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“No longer alone”: The Union des femmes artistes musiciennes (UFAM), a laboratory for new forms of professional socialisation for women musicians in the early 20th century?

Apolline Gouzi et Arthur Macé
Traduction de Maggie Jones
Cet article est une traduction de :
« Elles ne sont plus seules » : l’Union des femmes artistes musiciennes, laboratoire de nouvelles socialisations professionnelles au début du xxe siècle ? [fr]

Résumé

In response to the economic and symbolic difficulties experienced by women musicians, the Union des femmes artistes musiciennes (UFAM), founded in 1910 by Lucy Tassart, set out to provide financial, medical and legal assistance to its members. This article examines the history of the early years of the UFAM in the light of the notion of socialization, understanding it as an instance of transformation of the uses and representations linked to the profession of musicienne in early-20th century France.

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Texte intégral

We would like to thank Fauve Bougard, Yannaël Pasquier and the anonymous reviewers of this article for their invaluable input.

  • 1 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L.  (...)

We can aid, encourage and make known to the public the – often superb – talents of women workers and musicians not blessed by good fortune from the start. They were isolated, unaided, unsupported and, thus, demoralized.They are no longer alone; they have found a friendly and welcoming family; they have gained access to invaluable guidance, and to medical care in the event of illness. Their weakness has been turned into strength and their sadness into smiles; their faith in life and success is restored… because they are members of the Union des femmes artistes musiciennes1!

  • 2 “Brochure de l’Union des femmes artistes musiciennes”, Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand (BMD), fonds (...)
  • 3 On the subject of careers for women in music, Le Figaro wrote on 11 March 1910, “Here [in this ind (...)
  • 4 “Trésorerie. 1914. Recettes”, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

1Transcribed from a copybook containing the minutes of the general meeting of 15 January 1914, these few lines – beyond being a rhetorical gesture – outline the founding mission of the Union des femmes artistes musiciennes (UFAM - Union of women musician-artists). Created in 1910 by Lucy Tassart and Privat de Séverac, the UFAM aimed, as a later motto phrased it, ‘to offer assistance to women musicians in the most practical form’2 by providing those in need with financial, medical and legal aid. In this way, the UFAM hoped to offset the difficulties of a saturated music market which, according to several articles3 announcing the founding of the UFAM, failed to offer opportunity for the ever-growing number of women aspiring to be professional musicians. In this respect, the work of Tassart and Séverac follows in the footsteps of the Union des femmes professeurs et compositrices de musique (UFPC – Union of women music teachers and composers), an organisation founded in 1907 that also advocated for recognition of the legitimacy of women musicians, teachers and composers. However, the UFAM seems to differ from the UFPC in that its actions were more firmly focused on mutual aid and the creation of interpersonal solidarity. Thus, the UFAM – whose membership had grown to 1,224 by 1914, according to the financial report drawn up the same year4 – saw itself as a substitute “family”, bringing together women who previously had been alone in their struggle to be recognised as legitimate. Perhaps this is how we should understand the family metaphor in the opening quote, as a way out of the prevailing – indeed, structural – disunity, so that women musicians would be “no longer alone”.

  • 5 Darmon Muriel, La Socialisation, Paris, Armand Colin, coll. 128, 2007, p. 6.
  • 6 The aim here is to use these notions, not as concepts to be applied literally, but as prisms for i (...)
  • 7 Darmon Muriel, La Socialisation, p. 9.

2If, as its president’s words reflect, the UFAM saw itself as a substitute family, then it seems reasonable to consider it, like any family, as an agent of socialisation. We propose herein to read the history of the UFAM’s early years through the prism of the notion of socialisation, as established by the sociological tradition, i.e., the “way[s] in which society shapes and transforms individuals”5. This paper shall not attempt to offer a study of sociability among the UFAM’s members, but rather to consider the UFAM in light of the forms of socialisation6 that it orchestrated. It may be useful here to recall the distinction commonly made between primary socialisation – the nuclear family and school, i.e. what conditions the individual during their first years – and secondary socialisation – i.e. all of the agents (individuals, social groups, institutions) that play a part in their subsequent conditioning7. As an organisation serving women who were already active or aspiring professional musicians, the UFAM falls into this second category.

3This raises the question of what ideal, or ideals, the leaders of the UFAM saw their organisation as serving, in its aim of being a transformative force for its members. Can philanthropy be understood as a specific way of affecting the individuals it seeks to help? In the case of the UFAM, we will examine the dynamics with regard to its members’ bodies and their performance, in the broad sense of the word, both on stage and in society. In this sense, the UFAM saw itself as a laboratory, a testing ground for both its leaders and its members.

  • 8 AN, sous-série F21; AN 19910855/20; AN 19860731/48.
  • 9 BMD, DOS 780 UNI, 091-TAS, fonds Jane Misme.
  • 10 In October 2021, five boxes of non-inventoried documents were found on the premises of the Associa (...)
  • 11 The concerts organized by the UFAM from 1911 to 1939 are the subject of a dossier in the Dezède da (...)
  • 12 It is worth noting, as shown by Nancy B. Reich in 1993, the history of women musicians tends to be (...)

4There is no single collection of UFAM archives; they are divided between the Archives nationales8, the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand9, and the Paris Conservatory10, where a number of unclassified documents were recently discovered. Our study drew on several types of sources: dozens of newspaper headlines, analysed by keyword; private correspondence; and above all, administrative documents. This final category (president’s reports, minutes from general meetings, speeches, budgets, etc.) makes up the main material for our study11. Naturally, this corpus of scattered sources allows us to reconstruct only a partial history of the UFAM, that of its leaders, i.e. the authors of almost all the records available to us, and therefore can offer only a situated account of the events. The anaphoric “they” in the opening quote certainly refers to the UFAM’s quantitative majority – its female members, numbering 1,224 in 1914 – but is also, paradoxically, an indeterminate group, difficult for historians to define. Of the women musicians who were members of the UFAM, almost all anonymous, the only traces that remain are a few letters, offering scant information on their experiences12.

  • 13 Several studies have paved the way in this field, making historical and methodological contributio (...)
  • 14 Here we note the collective book edited by Christian Topalov, Philanthropes en 1900. London, New-Y (...)

5Historical studies on women musicians, collectively, as a social group, are still rare. Most of the historical and musicological research devoted to women is concerned with individual careers and tends to focus on the composition and reception of works, espousing the codes of the composer monograph genre. While existing research often highlights key figures, it leaves little room to the – indistinct – collective body of women musicians, and tends to obscure those not exclusively dedicated to composition (e.g. performers, teachers, administrators, etc.). There have been very few studies on the material living conditions of women musicians in recent centuries, or on dynamics running through the history of women working in music13. However, with regard to the history of work and professional solidarity, there is research offering insight into the philanthropic paradigm adhered to by the UFAM14.

Organising relief

  • 15 Victor Courbouleix was Chairman of the Board of Gil Blas.
  • 16 Jules Tassart was appointed Vice-President of the Paris Court of Appeal in 1906. He was made a Kni (...)
  • 17 In the press of the day, we found 157 mentions of Lucy Tassart’s presence at various salons over t (...)
  • 18 “Mondanités”, Le Gaulois, 27 mars 1875, p. 2.
  • 19 Beyond raising political awareness, Marie Rôze seems to have provided her students with aid simila (...)
  • 20 Tassart Lucy, “La femme dans les sports modernes”, La Revue : ancienne Revue des revues, 1er janvi (...)
  • 21 On the topic of the International Women’s Congress, see in particular Rasmussen Anne, “Les Congrès (...)
  • 22 Bard Christine (dir.), Les féministes de la première vague, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Renn (...)

6The reasons for the founding of the UFAM are closely related to the evolution of its president, Lucy Tassart (1863-1946). Lucy Tassart, the daughter of a society journalist15 and the wife of an influential magistrate16, made a name for herself in the 1890s as a society singer at various Parisian salons, frequenting the capital’s political, financial and artistic elites17. Her first encounter with the soprano Marie Rôze, an opera star, can be dated to 189518. Rôze, who appears to have been Tassart’s singing teacher, helped Tassart develop her network in the music world, and raised her awareness of the economic hardship faced by most young women musicians19. The year 1900 seems to mark a feminist turning point in the life of Lucy Tassart. In January, she published a pamphlet calling for equal opportunity in the professional world20 and attended conferences given by German and English suffragettes at the International Council of Women held in Paris21. She made friends with a number of leading feminists, including Baroness Hélène Brault, a feminist writer and patron of the arts, and Marguerite Durand, then on her way to becoming a leading figure in the French feminist movement22.

  • 23 “Secrétariat général”, Recueil des actes administratifs de la Préfecture du département de la Sein (...)
  • 24 The official founder of the UFAM is Privât de Sévérac, a society composer and conductor involved i (...)
  • 25 Founded by journalist and activist Marguerite Durand in 1897, La Fronde was the first newspaper to (...)
  • 26 This contributed to the UFAM quickly obtaining the status of a charity “recognized in the public i (...)
  • 27 The UFAM honorary committee included notables such as Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Dubois, Lenepveu, Fau (...)

7Lucy Tassart founded the UFAM on 9 February 191023 and, to run her organisation, surrounded herself with women from a wide range of backgrounds24. The UFAM’s governing bodies included renowned opera singers (Marie Rôze, Julia Guiraudon, Rose Féart), who brought the UFAM and its activities visibility in the music world and helped connect its members with potential employers; as well as salon singers (Gabrielle Girardeau, Laure Bourdeney, Marie Bontoux, and of course Lucy Tassart herself). Along with these musicians, the organisation brought on board “charity professionals” (Félicie de Baillehache, Hélène Brault), who were able to bring the UFAM to the attention of potential patrons. Beyond the Board, the nerve centre of the organisation, a number of figures helped make the UFAM visible in spheres other than music or charity. Lucy Tassart’s friendship with Marguerite Durand, for example, allowed her to make the UFAM’s actions known in feminist circles (notably via the newspaper run by Marguerite Durand, La Fronde25). In the legal arena, the influence of Jules Tassart, Vice-President of the Paris Court of Appeal, and Eugène Balliman, the lawyer husband of Marie Bontoux, proved invaluable. Ernest Caron, Gabrielle Girardeau’s husband and a Paris Councillor, likely assisted the UFAM with its application for municipal grants26. Julia Guiraudon, who was married to Henri Cain and premiered operas by Jules Massenet, was instrumental in bringing Lucy Tassart the support of many leading figures in the music world27.

  • 28 Bunzel Anja and Loges Natasha (dir.), Musical Salon culture in the Long Nineteenth century, Woodbr (...)
  • 29 Fayet-Scribe Sylvie, Associations féminines et catholicisme. De la charité à l’action sociale xixe(...)

8In short, around Lucy Tassart formed a web of influential figures from or connected with key Parisian spheres (music, charity, law, politics), playing an important role in the UFAM’s visibility and funding. This network developed in a particular collective context. The members of the Board and their inner circles shared a set of customs and practices specific to salon culture28: the UFAM’s first activities – social gatherings, teas and cotillions – can be seen as charitable events in which the ideals of Catholic charity, artistic patronage and women’s charitable practices all feature, without necessarily overlapping29.

9At the time of its founding, the UFAM structured its actions around five pillars:

  1. Creation of a relief fund to provide members with immediate financial assistance
  2. Allocation of rent allowances every three months
  3. Allocation of allowances for retreats in the countryside
  4. Legal assistance in the event of a dispute with an employer
  5. Medical assistance
  • 30 The Association des artistes musiciens is currently the subject of a research project at IREMUS. R (...)
  • 31 The creation of women’s professional unions was not limited to the field of music. One example is (...)
  • 32 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. (...)

10These forms of aid were not new: also based on the principle of mutual aid, Baron Taylor’s Association des artistes musiciens (Association of musician-artists) was already offering similar forms of assistance in the mid-19th century, as were most orphéonique societies30. In the early 20th century, there were also many professional unions based on the principles of mutual aid31. However, the UFAM set up other forms of aid that seem to respond directly to the difficulties encountered by women musicians. The first example is the UFAM’s creation of a shared wardrobe, the need for which its leaders explain: “Members do not always have evening gowns that – dare I say – fit the bill”32. In 1914, the UFAM also opened a music studio – a place for rehearsals and meetings, where members could socialise and perform each week in front of an audience of theatre managers and socialites. A final example is the UFAM Orchestra and Choirs created on the eve of World War I, which counted up to 250 singers and instrumentalists, all female members of the Union.

11In 1910, the UFAM’s articles of association defined three categories of membership: bienfaiteurs, for wealthy patrons; sociétaires, for musicians who had established themselves in the professional world; and adhérentes, for musicians in need. The last two categories were exclusively for women, to encourage gender solidarity that would transcend class differences.

12In short, the UFAM was an innovative and hybrid organisation – part charity, part association, part trade union – born from the convergence of individual life trajectories, of opera singers, feminists, patrons of the arts and socialites joining forces around a central figure, Lucy Tassart, and developing in the collective space of the salon.

“The poor wandering cicadas”33: views of the “typical” woman musician

  • 33 Vialatte Raymond, “Pour des cigales”, Le Figaro, 11 mars 1910, p. 1.
  • 34 In 1910 alone, the year the UFAM was founded, at least four articles in various newspapers (Le Fig (...)

13From the founding of the UFAM, animal metaphors for women musicians are a recurring theme in both the rhetoric of its leaders and members34 and in commentary by journalists. Depicted as an improvident creature at the mercy the slightest misfortune, the typical UFAM member is likened to the fabled cicada.

  • 35 Vialatte Raymond, Ibid. Painting a less pitiful picture than this depiction by Vialatte, a journal (...)

How many cicadas, young or seasoned, who go about the world singing their cheerful refrain while their hearts run over with sadness. There are those within our circles in Paris, and in the provinces, whose talent is but an enviable façade behind which lie terrible woes. There are all the poor wandering cicadas, the fallen opera singers, the obscure choristers or instrumentalists, their journey dictated by misfortune, who drift from place land to place, their lives endlessly tossed about, and who dream in vain of finding a solid landing. To all these wounded birds, battered by the storm, the “Union des femmes artistes musiciennes” has come to extend a helping hand, and means to offer them a safe haven35.

  • 36 For a genealogy of the connotations associated with the figure of the cicada in music, see McDonal (...)

14It is worth considering several underlying references at play here. First, there is the explicit reference to La Fontaine’s fable, alluded to here in the tone of a Catholic morality tale: in a “more merciful” version of the fabled ant, the UFAM does not turn away the short-sighted cicada, but rather provides it with the means to survive. Also of note, however, are the multiple webs of meaning associated with the cicada since the Renaissance, particularly in the field of music36. As an erotic reference, the cicada is an ambiguous figure, tinging the notion of the typical UFAM member with potential connotations. Offering refuge to women musicians in need also means keeping them away from the spectre of prostitution.

15Thus, the forms of aid set up by the UFAM’s leaders were designed as means of transforming the members, whether with clothing as a way of reforming their physical appearance, or by creating workplaces and meeting places that gave them a new social circle. With this focus on transformation, one can imagine that the UFAM was seeking to offset the forms of socialisation characteristic of what might be described as the typical profile of a woman musician in the early 20th century.

16It is clearly impossible to define a single profile that would cover the whole range of occupations practised by women musicians and the intricacies of their social statuses. Nevertheless, we can identify several common characteristics: the socialisation of women musician’s is embedded in discourse and representations, embodied in individuals’ bodies. The aim here is to reconstruct these forms of socialisation, drawing on sources that describe, attest to, or even forbid certain practices, such as institutional regulations and guides to manners and politeness.

  • 37 Monnot Catherine, De la harpe au trombone. Apprentissage instrumental et construction du genre, Re (...)
  • 38 Reich Nancy B., “Women as Musicians”, p. 135 : “Nominally, in most schools, women could study any (...)
  • 39 Pistone Danièle cited by Rousselin-Lacombe Anne, “Piano et pianistes”, La Musique en France à l’ép (...)
  • 40 The pairing, almost always side by side, of the terms “housewife” or “homemaker” (femme d’intérieu (...)

17The places in which the women musicians circulated and spent time were undoubtedly the first agents of their socialisation. Here, a distinction must be made between private and public places, with the understanding that, at the turn of the century, women were mainly confined to the former. A sedentary lifestyle was characteristic of women’s musical practice, indeed, dictated by the instruments they played37. As Nancy Reich explains, “While, in theory, women could study any discipline at most [music] schools, in reality (…) they were limited to voice, piano and harp38”. Moreover, we know that amateur and domestic musical practices were – flagrantly – predominantly female. Indeed, learning to play the instrument, for pleasure, was considered an integral part of a women’s education. Danièle Pistone has hypothesized that in the mid-19th century, three quarters of amateur pianists would have been women39. Feminine sedentariness is celebrated as a natural and moral value and, as such, a matrimonial quality. It is not insignificant that, in matrimonial advertisements, the terms “housewife” and “musician” were often found together in the list of qualities attributed to marriageable young women40.

  • 41 Marquié Hélène, “‘Le prestige de l’Opéra couvre tout’. Les coulisses de la danse à l’Opéra Garnier (...)
  • 42 Tailleferre Germaine, “Mémoires à l’emporte-pièce”, in Robert Frédéric (dir.), La Revue internatio (...)

18In sum, a sedentary life – the “virtue” of a good housewife and, doubly so, of a respectable female instrumentalist – can be seen as society’s distrust of the public display of women musicians. Central to these societal qualms is the proximity between the world of the stage and prostitution, leading fathers and husbands to fear that the morals of their daughters and wives would be compromised by contact with the stage41. As Germaine Tailleferre’s father opined, “For my daughter, going to the Conservatory or working a street corner in Saint-Michel is the same”42. Most of the period guidebooks for girls – and their families – on possible career paths for women after compulsory schooling make a similar observation. In no uncertain terms, the author underscores the dubious nature of musical careers and their discordance with the expected place of young girls in society:

  • 43 De Donville François, Guide pour le choix d’une profession, à l’usage des jeunes filles : les prof (...)

[Artistic] careers [are] the most appealing to many young women. […] But in all of these careers, it cannot be denied that there are many hopefuls and few who are chosen. Young women tend to forget that an admirable amateur talent carries far less weight when it comes to making a living out of it. To secure a place in the arts that is not only honourable but also lucrative requires a great deal of natural talent, a great deal of training, and above all… a great deal of luck. It is true that by determinedly using her talent, whether in a modest teaching position or in certain branches of the industry, a woman can manage to support herself, or at least to supplement her income a bit. The key here, as in so many other situations, is to know one’s worth. […] For young girls in particular, this type of career is risqué. They run all sorts of risks, and once they have set down this path, it is difficult to change course. Even the most brilliant and acclaimed often regret their choice. And what of those who do not achieve glory or even a make a modest name for themselves43?

  • 44 Pouradier Maud, “La musique disciplinée. Le contrôle de la musique dans les conservatoires françai (...)
  • 45 Examples include the following guides: Juranville Clarisse and Berger Pauline, La civilité des pet (...)

19The spaces frequented by the young women musicians also played a part in their socialisation. First and foremost were the components of their education, including – to varying degrees for each individual – the family circle, school and the conservatory, and perhaps religious institutions. These spaces involved gendered agents of socialisation, sometimes due to parameters made explicit in the rules. At the Paris Conservatory, for example, in the early 19th century, there were separate entrances for men and women, so as not to distract the musicians from learning the art of music44. While these agents of socialisation were also described in guides to good manners and other treatises aimed at regulating individual comportment45, others remained implicit and matters of custom. Musical workplaces – whether a stage, a salon or a place where one taught – were also determined by gendered practices.

  • 46 On this topic, see the seminal book by Hoffmann Freia, Instrument und Körper: die musizierende Fra (...)
  • 47 With regard to cello playing, this passage is of note: “Not many women play cello; we have never r (...)
  • 48 “Une leçon de harpe”, Musica : publication mensuelle, no. 18, Paris, mars 1904, p. 280.
  • 49 “Les positions du violoniste”, Musica : publication mensuelle, no. 3, Paris, décembre 1902, p. 37.
  • 50 Laura Hamer compares the cases of Jane Evrard and Nadia Boulanger: while the former cultivated a s (...)
  • 51 Sendra Frédérick, “Notions de féminité et de masculinité dans le jeu pianistique français des anné (...)
  • 52 Cheng William, “Hearts for Sale: The French Romance and the Sexual Traffic of Musical Mimicry”, 19 (...)
  • 53 By way of example, the following scores are representative of the vast corpus of literature: Van G (...)

20In the actual making of music, specific gendered behaviours were determined first, as noted above, by the type of instruments played by women musicians, and then conditioned by control of women’s bodies. For example, wearing a corset – an object designed to prevent unseemly posture – ruled out certain instruments, corroborating the bodily discipline described in guides on good manners. The periodical Musica contains descriptions of “good” and “bad” posture adopted by women musicians, posture in fact imposed by the cast of the corset. The supposed physical inability of women to play certain instruments was also a common observation46, derived in part from these constraints in women’s dress, e.g. in these sources on playing the cello47, harp48 or piano49. The way in which women displayed and controlled their bodies when playing their instruments was thus a determining factor in their secondary socialisation. Their clothing, generally caught up in a tension between androgyny and ultra-glamour, also played into the gendered presentation of a professional woman musician’s body, as Laura Hamer has discussed50. Finally, in conservatories, where the required pieces for entrance exams were not necessarily the same for men and women51, on theatre stages, and even in their homes, women musicians played specific repertoires and were relegated to certain genres, such as romance. William Cheng shows how romance was conceived and promoted as a vehicle for transmitting certain values to women, or more precisely, how romance was meant to endorse what were considered the ontological qualities of women52 (naivety, discreetness, faithfulness and contained sensitivity). This gendered discrimination in the repertoire also reflected a commercial strategy, targeting a specific readership, e.g. publishers’ catalogues featured songs “for young girls”53.

  • 54 Between 12 March and 24 May 1910, shortly after the UFAM was founded, twenty press publications (L (...)

21To complete this picture, there is another factor to consider here, one mentioned frequently in the press at the time the UFAM was founded54. The market for young women musicians was highly competitive.

  • 55 D’Anjou René, “Les belles œuvres féminines sociales”, Le Petit Écho de la Mode, 19 mars 1911, p. 1 (...)
  • 56 “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 15 avril 1910, p. 217.

How many women who have sacrificed their youth to pursue an art demanding years of hard work find themselves deprived of engagements, lessons or paid performances simply because the market is saturated? With candidates far outnumbering opportunities, the competition is fierce in every professional branch of music, whether in theatres, concerts, salons or teaching. The Union des Femmes artistes musiciennes was created55 to help remedy this hardship.
Struck by all of the hazards faced by their sisters in artistic professions, a group of women benefactors have founded the Union des femmes artistes-musiciennes. It seems there is no labour market more saturated [than that for women musicians]. The struggle for life [in this profession] is particularly harsh56.

  • 57 The situation of women orchestra musicians in the early 20th century has been documented by a musi (...)
  • 58 Reich Nancy B., “Women as Musicians”, p. 136 : a conservatory diploma was a prize that could be an (...)

22These excerpts are pointing to a specific problem, i.e. that while a growing number of women musicians were being trained at music institutions (conservatories or private classes), employment opportunities in their field remained very limited – particularly for instrumentalists. This observation must be qualified, however, in that describing any artistic labour as saturated is a statement of the obvious. Nevertheless, while this narrative was topical, it nonetheless reflected a factual inequality in the market: few, if any, positions in orchestras were open to women musicians57. One must also keep in mind that the gap between the artistic education of women and the corresponding labour market was linked to the existence of a parallel market: “a diploma in music studies was a prize that could be an asset on the matrimonial market58”. The apparent lack of correlation between accomplished musical training and a career in music is therefore relative.

  • 59 “Rapport moral 1920 par Madame Albert Dufour, secrétaire générale”, 2 mars 1921, BMD, fonds Jane M (...)

23One could imagine that the UFAM saw extreme competition in the labour market as one of the reasons for the disunity – and for some, social and professional isolation – among women musicians. The bookend cases of young women musicians newly graduated from conservatories and struggling to find jobs and, and of older women artists no longer able to find work, are both clearly mentioned in the minutes of the general meetings59. The UFAM’s approach to its members’ bodies – and therefore their needs – must be understood in the light of this dual focus. Specific measures were implemented, including the creation of meeting places where women musicians could gather and socialise, and in the 1930s, the creation of a retirement home for elderly women musicians.

  • 60 Jann Pasler discusses this subject in “Challenging the boundaries of gender, class and nation: Fem (...)
  • 61 Daubresse Mathilde, Ibid.

24Our attempt here to paint in broad strokes the profile of a “typical” woman musician offers certain basic insights. The many parameters involved in the musical training of women – which were all forms of socialisation – played into a particular way in which women’s work in music was regarded in the early 20th century, i.e. its status. Women’s professional development was hampered by physical and material constraints, as well as by moral pressures exerted by primary (family) and secondary (educational institutions, workplaces, etc.) agents of socialisation. The saturated labour market described by the UFAM was a function of these forms of socialisation: more and more women wanted a career in music, but their entry into the industry was contested60. Mathilde Daubresse describes this dynamic in the context of orchestras in 1914, based on the assumptions that women had less physical stamina, that musical professions were too difficult, and the idea that women playing instruments was less pleasing to the eye [than men]61. All of these arguments can be read as consequences – rather than causes – of different facets of gendered socialisation. In the context of the UFAM, if the career development of women musicians in need was the avowed mission of its leaders, what measures were put in place to overcome these constraints? How did the UFAM’s Board plan to counter the effects of these socialisation dynamics?

“So that then the cicadas may help each other”62: the UFAM as a secondary agent of socialisation

  • 62 “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 1er juillet 1910, p. 368.

25The UFAM’s response to the problems faced by its members was twofold: it first offered financial support, meant to offer immediate relief for the economic hardship faced by many women musicians (emergency funds, rent allowances, etc.). This support was also seen as a means of promoting emancipation, by allowing members to devote themselves fully to their work as musicians. The assertions of the UFAM leaders also reflect their desire to strengthen, in both word and deed, the legitimacy of women musicians as artistic professionals. In this respect, the UFAM’s support was also meant to be symbolic. The opening quote of this article is a perfect illustration of this aspiration. Indeed, the aim of enabling transformation is reflected in the UFAM’s creation of spaces outside the institutions (primary socialisation agents) described above, in what can be seen as an attempt to create new forms of socialisation.

  • 63 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L.  (...)
  • 64 The studio was set up in the workshop of Victor Charpentier, brother of the composer Gustave Charp (...)

26In this regard, the UFAM’s first actions can be seen as ways of remedying the sedentariness described as consubstantial with the primary socialisation of a “typical” woman musician. As the 1913 president’s report explains, “We want to bring our women musicians together, to teach them to know and to help each other”.63 To this end, the UFAM opened a music studio in Paris in 191464 with a twofold aim: to give its members the opportunity, one, to get to know each other and, two, to perform in front of an audience of potential patrons and impresarios.

  • 65 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. (...)

We have leased a space in master Charpentier’s workshop on Rue des Martyrs. It is a place where members can meet, from novices to seasoned professional women musicians, where friendships can be forged and where orchestras can fill their ranks. In the calm ambiance of this large studio, we offer our members tea on Saturdays – a time of rest and leisure for them, a mental and physical break65.

  • 66 Chapman Mary, Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and U.S. Modernism, Oxford, Oxford (...)

27This description by the UFAM’s leaders of the Saturday tea as a “mental and physical break” points to its role as both a place to gather and mingle for those without other opportunities to meet their peers, and a haven from the worries and stresses of their profession. For our context here, it is also interesting to note that choosing to call these weekly gatherings “UFAM teas” was significant as, in the feminist world, a tea party would have been associated with those organised by American and British suffragettes starting in the 19th century66. In first wave feminist movements, a “tea” was an ambivalent gathering and space, calling mind a highly codified agent of gendered socialisation, associated with the salon, while also referring to an underground meeting place for militants. This dual legacy was surely an influence in the “UFAM teas”, insofar as Lucy Tassart certainly would have been aware of this double meaning of the term tea parties, given her ties to militant Anglo-Saxon feminist circles.

28In short, the UFAM provided its members with what can be considered a secondary agent of socialisation by creating a space where women musicians could meet and talk freely, in what was, moreover, a socially acceptable context, since it was run by a charitable association. Thus, the studio can be seen as a space whose functions link to two potentially antagonistic models: feminist militancy and society charity.

29The UFAM studio was not just a meeting place; it was also a concert venue where members occasionally performed:

  • 67 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. (...)

While some sat and enjoyed a moment of leisure, others spontaneously performed, to the delight of the audience, sometimes accompanied by the masters of modern music67.

  • 68 The first mention of this Conservatory, about which little is known, was in Le Populaire du 13 nov (...)

30The spontaneity of these performances is, of course, relative, as the studio was also a potential recruitment agency, and the audience was made up primarily of socialites from Tassart’s circle. This points to an interesting parallel between musical performance in the studio and musical performance in salons, the milieu from which most UFAM board members came. It is difficult to say how the UFAM members and leaders evolved in this space, as the only sources we have are the inserts announcing these meetings in the press. However, the studio can be seen as one of the UFAM actions set up to transform women musicians, with the informal performances that took place offering an opportunity for the UFAM leaders to rectify their members’ habitus. The advice given to the younger women musicians by older, more experienced UFAM members during the tea, either after or before the performance, could contribute to their artistic development. But in addition to allowing them to practice and hone their performance skills, the studio facilitated solidarity between musicians of different generations and backgrounds, in what became, albeit artificially, an agent of new, single-gender socialisation. Moreover, in 1923, the UFAM studio experience was extended with the founding the UFAM’s Conservatory, whose staff of female teachers was recruited from among its members68.

  • 69 “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 1er juillet 1910, p. 368.

31This brings us to a sentence by Françoise, a journalist for Fémina, employing the cicada metaphor mentioned above: “Let us lend a hand to the cicadas, so that then the cicadas may help each other and be saved”69.

  • 70 The orchestra’s first public performances provoked strong reactions, as illustrated by the followi (...)

32The UFAM Orchestra and Choirs, created just before the studio was inaugurated, was the other component of the mutual aid policy spearheaded by Lucy Tassart. This orchestra made up of almost 250 female members, sometimes joined by male extras, seems to have been created initially to perform at gala events. After an acclaimed debut70, what started as a circumstantial ensemble appears to have been set up as a regular orchestra: from 1911 to 1939, the UFAM gave almost 80 choral-symphonic concerts, most at the Salle Gaveau. These concerts were the UFAM’s main source of income – especially during the interwar period – but also its main item of expenditure, as can be seen from a handwritten note on the 1932 budget:

  • 71 Note manuscrite sur le budget 1932 de l’UFAM, AAEC, sans cote.

Most of the concert costs are made up of the fees (between 50 and100 F) paid to the artists of the orchestra and choirs (all female members and highly motivated)71.

  • 72 “Rapport moral 1936”, 13 mai 1937, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

33The UFAM’s organised effort to help women musicians find employment was not limited to the closed circuit of concerts just described. “The Union is delighted to act as an impresario72”, states a president’s report from 1936. If the minutes from the general meetings are to be believed, members of the UFAM were employed in a wide range of places, from salons to theatres and casinos, as well as in teaching positions.

34In response to the “saturated” labour market and employers’ reluctance to hire female musicians, the UFAM took two approaches: first, it organised the work of female musicians for their own benefit; and second, acting as an agent, it “placed” its members with a wide range of employers.

35This lobbying role assumed by the UFAM can be seen as an attempt to gradually gain ground in the public arena – and thereby to emancipate musicians from their primary socialisation – whether by creation meeting spaces, through public concerts, or thanks to performances by the UFAM Orchestra. In short, the aim was to put members on the stage, both by reforming their performance hexis and thanks to the moral backing that the charitable nature of the Union afforded them. The UFAM’s actions can also be seen as a way of legitimising instrument playing – especially those considered to be masculine (the winds and low strings in particular).

  • 73 Brancour René, “Concerts divers”, Le Ménestrel, 29 avril 1921, p. 187.

The string instruments were held by young girls dressed in white, which made for a charming sight. One was even playing the double bass, although the rest of these majestic monuments were naturally played by members of the stronger sex. A female flautist also illustrated the advances in musical feminism73.

36Combating the isolation of women musicians involved more than creating meeting places; one can imagine that to foster relationships between female musicians, the UFAM intervened, consciously or unconsciously, by countering the competition generated by the saturated labour market with an education in solidarity and mutual aid. The UFAM’s communal wardrobe is the most obvious form of the pooling of goods between members in need, established members and benefactors (the latter being in the best position to provide “nice clothing” for the most destitute, thus contributing to their reform). Similarly, the sharing of work facilitated by the UFAM, acting as its members’ “impresario”, could be seen as a pooling of opportunity in the market. It is interesting to note that the donation of clothing, like the studio, was a means of transforming the women musicians – in this case, transforming their appearance on stage, the first objective being to make sure that the artists’ clothing did not suggest or betray their economic hardship. This can also be seen as a way for the dominant class (to which the UFAM’s leaders belonged) to get members from less affluent backgrounds to adopt certain social habits, a transaction exercised using the tools of charity.

  • 74 Following the death of a former benefactor, Madame Parise, the UFAM was bequeathed an old house in (...)

37Lastly, the project of creating a retirement home74 – envisaged from the start of the UFAM but completed only in 1933 – responded to another systemic problem affecting female musicians, that of caring for those who could no longer work. In this way, the UFAM offered a two-fold response to the supposed problems of its members. The first, a socio-economic solution, was to find work for young members; and the second was to allow elderly members to find a suitable rest home.

  • 75 Rennes Juliette, Le mérite et la nature. Une controverse républicaine : la mixité des professions (...)
  • 76 Ibid., p. 171.

38It has been observed that, around the turn of the century, there was an attempt to restrict women’s work in music, justified in part by an ontological argument: an alleged natural inability of women to make music their profession. Given Lucy Tassart’s affinity with feminist circles, and her close association with Marguerite Durand, one might imagine that the UFAM worked to discredit this deterministic view, to disprove it as certain contemporary feminist activists sought to do75. This is not the case, however; rather, the members of the Board simply noted the social effects that affected the body of women musicians. In fact, as Juliette Rennes has discussed, the ontological question has sociological implications: “feminine nature” becomes a “social fact”76 when opponents of women working see women’s lesser social power as the result of ontological determinism, rather than the effect.

Uncertain transformation

39The assertions of the UFAM’s leaders – which, along with the press, are the main source of information on the Union – suggest a trajectory in its mission: an attempt to emancipate women musicians from the confines of their primary socialisation by setting up systems that fostered professional and interpersonal solidarity. However, keeping in mind the nature of the sources, it is important to be cautious about the picture they paint: the above account mainly reflects the leaders’ intentions and is not based on facts. Regardless of the generally laudatory statements made by the Union’s board, it is hard to say how effective the UFAM was in actually improving the lives of its members. Also important to keep in mind is the conspicuous silence of UFAM members in the sources, which may suggest distance between them and the leaders, and therefore from the decisions affecting them. The absence of members’ input in the archive adds to an indistinctness in the way UFAM leaders refer to women musicians, i.e. the sense that UFAM members were not seen as individuals but as an indistinct, anonymous demographic. Because the members left no trace in the sources, the success of the UFAM’s agenda can be neither confirmed or denied: it is not known whether transformation occurred for its members, or, more precisely, for the dispositions resulting from their primary socialisation. Nevertheless, based on the sources at hand, we can say that, while it was not able to radically overturn the attitudes and representations affecting women musicians, the UFAM did succeed in setting up schemes conducive to the emergence of new practices, especially new forms of professional solidarity.

40In the UFAM’s chronology, we note a fork in the road that adds to the uncertainty around the initial aim of transformation set out by Lucy Tassart. During the interwar period, there was a gradual shift away from the Board’s top priorities – providing financial and moral support to members – in favour of other activities. Between the world wars, helping members to find work became the UFAM’s primary focus. Without abandoning its direct financial, legal or medical assistance, nor the goal of creating a retirement home (which, once completed, would benefit only a few members), after 1918, relief was no longer the UFAM leaders’ central focus.

  • 77 “Concours international de musique et de declamation”, Le Matin, 14 octobre 1942, p. 2.

41This new direction, perceptible in actions, can also be seen in the rhetoric used by the Board – whose members were all replaced in the 1920s and 1930s, with the exception of Lucy Tassart, who remained president of the UFAM until her death in 1946. The ideal of emancipating women musicians, central in the Board’s stated mission when the UFAM was founded, seems to have faded in favour of another ideal: that of serving “art through charity”. Departing from its initial model as a mutual aid society, the UFAM adopted a model closer to that of concert companies. The women-only approach that had set the UFAM apart in its early days was abandoned when, in 1942, the Union opened up its annual competition to promote young female talents, to men.77. This change can be explained by a number of factors. The most obvious is the significant expansion of its membership, which ultimately led the Board to replace direct support (the common relief fund and rent allowances) with indirect support in the form of performance fees (i.e. work), usually paid by a third party (the employer), which undermined the horizontal solidarity on which the UFAM’s initial economic model was based. The new Board also contributed to the shift in the UFAM’s policy: the appointment of non-musician charity professionals to the Board after 1918 probably helped to influence its move towards a more traditional charity model, further widening the distance between directors and members. The closeness fostered by the studio – last mentioned in the sources in 1918 – was replaced by the remoteness of a form of patronage.

  • 78 The Bourdieusian notion of habitus is defined by Muriel Darmon as “the inertia of acquired disposi (...)
  • 79 Topalov Christian (dir.), Laboratoires du nouveau siècle. La nébuleuse réformatrice et ses réseaux (...)

42In this respect, the new direction described above could be seen as a form of hysteresis of habitus78. At the time of its founding, the UFAM had a strong distinguishing characteristic: it was not based on a solely vertical relationship between leaders and members. In contrast to the top-down model of charity as it was mostly practised in society circles79, Lucy Tassart sought to facilitate solidarity between musicians and for their exclusive benefit. During the interwar period, the UFAM’s shift in focus from women’s solidarity to charitable art, and the abandonment of its women-only model (and, by extension, the subversive potential of Tassart’s initial ideas) all indicate a sharp return of the leaders’ habitus. In one regard, the primary socialisation of the UFAM’s leaders – all of whom came from the upper bourgeoisie or the aristocracy – seems to have kept them from conceiving and fully realising the transformation they seemed to want for their members.

Conclusion

43The creation of the UFAM can be seen as a response to a number of economic and symbolic ills affecting women musicians in the early 20th century: a saturated market, low social recognition, a tendency to be socially and professionally isolated, moral obstacles, etc. These ills were reflected in practices and representations that we have defined as a form of gendered socialisation: young female musicians embodied certain dispositions associated with instrumental playing, repertoire, and especially the conditions in which they made music. As we have seen, the sedentary lifestyle and seclusion of women musicians in the early 20th century can be considered systemic.

  • 80 The UFAM was officially dissolved by a decree dated 13 May 2016. After World War II and until its (...)

44The aid schemes set up by Lucy Tassart – from “horizontal” aid (the relief fund) and places to gather (the studio) and rest (the retirement home), to collective work (the orchestra) and the pooling of goods (the collective wardrobe) – were all responses to the problems we have described. The UFAM can be seen as a testing ground for new forms of socialisation, in the sense that these schemes were experimental in nature; and our only information on their success are the (laudatory) accounts of those who orchestrated them. While these schemes undoubtedly contributed to the emancipation of women musicians as envisaged by Lucy Tassart, and did so over time and in spaces that most certainly surpassed the UFAM’s existence, we can only hope that one day we will discover the testimonies of those who benefited from these schemes, in order to measure more accurately their true impact80.

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Bougard Fauve, “L’ascension des femmes vers les classes de composition : le cas du Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles au xixe siècle”, in Storino Mariateresa and Wollenberg Susan (eds), Women Composers in New Perspectives, 1800-1950: Genres, Contexts and Repertoires, Brepols, Turnhout, 2023, ch. 6.

Brodiez Axelle, Combattre la pauvreté. Vulnérabilités sociales et sanitaires de 1880 à nos jours, Paris, Éditions du CNRS, 2013.

Bunzel Anja and Loges Natasha (dir.), Musical Salon culture in the Long Nineteenth century, Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2020.

Chaignaud François, L’Affaire Berger-Levrault : le féminisme à l’épreuve (1897-1905), Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2009.

Chapman Mary, Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and U.S. Modernism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

Cheng William, “Hearts for Sale: The French Romance and the Sexual Traffic of Musical Mimicry”, 19th-Century Music, no 35, 2011, p. 34-71.

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Ellis Katharine, “The Fair Sax: Women, Brass-Playing and the Instrument Trade in 1860s Paris”, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol. 124, no. 2, 1999, p. 221-254.

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McDonald Grantley, “Josquin’s Musical Cricket: El grillo as Humanist Parody”, Acta Musicologia, vol. 81, no. 1, 2009, p. 39-53.

Monnot Catherine, De la harpe au trombone. Apprentissage instrumental et construction du genre, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, coll. Le sens social, 2012.

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Notes

1 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. Tassart, 6, rue Pierre Charron”, p. 3, fonds de l’Association des anciens élèves du Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (AAEC), sans cote.

2 “Brochure de l’Union des femmes artistes musiciennes”, Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand (BMD), fonds Jane Misme.

3 On the subject of careers for women in music, Le Figaro wrote on 11 March 1910, “Here [in this industry] as elsewhere, it is primarily a problem of saturation”. As stated in an article published in Aurore on 20 March 1910, “Madame Tassart has just begun an interesting philanthropic endeavour. Women musicians – whose numbers are growing significantly each year even as paid contracts, engagements and lessons become rare – are often victims of poverty”, p. 2.

4 “Trésorerie. 1914. Recettes”, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

5 Darmon Muriel, La Socialisation, Paris, Armand Colin, coll. 128, 2007, p. 6.

6 The aim here is to use these notions, not as concepts to be applied literally, but as prisms for interpreting individuals’ assertions about themselves and their activities. A methodological example is Alexandre Robert’s work on the Parisian academy La Schola Cantorum, which he sees both as a musical institution and as a forum for socialisation in which the individual is led to incorporate certain ways of perceiving and appreciating music and, by the same token, of understanding the social world. Robert Alexandre, “La transformation d’une oreille. Déodat de Séverac à la Schola cantorum”, Revue de Musicologie, 2017, vol. 103, no. 1, 2017, p. 53-92.

7 Darmon Muriel, La Socialisation, p. 9.

8 AN, sous-série F21; AN 19910855/20; AN 19860731/48.

9 BMD, DOS 780 UNI, 091-TAS, fonds Jane Misme.

10 In October 2021, five boxes of non-inventoried documents were found on the premises of the Association des anciens élèves du Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris (AAEC – Alumni Association of the Paris Conservatory). They were made up entirely of administrative records dating from 1913 to 2007. We would like to thank Catherine Ledos-Kraut, a former member of the UFAM and a member of AAEC, for allowing us to consult these documents.

11 The concerts organized by the UFAM from 1911 to 1939 are the subject of a dossier in the Dezède database, which can be consulted at: dezede.org/dossiers/id/500/ (accessed 17 january 2023).

12 It is worth noting, as shown by Nancy B. Reich in 1993, the history of women musicians tends to be limited to the study of “figures”, whether cultural elites, soloists or leaders of movements. We might add to Reich’s observation that this tendency is consubstantial with the availability of sources; in the case of the UFAM, in addition to the oft noted gender bias, there is also a class bias, as files on women, especially poor women, are rarely conserved. Reich Nancy B., “Women as Musicians: A Question of Class”, Solie Ruth A. (dir.), Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993, p. 125-146.

13 Several studies have paved the way in this field, making historical and methodological contributions on subjects such as the education and training of women musicians (Pasler Jann, “Classe sociale, genre et formation musicale : préparer le prix de Rome au Conservatoire de Paris entre 1871 et 1900”, Romantisme, vol. 153, no. 3, 2011, p. 85-100; Bougard Fauve, “L’ascension des femmes vers les classes de composition : le cas du Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles au xixe siècle”, Women Composers in New Perspectives, 1800-1950: Genres, Contexts and Repertoires, Brepols, Turnhout, à paraître), their path to having a career (Launay Florence, “Les musiciennes : de la pionnière adulée à la concurrente redoutée. Bref historique d’une longue professionnalisation”, Travail, Genre et Sociétés, vol. 19, no. 1, 2008, p. 41-63; Gillett Paula, Musical Women in England, 1870-1914. Encroaching on All Man’s Privileges, New York, St Mary’s Press, 2000), and collective forms of women’s work (Koivisto Nuppu, “New Data, New Methods? Sources on Ladies’ salon Orchestras in Europe, 1870-1918”, Muzikologija, no. 26, 2019, p. 41-60; Hamer Laura, Female Composers, Conductors, Performers. Musiciennes of Interwar France, 1919-1939, London, Routledge, 2018), to cite just a few examples pertaining to the 19th and 20th centuries. As far as we know, the subject of professional unions for women musicians is still an unexplored field.

14 Here we note the collective book edited by Christian Topalov, Philanthropes en 1900. London, New-York, Paris, Genève, Creaphis, 2019. On the role played by, specifically, women’s philanthropic social action, see in particular Varikas Eleni, “Auslander Leora and Zancarini-Fournel Michelle (dir.), Différence des sexes et protection sociale xixe-xxe siècles”, Clio. Histoire‚ femmes et sociétés [Online], no. 4, 1996, accessed 5 september 2023. URL: https://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/clio/448.

15 Victor Courbouleix was Chairman of the Board of Gil Blas.

16 Jules Tassart was appointed Vice-President of the Paris Court of Appeal in 1906. He was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 1920.

17 In the press of the day, we found 157 mentions of Lucy Tassart’s presence at various salons over the period 1894-1910, i.e. from her entry into society to the founding of the UFAM, offering insight into the company she frequented and whether her visits were occasional, recurring or only anecdotal.

18 “Mondanités”, Le Gaulois, 27 mars 1875, p. 2.

19 Beyond raising political awareness, Marie Rôze seems to have provided her students with aid similar to the types of aid the UFAM would set up several years later in a more structured, in line with a widely adopted practice. “Une bonne œuvre”, Gil Blas, 15 March 1910, p. 2: “Madame Rôze, single-handedly, had long been running her own little relief fund (I know this from a very reliable source); she did not just recommend her students but helped them perform, brought them audiences, [and] when necessary… lent them an evening gown. And she was frustrated by her limited means. Now she is thrilled. She has been understood: others share her convictions”.

20 Tassart Lucy, “La femme dans les sports modernes”, La Revue : ancienne Revue des revues, 1er janvier 1900, p. 18.

21 On the topic of the International Women’s Congress, see in particular Rasmussen Anne, “Les Congrès internationaux liés aux Expositions universelles de Paris (1867-1900)”, Mil neuf cent, no. 7, 1989, p. 23-44.

22 Bard Christine (dir.), Les féministes de la première vague, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, coll. Archives du féminisme, 2015.

23 “Secrétariat général”, Recueil des actes administratifs de la Préfecture du département de la Seine, 1910, p. 174.

24 The official founder of the UFAM is Privât de Sévérac, a society composer and conductor involved in charitable music associations. However, there should be no misunderstanding about his actual role: his title of founder was honorary. Privât de Sévérac was not involved in the Union’s decision-making and did not sit on its Board. To a certain extent, Sévérac served as a guarantor for the UFAM’s leaders. Officially, women-only charitable organisations (associations d’utilité publique), as the UFAM in fact was, were not allowed; the UFAM’s female leaders needed this male guarantor to apply for grants and, in fact, just to exist in the competitive charity arena.

25 Founded by journalist and activist Marguerite Durand in 1897, La Fronde was the first newspaper to be designed, run and produced exclusively by women. It quickly became one of the leading platforms for first wave feminism. On the activities of La Fronde, see Chaignaud François, L’Affaire Berger-Levrault : le féminisme à l’épreuve (1897-1905), Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2009. La Fronde was not the only feminist publication to cover the UFAM’s work; Fémina magazine also published numerous articles on the Union over the same period.

26 This contributed to the UFAM quickly obtaining the status of a charity “recognized in the public interest”, on 18 November 1913 (Bulletin municipal officiel de la Ville de Paris, 18 novembre 1913, p. 4621). From 1917 to 1938, the UFAM received an annual grant of 600 francs from the City of Paris.

27 The UFAM honorary committee included notables such as Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Dubois, Lenepveu, Fauré, Debussy, Vidal and Pierné. “Courrier des théâtres”, L’Action française, 20 mai 1910, p. 4.

28 Bunzel Anja and Loges Natasha (dir.), Musical Salon culture in the Long Nineteenth century, Woodbridge, Boydell Press, 2020. On the French case, see Chimènes Myriam, Mécènes et musiciens. Du salon au concert à Paris sous la IIIe République, Paris, Fayard, 2004.

29 Fayet-Scribe Sylvie, Associations féminines et catholicisme. De la charité à l’action sociale xixe-xxe, Paris, Les Éditions Ouvrières, 1990. On the subject of charity at the turn of the century and the gradual shift from a duty to offer charity to a duty to offer assistance, see also Brodiez Axelle, Combattre la pauvreté. Vulnérabilités sociales et sanitaires de 1880 à nos jours, Paris, Éditions du CNRS, 2013.

30 The Association des artistes musiciens is currently the subject of a research project at IREMUS. Relevant information can be found at the following URL: https://www.iremus.cnrs.fr/fr/programme-de-recherche/association-des-artistes-musiciens-1843-1880 (accessed 5 september 2023). On the orphéonique movement, a tradition of popular music clubs dedicated to the study and practice of choral music that began in France in the 19th century, see the work of Philippe Gumplowicz, Les travaux d’Orphée. 150 ans de vie musicale amateur en France. Harmonies, chorales, fanfares, Paris, Éditions Aubier, 1987. On the orphéonique movement studied with regard to interpersonal solidarity, see also Vadelorge Loïc, “L’orphéon rouennais : entre protection et promotion sociale”, in Tournès Ludovic and Vadelorge Loïc, Les sociabilités musicales, Rouen, Cahier du GHRIS, p. 61-86, 1997.

31 The creation of women’s professional unions was not limited to the field of music. One example is the Union des femmes peintres et sculpteurs (Union of women painters and sculptors), founded in 1881, whose article of association are similar to the UFAM’s.

32 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. Tassart, 6, rue Pierre Charron”, p. 2, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

33 Vialatte Raymond, “Pour des cigales”, Le Figaro, 11 mars 1910, p. 1.

34 In 1910 alone, the year the UFAM was founded, at least four articles in various newspapers (Le Figaro, Le Petit sou, Fémina, etc.) used the cicada metaphor in reference to women musicians in need. The term was used within UFAM as well, appearing in the minutes of general meetings and in president’s reports.

35 Vialatte Raymond, Ibid. Painting a less pitiful picture than this depiction by Vialatte, a journalist for Le Figaro, this feminist take appeared in Fémina several months later: “The cicadas [here] are women musicians. Not that all of them are improvident, as in La Fontaine’s fable; but, alas, there are so many [in need] and the grains of millet are not inexhaustible”, “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 1er juillet 1910, p. 368. Where Vialatte sees their woes as the product of misfortune that is simply consubstantial with being a woman musician, Françoise from Fémina instead, unambiguously, calls out inequity in the market.

36 For a genealogy of the connotations associated with the figure of the cicada in music, see McDonald Grantley, “Josquin’s Musical Cricket: El grillo as Humanist Parody”, Acta Musicologia, vol. 81, no. 1, 2009, p. 39-53.

37 Monnot Catherine, De la harpe au trombone. Apprentissage instrumental et construction du genre, Rennes, Presses universitaires de Rennes, coll. “Le sens social”, 2012.

38 Reich Nancy B., “Women as Musicians”, p. 135 : “Nominally, in most schools, women could study any subject, but in fact for a good part of the century they were limited to voice, piano, and harp”.

39 Pistone Danièle cited by Rousselin-Lacombe Anne, “Piano et pianistes”, La Musique en France à l’époque romantique (1830-1870), Paris, Flammarion, 1991, p. 27.

40 The pairing, almost always side by side, of the terms “housewife” or “homemaker” (femme d’intérieur) and “musician” (and its variants: “with a flair for music”, etc.) seems to be a trope in these matrimonial advertisements. To take the example of a monthly dedicated exclusively to matrimonial ads, L’Intermédiaire : organe des mariages : paraissant le 1er de chaque mois published in Lyon, we found no fewer than 50 pairings of these terms in the May 1920 issue alone; in another matrimonial monthly, Revue mensuelle : liste d’annonces matrimoniales paraissant le 20 de chaque mois published in Montélimar, we counted some twenty occurrences in the December 1920 issue; two other papers L’Hymen and Le Trait d’union des intérêts réciproques : combinaison mariage créée en 1905 also featured these words in close proximity to each other. It appears that “housewife” and “musician” are understood as two moral virtues that can be easily paired because they both exist in the same space, the home, and are therefore potential qualities looked for in a future wife. On the subject of matrimonial advertisements, see Gaillard Claire-Lise, “Célibataire épouserait demoiselle avec dot : histoire du marché de la rencontre en France (xixe au xxe siècle)”, doctoral thesis, 2021, Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.

41 Marquié Hélène, “‘Le prestige de l’Opéra couvre tout’. Les coulisses de la danse à l’Opéra Garnier, 1875-1914”, Histoire des coulisses, Revue d’Histoire du Théâtre, vol. 281, no. 1, 2019, p. 73-86.

42 Tailleferre Germaine, “Mémoires à l’emporte-pièce”, in Robert Frédéric (dir.), La Revue internationale de la musique française, no. 19, 1986, p. 12, cited by Hamer Laura, Female Composers, p. 51.

43 De Donville François, Guide pour le choix d’une profession, à l’usage des jeunes filles : les professions des femmes, Paris, Garnier, 1894, p. 25.

44 Pouradier Maud, “La musique disciplinée. Le contrôle de la musique dans les conservatoires français du xixe siècle”, Musurgia, vol. 14, no. 1, 2007, p. 11.

45 Examples include the following guides: Juranville Clarisse and Berger Pauline, La civilité des petites filles, Paris, Larousse, 1895; Staffe Baronne, Usages du monde : règles du savoir-vivre dans la société moderne, Paris, Flammarion, 1899; Magallon Comtesse de, Le Guide mondain. Art moderne et savoir-vivre, Larousse, Paris, 1910.

46 On this topic, see the seminal book by Hoffmann Freia, Instrument und Körper: die musizierende Frau in der bürgerlichen Kultur, Berlin, Insel Verlag, 1991. On the subject of brass instruments, see Ellis Katharine, “The Fair Sax: Women, Brass-Playing and the Instrument Trade in 1860s Paris”, Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol. 124, no. 2, 1999, p. 221-254.

47 With regard to cello playing, this passage is of note: “Not many women play cello; we have never really known why. Out of habit, we have come to see this instrument as essentially male, like the trombone, the French horn or the double bass, yet no serious justification for this way of thinking has ever been given. What objection can there be to women playing the cello? That it is unattractive? This critique might be true if the woman holds the cello the same way a man does, but it does not hold if she adapts [the instrument] to her feminine grace. This, I believe, is how a woman should hold a cello: she should sit on the edge of the chair, move her left foot slightly forward and slant her knee to the left, while her right leg folds back and her foot disappears under her dress. This way, her right leg is partly hidden”, “Le violoncelle chez la femme”, Boucherit Larronde Cécile, Musica : publication mensuelle, no. 12, Paris, septembre 1903, p. 191.

48 “Une leçon de harpe”, Musica : publication mensuelle, no. 18, Paris, mars 1904, p. 280.

49 “Les positions du violoniste”, Musica : publication mensuelle, no. 3, Paris, décembre 1902, p. 37.

50 Laura Hamer compares the cases of Jane Evrard and Nadia Boulanger: while the former cultivated a style of dress describes by Hamer as “hyper-feminine” (long gowns and constant nods to Hollywood glamour), the latter chose a wardrobe that was as neutral as possible. “On the conductor’s podium: Jane Evrard and the Orchestre féminin de Paris”, The Musical Times, vol. 152, no. 1916, 2011, p. 97.

51 Sendra Frédérick, “Notions de féminité et de masculinité dans le jeu pianistique français des années 1850 aux années 1910”, in Traversier Mélanie and Ramaut Alban (dir.), La musique a-t-elle un genre ?, Paris, Éditions de la Sorbonne, 2019, p. 131-150.

52 Cheng William, “Hearts for Sale: The French Romance and the Sexual Traffic of Musical Mimicry”, 19th-Century Music, no. 35, 2011, p. 34-71.

53 By way of example, the following scores are representative of the vast corpus of literature: Van Gæl Henri, Les Deux cousines, opérette pour jeunes filles, poème de M. Wille, Paris, Leduc, 1881; Blanchon Joseph, Chœur de mère. Drame biblique en quatre actes pour jeunes filles, Paris, René Hatton, 1907; Meudrot Jean and Christiani Henri, Luce et Lucette. Chanson pour femmes, Paris, Ondet, 1909. As scores do not usually state their target audience, most of the musical literature written for women is not explicitly labelled as such.

54 Between 12 March and 24 May 1910, shortly after the UFAM was founded, twenty press publications (La République française, Le Petit Caporal, L’Estafette, Le Petit sou, Le Constitutionnel, Le Petit Moniteur universel, Gil Blas, L’Aurore, Fémina, Comœdia, L’Action, Le Siècle, Le Figaro, Le Soir, Le xixe siècle, Le Rappel, L’Écho de Paris, L’Action française, Le Ménestrel and Le Journal) reported on the UFAM and its mission. The great similarity between the articles published would suggest that they were part of an advertising campaign instigated by the UFAM; thus, they should not necessarily be taken as objective descriptions but considered part of an official discourse.

55 D’Anjou René, “Les belles œuvres féminines sociales”, Le Petit Écho de la Mode, 19 mars 1911, p. 187.

56 “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 15 avril 1910, p. 217.

57 The situation of women orchestra musicians in the early 20th century has been documented by a musicologist who was a contemporary of the UFAM. See Daubresse Mathilde, Le musicien dans la société moderne, Paris, Librairie Fischbacher, 1914.

58 Reich Nancy B., “Women as Musicians”, p. 136 : a conservatory diploma was a prize that could be an asset in the marriage market.

59 “Rapport moral 1920 par Madame Albert Dufour, secrétaire générale”, 2 mars 1921, BMD, fonds Jane Misme.

60 Jann Pasler discusses this subject in “Challenging the boundaries of gender, class and nation: Female musicians, composers, critics, musicologists, and patrons, 1870-1917”, Montenach Anne et al. (dir.), Genre Révolution Transgression : Études offertes à Martine Lapied, Aix-en-Provence, Presses universitaires de Provence, 2015, p. 205-226.

61 Daubresse Mathilde, Ibid.

62 “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 1er juillet 1910, p. 368.

63 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. Tassart, 6, rue Pierre Charron”, p. 3, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

64 The studio was set up in the workshop of Victor Charpentier, brother of the composer Gustave Charpentier, at 17 rue des Martyrs in Paris. Lucy Tassart was probably connected to the Charpentier family through the Œuvre de Mimi Pinson, a charitable and musical association set up by Gustave Charpentier for the benefit of young women workers, to which Lucy Tassart contributed.

65 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. Tassart, 6, rue Pierre Charron”, p. 3, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

66 Chapman Mary, Making Noise, Making News: Suffrage Print Culture and U.S. Modernism, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.

67 “Compte-rendu moral de l’année 1913 de l’Union des Femmes Artistes Musiciennes, présidente Mme L. Tassart, 6, rue Pierre Charron”, p. 3, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

68 The first mention of this Conservatory, about which little is known, was in Le Populaire du 13 novembre 1923, p. 4.

69 “Les bavardages de Françoise”, Fémina, 1er juillet 1910, p. 368.

70 The orchestra’s first public performances provoked strong reactions, as illustrated by the following commentary, which appeared in Paris-Midi on 21 December 1912, p. 2: “You know the U.F.A.M. You saw at first glance that this was the Union des femmes-artistes-musiciennes. This evening at the Salle Gaveau, they will, by definition, be demonstrating their union, their feminism, their artistic sentiment and their musical talent. Today’s strong virgins fight their battles on the stage of a theatre, and in their hands marked by labour, the bow has replaced the symbolic spindle of the patriarchal eras. Our Margarets’ delicate foot no longer pumps the treadle of the spinning wheel, but rather the pedals of a piano or a harp, while instead of spinning wool, the daughters of Queen Bertha content themselves with spinning sounds. The house of music has fallen. Let us bow our heads under this flowery yoke and wait for our fair companions to tire of this pastime and replace it with another. This moment may come faster than we think. The ranks of our Amazons are already thinning. Tonight, unexpected allies join their cohort. Mr Fournets, Mr Le Lubez, Mr Fournier and Mr Raugel cannot deny their belonging to the less-fair sex. What are they doing here in the gynaeceum? Why have the ladies summoned their help? What danger are they in? Now truly, this is an unfortunate venture for feminist pride!”

71 Note manuscrite sur le budget 1932 de l’UFAM, AAEC, sans cote.

72 “Rapport moral 1936”, 13 mai 1937, fonds de l’AAEC, sans cote.

73 Brancour René, “Concerts divers”, Le Ménestrel, 29 avril 1921, p. 187.

74 Following the death of a former benefactor, Madame Parise, the UFAM was bequeathed an old house in Samoreau, in the Seine-et-Marne region, which was renovated to become a retirement home that could accommodate a few members for periodic stays, AN, 19910855/20.

75 Rennes Juliette, Le mérite et la nature. Une controverse républicaine : la mixité des professions (1880-1940), doctoral thesis, 2005, Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, p. 172-173. Juliette Rennes cites the case of Maria Deraimes (Ce que veulent les femmes, 1891), Jules Blois (L’Ève nouvelle, 1896) and Jeanne Chauvin (Des professions accessibles aux femmes en droit romain et en droit français. Évolution historique de la position économique de la femme dans la société, 1892), three authors who set out to dismantle the then predominant historical narrative that takes for granted the subordination of women in ancient societies.

76 Ibid., p. 171.

77 “Concours international de musique et de declamation”, Le Matin, 14 octobre 1942, p. 2.

78 The Bourdieusian notion of habitus is defined by Muriel Darmon as “the inertia of acquired dispositions, resistance to change and the individual’s tendency to continue in the direction set by family socialisation”, Darmon Muriel, La Socialisation, p. 23.

79 Topalov Christian (dir.), Laboratoires du nouveau siècle. La nébuleuse réformatrice et ses réseaux en France, 1880-1914, Paris, Éditions de l’EHESS, coll. “Civilisations et sociétés”, 1999.

80 The UFAM was officially dissolved by a decree dated 13 May 2016. After World War II and until its dissolution, it was dedicated almost exclusively to the organisation of its annual competition, gradually phasing out its aid and support for women musicians.

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Apolline Gouzi et Arthur Macé, « “No longer alone”: The Union des femmes artistes musiciennes (UFAM), a laboratory for new forms of professional socialisation for women musicians in the early 20th century? »Transposition [En ligne], 11 | 2023, mis en ligne le 07 novembre 2023, consulté le 13 juin 2024. URL : http://0-journals-openedition-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/transposition/8109 ; DOI : https://0-doi-org.catalogue.libraries.london.ac.uk/10.4000/transposition.8109

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Auteurs

Apolline Gouzi

Apolline Gouzi holds a Master’s degree in music history (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris) and is a student at the École normale supérieure de Paris. Her research has focused on the history of French music festivals after the Second World War, cultural transfers between France and England, women musicians and the first feminist wave in music.

Arthur Macé

Arthur Macé holds a degree in music history from the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris, where he now works to develop and promote research activities. His research focuses on the interaction between music and politics in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-SA 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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