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From a foreign correspondent: Alejo Carpentier’s Parisian Chronicles

Rae, Caroline ORCID: 2011. From a foreign correspondent: Alejo Carpentier’s Parisian Chronicles. Presented at: Music Criticism in France in the Interwar Period (1918-1939), University of Ottawa, Canada, 4-6 November 2011.

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The Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) was of French-Russian parentage and resided in Paris both during his formative teenage years and after being forced to flee Havana in 1928 due to his leftist political activities. Remaining in self-imposed exile for a period of eleven years until 1939, Carpentier became closely involved with musical as well as literary and artistic circles of the contemporary Parisian avant-garde, and survived writing music and arts criticism. Before his enforced departure from Havana, Carpentier had established himself as a leading critic for the Cuban intellectual journals Social and Carteles; his monthly columns reveal his committed advocacy of European modernism at a time when musical and artistic life in Havana was as conservative as the political régime of Cuba’s president Machado was repressive. When he arrived in Paris, Carpentier continued to write for both Social and Carteles, serving as a foreign correspondent reporting on musical and artistic life in the French capital to feed the ever-growing Cuban appetite for cultural news from the city that had long been the cultural promised land for Latin American musicians, artists and intellectuals. Although Carpentier’s Parisian articles were intended for a Cuban readership already familiar with his modernist aesthetic standpoint (some articles were, however, published in France), his criticism provides a personal interpretation and assessment of contemporary trends while shedding valuable light on the broader activities and interactions of the Parisian musical milieu. This paper will investigate Carpentier’s Parisian music criticism of the interwar years preserved in the multi-volume collections entitled Crónicas and Ese músico que llevo dentro, to reveal not only his commitment to new music of the age, but also his engagement with current issues in France.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Additional Information: An invited paper, forthcoming in publication in revised and expanded version.
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 10:15

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