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The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music

The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music: Composers, Consumers, Communities

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music
    Book Description:

    Marie Sumner Lott examines the music available to musical consumers in the nineteenth century, and what that music tells us about their tastes, priorities, and activities. Her social history of chamber music performance places the works of canonic composers such as Schubert, Brahms, and Dvořák in relation to lesser-known but influential peers. The book explores the dynamic relationships among the active agents involved in the creation of Romantic music and shows how each influenced the others' choices in a rich, collaborative environment. In addition to documenting the ways companies acquired and marketed sheet music, Sumner Lott reveals how the publication and performance of chamber music differed from that of ephemeral piano and song genres or more monumental orchestral and operatic works. Several distinct niche markets existed within the audience for chamber music, and composers created new musical works for their use and enjoyment. Insightful and groundbreaking, The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music revises prevailing views of middle-class influence on nineteenth-century musical style and presents new methods for interpreting the meanings of musical works for musicians both past and present.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09727-0
    Subjects: Music, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Musical Examples
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION String Chamber Music and Its Audiences in the Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 1-20)

    On the surface, these two scenes, common enough in the nineteenth century to be immediately recognizable from a variety of paintings, drawings, or descriptions in novels and stories, describe two iterations of the same type of occasion: a domestic performance of string chamber music in an upper-middle-class home. But upon further consideration, two very different events may be inferred from the visual cues described. In the larger room, the high-art and culture signifiers in the form of classically inspired busts and, most importantly, the presence of a select audience give the impression of a concert-like event in a private space....

  7. CHAPTER 1 Publishing Chamber Music: Archival Evidence for Chamber Music Production and Consumption
    (pp. 21-45)

    Printed music played an integral role in the musical lives of the middle classes, who consumed printed media in increasingly large quantities throughout the nineteenth century as literacy of all kinds gradually extended into much of the social fabric of Europe and North America. Social and cultural historians write of a “reading craze” or reading mania in this period, and literary scholars have tracked the increase in literacy and in consumption of the written word in order to understand better the reception of all kinds of literature, from monumental histories and collections of poetry or prose to less obviously “highbrow”...

  8. CHAPTER 2 “Domesticating” the Foreign in Arrangements of Operas, Folk Songs, and Other Works for Chamber Ensembles
    (pp. 46-78)

    Of the several chamber music styles and genres that flourished in the early nineteenth century, the most surprising for modern-day scholars and musicians may be the chamber arrangement. Although most students and scholars of nineteenth-century music are aware of two- and four-hand piano arrangements of string quartets and other works, the arrangement of an opera or a piano trioforstring quartet is uncommon in today’s music history narrative. Yet, as we have already seen, music publishers throughout Europe produced operas and stage works, as well as other orchestral pieces and folk song collections,en quatuor(arranged for string quartet)...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Music for Men of Leisure: An Examination of the Domestic String Style
    (pp. 79-106)

    In addition to works such as arrangements of operas and dances for string chamber groups, which were clearly designed with at-home use in mind, the early nineteenth century produced a wealth of chamber works that lacked obvious markers of their “lowbrow” social usefulness but apparently catered to a similar audience of recreational musicians—amateurs and professionals playing music for fun, presumably in private or semiprivate spaces. Like works in other social and practical genres that characterized the nineteenth century, these works were widely acclaimed in their time but are forgotten or ignored today because they were closely tied to an...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Redefining the “Progressive” Style in Responses to Beethoven’s Late Quartets
    (pp. 107-143)

    Throughout the nineteenth century, some composers struggled to find an appropriate answer to the enormity and profundity of Beethoven’s works, particularly in those forms and genres most closely linked with his legacy: the sonata, the symphony, and the string quartet. Composers writing in these genres could expect inevitable comparisons not only to Beethoven but also to his predecessors Haydn and Mozart. Some composers embraced this comparison by entering into a dialogue with their artistic forebears, creating new pieces rich in allusions to the best-known works of Beethoven and others.¹ These allusions sometimes also suggest a critique of previous composers’ works...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Creating “Progressive” Communities through Programmatic Chamber Music
    (pp. 144-173)

    We have already seen how composers and publishers used musical style to harness chamber music’s ability to reinforce or create bonds of community among domestic sheet music purchasers and self-consciously avant-garde or “serious” composers following the model of Beethoven’s late works. Composers interested in new modes of musical narrative in the nineteenth century also recognized the chamber genres as a unique opportunity to explore techniques that would bring together performers and listeners. The development of programmaticism in the nineteenth century allowed composers to draw on an audience’s shared experiences and knowledge beyond music and musical history. This may be one...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Audience and Style in Brahms’s String Chamber Music
    (pp. 174-216)

    Brahms’s seven chamber works for strings alone fall neatly into three categories according to chronology and genre. Like Beethoven’s and Dvořák’s string quartets, they reflect the gradual changes evident in their composer’s style at significant stages in his compositional development: the two sextets stem from his “first maturity,” the three string quartets represent what we might call a “high maturity” that flourished in Brahms’s early Viennese years, and the two string quintets demonstrate a “late” style developing in the 1880s and 1890s.¹ Previous studies have not acknowledged or recognized the connections between Brahms’s systematic exploration of these genres and the...

  13. CHAPTER 7 The Diversity of Dvořák’s String Quartet Audiences
    (pp. 217-244)

    As one of the nineteenth century’s most prolific composers of string quartets and the composer of one of the century’s most popular works in that genre (the “American” quartet, op. 96), Antonin Dvořák ought to get more than a passing mention in any study of the genre. Dvořák’s fourteen string quartets outnumber those of Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Brahms combined. But as a perpetual “outsider” to dominant musical hierarchies of his day and of later musicological establishments, Dvořák has rarely been treated as a significant contributor to the ongoing development of chamber music in the last quarter of the nineteenth century.¹...

  14. APPENDIX 1 J. Strunz, string quartet transcription of no. 18, “Prière” (Prayer), from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable
    (pp. 245-249)
  15. APPENDIX 2 C. W. Henning, string quartet transcription of no. 8, “Leise, leise, fromme Weise” (Gently, gently, pious words), from Weber’s Der Freischütz
    (pp. 250-258)
  16. APPENDIX 3 M. Kässmayer, string quartet arrangement of “Mein Herz ist im Hochland” (My heart is in the Highlands) from Deutsche Lieder, op. 14, no. 4
    (pp. 259-264)
  17. NOTES
    (pp. 265-290)
    (pp. 291-304)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 305-308)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-310)