Interpreting the Musical Past: Early Music in Nineteenth-Century France

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Overview

This study of the French early music revival gives us a vivid sense of how music's cultural meanings were contested in the nineteenth century. It surveys the main patterns of revivalist activity while also providing in-depth studies of repertories stretching from Adam de la Halle to Rameau.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Few scholars other than Katharine Ellis could have written Interpreting the Musical Past. For this monograph draws extensively on the author's substantial experience with French music criticism, as well as her sophisticated understanding of that nation's political and cultural history. There is also very clearly an active musician behind the pen here, one sensitive to issues of musical style and performance practices. It is an exemplary model for scholars in general of what musicology can be. In treating a subject over the entire nineteenth century - something that is actually quite rare in the study of French music - I believe that she has revealed just how important it is for specialists not to get too bogged down in narrow time frames. Points taken. Lessons learned. Many, many thank Professor Ellis."

"Katherine Ellis approaches the subject with great intellectual acuity in her second major work on this subject, Interpeting the Musical Past. Historians will profit from the book's analysis of nationalistic themes in musical ideology and its wide-ranging research on provincial concert life." — H-France Review

"This is an excellent source for scholars interested in early musicology, Bach and Handel reception, the emergence of Palestrina as a figure of importance, and the often-conflicting perceptions the French displayed toward their music and its history." — Choice

"A masterful, elegantly written study of what it meant for music to be French. In this wonderful interdisciplinary work, Ellis considers the nineteenth century's revival of early music as crucial to the cultural politics of patriotism, nationalism, and France's religious divide. Her book will be required reading for cultural historians and musicologists alike."—Edward Berenson, Director, Institute of French Studies, NYU

"From occasional curiosity to cultural commodity, Katharine Ellis deftly traces how early music became absorbed into the concert repertory and musical institutions of nineteenth-century France. She keeps a steady eye on the ideological issues behind debates about the value of older music so that her book offers the most significant analysis available anywhere of what was at stake in the construction and championing of historical repertories. Because nationalism played a major role in this process in France, Ellis's study is also a landmark for our understanding of the various ways in which la différence française has been defined musically over time."—Steven Huebner, McGill University

"Nineteenth-century France was not populated just by musical innovators such as Berlioz and the young Debussy. As Katharine Ellis's meticulous and insightful study Interpreting the Musical Past reveals, a major 'resurrection' of older music was carried out by determined scholars, publishers, and performers who were fueled by a variety of agendas: nationalistic, aesthetic, pedagogical. Thus did the modern world first experience the profundity and grace of Gregorian chant and Palestrina, Rameau and Bach, and the multifarious heritage of French folk song."—Ralph P. Locke, Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester), and author of Music, Musicians, and the Saint-Simonians

"Few scholars other than Katharine Ellis could have written Interpreting the Musical Past. For this monograph draws extensively on the author's substantial experience with French music criticism, as well as her sophisticated understanding of that nation's political and cultural history. There is also very clearly an active musician behind the pen here, one sensitive to issues of musical style and performance practices. It is an exemplary model for scholars in general of what musicology can be. In treating a subject over the entire nineteenth century - something that is actually quite rare in the study of French music - I believe that she has revealed just how important it is for specialists not to get too bogged down in narrow time frames. Points taken. Lessons learned. Many, many thank Professor Ellis."

"Katherine Ellis approaches the subject with great intellectual acuity in her second major work on this subject, Interpeting the Musical Past. Historians will profit from the book's analysis of nationalistic themes in musical ideology and its wide-ranging research on provincial concert life." — H-France Review

"This is an excellent source for scholars interested in early musicology, Bach and Handel reception, the emergence of Palestrina as a figure of importance, and the often-conflicting perceptions the French displayed toward their music and its history." — Choice

"A masterful, elegantly written study of what it meant for music to be French. In this wonderful interdisciplinary work, Ellis considers the nineteenth century's revival of early music as crucial to the cultural politics of patriotism, nationalism, and France's religious divide. Her book will be required reading for cultural historians and musicologists alike."—Edward Berenson, Director, Institute of French Studies, NYU

"From occasional curiosity to cultural commodity, Katharine Ellis deftly traces how early music became absorbed into the concert repertory and musical institutions of nineteenth-century France. She keeps a steady eye on the ideological issues behind debates about the value of older music so that her book offers the most significant analysis available anywhere of what was at stake in the construction and championing of historical repertories. Because nationalism played a major role in this process in France, Ellis's study is also a landmark for our understanding of the various ways in which la différence française has been defined musically over time."—Steven Huebner, McGill University

"Nineteenth-century France was not populated just by musical innovators such as Berlioz and the young Debussy. As Katharine Ellis's meticulous and insightful study Interpreting the Musical Past reveals, a major 'resurrection' of older music was carried out by determined scholars, publishers, and performers who were fueled by a variety of agendas: nationalistic, aesthetic, pedagogical. Thus did the modern world first experience the profundity and grace of Gregorian chant and Palestrina, Rameau and Bach, and the multifarious heritage of French folk song."—Ralph P. Locke, Professor of Musicology, Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester), and author of Music, Musicians, and the Saint-Simonians

"Ellis covers an impressive amount of ground. She has synthesized a remarkable amount of material, contributed her own extensive archival research, exhumed little-known figures and activites, and provided a basic narrative for anyone interested in the period."-Current Musicology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195176827
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/22/2005
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Katharine Ellis is Reader in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her work centers on the cultural history of music in nineteenth-century France. She has published on "directors' opera" in the 1830s, Wagnerism, music criticism, women as performers, and music education. Current projects include a volume of Berlioziana edited with David Charlton, and a monograph on music in the French regions. A former joint editor of Music & Letters, Ellis is editor of the Journal of the Royal Musical Association.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 1800-1846 3
Ch. 2 1846-1878 43
Ch. 3 1878-1900 81
Ch. 4 La musique francaise at the crossroads 119
Ch. 5 Sources of Frenchness 147
Ch. 6 Defining Palestrina 179
Ch. 7 Baroque choral music : the popular and the profound 209
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