• Saison 2023-2024 - None - None > Musique et maladie
  • Oct. 19, 2023
  • Ircam, Paris
  • Program note: Musique et maladie
  • Ryan Weber (conférencier)

In his 1894 article “Music and Nutrition,” the American pianist Edward Baxter Perry offered an ominous warning: “Americans as a race are in imminent danger of becoming extinct, mainly from this cause [of poor diet and nervous exhaustion], and a really healthy man or woman is a well-nigh obsolete phenomenon.” His claim was not unique. In fact, many late 19th-century musicians and medical professionals also raised the alarm about growing numbers of so-called “nervous disorders.” However, as Perry noted, the cause of illness could not be attributed to the nerves alone, but rather to the combination of strenuous working conditions, bad nutrition, and a deleterious culture. Joining him in this call to action was a growing chorus of thinkers, including the music critic Henry T. Finck, who used his study Food and Flavor (1913) to advocate for a program of “governmental gastronomy” to stop the spread of these diseases at their sources. And while studies such as James Kennaway’s Bad Vibrations have shed light on the intersection of music history and nervous disorders during this period, relatively few scholars have investigated the role that nutrition also played in their understanding of pathology.
Therefore, in this paper, I will explore how American figures in medicine, science, and music popularized European-based ideas of nervous pathologies from ca. 1880s-1920s. It was during this period that pioneering minds, including Wilbur O. Atwater, Henry P. Armsby and Russel H. Chittenden, offered some of the first research on diet and nutrition. At the same time, musicians and critics tapped into these circulating streams of scientific rhetoric in a series publications aimed at bringing this knowledge into mainstream discourse. I will therefore demonstrate how the entanglement of art and science transformed both the physical body and the social body into sites for controlling forms of deviance beginning with the stomach.

Musique et maladie : jour 1

Entre histoire de la musique, histoire de la médecine et philosophie des sciences dans le monde occidental, ce colloque international se propose d’interroger les conditions et les méthodes de leur dialogue à l’âge moderne, du XVIIIe siècle à nos jours : études de cas, pathographies d’artistes, maladies et représentations du malade à l’opéra, spécialités médicales, psychiatriques, cardiologiques ou pneumologiques, à l’aune de l’œuvre… Comment comprendre la place accordée à la musique et au musicien dans les écrits médicaux, qu’ils relèvent de l’anatomie, de la physiologie ou de la thérapie ? Que retenir de l’intérêt des artistes eux-mêmes pour les sciences médicales ? Prises au sérieux et non réduites au rang de curiosités, ces questions ouvrent un vaste champ d’études, celui du corps du musicien, créateur aussi de symptômes.

Comité scientifique :
- Vincent Barras (Institut des humanités en médecine, Lausanne)
- Laurent Feneyrou (CNRS – STMS, Paris), Céline Frigau Manning (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 – IHRIM)
- Philippe Lalitte (Sorbonne Université – Iremus – Collegium Musicae, Paris)
- Emmanuel Reibel (Conservatoire national supérieur de musique et de danse de Paris – École normale supérieure de Lyon).

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