: Jean-Claude Eloy at the Domaine Musical, in Paris"
important work devoted to the "Domaine Musical" was published
in 1992 by the musicologist, Jésus Aguila, from the University
of ToulouseLe Mirail.
"Domaine Musical" - a concert organization founded by
Pierre Boulez in 1953 based on private funding, and which was active
up until 1973 has remained well-known far beyond a strictly
Parisian musical circle. It constituted one of the most essential
poles of modernity in Paris during the twenty years of its existence.
These concerts were entirely devoted to the discovery of new music...
mainly serial music from the post-war period and beyond - Bério,
Boulez, Pousseur, Stockhausen, but also Kagel and many others. They
took place in front of an elite audience (the list of subscribers
counted numerous figures from the art and literary world) and the
international reputation of these concerts placed them among the
most influential events in the second half of the 20th century.
During the sixties, other organizations were created elsewhere,
following the "Domaine Musical" model, always centered
around "chamber music" type ensembles.
concerts were largely responsible for helping the Parisian audience
quite uninformed at this time - to discover some of the greatest
historical figures of 20th century music : the Viennese school (Schoenberg,
Berg, Webern), the precursors (Varèse), etc...
Boulez conducted and oversaw the organization from its founding
until 1967, when Gilbert Amy assumed the position until 1973, at
which point he decided to discontinue these concerts, given the
fact that Pierre Boulez was scheduled to return to Paris, this time
with state support and the creation of the double institution :
Ircam (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique-Musique)
and Intercontemporain (Ensemble Inter-Contemporain).
Eloy was present at the time of these concerts. Firstly, as a young
student, fascinated by what could be discovered, and then (in 1962
1963 1964), he made his own very well-received debut
as a composer at the "Domaine Musical", under the patronage
of Pierre Boulez, whose direct pupil he was. As of 1962, and as
requested by Pierre Boulez, he took over the writing and editing
of all the programs and program notes. This activity ceased in 1965
when Jean-Claude Eloy broke with Parisian musical circles, a break
that was soon followed by Boulezs break as well.
work by Jésus Aguila relates this twenty-year period of activity
: the specifically musical work accomplished ; the works featured
; the feverish atmosphere of the early years ; the discussions and
aesthetic controversies ; the social context ; the political intrigues
of the sixties ; etc...
Under the heading: "Jean-Claude Eloy : Imitation and Transgression",
information is given about Eloys participation in these concerts
(pp. 292-301). In addition, chapter IV ("From Marginality to
Institutionalization") recounts the whole affair in 1965-66
about Gilbert Amys succession at "Domaine Musical"
and the ways in which French musical policies were intertwined.
A paragraph entitled "The departure of Jean-Claude Eloy"
(p. 110 and following pages) sheds some light on this episode.
in French :
"Le Domaine Musical"
Pierre Boulez et vingt ans de création contemporaine
Musical Domain" - concerts of the "Domaine
Musical" in Paris
Pierre Boulez and twenty years of contemporary creation)
Éditions Arthème Fayard, Paris, 1992
at the Donaueschingen festival"
1996, the German musicologist and critic, Josef Häusler, published
a large, important work devoted entirely to the Donaueschingen festival:
"Spiegel der Neuen Musik : Donaueschingen - Chronik
documented, this work outlines the history of the prestigious festival
where the greatest musical figures of the 20th century were featured
from its founding in 1921 until 1996. Works and composers
are written about in great detail.
commenting on Jean-Claude Eloys participation in festivals
conducted by Pierre Boulez in 1963 and 1964 ("Equivalences",
"Fragments", pp. 235 - 236), he devotes an entire text
to the integral production of the "Anâhata" cycle
at the festival in 1990, in a chapter entitled "Asiatica"
text is interesting on more than one level. It engages in a stalwart
defense of this work, its production and motivations, taking into
account a very favorable general response, but also critical reviews
and professional opinions that were agressive, divided and culturally
unable to cope with Jean-Claude Eloys radical departure from
is indeed true that for this work the composer relies on an ensemble
of musicians from a culture that is very distant from European culture
: the most ancient music of Japan, "Gagaku" for the three
solo instrumentalists and "Shômyô" for the
two solo singers (Buddhist monks). Jean-Claude Eloy already had
vast experience with such musicians after the performance of his
work "In Search of the Meditative Flame" in Tokyo at the
National Theater of Japan in 1983. But for "Anâhata",
he places these musicians at the core of a very elaborate electro-acoustic
production, to which he adds (for the first work of the cycle) a
very rich percussion, whose roots, for the most part, come from
different regions in Asia.
length of the work probably had something to do with the allergic
reactions in professional circles, as the complete "Anâhata"
cycle took up two concerts, out of the seven concerts offered in
the 1990 festival.
motivations for this controversy undoubtedly came from a text by
Jean-Claude Eloy published in the festival program ("Anlässlich
Anâhata" - text n° 47-c from the catalog of
Jean-Claude Eloy), which restates different themes from text n°
44 ("Le long cheminement dune rencontre" - The long
road of an encounter), later developed in texts n° 54 ("Quelques
repères sur les origines dune collaboration avec des
musiciens dautres civilisations" - Some references on
the origins of a collaboration with musicians from other cultures),
and n° 58 ("Une rencontre nécessaire" - An
essential encounter). In this text, Jean-Claude Eloy very clearly
denounced the hegemony of Occidental music in relation to other
musical cultures, as well as a certain "euro-centric bias"
in contemporary music. His aesthetic choices ("contemplative
music", passages in non-tempered modalities) distanced themselves
rather markedly from practices established by Occidental modernity,
the historical and institutional "avant-garde" - one of
whose platforms is precisely the Donaueschingen festival.
should be noted here that Josef Häusler was the "Musikdramaturg"
and "Redakteur" at the Südwestfunk in Baden-Baden
from 1959 to 1991. This position had placed him for several years
in a position of decision-maker for the Donaueschingen festival,
where he exercised a role similar to artistic director. That such
obvious openness was possible within one of the avant-gardes
flagship festivals triggered possible defensive reactions on the
part of a critical milieu that felt it had been "provoked".
However, no musical provocation from the composer and his musicians
was noted by the audience that remained alert and receptive during
long concerts. But maybe that, in itself, was what constituted
THE provocation ! ... And it was a provocation, certainly, for an
audience to adhere in the eyes of an intellectual nomenklatura
that for decades had held a tight grip on the majority of the professional
and ideological powers related to musical modernity.
(Avaera) : How would you explain, Jean-Claude Eloy, these divergent
reactions to your work ?
(Jean-Claude Eloy) : These reactions didnt manifest themselves
immediately, during the concert or after the different parts of
the work. On the contrary, audience response was very friendly.
One of the two large concert halls used at Donaueschingen was filled
to overflowing ! My lighting technician during rehearsal had counted
about 800 seats. At the concert, there were even young people seated
on the floor. Doctor Kalmus, from Universal Edition-London, who
for years had been saying to me "Too long !" after some
of my works, called me after "Anâhata II" to say
laughingly : "Too short ! Much too short !". Only afterwards
did a certain "word of mouth" start to make its way. By
"mouth" I mean some of my colleagues, the ones with set
ideas in their heads who communicated their ideology to various
critics with no true understanding or knowledge. Amazing articles
started to appear : "Buddhists invade the Black Forest !"
; "Anâhata : a work whose place should be in a
commercial music festival..."; etc...
with these reactions, one must note with regret the persistence
within modernity of a form of dogmatism. A philosophical dogmatism,
sharply revealing on this occasion its own cultural foundations.
Not truly tainted by nationalism, but rather by a form of "continentalism",
by a sort of poorly hidden racism, by a strongly rooted "conviction
of superiority", revealing a new form veiled but aggravated,
and thus revealed in spite of itself ! of a pseudo hegemonic
colonialism, which I denounce !
: What was the reasoning behind it ?
: But thats just the problem, there was no reasoning ! There
were only insults, arrogance and the demonstration, the assertion
of a single thought in relation to "modernity", established
certainties hammered over and over. Anything coming from elsewhere,
outside of an Occidental sphere, could only belong to an exotic
"bazaar", not to be taken seriously at the risk of derailing
the most pious of avant-gardes from its straight and narrow road!
an interview that I had given for Stuttgart television, the young
man interviewing me pointed to the two monk singers (reputed and
respected in Japan) rehearsing on stage and said: "Of course,
those two over there are actors in costume that you placed there,
right ?..." The interview took place an hour before the
beginning of the concert, while the concert hall doors were still
closed, the concert hall still completely empty. Panoramic shots
of the empty hall, with its 800 empty seats (Ionescos dream
!) were taken, and these images - cleverly misplaced within the
final cut were accompanied by these words : "... concerts
like these can attract no one...". An excellent example of
the totally hypocritical techniques manipulating opinions that are
used to excess by the official machinery that frame and surround
artistic "life". We hear that we have freedom of artistic
expression in our democratic societies. Who dares to assert such
vulgar lies ?
: Didnt you think about protesting, and suing the television
: What for ? How can you, nowadays, attack the official reporting
of a powerful television station, reputed for its "progressive"
stands, when the harm has already been done as soon as the story
is on the air ? You need to be willing to waste a lot of time and
a lot of money.
: But are you able to define a dominant argument, a theme, or
a persistent idea behind this criticism ?
: According to the established criteria and received ideas that
were expressed, "progress" (for those cultures whose roots
are different from ours) should come from a pure and simple adoption
of European avant-garde practices and models, and not from attempting
to exist through the realization of a historical unfolding and a
reverse-type movement, such as what I offered as an example.
this occasion, from a number of eminent voices, I heard ideas relating
to cultural belonging of peoples that I thought came from a different
age, that are primitive and completely contradictory. And this is
still going on today within many institutional circles. On the one
hand, these voices assert the capacities and the right for Asian
musicians or other non-westernized parts of the globe
to fashion themselves on the Occidental model, by adopting the same
techniques, by using the same materials, etc... This, for the sake
of Universalism in our culture. On the other hand, these
same voices reject the possibility of a reverse development, by
excluding on principle the capacity, the right, of Occidental musicians
to creatively and knowledgably take on non-Occidental music, or
even simply learn how to use some of their materials.
worst part is that Asians themselves, Orientals, numerous cultures,
have often been contaminated by such Occidental prejudice. I recall
an evening in Tokyo, after a lecture and recorded presentation of
"Anâhata" at the University of Kunitachi, given
in the presence of Japanese musicians who had performed this work
at its European premiere, before its revival at the Donaueschingen
festival. A dinner had kindly been offered to our whole group by
the Professor Ebisawa : Director of this very vast musical university.
He was a member of the Mozart society, and seemed puzzled after
my lecture. He said to me : "The major difference between
these two types of music is that Occidental music Mozart
and many others is UNIVERSAL music. Our national Japanese
music will never be able to become universal music". My
status as guest, my respect for the Professor Ebisawa and certain
basic rules of Japanese courtesy kept me from pursuing the question.
I settled for saying : "Do you really think so ?..."
the question that should be asked in relation to this persistent
argument is the following : "Who conferred this capacity and
decreed this universal mission upon practically all of our Occidental
music ? When ? In what circumstances ? Where are the decrees ? Have
they been deciphered in an old treaty in Sanskrit, Greek or Latin
? Were they written on the walls of a Pharoahs tomb ? Must
we climb the slopes of Mount Ararat or Mount Sinai to find them
buried in the remains of an ark, or read them engraved in letters
on a rock face ? Where do these tables of the law come from ? Who
decreed the Universalism of our culture, if not ourselves, and more
particularly our 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, with their immense
colonial expansion ?"
interview "hors-territoires" - Avaera. © Copyright
2005. All reproduction, publication, translation, public use are
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discussion remains open. But in the last fifteen years, it has weakened
even as it has broadened with the acceleration of worldwide communication,
the gradual recognition of minorities, the circulation of recordings
and artists, the development of a livelier and more authentic ethnomusicology,
democratic access to long-distance travel, the recognition and greater
preservation of the cultural heritage of humanity. This broadening
comes accompanied by other risks : hybridization-acculturations.
Whatever the case may be, this discussion brings to life Valérys
famous words : "Civilizations, know that you are all mortal".
in German :
"Spiegel der Neuen Musik : Donaueschingen
Chronik Tendenzen Werkbesprechungen"
of the New Music : Donaueschingen
- Chronicle - Tendencies - Discussions of works")
Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel, und J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart und