chapter  7
28 Pages

Chamber Music in France From Cherubini to Debussy

In approximately 1830, however, the practice of chamber music changed, for two reasons: difficulty of execution (most notably in the works of Beethoven), and idealization of the Classical repertory as a normative standard. Amateurs now began to pay fix the privilege of hearing works

that were beyond their technical means. This latter development is apparent from the quartet and quintet sessions organized by Baillot between 1814 and 1840, f()r which admission was charged: many of the audience in these subscription concerts were amateurs or music students. Nevertheless, although amateur music making may have diminished, it did not disappear entirely. And whereas the proper venues f()r opera and symphony in Paris were readily apparent, those appropriate for chamber music were much less clearly identifiable until the showroom-halls of piano manufacturers such as Pleyel, Erard, or Herz became the salons of choice for the performance of sonata, quartet, or quintet. But various constraints-including decrees limiting concerts so as not to interfere with the activities of the emerging light opera theaters (known as theatres lyriques) and the levying of the "poor tax" on gross concert receipts-would come to burden the concert, which had become a fact of social life. The difference between "private" and "public" space regarding the proper place for chamber music gatherings began to erode. If indeed, as noted, amateur performers became less numerous after 1830, many professionals in turn held chamber music sessions in their homes, occasionally attracting an audience just as signifICant as if they had rented a hall. Moreover, the various private venues delineated distinct aesthetic trends: at the regular performances given by the contrabass player Gouffe between 1836 and 1874, the music of Onslow and Blanc was heard; those of the violinist Eugene Sauzay presented composers of the eighteenth century, including concertos by Mozart; and the chamber music seances of the pianist \Vi1hclmine Szarvady, which began in 1871, included works of Schumann and Brahms.