Reading with Provincial Eyes: the French Musical Press beyond the Capital
Through the lens of France, this paper focuses as much on the press itself as on its criticism and its critics, and asks what characterises a local, or regional, musical press in contradistinction to that of the capital. What, if any, were the models for the large number of French regional journals specialising in music between c.1870 and c.1914, and amid what conditions and constraints did music critics such as Étienne Destranges (Nantes), Sullian Collin (Rennes) or Léon Vallas (Lyon) write in their respective towns? Where the French capital offered innumerable professional openings and a Babel of conflicting opinions expressed in the papers, in smaller urban centres with a handful of outlets for music criticism, ‘linchpin’ critics or journals were clearly evident, with all the responsibility that entailed for music education and advocacy. Education and advocacy for whom, though, and to what end? The decentralist and regionalist characteristics of provincial France are interwoven here with music-critical histories from urban centres of radically different sizes and shapes, which nevertheless turn out to be closely inter-connected.