1937 Paris

Jun 20, 1937 – Jun 27, 1937

Festival info

Start: Jun 20, 1937

End: Jun 27, 1937

Locations: Paris

Hosting member(s)


Presented in conjunction with the Exposition Internationale des Arts et des Techniques appliques a la Vie Moderne and the International Conference of the Society for Music Education

From contemporaneous reviews:

“The fifteenth festival of the International Society for Contemporary Music took place in Paris at the end of June, and it can be said that scarcely a ripple was created in the general music consciousness of the world at large or even in the festival city itself. Probably for the first time in the history of the society the concerts were not open to the general public and seats could be obtained, even at full price, only by applying to the secretary of the Paris section, hence saving money and advertising and, it was rumored, avoiding a government tax!

“This exclusiveness would not deserve comment except that it frankly expresses a symptomatic condition of the International Society, and indeed one of the major problems of modern music. In Paris this time it seemed as if contemporary music, as sponsored by the Society, had become a completely specialized field, only to be understood by, and of interest to the few people immediately concerned in its creation and performance. The principle behind the founding of the I.S.C.M.–to build up a dynamic international group constantly exchanging contacts, ideas, musical works, etc., and to secure the widest possible public–has apparently fallen into abeyance.”

–Mark Brunswick: “Paris, 1937,”
Modern Music, Volume 15, No. 1 (Nov.–Dec. 1937), p. 32.

“Were there ‘contemporary’ composers before the I.S.C.M.? One begins almost to doubt, since these festivals seem so indispensable to the life of the kind of music here cultivated.”

— R.C., “Paris Festival: The Contemporary Society and its Function” (1937)
from the Edwin Evans clippings collection at Westminster Music Library, London.

“The Festival, which had been splendidly organized by the French section of the Society, went off smoothly. The concerts (given in the Theatre and Comédie des Champs- Elysees and the Centre Marcelin-Berthelot) were attended and applauded by large crowds of delegates and other music-lovers assembled from many corners of the world.

“If the Festival can be taken as representative of what the musical world of to-day is up to (which, of course, it really cannot) then it should seem that ‘modern’ music is more hopelessly than ever caught in an impasse and despairing of finding its way out. Apart from two or three moments, the activities of the week did not provide very much that you would care to ‘write home about’–the reference being to the new works, and not to the already well-known ones that festooned the occasion and saved the day.”

–Irving Schwerké, “The I.S.C.M. Festival at Paris,”
The Musical Times, Vol. 78, No. 1133 (July 1937), pp. 650-651. 

Programme information