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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Parisian 'culture'

Friday, May 29th.,  Villa des Nefliers, Fontainebleau.

Just to note what the Bal des Quat'z Arts was in 1908. Calvocoressi went to this year's ball, being officially invited as a director of the Russian opera.
See also, 'Musical Evening' - November 2nd. http://earnoldbennett.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/musical-evening.html

He said that there were a large number of women there absolutely naked, and many men who wore nothing better than a ceinture of bones which concealed nothing. Calvo said that on leaving at 4 a.m. he saw a naked woman calmly standing outside in the street, smoking a cigarette, surrounded by a crowd of about 200 people. He said he had heard that afterwards a procession of nudities was formed and went down the Champs Elysee. The ball was held at the "Bowling Palace" (or some such hall) at Neuilly, so as to be 'out of bounds' of the City.

Organised for the first time in 1892 in Montmartre , the Bal Quat'Z'Arts involved students in architecture , painting , sculpture and engraving . It was a great Parisian carnival feast prepared each spring by students of the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, created at the initiative of the architect Henri Guillaume. Participants came in costume but this tended to disappear over the course of the evening, which often took an orgiastic turn. In 1893 there was a protest against licentious behaviour on the streets, denouncing this "fact of extreme gravity and unacceptable ... shamelessness." A lawsuit was filed to the organizers of the ball by the President of the League for the Defence of Morality . The judge in the case asked about what happened and was informed that the ball was the occasion of the exhibition of decorative naked women practising the profession of models and not an orgy. As a result, the judge reassured and amused, condemned the organizers of the ball but imposed only a symbolic fine.

He took me yesterday afternoon to make the acquaintance of the Godebskis at Valvin. Husband, wife, two small kids. Poles. Among the most charming people I have ever met. Purely artistic. Godebski once owned and edited a little review. Looks like a Jew but is not one. I saw on a table a copy of Mallarme's "Divagations", with the envoi from the author "A son vieil ami, Godebski". Not interested in anything but artistic manifestations. I said I had gas and they hadn't. Godebski said he didn't like gas lamps. I said: "For cooking." "Yes", he said, carelessly, "but with alcohol and oil they can manage." Didn't care a damn about inconveniences. A whole crowd of artistic youth there; various French accents. A picturesque, inconvenient house, full of good and bad furniture in various styles. A large attic with rafters formed the salon; a good grand piano in it.

Godebski by Pierre Bonnard
Xavier Cyprien (known as 'Cipa') Godebski (1874-1937) was the son of a Polish-born sculptor. 'Cipa' and his family were at the centre of a large circle of artists, writers and musicians; one of the most devoted of their friends was Maurice Ravel. After the death of Ravel's father, the Godebskis became in effect his second family. He often stayed at their country house La Grangette, at Valvins near Fontainebleau, and it was here that Ravel completed his composition of Ma mère l'oye for Mimie and Jean. It was intended that the two children should give the work's first performance, but the terror of that prospect was too much for them. Although they were of modest means, living in the rue Saint-Florentin, and then in rue d'Athènes, the family was artistic and held Sunday evenings at home for many musicians and painters, including Roussel, and Florent Schmitt. Cipa had also given support to Toulouse-Lautrec, who painted his portrait. Ravel dedicated his Sonatine to Cipa and Ida. Mimie later recalled how her father and Ravel, close friends as they were, used to argue fiercely over musical matters, especially Mozart, who for Ravel was "pure genius", whereas Cipa loudly asserted his boredom with so many repetitions and elaborations.

Deodat de Severac played his new suite. He seemed a very simple sincere person, especially in his ingenuous explanations of his music: "J'ai voulu evoqure. J'ai voulu evoquer," again and again.

Déodat de Séverac (1872 – 1921) was a French composer. Of aristocratic background, he was profoundly influenced by the musical tradition of his native Languedoc. He is noted for his vocal and choral music, which include settings of verse in Provençal (the historic language of Languedoc) and Catalan (the historic language of Roussillon) as well as French poems by Verlaine and Baudelaire. His compositions for solo piano have also won critical acclaim, and many of them were titled as pictorial evocations and published in the collections Chant de la Terre, En Languedoc, and En Vacances. A popular example of his work is The Old Musical Box in B-flat major, but his masterpiece is the suite Cerdaña (written 1904—1911), filled with the local colour of Languedoc.

Curious, everybody was enthusiastic about the inventive fancy shown in knockabout turns on English music halls. By chance this was all they found on this occasion to praise about England. But Mme. Godebski said to me, "I love the English language, and everything English."

I worked well at "Old Wives' Tale" yesterday, but indifferently today. I lack male society. A monotonous effect. Also the gardener spent too much money on stocking the garden. So that tonight I felt as if I wanted a change rather acutely.

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