An Introduction to Twentieth Century Music

By Peter S. Hansen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
PARIS

Music should humbly seek to please: within these limits great beauty may well be found. Extreme complication is contrary to art. Beauty must appeal to the senses, must provide us with immediate enjoyment, must impress us or insinuate itself into us without any effort on our part. CLAUDE DEBUSSY

Paris has always been more than a settlement of people living on the banks of the Seine, for throughout the ages it has symbolized many things--the vigor of the Middle Ages, the elegance of the Renaissance, the splendor of the Baroque, the enthusiasm of the Romantic Period, the dernier cri of our day. In period after period the artistic creators of the world have found Paris a congenial place in which to work, and since the days of Abelard it has been a mecca for students.

In the early years of the twentieth century Paris was in a very mellow mood. It was a time of peace--the scars of 1870 were forgotten and new friendship with Russia augured well for the future. It was a time of prosperity in general, and prosperity in particular for those who had stock in the Suez Canal Company or Russian railroads. Paris became a new symbol, this time one of luxury and sophisticated sensuality--a place where enjoyment of life, food, and the fine arts was of prime concern.

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