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1852 __ « Les Soirées de l’Orchestre - Euphonia ou La Ville Musicale »
Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Comment : In Evenings with the Orchestra, Berlioz envisioned a twenty-fourth-century city called Euphonia in Germany's Harz Mountains populated by twelve thousand musicians living on streets named after their instrument or voice type. Instead of campaniles, a single huge steam-operated organ perched atop a tower overlooking the city would signal working hours, meals, meetings, and rehearsals. Performances of monumental musical scores requiring as many as ten thousand players would take place in a theater with a seating capacity of twenty thousand "somewhat similar to the amphitheaters of Greek and Roman antiquity, but built to provide superior acoustic conditions.« The whole building and its musical ensemble would comprise a "huge intelligent instrument”. » [Berlioz, “Evenings with the Orchestra”]. Nothing on a smaller scale could have sufficed for a composer who, in his own day, longed for an orchestra of 825 instrumentalists and vocalists which could produce effects like "a hurricane in the tropics," the "explosive roar of a volcano," or "the mysterious rustle of primeval forests" [Dorian, 245]. (James Dillon Ford)
Original excerpt 1 : « An amphitheatre, comparable to those found in Greek and Roman antiquity, but built on vastly superior acoustic principles, is devoted to these monumental performances. It can accommodate on one side an audience of twenty thousand, and on the other ten thousand performers. [...] The signal for working hours and for meals, for assembly by quarters, by streets, rehearsals in large or small groups etc. is given by a gigantic organ placed at the top of a tower which rises above all the buildings in the city. This organ is powered by steam, and its sound is such that it can easily be heard at a distance of ten miles. Five centuries ago the talented maker A. Sax, to whom we owe the invaluable family of brass reed instruments which bears his name, suggested the idea of an organ of this kind to perform the function of bells, but in a more musical way. He was dismissed as a lunatic, as also happened earlier to the unfortunate man who talked of the application of steam to sailing and railways, and as was still happening two centuries ago for those who persistently looked for methods of steering navigation by air, which has changed the face of the world. The language of the tower organ, a telegraph for the ear, is only intelligible to the Euphonians. They alone are familiar with telephony. The full potential of this valuable invention was sensed in the 19th century by a certain Sudre, and one of the harmony prefects of Euphonia has developed and perfected it to the point it has now reached. They also have telegraphy, and the directors of rehearsals need only make a simple gesture with one or both hands and their baton to indicate to the performers that they must play this particular chord, whether loud or soft, followed by this particular cadence or modulation, that they must play a given classical work with the full orchestra, or in a small section, or in a crescendo, with the various groups making their successive entries. [...] The full ensemble is then subjected to the composer’s critical judgment; he listens from the top of the amphitheatre which the public will occupy. And when he feels fully master of this vast and intelligent instrument, when he is sure that all that is left is to indicate the vital nuances of the tempo, which he feels and can convey better than anyone else, then the time has come for him to become a performer as well, and he ascends the podium to direct the performance. A tuning fork fixed to each desk enables all the players to tune unobtrusively before and during the performance; practice runs and the slightest sounds from the orchestra are strictly forbidden. An ingenious mechanism which could have been invented five or six centuries earlier, if anyone had made the effort to devise it, and which responds to the conductor’s movements without being visible to the public, displays before the eyes of each player, close to him, the beats in the bar, and also indicates precisely the different nuances of forte or piano. In this way the performers sense immediately and instantly the intentions of their conductor, and can respond as quickly as do the hammers of a piano to the hand that presses the keys. The maestro can then say in all truth that he is playing the orchestra. [...] The whole building and its musical ensemble would comprise a "huge intelligent instrument”. » (Translated From French by Michel Austin)
Original excerpt 2 : « [...] Un cirque, à peu près semblable aux cirques de l’antiquité grecque et romaine, mais construit dans des conditions d’acoustique beaucoup meilleures, est consacré à ces exécutions monumentales. Il peut contenir d’un côté vingt mille auditeurs et de l’autre dix mille exécutants. [...] Le signal des heures de travail et des repas, des réunions par quartiers, par rues, des répétitions par petites ou par grandes masses, etc., est donné au moyen d’un orgue gigantesque placé au haut d’une tour qui domine tous les édifices de la ville. Cet orgue est animé par la vapeur, et sa sonorité est telle qu’on l’entend sans peine à quatre lieues de distance. Il y a cinq siècles, quand l’ingénieux facteur A. Sax, à qui l’on doit la précieuse famille d’instruments de cuivre à anche qui porte son nom, émit l’idée d’un orgue pareil destiné à remplir d’un façon plus musicale l’office des cloches, on le traita de fou, comme on avait fait auparavant pour le malheureux qui parlait de la vapeur appliquée à la navigation et aux chemins de fer, comme on faisait encore il y a deux cents ans pour ceux qui s’obstinaient à chercher les moyens de diriger la navigation aérienne qui a changé la face du monde. Le langage de l’orgue de la tour, ce télégraphe de l’oreille, n’est guère compris que des Euphoniens; eux seuls connaissent bien la téléphonie, précieuse invention dont un nommé Sudre entrevit, au XIX° siècle, toute la portée, et qu’un des préfets de l’harmonie d’Euphonia a développée et conduite au point de perfection où elle est aujourd’hui. Ils possèdent aussi la télégraphie, et les directeurs des répétitions n’ont à faire qu’un simple signe avec une ou deux mains et le bâton conducteur, pour indiquer aux exécutants qu’il s’agit de faire entendre, fort ou doux, tel ou tel accord suivi de telle ou telle cadence ou modulation, d’exécuter tel ou tel morceau classique tous ensemble, ou en petite masse, ou en crescendo, les divers groupes entrant alors successivement. [...] Le grand ensemble subit alors la critique de l’auteur, qui l’écoute du haut de l’amphithéâtre que doit occuper le public; et quand il se reconnaît maître absolu de cet immense instrument intelligent, quand il est sûr qu’il n’y a plus qu’à lui communiquer les nuances vitales du mouvement, qu’il sent et peut donner mieux que personne, le moment est venu pour lui de se faire aussi exécutant, et il monte au pupitre-chef pour diriger. Un diapason fixé à chaque pupitre permet à tous les instrumentistes de s’accorder sans bruit avant et pendant l’exécution; les préludes, les moindres bruissements d’orchestre sont rigoureusement prohibés. Un ingénieux mécanisme qu’on eût trouvé cinq ou six siècles plus tôt, si on s’était donné la peine de le chercher, et qui subit l’impulsion des mouvements du chef sans être visible au public, marque, “devant les yeux” de chaque exécutant et tout près de lui, les temps de la mesure, en indiquant aussi d’une façon précise les divers degrés de “forte” ou de “piano”. De cette façon, les exécutants reçoivent immédiatement et instantanément la communication du sentiment de celui qui les dirige, y obéissent aussi rapidement que font les marteaux d’un piano sous la main qui presse les touches, et le maître peut dire alors qu’il joue de l’orchestre en toute vérité. »
Source : Berlioz, Hector (1852), “Euphonia ou la Ville Musicale”, In “Les Soirées de l’Orchestre” Paris : Michel Lévy Frères, libraires-éditeurs, Rue Vivienne, 2bis, 1852. And In second edition, 1854, p. 292 and pp. 320-354.
Source : Ford, James Dillon (1995), "From Vocal Memnon to the Stereophonic Garden : a short history of sound and technology in landscape design", a paper prepared for CELA, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture Annual 1995.
Source : Dorian, Frederick (1942), “The history of music in performance: the art of musical interpretation from the Renaissance to our day”, New York: Norton.
Urls : http://www.hberlioz.com/Writings/SOindex.htm (last visited ) http://www.hberlioz.com/Writings/SO25.htm (last visited ) http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/euphoniae.htm (last visited ) http://www.hberlioz.com/Special/euphonia.htm (last visited )

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