“Le violoncelle des tranchées”, directed by Christian Leblé
Le Quatuor du 129e, Maurice Maréchal, Lucien Durosoir, Henri Lemoine, André Caplet, Henri Magne, December 1916 © Verdun Memorial Collection
Through the concert-reading given by cellist Emmanuelle Bertrand and actor Didier Sandre in the Cité de la Musique, this film recounts the career of Maurice Maréchal, one of the greatest soloists of his time, and tells the story of his strange “cubist” cello le Poilu.
This cello was made in June 1915 using bits of wood from German munitions crates and oak doors. It was made by two soldiers, Neyen and Plicque, carpenters in civilian life, for Maurice Maréchal when he was a young soldier. Maurice Maréchal met other musicians on the front line, such as Gustave Cloëz, the violinist Lucien Durosoir, the pianist Magne, and composers André Caplet and Henri Lemoine. On several occasions they performed before their commanding officers. Thus it was that Joffre, Mangin and Pétain came to sign their names on the face of this makeshift instrument. When the regiment was called to the front, the instrument travelled in the supplies truck, perched on tins of food. Twice it was taken to Verdun in this way.
The beauty of the music sits alongside the horror of war in this moving account of artistic comradeship, complemented by historical and personal archive material.
This film is screened as part of the European Museum Night, 2018 edition: Maurice Maréchal, cellist and soldier at Verdun.
Screening times: 11am, 3pm and 5pm
Running time: 52 minutes
Further programmed event
Concert-reading The Cello of War, Maurice Maréchal and Le Poilu
With Christophe Malavoy (actor) and Emmanuelle Bertrand (cellist)