Perhaps more than any of his contemporaries in turn-of-the-century France, the composer Vincent d'Indy fashioned an identity based on opposition. Understanding the dynamic of oppositional politics, he defined himself, his music, and the music school he directed, the Schola Cantorum, through difference. This has led both his successors and his critics up through the present to associate him with defiant ultra-conservatism. However, d'Indy was also a man of alliances, alliances that served the composer and the state well. In "Deconstructing d'Indy," I throw into question the attitudes that have accumulated about him and suggest a more nuanced view of the man and his politics based on his practices, particularly before 1900. I show how he allowed government officials to use his difference to help them combat monopolies and bridge conflict with the Republic. The article argues that in misconstruing the nature and function of political differences in France and their relationship to reputation-building strategies, we risk substituting ideology and our own projections of its meaning for a composer's identity and importance in his or her times.

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