ABSTRACT

Honore de Balzac prizes the quality of feeling in Homer or Mozart over the quantity of intellect in Meyerbeer. To a musicologist, Balzac's documentation seems elementary. Balzac interpreted wrongly the fact that Germany remained longer than other nations in the traditions of the Middle Ages, and reflects, despite Fetis, how commonly neglected was the history of music in his day. Balzac correctly directed his contemporaries' attention to the different mode of sensitivity required by contemporary music. Gambara became a critic, predicting in his own fantastic way that the new idol of Paris would become for posterity magni nominis umbra. Having laid the groundwork, Balzac embarks upon an act by act and scene by scene analysis of the opera, some of whose sections are in fact rewarding. Rossini's sparkling "simplicity of means" captured Balzac's attention, foreshadowing Wagner's recommendation never to abandon a tonality so long as it has something to say.