society as it affected and was affected by careers such as Debussy's. Further still, it might have been better to organize the various essays in some manner that implied a less artificial separation between the composer's "evolution" and his "context." These drawbacks notwithstanding, however, the book is a useful resource and often an enjoyable read. If there is a certain dissonance between its essays (since, for example, Clevenger and Rolf affirm the continuity of Debussy's development while Hart and Fulcher stress its inconsistencies, with Grayson and Botstein locating their concerns elsewhere), this is both a suggestive reflection of Debussy's own refusal to simplify or homogenize his thinking and a faithful prolongation of the debates that have helped preserve interest in Debussy's music since the 1890s. The main strength of the collection, to my mind, lies in the two chapters that most critically probe the paradoxes and contradictions in Debussy's work. Jane Fulcher's study of the wartime compositions shows with admirable subtlety and efficiency how complicated were the inner negotiations between Debussy's intransigent nationalism, his equally determined resistance to reductive war myths of French musical purity, and his unwavering commitment to the artistic freedom necessary for drawing on nonFrench
Nineteenth Century French Studies – University of Nebraska Press
Published: May 3, 2004
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