Mallarmé's Good Friday Music: Conversion or Confirmation?


This article questions the accepted view that Mallarmé's musical "birth" happened dramatically during the all-Wagner program of the Concert Lamoureux, on Good Friday, April, 1885. It suggests instead that Mallarmé was swayed by only one element, described by Edouard Dujardin as "l'influence wagnérienne" – a specially profound, theatrical quality that grounded its effect upon the paradox that music was non-referential, yet also meaningful; "nul et se réfléchissant." In the context of the spectacularly increasing concert-giving activity of the day, Mallarmé's encounter with "l'influence wagnérienne" prompted him to re-explore the poetic means by which, like Wagner, he might stimulate the projection of a mental theater without losing sight of "le vieux dogme du vers." The experience reassured him of the value and rightness of his own early musico-poetic ideals, painfully worked out in his youth, abandoned in his middle years, and now re-confirmed by the challenge of Wagner's unique form of symphonic music-drama. (HL)

Lees, Heath
Release Year:
1995 Spring-Summer; 23(3-4): 430-440