People to know

Antheil, George (1900-1959) – American composer and pianist. “Aha! Igor Stravinsky, you Rimsky-Korsakoffist! Aha Rimsky-Korsakoff, you Moussorgskyist! Aha Moussorgsky, you swiper from the Russian peasants” (Garafola 353).


Ari, Carina (1897-1970) – Swedish Dancer with the Ballet Suédois where she was one of the few principal dancers. Ari left the Ballet Suédois in 1923 to begin a soloist career based in Paris. She had her début as a choreographer and soloist in 1925 in Paris.


Auric, Georges (1899-1983) – Prodigious French composer, studied at the Paris Conservatoire; member of Les Six. Later studied composition under d’Indy at his Schola Cantorum. Composed a number of successful ballets during the 1920’s: Les fâcheux (1924),Les Matelots (1924), La Pastorale (1925), Les Enchantements de la fée d’Alcine (1928).


Baker, Josephine (1906-1975) – American singer, actress, and vaudeville dancer. Arrived in Paris in 1925.


Bakst, Léon


Beaumont, Comte Etienne de


Bériza, Marguerite (1880-1970) – Opera singer (soprano), sang with the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.


Boulanger, Nadia (1887-1979) – French Composer and Conductor. Taught many of the leading 20th century musicians including Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson. Studied music composition with Fauré. Wrote La Sirène. Sister of Lili Boulanger who was also a notable composer but died very young in 1918. In 1921, Nadia began working for the American Conservatory. She was a gifted teacher with many notable pupils.


Braque, Georges


Chaliapin, Fedor (1873-1938) –  Russian emigrant and well-known bassist. After leaving Russia in 1921, he sang at the Paris Opera and continued to enjoy success until his retirement.


Chanel, Gabrielle “Coco” (1883-1971) – Famous French couturier who rose to prominence especially during and after WWI. Her functional elegance made her designs popular with women during the war years and during the 20’s, when the athletic, active modern woman increased the demand for clothes that were versatile as well as chic.


Cocteau, Jean (1889-1963) – French novelist, librettist, and playwright. Wrote scenarios for Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex” and Milhaud’s “Le Pauvre Matelot”.


Copland, Aaron (1900-1990) – American composer known for cultivating a distinctly “American” sound (in works such as Appalachian Spring). He traveled to Paris to study in 1917 and spent much time there in the late 10s and early 20s, retuning in the summer of 1924. He had a close professional relationship with Koussevitzky, who premiered four of his works with the Boston Symphony. In 1924, he wrote his Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, which Koussevitzky premiered in Boston in 1925.


Croiza, Claire (1882-1946) – Soprano at the Paris Opera, later career tended more towards concert appearances.


d’Indy, Vincent (1851-1931) – French composer, teacher, and conductor. In 1920, he had a “creative rebirth” in which he engaged in the modern developments. Composed Istar, which was choreographed by Ida Rubinstein in the 1920’s. d’Indy was secretary of the SNM in 1885 and this connection to the societies genesis gave him influence over the concerts given by the society (Nichols describes it as a “stranglehold”). Wrote Cours de Composition, which was an influential book on how to study composition. Journalists such as Emile Vuillermoz criticized him for his “vertical” attention to melody, which focused on counterpoint.


Debussy, Claude


Diaghilev, Serge (1872-1929) – Founder and impresario of the Ballets Russes. Also well known for the artistic movement/journal “World of Art” in Russia, 1898-1904, which was influenced by elements of Art Nouveau and of the notion that there could be a kind of “Gesamtkunstwerk”; something that combined all art forms into the ultimate synthesis. Ballet seemed to be the closest to the ideal, because it combined visual art, through the sets and costuming, with performing arts such as music and dance. He was apparently a misogynist (Volta) and relatively high-handed (Garafola), but also extremely charismatic, very openly homosexual, and, based on the Ballets track record, good at bringing different artists together on one project. Died and was laid to rest in Venice, which he believed embodied “Gesamtkunstwerk” in city-form.


Fauré, Gabriel (1845-1924) – French Composer, Master in French classical music, influenced how harmony is taught, Pénélope, Prométhée. Left Paris on June 20, 1924 (worked on and finished String Quartet in e) returned October 18, 1924, died November 4, 1924 (J.Barrie Jones p. 203-207).


Gaubert, Philippe


Goossens, Eugene


Greffulhe, Comtesse


Honegger, Arthur (1892-1955) – Swiss-French composer and member of Les Six; Honegger studied at the Zürich Conservatory and then later enrolled in the Paris Conservatory, where he studied for seven years under, among others, d’Indy and Widor.


Hughes, Langston


Joyce, James


Koechlin, Charles (1867-1950) – French composer, teacher, and musicologist. Taught and heavily influenced by Fauré, he sought to emulate the latter’s style. His work remained at the ‘cutting-edge’ of modern Parisian musical life throughout the early and middle 1920s. Along with Maurice Ravel and Florent Schmitt, he was one of the founders of the Société Musicale Indépendante (1909), whose purpose was to encourage the composition and audition of contemporary music.


Koussevitzky, Serge (1874-1951) – Russian-born conductor; led concert series in Paris (Concerts Koussevitzky) which showcased contemporary French and Russian music. Left Paris in 1924 to become conductor of Boston Symphony Orchestra.


Léger, Fernand


Les Six – Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Germaine Tailleferre, and Francis Poulenc


Lord Berners (Sir Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson) (1883-1950) – English composer, writer, painter.


Mason, Daniel Gregory


Massine, Leonide (1895-1979) – born in Russia, parents were both musicians with the Bolshoi. Became choreographer and principal dancer for the Ballets Russes after Nijinsky’s departure from the company. Was fired by Diaghilev upon marriage, but eventually returned to work with the Ballets Russes on occasion and then became the Artistic Director of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo (after Diaghilev’s death). In 1924, having left the Ballets Russes, he worked with Comte Etienne de Beaumont, Picasso and Satie as the choreographer/lead dancer on the Aventures de Mercure, or just Mercure, a ballet whose title character was chosen either in homage or in ridicule of Cocteau, who dressed as Mercury at a masked ball. “Mercure” was part of the Soirees de Paris organized by de Beaumont for the year 1924, which played out of the Theatre des Champs Elysees and the Cigale.


Milhaud, Darius (1892-1974) – Member of Les Six, during 1924 he was writing concert reviews in Le Courier. Milhaud composed 3 major works during this time: Salade (ballet), Le Train Bleu (ballet), et Les Malheurs d’Orphée (Opera). Salade was composed between February 5th and February 20th; and Le Train Bleu between February 15th and March 5th. Interestingly enough (at least to me) Diaghilev met with Milhaud during the time that he was composing Salade and Diaghilev reportedly “advised me [Milhaud] to break off my relations with Comte de Beaumont on the grounds that . . . there was no future in the Soirées de Paris” (pg 158). This is how Le Train Bleu was born.


Misia (1872-1950) – Née Godebska, eventually married Catalan artist José-Maria Sert, her third husband. She was a very close confidante of Diaghilev and the broker for many of his events for the Ballets Russes.


Nadar, Felix


Napoleon III (1808-1873) – Emperor of the Second French Empire, which lasted from 1852 to 1870. Ultimately defeated by the French humiliation in the Franco-Prussian War, which led to the establishment of the Third French Republic.


Nijinska, Bronislava


Nijinsky, Vaslav


Obouhov, Nicolas


Paray, Paul


Picasso, Pablo


Pierné, Gabriel


Poiret, Paul


Poulenc, Francis (1899-1963) – French composer and pianist, member of Les Six, French classical music.


Princesse Edmond de Polignac (Winnaretta Singer) (1865-1943) – Played role in financing and hosting auditions for many notable artists through her salon on the Avenue Henri-Martin.


Ravel, Maurice (1875-1937) – French composer and conductor who grew up in Paris but lived in Montfort l’Amuary (50 km from Paris) starting in 1921. Sometimes associated with impressionism, and best known for Bolero, composted in 1928. Fun note, Stravinsky described him as “the most perfect of swiss clockmakers” (Dent, 1). Quote from Dent about his work in 1924: “…in the course of 1924, Ravel filled his waste-paper basket many times over with the rejected ideas for L’Enfant et les sortileges, which had now been recommissioned, by Raoul Gunbourg, for the Monte Carlo Opera. In the meantime, Ravel finished two other pieces: a song, Ronsard à son âme, for the special number of the Revue Musicale published to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the poet’s birth, and Tzigane, a showpiece written for the Hungarian violinist Jelly d’Aranyi.” (118) Tzigane premiered on 30 November 1924 at the Concerts Colonne.


Rubinstein, Ida (1883-1960) –  Born in Kharkov, Russia to a wealthy Jewish family; they kept their religious heritage very quiet in order not to draw suspicion and ire from their neighbors. She studied acting and dance, made her debut as Antigone in the play “Antigone” at the Aleksandrinsky Theater in 1904. In 1908, she studied under the choreographer Michel Fokine (the original choreographer for the Ballets Russes) and briefly performed as part of the Ballets Russes from 1909-10. That said, she was apparently splendidly ungifted in terms of dance and acting. She used her own vast money (from family inheritance, an intriguing marriage of convenience with a cousin, and her lengthy affair with the heir to the Guinness fortune) to produce her own shows, in which she always had the lead role. To her credit, her abundant productions did provide support for a number of highly talented and influential artists. Eventually she died in seclusion in Vence, which, for anyone who’s interested, happens to be the same place where Matisse spent his last days right around the same time. 1924 she produced two ballets in Paris, “Orphee” and “Ishtar”, with choreography by Leo Staats and compositions by Jean-Roger Ducasse and Vincent D’Indy, respectively. Ishtar, also spelled Istar, was performed at the Paris Opera.


Saint-Marceaux, Marguerite de (1850-1930) – Influential figure in Parisian society during the Belle Epoque and through the twenties. She held a salon in the Boulevard Malesherbes frequented by prominent modern musicians and amateurs, setting tastes as well as providing professional musicians with financial and networking support.


Saint-Saëns, Camille


Satie, Erik (1866-1925) – French composer, rose to prominence in 1911. In 1924, he composed (premiered?) his ballets Mercure and Relâche, as well as the first synchronized film score for Entr’acte.


Schmitt, Florent (1870-1958) – French composer and pianist, director of Lyons conservatoire 1922-4.


Siohan, Robert (1894-1985) – Conductor, premiered Le Roi David in 1924, formed Concerts Siohan in 1929.


Straram, Walther Marrast (1876-1933) – Originally from London, Worked at the Opera and Opera-Comique in Paris before starting Orchestra des Concerts de Staram in 1925.


Stravinsky, Igor (1882-1971) – Russian composer who spent much of his life in France and later the United States. As the son of a talented bass-baritone who sang at the Mariinsky theatre, Stravinsky was surrounded by exceptional music-making from a young age. Studied under Rimsky-Korsakov. Most well-known for his ballets The Firebird and The Rite of Spring; both premiered in Paris in the first two decades of the century (1910 and 1913, respectively). During the first World War, Stravinsky lived in Switzerland, but then moved to Biarritz, in the south-west of France in 1920, where his style underwent a great deal of change, transforming from his earlier pseudo-late-romantic or primitivist works into neo-classicism. During his time in France, Stravinsky made regular visits to Paris, and many of his works premiered there, including his piano concerto, which he performed as soloist for the premiere, and embargoed anyone else from performing it for five years. In the latter part of 1924, the Stravinskys moved to Nice, and Igor began touring more internationally, both in Europe and in America. His time spent in Paris was often filled with socializing and attending performances of music, theatre, and film.


Tailleferre, Germaine (1892-1983) – French composer, part of Les Six. She enjoyed limited fame and success, possibly because of her gender, and had a very traumatic marriage during the late 1920’s, in which her husband tried to shoot her in the stomach to force a miscarriage.


Thomson, Virgil (1896-1989) – American composer and critic known for his music based on traditional folk music.