ABSTRACT

Chronologically and culturally, musical romanticism in France lagged several years behind that of the other arts. The Balzac-Auber romance is typically static: little concern for harmonic progression and a melody which reflects accurately the lack of inspiration in the lyrics. There was, however, a keener side to Balzac's interest in the more popular forms of musical expression: the folk music which appears in many of his novels, the village feasts and dances of which George Sand was to make expert use. The more mundane gatherings in bourgeois circles, most frequent from 1825 to 1848, attracted many men of letters and musicians as they joined the clangor of Romanticism. At a time when some of the most illustrious pages of music had been written, and when fine music performances were available, the shallowness of the public's taste and the mediocre recognition it gave even to its most prominent contemporaries remains difficult to believe.