Skip to Main Content

Marcel Proust (1871-1922): Music

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2022 2:15 PM

 
Portrait of Hahn
 
Above: Portrait of Composer Reynaldo Hahn (1907), by Zoé Lucie Betty de Rothschild (aka Lucie Lambert, 1863-1916). Hahn was a Venezuelan-born, naturalized French, composer, conductor, critic, and singer, who became Proust's longtime partner, then intimate friend for the rest of his life. Image source: Wikimedia Commons. Image license: Public domain.
 
 
 
For Proust, music, along with the visual arts, offered a way to expand and enrich the range of his own literary language through figure and allusion. At the same time, he discovered in music a way to explore and challenge the limits of that language as an agent of aesthetic communication. Music as performance, as topic of debate, as catalyst of memory, emotion, and desire, plays an obbligato accompaniment to the interpersonal drama of the Proustian social world: its hilarity, its pathos, its vacuity, its sensuality, its cruelty. Perhaps the crucial turning point of Proust's work arrives as its narrator listens to a piece of music: the Vinteuil septet, a seminal experience that leads him to the threshold of a life beyond the temps perdu of his youth, a life he enters in earnest at the very end of his work. Few writers have dared to grant music such a pivotal role in a work of literature, even fewer have made such far-reaching claims about the ethical significance of the experience of music, and fewer still have substantiated these claims enough to carry conviction. Proust manages all three. His vision of the potential unity and transformative power of the arts, while Romantic and Wagnerian in inspiration, shaped the European modernist tradition that followed him, and issued in a novel that remains without peer in the literary analysis of musical experience.
 
On this page, UB users can explore recordings of musical works in the Naxos Music Library by composers to whom Proust's novel explicitly refers. Each of the galleries below is arranged alphabetically by the last name of the composer for easy reference while reading.
 
 
All those interested in Proust's musical references and his musical world are furthermore encouraged to explore James Connelly's "playlist resource," the online pamphlet entitled Music in Marcel Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu.
 
UB ONLY Most of the recordings linked below are accessible to UB users only. Non-UB users may, however, find a wealth of recorded material of varying quality on sites such as YouTube. At the very bottom of this page, UB users can find links to licensed databases that will help them continue their research.
 

Composers by Last Name: Adam - Beethoven

Le Chalet Cover art

Adam: Le Chalet. Toulon Opera Chorus & Symphony, cond. Tourniaire, 2016

Soloists: Droy, Devos, Rabec, Delobel. Ensemble: Toulon Opera Chorus and Symphony. Conductor: Tourniaire. Recorded on 6-9 September 2016 at the Palais Neptune in Toulon, France. Released 2018. Timpani 1C1242. Complete liner notes to Le Chalet.

Le Postillon de Longjumeau Cover art

Adam: Le Postillon de Longjumeau. Rundfunk Orchester der SWF Kaiserslautern, cond. Arp, 1994

Soloists: Swenson, Coburn, Lika. Ensemble: Rundfunk Orchester der SWF Kaiserslautern. Conductor: Arp. Released 1994. Capriccio C51180.

Fra Diavolo Cover art

D.-F. Auber: Fra Diavolo (excerpts sung in German), Rundfunkchor Berlin & Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, dir. Hauschild, 1975

Soloists: Katterfeld, Termer, Büchner, Neumann, Süß. Ensemble: Rundfunkchor Berlin & Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin. Conductor: Wolf-Dieter Hauschild. Released 1975. Berlin Classics 0021402BC.

Die Kunst der Fuge Cover art

J.S. Bach: Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue), BWV 1080 (arr. for chamber ensemble). Cologne Musica Antiqua, cond. Goebel, 2014

Cologne Musica Antiqua. Conductor: Reinhard Goebel. Released 2014. Deutsche Grammophon 00028944729320.

Goldberg Variations Cover art

J.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. Imai, Maisky, & Rachlin, 2007

Arranged for string trio. Nobuko Imai, Mischa Maisky, & Julian Rachlin, string trio. Released 2007. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947763789.

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9. Berlin Philharmonic, cond. von Karajan Cover art

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9. Berlin Philharmonic, cond. von Karajan, 2008

Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Herbert von Karajan. Released 2008. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947775683.

Beethoven: Piano Sonata no. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, no. 2, Cover art

Beethoven: Piano Sonata no. 14 in C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, no. 2, "Moonlight." Kempff, 2000

Wilhelm Kempff, piano. Released 2000. Deutsche Grammophon 00028946961827.

Beethoven: The Late String Quartets Cover art

Beethoven: The Late String Quartets (Nos. 12-16 & the "Grosse Fuge"). Amadeus Quartet, 2017

Amadeus Quartet. Released 2017. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947986744.

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 7 in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1 Cover art

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 7 in F Major, Op. 59, No. 1, "Rasumovsky." Emerson String Quartet, 2013

Emerson String Quartet. Released 2013. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947914327.

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2 Cover art

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 8 in E Minor, Op. 59, No. 2, "Rasumovsky." Emerson String Quartet, 2013

Emerson String Quartet. Released 2013. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947914327.

Composers by Last Name: Beethoven - Halévy

String Quartet No. 9 in C Major Cover art

Beethoven: String Quartet No. 9 in C Major, Op. 59, No. 3, "Rasumovsky." Emerson String Quartet, 2013

Emerson String Quartet. Released 2013. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947914327.

Symphony No. 6 in F Major Cover art

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68, "Pastoral." Vienna Philharmonic & Dresden Staatskapelle, cond. Böhm, 2009

Vienna Philharmonic & Dresden Staatskapelle, cond. Karl Böhm. Released 2009. Deutsche Grammophon 00028943792820.

Fidelio Cover art

Beethoven: Fidelio. Bavarian State Opera Chorus & Orchestra, dir. Knappertsbusch, 2013.

Soloists: Jurinac, Peerce, Stader. Ensemble: Bavarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Conductor: Hans Knappertsbusch. Released 2013. Deutsche Grammophon 00028948065615.

Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major Cover art

Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9 in A Major, Op. 47, "Kreutzer." Kremer & Argerich, 2005

Gidon Kremer, violin. Martha Argerich, piano. Released 2005. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947672562.

L'enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ) Cover art

Berlioz: L'enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ), Op. 25, Part II, "La fuite en Egypte": Le repos de la Sainte Famille. Alagna, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, cond. de Billy, 2006

Roberto Alagna, tenor. Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, cond. Bertrand de Billy. Released 2006. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947762775.

7 Polonaises Cover art

Chopin: 7 Polonaises, Ops. 26, 40, 44, 53, 61. Pollini, 1998

Maurizio Pollini, piano. Released 1998. Deutsche Grammophon 00028945771120.

24 Preludes Cover art

Chopin: 24 Preludes, Op. 28. Pollini, 1985

Maurizio Pollini, piano. Released 1985. Deutsche Grammophon 00028941379627.

Pelléas et Mélisande Cover art

Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande. Vienna Philharmonic, dir. Abbado, 1992

Soloists: Ewing, Le Roux, van Dam, Courtis, C. Ludwig. Ensemble: Vienna Philharmonic. Conductor: Claudio Abbado. Released 1992. Deutsche Grammophon 00028943534420.

Le secret Cover art

Fauré: Le secret, Op. 23, No. 3. Dietschy, Cassard, 2007

Véronique Dietschy, alto. Philippe Cassard, piano. Released 2007. Universal Classics 00028946548929.

Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major Cover art

Fauré: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A Major, Op. 13. Mutter, Orkis, 2014

Anne-Sophie Mutter, violin. Lambert Orkis, piano. Released 2014. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947929536.

Armide Cover art

Gluck: Armide, Act III: Venez, secondez mes desirs / Odio, furor, dispetto. Petibon, 2008

Patricia Petibon, soprano. Concerto Köln. Conductor: Daniel Harding. Released 2008. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947779803.

La Juive Cover art

Halévy: La Juive. Ambrosian Opera Chorus & Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Almeida, 2016

Soloists: Várady, J. Anderson, Carreras, D. Gonzales, Furlanetto. Ensemble: Ambrosian Opera Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Antonio de Almeida. Released 2016. Decca 00028942019027.

Degas, Cafe Concert

Above: Edgar Degas (1834-1917), The Café Concert (1877), pastel on paper.
 
Image source: Wikiart. Image author: Edgar Degas. Image license: Public domain.
 

Composers by Last Name: Liszt - Rimsky-Korsakov

La reine Topaze Cover art

Massé: La reine Topaze: Carnaval de Venise (Venetian Carnival). Sumi Jo, English Chamber Orchestra, dir. Bonynge, 2006

Sumi Jo, soprano. English Chamber Orchestra, cond. Richard Bonynge. Released 2006. Decca 00028944067927.

Félix Mayol Cover art

Félix Mayol performs "Viens Poupoule," 1932

See video description for complete lyrics.

La belle Hélène Cover art

Offenbach: La belle Hélène (excerpts). Cologne West German Radio Chorus & Orchestra, 2001

Soloists: Cremer, Falk, Froschauer, Geese, Rohde, Steinberg, Stulen, Villiers. Ensemble: Cologne West German Radio Chorus & Orchestra. Released 2001. Capriccio C49304.

Robert le Diable Cover art

Meyerbeer: Robert le Diable. Bratislava Chamber Choir & International Orchestra of Italy, dir. Palumbo, 2000

Soloists: Mok, Ciofi, Surian, Raspagliosi. Ensemble: Bratislava Chamber Choir, International Orchestra of Italy. Conductor: Renato Palumbo. Released 2000. Dynamic CDS368.

Clarinet Quintet in A Major Cover art

Mozart: Clarinet Quintet in A Major, K. 581. de Peyer, Leister, Amadeus Quartet, 1993

Gervase de Peyer, Karl Leister, Amadeus Quartet. Released 1993. Deutsche Grammophon 00028943764629.

Piano Concertos nos. 11, 12,14 Cover art

Mozart: Piano Concertos nos. 11, 12, & 14. Murray Perahia, English Chamber Orchestra, 1987

Murray Perahia, piano. English Chamber Orchestra. Released 1987. Sony Classical 074644224320.

Lesson I for Maundy Thursday Cover art

Palestrina: Lesson I for Maundy Thursday. Oxford Camerata, dir. Summerly, 1992

Oxford Camerata. Conductor: Jeremy Summerly. Released 1992. Naxos 8.550572.

Pièces de Clavecin / Cinq Pièces Cover art

Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin / Cinq Pièces. Cuckston, 1990

Alan Cuckston, piano. Released 1991. Naxos 8.550465.

Scheherazade Cover art

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade. Boston Symphony Orchestra, dir. Ozawa, 2017

Boston Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: Seiji Ozawa. Released 2017. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947986935.

Composers by Last Name: Schumann - Wagner

Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood) Cover art

Schumann: Kinderszenen (Scenes of Childhood), Op. 15. Argerich, 1984

Martha Argerich, piano. Released 1984. Deutsche Grammophon 00028941065322.

2 Balladen Cover art

Schumann: 2 Balladen, Op. 122. Fischer-Dieskau, 2005

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, tenor. Burkhard Kehring, piano. Released 2005. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947753209.

Josephslegende Cover art

Strauss: Josephslegende, Op. 63, TrV 231. Dresden Staatskapelle, dir. Sinopoli, 2005

Dresden Staatskapelle. Conductor: Giuseppe Sinopoli. Released 2005. Deutsche Grammophon 00028946349328.

Salomé Cover art

Strauss: Salomé, Op. 54, TrV 215. Hamburg State Opera Orchestra, dir. Böhm, 1994

Soloists: Jones, Dunn, Fischer-Dieskau, Cassilly, Ochman. Ensemble: Hamburg State Opera Orchestra. Conductor: Karl Böhm. Released 1994. Deutsche Grammophon 00028944531923.

The Firebird and Petrushka Cover art

Stravinsky: The Firebird and Petrushka. Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Cleveland Orchestra, dir. Boulez, 2016

Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Cleveland Orchestra. Conductor: Pierre Boulez. Released 2016. Deutsche Grammophon 00028948271221.

Lohengrin Cover art

Wagner: Lohengrin. Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, dir. Kubelík, 1996

Soloists: King, Janowitz, Jones, Stewart, Ridderbusch. Ensemble: Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (Bavarian Radio Chorus and Symphony). Conductor: Kubelík. Recorded 1996. Deutsche Grammophon 00028944959123.

Parsifal Cover art

Wagner: Parsifal. Vienna State Opera Chorus & Orchestra, dir. Thielemann, 2006

Soloists: Domingo, Meier, Struckmann, Selig, Bankl. Ensemble: Vienna State Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Conductor: Christian Thielemann. Released 2006. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947760061.

Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) Cover art

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). Vienna State Opera Orchestra, dir. Thielemann, 2014

Soloists: Tonca, Reinprecht, Baechle, Schmidt, Eröd. Ensemble: Vienna State Opera Orchestra. Conductor: Christian Thielemann. Released 2014. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947940760.

Tannhäuser Cover art

Wagner: Tannhäuser. Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden & Philharmonia Orchestra, dir. Sinopoli, 2012

Soloists: Salminen, Domingo, Schmidt, Pell, Rydl, Bieber, Hillebrandt, Studer, Baltsa, Bonney. Ensemble: Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Philharmonia Orchestra. Conductor: Giuseppe Sinopoli. Released 2012. Deutsche Grammophon 00028947909224. Complete liner notes to Tannhäuser.

Tristan und Isolde Cover art

Wagner: Tristan und Isolde. Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, dir. Böhm, 1998

Soloists: Nilsson, Windgassen, Ludwig, Talvela, Waechter. Ensemble: Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. Conductor: Karl Böhm. Released 1998. Deutsche Grammophon 00028944977226.

Degas, Dance Class at the Opera

Above: Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Dance Class at the Opéra (1877), oil on canvas.
 
Image source: Wikiart. Image author: Edgar Degas. Image license: Public domain.
 

Music Databases

Naxos logo

NAXOS Music Library

Online recordings of classical, jazz, world and folk musics, with liner notes and other supplementary texts. More Info
Streaming MediaUB ONLY

On the Boards logo

OntheBoards.tv

Provides video-on-demand access to performances in dance, theatre, music and other hard to categorize art forms. More Info
Streaming MediaUB ONLY

Kanopy logo

Kanopy Streaming Service

Videos from major educational film producers. More Info
Streaming MediaUB ONLY