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Art & Culture

Music in London 1800-1851

Music in London 1800-1851 was a five-year research project (2013-2018) funded by the European Research Council, based in the Music Department at King’s College London. The project was headed by Principal Investigator Professor Roger Parker and comprised a team of dedicated scholars, including five full-time post-doctoral research fellows, three post-doctoral research associates, an administrator and a very large number of visiting scholars.

Music in London 1800-1851 was an attempt to rewrite the history of music in early nineteenth-century London, emphasising the city’s unique position in European musical culture. It strove to encourage an approach to music history firmly centred on social and political meanings, in the process establishing an extensive dialogue between music history and related disciplines. The project’s driving rationale was that musical activity in the city could be addressed in the broadest possible manner and from an interdisciplinary perspective. Subject areas included common musicological ports-of-call such as concert music, operatic entertainment and music aesthetics. But other activities, less often considered, also became central to the project: the phenomenon of street music and ballad singing; popular theatre (in particular melodrama and popular musical entertainments); music and print culture; listening practices; music and politics; the multiple intersections between music and science; the manner in which music functioned in time of war.

Throughout its five-year programme, the project hosted a large number of events from small reading groups to large-scale conferences, the latter typically taking the form of group discussion of pre-circulated papers. In all, some twenty books (or special issues of journals) directly emerged from project activities.

Administrator

Angela Waplington

Publications

Among the major achievements of the project were a large number of multi-day workshops. Each of these brought together a group of international experts for discussion of pre-circulated papers. In many cases, listed below, the results were interesting enough to merit collection in an edited volume or a special issue of an academic journal.

  1. Sound Knowledge: Music and Science in London (18-19 October 2013), organised by Ellen Lockhart (University of Toronto) and James Q. Davies (University of California, Berkeley). The essays have appeared as James Q. Davies and Ellen Lockhart, eds., Sound Knowledge: Music and Science in London, 1789-1851 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017).
  2. The Melodramatic Moment, 1790-1820 (27-29 March 2014), organised by Katherine Hambridge (University of Warwick) and Jonathan Hicks (King’s College London). The essays have appeared as Katherine Hambridge and Jonathan Hicks, eds., The Melodramatic Moment: Music and Theatrical Culture, 1790-1820 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018).
  3. Music and Science in London 1800-1851 (27-28 June 2014), organised by Sarah Hibberd (University of Nottingham). The essays have appeared, under Sarah Hibberd’s editorship, as a special issue of the journal 19th-Century Music, Vol. 39/2 (Fall, 2015).
  4. Theatres of the Crimean War: Sound, Affect, and Media in the Production of Wartime (17-18 October 2014), organised by Gavin Williams (Jesus College, Cambridge). The essays have appeared as Gavin Williams, ed., Hearing the Crimean War: Wartime Sound and the Unmaking of Sense (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  5. Charles Dibdin and his World (28-29 November 2014), organised by Oskar Cox Jensen (King’s College London), David Kennerley (University of Oxford) and Ian Newman (University of Notre Dame). The essays have appeared as Oskar Cox Jensen, David Kennerley and Ian Newman, eds., Charles Dibdin and Late Georgian Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  6. Grand Opéra on the Move, 1800-1865 (5-6 December 2014), organised by Laura Protano-Biggs (University of Nottingham). The essays have appeared, under Laura Protano-Biggs’s editorship, as a special issue of the Cambridge Opera Journal, Vol. 29/1 (March 2017).
  7. Operatic Cosmopolitanisms (1-2 May 2015), organised by Sarah Collins (University of Durham) and Dana Gooley (Brown University). The essays have appeared, under Sarah Collins and Dana Gooley’s editorship, as a special issue of the journal Musical Quarterly, Vol. 99/2 (Summer 2016).
  8. Hebrew Melodies: Music and the Bible in 19th-century Europe (25-26 June 2015), organised by James Grande (King’s College London) and Brian Murray (University of Cambridge). The essays have been revised by the organisers and will be published, under the title Scripture and Song in Nineteenth-Century Britain, by Bloomsbury Press in 2021.
  9. Operatic Reflections and Reverberations, Britain 1800-1850 (15-16 January 2016), organised by Roberta Montemorra Marvin (University of Iowa) and Roger Parker (King’s College London). The essays are being revised by Roberta Montemorra Marvin and will become a volume submitted to a scholarly press.
  10. London Voices (1820-1840) (9-10 September 2016), organised by Susan Rutherford (University of Manchester) and Roger Parker (King’s College London). The essays have appeared as Roger Parker and Susan Rutherford, eds., London Voices, 1820-1840 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019).
  11. The Opium Workshop (9­-10 December 2016), organised by Josephine McDonagh (University of Chicago) and Briony Wickes (King’s College London). The essays appeared, under the organisers’s editorship, as a special issue of Literature & History, 29/1 (May 2020).
  12. Liberalism and Victorian Music Culture (27-28 January 2017), organised by Sarah Collins and Bennett Zon (University of Durham). The essays have appeared as Sarah Collins, ed., Music and Victorian Liberalism: Composing the Liberal Subject (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
  13. Sound and Sense in Britain, 1770-1840 (Columbia, 12-13 May 2017), organised by James Grande (King’s College London) and Carmel Raz (Columbia University). The essays are being revised by the organisers and will become a volume submitted to a university press.
  14. Music and Politics in Britain, c. 1780-1850 (2-3 June 2017), organised by David Kennerley (King’s College London) and Oskar Cox Jensen (Queen Mary University of London). The essays are being revised by the organisers and will be submitted together as a special issue of the Journal of British Studies.
  15. Opera and Print Culture (23-24 June 2017), organised by Christina Fuhrmann (Baldwin Wallace University) and Alison Mero (Journal of Musicology). The essays are being revised by the organisers and will become a volume submitted to a scholarly press.
  16. Song and the City (27-28 October 2017), organised by Ian Newman (University of Notre Dame). The essays have appeared, under Ian Newman’s editorship, as a special issue of the journal Studies in Romanticism, Vol 58/4 (Winter 2019).
  17. Music Aesthetics in 19th-Century Britain (15-16 December 2017), organised by Kathy Fry (King’s College London). The essays are being revised by the organiser and will be submitted together as a special issue of an academic journal.

In addition, the PI and Research Fellows are each preparing a monograph:

  • James Grande, Articulate Sounds: Music, Dissent, and Literary Culture, 1789-1840 Under contract with the British Academy/Oxford University Press.
  • Oscar Cox Jensen, The London Ballad-Singer, 1792-1864 In preparation, to be submitted to a university press.
  • Jonathan Hicks, Music on the Move in Early Victorian London In preparation, to be submitted to a university press.
  • Roger Parker, Brooding City: Music in London in the 1830s In preparation, to be submitted to a university press.

Partners

ERC, European Research Council, established by the European Comission logo

European Research Council

Project status: Completed

Principal investigators

Roger Parker, Thurston Dart Professor of Music at King's College London

Roger Parker

Thurston Dart Professor of Music

Keywords

  • music
  • London
  • history
  • 19th-century