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The notion of writing in order to tell one’s own story and describe one’s environment was by no means rare in the nineteenth century. Keeping up a correspondence made it possible, among other things, to maintain personal links by giving up-to-date news. Today these contemporary letters provide us with an invaluable gateway to the reality of the musical and social practices of artists, concert and opera promoters, and sometimes listeners. Writing their memoirs – which sometimes remained in manuscript – offered public figures the means of reliving an often distant past, reshaping their careers and justifying their choices (professional or aesthetic) in the twilight of their lives. Nevertheless, such testimonies need to be handled with circumspection: for example, the substantial liberties Berlioz took with reality in his Mémoires are notorious. This section of the website features a range of texts written by protagonists of French musical life in the nineteenth century.


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