Esoteric orchestration

Gérard Encausee (Papus)

In the 1894 pamphlet Anatomie et physiologie de l’orchestre, co-authored by the popular occult writer Gérard Encausee (writing under his esoteric pseudonym Papus) and the young Frederick Delius, the four instrumental groups—strings, brass, woodwinds, and percussion—were associated respectively with God, the head, and the nervous system; man, the chest, and the arterial system; woman, the chest, and the venous system; and nature, the abdomen, and the lymphatic system.

Further subdivisions and associations were outlined in preparation for a larger prescriptive work for composers that never materialized.

This according to “Sound as symbol: Fin de siècle perceptions of the orchestra” by Eric Frederick Jensen (The music review LV/3 [August 1994] pp. 227–240). Above, Papus in the back room of the Librairie du Merveilleux; below, the opening of Delius’s Appalachia from 1896, presumably an illustration of his application of such theories.

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Filed under Curiosities, Romantic era

3 responses to “Esoteric orchestration

  1. Pingback: Delius’s taste | Bibliolore

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