The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music

By Jim Samson | Go to book overview

18
Choral culture and the regeneration of the
organ
JOHN BUTT

Most historical accounts of European choral movements in the nineteenth century note a certain loss of intensity and idealistic purpose after the revolutions of 1848. Central to the constellation of possible reasons may be the expansion and liberalisation of economies leading to greater mass production and an increasing division of labour. With an enormous growth in musical consumption and participation in massed singing a dilution in the idealistic zeal displayed by the first amateur choral groups was all but inevitable. The changes in musical production were equally predictable with an increasing distinction between the amateur and the professional that may have resulted in some decline in the musical capabilities of the former.1 Dahlhaus relates the withering of the seemingly holistic combination of conviviality, educative purpose and bourgeois self-display to the increasing polarisation of the public and private spheres; audiences became an anonymous, cosmopolitan public who no longer fully shared the social brotherhood of the amateur singers.2 Steady economic growth contributed to a sense of hedonism rather than idealism in some places, such as Napoleon III's France, but also to more authoritarian, centralising regimes. It was not unknown for choral establishments to be subject to police observation and many inevitably swapped their idealism for a more reactionary stance.3 On the other hand, the very fact that some musical institutions provoked official surveillance suggests that they must have retained some of their radical elements.

Even more palpable than the political transformations was the new scientific climate. The latter half of the century saw not only enormous technological advances in the wake of industrialisation and an increasingly dispassionate empiricism, but also a concomitant positivistic attitude in the arts that spawned numerous collected editions and catalogues of composers' works. This inevitably interacted with an invigorated historicist sense that either

____________________
1
L. Botstein, 'Listening through Reading: Musical Literacy and the Concert Audience', 19th Century Music, 16 (1992–3), pp. 129–45.
2
C. Dahlhaus, Nineteenth -Century Music, trans. J. B. Robinson (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1989), p. 174.
3
J. Deathridge, 'Germany: The “Special Path'”, in J. Samson (ed.), The Late Romantic Era (Englewood Cliffs, 1991), pp. 57–9.

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The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Music
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Notes on Contributors ix
  • Editor's Preface xiii
  • Part One - 1800–1850 1
  • 1 - The Musical Work and Nineteenth-Century History 3
  • Bibliography *
  • 2 - Music and the Rise of Aesthetics 29
  • Bibliography *
  • 3 - The Profession of Music 55
  • Bibliography 85
  • 4 - The Opera Industry 87
  • Bibliography *
  • 5 - The Construction of Beethoven 118
  • Bibliography *
  • 6 - Music and the Poetic 151
  • Bibliography *
  • 7 - The Invention of Tradition 178
  • Bibliography *
  • 8 - Choral Music 213
  • Bibliography *
  • 9 - The Consumption of Music 237
  • Bibliography 258
  • 10 - The Great Composer 259
  • Bibliography 283
  • Part Two - 1850–1900 285
  • 11 - Progress, Modernity and the Concept of an Avant-Garde 287
  • Bibliography *
  • 12 - Music as Ideal: the Aesthetics of Autonomy 318
  • Bibliography *
  • 13 - The Structures of Musical Life 343
  • Bibliography *
  • 14 - Opera and Music Drama 371
  • Bibliography *
  • 15 - Beethoven Reception: the Symphonic Tradition 424
  • Bibliography *
  • 16 - Words and Music in Germany and France 460
  • Bibliography *
  • 17 - Chamber Music and Piano 500
  • Bibliography *
  • 18 - Choral Culture and the Regeneration of the Organ 522
  • Bibliography *
  • 19 - Music and Social Class 544
  • Bibliography *
  • 20 - Nations and Nationalism 568
  • Bibliography *
  • 21 - Styles and Languages Around the Turn of the Century 601
  • Bibliography 620
  • Chronology 621
  • Institutions 659
  • Personalia 689
  • Index 747
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