Roy Johnston and Declan Plummer provide a refreshing portrait of Belfast in the nineteenth century. Before his death Roy Johnston, had written a full draft, based on an impressive array of contemporary sources, with deep and detailed attention especially to contemporary newspapers. With the deft and sensitive contribution of Declan Plummer the finished book offers a telling view of Belfast’s thriving musical life. Largely without the participation and example of local aristocracy, nobility and gentry, Belfast’s musical society was formed largely by the townspeople themselves in the eighteenth century and by several instrumental and choral societies in the nineteenth century. As the town grew in size and developed an industrial character, its townspeople identified increasingly with the large industrial towns and cities of the British mainland. Efforts to place themselves on the principal touring circuit of the great nineteenth-century concert artists led them to build a concert hall not in emulation of Dublin but of the British industrial towns. Belfast audiences had experienced English opera in the eighteenth century, and in due course in the nineteenth century they found themselves receiving the touring opera companies, in theatres newly built to accommodate them. Through an energetic groundwork revision of contemporary sources, Johnston and Plummer reveal a picture of sustained vitality and development that justifies Belfast’s prominent place the history of nineteenth-century musical culture in Ireland and more broadly in the British Isles.
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Prelude: the 18th-century musical legacy; Edward Bunting in the new century; The Anacreontic Society: an 18th-century throwback; Opera in a blighted theatre; Concert life in the 1840s and 1850s: the Anacreontic Society in its music hall; Concert life in the 1840s and 1850s: to God be the glory - The rise of the choral societies; Concert life in the 1840s and 1850s: welcome visitors; Edmund Thomas Chipp and the building of the Ulster Hall; Concert life after Chipp; Opera and the return of theatrical respectability; Concert life in the philharmonic era, 1874-99; Carl Rosa and the gilded elephants; Conclusion: fertile soil and stony ground; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
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.