English musical antiquarianism in the long eighteenth century: religio-political and sociological undercurrents

Donworth, Koma S (2023). English musical antiquarianism in the long eighteenth century: religio-political and sociological undercurrents. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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There was little concern in seventeenth-century England for establishing a canonical list of composers of ‘old’ music. Yet this ambivalence to England’s musical past did not go unnoticed by a small number of musicians and antiquarians, scattered over decades, who feared that without receiving the preservation it deserved, early music and its composers would slip irretrievably into oblivion. This thesis identifies those resolute scholars and places them in the context of their roles in the development of English musical antiquarianism during the Long Eighteenth Century, ranging over a period from Elias Ashmole, the seventeenth-century collector and founder of the Ashmolean Museum, to the eighteenth-century musical antiquarian, Johann Christoph Pepusch and the Academy of Ancient Music. These exemplars did not work in isolation, however, but were influenced by the religio-political and sociological undercurrents that prevailed during their times. Some of these underlying trends were less veiled, as with the general need for compliance within the strictures of a contemporary political climate. In contrast, others were quite subtle, notably, the influences on musical antiquarian thought deriving from the ancient Hermetic traditions of alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and Freemasonry. This thesis brings together those disparate undercurrents, personalities and events, and demonstrates that the ultimate result of this mosaic of collective forces was that the Academy’s musical antiquarians were able to attain their primary objective of securing the acceptance of ‘old’ music alongside ‘new’ music into repertoire. Moreover, while the Academy did not succeed in its secondary objective of preparing an inventory of ‘best masters’, due to shifting priorities during its seventy-six-year existence, it nonetheless provided sufficient data through its surviving concert programmes to complete its objective in this thesis of preparing the first canonical list of ‘best masters’ of classical music in England. As a result of the pioneering contribution of these early English musical antiquarians, the avenue was prepared for future music historiographers to craft their respective period canons of composers and their quintessential masterpieces that now represent the classics of Western art music.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Music
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
A General Works > AS Academies and learned societies (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13350


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