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L'Exotisme dans la musique française

Exoticism, by definition, is “the charm of the unfamiliar.” Scholar Alden Jones defines exoticism in art and literature as the representation of one culture for consumption by another. An archetypical exoticist is the artist and writer Paul Gauguin, whose visual representations of Tahitian people and landscapes were targeted at a French audience. While exoticism is closely linked to Orientalism, it is not a movement necessarily associated with a particular time period or culture, but  Les Colonnies Francaises et Territoire d’Outre-Mers, have  deeply inspired composers, poets, writers who have left an abundance of surprising repertoire.


This hour and 15mn program is designed to evoke the atmosphere of far-off lands .It is an invitation to a journey through  music,  rhythms, melodies, poetry ..where sensuality, nonchalance and  ultimately abandon occurs…


Excerpts of the program:


“L’Adieu de L’Hotesse Arabe” Bizet- “La Captive” Berlioz, ”Melodies Persannes” Saint Saens, 

 ”Les filles de Cadix” Delibes, “Les Roses d’Ispahan” Faure, “Sheherazade” Ravel……



The French colonial Empire was the set of territories that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. . Its influence made French a widely-spoken colonial European language, along with English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.


France, in rivalry with Britain for supremacy, began to establish colonies in North America, the Caribbean and India, following Spanishand Portuguese successes during the Age of Discovery. A series of wars with Britain during the 18th century and early to mid-19th century, which France lost, ended its colonial ambitions in these places, and with it what some historians term the “first” French colonial empire.


In the 19th century, France established a new empire in Africa and Southeast Asia. In this period France’s conquest of Empire in Africa was dressed up as a moral crusade. In 1886 Jules Ferry declared; “The higher races have a right over the lower races, they have a duty to civilize the inferior races.” Full citizenship rights - assimilation - was offered, though in reality “assimilation was always receding and the colonial populations treated like subjects not citizens.” 


Following World War I and especially World War II, anti-colonial movements began to challenge French authority. France unsuccessfully fought bitter wars in Vietnam and Algeria to keep its empire intact. By the end of the 1960s, many of France’s colonies had gained independence, although some territories – especially islands and archipelagos – were integrated into France as overseas departments and territories. 


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