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