The English Musical Renaissance and the Press 1850-1914: Watchmen of Music: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The English Musical Renaissance and the Press 1850-1914: Watchmen of Music

1st Edition

By Meirion Hughes


260 pages

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The importance of nineteenth-century writing about culture has long been accepted by scholars, yet so far as music criticism is concerned, Victorian England has been an area of scholarly neglect. This state of affairs is all the more surprising given that the quantity of such criticism in the Victorian and Edwardian press was vast, much of it displaying a richness and diversity of critical perspectives. Through the study of music criticism from several key newspapers and journals (specifically The Times, Daily Telegraph, Athenaeum and The Musical Times), this book examines the reception history of new English music in the period surveyed and assesses its cultural, social and political, importance. Music critics projected and promoted English composers to create a national music of which England could be proud. J A Fuller Maitland, critic on The Times, described music journalists as 'watchmen on the walls of music', and Meirion Hughes extends this metaphor to explore their crucial role in building and safeguarding what came to be known as the English Musical Renaissance. Part One of the book looks at the critics in the context of the publications for which they worked, while Part Two focuses on the relationship between the watchmen-critics and three composers: Arthur Sullivan, Hubert Parry and Edward Elgar. Hughes argues that the English Musical Renaissance was ultimately a success thanks largely to the work of the critics. In so doing, he provides a major re-evaluation of the impact of journalism on British music history.


'…a significant work, do acquire the book if your interest is high on the subject.' The Delian 'This is an important and pioneering study, breaking substantially new ground…' The Elgar Society Journal '… meticulously amassed evidence…' BBC Music Magazine

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Part 1: Watchmen and Watchtowers: I.The Times: J.W. Davison: 'musical politician'; Francis Hueffer: stranger as sentinel; J.A. Fuller Maitland: 'doorkeeper of music'; H.C. Colles; 2.The Daily Telegraph: Joseph Bennet: ’patriarch and head of the profession’; Robin Legge; 3. The Athenaeum: Henry F. Chorley: critic as patron; Campbell Clarke; Charles Gruneisen; Ebenezer Prout and Henry Frost; John Shedlock; 4. The Musical Times: J. Alfred Novello: a look-out for profit; Henry Lunn takes command; W.A. Barrett and E.F. Jacques; Frederick G. Edwards; W.G. McNaught; Part 2: The Watched: 5. Sullivan - ’Jumbo of the moment’: Lost leader?; ’Risking comparison with great men’; ’A love of the stage’; 6. Parry - ’English master’: ’Wild oats’; ’Legitimate husbandry’; 7. Elgar - 'self-made' composer: ’A local musician’; Passing the rubicon; ’Man of the hour’; Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Meirion Hughes, a freelance historian, co-authored (with R.A. Stradling) The English Musical Renaissance 1860-1940: Construction and Deconstruction (1993), a volume which has appeared in a revised edition as The English Musical Renaissance 1840-1940: Constructing a National Music (2001). He contributed essays on Elgar to Music and the Politics of Culture (1989), on Rossini to Conflict and Coexistence (1997), and has written and presented several broadcasts for BBC Radio 3.

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