The Pursuit of High Culture
Title Details

424 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

17 b/w. 1 line. Illustrations

Series: Music in Britain, 1600-1900

Imprint: Boydell Press

The Pursuit of High Culture

John Ella and Chamber Music in Victorian London

by Christina Bashford

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  • Contents
  • Reviews
This monograph investigates the promotion and consumption of high musical culture among leisured society in Victorian London, by focusing on the activities of the concert manager John Ella and his Musical Union.
This monograph investigates the promotion and consumption of high musical culture among leisured society in Victorian London, by focusing on the activities of the concert manager John Ella and his Musical Union [1845-81], an eminent, long-lived institution for chamber music, much fêted across Europe in its day. It combines a biography of Ella with a social-economic history of the Musical Union, its players, repertoire and audiences, and sets them against the gradually shifting contexts for London concerts, chamber music and cultural life. Ella's extraordinary life story, which began in provincial, artisan-class obscurity and ended in the upper echelons of London society, shapes thenarrative. Such themes as entrepreneurship, concert management, taste shaping, music appreciation and elite social networks are discussed throughout, as is the curious interplay between the desire to 'sacralize' chamber music, especially Beethoven's, on the one hand, and the need to survive amid the increasing commercial imperatives of London concert life on the other.
CHRISTINA BASHFORD is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Introduction: The Case for Ella
From Leicester to London, 1802-29
Successes, Frustrations, Ambitions, 1828-44
Establishing the Musical Union, 1845-8
Consolidation and Expansion, 1849-57
New Spaces, 1858-68
Adapting to Survive, 1868-79
Endings (1880-88) and Legacy
"[B]ashford's book expertly relates her thorough documentation of Ella's life and professional activities to the broader social, cultural, and musical Victorian context, offering us a model example of how good scholarship can make even one enabler of music, relevant all of music and Victorian culture." NABMSA Newsletter
"[This] study not only meets a need in Victorian cultural history but prompts applications to our day...of interest to anyone working on nineteenth-centiry performing arts, in Britain or elsewhere." VICTORIAN STUDIES
"The first of its kind...As such it takes its responsibility very seriously, and as a consequence it does not disappoint...It is a model of modern musicological biography, and for that Christina Bashford is to be highly praised." Bennett Zon, MUSIC & LETTERS

Hardcover

9781843832980

November 2007

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9781846155833

November 2007

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Title Details

424 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

17 b/w. 1 line. Illustrations

Series: Music in Britain, 1600-1900

Imprint: Boydell Press