While teaching at the Geneva Conservatoire in the 1890s Dalcroze realised that experiencing the elements of music through movement led to a fuller and more secure understanding. He devised a method which he called Gymnastique Rythmique which employed the body as the primary musical instrument. Alongside his approach to aural training and improvisation, this developed into the Méthode Jaques-Dalcroze. From before the First World War until the outbreak of World War II he was hugely influential in the worlds of dance, drama and music, and his legacy continues to underpin the creative and performing arts today.
Clearly a colourful character, he certainly didn’t mince his words.
“Muscles were made for movement, and rhythm is movement. It is impossible to conceive a rhythm without thinking of a body in motion.”
"The aim of eurhythmics is to enable pupils, at the end of their course, to say, not "I know," but "I have experienced,” and so to create in them the desire to express themselves; the deep impression of an emotion inspires a longing to communicate it, to the extent of one's powers, to others."
“All musical expression must be based on a foundation that is both physical and intellectual, thus affirming the inseparability of body and spirit.”
“It is nothing less than lunacy to set a child to study an instrument before he has been trained to appreciate rhythm and distinguish sounds.”
Today the Institut Jaques-Dalcroze in Geneva, which he founded in 1915, continues to be the headquarters for Dalcroze education. There are many teacher-training centres around the world including in Australia, USA, Canada, Germany, Poland, Spain, Italy and Japan.
In the UK Dalcroze is taught in many institutions, including: Royal Northern College of Music, Junior Guildhall School of Music, Junior Trinity, Chetham’s School of Music, The Purcell School, and St John’s College School, Cambridge.
The Dalcroze Method leads to a visceral and intellectual understanding of all elements of music and performance. There is no book to follow: teachers are rigorously trained to respond to the needs of each class.