Orientalism and Representations of Music in the Nineteenth-Century British Popular Arts: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Orientalism and Representations of Music in the Nineteenth-Century British Popular Arts

1st Edition

By Claire Mabilat


272 pages

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Representations of music were employed to create a wider 'Orient' on the pages, stages and walls of nineteenth-century Britain. This book explores issues of orientalism, otherness, gender and sexuality that arise in artistic British representations of non-European musicians during this time, by utilizing recent theories of orientalism, and the subsidiary (particularly aesthetic and literary) theories both on which these theories were based and on which they have been influential. The author uses this theoretical framework of orientalism as a form of othering in order to analyse primary source materials, and in conjunction with musicological, literary and art theories, thus explores ways in which ideas of the Other were transformed over time and between different genres and artists. Part I, The Musical Stage, discusses elements of the libretti of popular musical stage works in this period, and the occasionally contradictory ways in which 'racial' Others was represented through text and music; a particular focus is the depiction of 'Oriental' women and ideas of sexuality. Through examination of this collection of libretti, the ways in which the writers of these works filter and romanticize the changing intellectual ideas of this era are explored. Part II, Works of Fiction, is a close study of the works of Sir Henry Rider Haggard, using other examples of popular fiction by his contemporary writers as contextualizing material, with the primary concern being to investigate how music is utilized in popular fiction to represent Other non-Europeans and in the creation of orientalized gender constructions. Part III, Visual Culture, is an analysis of images of music and the 'Orient' in examples of British 'high art', illustration and photography, investigating how the musical Other was visualized.


’… [a] pioneering work.’ NABMSA Newsletter

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction: orientalism and its relation to music and musical representation. Part I The Musical Stage: An introduction to British opera and musical stage works in the long 19th century; Sexualising the other; An angel/demon dualism. Part II Works of Fiction: Rider Haggard and His Milieu: Literature and orientalism: contextualizing Rider Haggard; 'The "lady of the night" hath a sweet voice, and she will not sing in vain': Haggard's women - sexuality, music and the other; Haggard's constructions of African masculinity: otherness, violence and music; '[T]hat unknown man's singing has stirred you deeply': E.M. Hull's The Sheik - an exploration of orientalized gender. Part III Visual culture: Hearing art: an introduction; Visually realizing the fictions of H. Rider Haggard; 'High art' and the musical 'orient'; Staging the photographic 'orient'; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Dr Claire Mabilat is an independent scholar living in France and formerly lectured part-time at Durham University, UK.

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 / General