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France and Ireland

Notes and Narratives


Una Hunt and Mary Pierse

The rich association between Ireland and France is embodied in music, art and creative writing from both countries and this collection provides a tantalising selection of these interweaving influences. The book presents a vivid picture of interactions between composers, performers, poets and novelists on each side of the Celtic Sea. Surprises abound, with music unexpectedly linking Ireland and France through George Alexander Osborne and Frédéric Chopin, through Thomas Moore and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, through Irish-inspired French opera and a French-directed Irish orchestra. Words and music meet in a Kate O'Brien novel, a musical interpretation of Verlaine and a selection of Paula Meehan's poetry, while the encounter between wine and music creates new possibilities for artistic and cultural expression. Exploring the works and influence of a wide range of figures including James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Jacques Derrida, J.M. Synge, Hélène Cixous, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Hector Berlioz, Maurice Ravel, Neil Jordan and John Field, the essays collected here uncover a wealth of artistic interconnections between France and Ireland.
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Maestro, Magician, Midwife: Jean Martinon in Dublin


Jean Martinon (1910–1976) is now best known as a French conductor who left a legacy of considerable merit in recordings of works by Debussy, Ravel and Prokofiev.1 However, in mid-twentieth-century Ireland, before he achieved fame on both sides of the Atlantic, he had a significant impact on the Dublin musical scene through his involvement with the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra, with Our Lady’s Choral Society, and in giving master classes in composing and conducting in the city.

This story involves a local impact from the chance intersection of two spheres: the one global, momentous and the cause of relief to millions worldwide; the other personal, intimate and the occasion of misery for one individual.

At the end of the Second World War, because of its wartime neutral stance, Ireland found itself in a state of some isolation, devoid of friends on the international stage. In an effort to remedy this it was proposed, as a means of propaganda, to establish a short-wave radio station broadcasting initially to the United States. What the broadcasters had in mind by way of programmes was what a cultured Irishman might invite a cultured American to listen to.2 This was a high aspiration given that cultured Americans of a musical bent would have regularly heard orchestras under the direction of conductors such as Arturo Toscanini and Eugene Ormandy. ← 199 | 200 →

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