paris: ditions Autrement, 1995), 49.
38
Ibid.
39
Nigg, La Querelle Strawinsky, 2.
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The profoundly felt uncertainty proposed by Nigg for young
French composers in 1945 was the polar opposite of the critics hyper-
bolic certainty in Stravinskys postwar relevance. Niggs position also
presented a striking contrast to the knowing self-assurance that domi-
nated the prescriptions offered by French composers, critics, and ad-
ministrators to young French composers during the occupation. The
wartime Vichy government had worked actively to promote new French
music by calling on young composers to return to their heritage and by
condemning the so-called stylistic gimmickry of the past twenty years
through which the traditions of that heritage had been cast aside. At
Vichys Administration of Fine Arts, the disdain of the new director,
Louis Hautecur, for what he called modernisms fashionable myth
of originality resonated with older French composers whose values and
ideals had been displaced by new currents in modern music since 1918.
The states commissions program ensured that young composers who
embraced their heritage received the recognition and nancial remu-
neration their music deserved.
40
Nigg entered the Paris Conservatoire at age seventeen in 1941, fol-
lowed by Boulez, who arrived in Paris in 1943 at age eighteen.
41
Al-
though they would have been too young to have been directly affected
by wartime government programs for contemporary music, the educa-
tion they received at the Conservatoire was not immune to the wartime
nationalist embrace of tradition and the past. Nigg was a student in the
rst class Messiaen taught at the Conservatoire in 1941 following the
latters release from a German prisoner-of-war camp.
42
Ofcially, Messi-
aen was only a harmony professor; he was an isolated gure at the Con-
servatoire for several years. Composition classes were taught by Henri
Busser and Max dOllone, distinguished older composers with solid
academic credentials. Although neither Nigg nor Boulez studied with
them, these men held powerful positions in wartime French musical life,
with dOllone appointed the director of the Opra-Comique in 1941
and Busser appointed music director at Radiodiffusion nationale (the
wartime name of Radiodiffusion franaise) in 1943.
43
Boulez spent one
109
40
Louis Hautecur, Les Beaux-Arts en France, pass et avenir (Paris: Picard, 1948), 80.
On the government commissions program and other programs of support for contempo-
rary French music during the war, see my Music for a New Era.
41
On Niggs early years, see Nicolas Bacri, Serge Nigg: Une introduction, in Mar-
ius Constant et Serge Nigg: Deux compositeurs en marge des systmes, ed. Franois Madurell
(Paris: La Sorbonne, 2000), 56. On Boulezs arrival in Paris, see Jameux, 2329.
42
Like many Frenchmen of his generation, Messiaen was mobilized in September
1939 and captured by the Germans in June 1940; he spent several months in a German
prisoner-of-war camp before his repatriation to France in March 1941.
43
On the roles Busser and dOllone played in wartime musical life in France and
the postwar consequences, see my Music for a New Era. For a description of Bussers
nal years as a professor at the Conservatoire, see Boivin, 7577.
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year in a preparatory course taught by Georges Dandelot before joining
Messiaens harmony class in fall 1944. During the occupation, Busser,
Arthur Honegger, and Tony AubindOllones successor at the Conser-
vatoire in 1945were vocal proponents of the so-called New French
School of young composers, and Dandelot was both a representative of
the school and a beneciary of French government support.
44
In the realm of orchestral music, the precursors of the New French
School were clear. Honegger put it best in his 1941 review of a Debussy
Festival, quoting Wagner (in the original German) to make his point.
Honor our German masters! sings Hans Sachs at the end of Die Meis-
tersinger. He is right. Let us honor our French masters. After Debussy
and Ravel let it now be the turn of Vincent dIndy, Roussel, Florent
Schmitt and all those who are the honor and glory of France.
45
The
battle that dIndy had waged at the turn of the century on behalf of a
French symphonic tradition, with its explicit goal of proving French
competence in a domain perceived to be inherently German, had
never been laid to rest. In 1913 dIndy was predicting that French com-
posers would fulll the so-called mission of symphonic development
that had begun with Haydn and Beethoven.
46
Thirty years later, Aubin
declared that recent compositions by Dandelot, Henri Tomasi, and oth-
ers provided the necessary indications that the New French School
would justify dIndys optimism. A return to the rigor of dIndys ap-
proach to la musique pure, Aubin argued in a review of the premiere of
Dandelots Symphony in D, was exactly what was called for in the
France of 1943.
47
The only way that wartime Conservatoire students such as Nigg and
Boulez could gain access to new music that differed from this restrictive
view centered on the French tradition was through the teachings of
Messiaen, either in his ofcial harmony classes or the private lessons he
was offering concurrently.
48
In addition to scores by Debussy, Wagner,
110
44
On Dandelot, see Armand Machabeys wartime portrait, Galerie de quelques
jeunes musiciens parisiens: Georges Dandelot, LInformation musicale 80 (September 4,
1942): 1, reprinted in Machabey, Portraits de trente musiciens franais (Paris: Richard-Masse,
1949), 4953. For information about the government support he received during the oc-
cupation, including two state commissions, and the reception his music received in occu-
pied Paris, see my Music for a New Era, 38586, 39395, 410.
45
Ehrt eure deutschen Meister! dit Hans Sachs la n des Matres chanteurs. Il a
raison. Honorons nos matres franais. Arthur Honegger, Le Festival Claude Debussy,
Comdia ( June 21, 1941), 3.
46
DIndy, Concerts Lamoureux, S.I.M. 9 (December 1, 1913): 45, quoted by
Brian Hart in The Symphony in Theory and Practice in France, 19001914 (PhD diss.,
Indiana University, 1994), 140.
47
Aubin, Premires auditions, Comdia (February 20, 1943), 5.
48
Boulez joined Messiaens harmony class and the private lessons in the fall of
1944, and Nigg, who had been in Messiaens harmony class since 1941, joined the private
lessons sometime around 1946, shortly before he left the Conservatoire. On Nigg, see
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and Ravel, Messiaens students read and played medieval polyphony,
non-western music, and modern works by composers ranging from Stra -
vinsky (Le Sacre du printemps, Petrushka, Les Noces) to Bartk (Music for
Strings, Percussion, and Celeste) and the Second Viennese School (Schoen -
berg, Pierrot Lunaire; Berg, Wozzeck and the Violin Concerto; Webern,
Variations, op. 27).
49
As for Stravinskys music, Messiaen was notably fond
of teaching his students in both classes about rhythm in the early Russian
ballets, particularly Le Sacre.
50
But his ambivalence toward Stravinskys
neoclassical works dated from at least 1931, when he stated that it
seems to me that all French music today is focused on the Albert Rous-
sel of the Suite en fa and the symphonies, and early Stravinsky and de-
scribed Apollon musagte as like a piece by Lully with a few wrong bass
notes.
51
Nigg later told Jean Boivin that we thought, in [Messiaens]
class, that the grand Stravinsky was that of Le Sacre, Les Nocesworks of
that genre.
52
Nigg echoed his teachers opinions in his 1945 Combat ar-
ticle when he decried the critics dismissal of Le Sacre. As Nigg put it, if
the critics saw Le Sacre as an outdated source, how can they dare sup-
port those who draw upon the much more valuable, yet unsurpassable,
resources of the Brandenburg concertos!
53
With the publication of Niggs article, a clash was now inevitable be-
tween the hyperbole of critics who supported Stravinsky and the now-
stated position of the protestors. Indeed, the continuing press debate
over the third Stravinsky festival concert continued well past the perfor-
mance of the fourth concert on April 12, overshadowing the French
premiere of the Symphony in C, the most substantial new Stravinsky
piece of the festival. Among rare reviews of the concert, Roland-Manuel
prefaced his positive assessment of the Symphony in C with the sarcastic
observation that Rosenthal was defying Mr. Andr Jolivets ban by
111
Boivin, 48. On Boulezs arrival in Messiaens classes, see Boivin, 3435. Boulez wrote of
the enormous impact of Messiaens class on himself and his fellow students in Une classe
et ses chimres, a tribute to Messiaen on his ftieth birthday in 1959. Reprinted in
Boulez, Points de repre, ed. Jean-Jacques Nattiez (Paris: Christian Bourgois, 1981), 56667.
49
Boivin, 434.
50
Messiaens opinions on Stravinskys use of rhythm appeared in print in a 1939 ar-
ticle in which he singled out Le Sacre and Les Noces as Stravinskys most signicant works:
Le rythme chez Igor Stravinsky, Revue Musicale 191 (1939): 9192. Both Messiaen and
his former students later recalled the prominence of Le Sacre in his classes. Boivin, 3738,
46.
51
Messiaen, in Jos Bruyr, Olivier Messiaen, in Lcran des musiciens, seconde srie
(Paris: Jos Corti, 1933), 128. The interview was published two years after it took place.
See Simeone, Offrandes oublies 2: Messiaen, Boulanger, and Jos Bruyr, Musical Times
142 (2001): 20.
52
Nigg, quoted in Boivin, 64.
53
Nigg, La querelle Strawinsky, 2. The reference could apply to either Danses con-
certantes or the Concerto in E

(Dumbarton Oaks), which had last been performed in


Paris in May 1944.
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continuing the festival.
54
Auric did not even review the work but instead
published a lengthy diatribe against Nigg on the same day of the con-
cert. Quoting Niggs objection to critics comparisons of the student
protesters in 1945 to the little old ladies who booed Le Sacre in 1913
Nigg had asked, incredulously, Do we now live in an age when young
people look to the past, whereas the middle-aged grow younger?
Auric expressed hope that there still existed some young people who
did not make the mistake of looking backwards. Whereas his initial re-
sponse to the protesters on March 24 had been fairly polite, Aurics re-
sponse to Niggs Combat article bristled with rage: I know perfectly well
that, thankfully, all the young musicians do not look to the past, this
past that isand will denitely remain, I am certainan aesthetic de-
rived laboriously from several otherwise magnicent pages of Le Sacre
and also, alas, from the laboratory where Mr. Schoenberg long ago
mixed his evil poisons with diabolical skill. Auric admitted that in
1918, he and his comrades may have been impressed by Schoenbergs
musical ideas, but these ideas had no place in todays world. How can
anyone, in 1945, refuse to comprehend that the stench of a cadaver
emanates from an imposter art that fools us no longer?
55
Yet it was Niggs use of the word uncertainty that particularly in-
censed Auric. After quoting Jolivet as an unnamed improvised critic
who claimed that Stravinsky has taught us nothing [Aurics emphasis],
Auric wrote: At that point, dear Mr. Nigg, you pull out a superb police
whistle and believe that you are bearing witness in this way to a convinc-
ing uncertainty! This time, however, we are the ones who are uncer-
tain. We wish to accord all young artists the benet of the doubt, but
what is there to say in response to your whistles? Aurics sarcastic ap-
propriation of Niggs uncertainty to indicate the skepticism of his
generationthey are the ones who are uncertain about Niggs claims
reveals his deep attachment to the idea of returning to Stravinsky as the
surest way to proceed in the uncertain times of 1945.
Messiaen and Leibowitz in Paris, 1945
Aurics anxiety was not just about the uncertainty that Nigg ex-
pressed in response to the proposed renewal of neoclassicism in post-
war France. It was also about what young French composers might em-
brace instead. Auric referred in his April 21 article to early Stravinsky
and Schoenbergs atonal works. This was music he knew Nigg had been
studying in Messiaens classes, and it was Niggs absorption of them as
112
54
Roland-Manuel, Une nouvelle symphonie de Strawinsky, Combat (April 2223,
1945), 2.
55
Auric, Gnie et sifets roulette, Les Lettres franaises (April 21, 1945), 5.
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models in his Concertino that both Auric and Rostand had recently de-
plored.
56
Although Auric did not mention Messiaen directly in his at-
tack on Nigg, Messiaen was a central part of the Stravinsky controversy
as early as the February 27 French premiere of Danses concertantes. In
his March 10 review, Rostand implicated Messiaen in his students dis-
ruptive behavior without directly naming him. If it were true that the
protesters were his Conservatoire students, Rostand continued, he
would be giving them a very strange education.
57
In private, Poulenc
wrote matter-of-factly to Milhaud in March about Messiaen and the pro-
testers: The Messiaenistes are very against Stravinsky[s] last period.
For them, the music of Igor stops with Le Sacre.
58
By the time of the
third Stravinsky festival concert, Messiaen was sufciently conscious of
the association to have gone backstage after the performance to per-
sonally apologize to Rosenthal.
59
Meanwhile, Messiaen had become embroiled in a controversy of
his own. On March 26, Yvonne Loriod performed the premiere of his
new Vingt Regards sur lEnfant-Jsus. The rst major premiere of Messi-
aens music since the liberation was met with widely diverging opinions
by French critics, some of whom were unsparing in their condemna-
tion. Two opposing views appeared in the press on April 3 in the midst
of the continuing controversy over the recent Stravinsky protests.
Roland-Manuel wrote warmly in Combat of Messiaens sensuous spiritu-
ality and the originality of his theoretical system, whereas in Figaro
Bernard Gavoty condemned Messiaen for what several critics would cite
as the composers main failings: the abysmal verbal commentaries
whose connection to the music was opaque at best, and the recondite
theoretical system that was at odds with the expressive goals of the com-
poser. Is this heaven? Gavoty concluded. No, its purgatory.
60
With Messiaen now the subject of his own press skirmish, Poulenc
and Roland-Manuel felt obliged to defend Messiaen from any guilt by
associationeither with the protesters who were his students or with
Jolivet, his close colleague in La Jeune Francein responding later that
week to Jolivets diatribe against Stravinsky. Poulenc acknowledged on
April 7 in Le Figaro that it was an established fact that both the timid
113
56
Auric, Tibor Harsanyi, 5; Rostand, La Musique: Strawinsky et Milhaud, 5.
57
Rostand, La Musique: Strawinsky et Milhaud, 5.
58
Poulenc to Milhaud, March 27, 1945, in Chimnes, ed., Poulenc, 585.
59
Peter Hill and Nigel Simeone, Messiaen (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005),
393, note 11. They cite Roger Nichols as their source.
60
Roland-Manuel, Olivier Messiaen et ses Vingt Regards sur lEnfant-Jsus, Combat
(April 3, 1945), 2; Clarendon [Bernard Gavoty], Les Concerts: Regard sur Olivier Messi-
aen, Figaro (April 3, 1945), 2. For a detailed account of several responses in the press
to Messiaens music in the spring of 1945, see Hill and Simeone, 14454, 16061, and
16567.
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protests at the Danses concertantes premiere and the premeditated
ones against the Four Norwegian Moods were led by Messiaens students.
But he defended Messiaen as a person of integrity and intelligence
who ought not to be negatively associated with the actions of his stu-
dents. Roland-Manuel, in his April 12 response to Jolivet, wrote that un-
like Jolivet, Messiaen was a great musician who is content to write his
music. Mr. Jolivet, who is no longer a young man and who is not yet a
great musician, would do well to model himself on his colleague.
61
The importance of these published statements of support to Messiaen
at this time is evident in a letter the composer wrote to Poulenc on
April 19 to thank him for his direct, frank, and chivalrous article, in
which you so nicely defended me. . . . I feel less alone now that you
have spoken for me. Thank you with all my heart.
62
With the even more tumultuous premiere of Messiaens Trois petites
Liturgies de la Prsence Divine on April 21 at the Salle du Conservatoire,
the controversy persisted. The concert was a major event in Paris musi-
cal circles: the rst by the Concerts de la Pliade since the liberation,
with Dsormire conducting the Orchestre de la Socit des Concerts
du Conservatoire and the Chorale Yvonne Gouvern singing premieres
of Milhauds Quatrains valaisans, Poulencs Un soir de neige, and several
selections of Renaissance polyphony.
63
Nearly everyone involved in the
Stravinsky controversy was there, from Messiaens students (Nigg,
Boulez, Jean-Louis Martinet, Pierre Henry) to the critics who had de-
fended Stravinsky (Auric, Winer, Roland-Manuel, Rostand) and the
composers who had recently joined the debate (Poulenc, Jolivet).
64
Ro-
stand had fanned the ames by publishing that morning a notoriously
harsh review of a recent organ recital by Messiaen. In language that he
later recanted in print, the critic excoriated Messiaen for his verbal ex-
cesses and mocked his juxtaposition of sensuality and religion as vulgar
and in poor taste.
65
What resulted was yet another protracted press
114
61
Poulenc, Vive Strawinsky! 1; Roland-Manuel, Une nouvelle querelle des bouf-
fons, 2.
62
Messiaen to Poulenc, April 19, 1945; in Chimnes, ed., Francis Poulenc: Correspon-
dance 19101963 (Paris: Fayard, 1994), 586.
63
For the full program, see Simeone, Messiaen and the Concerts de la Pliade,
577.
64
Hill and Simeone, 148.
65
Messiaen performed Les Corps glorieux at the Palais de Chaillot on April 15, 1945.
To cite one of the most offending passages of Rostands review: When Mr. Messiaen
speaks to me of birds who have swallowed blue, I simply respond to him with the ve let-
ters made famous by General Cambronne [a euphemism for merde], for either he takes
me for an imbecile and thus I have the right to consider him a rogue, or I fear for his
sanity and his case, regarding his literary work, is a matter for psychiatric evaluation.
Rostand, Olivier Messiaen, Carrefour 35 (April 21, 1945): 5. Rostand apologized for his
offensive language in Olivier Messiaen (Paris: Ventadour, 1957), 8, note 2.
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debate, now surrounding Messiaen the composer instead of Messiaen
the teacher, that was soon dubbed Le Cas Messiaen.
66
Messiaen himself found the furor traumatic. For his students, how-
ever, the event was galvanizing: Nigg later described the Trois petites
Liturgies as symbolizing the spiritual renewal of the country after the
terrible years of German occupation.
67
Poulenc reported triumphantly
to Paul Collaer in Belgium that, between the Stravinsky protests and the
Messiaen premiere, musical life in Paris had come alive.
68
His opinion
was shared by Messiaens friend, Guy Bernard-Delapierre, in an article
published shortly after the premiere: in this [city of ] Paris liberated a
few months earlier, slowly relearning how to live, the sudden revelation
of this masterpiece took on the solemnity of a grand event.
69
Gavoty
prefaced his discussion of Le Cas Messiaen in the fall of 1945 with
a description of the two scandals (Stravinsky and Messiaen) side by
side.
70
Some six years later, Rostand regarded the press furor as the en-
thusiastic embrace of freedom of speech that had recently returned to
France, commenting that everyone [except Messiaen, presumably]
had a great time [sen donna cur joie].
71
The two controversies were sufciently intertwined that Messiaen
responded to both simultaneously in May. From Messiaens perspective,
the quarrel was about Stravinsky, and it made little sense to him to have
been placed in the middle of it. He argued that Stravinsky was only a
pretext to the real issue of the uncertainty surrounding music compo-
sition in the present day. What we are waiting for, he declared, was
a composer to come after Stravinsky and neoclassicism. Messiaens
description of the anticipation surrounding this musician is self-
consciously Biblical:
After Stravinsky, Honegger and Bartk, we await a musician who is not
neoclassical but who is so profoundly and brilliantly revolutionary that
his style can one day be called classical. Several French and foreign
composers have already tried to ll this role: they are the precursors
115
66
On Le Cas Messiaen in the context of postwar France, see Lilise Boswell-Kurc,
Olivier Messiaens Religious War-time Works and their Controversial Reception in
France (194146) (PhD diss., New York University, 2001).
67
Nigg, quoted in Boivin, 65.
68
Poulenc recommended to Collaer that he program the Trois petites Liturgies in
Brussels. Poulenc to Collaer, 26 April 1945; Archives Collaer, quoted in Chimnes, ed.,
Poulenc, 587.
69
Guy Bernard[-Delapierre], Souvenirs sur Olivier Messiaen, Formes et couleurs,
nos. 34 (1945): unpaginated (10 pp.).
70
Gavoty, Musique et mystique: Le Cas Messiaen, Les tudes (OctoberDecember
1945), 2122.
71
Rostand, La musique franaise contemporaine (Paris: Presses universitaires de
France, 1952), 57.
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of this surprising genius. When will he appear? In twenty, fty, seventy
years? What a burden of inuences, hesitations, reappraisals, detours,
hopes, experiments and partial successes will weigh upon his shoul-
ders! Because it will be from all of us that he will be born: he will be
our conclusion, I was about to say our Amen.
Neoclassicism had served its purpose and produced its masterpieces
(he named Symphony of Psalms as one), but Messiaen urged that critics
ought to condemn false revolutionaries who claimed that the new
music, its us [la musique nouvelle, cest nous ], simply because they have
shifted a few bass lines in a Donizetti cavatina! But there was no need
to continue the recent name-calling: My dear detractors, leave Stra -
vinsky in peace; his fame has no need of us. Stop tormenting Andr
Jolivet . . . . Dont accuse my dear students unjustly. And if some of the
youngwithout my knowledgedisplay their enthusiasm or their dis-
approval too noisily, be glad of their passionate feelings, signs of a more
generous and humane generation.
72
It is striking that in speaking of the young as potentially represent-
ing a more generous and humane generation, Messiaen was referring
to students who were less than twenty years younger than he. What
separated Messiaenand Jolivetmore denitively from the students
than age was the experience of having reached adulthood and having
received an education before the September 1939 declaration of war
against Germany.
73
That sense of divide deepened as several of Messi-
aens students began to study with Leibowitz in a gradual process of de-
sertion from the late spring of 1945 on.
74
Although Messiaen felt that
the central musical gure of the time had yet to appear, Leibowitz was
clear in his conviction that this gure was Schoenberg. Leibowitz had
begun his postwar campaign on behalf of Schoenberg and twelve-tone
116
72
Messiaen, Querelle de la musique et de lamour, Volonts (May 16, 1945), 1.
73
To my knowledge, there are two exceptions. Martinet, who attended Messiaens
private lessons, was born in 1915; he began his studies at the Conservatoire in 1933, was
mobilized in 1939, and returned to the Conservatoire in October 1940. Raymond Depraz
was born in 1912; he joined Messiaens harmony class in 19431944 after returning from
a German prisoner-of-war camp. Boivin, 41011.
74
According to Jameux, Boulez rst met Leibowitz at Claude Halphens house in
February 1945. Boivin describes the studies as lasting from late spring in 1945 to the fol-
lowing fall, with interruptions during the summer. After surveying the many contradic-
tory dates in the literature, Susanne Grtner has concluded that Boulezs studies began
no later than June 1945, and that they lasted only a few months. Nigg claimed to Boivin
to have instigated the defection of Messiaens students to study with Leibowitz, whom he
had met through Andr Casanova, but he gave no date. Jameux, 29; Boivin, 5657; Grt-
ner, La discipline dodcaphonique. Untersuchungen zu Ren Leibowitz Rezeption
spter Werke Anton Webern (Lizentiatsarbeit, Universitt Basel, 1996), 47, 1617;
quoted by Sabine Meine in Ein Zwlftner in Paris: Studien zu Biographie und Wirkung von
Ren Leibowitz (Augsburg: Wissner-Verlag, 2000), 211.
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composition soon after the liberation, having organized in November
1944 a Schoenberg-Debussy concert as well as private concerts in early
1945. Leibowitz proclaimed the language of exclusive historical in-
evitability for twelve-tone music in his announcement for the 1944 con-
cert in Combat, accusing Parisians of long before the ban imposed by
the German occupation . . . [having] accepted a sort of conspiracy of si-
lence around what seems to me to be the most important music of our
time. With the end of the occupation, the time has come, Leibowitz
proclaimed, to familiarize the man of today with a mode of expression
that he will recognize, sooner or later, as the only musical language suit-
able to be discussed at the present time.
75
The few critics who took notice of Leibowitz in the fall of 1944
scoffed at his ideas. Roland-Manuel dismissed him as a priest of a de-
consecrated temple, and Auric spoke derisively of Schoenbergs music
during the 1945 Stravinsky festival as an imposter art that fools us no
longer.
76
During the Messiaen arguments, Poulenc protested when the
preface to Leibowitzs Introduction la musique de douze sons appeared
in a lavish volume of Cahiers dart dedicated to French artistic efforts dur-
ing the occupation, juxtaposing Leibowitzs arguments on behalf of
Schoen berg with the paintings of Picasso, Matisse, and Braque and the
poems of luard and Ren Char.
77
Everyone knows, Poulenc wrote,
that, aesthetically, my nationalism is among the most exible. It was not
mindless ag-waving, he argued, but common sense to wonder why a
French composer was not given the place of honor in this volume. Why
not an essay on Messiaen, whose rapid ascent is truly the most crucial
event in French music in the past four years? Theres a musician who
doesnt need to split a hair twelve ways to enrich our heritage in a spec-
tacular fashion.
78
Poulencs nationalism, a potent force in the French experience of
the Second World War, was at the heart of the generational divide. As
we have seen, Nigg had no need of Jolivets nationalist rhetoric to reject
Stravinsky as a model for young French composers. Likewise, Schoen-
bergs nationality did not prevent Nigg from embracing Leibowitzs
view of the historical inevitability of twelve-tone composition by the
117
75
Leibowitz, La Musique: Un festival Debussy-Schoenberg, Combat (November 18,
1944), 2.
76
Roland-Manuel, La Musique, Combat (November 25, 1944): 2; Auric, Gnie et
sifets roulette.
77
Leibowitz, Introduction la musique de douze sons, Cahiers dart (19401944),
11125. Leibowitzs article, with some minor editorial changes, became the preface, the
introduction, and the rst four sections of the rst chapter of Introduction la musique de
douze sons: Les Variations pour orchestre op. 31, dArnold Schoenberg (Paris: LArche, 1949).
78
Poulenc, Le musicien et le sorcier, Les Lettres franaises (May 5, 1945), 5.
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time of his previously mentioned late 1945 Contrepoints survey response
in which Nigg proclaimed twelve-tone composition as the inevitable
outcome of a broad historical progression from modality to a tonality
increasingly destabilized by chromaticism.
79
Boulez agreed, later
commenting on the French rejection of Schoenberg after the war that
for quite some time, especially in French circles in Paris, it was said that
this music had nothing to offer us because it was so Central European
that it ran counter to our entire culture. Well, I think there is no sillier
way of looking at the issue. Even if the music is foreign to your point of
view, if you are interested in your personal development, you must con-
front these works.
80
Messiaens students were eager to learn more
about the unfamiliar twelve-tone works of Schoenberg and his students,
not in small part because such a system of composition was so different
from anything to which they had ever been exposed. As Martinet later
explained, the psychological climate of the postwar period and the
deprivations of the occupation made young musicians such as himself
eager to explore all the possibilities that were offered to them.
81
Messiaen may have unwittingly contributed to his students recep-
tivity to Leibowitz, for Messiaens tolerant attitude towards twelve-tone
composition contrasted greatly with the intolerance of contemporaries
like Auric. In his own response to the 1945 Contrepoints survey, Messi-
aen refused to embrace or exclude any style in advance: Why ban this
or that? If it pleases me to use [the] major [mode], to mix it with my
modes, or to oppose it to them? If it pleases me to imitate bird song or
Hindu ragas? If it pleases me to suddenly employ serial techniques [em-
phasis in the original] because I need them, suddenly?
82
It is impor-
tant to emphasize, however, that Messiaens ecumenical outlook did not
extend to Stravinskys neoclassical works. He reiterated his disdain in
October 1945 when he decried neoclassical composers as placing
around their works a modern sauce that fools the ears of the public,
which imagines having heard modern music.
83
Despite having appar-
ently apologized to Rosenthal after the third Stravinsky festival concert,
Messiaen was unrepentant in a February 1946 interview: I cannot
accompany my students to concerts with a billy club in my hands. I
118
79
Une enqute (suite): Serge Nigg, 7879.
80
Boulez, Par volont et par hasard: Entretiens avec Clestin Dliege (Paris: Seuil, 1975),
3334.
81
Martinet, Notes autobiographiques, at http://www.musimem.com/biographies
.html.
82
Une enqute (suite): Olivier Messiaen, ou les harmonies potiques et in-
gnieuses, Contrepoints 3 (MarchApril 1946): 74.
83
Messiaen, in Claude Chamfray, Notre enqute: Le dsarroi musical: Olivier Mes-
siaen, Arts 39 (October 26, 1945): 5.
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admire Stravinsky, he continued, but I believe that Le Sacre marked the
pinnacle of his genius.
84
Messiaens students fully embraced his opin-
ion in their protests of spring 1945. It is true that their next teacher,
Leibowitz, shared Messiaens disdain. After the 1945 Stravinsky festival,
Leibowitz repeated his earlier condemnation of Stravinskys academic
neoclassicism from the 1938 Paris premiere of the Dumbarton Oaks
concerto, writing that he would leave to others a closer analysis of
Stravinskys recent pieces: given the scant attention Stra vinsky pays to
his scores today, I dont see why I should get worked up about them my-
self.
85
But Leibowitzs article, Stravinsky, or, The Choice of Musical
Misery, in which this statement appears, was not published until April
1946, one year after the protests had taken place.
The Legacy of the Occupation and the Early Cold War in France
Leibowitzs 1946 article was one of the last contributions to the
Stra vinsky controversy. One senses that although the protests themselves
already belonged to the past, the issues raised in the ensuing debates
continued to resonate in the early years of the Cold War in France. In
Leibowitzs words, the criticism that some made of [Stravinsky]
namely, his abandonment of a certain explosiveness [and] of a search
toward the discovery of new means of expressionis exactly that which
others raised as a virtue. Thus we nd ourselves before problems that
go beyond the simple Cas Strawinsky and call into question the most
fundamental questions of todays musical life.
86
Yet Leibowitzs insis-
tence on the exclusive historical inevitability of Schoenbergs model
soon alienated at least one of his new students. Boulezs lessons with
Leibowitz lasted only a few months; as he later explained to Gola, he
had come to the conclusion that Leibowitz, for serial music, was the
worst academicism; [he was] much more dangerous for serial music
than tonal academicism had ever been for tonal music.
87
Having re-
jected the content of Leibowitzs dogma, Boulez nevertheless contin-
ued to embrace both the singularity of Leibowitzs vision and the strong
aversion to nationalism that was typical of the generation that had
119
84
Messiaen, in Gabriel Bender, Un entretien avec Olivier Messiaen, Guide du con-
cert 15 (February 22, 1946): 19091.
85
Leibowitz, Strawinsky ou le choix de la misre musicale, Les Temps modernes 1
(1946): 1335. In 1938 Leibowitz saw the Dumbarton Oaks concerto as evidence of
Stravinskys total creative impotence and described a fugal passage as revoltingly aca -
demic. Leibowitz, La Musique: Dialogue sur Strawinsky, Esprit 6 (1938): 587. See also
note 13.
86
Leibowitz, Strawinsky ou le choix de la misre musicale, 1321.
87
Gola, 46; see also note 74.
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come of age during the occupation. For Boulez, there was only one
valid way to proceed, and it could be found only in the rejection of his-
tory. When Boulez revisited the 1945 Stravinsky protests in 1971, he re-
iterated his conviction that after the brilliant rework display of their
early years, both Stravinsky and Schoenberg were haunted by history.
His conclusion: Praise be to amnesia!
88
Dening the political signicance of Boulezs postwar rejection
of his national heritage and adoption of revolutionary compositional
techniqueswhat Leibowitz called the search toward the discovery of
new means of expressionhas proven to be elusive. It is telling that
when Carroll proposes a political interpretation of Boulezs Structures
1a in the 1952 Luvre du XXe sicle (the same festival that brought
Stravinsky himself to postwar Paris for the rst time), he uses the
metaphor of neutralit.
89
Indeed, despite the CIAs role in funding festi-
vals such as Luvre du XXe sicle in Paris in 1952 and Music of the XXth
Century in Rome in 1954, both of which included the music of serial
composers, the case for arguing that the CIA promoted high mod-
ernism is much weaker in music than in literature and the visual arts.
More plausible is Ian Wellens contention that we ought to interpret
postwar musical modernism not as a political statement, but as a with-
drawal from conventional politics, and one which . . . laid it open to ap-
propriation.
90
As Wellens points out, whereas the Paris and Rome festi-
vals were vigorously opposed by left-wing politicians and publications,
Boulez participated in the Paris festival and objected to the Rome festi-
val because of its pompousness, not its politics.
91
By contrast, Niggs postwar trajectory was profoundly shaped by his
yearning to forge a link between his musical aesthetics and his political
120
88
Boulez, Stravinsky: Style or Idea? In Praise of Amnesia, in Pierre Boulez: Orienta-
tions, ed. Jean-Jacques Nattiez and trans. Martin Cooper (Cambridge: Harvard University
Press, 1986), 35859. Originally published as Style ou ide?loge damnsie, Musique
en jeu 4 (1971): 414.
89
Carroll argues that the very resistance of Structures 1a to interpretation represents
the French desire to fend off political pressures from both East and West and nd its own
unique path during the early Cold War. Carroll, 3, 16, 91. Boulez and Messiaen per-
formed the premiere of Structures 1a in a chamber music festival associated with Luvre
du XXe sicle, where it caused an audience protest of its own. Robert Craft described the
incident, which he and Stravinsky witnessed, in Stravinsky: Chronicle of a Friendship, revised
and expanded edition (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1994), 77.
90
Wellens, 126. Wellens argues that Stonor Saunders mischaracterizes the Rome
festival in particular as having a heavy concentration on serialist composers in order to
make her case for CIA sponsorship of serialism. He contends the modest presence of seri-
alism in the festival was consistent with its presence in any contemporary music festival of
the 1950s. Wellens, 121.
91
Ibid., 12426. Wellens cites Boulezs scathing rejection of Nabokovs invitation to
participate in the Rome festival in a letter preserved in the archives of the International
Association for Cultural Freedom, Special Collection of the Joseph Regenstein Library,
University of Chicago.
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convictions. Initially, Niggs postwar choices, like those of Boulez, were
motivated primarily by musical polemics. Before 1947, the PCF dis-
played a tolerant attitude toward the lively debates over the future of
French music that were taking place in left-wing French newspapers
among party members like Nigg as well as non-communists.
92
In Niggs
April 1945 Combat article about the 1945 Stravinsky festival, any traces
of Niggs membership in the PCF are deeply submerged in vague talk
of an ethics of artistic creation and a sarcastic observation that just as
everyone today is a socialist, everyone is equally in favor of the music of
the future.
93
Meanwhile, Nigg was gravitating to Leibowitz to study
twelve-tone compositional methods, attracted by the ideal of a universal
language mandated by history and uniquely suited to creating a new
musical order founded on rational and logical principles.
94
Nigg re-
mained loyal to Leibowitz much longer than Boulez and is often
counted among the rst French composers to embrace twelve-tone
methods. For instance, his Variations for Piano and Ten Instruments was
among three French contributions (the others were by Leibowitz and
another of his students, Andr Casanova) to Leibowitzs International
Festival of Contemporary Chamber Music in homage to Schoenberg,
which took place in Paris on January 25 and 29, 1947.
95
Niggs eventual rupture with Leibowitz was motivated primarily by
politics and was far more complete than Boulezs had been. At the end
of 1947, a rapidly changing political landscape forced Nigg to confront
the idea that his aesthetic afnity for twelve-tone composition and his
political membership in the PCF might no longer be compatible. In
the Moscow meeting of March-April 1947, the foreign ministers of the
United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union were unable to
come up with a peace plan for Germany and Austria that did not in-
volve partition.
96
Escalating tensions in Europe between the two super-
powers put pressure on the PCF to bring the activities of all its mem-
bers into closer alignment with ofcial Soviet directives. The February
1948 resolution of the Soviet Communist Party made clear the conse-
quences in the Soviet Union for disregarding the Partys directives on
121
92
Alten, 11, 23.
93
Nigg, La querelle Strawinsky, 2.
94
Nigg, 1978 interview, cited in Bacri, 57.
95
For a complete program of the festival, see Meine, 25960. Casanova, who (like
Boulez) studied with Dandelot during the occupation, became Leibowitzs rst French
pupil in 1944. Jean-Yves Bosseur, Casanova, Andr, in Grove Music Online. Oxford Music
Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/05064 (ac-
cessed October 13, 2008).
96
Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: Penguin, 2005),
12426. Judt quotes Robert K. Murphy, the political advisor to the U.S. military govern-
ment in Germany, as declaring that the Moscow meeting rang down the Iron Curtain.
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socialist realism and formalism in music. The text of the resolution was
widely discussed in France as early as March 1948 and was published in
French translation two years later.
97
When French musicians who sym-
pathized with the PCF traveled in May 1948 to Prague for the Second
International Congress of Composers and Music Critics, they learned
what the Soviet Communist Party expected of communist musicians in
the west. Nigg joined several other French musicians in signing the
Prague Manifesto (which laid out these expectations) and in forming
the Association des musiciens progressistes, an organization meant to
promote the Manifestos principles. These were fourfold: to renounce
extreme subjectivism in their music in favor of the expression of pro-
gressive ideals; to defend their national cultural heritage against falsely
cosmopolitan tendencies; to pay more attention to the vocal forms
(opera, oratorio, cantata, chorus) that would best convey progressive
ideals in music; and to musically educate the masses. The Manifesto was
published in Les Lettres franaises, by this time under the control of the
PCF, in October 1948.
98
Niggs initial reaction to the Prague Manifesto was to try to nd a
way to reconcile his avant-garde compositional style with his Commu-
nist Party membership, which was itself rooted in his belief in the neces-
sity of social commitment in art. One week after Les Lettres franaises
published the Prague Manifesto, the newspaper published an interview
between Nigg and his fellow musicien progressiste, the music critic
Pierre Kaldor. Nigg embraced without condition the idea that all music
composition expresses a social reality, which it is shaped by, but he de-
fended his right as a composer to use avant-garde methods to achieve
socialist ideals. When Kaldor questioned Nigg about the difculty of his
proposed synthesis, Nigg responded that a composer was now obliged
to try to integrate his most extreme research with what people had the
right to expect of him, in a synthesis that could constitute the founda-
tion of a truly new music.
99
Nigg attempted to create such a synthesis
122
97
Ob opere Velikaya druzhba V. Muradeli, Postanovleniye TsK VKP(b) ot 10
fevralya 1948 g, Sovetskaya muszyka 12, no. 1 ( JanuaryFebruary 1948): 38; Andrei Alek-
sandrovich Zhdanov, Sur la littrature, la philosophie et la musique (Paris: Les ditions de la
Nouvelle critique, 1950). On the French reception of the resolution, see Alten, 5771.
For an English translation see: Soviet Music Policy, 1948 in Music since 1900, ed. Laura
Kuhn and Nicolas Slonimsky, 6th ed. (New York: Schirmer, 2001): 94252.
98
La Crise de la musique: Le manifeste de Prague, les ractions des musiciens
franais, Les Lettres franaises (October 7, 1948), 6. The French musicians who signed the
Manifesto were Nigg, Martinet, Dsormire, Elsa Barraine, Charles Bruck, Louis Durey,
Pierre Kaldor, and Charles Koechlin. Les Lettres franaises was founded during the occupa-
tion as a clandestine literary journal; it became a weekly paper in September 1944 and
was taken over by the PCF in 1947. See Pierre Daix, Les Lettres franaises: Jalons pour
lhistoire dun journal, 19411972 (Paris: Tallandier, 2004).
99
Kaldor, Entretien sur la crise de la musique, Les Lettres franaises (October 14,
1948), 6.
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sprout
with his 1949 oratorio, Le fusill inconnu, only to abandon twelve-tone
methods in his next major work, the symphonic poem Pour un pote cap-
tif, and in the choral works he was then writing for groups such as the
Chorale populaire de Paris.
100
It took until 1954, however, for Nigg to accept the Manifestos di-
rective to embrace his national heritage in his non-choral concert
works. In his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra of 1954, Nigg used
dIndys 1886 Symphonie sur un chant montagnard franais for piano
and orchestra as a model in composing a deeply conventional three-
movement work. Like dIndy, Nigg opened his concerto with a French
folk tune (rst heard, as was dIndys, in solo woodwinds over muted
strings in a slow introduction) that recurs throughout the rest of the
rst movement. Niggs Concerto was reviewed enthusiastically in Les
Lettres franaises by Renaud de Jouvenel, who compared his music favor-
ably to Soviet composers Aram Khachaturian and Arno Harutyuni
Babadjanian, and praised his rediscovery of his national heritage:
Serge Nigg is French. It is an experience that does not often happen
to us to watch the birth of a French composer of whom we can be
proud.
101
De Jouvenel later claimed that he was the one who intro-
duced Nigg to the French folk song Filles, chantez le mois de mai
that became the theme of his Piano Concerto. Until 1954, de Jouvenel
had been the director of Le Chant du Monde, a music publishing and
record rm funded by the PCF.
102
In 1952 Le Chant du Monde issued
a recording of Niggs choral harmonizations of French folk songs, in-
cluding Filles, chantez le mois de mai, and published them in 1957,
the same year the rm published Niggs Piano Concerto.
This close embrace of his national heritage in Niggs concert music
proved ambivalent and short-lived. In verbal statements Nigg was unam-
biguous in his rejection of serialism, specically adopting the language
of the Soviet Communist Partys 1948 resolution on music. He told
Gavoty and Daniel Lesur in a 1955 radio interview that for several
years I was a prisoner of ideas that were articial, manufactured, mor-
bid, and soul-destroying; for years I dared not write a single triad, or a
free and fresh melody. Think of the Procrustean bed: I was one of the
victims of what one could call The Musical Terror.
103
But even in
123
100
On Niggs music and political engagement during this period, see Alten, 7894.
Nigg later destroyed the score of Le fusill inconnu. Chamfray, Serge Nigg, 57.
101
Renaud de Jouvenel, Rexions sur le concerto de Serge Nigg, Les Lettres
franaises (March 10, 1955), 6.
102
De Jouvenel, Condences dun ancien sous-marin du P.C.F. (Paris: Julliard, 1980),
3252, 133.
103
Serge Nigg, in Bernard Gavoty and Daniel Lesur, eds., Pour ou contre la musique
moderne? (Paris: Flammarion, 1957), 45.
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music as outwardly loyal to his national heritage as the 1954 Piano Con-
certo, Nigg did not make a complete break with his recent past. De Jou-
venels otherwise glowing review of the concerto for a communist news-
paper pointed to the lingering effects of Niggs twelve-tone music in
the jerky orchestration and complex contrapuntal treatment of the
folksong theme.
104
Example 3a, from the Concertos rst movement,
consists of the initial statement of the folksong theme in the ute and
clarinet. When the theme returns in a climax near the end of the move-
ment, there is a simultaneous statement of two versions of the theme,
now transformed rhythmically and metrically. At the same time as the
rst and second violins and viola (doubled by the ute, oboe, and clar-
inet) play the theme in diminution and in thirds both above and below
the original key, a second version of the rst half of the tune, trans-
posed down a whole step and with its original rhythmic durations, can
be heard in the bassoons, trumpets and trombones (ex. 3b). The com-
plexity of such moments have led scholars who have studied Niggs
activities during this period to suggest that, despite the clarity of his
verbal pronouncements in adhering to socialist realist ideals, such a
label may not be appropriate for his music.
105
As soon as Nigg left the
PCF in 1956disillusioned, along with several other French musicians
and intellectuals, by the Soviet invasion of Hungaryhe immediately
abandoned the adherence to national tradition of his 1954 Piano Con-
certo in a new work whose style was deliberately personal. Niggs 1957
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra is written in a highly expressive mu-
sical language that, while not systematically atonal, assiduously avoids
quoting preexisting thematic materials, referencing models of previous
composers, or establishing consistent tonal patterns.
In essence, the 1948 Soviet directive to embrace his national her-
itage had pushed Nigg to adopt in his 1954 concerto the very aesthetic
positions that had been advocated by conservative French composers
during the German occupation. Nigg and his fellow students had re-
jected Stravinskys neoclassicism as unbearably retrospective in 1945.
The near-unanimous certainty of Stravinskys defenders reminded them
of the wartime composers who smugly commended new music mod-
eled on dIndys symphonic works as the future of the New French
School; some of these composers still adhered to their wartime posi-
tions as late as 1955. At the same time as Nigg was denouncing serial-
ism in his radio interview with Gavoty and Lesur, the eighty-three-year-
old Busser was telling the same interviewers that the postwar inuence
124
104
De Jouvenel, Rexions, 6.
105
Bacri, 5859; Carroll, 50.
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of Schoenberg in France was as decadent as that of Wagner in 1914,
and that neither were in the lineage of French genius; Aubin, who
was teaching composition at the Conservatoire at the time, was still in-
sisting that young French composers ought to respect the lineage of
French music from Gounod to Ravel. The only rupture between music
and composers, Aubin complained, is for those who amuse them-
selves in burning bridges. There is no [rupture] for the French com-
posers who remain appropriately faithful to their culture.
106
Mean-
while, Boulez was mocking the very idea of a French tradition in music,
125
106
Tony Aubin and Henri Busser, in Gavoty and Lesur, 47, 79.

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while Nigg, pressured by the PCF to make use of the French musical
heritage, did so in only a few of his compositions.
107
During the 1945 Stravinsky debates, Nigg was a spokesman for his
generation in words and music, his political commitment to commu-
nism playing a negligible role. After 1947, as the Soviet Union began to
intervene directly in the political and creative lives of communist musi-
cians in western Europe, Nigg could not maintain his aesthetic interests
in twelve-tone composition or his distaste for overt expressions of
French nationalism and remain a loyal member of the PCF. Niggs am-
bivalent engagement with the Soviet doctrine of socialist realism in
works such as his 1954 Concerto for Piano and Orchestra demonstrates
how the legacy of the German occupation of France lasted into the
early Cold War. The stylistic choices faced by French composers during
this period were colored not only by the global Cold War rhetoric from
the superpowers, but also by the local history of Frances wartime pro-
motion of the French musical heritage as a model for a New French
School. When Nigg swiftly abandoned both the French national her-
itage and the Soviet aesthetic doctrine in music he composed after he
left the PCF in 1956, he nally began to explore just what kind of
music he felt would appropriately express what he had called in 1945
the profoundly felt uncertainty of the era. For Nigg, as for France, the
early Cold War had ended.
Drew University
ABSTRACT
In spring 1945, a small group of students, among them Serge Nigg
and Pierre Boulez, protested during the rst performances in liberated
Paris of the neoclassical works Stravinsky had composed in America.
Whereas Boulezs biographers have interpreted the student protests as
a sign of Ren Leibowitzs successful promotion of serialism in France,
scholars of the Cold War have seen the 1945 concerts as a precursor to
Stravinskys participation in the 1952 Luvre du XXe sicle, a festival
in Paris indirectly funded by the CIA. These interpretations subsume
the immediate postwar period in France within a synchronic view of the
early Cold War era. But the 1945 protests against Stravinsky were not
about the decisive embrace of a single musical style; rather, they were
130
107
Boulez sarcastically observed in 1952 that They try to persuade us that serial
discoveries are old. We ought now to create something new, and to support this brilliant
thesis, they cite false Gounod, fake Chabrier, champions of clarity, elegance, renement
qualities that are eminently French. (They adore mixing Descartes with haute couture.)
Boulez, ventuellement . . . , Revue musicale 212 (1952): 118.
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sprout
about the desire of young French composers to play an active role in
shaping the postwar future of music in France.
In 1945, Niggand not Boulezrepresented the aesthetic opin-
ions of a generation of French composers who had grown up during
the German occupation of Paris and the political aspirations of those
who, like Nigg, ocked to the French Communist Party at wars end.
Niggs participation in the 1945 Stravinsky debates gives us occasion to
examine his earliest musical compositions and the political opinions he
would express with increasing ideological fervor in the 1950s. Although
in verbal pronouncements he supported socialist realism, Niggs rare
and complex use of a French folk tune in his 1954 Piano Concerto be-
trays his ambivalence about the Soviet demand for communist com-
posers to reject falsely cosmopolitan tendencies in favor of their
national cultural heritage. Having rejected in 1945 both Stravinskys
neoclassicism and French nationalism (the latter tainted by associations
with Vichy during the occupation), Nigg had to choose in the early
Cold War between his aesthetic and political loyalties.
Keywords: Pierre Boulez, Cold War, German occupation of France,
Olivier Messiaen, Serge Nigg, Igor Stravinsky 131
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