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L'homme-orchestre : deux siècles de tradition française

Abstract : Louis Sébastien Mercier was the first chronicler of Parisian life to describe, on the eve of the French Revolution, a street musician playing several instruments; the earliest visual representation appered very shortly after, under the Directory. Originally a harpist, the one-man band seemingly changed his choice of instruments and costume during the late First Empire period: a former soldier, he would introduce certain elements of the janissary music beloved of military parades. Throughout the 19th century, the literary chronicles of picturesque Paris seemed to be quite literal commentaries of the popular prints that were mass published or appeared in the press. Later in the century, the musician once again adapted himself to changin times by introducing popular dance band instruments. After the First World War and right up to the present day, the influence of jazz was to be constant and would continue to appeal to the passers-by, even thought the places where people congregated changed along with the city. Three costumes belonging to the Vermandel family, whose best-known musician achieved celebrity thanks to a remarkable photograph by Robert Doisneau, have been acquired by the MNATP and illustrate the ultimate phase of this quintessentially Parisian popular musical tradition.
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Contributor : Florence Gétreau <>
Submitted on : Monday, July 25, 2016 - 4:18:40 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 17, 2020 - 10:36:05 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Wednesday, October 26, 2016 - 11:17:24 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-00117510, version 1



Florence Gétreau. L'homme-orchestre : deux siècles de tradition française. La Revue du Louvre et des musees de France, Editions de la Reunion des Musees Nationaeux, 2000, pp.67-76. ⟨halshs-00117510⟩



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