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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Barring a few notable exceptions, English music between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries earns scant notice in music history textbooks, despite overwhelming evidence that England enjoyed a vibrant musical culture, especially during the Georgian era. However, I will argue that the English of this period were, in many respects, even more committed to music than their continental counterparts. The problem, for England, was not that it made no music during this period, but that it made the wrong kind of music, and enjoyed it in the wrong ways. At a time when Germanic critics like E.T.A. Hoffmann and A.B. Marx were establishing grand, large-scale musical masterpieces (and the singular geniuses who created them) as the highest form of art, the English prioritized musical process over the musical work, and remained committed to music that could be played and enjoyed socially, in drawing rooms. I argue that England’s absence from the standard music history is due to three primary social issues: England’s complex and longstanding cultural anxieties regarding music’s supposed ability to feminize men and empower women; the invisibility of England’s most musical citizens (women); and a vibrant culture of domestic music-making (dominated by women) that was incompatible with the new aesthetic values of nineteenth-century Romanticism, which placed greater importance on the autonomous musical product than the malleable musical process.


First Advisor

Marianna Ritchey