Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-hb754 Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-26T15:49:09.842Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

7 - As Pleasing to the Ear as to the Eye: A Popular Musical Style

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 June 2021

Get access

Summary

In a review of Henri José's Le tzigane for Gil Blas in 1899, Gaston Serpette encapsulated the essential qualities of a great music-hall ballet score. M. Henri Jose, he writes, “has perfectly understood that in a music hall, one needs above all to capture the attention of a public that comes far more for its own amusement than in search of great art. Also, all of his pieces are always melodically and rhythmically clear. One effortlessly follows this music that accurately underlines all of the libretto's situations.” To be a success, ballet music needed to be entertaining and functional. Although creativity and the ability to write arresting dramatic scenes were valued, music-hall composers earned the highest praise if they were able to write music that followed the contours of the plot and that was upbeat, danceable, colorful, and melodically appealing. The excerpts of reviews included below represent only a small sample, but their similarity is revealing.

M. G. Pfeiffer's music, which is clear, dancelike, rhythmic, and melodious, offers the ear a plethora of delicious motives.

M. Ganne's score is full of color, with a delicate orchestration and demonic and fantastic sonorities, and in which the Dies Irae is integrated in a most curious fashion. But the composer has not forgotten the dance tunes and punctuates the ballerina's light steps with the liveliest of melodies.

M. Diet's music is elegant and dancelike. Lovely waltz tunes are particularly pleasant. Charming and voluptuous motives underline the expressive miming of M. Thalès, Helene Chauvin (La belle aux cheveux d’or), Louise Willy.

M. Ed. Diet's score is elegant and carefully crafted. The dance tunes are properly dancelike, which is occasionally lacking in ballets. They place choreographic virtuosity at the forefront.

Popular ballet music was light music. It was written for commercial venues as ephemeral entertainment that would appeal to as large and diverse an audience as possible. Music-hall scores were not intended for concert-hall performance or intellectual contemplation but rather as supports for pantomime and dance. Ballet music fit in with other types of music heard at the halls: polkas, waltzes, and marches played by the orchestra between circus or theatrical performances, music for song-and-dance routines, and exotic musical acts presented during intermissions. Music-hall ballet music was therefore closely tied to its function: its form was dictated by generic requirements and its tone by performance context and audience expectations.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2015

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×