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A musical souvenir: London in 1829



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Davies, James Quail 


This thesis involves a 'thick description' of music and musical representation in a single year: 1829. The context for the study is London, although the city has been approached less as a metropolitan than as a cosmopolitan centre, a global capital with global significance. This is a cultural history of music presented as a montage of case studies formed around musical events. Cases have been selected both with the general contrast of the group and the variety of musical types available to the description in mind (concert music, or major and minor theatrical forms). The potential of each event to have meaning beyond itself (to be representative) has been a third consideration, since cases are discussed in terms of broader historical, political and cultural flows. Newspapers, playbills, manuscript scores, almanacs, handbills, memoirs, journals, diaries and other ephemera have been used both to locate and frame evidence. The montage of cut-outs, in other words, forms an ensemble of partial histories, a picture of the intricately textured life of musical London. Cases are as follows: the final performances of a castrato analysed in terms of the emergence of the biological sciences and shifts in the history of the voice; a danced Beethoven symphony discussed in terms of ballet and concert trends; a colonial melodrama dealt with from the perspective of the postcolonial critic; an exploration of how new ways of imagining the city relate to new ways of imagining symphonic discourse; female duet-singing approached in light of psychoanalysis and gender studies; and the exchange of a musical annual looked at in view of the anthropology and philosophy of the gift. The use of the appellation 'A Musical Souvenir' in the title gestures towards the emergence of the 'music-annual form' in 1829, and - related to this - an emerging awareness of what I call 'year-historical situatedness'.






Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Association of Commonwealth Universities; British Council.