Surrealism and music in France

Surrealism and music in France, 1924-1952: interdisciplinary and international contexts

Senate House, University of London, Friday 8 June 2018

Paris was the principal centre of surrealist activity and the focus of connections between surrealist literature, ethnology, sociology, visual arts and music. The links between surrealism and the emerging disciplines of ethnology and ethnomusicology redefined the concept of exoticism in France and were the subject of a good deal of polemical debate. However, connections between surrealism and music have been little explored, although it is clear the movement had a decisive influence on major French composers such as Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen and André Jolivet. This study day initiates a transdisciplinary and international dialogue and will situate music at the heart of these debates. The day will end with a linked piano recital by the outstanding young pianist Alexander Soares.

We welcome paper proposals – in English or French – from music, literary and other scholars on relevant topics including:

  • In what senses can music be ‘surrealist’?
  • The emergence of ethnology and ethnomusicology in Paris and its relevance to artists, specifically composers
  • The Paris Exposition Coloniale Internationale (1931), the foundation of the Musée de l’Homme and their impact on the artistic/musical scene
  • The Central/South American connection to Parisian surrealist arts and music
  • Text settings of surrealist poets
  • The international dimension of surrealism and its impact on French musicians

Confirmed speakers include Sébastien Arfouilloux (Université de Grenoble-Alpes).

Proposals (300 words), in English or French, for 30-minute papers and a short biography (100 words) should be emailed to Dr Caroline Potter: Caroline.Potter [at] sas.ac.uk by 31 January 2018.  Enquiries may also be sent to this address.