Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Indian Society

Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Indian Society

Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Indian Society

Music of the Raj: A Social and Economic History of Music in Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-Indian Society

Synopsis

'An important study of cultural exchange as well as of gender issues concerning Western society transplanted to what was rapidly emerging as the jewel in the imperial crown.' -Music and Letters'Stimulating blend of social and musical history... draws on a superbly rich collection of sources... Woodfield's book takes its place alongside the best of documentary studies of socio-musical history.' -British Journal of Ethnomusicology'This work will become a central source for all those interested in the social history of the British in India and wider issues to do with the nature of musical acculturation, music education, gender studies and the history of ethnomusicology.' -Times Higher Education Supplement'Excellent study... This is an important work that sheds new light on the processes of music-making in the British community in late 18th-century India... rich in detail... Woodfield draws a vivid and fascinating picture of these times.' -Times Higher Education Supplement'This is an endlessly fascinating book, full of new insights... and obviously the product of patient and persevering research... The correspondence between all the players is quoted at generous length and illuminating detail, and accompanied by clear and incisive commentaries.' -Early Music'Delightful book... Ian Woodfield's solid achievement is a product of canny scholarship: the ability to select and relate evidence, to discern telling detail, structure an argument, and to write with a style worthy of his protagonists.' -Times Literary SupplementMusic of the Raj provides a colourful portrait of daily musical life in the late eighteenth century. Based on unpublished Anglo-Indian correspondence, Woodfield illustrates in fascinating detail the musical activities of a group of English employees of the East India Company, in Calcutta and London, at that time.

Excerpt

‘Of all kinds of musical activity the least documented is, understandably, domestic music-making. At its extent and its social spread in England during the eighteenth century we can only guess.’ Thus Stanley Sadie in Music in Britain: the Eighteenth Century. Notwithstanding the lack of first-hand accounts by amateur musicians, it is accepted that the growth of recreational music-making among the middle classes, now an economically powerful group, influenced profoundly the development of musical culture in eighteenth-century England. Newly affluent and with leisure time to devote to their hobby, musical amateurs influenced almost every aspect of professional and commercial musical activity: they provided the audiences for the emerging traditions of the public concert; their need for tuition increased the opportunities for music teachers, stimulating a great influx of Italian and German musicians; their appetite for new keyboard instruments led to the emergence of London as the leading centre for the technical development and the commercial retail of pianofortes; and their demand for new repertoire stimulated a phenomenal increase in the publication of easy domestic music. the growing vitality of musical life in London is easy to document, but the effects in the shires were as obvious: musical clubs and societies flourished; circulating music libraries were set up; ‘country’ music retailers established businesses, acting as agents for the major London firms; systems of transport for the carriage of instruments were put in place; and an informal annual calendar of special events, effectively music festivals, came into being.

All of this activity has left a wealth of evidence, mainly ‘public’ or ‘semi-public’ in character, in the form of newspaper advertisements, publishers’ catalogues, minute books of societies, and subscription lists. Material of this kind is certainly of great value in tracing the development of middle-class musical tastes. Analysis of the repertoire of provincial music societies, for example, illustrates an undiminished enthusiasm for Corelli throughout the century, and the successive phases in the reception of Haydn’s music can be followed through in newspaper advertisements of the programmes of leading concert organizations. the musical preferences of more specific groups are also amenable to study. in a recent account of the rise of ‘ancient’ music, lists of patrons of one of the main societies devoted to its promotion have been shown to reflect the influence of class and political allegiance on support

H. Diack Johnstone and R. Fiske, eds., Music in Britain: the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), 313.

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