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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Weekend: American Pioneers


Philharmonie de Paris / Paris / Art

When the French decide to fête someone who isn’t French, they pull out all the stops. Take Josephine Baker, the irrepressible Black entertainer from St. Louis whose dance in a skirt made of bananas brought le tout Paris to its knees. On November 30, her remains, which have been resting in Monaco, will be reinterred at the Pantheon in honor of her undercover services in the French Resistance. That, mes amis, is the single highest honor the nation has to bestow. The three-day festival American Pioneers at the Philharmonie de Paris doesn’t rise to quite that pitch. Still, we’re way stoked to see such a panoramic retrospective of our composers in the City of Lights, performed by a mostly if not all European cadre of their champions. Programs offering Ives, Partch, Crawford Seeger, Nancarrow, Feldman, Cowell, and Crumb pave the way for individual concerts devoted to Glass and Reich. The presence of the French Edgard Varèse in the mix is a cinch to account for: the prophet of what he called “sound masses” spent most of his career in America, beginning with the still mind-blowing Amériques. Another ringer is more mysterious. He’s the German Enno Poppe, active in Berlin, and represented here by his much-buzzed-about Prozession. —M.G.

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