Cowgill, Rachel and Holman, Peter (2007) Music in the British Provinces, 1690-1914. Ashgate, Aldershot. ISBN 9780754631606

The period covered by this volume, roughly from Purcell to Elgar, has traditionally been seen as a dark age in British musical history. Much has been done recently to revise this view, though research still tends to focus on London as the commercial and cultural hub of the British Isles. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that by the mid-eighteenth century musical activity outside London was highly distinctive in terms of its reach, the way it was organized, and its size, richness, and quality. There was an extraordinary amount of musical activity of all sorts, in provincial theatres and halls, in the amateur orchestras and choirs that developed in most towns of any size, in taverns, and convivial clubs, in parish churches and dissenting chapels, and, of course, in the home. This is the first book to concentrate specifically on musical life in the provinces, bringing together new archival research and offering a fresh perspective on British music of the period. The essays brought together here testify to the vital role played by music in provincial culture, not only in socializing and networking, but in regional economies and rivalries, demographics and class dynamics, religion and identity, education and recreation, and community and the formation of tradition. Most important, perhaps, as our focus shifts from London to the regions, new light is shed on neglected figures and forgotten repertoires, all of them worthy of reconsideration.

Contents: Preface; Introduction: centres and peripheries, Rachel Cowgill and Peter Holman; 'A pretty knot of musical friends': the Ferrar brothers and a Stamford music club in the 1690s, Bryan White; Music in the Minster close: Edward Finch, Valentine Nalson and William Knight in early 18th-century York, David Griffiths; A little light on Lorenzo Bocchi: an Italian in Edinburgh and Dublin, Peter Holman; Disputing choruses in 1760s Halifax: Joah Bates, William Herschel, and the Messiah Club, Rachel Cowgill; The role of gentleman amateurs in subscription concerts in North-East England during the 18th century, Roz Southey; The string quartet in 18th-century provincial concert life, Meredith McFarlane; John Baptist Malchair of Oxford and his collection of 'national music', Susan Wollenberg; Music of rural byway and rotten borough: a study of musical life in mid Wiltshire, c.1750–1830, Christopher Kent; Mr White, of Leeds, Robert Demaine; The Larks of Dean: amateur musicians in Northern England, Sally Drage; Finding themselves: musical revolutions in 19th-century Staffordshire, Sarah E. Taylor; Lost luggage: Giovanni Puzzi and the management of Giovanni Rubini's farewell tour in 1842, E. Bradley Strauchen-Scherer; Outside the cathedral: Samuel Sebastian Wesley, local music-making, and the provincial organist in mid-19th-century England, Peter Horton; Music for St. Cuthbert, 'patron saint of the faithful North': the musical repertory of St Cuthbert's Catholic Church, Durham, 1827–1910, Thomas Muir; 'That monstrosity of bricks and mortar': the town hall as music venue in 19th-century Stalybridge, Rachel Milestone; The provincial music festival in Britain in the 19th century: a case study of Bridlington, Catherine Dale; Educating England: networks of programme-note provision in the 19th century, Christina Bashford; Index.

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