French music historiography after the Franco-Prussian War evolved in terms of redefining cultural identity. This study attempts to provide a better understanding of one of the modes of writingmusic historiography in 1910s France, through analysis of the narrative of progress adopted in JulesCombarieu’s Histoire de la musique des origines à nos jours（ 1913–1919）.
Combarieu, a republican, presented in his Histoire de la musique the historical developmentof music in the 19th-century France as a process of progress and a series of emancipations: from theChurch during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, and from the court through the French Revolution. He described the progress of the genres of symphony and opera as a phenomenon that occurred mainly in France, assigning a significant role to Berlioz. Consequently, Combarieu’s narrativeplaces France on the central stage of the European music history while including German canoniccomposers.
In his historical account, however, Combarieu devoted more space to Beethoven and Wagner
than Berlioz. The reason behind this is the collision between the musical taste of the author, a former enthusiastic Wagnerian, and the German music reception in France during World War I. In fact,Berlioz’s music was expected to contradict Wagnerism since the 1880s. With its academic justification for assigning Berlioz an important historical position, Combarieu’s history of music contributedgreatly to Berlioz’s canonization that began after the Franco-Prussian War. The narrative of progresspresented in Histoire de la musique that depicts Berlioz as a musical symbol of the French Republic and simultaneously gives an ambivalent evaluation of Wagner reflects an historical phase of musichistoriography after five decades of its existence, which evolved in relation with identity politics inFrance since 1870.
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