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Thread: Henri Dutilleux commemorative plaque controversy

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    Moderator Nereffid's Avatar
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    Default Henri Dutilleux commemorative plaque controversy

    Posted on the Gramophone web site:

    A storm is brewing in the 4th arrondissement in Paris (and in wider cultural circles) by the decision by the arrondissement's Mayor, Christophe Girard, to decline permission for a commemorative plaque to be affixed to the building where the composer Henri Dutilleux lived. The reason given by the Mayor and the Paris Consellor Karen Taieb is that in 1941 Dutilleux composed the soundtrack for a propaganda film extolling the virtues of the sporting activities and the 'worker-model' in Vichy.

    Dutilleux, who died in 2013 at the age of 98, was widely considered one of the greatest French composers. The music for the film (whose content is innocuous at best) was most likely a bread-and-butter job at a time when work was scarce - and besides, Dutilleux's war record included joining, in 1942, the National Front of Musicians who supported musicians, many of whom were Jewish, who were persecuted by the Nazis. During this time he also composed – illegally – a setting of a sonnet, La Geôle, by Jean Cassou that became a work of resistance. He also served as a medical orderly in the French army.


    Dutilleux was only one of four musicians (the others were Fauré, Saint-Saëns and Messiaen) to receive the Grand-Croix of the Légion d'honneur. In an act of extraordinary oversight, no government or State representative attended Dutilleux's funeral in May 2013.

    The scandal has drawn in major cultural figures in French life including our colleagues at the magazine, Diapason, the pianist Philippe Cassard, the soprano Françoise Pollet and the composers Edith Canat de Chizy and Etienne Kippelen, a winner of the Concours Dutilleux in 2012 who has organised an online petition at the Mayor's act of cultural philistinism.
    I understand Vichy can still be a touchy subject in France, but this particular instance seems a very petty decision.

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    Senior Member ptr's Avatar
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    Surely a sign of how small minded the world has become! I've signed the petition!

    Je suis Charlie ~ I am a certified OrgaNut! (F.—I.W.)

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    Senior Member Polyphemus's Avatar
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    Sadly speaking politicians of all hues see the arts merely as low hanging fruit from which they can glean votes from. They regularly slash arts budgets and funding.
    If this particularly odious Mayor Girard thinks he can stoke up some post Charlie Hebdo nationalism by selecting a composer of Dutilleux's rank to have a cheap shot at then I would hope he has misjudged the French people.
    Noli Illegitimi Carborundum

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    Senior Member Blancrocher's Avatar
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    Out of curiosity, I was wondering if Dutilleux's place has been preserved as he left it and whether it's open to visitors? I watched a Youtube video-tour of Ravel's home awhile back, and thought it was an interesting and amusing reflection of his temperament. To my limited knowledge, Dutilleux had a similarly refined sense of style.
    Last edited by Blancrocher; Mar-17-2015 at 14:57.

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