Matthew Head explores the cultural meanings of Mozart's Turkish music in the composer's 18th-century context, in subsequent discourses of Mozart's significance for 'Western' culture, and in today's (not entirely) post-colonial world. Unpacking the ideological content of Mozart's numerous representations of Turkey and Turkish music, Head locates the composer's exoticisms in shifting power relations between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires, and in an emerging orientalist project. At the same time, Head complicates a presentist post-colonial critique by exploring commercial stimuli to Mozart's turquerie, and by embedding the composer's orientalism in practices of self-disguise epitomised by masquerade and carnival. In this context, Mozart's Turkish music offered fleeting liberation from official and proscribed identities of the bourgeois Enlightenment.
This series was originally supported by funds made available to the Royal Musical Association from the estate of Thurston Dart. Its purpose is to provide a medium for specialized investigations of a topic, concept or repertory - studies of a kind that would not normally be feasible for commercial publishers and that would be too long for most periodicals.