Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy: The Incidental Music for Le ´ martyre de saint Sebastien (1911

Ralph P. Locke

How are locales and peoples that are exotic—distant and different from “us”—evoked in and through music? In my book, Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections, I argue that the portrayal of exotic peoples and places has been too often reduced, by scholars and critics, to a search for specific stylistic codes.1 The discussion of musical exoticism generally ends up fragmenting into numerous separate hunts after markers of musical oddity. For example, the melodic interval of an augmented second can signal, depending on other factors, a Gypsy style (as in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies), an Eastern-European Jewish one (typical of klezmer music), or a Middle Eastern one (as in the ¨ Bacchanale from Saint-Saens’s Samson et Dalila).2 Black-note pentatonicism often represents China or the gamelan traditions of Indonesia. Scholars who explore musical exoticism primarily or solely in terms of such quasi-semiotic signals (or topoi) are working within what I call the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm. I love the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm. I use it often. I feel strongly that it needs to be used more.3 But the “Exotic-Style Only” Paradigm is inadequate for dealing with the thousands of exotic portrayals that do not make continuous use, or in some cases any use, of stylistic (musico-semiotic) indicators of the exotic. This is particularly true of works for the musical stage (including operas). Stage works, by their very nature, frame the music in a panoply of nonmusical signs: words, sets, costumes, dramatic action, dance, and so on. When the job of identifying the locale has already been accomplished by these nonmusical elements, the composer is free to use many kinds of musical materials to tell other things to the listener, such as what the locale, its people, and its customs “are like.” The musical materials that he or she employs may include ones marked as exotic but also ones that are not marked in that way. After all, music (as critics and aestheticians have long recognized) is well equipped for
doi:10.1093/musqtl/gdn017 90:371 –415 Advance Access publication November 25, 2008. # The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

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“characterizing”: that is, for conveying mood, gesture, personality, and all kinds of feeling tones and emotional reactions. Music can often do this, compellingly, on its own. It can do so more explicitly when it is linked (as in much song, opera, and film) to verbal and dramatic context.4 I call this new and broader approach to exploring how cultural Others are represented the “All the Music in Full Context” Paradigm. The phrase is, I hope, just ungainly enough to stick in the mind. I do not intend the “All the Music in Full Context” Paradigm to take the place of the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm, nor to serve as an alternative to it. Rather, I see the “All the Music in Full Context” Paradigm as a broader methodological umbrella, under which may be found the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm but also many other options whose very existence the latter cannot recognize (much less explore and explain). As I was working on the early-twentieth-century chapter of my book, I noticed that a major work by Debussy, his incidental music to ´ Le martyre de saint Sebastien (1911), had rarely been discussed in regard to exoticism, even though its various Eastern locales (e.g., Syria and Babylonia) seemed to me to offer intriguing possibilities.5 This neglect of a work written during Debussy’s full maturity—a scarce seven years before his death—is not entirely surprising: a number of other pieces from Debussy’s later years (some exotically tinged, others not) have likewise never quite become central items in the performing repertoire in the way that many of his early and middle-period works have (say, the ´ ` Prelude ` l’apres-midi d’un faune, or the Estampes for piano). Among a these fascinating and varied late-ish works are the Etudes for piano, Six ´pigraphes antiques, En blanc et noir, the three Images for orchestra (only e ´ the second of which, “Iberia,” gets played often), and the ballets Jeux and Khamma. Of these works, the Six ´pigraphes antiques and Khamma e evoke, in a number of specific ways, ancient Egypt and other Eastern Mediterranean locations, as does the somewhat better-known “Canope,” from the Preludes for piano (book 2). Furthermore, each of the three orchestral Images is steeped in accepted musical gestures pointing to one particular European locale, namely (in order) France in its rural aspect, Spain, and England.6 Clearly, the portrayal of other places and cultures remained a recurrent fascination for Debussy during his later years, as it ´ had been at earlier points in his career (e.g., “Pagodes” and “Soiree dans Grenade,” from the aforementioned Estampes for piano, 1903). For reasons of space, I ended up not writing about Le martyre in the book. I here share my thoughts about the fascinating and substantial ways in which this remarkable theater work evokes, per musica, various exotic worlds.

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Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 373

Neo-Medieval but Also Exotic
In 1910, Debussy agreed to compose incidental music (or, as the genre ` ´ is known in French, musique de scene) for Le martyre de saint Sebastien, a neo-medieval mystery play whose spoken and sung texts had been written directly in French by the noted Italian poet and novelist Gabriele D’Annunzio. By the time Debussy was enlisted, the project already involved four stellar and strong-minded collaborators. D’Annunzio, the prime mover, was a vain, pretentious womanizer addicted to living in luxury beyond his means. But he was also imaginative, enterprising, and a virtuosic versifier. (Two decades later, he would play a controversial role in Italian politics.)7 Le martyre was commissioned by the Russian-Jewish dancer Ida Rubinstein, who, in the role of Sebastian, intriguingly combined dance, mime, and poetic recitation— and who, through the work as a whole, launched what would become an important career as a creative impresario. (Rubinstein would later ´ commission Bolero from Ravel and would dance the central part in its choreographed premiere.)8 And the choreographer and set and costume designer, respectively, were the widely renowned Michel Fokine and ´ Leon Bakst, regular associates of Serge Diaghilev and of his latest com´´ positional protege, Igor Stravinsky.9 ´ The famous story that gave Le martyre de saint Sebastien its name— Sebastian’s being shot full of arrows by Roman soldiers for having refused to renounce Christianity and to worship Jupiter and the other gods of Rome—made up acts 3 and 4 (see Figure 1).10 In D’Annunzio’s retelling, this already vivid story became rich in homoerotic sadomasochism. The Emperor of Rome, Diocletian, yearns for Sebastian’s body and “hyacinth tresses,” asks him to sing with the Roman lyre, offers him worldly treasure and a promotion to divinity, and has the crowd cry out: “May the just gods save your beauty, Sebastian, for the Emperor.”11 Sebastian spurns all temptations, shatters Diocletian’s lyre, and dances (and also describes in verse) the Passion of Christ. Diocletian orders that Sebastian’s beautiful face be disfigured by fire:
Scellez sa bouche avec la torche! Faites de sa face une plaie fumante! [Seal up his mouth with the torch! Make of his face a smoking wound!]12

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But Diocletian quickly changes his mind and commands instead that the ´ obstinate one be “smothered” (etouffez-le) under a heavy heap of crowns,

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Figure 1. Title and brief summary of each of the five acts (“Les cinq mansions”), omitting many episodes that do not involve music (e.g., additional miracles, and commentaries from heavenly voices and from the crowd).

at most. we learn at the beginning of act 4. with enough success to create a demand for many repeat performances. The Wounded Laurel Tree. bound to a laurel tree in Apollo’s grove. The people of Syria mourn the beautiful youth. the work has rarely been revived on stage—always with extensive. the show. and quasi-musical repetitions of words and phrases. whom they call Adonis. and elaborate upon. In act 4. The arrows miraculously vanish from his body and reappear in the tree behind him.) At the 1911 performances.13 This particular death sentence was perhaps intended to echo. Instead. Diocletian has responded by ordering that the stubborn Christian be stripped.” Le martyre. (Hence the title of act 4: Le ´ laurier blesse.g. Paris 1988 and Palermo 1999) have largely eschewed all marks of Middle Eastern local color. the one that ends Oscar Wilde’s play Salome and the controversial Richard Strauss opera based on it: at the command of Herod. the tendency toward downplaying or even leaving unmentioned the exotic aspects of this remarkable work. then weep as they—urged on ecstatically by the victim with cries of “Votre amour! Encore!” [Your love! More!]—complete his martyr’s fate. generically “ancient. and rarely. lasted over four hours.oxfordjournals.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 375 golden necklaces . in exquisite typography. He studded all three stories and the epilogue with additional miracles and with commentaries by various pagans. these productions have reflected. precious allusions. the archers try in vain to persuade Sebastian to flee.” In the process. and flowers. was saved by his fellow archers. 2011 .15 One might also note that the sets and costumes devised for Le martyre in productions of recent decades (e. does not end with this attempted smothering. they have tended to be either cleanly abstract (thereby emphasizing such putatively universal themes as oppressive power and sexual transgression) or else. even drastic cuts in the spoken passages. He followed it with an epilogue (act 5) set in heaven. the Roman ruler of Judaea. the guards crush Salome “under their shields.14 In the near-century since its original run of nine performances. and angelic voices. Sebastian. . though.) D’Annunzio prefaced this lengthy story of Sebastian’s temptation and martyrdom with two independent stories: Sebastian walking on burning coals yet feeling no pain (act 1). And he encrusted the whole text with internal rhymes. “for he is beautiful” (car il est beau).org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.16 Assigning the role of a young male saint or biblical character to a female performer was a relatively standard practice at the time among Downloaded from mq. and shot full of arrows by those same archers. the souls of saints. and Sebastian vanquishing the pagan sorceresses of Babylonia (act 2). extends to more than 250 pages. despite some cuts in the spoken portions.. . if ever. (The printed libretto. and perhaps also reinforced.

oxfordjournals. 3. phrases such as “act 1. Shortly before the opening night. in cases where a passage in the complete score returns several times—always with significant. no. the other female. 7/4 –8” refer to Debussy’s four-movement orchestral work. Phrases such as “Fragments. Like those of the Inghelbrechts and of Bernstein..)23 In the remainder of the present essay.19 Debussy’s apparent aim was to include as many distinctly different passages of musical material as possible. (This is the version that forms the basis for the forthcoming edition of the work in the Debussy Oeuvres ´ completes. it contains the complete music. entitled Le martyre de saint Sebastien: Fragments symphoniques. no.24 Debussy’s complete contribution to D’Annunzio’s Le martyre amounts to close to an hour of music.22 In recent years. or worse. critics. dramatically apposite adjustment—only one version of the material (usually the initial one) appears in the Fragments. in recent decades.21 In 1962.20 ´ ´´ In 1928. The Fragments symphoniques last around twenty-three minutes and. Thus. have been performed and recorded with increasing frequency. mvt. the Vatican placed all of D’Annunzio’s works on the index of forbidden writings. whether with full or shortened spoken text. which conveys the drama with particular vividness.”18 The next year.g. Desire-Emile Inghelbrecht—who had been choral conductor for the 1911 performances and was one of Debussy’s closest associates— collaborated with his wife Germaine to drastically condense the spoken text. reassigning to instruments certain lines that were originally sung by soloists or chorus. Pierre Boulez has conducted his own version. opportunistic. This authorized suite stitches together (with minimal adjustment) some of the work’s lengthier passages of continuous music (e. as narrator and Emperor. 3/4 –8” refer to the complete stage music. but the passages of spoken recitation between the musical numbers—and even sometimes during a musical number—are even shorter. Leonard Bernstein created and recorded an English-language version with two actors (one male. 2. reh. and the archbishop of Paris formally forbade his flock to attend the performances of a work so “offensive to Christian conscience.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.376 The Musical Quarterly producers of religious and other “ancient” spectacles. no. producing an effective seventy-five-minute quasi-oratorio with recitations by a single actor or actress. Debussy published a four-movement work for orches´ tra alone. reh. It consists of preludes to the five Downloaded from mq. preludes and scenes for miming).17 In the case of Le martyre. as Sebastian). Nonetheless. many people at the time found D’Annunzio’s and Debussy’s bold reworking of central Catholic traditions tasteless. and religious authorities. 2011 . D’Annunzio and the other members of the creative team may also have hoped that the use of a woman as Sebastian would make the homoerotic aspects of the text and physical movement less objectionable to the audience.

Examples 1.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 377 acts. Writers who have focused on the costumes and sets for the original Le martyre know better: several. 2. and 3 are all included in the first movement of the Fragments and Example 9 in the third. In pointing them out.28 I should add that I am particularly eager to stress the exotic aspects because Le martyre has sometimes been portrayed as representing a decided retreat on Ida Rubinstein’s part from ´ ´´ Diaghilevan exoticism (Cleopatre. or since.26 Barely mentioned at the time.27 These exotic portrayals interact in important ways with two aspects that have dominated discussion of the work from its own day onward: the “perverse” sexuality (incarnated in Ida Rubinstein’s vivid manner of dancing and posing) and the extreme religious mysticism. and mixed choruses of varying sizes. for greater clarity. Sheherazade). This will also make it easier to coordinate my comments with the Fragments symphoniques. Debussy’s contribution to the evening-length event was recognized by many commentators at the time as substantial indeed and as displaying a high level of inspiration and innovation. (As indicated in the captions. Marcel Proust found the musical contributions to D’Annunzio’s sacred drama “slight” (mince) and expressed astonishment that D’Annunzio and Rubinstein had hired “a quite immense orchestra to play these few farts” by Debussy (orchestre bien immense pour ces quelques pets). 2011 “That Young Man from Asia” The exotic tilt to the work was largely instigated by D’Annunzio.”30 Because Le martyre as a whole is such an elaborate and disparate work. since the passages in it proceed in the same order as in the complete work.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. and Debussy’s previous exotic explorations may have been one reason why D’Annunzio sought him out. and vocal numbers for several solo female voices and— especially in act 5—for female. echoing the views of observers at the time. is the fact that the score also contains some remarkably diverse exotic portrayals. I hope to complement (not supplant) the insightful observations by Peter Lamothe about similarities between Debussy’s music in Le martyre and “ancient” and “early Christian” styles in stage works of the generation or two before Debussy. male. be discussing the musical examples in the order in which they occur in the work and will often mention their dramatic context.) Downloaded from mq.25 Nonetheless. as in Toni Bentley’s 29 otherwise perceptive account.oxfordjournals. I will. consider this production the apogee of Bakst’s many efforts at creating “a magic Orient. and because some of its music is unknown to most music lovers.31 Exoticism was not an obvious component . orchestral passages to support extended speech or mime ( primarily by Sebastian).

which means “Lord of the Dance. . with [narrow] eyes like a lynx. his half-naked body pierced by numerous arrows. his face gazing heavenward. Pour tes mages et tes devins je danserai la Passion de ce Jeune ´ Homme asiatique[. and two other “tetrarchs” ruled yet other portions. I shall dance. who was worshiped in greater Syria during the time of the Phoenicians. according to Catholic tradition. whether in Turkey or Syria—are mourned by the women of Byblos. (His son-in-law Galerius ruled the western portion from Rome itself. “Libanus” (Latin) or “Liban” (French). come from Emesa. aux yeux de lynx. in Turkey).378 The Musical Quarterly for D’Annunzio to include in a work about this particular saint. je danserai. For your wise men and seers I Downloaded from mq. combining the two. Acts 3 and 4 occur in or around one of the palaces of Diocletian. 2011 . Diocletian was emperor of the eastern I portion of the Roman Empire. come from Berytus-by-the-sea [i. but from Narbonne in southern France or from Milan (or. the famous coastal city of the Phoenicians that is today Djubayl. Sebastian visits. si je suis le ´ ´ Seigneur des danses venu de Beryte marine avec tes cargaisons d’epices . born in Narbonne but educated in Milan). Most crucially. Caesar. in Lebanon. . though. . in act 2.) The majority of the onstage characters. After all. namely Baal Marcod. (The name. though loyal to Rome. . je danserai.] de ce Prince supplicie: car la feuille de ton laurier est comme le fer de la lance qui lui perca le flanc anxieux.. I shall dance. come from greater Syria. In Renaissance and Baroque paintings.) ´ ´ Cesar. The story goes that he was one of Emperor Diocletian’s Praetorian guards and that he was put to death in 287 AD by the emperor’s archers for refusing to worship the gods of Rome. called “archer of Lebanon” and head of a cohort of archers who. from the beginning of the work. if I am the Lord of the dance.oxfordjournals.”) Sebastian’s smothering (in act 3) and death-by-shooting (act 4)— wherever they are understood as occurring. perhaps his main one in Nicomedia (today ˙zmit. a major world power located yet further to the east: Babylon.. Sebastian is usually shown tied to a tree. all of them lying to the east of Europe.34 ¸ [Caesar.32 D’Annunzio’s play fluctuates unsteadily between a variety of locations. Cesar. a broad territory that included the Mediterranean coastal region known then (and now) by some version of the name Lebanon. . the Syrian city that is today known in Arabic as “Homs. Sebastian identifies himself at one point with one particular pagan god. the Roman warrior Sebastian is. (The text sometimes calls it “Chaldea.g. Beirut] with your cargoes of spices. e. .”33 In addition.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. Sebastian was an archer.e.” is given in Latin inscriptions as Balmarcodes. not from the Middle East.

Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 379 shall dance the Passion of this Young Man from Asia[. either in the program book for the 1911 performances or in ´a ´a two important theater magazines: Le theˆtre and L’illustration theˆtrale.36 It is said that Baron Robert de Montesquiou. There were extensive exotic elements in the costumes and sets. most of which have rarely.”37 If so. or excoriated) permitted D’Annunzio and Debussy to enrich the work with a staggering variety of religious. They were also that much more exotic to a Paris audience of 1911. in D’Annunzio’s text. contrasting. Bakst helpfully ignored a lot of what he saw there. painting them with bold. To be sure. is often described. from a Parisian point of view. And their association. and freshly imagined geometric designs that could be easily seen at a distance. as outsiders to an older. the Roman Empire itself. This is suggested in the numerous costume and set designs— and onstage photos from the original production—that were published at the time. But the overtones of the ancient Middle East—and of famous paintings of Bible scenes— became ever stronger as evening went on. and bas-reliefs from the eastern part of the Roman Empire that had extended into Egypt and Syria. was apparent in the very casting of a Russian-Jewish dancer. with Sebastian being stripped down at one point in act 3 to a plain white robe and finally to a loincloth and some chest wrappings in act 4. if ever.” hence as ethnic outsiders to Imperial Rome (and.] of this tortured Prince: for the leaf of your laurel [wreath that you offer me] is like the iron [tip] of the lance that pierced his tense thigh. cultural. as we shall see. and even. a noted writer and one of the age’s great dandies and aesthetes. the latter. Ida Rubinstein. The exoticness of the work’s various pagan worlds (Lebanon/Syria. Babylon). been reprinted in discussions of Debussy’s Downloaded from mq. Byzantine enamels. with an Eastern region of simple ways seems consistent with their unselfconscious beauty and their willingness to sacrifice themselves toward a higher religious goal. either as a whole or just its eastern half ) and of its two chief Christian figures (Sebastian and Jesus. as “young men from Asia. “went with Bakst to the Louvre to examine” (with an eye toward imitating them in Le martyre) “Sassanid fabrics.oxfordjournals.] Jesus and Sebastian are thus presented.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. Babylonia. in act 2. 2011 . praised. by Sebastian himself. though he never appears. and musical images.35 I might add that the (Middle-)Easternness of Sebastian. Bakst’s costume for Sebastian early in the work was primarily European in allure (see Figure 2). (See Figures 2–8. choosing instead to invent his own versions of Roman togas and Arabian-style caftans and turbans. even more benighted empire. in the role—particularly given that her most famous previous roles were as Cleopatra and the Sultan’s ´ wife Zobediade.

org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. From the issue of Le theatre: Revue bimensuelle illustree that is devoted entirely to Le martyre (no. Ida Rubinstein in the vaguely European-Renaissance costume for act 3. .oxfordjournals. Diocletian was costumed in a brightly decorated version of a recognizably Roman toga.380 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. in which she confronts the Roman Emperor Diocletian in his palace ( presumably in what is now Turkey). 2011 Figure 2. 299. Several of Diocletian’s seers wore togas that were somewhat ´ˆ ´ Greek in cut and design. for the first half of June 1911).

Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 381 Downloaded from mq. as numerous photos attest. score. 2011 Figure 3. the Babylonian sorceresses were given strikingly weird and ´ non-European garb. From Le ´ˆ ´ theatre: Revue bimensuelle illustree 299 (1911). The description cited earlier of the Sebastian in act 4 being nearnaked except for some strategic wrappings accords with one oft-reproduced drawing by Bakst.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. By contrast.oxfordjournals. These sketches by Leon Bakst (see also Figures 5–8) were scrupulously carried out in the actual costumes. A less well-known Bakst drawing of .

(The music was published in a complete . From ´ˆ ´ Le theatre: Revue bimensuelle illustree 299 (1911). and other stage movement.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. Stage photo of two Women of Byblos (in Lebanon). No photo of the actual costume survives.) The costume sketches and photos also give hints. the same scene. miming. since both of these were published in full at the time. of the dancing. such as John the Baptist. from the scene in act 3 in which Sebastian (costumed as shown in Figure 2) confronts Diocletian. shown as Figure 8. in conjunction with some surviving verbal descriptions.oxfordjournals. 2011 Figure 4. is more modest but perhaps even more redolent of Biblical characters.382 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. We are on significantly more solid ground when discussing D’Annunzio’s text and Debussy’s music.

org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. but a critical edition. in one startling case (as has apparently not been pointed out). many of the textual and musical images of exotic locales chosen by the various members of the creative team were ones considered. edited by Eiko Kasaba. plus the various orchestral excerpts mentioned earlier. peculiarly appropriate to the Middle Eastern regions in question. is scheduled to be published in the near future. notably India and. The complete orchestral score was long available only on rental.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 383 Downloaded from mq. Indonesia.oxfordjournals.)38 Naturally enough. Others were borrowed from unnamed locales that lay even further to the east. 2011 ´ˆ Figure 5. piano-vocal score. A Jew of the Eastern Roman Empire. From Le theatre: Revue bimensuelle ´ illustree 299 (1911). at the time. .

In some spots.384 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.oxfordjournals. A dark-complexioned augure (seer) serving Emperor Diocletian. From Le ´ˆ ´ theatre: Revue bimensuelle illustree 299 (1911). as we shall see. in others. . 2011 Figure 6. it deftly undermined it. this proliferation of exoticisms strengthened the primary Roman Catholic message of the work.

Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 385 Downloaded from mq. Diocletian promulgated four successive edicts against Christian worship. He posited that the Syrians (including the Lebanese/Phoenicians) did not grasp the principles of the nascent Christian religion and that they therefore conflated Sebastian with the Greek god Adonis (and with Adonis’s Middle Eastern predecessors.40 Indeed. A longstanding version of the Saint Sebastian myth specified that Diocletian’s murderous archers were Mauretanians (natives of the “Moorish” lands that are now Morocco and Algeria). leading to the slaughter of thousands in Alexandria and Asia Minor. it is a historical fact that. Three turbaned non-Europeans in Diocletian’s extensive retinue: from left. a devin (soothsayer). since his name derives from the Semitic root adon. yet people in the region believed that they were .org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. 2011 Figure 7. “lord”). the second-century writer Lucian recorded that a river flowing down from Mount Lebanon was named Adon. Furthermore. in 303– 04 AD.oxfordjournals. a Nubian slave. The poet’s seemingly idiosyncratic emphasis on regions beyond Europe was not without some basis in history and legend. as the well-read D’Annunzio surely knew. the river turned red from silt. From Le ´ˆ ´ theatre: Revue bimensuelle illustree 299 (1911). Once a year. and a mage (wise man or fortune-teller).39 D’Annunzio labored to make theatrically plausible the saint’s connection to what early-twentieth-century French people called l’Orient.

. From Le theatre: Revue bimensuelle illustree 299 (1911). Saint Sebastian in act 4. 2011 Figure 8.386 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. stripped of his courtly garments and wearing a quasi´ˆ ´ Biblical short tunic and animal skins.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.oxfordjournals.

when the Emperor—having dressed Sebastian in a white robe. is dying!] Downloaded from mq. pleurez encore! Il se meurt.oxfordjournals. and therefore have no presumed need to bend to Diocletian’s will and whim. at Byblos. Listeners familiar with various extended works of the 1880s by Debussy—notably L’enfant prodigue and . One can read this supine reaction narrowly—as typical of the specific ethnic group we are seeing (fourth-century inhabitants of what would in later centuries become Arab lands. “Annoncez l’etoile future au ciel romain!” [Announce [Sebastian as] the future star in the Roman skies!]. or at least loyal-to-Rome) cithara players respond instantly to Diocletian’s demand that they sing in praise of Apollo (and of Diocletian himself). perhaps (as is so often called for when dealing with a highly allegorical work). paler than your images of wax after the autumnal equinox.42 By contrast. no.41 Another aspect of exotic characterization is evident in the way that. oh worshipers of Adonis. plus que vos images de cire apres l’equinoxe ´ ` ` d’automne. lament again! He. Yet he soon commands them as well: ˆ ` ´ Mais il est pale. The (presumably Roman. O pleureuses. 2011 And the Syrian people (Chorus Syriacus) respond without hesitation by repeating the exotically colored chorus that—as will be discussed later— the Women of Byblos had sung earlier in act 3. toward the end of act 3. a Byblos. regal necklaces. This basic Christian context is reflected in choral and other vocal movements that make free use of styles borrowed from Western sacred-music traditions. the Archer of Lebanon. Or. l’Archer du Liban! [He is pale. sur vos lits d’ebene. To be sure. at once narrowly and broadly. upon your beds of ebony. the Syrian people (including the Women of Byblos) are portrayed as blindly obedient to the Emperor. and other attributes of power— ´ cries out to his augures (seers). He was finding new life. at the end of Sebastian’s retelling (and miming) of the Passion of Christ. obedience is a central function of all the various choral groups in act 3. Similarly. and already clothed in semi-Arab garb)—or broadly—as a universal tendency of crowds to be manipulated by selfish people in positions of power.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. such as Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony. and [now] he is dying. Oh. weepers. et il se meurt. they instantly do so in a joyous chorus (act 3. 6).43 I have said that Le martyre presents a predominantly Christian frame for its various exotic moments. Adoniastes. Il renaissait.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 387 seeing—in quasi-ritualistic annual repetition—the blood that Adon shed when he was gored by a boar. the Lebanese and Syrians are not in the employ of Rome.

1 (Prelude).45 (Oboe and English horn had long been markers of the Middle East and Central Asia. as if predicting the pain that the agents of paganism will inflict on God’s “elected ones. 12. reviens” from ¨ Saint-Saens’s Samson et Dalila.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. which plainly represent Friar Laurence. mvt. The orchese tral prelude. no. some of which descend chromatically. it returns ( played touchingly by the solo violin) during Sebastian’s powerful spoken words about hearing. triads a tritone apart. the oboe begins a tune that is (according to Debussy’s marking) expressif et douloureux. 1–4 and m. I propose that Debussy meant this Eastern-tinted tune to refer to Sebastian and Jesus because.44 Easternness surprises the listener in m. simple triads in root position imply various church modes. 1874). Musical examples from Le martyre are drawn from ´ the piano-vocal score prepared by Andre Caplet (see n. and the solemn opening chords of Tchaikovky’s Romeo and Juliet (1870. rev. in m. 2011 . 2) when. Root-position chords and. 1b).) The tune continues with arabesque-like flourishes. offers music of utter purity (Ex. Here. rather like those in Middle Eastern portrayals by numerous composers during the previous decades. Le martyre. But. same measure numbers). mm. presumably on the Day of Resurrection. act 1 (La cour des Lys). La damoiselle ´lue—will find themselves on familiar ground. “the footsteps of the new god. 1. in the oratorio. 1880). much like two well-known moments that were surely familiar to Debussy and many of his listeners: the ecclesiastical procession in the middle of Musorgsky’s “Great Gate of Kiev” (from Pictures at an Exhibition.388 The Musical Quarterly Example 1a – b.oxfordjournals.” we soon hear chords juxtaposed a tritone apart (Ex. 1a). in part because of their similarity to the zurna and other double-reed instruments much practiced in those regions. such as the recurring solo violin tune in Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade or Dalila’s “Ah. 23). over a wavering countermelody in the English horn (left-hand part of the piano reduction) and repeated arpeggios in the two harps (on a chord containing a dissonant minor second). [walking] side by side with the new man” (la marche du nouveau dieu ` cote de l’homme nouveau). 12 (equivalent to Fragments. 31 (Ex.46 The Easternness and sad-eyed a ˆ´ Downloaded from mq.

1. act 1. of Sebastian. Exotic Fire Later in act 1. mvt. gracefulness of Jesus—and. Middle-Eastern sorrow. no. by reflection. 31 –38. (The orchestra’s music. forms movement 2 of the Fragments symphoniques. reh. no. mm. same measure numbers).oxfordjournals. without Sebastian’s spoken lines. 1. Sebastian treads upon burning coals to give witness to the power of the one God. the onstage character who is invoking Jesus’s arrival at the end of days—could not be more plainly marked. 2/3–10 (equivalent to Fragments. Le martyre.47 The (unacknowledged) Hindu .org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. 2011 Example 2.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 389 Downloaded from mq.) D’Annunzio surely based this episode on Indian fakirs and their world-renowned feats of endurance. Debussy.

consonant with the exotic premise. Debussy. 2011 Example 3. 2/6– 7). 3) is not directly exotic-sounding. and by sudden interjections from the brass. The fakir-saint’s confident footsteps are indicated by steadily rising and falling phrases in the winds. 3/4–8 (equivalent to Fragments. 3. Instead. reh. the work’s primary Christian context gradually asserts itself in three phases: first. all rising in dynamic level from pp to f. Crackling pizzicati and sizzling brass entries portray the fiery coals upon which Sebastian is preparing to step. no.oxfordjournals. reh. a chant-like . 7/4–8). at reh. no. no. in some other way. Debussy’s music (see Ex.” During the remainder of act 1. I contend. having entered into a mental state similar to what. The crackling flames and increasing heat and tension are suggested by string pizzicati and ponticello tremolos. when the figure whom we see stepping upon the glowing embers is an exotic holy man who advances calmly. Are fire and footsteps exotic? They become so. (The horns play “brassily” a bit earlier. no. mvt. including passages played in a “brassy” manner (cuivrez). 2. Le martyre. consistent with the broader paradigm that I discussed at the outset—the “All the Music in Full Context” Paradigm—it emphasizes elements that are. background to the action here makes Sebastian’s daring feel at least somewhat rooted in human life—and therefore more plausible.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.390 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. act 1. fifty years later—in the context of a renewed Western cultural fascination with Indian culture and religion—would be called “transcendental meditation.

musical materials that are not exotic in origin (and that. peering aurally into a dark space and trying to identify shapes and their secret purposes. 3. no. “La chambre magique” [The Chamber of Magic]. This passage is hard for us. Fragments. no. 6. using the bitonal double fifths from Ex. 3. eerie augmented triads descending along a whole-tone scale across several octaves (Ex. no. no.52 Particularly appropriate to the alchemical wonder-working of these Mesopotamian sorceresses are two crystalline upward swoops on celesta and harps (Ex. no. Ravel may have had this mysterious passage in mind when writing two (today much betterknown) sinuous contrabassoon solos: the one that opens his Concerto for Piano Left Hand (1930) and the one that represents the Beast in ˆ the movement entitled “Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bete” ` [Conversations between Beauty and the Beast] in the Ma mere l’oye [Mother Goose] orchestral suite and ballet score (1908 –12). mvt. 6). reh. no. 1.53 Again. Debussy’s music makes no use of exotic style yet nonetheless helps a heavily exoticized scenario make its impact.oxfordjournals. in the winds and harps. and a notably ambiguous melody in the contrabassoon that. 5. a Palestrina-like a cappella motet for the angels’ praise of Sebastian’s deliverance (Le martyre. is unfortunately not represented in the orchestral Fragments. reh.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 391 proclamation of faith by the martyrs (and twin brothers) Mark and Marcellian (Le martyre. Downloaded from mq. the listeners.48 then sudden beneficent smoothness as Sebastian reports that the scorching coals feel to him as cool as white lilies (at the marking ´´ Modere). 2011 . mvt. 10). musically very strong. The prelude—accompanying our view of the dark laboratory. 4). and moon are burning—opens with mysterious tremolos and other figurations on two open fifths a halfstep apart. reh. to make sense of. Figure 3 shows the very strange ´ and distinctly non-European garb devised by Leon Bakst for the seven women who performed these non-singing roles. 12. among other things. Fragments. are almost “high-tech” for their era) are invoked to characterize a strikingly exotic and backward non-Western culture: Babylonian astrology. and.50 As in the episode of the danse extatique in act 1. The scene is the dark laboratory of the Eastern (Babylonian) sorceresses who maintain the heavenly bodies in orbit.51 We are.49 Chaldean Sorcery and an Indonesian-Sounding Goddess Act 2. 16). arpeggiates a diminished-seventh chord (Ex. sun.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. in this case. finally. 1. with its Chaldean inscriptions and seven steaming crucibles in which the fires of the planets. one might say. 4) and. reh.

a fabled virgin of pagan days (sometimes identified by stargazers with the constellation and zodiacal sign Virgo). Soon after. 2011 Example 4. mm. act 2 (“La chambre magique”). 1 (Prelude).oxfordjournals. the voice of Erigone. A dark. 3–7. Le martyre.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. is heard singing from beyond the heavy locked doors at the . no. against tremolos on two-fifths a half-step apart. winding melody for contrabassoon.392 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. Debussy.

(Prelude). descending along a whole-tone scale. 2011 Example 5. almost pantheistic vision. act 2 (“La chambre magique”). elsewhere in Le martyre. in . back of the sorceresses’ chamber. no.54 Her radiant music freshens the gloomy atmosphere. offstage voices consistently provide “correct” Christian interpretations of onstage events. “Magical” swoops on celesta and harp (based on the same two fifths as in Example 4). It also briefly challenges the work’s prevailing Western frame. 1.oxfordjournals. 2/6–7. (Prelude). no. no. Parallel augmented triads in the winds.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. act 2 (“La chambre magique”).Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 393 Downloaded from mq. Debussy. Le martyre. reh. Example 6. here the offstage voice presents a mystical. 1/9–10. 1. no. Le martyre. Whereas. Debussy. reh.

Ravel. Poulenc.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. Debussy.oxfordjournals. Le martyre. 2011 Example 7.394 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. mm. 2 (song for the voice of the Virgin Erigone). act 2. . equivalent to better-known “gamelan” passages in works of Debussy. Britten. and others. 1– 12. no. “Black-note” pentatonic writing on E.

lingers in the listener’s memory. the titles of “Pagodes” and Ravel’s “Laideronnette. Syria. Erigone’s melody descends and ascends in relaxed. Indeed. / a ´ Mon ombre m’etait presqu’une aile” [My soul. and Babylonia).org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. orchestral color. even rhythm.oxfordjournals. under the gentle sky. impera55 trice des pagodes”) give no hint of an East Asian ethnic context. who sings of the bright face of her pure child. delicate fashion along the (slendro-like) pentatonic scale. an unexpected locale that lies some five thousand miles further away from Rome (and Paris) than any of those explicitly invoked by D’Annunzio (Turkey. like a nursery rhyme. almost a wing]. But the more sensuously enchanting—and intensely exotic—song of Erigone. sous le ciel clement. as if to reinforce the conventional notion that Rome was (with . was sister to the swallow. This remarkable song deserves to be examined as comprehensively as his much better-known exploration of pentatonic-drenched gamelan style “Pagodes” (from the Estampes for piano solo). the two elegantly conveying a mood of unforced sensuousness tinged with the inevitability of loss. Beauteous Sovereign crowned with light!”58 Another composer might have set such phrases to straightforward operatic-style choral music of regal and divine glory. thereby suggesting her innocent nature. and exotic implications is the passage. this Indonesian-style number seems to be the solo vocal number from Le martyre ever to have established a performance life on its own: Lucienne Tragin would record it in 1943 with Francis Poulenc at the piano. 7) alludes to a tonally placid but rhythmically multilayered musical style from Indonesia. . overlapping orchestral traceries. to me. letting in the voice of the Virgin Mary. . say. suggesting the emptiness of pagan theology and the servility of Roman courtiers and functionaries: “Hymn of Joy! Golden Lyre! Silver Bow! . Later in the act. 8).Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 395 which human life is fleeting and merges seamlessly into the natural ´ ´ world: “Mon ˆme.56 Downloaded from mq.57 The words of the hymn consist of an almost syntax-free string of epithets. 2011 The Exoticness of Rome Different yet again in tonal language. That it has escaped the attention of commentators—normally so quick to apply the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm—surely derives from the fact that the sung words ´ (unlike. Erigone’s gentle. emotionally restrained song (Ex. Sebastian breaks open the doors. early in act 3. / Etait la soeur de l’hirondelle. in which Diocletian commands his cithara-playing male singers to “blind the impious one” (aurally) with the “radiance” of the hymn to Apollo (Ex. my shadow was. Often her notes move in simple. The solo winds imitate the vocal line much as performers in a gamelan echo each other. with its carefree.

and such composers of the present day ¨ as John Adams and Arvo Part. rhythm.e.62 Intriguingly. Indeed. D major and B minor).63 But harmony in this Hymn to Apollo (from act 3) is intensely inflected by texture. Instead. These seventeen remarkable measures feature much stolidly unison singing in an energetic but off-kilter 5/4 meter. 8). by contrast. The French words sometimes end up misaccented. three further modes that are available within the seven notes of the diatonic two-sharp scale: A-Mixolydian. E-Dorian. one might call this hymn of the cithara players exotically bizarre.396 The Musical Quarterly Greece) the cradle of Western civilization. thereby rendering it. in this case. “Cathedrale engloutie”-style) opening of Le martyre (first measures of Ex. and bland in orchestration. this obsessive exploring of successive modes other than major and minor is not wildly different from the Christian-style ´ (or. in Michael Walter’s apt term. unlike in some other numbers in Le martyre. which consists mainly of triads (or open fifths) that stomp up and down the scale in “unthinking” parallel motion and in nearly unbroken quarternote rhythm. The estranging effect of the 5/4 meter is reinforced by the robotic accompaniment (for full string orchestra and three harps).”60 Debussy’s setting. one after the other. we might say. era) in question. and F-sharp-Phrygian.”61 This technique—i. 1) or from the powerful choral paean that ends act 2. restricting the music to a single seven-note diatonic (“white-note”) scale and abruptly shifting the tonal center (and. and the manner in which the men’s chorus declaims D’Annunzio’s words (which are. but the music consistently avoids the two modes typical of functional tonality (i. as quirky and unique as any of his more obviously ethnic portrayals in the work (Ex..59 A third composer would have employed music that was faintly modal. unrhymed). is colorful in the extreme. it briefly establishes. mode) within that scale—points back to Satie’s Gymnopedies (1888. perhaps recalling the 7/4 of the Jewish soothsayers in Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ (1854). Immediately obvious to the eye is the white-note tonal language of the hymn: not one accidental is to be seen until the shift to a kind of E major in the last phrase. 1940s-era Copland. ´ hence. orchestrated by Debussy in 1897) but also ahead to 1920s-era Stravinsky.. with the important exception that the exoticism is conveyed by a musical dialect that is freshly invented rather than conventionally associated with the locale (and. The constant modal shifts make the hymn an instance of the harmonic technique that Nicholas Slonimsky would later term “pandiatonicism. as happens nowhere else in Le martyre. The key signature is two sharps.oxfordjournals. Downloaded from mq.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. “colorless. 2011 .e.

.oxfordjournals. mm. and to stolid quarter-note rhythms. 2011 Example 8. Le martyre.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. 1–12. Harmonies sequencing mechanically to different modes available with the notes ´ ´ of the D-major scale. act 3. 3 (hymn of the cithara players). Debussy. no. Detache duplets on a single pitch for violins in harmonics.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 397 Downloaded from mq.

The passage concludes the Gethsemane scene. so profoundly un-Christian (in all senses of that word). a fluid descending chromatic melody line over a sudden forte orchestral passage. Downloaded from mq. trempe la terre” [His sweat falls like drops of blood. respectively. In context. In perhaps no previous musical work was the Roman Empire—or do we see it as specifically the Empire’s Eastern half?—presented as so exotic. soaks the earth]. this aria is popularly known as “Song of India” or. It may be that Debussy was.398 The Musical Quarterly As compositional experiment. this aria is performed by the queen of a fantasy land. True. 1896 and 1907.64 Markers of Easternness Soon after this comes the one extended passage in Debussy’s score for Le martyre that most plainly fits the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm: the lamenting of the Women of Byblos over Sebastian. But the possibility of a direct influence should not be excluded. The exotic effect of the music was no doubt further reinforced by the costumes of the women (Figure 4) and by their continual verbal references to the local Semitic god Adonis (whom they mistakenly believe Sebastian to be). it suggests how oppressive and unfeeling the Roman Empire of the story is.65 The chorus’s melody bears a striking resemblance to the descending chromatic vocal lines in two exotic opera arias by RimskyKorsakov that would soon become worldwide favorites: the “Song of the Indian Guest” from Sadko (1898. 9). primarily drawing upon well-established exotic conventions of Middle Eastern style (such as in the aforemen¨ tioned aria from Saint-Saens’s Samson et Dalila). this brusque. in Central or East Asia). though.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. These four linked laments (Ex. The horror-stricken women’s chorus enters with what we might call Lament A (first measures of Ex. in French. punchy music is fascinating. antipathetic. so unredeemably Other. called Shemakha. “Chanson indoue”). 9) incorporate markers that had long been used by composers to tell the listener that she or he is now “in” the Middle East. and incomprehensible.oxfordjournals. like Rimsky-Korsakov. who has just described and enacted Christ’s despair in the garden of Gethsemane. especially by contrast to the sweet flow or pious churchliness of one or another of Le martyre’s pointedly “Christian” passages. 2011 . in response to Sebastian’s vivid reference to (and miming of ) Jesus’s imminent death: “Sa sueur tombe comme gouttes de sang. full of dissonant chords and tritonal pounding in the timpani. But their piano-vocal scores had been available in print since. and the “Hymn to the Sun” from Le coq d’or (1909. neither Sadko nor Le coq d’or had been performed in Paris by 1911.

Though their rhythm derives immediately from that of the afore´ ´ mentioned forte timpani entry in Lament A.66 Composers of Debussy’s day. it is an invented device that. as. 7). evokes qualities long imputed to Middle-Eastern societies by people in Europe and North America: stasis and rigid ( perhaps ritualistic) repetition rather than forward movement and flexible growth. the pedal is trilled.67 Finally. The ribbons of half-steps continue in Lament B (“Ah! Tu pleures ´ le Bien-Aime!”—Ex. And. Rather. significantly. but upwards as well as down. it helps to remember. 9. moving into the orchestra—flutes and violins. such as Aida (the Nile Scene that opens act 3. or both together. had become a trusted friend of Debussy’s and had written his biography. reh. the pedal (a long A-flat) is given out by solo winds: flute for a full four measures. at upbeat to m. in the intervening years. as I ´ ´ shall call them. Massenet’s Herodiade (Ex. the lament tapers off in the voices (Ex. no. had many ways of getting to know other composers’ music. at reh. 5). ´ In Lament C (“Helas!”—Ex.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. the French singing translation published in the Sadko score had been prepared by Louis Laloy (in conjunction with Michel Delines). 10) and. 6). Pedal points in music evoking the Middle East (or other exotic locales) are usually placed in the low instruments. 10– 11).69 This figure—equal-value repeated notes on a single pitch— does not derive from musical traditions of the Middle East. 11). This thirteen-measure-long trill is an almost exact quotation—except that it is about an octave lower—of Downloaded from mq. not just (as most listeners needed to) by attending a live performance. the several vocal parts sometimes engaging in wedge-like contrary motion.oxfordjournals.)68 Lament B is punctuated by little repeated-note interruptions in the harp. then clarinet. oboe. appearing in ´ Ex. a music critic who. no. 9. for instance. have a significant connection also to analogous detache duplets (likewise on a single pitch) in notable operas set in the Middle East. in those moments by Verdi and Massenet (Exx. 9 at reh.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 399 Furthermore. 2011 . half-steps now alternate with an even more specific intervallic marker of the Middle East: the augmented second (between C-natural and D-sharp. when played against a long-held pedal tone (as occurs in two of these instances: Lament B and Ex. the latter curiously spelled as an E-flat). playing piano and dolce what we shall call Lament D—while six women in unison wail “Adonis!” (In the orchestral Fragments—last pages of mvt. no. these detache duplets. 3—Laments B and C and the unison cries of “Adonis!” over the orchestra’s Lament D are variously transferred to English horn and/or oboes. no doubt because of those instruments’ Middle-Eastern associations. 11). 6. In Debussy’s Laments B and C. even more similar in musical detail.

from reh.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. no. The Women of Byblos sing typically exotic (“Middle Eastern”) intervals in their several successive laments over: “le bel Adonis” [fair Adonis]. what was (and remains) the most memorable extended wind trill in the history of Western music. 5/2 to reh. no. mm. Le martyre. mvt. 2011 Example 9. 3.400 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. no. three years before Debussy began composing Le martyre). namely the one (on A) for flute in Richard Strauss’s notorious exotic opera of six years earlier. in 1907. 4. the work received its Paris premiere.oxfordjournals. Surely it is no coincidence that Strauss’s long-held wind trill occurs at the moment when the title . reh. act 3. 12. Salome (Ex. Debussy. 7/2 (appearing in condensed and adapted form as the end of Fragments symphoniques. no. Example 9 continues on next page. 25. in French. 2 onward).

org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. they still call him by the name of their own local (Semitic in origin) pagan adolescent god: Adonis. character sings desirously about her beloved Middle-Eastern male and Christian martyr. the Lebanese women mourn him as if he were a handsome ´ young lover: “le bel Adolescent. lying bathed in the purple of blood]. the decapitated John the Baptist. 2011 Example 9.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 401 Downloaded from mq. Jochanaan. couche dans la pourpre du sang” [the beautiful Youth.oxfordjournals. Continued. Indeed. Debussy’s (unconscious?) echo of the most famous . The infamous words (derived from Oscar Wilde): “I have kissed your mouth.” Though Sebastian (as noted earlier) has just mimed Jesus’s impending crucifixion.

At the end of act 4 of Le martyre. act 3. intensifying its aura of sacrilege and perversity.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. Nonetheless. Detache duplets across four octaves portray the placidity of nighttime by the Nile.70 Now the chromatically descending tune is sung by all the Syrians (male and female). and controversial moment from Salome adds a further level of cultural commentary to D’Annunzio’s scene. the Eastern-style choral passage returns once more. this presumably indicates a first step away from paganism and toward spiritual enlightenment.” We thus see that the Syrians still have no concept of the Christian Heaven. . 2011 Example 9. despite all they have witnessed of Sebastian’s devotion. Verdi. [of ] gloomy Hades. 1–2.402 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. reworked in various ways and finally turned into a stirring funeral march. .oxfordjournals. ´ ´ Example 10. Aida (1871).71 They no longer refer to Sebastian as Adonis. . Concluded. mm. they do repeat the Women of Byblos’s earlier prediction that the dead man is headed toward “the darkened portals . after Sebastian has expired from his arrow-wounds.

had repeatedly assigned to unbelieving Middle Easterners (Lebanese women. Set in Heaven. is waited upon by servants and yearns for the beautiful young Salome. and then the bracing coda. gleamed with rays of celestial light. The Joys. Detache duplets on a single pitch for a semi-timeless scene in the Middle East: Herod.73 Debussy scholar Denis Herlin. this brief final act consists primarily of statements of praise (for Sebastian’s sacrifice) from God’s apostles and angels and a culminating paraphrase of Psalm 150 (“Praise the Lord with flute and lyre!”). 2011 Example 11.72 This wonderfully affirmative music stands in sharp contrast to the chromatic and augmented melodic motion—often over a long-held pedal—that Debussy. This concluding number presents a grand series of I –IV– V (tonic –subdominant – dominant) affirmations by the chorus. to the brief act 5. of Heaven The pagans are hopelessly mistaken. Exotic musical markers helped Debussy convey the limited insight of heathen peoples. in the two previous acts. mm. reclining in his chamber. and Colorlessness. agrees with many of the reviewers of the premiere performances that act 5.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 403 Downloaded from mq. ´ ´ ´ Massenet. D’Annunzio shows this by moving. without comment or pause.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. an unmistakable marker of non-Western exotic ethnicity. with its grandiloquent Christianizing. embodied in splendid music of diatonic and clearly Western glory. act 2.oxfordjournals. all-embracing Christian vision of blessed life after death (rebirth in Christ). shown in Example 13. 8–11. their blindness to what we encounter at the very end of act 5: the transcendental. Herodiade (1884). in his day. heavily pentatonic in tonal language. against a painted backdrop that. is “by far the least successful” part of the score. in a recent study.74 I would have said the same thing until I heard the Michael . and the people of Syria) and that was. in the original production. scene 1.

“I have kissed your mouth. Salome (1905. more direct manner when writing works for large . 2011 Example 12.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.” Tilson Thomas recording. I might argue that the end of Debussy’s act 5 helped bring a spirit of joy and light back into Western religious music.oxfordjournals. these triumphant.75 True. timid tastefulness. Paris premiere 1907. a field of musical productivity that. repeated rising arpeggios for two solo sopranos in unison on “Alleluia” do not sound much like what most of us think of as “Debussy. Perhaps we have typecast Debussy as writing in a certain highly refined and often oblique manner. during much of the nineteenth century. had suffered from an excess of gloominess or.”76 But this may be a limitation on our own part. Indeed.404 The Musical Quarterly Downloaded from mq. worse. whereas he often took on a grand. Jochanaan. Strauss. in French). in which the final minutes sound as convincing as anything else in Debussy’s score.

rev. act 5. e. in the Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra (1889– 90) and La damoiselle ´lue (a kind of e secular cantata. no. in a way that the final pages of Le martrye do not. whether overtly or (as in the case of Erigone’s quasi-Javanese nursery song) covertly. with concrete images of earthly joys and sorrows. and Khamma) make very happy play with a variety of exotic or at least regional and folk styles.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. in its full version. Le martyre.78 Such images. Maud Allan. . among later works.oxfordjournals. Debussy. 1888–89. 1902) or. reh. forces—not least at the two ends of his career. 9/1-2. several of those works (the Fantasy.g. as we have seen. and orchestrated by Charles Koechlin). the orchestral Images. 2011 Example 13..77 The Importance of the Exotic for Debussy Still. Perhaps Debussy was less comfortable. occur at numerous moments in acts 1– 4 of Le martyre. Joyous affirmations of spiritual rebirth. It may in fact be the case that Debussy—however much he defended the work against charges of sacrilege by insisting on his “sincere” response to the “idea of Ascension”—felt more comfortable. generally. the orchestral Images (1905 –12) and the astounding ballet Khamma (composed in 1912 on commission for the notorious “Salome dancer” from America. finally.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 405 Downloaded from mq.

for Debussy. Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. As our examination of ´ Le martyre de saint Sebastien has demonstrated. “Doing the Impossible: On the Musically Exotic. shared with me his copies of crucial documentary materials from 1911. in addition. His books include Music. at a session organized by the Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relations (during the American Musicological Society’s 2008 conference in Nashville). 2008. Notes Ralph P. Locke is a five-time winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. Musicians. Lawrence Chapter) on March 30. His 2005 article in Cambridge Opera Journal on exoticism in Verdi’s Aida received the H. ` in Beyond the Stage: Musical Theatre and Performing Arts between fin de siecle and the ´ annees folles. The following read drafts. and senior editor of the University of Rochester Press’s Eastman Studies in Music. Locke. The present study was first presented at meetings of the American Musicological Society (New York State-St.406 The Musical Quarterly with rapturous but culturally bleached affirmations of a transcendental Divinity. and Herlin and Kasaba kindly made available previously unpublished portions of the forthcoming critical edition of the full orchestral score of Le martyre. Distinctions between various exotic styles (long established or newly invented) and the more normative materials of Western music— in other words. 2008. in Italian translation. Locke is professor of musicology at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. Lamothe. A shortened version will be appearing. commented helpfully on specific points. April 5. See also a separate essay. even such inherently ethnic-neutral elements as a long trill or a two-note figure on a single pitch can. Surprising though it may seem.rochester. many other composers—if we no longer restrict ourselves to the “Exotic Style Paradigm” but instead adopt the much broader “All the Music in Full Context” Paradigm. and Marie Rolf. and Emily Mills). Colin Slim Award (American Musicological Society). distinctions between “Them” and “Us”—were a crucial part of what made music. acquire powerful exotic resonance. as in the Alleluias of Example 13.” Journal of Musicological Research 27 (2008): 334–58. Michela Niccolai and Giuseppe Montemagno. Email: rlocke@esm. ed. 2011 . Peter Lamothe. Illustrations were kindly provided by the staff of Special Collections and Rare Books at the Sibley Music Library of the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music (David Peter Coppen. or shared their unpublished writings: Annegret Fauser. Matthew Colbert. when placed in an exotic nonmusical context. and the Saint-Simonians (1986). Ralph P. and at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Anne MacNeil. A shortened Downloaded from mq. Denis Herlin.oxfordjournals. Eiko Kasaba. 2009).edu. worth composing. We will do a better job of noticing and evaluating the full range of exotic portrayals in the works of Debussy—and. Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections (2009). there is more exoticism in Debussy—and there is more to that exoticism—than we have realized. 1. and (as contributing co-editor) Cultivating Music in America: Women Patrons and Activists since 1860 (1997). indeed.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.

On the creative absorption of elements of Spanish music in “Iberia. Vicki Woolfe. 21. Downloaded from mq. not surprisingly. 9 –10. The few references to the exoticism of Le martyre tend to be brief and to operate exclusively within the “Exotic Style Only” Paradigm. D’Annunzio e la musica (Scandicci: Discanto/Contrappunti. quotation from p. Damien Colas. L’Arte del tragico: l’avven´ tura scenica del Martyre de Saint Sebastien di Gabriele D’Annunzio dal 1911 ad oggi [Naples: Edizioni Scientifiche Italiane. Dancing in the Vortex: The Story of Ida Rubinstein (Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers. Quaderni Musica/Realta no. 3.. ed. In the present article. 29 –47. Annegret Fauser and Mark Everist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Bakst’s is documented in a number of ´ books.oxfordjournals. “Spanish Local Color in Bizet’s Carmen: Unexplored Borrowings and Transformations. 1997). ´ 1988). chaps. medieval ballad. ´ 6. 21). Dance. 2–4 giugno 1986. Editions de la Reunion des musees nationaux. Annamaria Andreoli. ed. D’Annunzio: la musica e i musicisti (Rome: Bulzoni. Debussy’s Iberia (London: Oxford University Press. 61–79. in the booklet to his recording—see n.” in Musique. Petazzi Milano. Four Rubinstein-centered accounts of Le martyre are Michael de Cossart. esthetique et societe en France au XIXe siecle: Liber amicorum ´ ` ¨ Joel-Marie Fauquet. 2002). e. 143–52. “Estetica e funzione della music di ´ Debussy nel Martyre de saint Sebastien. the Hungarian Roma (often called—sometimes even ´ by themselves—Gypsies or.” 8–9. for example. 8.” in “I consigli del vento che passa”: Studi su Debussy. and Carlo Santoli. and “cromatismo melodico. Ida Rubinstein: A Theatrical Life (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. 26). 160–61. 308–36. 4. 2007). Renaissance polyphony and Asian music” (Michael Tilson ´ Thomas. . “D’Annunzio e il Martyre de Saint Sebastien. 2003). 56– 58. 93–98. Batson. 36–64. similar in film and on television: see my Musical Exoticism. 91–107. in Hungarian. and Malou Haine (Liege: Mardaga. ed.. 8. Desire. Three D’Annunzio-centered accounts of Le martyre are Rubens Tedeschi.g. . La Nuova Italia Editrice.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. nel coro delle donne di Byblos” (Bruno Gallotta.” see Matthew ´ Brown. 2005).” in Carlo Santoli. rather. et al.. quotation from p. 164–66. 7. 9.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 407 ´ version of “Doing the Impossible” appeared as “L’impossible possibilite de l’exotisme ´ ´´ ` musical. in the essay “My Approach to Performing ‘Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien’. including Sylvie Forestier.” in Stage Music and Cultural Transfer: Paris 1830 to 1914. Toni Bentley. UK: Ashgate. centrato su intervalli di seconda eccedente . and Anxiety in Early Twentieth-Century French Theater: Playing Identities (Aldershot. 2. forthcoming). Ralph P. 51 –63. 16–43. The process just described is. 5. 2000]. “variously influenced by folk song. ed. atti del Convegno Inernazionale-Teatro alla ` Scala. 90–96. 1987). e. 2000).g. Fokine’s contribution is largely lost to us. Sisters of Salome (New Haven: Yale University Press. to often limited and stereotypical images of them within Western high culture. I rely upon the reader to understand that I am not referring to actual music of these various peoples but. 2011 . and Charles R. Saint Sebastien: Rituels et figures [exhibition cata` ´ ´ logue] (Paris: Ministere de la culture. Locke. P. 25–26.. 217–46. cigany) and Middle Easterners. Florence Getreau. I mention—without the use of quotation marks—various styles that were constructed by Western composers to represent various groups widely perceived as exotic or Other. di ispirazione orientale. See.

335–42. “Sulla situazione del ´ ‘Martyre de Saint Sebastien. November 2006. Je cherche des facons nouvelles. 276. Gerald Matt and Wolfgang Fetz (Bielefeld: Kerber. an issue entitled Le martyre de Saint-Sebastien. Saint Anthony (see n. 201– 26. D’Annunzio. Mouvement contraire: souvenirs d’un musicien (Paris: Domat.’ ” in “I consigli. 1920): 155 –58. 353. 120–28. “Le martyre de saint Sebastien. use the term “Mansions” (i. 1864– 1914” (PhD diss.e. For simplicity. Debussy and the Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge ´ University Press. de la creation Downloaded from mq. University of North Carolina. inevitably. see Emile Vuillerzmoz.” in Opera et religion (Saint-Etienne: Presses ´ de l’Universite de Saint-Etienne. no. The productions of 1911 and onward are documented. Stage Designer for the Premiere of The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Gabriele D’Annunzio. 550–52. 2003). 4: special Debussy issue (May 1987): 131– 35.. 2008). see Massimo Mila. J’invente des modes nouveaux” ¸ ( p.. “Le martyre de Saint-Sebastien: Etude sur ` ´ la genese. Lamothe presented his main findings on Le martyre in a paper at the American Musicological Society meeting. ´ ` ´ 11. no. D. 24 (2000): 57– 78. 10. 344. 2963 –64. Dicoletian is. Inghelbrecht et ˆ ` son temps (Neuchatel: Editions de la Baconniere. D.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. 211. 1953). Francois Lesure. a pointed critique of the bored fin-de-siecle aesthete who turns all humans into toys for his pleasure.. 1947). “Theater Music in France. Gabriele D’Annunzio. Germaine and D. 1962 –65). ´ ´ Denis Herlin. 2:10. 199–200.” in Revue musicale 1. they are called “Windows” (i. “Que les dieux / justes conservent ta beaute / pour l’Empereur. 272. stained-glass windows. vv. nouvelle serie. 376. Edward Lockspeiser. in ´ ´ Revue musicale 234 (1957). reviving a usage from medieval church mystery-plays. E.” For a critical assessment of Le martyre. 3166–68). (That same volume also con¨ tains an Italian version of the aforementioned article by Stoıanova. 49 –69. nouvelle serie. 157– 67. 4–5 (1980 –81): 19–37. successive locations).) 16. E. nos. misleading as D’Annunzio’s text does not consistently differentiate between actions happening onstage and direct or indirect analogies to specific Christian figures. “Leon Bakst. mythe et martyre. Je veux rire. 1911). “Retour ´ ´ sur Le martyre de saint Sebastien. 153–54.g. 1982). The Emperor announces his plan of having Sebastian laid upon the floor and smothered with jewels and flowers: “Non. 2006). ´ “Autour du Martyre de Saint-Sebastien. 192–214.” D’Annunzio. Los Angeles. Debussy: His Life and Mind (London: Cassell. The plot summary in Figure 1 is.e. 15. 2011 . e. Claude Debussy (Paris: Costard. among other things. 207– 38. as in a church). E. 1978). Inghelbrecht. In Leonard Bernstein’s English-language adaptation. “Saint-Sebastien. vv. Claude Debussy: Biographie critique. Sebastien!” 12. 68 –71. 2. 369.. L’Arte del tragico. and Peter Lamothe. Santoli. 104 –16. 233.408 The Musical Quarterly 1983). Chapel Hill. idem. 42). no. Robert Orledge. 15. Inghelbrecht. ` 13. suivie ¸ du catalogue de l’œuvre (Paris: Fayard. 217–36. 3529–31. vv. Le martyre de saint Sebastien: Mystere compose en rythme fran´ cais (Paris: Calmann-Levy. entitled ´ “Quite Far from that State of Grace: Debussy’s Le martyre de saint Sebastien as Incidental Music.” Cahiers Debussy. 2953– 54. Further on origins of Le martyre and on later performances. and idem. Eiko Kasaba. 156 –61. 213 –25. Le martyre. ed.” 400–407. 14. ´ ¨ Ivanka Stoıanova.oxfordjournals. Germaine Inghelbrecht.” Cahiers Debussy. visually and otherwise. special Debussy issue (December 1.” Silences. “chevelure d’hya¸ ´ ´ cinthe”. 75– 76 (images erroneously stated as ´ ` being from 1929).” in Saint Sebastian: A Splendid Readiness for Death [exhibition catalogue]. I refer to the five sections of the work as “Acts. 2003).

In the latter article..http://youtube.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. the latter being Sebastian’s spirit.” These titles do not nearly compensate for the loss of the words in those passages that. Herlin. When Mr. they thereby removed from the work all trace of Babylonia as well as Erigone’s exotic song (discussed below). Revealing Masks. can be viewed at .” Wilson used an orchestra-only recording (i. Berlioz’s ´ version (1859) of Gluck’s Orphee et Euridice had analogously reworked the opera’s central role—the demigod Orpheus—for a mezzo-soprano. Robert Wilson’s 1988 Paris Opera Ballet version (with additional choreography by Suzushi Hanayagi) embodied Saint Sebastian in two dancers. much less what actions occur in passages of the complete work that are not represented in the Fragments (notably the entire act 2. Equally fine are studio performances conducted by Eugene Ormandy (2 Columbia Downloaded from mq. in Babylonia). Theater. 2011 . L’Arte del ´ tragico. “Le martyre. The reader/listener thus cannot learn what on-stage actions the different passages in the four movements were meant to illustrate (such as that the “Ecstatic ´ Dance” in movement 2 takes place on charbons embrases). the great Pauline Viardot. who has returned to witness his own martyrdom. and in Santoli. Also. Recordings by.. Kader Belarbi. The movement titles of the Fragments are simply 1: “La Cour des Lys. Saint Sebastian. were recorded under Inghelbrecht (three different ones have been released on CD). 113–16). 1948). 99 –102. ´ featuring Jean-Christophe Pare (and including obvious choreographic references to ` Nijinsky’s L’apres-midi d’un faune). The performances thus suggested the history of Western imperialism: European soldiers overseas. L’Arte del tragico. 84 –87. 17. Anthony Sheppard. and “Robert Wilson’s Stunning Images: Do They Add Up?” July 24. as Sebastian. slaying an unarmed native male of somewhat dark coloring (see photos in Santoli. which are from 1911). without the lines for solo voices and chorus) and added a prologue set on a sinking ship.. Decades earlier. further excerpts from the early reviews are excerpted in Lamothe. also included parts for voices. a renowned French ballet dancer whose father was Algerian. a woman and a man.oxfordjournals. also.g.” July 11. Barenboim.” 3: “La Passion. Monteux. ´ ` 21. in the complete work.e. e. Wilson’s vision is too clean-cut to effect the merger of religious and erotic ecstasy. Kisselgoff notes that “Mr. Splendid “live” performances of Debussy’s complete music for Le martyre. and two articles (overlapping in content) by Anna Kisselgoff in the New York Times: “A Visionary ‘Martyre’ In a U. musique de Claude ´ ` ´ ´ Debussy: Analyses et Textes destines a accompagner les executions symphoniques etablis par Germaine Inghelbrecht (Paris: Durand. with much or all of the Inghelbrechts’ shortened narration. 19.” 214. 1988. Valery Gergiev in Rehearsal and Performance.” 2: “Danse extatique et Final du 1er Acte. 129 –34 (Palermo l999). 71 –119 (but not 75 –76. Kisselgoff saw the latter as pointing a “universal” moral about the decline of empires. W. has the women onstage confuse Christian worship with the worship of Adonis. 1988. The La Scala 1929 performances (conducted by Arturo Toscanini) omitted act 2. See Matt and Fetz. 18. the Fragments score contains no program note at all. A 1995 production at Venice’s Teatro La Fenice featured. no one seemed even to notice a point that caused scandal in 1911. 207 –38. RM Arts IM9255RADVD. Premiere. following the [D’Annunzio] scenario.” 4: “Le Bon Pasteur. and Conlon. mystere de Gabriele D’Annunzio. Le martyre de saint Sebastien. on a DVD.S. Wilson. ´ 20.com/ watch?v=jjHhzeE2JgY.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 409 ` ` ´ 1911 a la reprise a l’Opera de Paris 1957. A video of the end of act 2.

1. Theater. for lack of space. Tilson Thomas’s recording removes some of the spoken lines from musical numbers.) Louis de Froment recorded most of the music (for Vox). 1). Philip Kolb. “fourth to eighth measures after reh. no.410 The Musical Quarterly LPs: M2S 609). But the role remains that of a young Middle Easterner who (here despite himself) arouses sexual desire in a Roman ruler. A copy has been made available at the Sibley Music Library website: http://hdl.. 4. but his discussion restricts itself to what he calls “exoticisms” (in the plural. The original Durand edition of the prelude to act 2 (full score)—one of the many passages lacking in the Fragments—has been made available at the Sibley Music Library website. see especially Herlin. Oeuvres completes.net/1802/4218. Downloaded from mq. 207– 38. ed. lacks rehearsal ´ numbers—was prepared by Andre Caplet and is still available from Durand. 1976–93) 10:288–90. Three recordings from the pre-stereo era ´ were conducted by Andre Cluytens.e. http://hdl. 25. no. Sebastian she would be pierced by Christian sacrifice not pagan debauchery. 120–23. i. mvt. stylistic markers of the exotic). It was as if this particular Salome wanted to reverse roles and play John the Baptist. 26.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. forthcoming). reh.handle. Germany: Laaber-Verlag. over the staff ). no. mm. 1981). E. 1911]. Eiko Kasaba (Paris: Durand-Costallat. 1. “Le martyre. 1 (reh. of course. 12–13)— Debussy und seine Zeit (Laaber. the CD restored it. released by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Theo Hirsbrunner does state that “nowhere else [in Debussy’s output] is exoticism ´ so strong as in Le martyre de saint Sebastien”.g. The Bernstein recording is now available as Sony Classical CD SMK 60596. this 3-CD set. partly true. equivalent to Fragments. 3” (so the measure at reh. Proust’s letter to the composer Reynaldo Hahn. the other two no narration. 24.g. 29.” This is. The ´ ` Cluytens used narration adapted by Vera Korene. with some narration. On the work’s early reception.net/1802/4061. The spoken cues are given in French only. ed. also contains Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion). no. 144 –45: “As D’Annunzio’s St. Bentley. The role of Sebastian is less overtly Middle Eastern (and sensuous in a different way) than female roles that Rubinstein had danced for Diaghilev. e. Michael Tilson Thomas (Sony Classical CD SK48240). except for the lack of English sung words) seems no longer to be available for sale. Lamothe. 28. Cleopatra. Claudio Abbado can be seen conducting a lengthy “suite” with solo singers but without narration on a DVD entitled Abbado in Lucerne (Euroarts. 2005). vol. vol.. Sibley Library also owns a Durand edition of the prelude to act 3.” 27. and Victor Alessandro. Charles Munch recorded for RCA Victor all of Debussy’s music and declaimed the Inghelbrechts’ text himself. His two examples are the lamenting of the Women of Byblos (its frankly Middle Eastern style elements will be discussed below) and a Japanese mode that he feels is “recalled” in act 1.. 2011 . Sisters. mm. 1.handle. in Correspondance. Ernest Ansermet. [May 23. no. ` 23. 21 vols. in a version that adds to the singers’ parts an English-language translation by Hermann Klein (below the French text or occasionally. series VI. 1. and—in Sheherazade— ´ı Zobe¨de. 12 –13. The piano-vocal score—which. (The Victrola LP re-release removed the speaking.oxfordjournals. 3 is counted as m. Claude Debussy. The original French-only piano-vocal score (essentially identical. (Paris: Plon. so as to permit the music to make an effect on its own. 22. unfortunately. and Kurt Masur (on Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic.

311). See n. He also hired Andre Caplet to help with the orchestration of many sections.. Le martyre. D’Annunzio. An entire issue of L’illustration theatrale (May 27. In the Baroque era and later (e. Le martyre. Sebastian. 310. 78). Debussy did. 1911) was devoted to Le ´ˆ martyre. 23. L’Arte del tragico. Sebastian tends to be emaciated. .org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. . Riccardo Sica.g. than this insatiable death?]—D’Annunzio. Rumors that Caplet even composed some of the music are no longer accepted by most Debussy scholars. 92 (“mes elus de la cohorte d’Emese”). 31. considered the collaboration but declined to participate. and devoured numerous Athenian youths and maidens until he/it was slain by Theseus. 43: Bakst’s set for act 1 is like “una miniatura islamica”). . See. a greater victory. the vicious Minotaur—half-human and half-bull—lived on the island of Crete. In the end. Montesquiou helped D’Annunzio improve some wordings in the French text and stepped onto the stage in rehearsal to demonstrate to Fokine one appropriate gesture for Sebastian (309.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 411 30./vers l’heritage de ton ame. for example. (The Sassanid empire. Minotaure ´ d’Asie. 1965). and the same was true of Le theatre (no. le Seigneur des danses. in paintings of the 1860s–70s by Gustave Moreau). Saint Sebastien. 248. D’Annunzio.oxfordjournals. 216 (and. ´ 35. 38. lasted from the third to the seventh centuries AD) According to some reports. Soon after. In act 1. ´ 32. Roger-Ducasse. 60). Sanae. beardless and sometimes nearly androgynous. In the Renaissance depictions. centered in Persia. Debussy was not the first composer that D’Annunzio approached. won’t you have a holier war. un prince 1900 (Paris: Librairie ´ Academique Perrin. gorge de vierges et d’adolescents!” (p. A copy of the program book is at the Bibliotheque Nationale (BnF-ASP Ro ´ˆ 5260). The archers are plainly non-Christian. 299. Perhaps D’Annunzio hesitated to ask Debussy first. Robert de Montesquiou./ n’auras-tu pas une plus sainte/guerre et une victoire plus/grande que cette insatiable/ mort?” [Once you are safe . is as beautiful as Adonis ( p. the author’s description of the statues ` of dozens of gods in this scene. 2011 . first two weeks of June 1911). In act 4./vers l’heritage de ton dieu. In Greek mythology. to the East of Greece. 34. like a starved prisoner. in the margins of the printed libretto. 43– 46 ( p. . Downloaded from mq. for a recent example. pleads with Sebastian to flee by boat from the impending death-by-arrows. “Si tu es sauf . 37.” in Santoli. Le martyre. the chief of Sebastian’s Syrian archers. and Matt and Fetz. A copy of the latter is BnF-Arts du Spectacle Ro 5262. he tends to be a soft-skinned adolescent. “Dai Balletti Russi al Martyre de Saint ´ ´ ´ Sebastien: La magia dell’Oriente nei decors di Leon Bakst. members of the crowd cry out “Minotaure. 32). ` 36. Philippe Jullian. “Les Gentiles” speak condescendingly of Jesus as “cet Asiatique mort au gibet!” ( p. he chose not to set to music a number of additional passages that. out of fear that he might prove unwilling to work to the poet’s specifications. they declare. 3667– 76. ´ ` 33. venu de ´ Beryte”). Saint Sebastian. with your divine face turned toward the East. /avec ton visage/ ´ ´ ˆ ´ divin tourne vers l’Orient. like a Hercules or Samson. chafe at what turned out to be a tight time frame. vv. Forestier. are indicated as having been “given ´ sound” by him (“Magister Claudius sonum dedit”). including “Balmarcodes. or (less often) bearded and muscular. in fact. on 195. toward the heritage of your soul.

D’Annunzio also enjoys. Harold W. inserting the ¨ (related) Hebrew name for God. 1976). and ed. Lindsay Jones (Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. 2011 . Oden (Missoula. Polycarp and Tiburtius. Lucian of Samosata [or Shimsheta. s. 14–17 (sections 6 –8). 248). ed. a city on the west bank of the Euphrates]. Batsford. libretto of Le martyre. 136– 37. B-flat –C-flat –E-flat –F: a B-flat eleventh chord missing its third degree (and with the ninth degree flatted). Exodus 24:18. In the stage directions on pp. 1911. trans. forced to choose between offering incense to the gods or to tread barefoot on glowing coals.oxfordjournals. 1913). 1985).” 44. 45. June 16. though the latter’s many years in the Egyptian desert are reduced to forty days and nights. La legende doree. 225 and 226.. Daniel ` Chenneviere (a young composer who later became better known under the name Dane ´ Rudhyar) specifically praised this passage as one of the work’s “melodies [qui] se ´ repandent en ondes larges et vibrantes”—Claude Debussy et son oeuvre (Paris: A. smash an expensively constructed model of the heavenly bodies (which emperor Chromatius employed for divination). D’Annunzio’s sources (and some that he possibly did not know. Attridge and Robert A.’ ” trans. was and remains chapter 23 in the thirteenth-century compendium The Golden Legend.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5.. One or more of these three saints break hundreds of pagan idols. 153 –85. 40. 42. “Io! Io! Adoniastes!” (vv. Durand et fils. 688 –709. 230). most relevant here. 43. Joanne Maria Pini. Mark 1:13 (also Matthew 4 and Luke 4). “Gabriele D’Annunzio et Le martyre de Saint Sebastien. See Jacques de ´ ´ Voragine. (Paris: Gallimard.” Mercure de France. tread the coals and declare that the embers feel like roses. 42. as reported by Sanae. see Eiko Kasaba. 2005). Genesis 7:4. See the discussion of two eighteenth-century non-European tyrant figures—Handel’s Belshazzar and Rameau’s Huascar—in chapter 5 of my Musical Exoticism or in my “Broader View. Diocletian’s attempts at tempting Sebastian are equated with the demons and wild beasts that assailed Saint Anthony.412 The Musical Quarterly 39. Diocletian and the Roman Recovery (London: B. In one of the earliest books on Debussy’s music. The Syrian Goddess (De Dea Syria). The moment is made profoundly dramatic by the evident battle going on in Sebastian’s soul— a battle between the temptations of worldly power and the spiritual power of Christian ` belief (from D’Annunzio’s stage directions: “les soulevements de sa poitrine indiquent la violence du combat invisible”—Le martyre.” 374 –9. 2004). Sebastian is shot full of arrows “to such an extent that one would have thought him a porcupine” (an image that D’Annunzio put into the mouth of ´ Diocletian.v. Downloaded from mq. Christ in the wilderness. 2nd ed. Adonaı. T. 41. attrib. in “I consigli. Stephen Williams. See Encyclopedia of Religion. Adonis. and. trans. as in the stories of Noah. The latter is a standard time-length in the Bible. and. also 4 (on Lucian’s use of Greek names for the Semitic gods). Further on musical features of this prelude and the one to act 2. Alain Boureau et al. at times. ´ “I due preludi orchestrali del ‘Martyre de Saint Sebastien. 3488–95 and further verses not set by Debussy). Moses on Sinai. At the climax. Perhaps the single most widely read source of stories about Sebastian and two saints associated with him. MT: Scholars Press. at least directly) were surveyed at the time in Gustave ´ Cohen.

. the two mezzo-sopranos singing in unison are replaced by four unison trumpets.g. 2. like Ex. Movement 2 of the Fragments then concludes with the march. ` 52. then orchestrated and expanded it as a ballet sometime in 1911. Albright. 50. This pedal chord is notably more puzzling than other passages in Le martyre that involve harmonically static arpeggios. 49. this prelude is of course included on all recordings of the complete score. Stage designs by Bakst and photographs from the first production—e. 2011 . fanfares.. Though excluded from the Fragments. not two. Debussy. 1989). Text in D’Annunzio. 53. 36) plainly names seven women (Mlles Dalci. Firewalking and Religious Healing: The Anastenaria of Greece and the American Firewalking Movement (Princeton. This passage is lacking in the Fragments. as some music theorists would have it. NJ: Princeton University Press. killed him. see Loring Danforth. 58 –63 (spirit possession. 54. Debussy.” 136). but more angst-ridden. Ravel originally composed Ma mere l’oye for piano duet (1908–10). Quantum Poetics. The pedal chord suggested at the beginning of the prelude to act 4 is. whether at least one or two of the sorceresses were played by male actors en travesti. ¨ 47. 2–3). 207–12 and 285 –88 (scientific explanation that the relatively fluffy embers have low thermal conductivity). Icarius was taught by Dionysus to make wine. and a brief few chords for chorus (reworked for orchestra alone) welcoming the Seraphim. But the program from the 1911 performances (see n. The first performance of the orchestral version was in January 1912. There are two Erigones in Greek mythology..g. and the flatted eleventh (D-flat) creates a dissonant clash with the chord’s major third (C). and/or pedal points. tremolos. thinking he had poisoned them. because the fifth degree is raised to an E-natural. e. i. Icarius’s daughter Erigone found his body and hanged Downloaded from mq.g. Stoıanova mentions the Bulgarian nestinari ´ as an equivalent phenomenon (“Saint-Sebastien. with some reason.e. Martyre. 93 –94. Gonzales.. an eleventh-chord (now on A-flat). and so on).) Several people who have looked at that photo have asked me.. 255 –57. two shepherds. 2.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. no. in Orledge. the Archers ´ ` of Emese then sing this eleventh-chord-without-third as a rising melody—act 1. permanent relationship with a spirit other”). “simultaneity”). On the origins and function of firewalking as a means of healing oneself and as a sign of union with God and/or a particular saint. 2 discussed above (which has one half-step in it. Transferred in the Fragments symphoniques to high winds and strings. A photograph reproduced in several places (e. e. 219—show an impressive throne room. Orledge. It is a more purely modernist chord (or. 51. and grand crescendo accompanying Sebastian’s vision of the arrival of the Seven Seraphim. Caplet’s (often ineffective) piano version of this and ` other excerpts from Le mystere is recorded by Boaz Sharon on Unicorn-Kanchana DKP(CD) 9103.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 413 46. but only one seems to have remained a virgin. 1442–59.g. In the Fragments symphoniques. 222) shows six of the seven magiciennes wearing this costume. Ex. vv. being truly bitonal and therefore not reducible to a single triad with various additions and alterations. 48. mm.oxfordjournals. an individual establishes a “positive. (The coarse-looking backdrop seems to have nothing to do with Le martyre.

.. The Sadko aria does not seem to have been published separately until the next year (1912).oxfordjournals. 61. and grand choruses in “ancient” operas of ` the nineteenth century (e. Calvocoressi had published a pathbreaking book on Mussorgsky in 1908 and was particularly friendly with Ravel. Laloy was slated to write the libretto. 60. Martyre. Debussy repeatedly discussed expanding Le martyre into an opera. reh. Hirsbrunner. The French words in the 1907 score of Le coq d’or were by M.. “Exotik oder Farblosigkeit: Antikebilder in der Oper des 19. ´ 56. bientot. 2 and 4. mm. 59. 8th ed. 66. The Exotic in Western Music (Boston. pianiste et accompagnateur (Pathe Marconi LP C04712538M [1973]).” Contemporary Music Review 6.” Le theatre 299 (June 1911): 18– 19 (19). 63. D’Annunzio. .. .org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. degrees 3 and 4. Henry de Curzon. if we hear the tune as implying the tonic note A. on Francis Poulenc. no. This perhaps explains a remark by Mervyn Cooke: “In only one work of Debussy’s [“Pagodes”] does the pentatonic scale occur prominently in a specifically Oriental context”—“‘The East in the West’: Evocations of the Gamelan in Western Music. Slonimsky. she bore a child (Penthilus) with her half-brother Orestes. (New York: Schirmer Books. Nicolas Slonimsky. 62. Downloaded from mq. In the last years of his life. The other Erigone was daughter of Aegisthus and Clytemnestra. 2 (1992): 27 –38.v. les voix paıennes chantant leurs vains symboles”— “La partition de M. Jahrhunderts. MA: Northeastern University Press. 57. synthetisant toute la revolte de l’ancien monde contre l’aube nou¨ velle. based freely on D’Annunzio’s text. 67. e. Mose in Egitto.e. 64. Further on pandiatonicism. like most commentators on Le martyre. (Yellow asphodel flowers were reputed to be the sole food of the dead.) 55. The first word. 120–23). 1998). Le prophete or Faust).” in Jonathan Bellman. Paıan ( paean). 1992). That is. Semiramide. D. 8. Laloy’s Claude Debussy was published in 1909. no.g. Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians.. “Conversation between SJ and JS [i. rev. omits mention of Erigone (Debussy.414 The Musical Quarterly herself on a tree. Calvocoressi. Or some of the cadences in act 5. 258 –80. The marches. 65. caught at least some of this: ˆ ´ ´ “Voici . 209. between the author and himself ] on the New Tonality. Nicolas.” Humanistische Bildung 19 (1996): 117–25. see Stephen Jaffe. 347 –50 (260). The chorus’s “Ah!” is simply removed from the Fragments version (not reassigned to instruments). The text’s reference to the aspho` dele probably refers to the Asphodel Meadows of the underworld and thus to the early death of Icarius’s daughter Erigone. at the time of the work’s premiere. or Nabucco) tend not to differ ` greatly in style from those in operas set in much more recent times (e. Michael Walter. Claude ´ ´ˆ Debussy pour le Martyre de Saint Sebastien. ceremonial processions. though what remains—the dissonant forte chords and the tritone timpani beats discussed earlier—is amply powerful. A 1943 recording.g. another prominent French music critic. was both the word for a hymn and a name for Apollo in his role as healer. 2011 ¨ 58.g. s.

1987). on the Tilson Thomas recording. 226. The three successive half-cadences (I –IV –V) come after reh.oxfordjournals. reh. plus a harp) gives them an etiolated character. on the day of the scheduled first perform´ ance (May 18. This reaction to the directness in sections of Le martyre was present from the start. no. Peter Bloom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. la curiosite morbide d’effets rares—“Partition. Herlin. with confident rising-fifth leaps (Martyre. 4. For Debussy’s statement in Comoedia. the final eighteen measures of Fragments. 78. special Berlioz issue (2003): 73 –86. 96 –97). No.Unacknowledged Exoticism in Debussy 415 68. strange refinements in sonority.” 225. See earlier discussion. 74. translated by Jean-Claude Teboul as “Les oeuvres religieuses. 96 –108 (esp. 2nd rev. ` 71. 2. 3.org at State Univ NY at Stony Brook on June 5. “Le martyre. Before he is killed he enacts a vision of the Good Shepherd coming to carry away a beloved sheep. On pentatonicism as a marker of ecclesiastical style. 77. On the Bernstein recording. Interestingly. mvt. 73. Chenneviere praises what I assume is this passage and the Act 4 statements of the ´ ´ same material as “des lamentations d’une intensite de desespoir encore jamais atteinte” (Claude Debussy. d’etranges raffinements ´ ´ de sonorites. such as “endless subtleties of dynamics. ed. no. See stage photo in Orledge. by one soprano (Sylvia McNair. see Day-O’Connell. Subsequent religious works that follow in Debussy’s joyous footsteps include Poulenc’s Gloria (1959) and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (1965). (Paris: Gallimard. Francois Lesure. reported that “certain ´¸ ‘Debussyists’” were “disappointed” (decu[s]) not to find the composer’s usual features in this score. 8). with a short new ` ´´ coda. 2. Debussy. there are two two-note repetitions in the “Paıan” chorus as well (Ex. Downloaded from mq. “[Berlioz:] The Religious Works. 326– 27. 99–142. ¸ ed. 1911). The Shepherd is indicated by a broad-breathed melody. 2011 . 2000).” 18). Henry de Curzon. 72. at Tres modere). 76. ed. 70. the rising arpeggios seem to be taken by a full section of choral sopranos. their being assigned to violins in harmonics (arco. regarding Ex. 1 –12. plus the second violins pizzicato. mm. 8–9. see Monsieur Croche et autres ecrits. and ´ ´ a morbid search for unusual effects” (d’infinies subtilites de nuances. Locke. Pentatonicism.” in The Cambridge Companion to Berlioz. 75. See Ralph P. 6. ¨ 69. in a thoughtful review of the first performance. 42).” in Ostinato rigore: Revue inter´ nationale d’etudes musicales 21. this became. superbly).

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