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Durosoir, Georgie – Lucien Durosoir : né romantique…




To what extent was Lucien Durosoir—whose 77 years of life spanned the last quarter of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, but who came late to composition—tied to Romanticism? Born in 1878, he immediately belonged to the 19th century, inheriting its spirit and sharing its prevailing aspirations in his youth. This spirit of Romanticism which endured in Europe for many years undoubtedly made a lasting impression on him. However, when he reached the age of 40, after his experiences in the war, modernity proved to exert a strong attraction on him. Examining the family archives (correspondence, documents relating to his career as a virtuoso violinist, opinions expressed on the subject of music, his music library) makes it possible to gain a fairly accurate insight into his personality. He appears to have been a proud man with firm moral principles inherited as much from his family background and the culture of his time as from his own philosophical investigations; he had a deep respect for intellectual and spiritual values; an avid reader of classical texts, he found the Greek tragedies truly exciting. From a musical standpoint, many war letters survive enlarging upon his views on contemporaries, whom he discovered while making music with other musicians at the front. Consequently, although he still had strong reservations about the “moderns” in 1917 (comparing them adversely to Beethoven, whose quartets he had always considered to be unsurpassable), his opinions on the music of Debussy changed considerably in the space of several years resulting in a cautious admiration. From this short investigation based on a few sparse fragmentary accounts emerges the image of a Lucien Durosoir who was extremely exacting, intellectually, morally and musically. His world was governed by the intellect, the idealisation of art, and artistic curiosity. Grounded in the aesthetic values of Romanticism by his education, his generation and his early literary and musical experiences, he matured under the pressure of age, the unsettling events of the war which brought his life as a violinist to a sudden halt, and the influence of extensive reading about music which he was able to do in the last months of the war. Romantic by inclination, culture and traditional roots, he followed over the years his own personal path towards a modernity which owed little to fashion and even less to any kind of aesthetic movement.