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date: 14 October 2019

Brelet, Gisèle (Jeanne Marie Noémie)locked

  • F.E. Sparshott


(Jeanne Marie Noémie)

(b Fontenay-le-Comte, Vendée, March 6, 1915; d Sèvres, June 21, 1973). French musicologist and pianist. She studied the piano at the conservatories of Nantes (under G. Arcouet) and Paris (under Lazare Lévy), and biology and philosophy at the Sorbonne (doctorat d'Etat in philosophy 1949). From 1950 she directed the Bibliothèque Internationale de Musicologie, and in 1952 was appointed solo pianist to the RTF for whom she also lectured and produced musical programmes. She published extensively in the aesthetics of music, with special emphasis on the status of music as the art of time and on the privileged role of the virtuoso performer.

Brelet's work elaborates the view of music borrowed from Pierre Souvtchinsky by Igor Stravinsky, to whom she assigns the central place in 20th-century music. Her three books develop a single argument. The first contrasts the traditional poetics of music, according to which a system of intervals forms the basis of harmonic and melodic structures, with an alternative poetics of temporal form. The second book elaborates this theme into an encomium on music. Since time is the form of the inner life, music must be the most perfect art, for it directly imparts formal perfection to experience itself. From this standpoint, modern non-tonal music appears as aberrant, since the absence of a tonal centre eliminates expectation and thus makes significant temporal form impossible. The third book uses this view of music to prove that the virtuoso performer is the only true musician. Music, being a form of temporal experience, can exist only as and when it is performed. The composer merely provides possibilities which he leaves to performers to actualize in various ways. It follows that performers should not strive to recreate the original effect of a work, or respect a composer's intentions: historical fidelity is not aesthetic fidelity....

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Schweizerische Musikzeitung/Revue musicale suisse
Die Musikforschung