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Date: April-June 2021
From: Fontes Artis Musicae(Vol. 68, Issue 2)
Publisher: International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres
Document Type: Article
Length: 5,138 words
Lexile Measure: 1510L

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Spanish composer Jose Soler Casabon was born on 31 August 1884 in Mequinenza (Zaragoza, Spain) and died on 3 March 1964 in Paris. There is little known about his musical training; however, if his first compositions, for example, sonatas, motets, and fugues are analysed, there is little doubt that Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) were among the early influences on him (1). By the age of 15, he had composed music for violin and piano, two sonatas, and some melodies to accompany poems written in Catalan (2). Soler Casabon also played classical guitar, piano, and was an excellent violinist. When he and his family moved to Barcelona on 26 November 1901, he was seventeen years old.

During the first decades of the twentieth century, Paris developed into an internationally renowned cultural and artistic city. In 1907, amid this cultural fervor, Serge Diaghilev organised the first Russian concerts, and it was in that year when Soler Casabon permanently settled in the city (3). On 16 June 1917, at Guillaume Apollinaire's presentation at the Oeuvre de Soldat dans la Tranchee (Charity for soldiers in the trenches), a work by Soler Casabon's entitled Soliloque was performed (4). That same month, the North-South journal published an article in which Pierre Reverdy affirmed that, 'Soler is considered to be a revelation musician, demonstrated by his remarkable talents. Nonetheless, too much is expected from this musician who has just appeared on the Parisian musical scene'. Reverdy also stated that 'Soler was one of the most intelligent and brilliant people he knew, the only person with whom you could talk man to man, face to face' (5).

In this article, we focus on an under-recognised composer, Jose Soler Casabon and his ballet, L'Homme sans yeux, sans nez et sans Oreilles, composed in 1917.

Caltigrammes: Le Musicien de Saint Merry

Calligrammes, subtitled Poemes de la paix et de la guerre (1913-1916), is a collection of poems by Guillaume Apollinaire, published in 1918. Apollinaire created a ballet based on his poem Le Musicien de Saint Merry, which appeared in Calligrammes (6), and commissioned Soler Casabon to compose the music. The first version of Le Musicien de Saint Merry was titled A quelle heure le train partira-t-il pour Paris? and conceived by Apollinaire based on his poem (7). 'I want you to make the music (he said), because it has to be passionate' (8).

In 1917, Soler Casabon took over the project, slightly modified, and it was renamed L'Homme sans yeux, sans nez et sans Oreilles (Ho.S.Y.N.O.) (9). The plot of Le Musicien de Saint Merry focuses on a flautist with no face who travels through an ancient Parisian neighborhood. In June, Soler Casabon composed a version of the ballet for two pianos and completed a final version five months later.

In a letter written in French, he confesses to Picasso, 'I have written this music from beginning to end with great enthusiasm. I can assure you that it is almost impossible to find flaws...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A669688475