Music and the City

Music and the City: Musical Cultures and Urban Societies in the Southern Netherlands and Beyond, c.1650–1800

Stefanie Beghein
Bruno Blondé
Eugeen Schreurs
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 188
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    Music and the City
    Book Description:

    The societal dimension of music in urban life in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although early modern urban musical life has been the object of investigation with several researchers, little is known about the ways in which musical cultures were integrated within their broader urban environments. Building upon recent trends within urban musicology, the authors of this volume aim to transcend descriptive overviews of institutions and actors involved with music within a given city. Instead, they consider the urban environment as the constitutive context for music making, and music as a significant aspect of urban society and identity. Through selected case studies and by focusing on three ‘musical circuits’—opera and theatre music, sacred music, and secular songs—this book contributes to a more effective understanding of music in late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century urban societies in the southern Netherlands and beyond. Musicological and historical research perspectives are fruitfully integrated, as well as insights from theatre scholarship and literary criticism. With attention to the musical life behind the traditional institutions, the circulation of repertoires, and musical cultures in peripheral urban environments or in cities ‘in decay’, Music and the City sheds new light on the societal dimension of music in urban life.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-142-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. Music and the city. Musical cultures and urban societies in the Southern Netherlands and beyond, c. 1650-1800
    (pp. 7-16)
    Stefanie Beghein and Bruno Blondé

    Out-of-tune instruments, uncouth musicians and second-rate performances: if Charles Burney’s report is to be believed, the musical culture in the Austrian Netherlands – a region then at the periphery of Europe’s great capitals – was, not unlike the general cultural climate of the region, anything but brilliant during the second half of the eighteenth century. Although certain composers and performers were occasionally praised for their technical skills, modern style and fine taste, Burney’s overall impression of the region, as far as music and music-related affairs were concerned, is one of stark mediocrity: even the music heard at the Cathedral of St. Michael...

  4. I. The urban stage – staging the city

    • “Les operas étaient en vogue”. Opera in a city in crisis: Antwerp between 1682 and 1794
      (pp. 19-38)
      Timothy De Paepe

      When Karl LudwigFreiherrvon Pöllnitz wrote these words, following his visit to Antwerp in June 1732, the city was hardly experiencing its finest hour. Yet, had he arrived 200 years earlier, Pöllnitz would have found an urban centre that was one of the largest and richest in Europe. Antwerp’s 100,000 inhabitants, bustling quays and vibrant stock exchange would surely have seemed a hub of the universe. However, the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648), with its religious troubles and economic consequences, had dealt Antwerp a severe blow. The River Scheldt, which had served as the city’s commercial artery, had been “closed”...

    • Opera in a different language. Opera translations in the Dutch Republic in the eighteenth century
      (pp. 39-58)
      Rudolf Rasch

      Theatre played an important role in the cultural life of eighteenth-century Europe and in that of the Dutch Republic. The largest cities and towns, including Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam, had standing theatres which performed all year round, often several times a week. Travelling companies toured the entire Republic, visiting even the smaller towns in each province. Theatre was the only easily accessible entertainment; prices were feasible for the upper and middle classes, and perhaps for the upper lower class. The theatres were not large by present-day standards, but the spaces available for audiences were often packed with many more...

    • Music-making ghosts: eighteenth-century Rome as operatic memory machine
      (pp. 59-78)
      Bruno Forment

      Since time immemorial, Rome has dominated the western imagination as the epicentre of culture and religion, enshrined by such nicknames ascaput mundiandcittà eterna. The eighteenth century was no less entranced by the city’s allure, as evidenced by the annual influx of pilgrims and tourists who recorded their impressions ofromanitasin letters and diaries. In 1729, the forty-year-old Montesquieu discovered in Rome the “metropolis of a great part of the Universe” and a curio cabinet of cultural riches that each traveller could identify with – “Everyone lives in Rome and believes he will find his native country [there].”¹...

  5. II. The church and the streets

    • Music and funeral practices in Antwerp, c. 1650-1750
      (pp. 81-102)
      Stefanie Beghein

      Historical interest in the subject of death is not new. The study of funeral culture has become a prominent topic within the history of mentalities, especially since the pioneering works by Michel Vovelle, Pierre Chaunu and Philippe Ariès.¹ Particular attention has been paid to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: through the study of last wills, completed by contemporary treatises, literary documents and iconographic sources, a general Baroque attitude to death came to be defined, an attitude characterized by the ostentatious and pious staging of death.² Yet, despite the extensive approaches of authors such as Vovelle, remarkably little attention has been...

    • Church music and minstrel music in the Southern Netherlands, with a special focus on Antwerp
      (pp. 103-126)
      Eugeen Schreurs

      It has been argued that insufficient research has been devoted to music from the long eighteenth century in the Southern Netherlands in general, and Antwerp in particular. However, in the compilation of an overview of publications, masters’ theses and doctoral dissertations, it quickly becomes evident that a considerable body of work has already been written about this music.¹ Most of this research is descriptive (i.e. within the genre of ‘life and work’), yet there are several remarkable exceptions. Jose Quitin uses the subtitle “Esquisse socio-musicologique” (socio-musicological sketch) to refer to the music education of Grétry in Liège. In this volume...

    • The church, the street, the tower, and the home as sites of religious music-making in urban Baroque Germany
      (pp. 127-140)
      Tanya Kevorkian

      Hymns were probably the most pervasively heard music in early modern society. They were sung and played not only in church, but also in many other urban venues. Examining them helps us to better understand the overlapping of genres from one venue to another that was an important part of the Baroque musical experience. Dance rhythms and aria form, for example, appeared in many genres and venues as well. The universal nature of hymn performance also allows us to broaden our perspective on the production of urban culture. This article examines the social structuring of urban hymn performance by asking...

  6. III. Private music

    • Serious songs, musical practices and sociability in Paris at the end of the seventeenth century
      (pp. 143-160)
      Anne-Madeleine Goulet

      Although the practices in the Parisian salons of the seventeenth century have begun to attract much scholarly attention, since as yet little is known about the role of musical entertainment within this social context and about the space occupied by musicians within the realm of genteel society.¹ In order to frame this question we must situate ourselves at the meeting point of literary and musical history. From this point of view, we use musical works as documents which testify to the process of artistic creation and which define the social context and its implications. The scope of this article takes...

    • Apollo’s gifts. Dutch songbooks for the urban youth of the eighteenth century
      (pp. 161-186)
      Louis P. Grijp

      This article aims to contribute to our knowledge of informal urban singing culture in the Netherlands, especially within the context of youth subcultures. Hundreds of songbooks from the period of the Dutch Republic (the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) evidence such a singing culture.¹ Young men used to give songbooks as presents to their girlfriends. Pictures show young men and their girlfriends singing together from such songbooks, with or without the accompaniment of a lute or other instrument. In other instances the songs were sung by groups of young people during trips outside the city.²

      For the seventeenth century this singing...