Music and Academia in Victorian Britain: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Music and Academia in Victorian Britain

1st Edition

By Rosemary Golding


272 pages

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Until the nineteenth century, music occupied a marginal place in British universities. Degrees were awarded by Oxford and Cambridge, but students (and often professors) were not resident, and there were few formal lectures. It was not until a benefaction initiated the creation of a professorship of music at the University of Edinburgh, in the early nineteenth century, that the idea of music as a university discipline commanded serious consideration. The debates that ensued considered not only music’s identity as art and science, but also the broader function of the university within education and society. Rosemary Golding traces the responses of some of the key players in musical and academic culture to the problems surrounding the establishment of music as an academic discipline. The focus is on four universities: Edinburgh, Oxford, Cambridge and London. The different institutional contexts, and the approaches taken to music in each university, showcase the various issues surrounding music’s academic identity, as well as wider problems of status and professionalism. In examining the way music challenged conceptions of education and professional identity in the nineteenth century, the book also sheds light on the way the academic study of music continues to challenge modern approaches to music and university education.


'Deft handling of abundant archive material, woven into a tight, instructive narrative, brings to the fore the two issues about music's identity and status that drive the author's principal themes: art or science? professional or liberal form of study?' Fontes Artis Musicae ’Golding’s book is an important and readable foray into an under-explored aspect of British musical history. Thoroughly researched, it raises questions about music curricula that preoccupy us still. … a generous number of appendices … give an indication of the huge amount of material the author had to plough through in order to present such a clear narrative. Golding provides many insights and analyses of a complicated period in British musical history, re-introducing us to a number of forgotten but worthy figures, and as such her book is to be warmly welcomed’. NABMSA

About the Author

Rosemary Golding studied music at the University of Oxford and Royal Holloway College, University of London. She now holds the post of Academic Staff Tutor in Music at the Open University. Rosemary is a cellist and singer and lives in Oxford.

About the Series

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain

So much of our ‘common’ knowledge of music in nineteenth-century Britain is bound up with received ideas. This series disputes their validity through research critically reassessing our perceptions of the period. Volumes in the series cover wide-ranging areas such as composers and composition; conductors, management and entrepreneurship; performers and performing; music criticism and the press; concert venues and promoters; church music and music theology; repertoire, genre, analysis and theory; instruments and technology; music education and pedagogy; publishing, printing and book selling; reception, historiography and biography; women and music; masculinity and music; gender and sexuality; domestic music-making; empire, orientalism and exoticism; and music in literature, poetry, theatre and dance.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / History & Criticism