Augusta Holmès. La nouvelle Orphée
Book in French by Hélène Cao. Arles : Actes Sud / Palazzetto Bru Zane, 2023.
The career of Augusta Holmès (1847-1903) challenges most of the preconceived ideas we may have about women composers of the Romantic period. A lady of boundless ambition, with a constant desire for freedom, she refused the limitations that were imposed on her ilk. At a time when women were expected to produce short forms (songs and salon pieces), she composed large-scale works – symphonic poems, cantatas and operas – works that were ambitious, politically committed, and oriented towards Wagner, whom she met at the age of twenty. Drawing on texts written by her contemporaries (press articles, reviews, book excerpts), Hélène Cao retraces the life of this fascinating musician. She shows how authors of the time did not quite know what to make of such a very unusual figure, with attitudes ranging from fascination to rejection, and with expressions of misogyny and unwavering support, anti-Wagnerism and advocation of modernity.
Avant-propos. La gloire éphémère et la tombe immortelle
I. Ossian à Versailles
II. Naissance d’une compositrice
III. Concourir pour conquérir
IV. Le concert des nations
V. Le sentier de la gloire
VI. La Montagne noire
VII. Le crépuscule de l’idole
VIII. Aimer et composer
IX. Légende et réalité
X. À l’ombre de Franck et de Wagner
XI. La muse de la Troisième République
XII. Le fantôme de l’Opéra
XIII. Du compositeur à la maestra
Postface. Hier l’oubli, demain la renaissance ?