Chant Wars and Charles-Marie Widor -
  • M. Jackson Osborn
    Posts: 6,548
    A fascinating article entitled 'Our Beautiful France', by Thomas Fielding, Music and Liturgy Director of St Augustine's Cathedral in Kalamazoo, may be found in the February issue of The American Organist. It revolves around the ultramontanism of the XIXth century and its foe, the historic Gallicanism, of which Widor, who had a studied contempt of lengthy melismas, was a proponent. For chant this was a battle between Solesmes, particularly Dom Pothier, and keepers of the Medicean chant patrimony left over from Trent. In the background is the suppression of the Gallican liturgical heritage by ultramontane bishops. Widor's Symphonie romain, which quotes a Lyonnaise form of the Haec dies Easter Day gradual published by Pierre Valfray in 1669, highlights his determined championship of traditional Gallican usages. This is all a fascinating commentary on the chant conflicts of the Second Empire and early Third Republic periods. It is almost as riveting as Katherine Bergeron's Decadent Enchantments, of which it could well serve as an entertaining post-script.