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«Benjamin C. Young Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Graduate School of Arts and ...»

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Eloquence and Music: the Querelle des Bouffons in Rhetorical Context

Benjamin C. Young

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the

requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences


© 2013

Benjamin C. Young

All rights reserved


Eloquence and Music: the Querelle des Bouffons in Rhetorical Context Benjamin C. Young This dissertation examines the way in which the querelle des bouffons was conceived as abiding by the principles of eloquence, using previous rhetorical quarrels (including the Ancients and Moderns, and Atticism versus Asianism), as well as the fundamental tenets of both eloquence and music, to frame a wide-ranging debate that ultimately rethinks the two arts’ roles.

The supporters of Italian music (known as the coin de la reine) and the partisans of French music (known as the coin du roi) adhere to this common context, while defining the selection of its essential components, as well as their makeup, according to the values of their given side. I contend that it is the relationship between eloquence and music that allows the quarrel’s thinkers—which include Rousseau, Diderot, Grimm, D’Alembert and Rameau, as well as lesserknown figures such as Castel, Caux de Cappeval, Cazotte and Jourdan—to engage in complex intellectual explorations that use the quarrel’s innate divisiveness as a means of creating meaningful dialog. Through a system of multi-layering and intricate referencing—and based on a valuing of the essential and an evacuation of the ornamental—, the quarrel’s texts themselves determine the debate’s corpus, hinting at a new direction for this type of public discourse. The dissertation aims to show that the resulting theoretical considerations use the pamphlets’ broad dualities of French and Italian, modern and ancient, harmony and melody, etc., to foster internal multiplicities in the development of subtext and cross-referencing, yielding a new collective, written conversation that achieves a form of musical eloquence.

Contents' Acknowledgements


Introduction – Situating the Querelle des Bouffons in Its Rhetorical Context

Chapter 1 – Preconceived Notions of Eloquence and Music

I. A quarrel patterned on eloquence

Some basic premises of eloquence that guide the debate and the reader

Reaching a wide audience through multi-leveled texts

In the experimental lab: comparisons of French and Italian music

II. Team-building through music

Varying conceptions of music as rhetoric

A foreign affair: questions of origins

The evolution of French style and taste

Building a better battle: strategies of attack and defense

Chapter 2 – Beyond the Pleasure Principle: Eloquent Music and Musical Eloquence..... 117 I. The queen of hearts: eloquence and music at the service of movere

Eloquence and music’s progressive fusion through pathos

An inability to move in the other coin

II. The convergence of eloquence and music in bon goût

Towards a definition of French decorum

Eloquence and music as a critique of excess

–  –  –

I. Restoring the author through music

Respect of authorship: questions of ingenium and originality

Designing a defensive harmony

II. The French and Italian connections: building a linguistic bridge between eloquence and music....... 211 No eloquence or music without words

The intersection of eloquence and music through language, or the recitative

Chapter 4 – Eloquence Reconsidered through Music: the Querelle des Bouffons as Conversation

I. Defending rhetoric through musical eloquence

Eloquence as music

In pursuit of the essential: removing ornamentation

A melodious return to antiquity

II. The quarrel as conversation

The quarrel’s hidden subtext

Reciprocity through cross-referencing

Forming a public conversation

Conclusion – The Last Great Rhetorical Quarrel: from Duality to Multiplicity and the Elaboration of a New Musical Eloquence


–  –  –

I owe a debt of gratitude to my advisor, Pierre Force, and my two other readers, Joanna Stalnaker and Giuseppe Gerbino, who graciously—or should I say heroically—suffered through drafts at various stages of the writing process and provided invaluable counsel. My efforts at clarity and concision did not reach the point I had hoped when I set out to complete this project, but the assistance provided by all certainly resulted in many improvements. I should also like to thank Marc Fumaroli for his unflinching support and encouragement since my first stint as his research assistant in 2007, as well as Sara Melzer and Emily Apter, whose generous confidence in my abilities early on helped propel my studies forward. I am also very appreciative that Dorothea von Mücke and Benoît Bolduc agreed to serve on my dissertation committee. Among the many others who helped make this journey more productive and pleasant than it would have been otherwise, special thanks are due to Jan Allen of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (presently at Cornell), Isabelle Chagnon, Benita Dace and Meritza Moss, who comprise the remarkable staff of the Department of French and Romance Philology, Sarah Monks of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and Peter Israel, a friend and former publisher who understands better than most the challenges of this undertaking and provided some muchneeded prodding.

–  –  –

–"Introduction"–" Situating"the"Querelle&des&Bouffons"in"Its"Rhetorical"Context" " !

The querelle des bouffons is one of those singular moments in the eighteenth century that scholars in literature, history, musicology and philosophy know to have been a highly-impactful debate. Indeed, many are familiar with the quarrel’s broad lines—its division into two camps, the opposition of French and Italian music, and the keen participation of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Jean-Philippe Rameau. However, all too often and up until fairly recently, the querelle was reduced to a clash between strong personalities and painted as a destructive or intolerant dispute.

It has become evident that this is a misreading. Studying the debate in its rhetorical context sheds some light on the serious work that was put into its conception and unfolding, as well as the way in which the quarrel is in truth highly nuanced. This dissertation is interested in both the quarrel itself—its basic foundation on and interest in the notion that people quarreling yield something of value, as well as its considerations about music and what can be learned from the latter—and its form—how music borrows from eloquence and the way in which music is model for the quarrel’s construction. An examination of the framework provided by eloquence will thus help explain the quarrel’s intellectual reasons for being, beyond the oft-mentioned personal attacks and defense of national pride. It is eloquence that gives the debaters a common structure to

–  –  –

shape, comment and judge the arguments formed by the quarrel’s two factions, while the two distinct approaches to viewing the relationship between eloquence and music draw on these elements to create a discussion that values precepts from both domains. It is my conention that this relationship brings about a shift that allows music’s position to change from what Catherine Kintzler terms “une poétique”1 (a significant, literary object but never the dominant component in classical French opera) to a guiding force. Just like the literary corpus, music too is judged during the querelle in relation to eloquence, in part because compositional practices are based on rhetorical principles but also because the debate is framed by eloquence: both the critical commentary of the quarrel and the musical material being analyzed are evaluated according to the tenets of eloquence. And although its position as a guide applies outside of its own arena—as if crossing disciplines is somehow more permissible than giving music a type of power within its own form that has traditionally been forbidden—, my central thesis is that music’s new position is achieved through its relation to eloquence: as the quarrel progresses, music’s depiction as capable of not only fulfilling rhetorical principles but also teaching eloquence how to achieve these leads the reader to decipher the complex thematic debates through the careful observation of the two coins’ competing views. In our examination of the way in which the quarrelers conceive the relationship between eloquence and music, we will therefore look at the participants’ use of rhetoric for polemical purposes (through the very division into two coins and the use of common principles for debating with and judging each other) and as a frame that is both vital to the elaboration of a debate on a grand scale and to the reader’s understanding of its inner workings, as well as the way in which eloquence provides a way of better understanding !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kintzler, Poétique de l’opéra français: de Corneille à Rousseau, 16-17.

–  –  –

music (for instance, Pergolesi did not view himself as a member of the Ancients, yet we will see that his music is contextualized by the theorists as representative of the faction within the rhetorical frame of Ancients and Moderns), and vice versa.

The quarrel’s unfolding follows the Italian troupe of bouffons, who perform opere buffe2 (also referred to as intermezzi due to their short length and insertion, often as comic relief, in between opere serie or even within the latter) and lend their name to the debate, from their invitation to Paris in the summer of 1752 to their departure in 1754. Led by Eustachio Bambini, they perform works by Pergolesi, Scarlatti, Jommelli and other Italian composers of the opera buffa genre—which is lighter and seemingly far less bound by rules than the French tragédie lyrique against which it is evaluated (as is the case even with the opera seria, which many supporters of Italian music during the quarrel indicate would be far more appropriate for comparison), for the obvious reason that it is not born out of French classical theater—first in Strasbourg and then in Paris. Their opera is far simpler than the French one, devoid of machinery and featuring a small ensemble of players (often with just two main singers) who depict everyday domestic situations, rather than stories of royalty and deities. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi is a favorite of the French audience and his work La Serva Padrona (published in 1731 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The opera buffa or Italian comic opera plays by the rules of opera seria (the serious genre that gives rise to what we think of as opera today), frequently pushed to the extreme as a form of parody that contributes to its comedic aspect. Andrea Fabiano notes in La “Querelle des Bouffons” dans la vie culturelle française du XVIIIe siècle, 2, that the French are unfamiliar with these rules and that this helps create an impression of liberty. Nevertheless, many commentators in the coin de la reine appreciate these works precisely for their structure and the differences in approach as compared to French opera, recognizing a set of precepts that they see as closer to achieving ideal music.

–  –  –

and first performed in Paris at the Hôtel de Bourgogne3 in 1746 to little acclaim) forms the troupe’s inaugural performance in August 1752, placing the composer at the heart of the dispute.

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