Tarek Barreda (Insititut National d'Histoire de l'Art)
Music in French Architecture of the 17th and 18th Centuries.
Music could be performed anywhere. But several sources (diaries, inventories, architectural books, etc.), indicate that some spaces are favoured during the Seventeenth and the Eighteenth Centuries: the Great Chamber for eating and dancing, the Chamber and the Cabinet to make private concert, the Gallery for great occasions.
In the middle of the Seventeenth Century the ballroom appears in some castles or town mansions. The room is equipped with a balcony all around or a little tribune to seat musicians. At the same period, we may note that some people had a cabinet devoted to music, but without using the term ‘music room’. It is only during the second half of the century that we may find precise terms like the “chamber of the music” for Chenonceau Castle or the “music room” in the Parisian mansion of the duchesse de Guise. This evolution is naturally symptomatic of both the royal examples and the creation of multiple social circles, the so-called “salons” in the private sphere.
In the Eighteenth Century, the “appartement de société” (to use Jean-François Blondel’s phrase), a sequence of rooms devoted to various social activities (conversation, games playing and music), sometimes included a music room. But it was not so widespread as it might be supposed. Only the richest possessed such a room, like the prince of Condé at Chantilly Castle or the fermier général Bonnier de La Mosson in his castle near Montpellier. During the second half of the century, the music room became more and more appreciated and its use less exclusive. Many amateurs decided to devote a room partly or entirely to music. These included the marquis of Marigny in his castle of Menars, the duke of Castries in his castle of Castries and the actresses Mrs Guimard and Mrs Dervieux into their Parisian houses, as well as the widow of the rich banker Thélusson.
In this context, hidden spaces for musicians appeared during the last three decades of the Eighteenth Century: they answered a need for intimacy and a liking for surprise and mystery, also present in Literature. The Chinese pavilion at Chantilly Castle, the dinning room of princess Kinsky or the plan of the architect Jean-Jacques Lequeu for a “boudoir” are examples of these last developments.
Michel Brenet, Les concerts en France sous l’Ancien Régime, Paris, Librairie Fischbacher, 1900.
Madeleine Jurgens, Documents du Minutier central concernant l’histoire de la musique (1600-1650), Paris, SEV-PEN, 1969-1974, 2 vol.
Patricia Ranum, “A sweet servitude. A musician’s life at the Court of Mlle de Guise” in Early Music, XV, n° 3, août 1987, p. 347-360.
Richard J. Viano, “By invitation only. Private concerts in France during the second half of the eighteenth century” in Recherches sur la musique française classique, XXVII, 1991-1992, p. 131-162.
David Hennebelle, “Nobles, musique et musiciens à Paris à la fin de l’Ancien Régime : les transformations d’un patronage séculaire (1760-1780)” in Revue de musicologie, 87/2, 2001, p. 395-418.
Tarek Berrada, “Les lieux de l’air de cour” in Poésie, Musique et Société. L’air de cour en France au XVIIe siècle, Sprimont, Pierre Mardaga éditeur, 2006, p. 67-79.
Tarek Berrada, “Les lieux de la pratique musicale dans l’architecture privée au temps de Louis XIV” in C. Mazouer (dir.), Les Lieux du spectacle dans l’Europe du xviie siècle, actes de colloque, Tübingen, Gunter Narr Verlag, 2006.
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