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François-Sappey, Brigitte – Boëly à la croisée des chemins




Despite decisive historical events, including the French Revolution, talent tends to develop essentially per se. At the crossroads of two worlds, the course taken by Alexandre P. F. Boëly (1785-1858) and his works afford a good example of this. This descendant of the king’s musicians at Versailles saw the bright future mapped out for him as a child prodigy veering off course to end in a difficult career in Paris. Showing scant interest in the Italian vocal tradition revealed to him by his grandfather (co-author of Solfèges d’Italie), this keyboardist and chamber-music player was a disciple of Clementi, Haydn and Mozart and proved to be an early admirer of Beethoven then a discoverer of Bach (the organist was regarded by some as “Bach resurrected”). A contemporary of Weber, he also displayed a remarkable intuition for the “romantic piece”, but his long life meant that he died after Chopin and Schumann, hence the difficulty in knowing where to place him. In turbulent times, this reserved, untraveled man could be regarded both as a well-informed emissary and a genuine European in his art. Saint-Saëns and the “instrumental music revival” generation were not in the least mistaken about him.

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  • BOËLY, Alexandre-Pierre-François (1785-1858)
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