Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology  book cover
1st Edition

Music and Metaphor in Nineteenth-Century British Musicology

ISBN 9781138263338
Published November 24, 2016 by Routledge
248 Pages

USD $59.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

’In a word, I shall endeavour to show how our music, having been originally a shell-fish, with its restrictive skeleton on the outside and no soul within, has been developed by the inevitable laws of evolution, through natural selection and the survival of the fittest, into something human, even divine, with the strong, logical skeleton of its science inside, the fair flesh of God-given beauty outside, and the whole, like man himself, animated by a celestial, eternal spirit....’ W.J. Henderson, The Story of Music (1889) Critical writing about music and music history in nineteenth-century Britain was permeated with metaphor and analogy. Music and Metaphor examines how over-arching theories of music history were affected by reference to various figurative linguistic templates adopted from other disciplines such as art, religion, politics and science. Each section of the book discusses a wide range of musicological writings and their correspondence with the language used to convey contemporary ideas such as the sublime, the ancient and modern debate, and, in particular, the theory of evolution. Bennett Zon reveals that through their application of metaphorical frameworks taken from art, religion and science, these writers and their work shed light on nineteenth-century perceptions of music history and illuminate the ways in which these disciplines affected notions of musical development.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction and background: Some preliminary points and definitions; The balance of Continental and English sources: Art; Religion; Science; General histories of music; Musicology through the arts: Music and painting: William Crotch; Music and architecture: Ruskin and one of his interpreters; Music as imitation: Jones, Goddard, Wylde and Garbett; Music as language and poetry: Turnpin, Banister, Prescott and Osbourne; Music images: MacFarren and Wallace; Musicology through religion: Music is God: Pugin and Formby; Music’s divine origin: Jebb and Young; Divinity in some general histories of music: Brown and Dickinson; Music and mysticism: Edwards and Newton; Musicology through science: Basic technical books and their definitions of science: Reeves, Brown and Cook; The principal evolutionary theorists: Spencer and Darwin; Writers on music influenced by evolution: Edmund Gurney, Joseph Goddard, C. Hubert H. Parry, William Wallace; Addendum: J. Alfred Johnstone and evolutionary anti-evolutionism; General histories of music: Musical imperialism in general and national histories; Primitive music as a mirror of the present: Rowbotham and Wallascheck; Issues concerning the balance of narrative and metaphor; Bibliography; Index.

View More



Bennett Zon is Senior Lecturer in Music at the The School of Music, Durham University. He is the author of The English Plainchant Revival (OUP, 1998) and editor of Nineteenth-Century British Music Studies (Ashgate, 1999).


’Twenty-first century British musicologists can be thankful to Bennett Zon for his account of their discipline in the 19th century...there is much here to enjoy, particularly for anyone with an interest in the history of ideas; and Zon is a useful guide to have through the writings of those thirty-plus individuals, familiar and unfamiliar, whose work is analysed here.’ The Musical Times '... can certainly be recommended as a reference source to anyone interested in 19th-century historiography.' International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music