Academic Courses and Training

Research seminar “Table music. Music with meals in France and in Europe in modern times: rituals, repertoires, practices”

Multidisciplinary research seminar organised by the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles, the Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance de Tours and the Centre de recherche du château de Versailles.

An heritage of ancient traditions, halfway between entertainment and ritual, the meal accompanied by music was, in the Ancien Régime, an essential element in the assertion of power and the staging of prestige, also participating in the identity of elite circles, the table having become “the pretext of a complex ritual and at the same time the setting for a social demonstration” (Jacques Revel, “Les usages de la civilité”, in Histoire de la vie privée. 3. De la Renaissance aux Lumières, Philippe Ariès, Georges Duby (ed.), Paris, Seuil, 1985; ibid., 1999; Points Seuil « Histoires », pp. 185-6).

Whereas the ritual of the royal tables contributed, in France as everywhere in Europe, to building “the ideal image of a deified and brilliant monarchy” (Jean-Pierre Babelon, Versailles et les tables royales en Europe, XVIIe-XIXe siècles, catalogue of the exhibition of the Musée national des châteaux de Versailles et Trianon, November 3, 1993 – February 27, 1994, Paris, Réunion des muséesbnationaux, 1993, “Préface”, p. 11), the transformations of the Enlightenment, the simplification of etiquette and the birth of new sociabilities – where the search for pleasure and refinement responded to a need for prestige – encouraged the elites to appropriate and develop the courtly model to make it a veritable social marker.

Within this ritual of the table, which it came to enhance and even solemnize, the musical element, although essential, remains little studied. Beyond the different forms, explicit or more implicit, of table music, either in ordinary or in extraordinary, this multidisciplinary seminar thus intends to put into perspective topics related to repertoires, practices, places and spaces, devices, as well as articulation with the ceremonial, to clarify the nature, the function, and the modalities of the integration of the musical element in this ritual of court and sociability. In order to better understand how music responded to various performance strategies, these encounters will also contribute to the study of the ceremonial and everyday forms of performance and musical listening during the Ancien Régime.

Scientific coordinators

>  Thomas Leconte, Centre de musique baroque de Versailles (CMBV)
>  Mathieu da Vinha, Centre de recherche du château de Versailles (CRCV)

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Programme (in french)

Online access

You can freely attend the webinar sessions (in french).

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Château de Versailles
Conseil général des Yvelines