The overlooked evidence: the use of music in productions of Henry V 1859-1916

Brodie, Val (2013). The overlooked evidence: the use of music in productions of Henry V 1859-1916. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis uses the joint approaches of theatre research and musicology to reveal the overlooked soundscape of productions of Shakespeare’s Henry V. The starting point is the earliest surviving score (1859), and it concludes with the fragmentary remains of war-time performances (1916), that were on the cusp of change. The evidence, analysed alongside prompt books and other materials, establishes new insights into theatre practices. It problematises scholarly readings that suggest that productions of Henry V were invariably a response to English foreign policy, and challenges the common perception that pictorial realism was the key defining aspect of performance. I argue it is necessary to understand how the play was shaped aurally, physically and emotionally by music; the influence of church, melodrama, militia, musical-comedy, ballet, and opera are located and explored. Ensemble-workshop sessions and keyboard realisation have been central to a developed understanding of the genre. Where the world outside invaded the theatre - especially royal events and war - these are surveyed to understand their impact on the soundscape. This study rebalances the historiography of the play, it reveals the importance of seeking out a forgotten aesthetic, and it demonstrates the need for further scholarly theatre-music studies.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music


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