Book Review – 40 ans de création musicale

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

La mémoire en acte : 40 ans de création musicale. (Memory in action: 40 years of musical creation.) / Editorial Committee: Laure Marcel-Berlioz, Omer Corlaix, and Bastien Gallet / CMDC, MF Publishing, 2017, 288 pages

The Centre de Documentation de la Musique Contemporaine (CDMC) has been in existence since 1977. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, it has published a major work providing a panorama of current musical creation, through the words of various actors in the field, musicians, composers, producers, directors of record companies, musicologists…

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The first part reviews the history of the institution and the individual who ensured its founding, Marianne Lyon, as well as its mission to address musical creation in France. From advocacy for the essential role of music in the reorientation of the world to the observation of the French paradox, namely the small number of composers compared to the large number of ensembles and institutions dedicated to music, this puts on the table many questions and outlines directions for the years to come.

By letting various voices express themselves in the second part, the book allows the reader to be the direct receiver of the thought of artists and professionals in the field. Thus, concerning the teaching of composition, the professors interviewed agree on the importance of guiding students in their own way by stimulating their imagination, starting from their own material, rather than seeking to impose on them a path to follow. Throughout the pages, we discover composers with a wide variety of personalities and approaches, from paper-pencil to acousmatic, from theatrical music to DIY vibrations; in short, an abundant universe where all expresses their creativity in their own way, to comfort or arouse students who are sometimes too wise.

The book shows us a France open to the world, thanks to the intermediary institutions, vectors of exchanges, but also thanks to the many foreign composers making career in the Hexagon. Speech is also left to non-creative disciplines, recalling intelligently that composers are only one link in a large chain: interpretation, cultural mediation, institutions for the dissemination of knowledge or music, the media scene, all at once within the scale of the territory of the French.

This book is important for readers here. It allows one to acquire in less than 300 pages a vast knowledge of musical creation in France, to understand and understand the issues that do not differ from it and ours can prove to be a valuable tool for establishing contacts across the Atlantic. Sometimes it takes just a single reading to transform a career! 

Available on order at your bookstore or on the publisher’s website:

Note, the same publisher, will be publishing Compositrices, l’égalité en acte (Female composers, equality in action) in February of 2019. The book focusing on the lot of female composers active in France brings together 53 portraits of composers accompanied by the viewpoints of philosopher Geneviève Fraisse and musicologists Jacques Amblard, David Christoffel and Florence Launay, among others.

Translation by Vasyl Pawlowsky

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Benjamin Goron est écrivain, musicologue et critique musical. Titulaire d’un baccalauréat en littérature et d’une maîtrise en musicologie de l’Université Paris-Sorbonne, il a collaboré à plusieurs périodiques et radios en tant que chercheur et critique musical (L’Éducation musicale, Camuz, Radio Ville-Marie, SortiesJazzNights, L'Opéra). Depuis août 2018, il est rédacteur adjoint de La Scena Musicale. Pianiste et trompettiste de formation, il allie musique et littérature dans une double mission de créateur et de passeur de mémoire.

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