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Paris, around 1900. A group of friends regularly meet to share their passion for art. However most of them are artists, even an aviator and a priest join the group. They gather weekly at Paul Sordes’ apartment on the 5th floor of the ‘Villa du Phénix”, Rue du Long, where they make music, recite their poems and discuss art until the middle of the night.
‘Les Apaches” they call themselves after a notorious Parisian gang, prowling around the district. Word has it that the group of friends rumble the streets in an ecstatic mood after visiting the theatre, when they completely overlook a paperboy. A collision follows and the boy shouts:”Attention Les Apaches!” which means “Look out for the Apaches!”. The friends, who regard themselves as artistic outcasts, adopt the name immediately.
Les Apaches never become a formal club. This might be one of the reasons that the group’s name never became something to put in the annals. The fact that we know about the existence of the group is due to letters and documents of members of the group in which the name appears regularly.
The group exists of, amongst others, composers such as Maurice Ravel, Déodat de Séverac, Igor Stravinsky, Maurice Delage and Manuel de Falla, pianist Ricardo Viñes, poet Tristan Klingsor and painter Paul Sordes. They advise each other, listen to each other’s work and help each other copying orchestral parts. They admire Chinese art, Mallarmé, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Cézanne, Van Gogh and the Russians.
They adore Debussy’s opera Pelléas et Mélisande: they never miss a performance and try to persuade their friends of the beauty and the importance of this work, that causes commotion amongst so many conservative musicians. One could say that their love for this opera is the immediate cause of the origin of Les Apaches.
Unless their informal status, Les Apaches love to create a culture where certain habits bear strong resemblance to those of many formal clubs or societies. For example: by whistling a signature tune, which is the first theme of Borodin’s Second Symphony, they are able to find each other in the crowded foyer of the opera. They also use it to announce their presence when they arrive at one of their meetings.
Another example is a ghost member they invent, called Gomez de Riquet: trapped at a boring party, an excuse to leave for an appointment with their fictitious friend is their escape route.
They nickname each other: Ravel is called “Rara”, De Séverac is “Dodo” or “Docteur”. And they end their letters with a special greeting:”Apachamicalement”.
Causing a lot of nuisance during their nightly gatherings in the Villa du Phénix, the group is forced to search for a new place to meet. In the end Klingsor manages to arrange a pavilion in the Avenue du Parc Montsouris.
Another venue where they frequently meet is the salon of Cipka and Ida Godebski. This wealthy couple proudly receives many artists in their home. The first members of the group visit this salon already in1902.
The tight bond of Les Apaches provides for a fruitful soil, where art can bloom and, amidst a jumble of movements, can break new ground. For more than a decade they stay together, until the First World War terminates their united companionship in 1914.
|1||Maurice Ravel: Shéhérazade - Asie|
|2||La flûte enchantée|
|4||Manuel de Falla: Trois mélodies I Les colombes|
|7||Déodat de Séverac: À l’aube dans la montagne|
|8||Déodat de Séverac: Deux mélodies nouvelles I Chanson pour le petit cheval|
|10||Maurice Delage: Trois mélodies, opus 2 I Intermezzo|
|12||III Du livre de Monelle|
|13||Manuel de Falla: Siete canciones populares españolas 1El paño moruno|
|14||2 Seguidilla murciana|
|20||Oración de las madres que tienen a sus hijos en brazos|