Votaries of Apollo: The St. Cecilia Society and the Patronage of Concert Music in Charleston, South Carolina, 1766-1820

Overview

Blending archival research with musical expertise, Nicholas Michael Butler offers a definitive history of the dynamic and vibrant concert life in Charleston, South Carolina, during the era from 1766 to 1820, when the exclusive St. Cecilia Society functioned as North America's premier musical organization. In the process he provides an unprecedented look into the early membership and inner workings of this storied society.

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Overview

Blending archival research with musical expertise, Nicholas Michael Butler offers a definitive history of the dynamic and vibrant concert life in Charleston, South Carolina, during the era from 1766 to 1820, when the exclusive St. Cecilia Society functioned as North America's premier musical organization. In the process he provides an unprecedented look into the early membership and inner workings of this storied society.

For fifty-four seasons during the late colonial and early federal years, the St. Cecilia Society offered the families and guests of Charleston's wealthy planters and merchants opportunities to enjoy the latest European musical fashions performed by a cosmopolitan orchestra, visiting professional musicians, and talented amateurs. Intermingling the practices and values of both the Old and the New Worlds, the society's events formed a social stage on which the patronage, performance, and appreciation of contemporary European concert music evinced the cultural and political authority of its participants.

In reconstructing this era of the St. Cecilia Society's concert patronage, Butler begins with a survey of the socio-economic background of the golden age of Charleston's prosperity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and then examines British modes of concert patronage that inspired this South Carolina institution. Following an overview of the society's half century of concert patronage, Butler focuses on specifics of the musical activity: organizational structure and management of activities, administration of finances, performance venues, performers and their relationship to the society, concert repertoire, and withdrawal frompatronage.

The details Butler offers of the society's concert series-which was commensurate with the content, form, and nature of those in the urban centers of contemporary Britain-greatly augment our understanding of the vitality of early American musical culture and challenge long-held historiographic misperceptions about southern cultural history.
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What People Are Saying

David Stahl
"What a refreshing and unique look at the history of music in Charleston! Nicholas Butler has done a brilliant job researching and capturing in the most entertaining way what made Charleston the great cultural center it was more than two hundred years ago. After lying dormant for one hundred fifty years, it makes our work now all the more rewarding as we try to recapture that spirit."--(David Stahl, music director, Charleston Symphony Orchestra)
Kate Van Winkle Keller
"Votaries of Apollo is a landmark study in eighteenth-century American music research with a wealth of carefully integrated information about the arts and material culture. Charleston comes alive with detailed descriptions of taverns and ballrooms, unpaid bills and insults over debt collection, bold entrepreneurs and humble workers, architectural disasters, fires, and hurricanes. Butler's study is far more than the history of an institution. It is also a cultural history that examines the roots and propelling motivations of the people of Charleston in this period."--(Kate Van Winkle Keller, Colonial Music Institute)
Nicholas Temperley
"Until now, early American musical history has been set largely in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. Now, thanks to Nicholas Butler's effort, the balance has been restored. He shows that the elites of Charleston in the late-Colonial and Federal periods supported a strong, European-based musical culture at least as sophisticated as anything further north, with its own distinctive flavor, derived from Caribbean and French connections. Butler's study of the St. Cecilia Society is based on impressively thorough research, and is presented without a trace of regional or racial bias. It is an easy read, rich in fascinating detail."--(Nicholas Temperley, emeritus professor of music, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Nicholas Michael Butler is a musicologist, historian, archivist, and musician. Formerly the archivist for the South Carolina Historical Society, he has taught at the University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, and Indiana University. Butler is special collections manager at the Charleston County Public Library.
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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     ix
Preface     xi
Acknowledgments     xix
Economic and Cultural Background, 1670-1820     1
British Subscription Concerts and the Meaning of St. Cecilia     17
The Rise and Fall of the Concerts     39
The Management     63
The Finances     89
The Venues     113
The Performers, 1766-1792     151
The Performers, 1793-1820     175
The Form and Musical Content of the Concerts     203
The End of an Era     237
Conclusion     253
Calendar of St. Cecilia Concerts, 1766-1820     259
Rules of the St. Cecilia Society, 1773     265
Rules of the St. Cecilia Society, 1831     269
Known Members of the St. Cecilia Society, 1766-1820     273
Notes     279
Bibliography     347
Index     361
About the Author     377
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