Euripide musicien

TitleEuripide musicien
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsBélis, A
EditorPinault, G-J
Ancient AuthorsEuripides Trag. (TLG 0006)
Book TitleMusique et poésie dans l’Antiquité. Actes du colloque de Clermont-Ferrand, Université Blaise Pascal, 23 mai 1997
Series TitleCollection ERGA 2
PublisherPresses Universitaires Blaise Pascal

The three great tragic poets were also composers of music that had to be played and sung during the performances of their poems. The tragedians was judged by the Greek public according to his skills, both as a writer of a dramatic text, and as a composer of musical parts, especially songs. The best pieces were known by heart, and were eagerly transcribed. The scores were spread in the whole Mediterranean world through the antiquity, even several centuries after the death of the poets. From Aeschylus and Sophocles, there is not a single note of music that survived, but from Euripides two mutilated fragments have been preserved on papyri; they belong to two different tragedies, Orestes and Iphigenia in Aulis, that were composed at the end of his career.
The characteristic and the originality of the music composed by Euripides are examined on the basis of the indirect testimonies form his contemporaries, among them Aristophanes. The musical art of Euripides has been also the subject of various, either positive or negative, comments in later times. Euripides appears as an innovatory composer, as opposed to the other tragedians and to the preceding tradition. This view is confirmed by the direct and thorough study of the two fragments of scores, one from Vienna, and the second from Leiden [40-46]. The authenticity of these pieces, as composed by Euripides himself, is supported by further arguments. The musical text shows the great liberty of Euripides in the melodic and rhythmic treatment of the poetic text, and his use of chromatic genus. It confirms on the whole the appreciation of this music as it was perceived by the audience of the tragedies. These fragments testify to the versatility and to the popularity of the tragic genius. [abstract, Euripides as a musician p. 123]