A Boston attorney working in the field of energy and public utility law in the U.S., the Middle East, and Asia, James Connelly has, since reading Swann's Way as an undergraduate, nurtured and indulged an interest in Marcel Proust and his works, in films and books about Proust, and in the music that caught and held Proust's ear.
He is a member of the Proust Society of America, Boston Chapter, which meets monthly at the Boston Athenaeum to discuss Proust's works and related subjects (e.g., Ruskin, Sand's François le champi, Céleste Albaret's Monsieur Proust, Evelyne Bloch-Dano’s Madame Proust, a screening of films under the rubric "Proust at the Movies," Proust and music, to name just a few). The Boston Chapter was organized through the efforts of Brandeis University Professor and Proustian Hollie Harder, who guides its discussions:
When, six years ago, he began a new cycle of re-reading À la recherche du temps perdu, Connelly wondered about certain of Proust's musical references that would have been readily understood by his contemporaries but have been obscured by the passage of time and change in tastes: What did Swann have in mind when he storms over Odette's supposed inability to tell Bach from Clapisson? What does it say about Odette that she wants to have Tagliafico's Pauvres fous and Métra's Valse des roses played at her funeral? Who was Loïsa Puget? Who wrote Le Biniou? What is the vaguely identified "Schubert" song with the French title Adieu? Or just what Schumann song might it be that Saint-Loup sang on leaving for the Front? Why was Proust so interested in music hall. In other words, the scores of questions that pop up but then usually remain forgotten and unanswered once one turns the page. One musical discovery led to another and thence to further questions—with the result that, curiosity feeding on curiosity, a collection of useful information accumulated over a year or more of looking. Putting it in concise, organized form and making it freely available for the benefit of other Proust admirers seemed the best use for the information compiled.
The result was the compendium Music in Marcel Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu, A Playlist Resource. Graciously hosted by Bard College's Radio Proust, this publication covers all of the musical references in La Recherche. It draws together in one place (along with Internet links) biographical information, images, and suggested recordings of music (both classical and popular) in La Recherche over the now near century and a quarter, stretching from Edison cylinders to CDs published as recently as late 2012. The publication is keyed to the 1987-89 French Pléiade, the 1992-93 Modern Library, and the Chatto and Windus editions of La Recherche. Assembling, packaging, and publishing such information on Proust would not have been possible when, decades ago, Connelly's interest in Proust was first piqued. As he recently completed and published his Proust Playlist project on the web, he realized the large and varied debt that amateurs owe to the late Steve Jobs for enabling their independent efforts. In 2012, Connelly co-operated with Trio George Sand and contributed extended notes on the Trio and other musicians’ performances included in Éditions Riveneuve’s book-and-CDs set, Marcel Proust : une vie en musiques. The notes provide a backdrop to the essays contributed by eminent Proust scholars and musicians and connect the two dozen musical selections to Proust’s literary works, life, and correspondence.
You can download a copy of James Connelly's comprehensive and unprecedented Proust Playlist here: Musical References in Proust. This compilation is thoroughly researched and beautifully presented.