Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


The Vinteuil Centenary: Music, Memory and Repetition in Proust - CONCERT

23 June 2022, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm

Image credit: 'a few centimetres in the midst of this superhuman multitude’, coarse figurine on the Porch of the Booksellers, Rouen Cathedral, photo by Thomas Stern

Concert featuring music inspired by 'In Search of Lost Time' and the music of the salons of the time, and a new composition by Alex Hills.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Institute of Advanced Studies / UCL European Institute


UCL Haldane Room
Wilkins Building
Gower Street
United Kingdom
This year marks 100 years since the death of Marcel Proust. Readers and scholars alike have long noticed the central role played by music in Proust’s major work, In Search of Lost Time. This concert, together with the connected conversation event (2:00 pm -4:00 pm), explore the role of music in the novel, including of the famous sonata, and then septet, written by the fictional composer, Vinteuil - but als the numerous real composers the narrator of the novel discusses, too. It also premiers a new composition by Alex Hills in the light of this analysis.

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre Mvmts from Violin Sonata No 1 in D minor
Schumann Violin Sonata No 1 in A minor Op 105
Faure Romance Op 28
Leon Delafosse Baisiers (a Msr. Marcel Proust) from Les Chauves-souris
Reynaldo Hahn A Cloris
Lili Boulanger D’Un Matin de Printemps
Alex Hills Misremembrances (First Performance)

This concert presents some of the music around Marcel Proust and the Parisian musical salon of the early 20th century. It includes composers important to Proust in Schumann, Wagner and Faure, all of whose music is heard during the course of A La Recherche. His friends Leon Delafosse and Reynaldo Hahn both performed regularly in the salons and are often suggested as partial models for the characters Albertine and Charles Morel respectively. Delafosse’s songs are now little known, but his cycle Chauve-souris (Bats) sets poems by Robert Montesquieu, in turn the inspiration for the outrageous Baron Charlus. Hahn’s songs are still performed, although after one salon in 1894 the hostess noted, ‘Hahn sung with incomparable artistry. The music was detestable’. Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre and Lily Boulanger are women from the opposite historical ends of the French musical tradition that was so important to Proust. In 1907 he put on a concert at the Ritz including music going back to Couperin, a contemporary of Jacquet de la Guerre. Lily Boulanger died in 1918 at just 24, but the music she wrote was both acclaimed at the time – she was the first woman to win the Prix de Rome, France’s main prize for young composers – and provides a parallel to the contemporaneous stylistic advances of Debussy and Ravel.

The concert also features a new piece by Alex Hills, written for the event as part of a larger project exploring music in A La Recherche. This takes Proust’s notion of involuntary memory to explore often strange and jarring aural connections between Debussy, Cesar Franck and Wagner.

Register for the concert

Organised by Dr Tom Stern, Associate Professor of Philosophy, UCL and Alex Hills, composer and lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music. 

 The concert is followed by our buffet and drinks closing the Music Futures Festival. RSVP.

Sign up for the buffet and drinks after the concert

Philippe Honoré, violin

Philippe Honoré divides his time between chamber music, solo work, orchestral leading, and teaching. After having received top honours from the Paris Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Music in London, he was made Lauréat of the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation of France in 1992 and was awarded an Honorary Associateship by the Royal Academy of Music in 2001. He was appointed Professor of Violin at the RAM in October 2012.

He was a principal player with the Philharmonia Orchestra from 2005 to 2011, and has appeared as guest leader with some of Europe’s best orchestras (such as the Philarmonia, the London Philharmonic, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris). Philippe is a former member of the Vellinger Quartet and a founder member of the Mobius ensemble, which have performed in some of the most prestigious venues both in the UK and abroad. 

He plays on the ‘Kustendyke’ Stradivarius, on generous loan by the Royal Academy of Music.

Roderick Chadwick, piano

Roderick Chadwick is a pianist, teacher and writer on music. He has performed some of the most challenging works for the instrument, including Lachenmann’s Serynade at the inaugural London Contemporary Music Festival, and the first complete performance of Jeremy Dale Roberts’s Tombeau since its 1969 premiere at the hands of Stephen Kovacevich.

Roderick is a member of ensembles CHROMA and Plus-Minus, performing with them at festivals such as Huddersfield, Ultima (Oslo) and the 2019 Warsaw Autumn Festival. His first performance on BBC Radio 3 was at the age of 14 (the Britten Gemini Variations live from the Aldeburgh Festival), and broadcasts since have included solo works by Laurence Crane, Richard Barrett and Will Gregory.

In 2018 Roderick published Messiaen’s ‘Catalogue d’oiseaux’, From Conception to Performance, co-authored with Peter Hill. He is a regular performer of Messiaen’s works, including the entire Catalogue d’oiseaux and La Fauvette des jardins in a single concert event.

He attended Chetham’s School in Manchester in the 1980s, studying with Heather Slade-Lipkin, and later moved to London to learn with Hamish Milne. He lives in South London and is Reader in Music at the Royal Academy of Music.

Alex Hills, composition

Alex Hills was born in Cambridge, England, in 1974. His music has been played at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and the South Bank Center to the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club and Café OTO, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and the German SWR, featured on the BBC4 Classic Britannia television series and recorded on the American Innova label. Two portrait discs of his music, OutsideIn (2020) and The Music of Making Strange (2013) have been released on the US based label Carrier Records. He has worked with a wide range of ensembles worldwide, including Exaudi, 12 Ensemble, Plus-Minus, Vertix Sonore and Mosaik in Europe, and Earplay and Either/Or in America.
Alex studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Finnissy, and in the US at the University of California, San Diego and Stanford with Brian Ferneyhough and Chaya Czernowin. He lives in London, where he holds the post of Lecturer in Contemporary Music and Analysis at the Royal Academy of Music, and occasionally writes and speaks about connections between musical and literary theory.

This concert is linked to the "talking event" earlier in the day (2:00-4:00 pm), which will offer a series of short talks, aimed at the general public, on the subject of Proust and music. Come to hear scholars from different disciplinary angles, including philosophy, composition, music history and literary studies.

Image credit: 'a few centimetres in the midst of this superhuman multitude’, coarse figurine on the Porch of the Booksellers, Rouen Cathedral, photo by Thomas Stern.

This event is part of the Music Futures FestivalCheck out our website for more information.

All welcome. Please note that there may be photography and/or audio recording at some events and that admission is on a first come first served basis. Please follow this FAQ link for more information. All our events are free but you can support the IAS here.