Skip to main content

Unit information: Music in 1920's Paris in 2013/14

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Music in 1920's Paris
Unit code MUSI20082
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Ellis
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit explores the vibrant trends in new music in Paris during the 1920s, combining repertorial study with cultural-historical work. Music by Fauré, Ravel, Stravinsky, Satie, Milhaud, Poulenc, Honegger and others will be complemented by work on popular and middelbrow musics, including jazz, revue and operetta. Aesthetic trends including neoclassicism and surrealism will assume particular importance in the study of multimedia works for the stage and involving film, with Cocteau’s brand of modernism analysed closely. For the purposes of the unit, the ‘1920s’ will stretch from 1918 to 1930, also taking in Satie’s Parade of 1917.

This unit’s aims are: 1) to introduce students to a repertory of 20th -century music embracing both art-music and popular styles; 2) to set a repertory of 20th-century music in its artistic and aesthetic contexts; 3) to allow students to engage with critical texts about music, dance and the visual arts in combination; 4) to develop students’ skills in critical listening; 5) to develop students’ skills in the oral and written presentation of their ideas.

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the course, students should: 1) be familiar with the broad outlines of musical life in 1920s Paris, including its main institutions, resident artists, and international visitors; 2) understand the tenets of the main aesthetic movements that acted as drivers for artistic and musical cultures; 3) be able to discuss the musical repertory, showing understanding of its stylistic features and the traditions embedded within them; 4) write critically and perceptively about Parisian musical culture, in light of recent scholarly writing.

Teaching Information

Weekly 2 hour seminars for the whole cohort

Assessment Information

All the assessment is summative: Level I: 1x2500-word essay (50%); 1x 2-hour exam (50%). Both the essay and the exam will demonstrate (1) and (2) with the essay in particular providing an opportunity for the students to demonstrate (3) and (4)

Reading and References

1) Daniel Albright, Modernism and Music: an Anthology of Sources (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004)

2) Jeffrey H. Jackson, Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003)

3) Kelly, Barbara L., Tradition and Style in the Works of Darius Milhaud, 1912-1939 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003)

4) Roger Nichols, The Harlequin Years: Music in Paris 1917-1929 (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002; or Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003)

5) Glenn Watkins, Pyramids at the Louvre: Music, Culture and Collage from Stravinsky to the Postmodernists (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994)

6) Whiting, Steven Moore, Satie the Bohemian: from Cabaret to Concert Hall (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999)