Journal of Romance Studies

Two artists and two mélodies

André Caplet and Charles Baudelaire

Journal of Romance Studies (2021), 21, (3), 375–398.

Abstract

André Caplet (1878-1925) set just two of Baudelaire’s poems: La Cloche fêlée [‘The Cracked Bell’] and La Mort des pauvres [‘The Death of the Poor’]. These mélodies were composed in 1922, just three years before the artist’s death. For a composer with a tendency to shy away from setting poetry of the French giants of literature, the questions of how and why Caplet chose to translate Baudelaire’s poetry into the mélodie are intriguing. This exploration of La Cloche fêlée and La Mort des pauvres considers the ways in which Caplet reflects the poetic imagery of Baudelaire’s texts within musical structures. Caplet’s compositional language is distinctive, and his artistic approach to musically illuminating poetic meaning is perceptive and sensitive. Through viewing the creative intersection of these two artists, this article offers an interpretation that presents a perspective on Caplet’s musical character and reveals insight into his connection to Baudelaire’s poetic language.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Works cited

Abbott, Helen (2012) Parisian Intersections: Baudelaire’s Legacy to Composers (Bern: Peter Lang). Google Scholar

Abbott, Helen (2017) Baudelaire in Song 1880-1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

Dubiau-Feuillerac, Mylène (2007) ‘Corporality and Sound in Art Song in Some Mélodies of Claude Debussy’, in Dzielo muzyczne jako fenomen dźwiękowy / The Musical Work as a Sound Phenomenon, ed. Anna Nowak (Bydgoszcz: Wydawnictwo Uczelniane Akademii Muzycznej), 95-104. Google Scholar

Baudelaire, Charles (1857) Les Fleurs du mal (Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise); trans. William Aggeler (1954) (Kansas: Digireads Publishing). Google Scholar

Dayan, Peter (2005) ‘On Nature, Music, and Meaning in Debussy’s Writing’, 19th-Century Music 28.3: 214-229, doi:10.1525/ncm.2005.28.3.214. Google Scholar

Durosoir, Georgie (2014) ‘Faire œuvre de musique en guerre: André Caplet Altiste, Pianiste, Arrangeur, Compositeur Et Pédagogue’, in La Grande Guerre en Musique: Vie et Création Musicales en France Pendant La Première Guerre Mondiale, ed. Florence Doé de Maindreville and Stéphan Etcharry (Bruxelles: Peter Lang), 97-120. Google Scholar

Gouverné, Yvonne (1976) ‘Hommage À André Caplet, 1878-1925’, Revue Zodiaque (Paris: Les Presses Monastiques), 3-23. Google Scholar

Huneau, Denis (2007) André Caplet (1878-1925) Debussyste Indépendant (Weinsberg: Lucie Galland). Google Scholar

Johnson, Graham, and Richard Stokes (2000) A French Song Companion (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

Kanda, Sanae (2002) The Role of the Piano in the Mélodie of André Caplet. DMA Diss., Boston University. Google Scholar

Kaplan, Edward K. (1979) ‘Baudelaire and the Battle with Finitude: “La Mort”, Conclusion of Les Fleurs du mal’, French Forum 4.3: 219-231. Google Scholar

Koopman, Constantijn, and Stephen Davies (2001) ‘Musical Meaning in a Broader Perspective’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59.3: 261-273. Google Scholar

Kramer, Lawrence (2011) Interpreting Music (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press). Google Scholar

Larson, Steve (1997-1998) ‘Musical Forces and Melodic Patterns’, Theory and Practice 22-23: 55-71. Google Scholar

McLaren, James C. (1978-1979) ‘The Imagery of Light and Darkness in Les Fleurs du mal’, Nineteenth-Century French Studies 7.1-2: 32-49. Google Scholar

Spencer, Williametta (1982) ‘André Caplet, Aussi “Musicien Français”’, Revue Belge de Musicologie/Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Muziekwetenschap 36-38: 162-174, doi:10.2307/3687160. Google Scholar

Stecker, Robert (2001) ‘Expressiveness and Expression in Music and Poetry’, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59.1: 85-96. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Wilson, Clare