British Music and Literary Context

June 2012
1 black and white, 85 line illustrations
332 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Music in Britain, 1600-2000
ISBN: 9781843837305
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC MUS020000, LIT004120, MUS006000

British Music and Literary Context

Artistic Connections in the Long Nineteenth Century

Michael Allis

This book refutes the notion that British composers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century lacked literary credentials.
Despite several recent monographs, editions and recordings devoted to the reassessment of British music in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, some negative perceptions still remain - particularly a sense that British composers in this period somehow lacked literary credentials. British Music and Literary Context counters this perception by showing that these composers displayed a real confidence and assurance in refiguring literary texts in their music. The book explores how a literary context might offer modern audiences and listeners a 'way in' to appreciate specific works that have traditionally been viewed as problematic. Each chapter of this interdisciplinary study juxtaposes a British composer with a particular literary counterpart or genre.
Chapter one focuses upon the artistic collaboration between Hubert Parry and Robert Bridges; chapter two explores how Charles Villiers Stanford consistently returned to Tennyson's texts throughout his compositional career; chapters three and four suggest how an orchestral drama by Granville Bantock might represent a close reading of a poem by Robert Browning, and how structure and imagery in a novel by Edward Bulwer Lytton might inform a reading of Edward Elgar's Piano Quintet op.84. The final chapter offers parallels between narrative strategies in Victorian travel literature (including works by Charles Dickens and George Gissing) and the nature of musical events in Elgar's concert overture In the South op.50.
Issues highlighted in the book include the vexed relationship between words and music, the refiguring of literary narratives as musical structures, and the ways in which musical settings or representations of literary texts might be seen as critical 'readings' of those texts. Anyone interested in nineteenth century British music, literature and Victorian studies will enjoy this thought-provoking and perceptive book.

Michael Allis is Senior Lecturer in the School of Music, University of Leeds

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Table of Contents

Introduction: British Music and Literary Context
Parry and Bridges: music and poetry in the Invocation to Music
Stanford and Tennyson: the musical promotion of a poet
Bantock and Browning: reformulated dramatic monologue in Fifine at the Fair
Elgar and Bulwer Lytton: hidden narrative and the Piano Quintet Op. 84
Elgar and travel literature: In the South and 'imaginative topography'


This substantial anthology is often fascinating... it is well produced, with a useful index, and is reasonably priced. CHOMBEC NEWS

[A] welcome work in this subfield of British musical studies. . . . Throughout his study, Allis is extremely thorough. His command of both musicological and literary studies bibliography is immense. . . . I have no doubt that each of the chapters will be valued by those who study British music as potential models for their own analyses. NINETEENTH-CENTURY MUSIC REVIEW

A fascinating study . . . a book for the specialist with, furthermore, wide areas of specialism in both musicology and literary criticism . . . rewarding. SPIRITED MAGAZINE, ENGLISH MUSIC FESTIVAL

Allis has opened up new paths for surveying British musical and literary traditions by bringing musical analysis to the foreground - a highly desirable contribution to a vast and engaging area of study, and one for which he deserves significant credit. JOURNAL OF MUSICOLOGICAL RESEARCH

What a refreshing book! . . . [Allis] has consolidated five substantial case studies into an overall model of considerable scope, expertise and sensitivity where the treatment of Victorian and post-Victorian art music are concerned. CHOMBEC News

Reading this book incubates curiosity. . . . Well-informed and carefully researched, yet approachable in style, the book invites a wide readership. MLA NOTES

[T]his book offers a fascinating mirroring of both the composers and the writers and will serve as a valuable contribution to nineteenth-century studies . . . offers an impressive study. JOURNAL OF VICTORIAN CULTURE

[T]his volume is a brillant tour de force. . . . His range of sources cited is remarkably wide, the depth of literary knowledge equal to the musical. ELGAR SOCIETY JOURNAL

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