The Material Question
‘England, owing to its insular situation, would not have allowed any development in this respect; an Institute founded there would have taken on the narrow character of a local institution.
‘That is why, on one of my journeys to London, I definitely refused to found the central establishment there; but I agreed to send over instructors specially prepared by me and also a certain number of my pupils, who were to be maintained there until the opening of an English branch of the main Institute.
‘In short, we arrived in France during the summer of 1922.
‘There I found that, after having paid all the expenses of the journey, I had at my disposal only one hundred thousand francs.
‘Having arranged in Paris a temporary lodging house for my pupils, I rented the Dalcroze School as a temporary hall for the continuation of our work, and began to look for a house, and also for funds, to establish the Institute.
‘After a long search, the most suitable of the many properties I inspected near Paris proved to be an estate named the Château du Prieuré, situated not far from the famous Château de Fontainebleau.
‘The owner of this chateau, who had inherited it from a celebrated lawyer, and who wished to be rid of it as soon as possible owing to the great expense of its upkeep, preferred to sell rather than rent. Having several buyers in view, she dragged out negotiations with me, manifesting thereby the tendency which contemporary meteorologists would formulate in the words: “either snow or rain or something or other”. On my side, as you well understand, the depleted state of my exchequer at that time gave me no possibility of buying it.
‘Finally, after much beating about the bush and many stipulations, the owner consented to postpone the sale of the property for a year, and to rent it to me for this period for sixty-five thousand francs, giving me six months to decide whether I would buy; after which she would have the right to sell the property to another party and I would be obliged to vacate without delay.
‘Having leased the Château du Prieuré under these conditions, I moved to this estate the next day with fifty pupils. This was on the first of October 1922. From that day on, under specifically European conditions quite foreign to me, there began one of the maddest periods of my life.