Rubare uno scatto: il «surrealismo musicale» di Francis Poulenc PDF Print Email

Alessandro Maras


The relatively new term «musical surrealism» describes a musical style which, between the two World Wars, represents another way of thinking musical composition, in addition to Dodecaphony and Neoclassicism. It springs from the latter, for it works with preexisting materials, but it has also strong links with the modernist, especially cubist and surrealist, technique of collage. The term «musical surrealism» was first invented by Theodor W. Adorno and it refers to a music which juxtaposes fragments of preexisting music in a single aesthetical unit: It tries to draw new meanings from the dialectic among those musical fragments. In this paper I explore the meaning of «musical surrealism», and the several ways in which Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) makes a surrealist musical collage by juxtaposing fragments that are neither mere citations nor completely new pieces of music – they are rather pictures of preexisting music.


Alessandro Maras holds a B.A. degree in Philosophy (University of Trieste) and a M.A. degree in Musicology (Sapienza - University of Rome). He is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in History and Analisis of musical cultures at University of Rome “Sapienza”, working on a research on the relationship between Guillaume Apollinaire’s poetics and music. He has recently attended the international conference Rethinking Poulenc: 50 Years on (Keele University, 2013) with a paper on some features of Poulenc’s Neoclassicism; he also attended the conference dedicated to Nino Rota’s non-filmic music (University of Rome “Sapienza”, 2011), expounding a research on his brass concertos.


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