Music and Victorian Philanthropy: The Tonic Sol-Fa Movement

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Providing a fresh approach to the social history of the Victorian era, this book examines the history and development of the tonic sol-fa sight-singing system, and its impact on British society. Instead of focusing on the popular classical music canon, McGuire combines musicology, social history and theology to investigate the perceived power of music within the Victorian era. Through case studies on temperance, missionaries, and women's suffrage, the book traces how John Curwen and his son transformed Sarah Glover's sight-singing notation from a strictly local phenomenon into an internationally-used system. They built an infrastructure that promoted its use within Great Britain and beyond, to British colonies and other lands experiencing British influence, such as India, South Africa, and especially Madagascar. McGuire demonstrates how tonic sol-fa was believed to be of importance beyond music education – that music could improve the morals of individual singers and listeners, thus transforming society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A scholarly, well-documented, clearly written narrative in the growing research area of 19th-century British musical life." —Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521449687
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/16/2009
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Edward McGuire is Associate Professor of Music at Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

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Table of Contents

Preface; 1. Dissenters, philanthropists, and the world of tonic sol-fa; 2. Temperance and tonic sol-fa; 3. Missionaries and tonic sol-fa; 4. Suffragists, suffragettes, domestic ideals, and tonic sol-fa; Epilogue: tonic sol-fa, the public, and the end of an era; Appendix: provenance of tonic sol-fa journals.

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