In recent years, French repertoire of the Fin de Siècle has been brought back to popularity with new scholarship, editions, recordings and performances constantly appearing. Throughout the 19th century, Paris was the centre of culture in Europe; artists, musicians, authors, philosophers, poets and performers all congregated in the salons and coffee shops to debate and discuss new ideas until the early hours.
As the 1800s gave way to the 1900s, France was in La Belle Époque, the Golden Age, opening the Moulin Rouge and erecting the Eiffel Tower at the World Fair in 1889 before the Paris Metro system began operation during the year 1900. The Dreyfus Affair divided society and France boasted such influential figures as Alfred Cortot, Charles Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Émile Zola, Jules Verne, architect Hector Guimard and organist Charles-Marie Widor all in their prime. It was the Third French Republic, the Second Industrial Revolution and a time of an explosion of -isms; impressionism, expressionism, romanticism, modernism, mysticism and decadence-ism!
Despite the resurgence of music from this Golden era of history, many pianists still confess to feeling at sea in the genre. Kenneth van Barthold was entirely trained at the Paris Conservatoire where he spent four years in the piano class of Yves Nat, won a Première Mention in Solfège and studied Harmonie, Contrepoint d’Espèces and Fugue d’Ecole with Paule Maurice, Grand Prix de Rôme (as won by Maurice Ravel). Who better to guide you through the trials and turmoil of the times?
Running the same weekend of the Tour de France Grand Départ, Kenneth invites participants to bring any piece of music by a French composer of this era; Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Satie, Poulenc or any other. Bring anything which tempts you and we will go in search of that golden French sound!