Water Music: Making Music in the Spas of Europe and North America

Water Music: Making Music in the Spas of Europe and North America

by Ian Bradley
     
 

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Many of the most famous composers in classical music spent considerable periods in spa towns, whether taking in the waters, or searching for patrons among the rich and influential clientele who frequented these pioneer resorts, or soaking up the relaxing and decadent ambience of these enchanted and magical places. At Baden bei Wein, Mozart wrote his Ave Verum

Overview

Many of the most famous composers in classical music spent considerable periods in spa towns, whether taking in the waters, or searching for patrons among the rich and influential clientele who frequented these pioneer resorts, or soaking up the relaxing and decadent ambience of these enchanted and magical places. At Baden bei Wein, Mozart wrote his Ave Verum Corpus, and Beethoven sketched out his Ninth Symphony. Johannes Brahms spent 17 summers in Baden-Baden, where he stayed in his own specially-built composing cavern and consorted with Clara Schumann. Berlioz came to conduct in Baden-Baden for nine seasons, writing his last major work, Beatrice and Benedict, for the town's casino manager. Chopin, Liszt, and Dvorak were each regular visitors to Carlsbad and Marienbad. And it was in Carlsbad that Beethoven met Goethe. Concerts, recitals, and resident orchestras have themselves played a major role in the therapeutic regimes and the social and cultural life of European and North American watering places since the late eighteenth century. To this day, these spa towns continue to host major music festivals of the highest caliber, drawing musicians and loyal audiences on both local and international levels.
This book explores the music making that went on in the spas and watering places in Europe and the United States during their heyday between the early-eighteenth and the mid-twentieth centuries. Music was a hugely important part of the experience of taking a spa cure. Bands played during the early morning and late afternoon while people took the waters and bathed. Spa orchestras and ensembles entertained those gathering socially or resting in assembly rooms, pump rooms and in gardens and parks. In the evenings spa guests enjoyed concerts, visits to the theatre, balls, dances and gambling sessions at the casino, at all of which music played a major role.
Expert author Ian Bradley draws on original archival material and the diaries and letters of composers. His book ranges chronologically and geographically, beginning with Bath and Baden near Vienna, which both flourished in the eighteenth century, continuing through Baden-Baden, the Bohemian spas and Bad Ischl in the nineteenth century and on to Buxton and Saratoga Springs which saw their glory days in the early twentieth century. A concluding chapter brings the subject up to date with a review of the musical activities taking place in spa towns today and of the music that accompanies treatments in modern spas, now so ubiquitous and so important and growing a feature in the booming world of leisure, tourism, health and well-being.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"To Strauss, Sullivan and Lehar, as to Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms, the centrality of the spa to musical life was so obvious that it didn't need underlining. We've lost that, however, so Ian Bradley's impressively researched Water Music sheds new and welcome light on this now-vanished corner of the musical world."—Gayden Wren, author of A Most Ingenious Paradox: The Art of Gilbert & Sullivan (Oxford, 2001)

"Ian Bradley has assiduously drawn on a broad range of historical contexts, letters and accounts to enrich his scholarly and entertaining narrative of the European spa and its importance to various composers. In addition, Bradley has shown that even when spas fell out of fashion, the tradition of musical activity re-adapted itself to suit new social demands, as is evident from important English spa towns such as Bath."—Jeremy Dibble, Professor, Department of Music, Durham University

"A short yet exhaustive study...[A] font of delightful musical tidbits." —New Yorker

"In Water Music Ian Bradley immerses himself in the cultural whirl of the fashionable watering places of Europe and North America... what makes his book entertaining for the general reader is the detail with which he examines the social milieu of the spas and the musicians' attitudes towards it." - John Mole, Times Literary Supplement

"A fact-filled, gosspiy, entertaining and revelatory mix of social and musical history written with an infectious enthusiasm that makes this unlikely subject spring to life." - Classic FM Magazine

"What makes his book entertaining for the general reader is the detail with which he examines the social milieu of the spas and the musicians' attitudes towards it." —Times Literary Supplement

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195327342
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
03/05/2010
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Ian Bradley, already known as one of world's leading authorities on and enthusiasts for the works of Gilbert and Sullivan, is also highly active in and maintains a very high profile at summer spa music festivals. He has broadcast regularly on music for the BBC including most recently a documentary transmitted on 25 October 2008 on BBC Radio 3 under the title 'Water Music." He is Vice President of the Arthur Sullivan Society and honorary life president of the St. Andrews University Gilbert and Sullivan Society with whom he has performed several principal bass-baritone roles. He has also acted as consultant to the D'Oyly Carte Company. His abiding passion for operetta and music is fitted into his more serious life as a minister in the Church of Scotland, University Chaplain and Reader in Practical Theology and Church History in the School of Divinity at St. Andrews University. He is the author of more than 30 books.

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