ABSTRACT

Tracing the evolution of musical awareness in Balzac's life reveals the extent to which music gradually imposed itself as a need. The years 1830 to 1836, then, mark a period of musical incubation as well as exaltation, during which a welter of badly assembled exposures, impressions, tastes, and prejudices leave the author of La Comedie humaine in a limbo between popular and professional opinion. After 1830 Balzac experienced a number of musical enthusiasms. In each of them, Balzac's opinions on, and reactions to, the world of sounds shows greater confidence and understanding than the timid utterances of the middle 1830's. In the foreground stands temporarily but prominently an obscure German musician whom Balzac hires to teach him the fundamentals of music theory, Jacques Strunz. The melomanian excitement over, Balzac settled down to an easier pace. Still, whatever Balzac's acceptance of the symphonic and abstract forms of music, the descriptive and operatic fit his dramatic temperament more closely.