Born in Paris in 1950, Philippe Gumplowicz is distinguished lecturer in musicology at the University of Bourgogne and teaches seminars at the Sorbonne as well as at the School for Advanced Studies in Social Studies.
He is also a writer, and his published works including Les Travaux d'Orphée (The Labors of Orpheus), nominated for the Musical Literature Prize, and Le Roman du Jazz (The Novel of Jazz), covering three periods, the third one being published in 2006.
He is a playwright, having penned three stage plays.
In the area of audio-visual, Philippe Gumplowicz is a producer with France Culture and France Musique, radio stations for which he works on musical news programs, he puts together shows that are broadcast on the television stations ARTE, LA SEPT and France 3.
1. PARIS, 1944-1954: ARTISTS AND INTELLECTUALS, CULTURE AT STAKE
1944. Paris comes to life again.
How will the City of Light do in trying to regain its position, that of the city that Parisians, not without wishing to boast a little, claim to be “the world’s freest, most elegant, and least hypocritical crossroads”?
This lecture covers the history of that cultural renaissance, undoubtedly a relative term. Those were the times of the Saint Germain des Prés nightlife, Beckett’s and Ionesco’s first plays, the productions of Jean Vilar with Gérard Philippe, the opening of the national museum of modern art, the first works from the Domaine musical, fashion’s new look. Those were the days of a fascination for an idealized and cooperative America that was being espoused through jazz and the crime-thriller atmosphere.
Pleasant, relaxing, this promenade through post-war artistic and cultural Paris takes as its starting point the memoirs and stories from its greatest observers, including Edith Piaf, Boris Vian, Maria Casarès, and Albert Camus.
Passages from the writings and songs of the day will be interspersed throughout the talk.
2. JAZZ IN PARIS: AMERICAN MUSICIANS IN PARIS
Ever since the American troops landed in 1917, American jazz musicians have continued to add spice and variety to the French capital. In the first grand revues at the Paris casino and the nightclubs in Pigalle, brought to life with the likes of the legendary Bricktop (Ada Beatrice, Queen Victoria, and Louise Smith), Parisians began discovering American music. Right there beside them were the first French jazz musicians, learning the rudiments of this music destined to make its way around the world.
With the Liberation came the time of the great jazz clubs such as “Blue Note” on the Champs Elysées or Club Saint Germain on the Left Bank. L.P.s immortalized those festive nights producing the best of modern jazz, including Bud Powell, Chet Barker, the Jazz Messengers, and Miles Davis.
If it was, in fact, America that invented jazz, it was Paris that discovered it.
The lecture is supplemented by passages and jazz themes recorded in the era’s popular clubs
3. MUSIC: ENCOUNTERS WITH OTHER CULTURES, OTHER PEOPLES. THREE CENTURIES OF CURIOSITY, 1735-2005
Performed for Parisian audiences for the first time in 1735, Rameau’s opéra ballet Les Indes Galantes established that the wider world would be, from that time on, a source of inspiration for composers. Next to both the religious music allotted to the glory of God and the opera that glorified the monarch, minor genres like comic opera expressed the human desire to pull itself from the confines of church and court in order to look toward foreign lands.
For over three centuries, music would attempt again and again to evoke foreign lands. Having started with ideas of the savage and the wild, this quest would continue with “the East,” the far-off Princess or the distraught courtesan of the 19th century. It would also cross paths with the music of the people at the margins of European society. This quest would also discover, to the delight of those involved in the search, jazz and the different kinds of music coming from South America after World War I.
So, what about today? At a time when the world’s echo is readily accessible by the immediacy of technology, and the mixing of cultures is seen as an esthetic injunction, what does music, which once came to us from so far away, have to say now that it’s so close by?
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