Concerts Lamoureux, Fictional Letter 1925

My dear manager,

How are you? I have been working very hard the last few weeks! I am sounding quite good, if I do say so myself. I believe that soon I am going to be ready for something big as a soloist! Paul Paray approached me not long ago because he was interested in having me play with the Lamoureaux Orchestra (the group associated with the orchestral society Concerts Lamoureux). Can you approach him and see if I might be able to play with them? They are a fine group who are well respected and received, along the ranks of leading organizations such as Concerts Colonne, Concerts Pasdeloup, and the orchestra of the Conservatoire[1].

I have heard that they play Wagner and other German composers. Is this true? That seems a little weird. Please let me know what you think, and do not hesitate to contact M. Paray and hear from him yourself!

All the best,



Dear Jacques,

Hello! I am doing well, looking forward to speaking to you soon. After reviewing your letter, I am inclined to deny you this opportunity. I know initially it might not make sense to you, but let me explain. I have put a great deal of thought into this, and I must do what is best for your career and image. Be patient, read what I have to say, and I believe you will come to understand. Yes, the Concerts Lamoureux strongly program and support Wagner, Beethoven, and other German composers while ignoring French composers emerging in Paris now. Because of this, your image would be compromised if you were to play with them. This Wagner loving group would taint your reputation as someone who promotes other young artists and composers in Paris like yourself!

Maybe you don’t know the history of the group! Charles Lamoureux founded Concerts Lamoureux in 1881, and then suffocated the group with Wagner and other romantics[2]. Even when the conductor changed to Camille Chevillard in 1897, they still performed music that if was not by Wagner, was by someone influenced by him[3]. Sadly, Paray has settled even more into that mode than Chevillard did. I know it might seem like Paray is trying to get with the times and doing more contemporary French rather than German composers, but it is not true. If you look at the “French” composers programmed, they are centered on people like d’Indy, and those who compose with a so-called French “national” style that I hope we are moving away from permanently. You need to be with orchestras programming people like Les Six, not Franck or Canteloube[4]. The “French” style we need to move toward is exactly opposite of the music they program.

Only 20 or so years ago, in 1894, no less than NINE Wagner excerpts appeared on their program[5]. But, even worse, this is still happening! April 6th, 1924, there were a couple of excerpts from Tristan et Isolde[6]. Even when there are composers beside Wagner’s, the implications are still evident without his name appearing explicitly. For instance, January 2nd 1921, Paul Paray conducting Lizst, Dubois, Ravel, Rabaud, and Beethoven[7]. No, no, no, we just cannot do it. It is who they are through and through, stuck in the past of decadence, excess and pessimism. We must move forward with simplicity, and flush German composers from our spirit in order to be French[8]. Wagner once expressed the opinion in an interview in 1879 that the direction France needed to go in, in regard to creating a national style, was one that incorporated “national types…heroes who are admirable embodiments of right, justice, loyalty, and charity,”[9]. D’Indy took this to heart, he is the one who was and is suited to carrying out this agenda. You are a wonderful player, but Concerts Lamoureux is not for you. They are not French, they are German, and the music you play should be an example of where France is going today.






[1] Brody, Elaine. Paris: The Musical Kaleidoscope, 1870-1925. New York: G. Braziller, 1987. (page 87)

[2] Craven, Robert R. Symphony Orchestras of the World: Selected Profiles. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.

[3] Fulcher, Jane F. The Composer As Intellectual: Music and Ideology in France 1914-1940. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. (page 93)

[4] Nichols, Roger. The Harlequin Years: Music in Paris, 1917-1929. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

[5] Brody, Elaine. Paris: The Musical Kaleidoscope, 1870-1925. New York: G. Braziller, 1987. (page 179)

[6] Musical Geography of 1924 Paris Data, accessed October 26th, 2015.

[7] Heugel, Jacques. “Programmes des Concerts.” Le Ménestrel: journal de musique, December 31, 1920. Accessed October 26th, 2015.

[8] Messing, Scott. Neoclassism in Music: From the Genesis of the Concept through the Shoenberg/Stravinksy Polemic. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1988.

[9] Paul, Charles B. “Rameau, d’Indy, and French Nationalism.” The Musical Quarterly 58, no. 1 (1972) : 46-56. Accessed October 26th, 2015.