My next research paper is focused on the Concerts Pasdeloup, a musical organization/orchestra that regularly gave performances throughout the concert season that were available to a wide audience. The group is of particular interest to me for three reasons. First, from what I can tell, their concerts were generally fairly widely attended. Second, their relatively inexpensive ticket prices made attendance, and even regular attendance, feasible for many people who would not have the economic means to attend performances put on by other major institutions of 1920’s Paris, such as the Opera, the Ballets Russes, or the Concerts Colonne; and it also removed the element of classism inherent in salon life that impeded those not connected to the rich and famous from hearing quality performances. And third, because of the low ticket price and the regular performances, the organization needed to program music that would fill seats, and this usually meant music that the average Parisian would recognize and appreciate. This often translated to Beethoven and Wagner, with a few other (typically 19th-century) composers thrown in – Fauré, Debussy, Berlioz, or Mozart, to name a few. In addition, Pasdeloup would typically play the most famous pieces by these composers, or excerpts thereof (mostly in the case of Wagner – big surprise). This means Beethoven’s symphonies, excerpts of Wagnerian opera like Tristan, or excerpts of Berlioz’ Damnation de Faust.
The research so far is both going well and not. Fortunately, due to the work I did over the summer specific to 1924, there are already many concerts from that year for which I have information like dates, programs, and locations. In addition, I have found a number of articles which seem fairly promising, such as Élisabeth Bernard’s Jules Pasdeloup et les Concerts Pasdeloup. I’m excited to dig into it, although it is in French, and is also from 1971, so it could be out of date. Other sources I’ve found thus far have been, unfortunately, rather limited; largely short newspaper articles about particular performances. There is one source that I would love to find, but I’m not quite sure how yet – I’ll have to do some more digging. What I’ve found so far, though, is that a man named Adolphe Jullien collected programs from Conservatory, Colonne, Lamoureux, and Pasdeloup organizations starting in 1864 and going all the way to 1926. I found that the historical library of the city of Paris acquired and later digitized the collection, but I have as yet not been able to track it down. If I do, it could be a wonderful source for looking at more programming information, which I feel will be pretty central to my paper. For the most part, though, it has been difficult to find any sources at all, as there is not much scholarly writing done on the Concerts Pasdeloup, nor was there much critical writing on them done at the time. I will have to look more into individual musicians or conductors in order to track down the information I need.