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Echoes of the rite: Jolivet, Ohana and the style incantatoire

Rae, Caroline ORCID: 2024. Echoes of the rite: Jolivet, Ohana and the style incantatoire. de Médicis, François, Rae, Caroline ORCID: and Trottier, Danick, eds. Stravinsky and France: Reception, interactions and legacy, Rochester NY: University of Rochester Press,

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Among the many compositional developments engendered by the icon of modernism that is Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, one has received little scholarly attention yet is vital to understanding the trajectory of music by French composers since; the style incantatoire. Although roots of this tendency can be found in Debussy, notably the flute solos of Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Syrinx, the innovative approach to melodic writing and unbridled primitivism of Stravinsky’s Rite opened new ways of engaging with extra-European musical influences as a means of rejuvenating conventional modes of expression through evocations of the incantatory that extend beyond mere ‘primitivism’. Including works by Varèse, Milhaud, Messiaen and Boulez as well as Stravinsky, Jolivet, Ohana and others, music of what might be called the incantatoire tradition bypasses conventional norms of expression through evoking distant and even prehistoric cultures to create a ‘new’ non-Western present; hence the importance of ritualism in many works of these composers. This essay investigates these issues in relation to André Jolivet and Maurice Ohana while examining parallel preoccupations in the writings of Alejo Carpentier with whom they were both associated. Jolivet’s self-declared quest ‘to rediscover music’s ancient original meaning when it was the magic and incantatory expression of the religiosity of human communities’, is considered in relation to his mature music as well as his so-called ‘magic’ works of the 1930s, while Ohana’s diverse Stravinskian borrowings are explored within his broader symbolism of the primeval.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: In Press
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Publisher: University of Rochester Press
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 11:30

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