Autumn 2009

NEWSLETTER Vol. 5, No. 2

Music from the Austen Family Music Books, Teaching about British Royalty, and more


Table of Contents


The annual business meeting of the North American British Music Studies Association will take place at AMS on Saturday, November 14 at 12.15 p.m. in room Salon 10.


Send your news, review requests, and article suggestions to Kendra Leonard, Newsletter Editor, at

A Chawton Album: Music from the Austen Family Music Books

By Juliette Wells

The concert, "A Chawton Album: Music from the Austen Family Music Books" was programmed by Samantha Carrasco and presented on July 11, 2009 at St. Nicholas Church in Chawton, England, by Amanda Pitt (soprano) and David Owen Norris (fortepiano), with John Lofthouse (baritone) and special guests Amelia Brooks-Everist and Julia Roope.

Fittingly and delightfully, “A Chawton Album” concluded the conference “New Directions in Austen Studies” held at Chawton House Library in mid-July 2009 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s arrival in the village of Chawton.  Austen completed her six famous novels while in residence at what was then known as Chawton Cottage (now Jane Austen’s House Museum); her wealthy brother Edward lived up the road at Chawton Great House, which serves now as a research library for the study of early English women writers from the period 1660-1830. 

That Jane Austen and her family were musical has long been publicly known.  Her brother Henry briefly mentioned Jane’s “musical attainments” in his 1818 “Biographical Notice of the Author,” which for the first time identified his sister, posthumously, as the author of the novels she had published anonymously.  Later in the nineteenth century, Austen’s niece Caroline contributed more specific reminiscences of music played and notated at Chawton Cottage: “Aunt Jane began her day with music—for which I conclude she had a natural taste . . . . She practiced regularly every morning—She played very pretty tunes, I thought. . . . Much that she played was from manuscript, copied out by herself—and so neatly and correctly, that it was as easy to read as print—”.  While the manuscript music books owned by Austen and her family members have never been printed fully in facsimile, Ian Gammie and Derek McCulloch’s two-part catalogues with incipits (1996) have served as a guide to the eight volumes held by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust at Jane Austen’s House Museum. 

Why present-day musicologists, interdisciplinary scholars, and performers are taking a fresh look at the Austens’ music books and attitudes towards music was amply evident from the concert “A Chawton Album,” which combined thoughtfully chosen groups of songs, winning performances, and extensive and informative program notes contributed by Samantha Carrasco (a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Southampton), who planned the program, and her dissertation advisor Jeanice Brooks (a professor of music at Southampton), who introduced the evening on behalf of Ms. Carrasco, who could not be present. 

As Ms. Carrasco and Dr. Brooks explained in their program notes, the Austen family music collection comprises a total of seventeen albums, including nine recently deposited by their owners, Austen family descendants, at Chawton House Library.  (Two of the nine came to light only a few months ago, Dr. Brooks mentioned in her remarks.)  “The arrival of the remaining albums at Chawton House,” write Carrasco and Brooks, “has been an essential step in launching a major study of the entire collection, in collaboration with colleagues at the Austen House and Museum, Chawton House Library, King’s College London and the University of Southampton.  These volumes . . . provide an intriguing glimpse into the world of domestic music-making of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and to the family and social relationships that musical training and performance reflected and fostered.” 

Dr. Brooks’s spoken introduction at the concert offered further details about the collections, which are in the process of being fully digitized.  Of the seventeen books of music, five are manuscript volumes; ten are print compilations; and two mix manuscript and print. All were known to or used by Jane Austen; at least six other women from the Austen family contributed to or owned volumes as well.  The slice of British domestic musical life represented by this collection is less well known than Continental music of the period, Dr. Brooks noted.  The Austens’ music books are further distinguished by furnishing the fullest such collection of a family at their social level, that of the minor gentry, as opposed to the higher social echelons represented by family collections held by the National Trust. 

With the scholarly interest of the evening thus well established, it remained for the songs and instrumental pieces themselves to charm a mixed audience of Austen critics and musicologists.  Judging by the laughter, speaking silences, and enthusiastic applause, we were all abundantly charmed indeed—thanks to the artistry of all of the performers and to the sound of the magnificent 1817 Broadwood pianoforte played by David Owen Norris (a professor of musical performance at Southampton), which seemed to collapse at least a little the distance between a church and a drawing room, the twenty-first century and the early nineteenth. 

As Prof. Norris indicated when introducing the various sets, his and his colleagues’ aim was not to attempt to reconstruct the exact sounds of domestic music of the period but instead to convey, without condescension, this music’s appeal—which, judging by this assortment, was sparklingly witty and unapologetically sentimental by turns. Accordingly, soprano Amanda Pitt brought a full, sometimes operatic tone and an expert sense of drama to her renderings of songs and ballads, including a few of the songs identified by Caroline Austen as having been some of her favorites among those sung by Jane Austen (such as the anonymous tune “Que j’aime a voir les hirondelles”).  John Lofthouse’s vigorous baritone and fine comic timing complemented Ms. Pitt beautifully.  For his part, Prof. Norris announced that in playing from both manuscripts and printed sources, he would silently correct most obvious errors—except for a few entertaining copyist’s slips in John Watlen’s “God Save the King” variations and some striking open fifths in Handel’s “Overture in Rodelinda,” since, in Prof. Norris’s words, “that is how it would have been played hereabouts.”

Listeners curious (as I confess I was) to imagine beyond the welcome and admirable professionalism of today’s performers to the amateur productions of Austen’s time were enabled to do so by the inclusion of two young singers from Southampton in the third set.  With their sweet, straight vocal tone and unaffected performances on voice and percussion, Amelia Brooks-Everist and Julia Roope suggested both an aural and a visual link to the family musicians of Austen’s day.

The program of “A Chawton Album” is to be recorded for release on the Toccata label in 2010.


A Royal Course: Examining British Culture and History Through a Monarchial Mirror

by Donna S. Parsons

As tourists wander around London’s streets they are met at strategic turns by iconic symbols of British culture and history. Whether they realize it or not, many of these emblems are connected to the monarchy. Sovereigns are crowned at Westminster Abbey, open Parliament in the House of Lords, and since the reign of Queen Victoria reside at Buckingham Palace. Statues commemorating kings, queens, and consorts remind them (and us) that several members of the British royal family have had an influential role in the shaping of British society, politics and even industry. Yet, none of the sites listed above exemplify the heart of the British monarchy. For that, one has to look beyond a perusal of the royal art collection or a stroll through state rooms at various palaces.

Having just purchased my ticket for a “Royal Day Out” at the Queen’s Gallery, I was making my way toward the Mall when I noticed tourists standing in ever-growing lines outside Buckingham Palace gates and around the Victoria memorial. I knew something significant was about to happen for it was the afternoon, and the changing of the guards had occurred hours earlier. As I watched the police direct throngs of people to the appropriate places, I found myself also standing in line. Then, it happened. The palace gates opened, and the queen’s car drove out. Sitting in the back seat was an octogenarian who was being driven to her week-end home at Windsor Castle. As she smiled and waved to those who had waited patiently for a mere glimpse of her, I realized that Queen Elizabeth II extols a symbolic value of duty, tradition, and even nation that no building or statue could ever eclipse. As I started to ponder why I had purchased a ticket to meander around the state rooms of Buckingham Palace for the third year in a row, I became more intrigued by the power and mystique the monarchy has wielded since Queen Victoria’s reign. I also realized I had a new course to develop.

Last spring I taught “British Royalty, Society, and Culture: From Victoria to Elizabeth II” as an undergraduate humanities honors seminar. It was an interdisciplinary course in which students analyzed the impact the monarchy has had on British society and culture from the nineteenth century to the present day. Our goals were threefold. First, we examined the changing manner in which society defined the function of the British royal family in British life and culture. For example we looked at the importance of family life in Queen Victoria’s reign as well as the development of Victorian virtues, industrialization, and educational opportunities for women. We discussed how moral values had been redefined when her son Edward VII became king. Second, we explored the sometimes contested ways in which the sovereign’s image (real or constructed) defined the nation. We studied how George VI and his consort were viewed as symbols during the bleak days of the Second World War and how Queen Elizabeth II has acted as a unifying figure who holds the Commonwealth together. Finally, we evaluated the constitutional and cultural significance of various royal ceremonies such as the Opening of Parliament, Trooping the Color, the Royal Maundy Service, and the Order of the Garter.

Our discussions were organized chronologically and thematically. Five weeks were devoted to the courts of Victoria and Elizabeth II. Thematically we covered topics such as “Female Sovereign: Empowerment and Influence,” “The English Constitution and Republicanism,” “Royal Education and Service in the Military,” and “The Cult of Diana.” As a means to demonstrate the pervasiveness of the monarchy as an institution in British history, students were required to read two texts. The first was a compilation of essays edited by Andrej Olechnowicz titled The Monarchy and the British Nation: 1780 to the Present, and the second was Jeremy Paxman’s On Royalty: A Very Polite Inquiry Into Some Strangely Related Families. While the former text was more scholarly and densely rich in ideas, the latter provided a journalistic approach to critiquing the monarchy.

Throughout the semester students were required to complete three small essays and one research paper. Each essay corresponded with a defining moment or theme in a particular sovereign’s reign. The first essay centered around press coverage of the royal family during Queen Victoria’s reign. Students were asked to read two substantial articles of their choice in periodicals such as Cornhill Magazine, Fortnightly Review, Punch, or Strand Magazine that focused specifically on Queen Victoria or any member of her immediate family. As they read their articles they considered the manner in which Victoria’s court was depicted and whether they believed the article was objective or subjective. They also noted at what point in her reign the article was published. Although the press maintained a respectable distance (at least in today’s standards) during Victoria’s reign, students soon learned that journalists were not afraid to voice their opinion on her activities or even what they perceived to be her inaction.

A shift in monarchial focus came with our study of Edward VIII’s reign. By this point students understood how severe the number of casualties Britain had suffered during the First World War as well as the reasoning behind George V’s decision to change the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. Having discussed George V’s refusal to offer asylum to his cousin Tsar Nicholas II and the royal family’s relationship with Kaiser Wilhelm II, students realized the impact public perception had on the popularity of a sovereign and the monarchy itself. As we analyzed the lifestyle of Edward VIII (as Prince of Wales and King), we contrasted his relationship as the media’s prince charming and his disdain for royal ceremonies with the number of personal sacrifices British subjects had made during the war. This critique set up the second essay where students researched the impact of Edward VIII’s abdication. The uncrowned king was adamant that he be allowed to marry Wallis Simpson, a twice-divorced American woman, who his ministers and family considered an unsuitable choice as wife and even more importantly as queen. The king decided that marrying for love came before his duty as sovereign. In order to understand how severe the crack to the monarchy’s foundation was when Edward VIII abdicated, students were required to assume the identity of a major player in the crisis leading up to the abdication in December 1936. Writing their essays in the form of diary entries or a memoir, students examined the actions of Edward VIII, Wallis Simpson, the Duke of York, the Duchess of York, Queen Mary, or Stanley Baldwin. Having researched their particular person’s role in the abdication, students explained their alter ego’s opinion on morganatic marriage, duty, and self-sacrifice. They offered an appraisal on how the abdication affected their subject’s personal life and the life of the monarchy.

Patronage and involvement with humanitarian causes was the theme for the third essay. Diana, Princess of Wales was respected for her ability to reach out to those less fortunate and to offer reassurance. Whether she sat at the side of a cancer patient’s bed, talked with those suffering from AIDS or held a child who had lost a limb from stepping on a landmine, the media documented her every move. On numerous occasions she brought national attention to social issues. Students chose a current member of the royal family and investigated how royal patronage was used to promote a particular cause or issue. For their research essay students were allowed to choose their own topic of inquiry.

With a history of upstaging members of the royal family, Diana, Princess of Wales lost center stage in 2006 when Helen Mirren’s dazzling portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II took movie goers on an introspective tour of the current sovereign’s world. As students learned about Elizabeth II’s story, they gained a more realistic perspective on life behind the glamour and glitz of royal privilege. Having studied Victoria’s reign they were able to make more sophisticated connections as they critiqued the role of the queen’s consort, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the monarchial demands made upon a young woman and mother. Students realized that the power of influence and persuasion comes from how one lives one’s life as well as one’s ability to let silence speak volumes. More importantly, over the semester students realized the impact one particular institution had upon the advancement of British society and culture as well as the ramifications of a monarchial influence.




Nicholas Maw: Odyssey by Kenneth Gloag. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2008.

Reviewed by Eric Hung

This past May, Nicholas Maw died from heart failure at the age of 73.  He was not only a major composer of operas, symphonic works and choral music, but also a sought-after composition teacher in the United States, where he lived for the last 24 years of his life.  Among his many posts are professorships at Yale University, Bard College, and the Peabody Conservatory.  Although Maw has always had a small number of strong advocates, his music was not widely distributed until Joshua Bell recorded the Violin Concerto in 2000.  Since that recording, interest in Maw’s music seems to have increased; his 2002 opera Sophie’s Choice was staged in London, Berlin, Vienna and Washington, DC.  Nonetheless, scholarship on Maw is, until now, limited to a few dissertations and short articles in Tempo, The Musical Times, and a few other publications.

In this context, Gloag’s insightful study of Maw’s magnum opus, Odyssey (1972-87), is most welcome.  He opens by situating Maw as a composer of the postmodern world.  Although his music does not sound stereotypically postmodern (there are few ironic quotations or collages), Gloag argues that it is the postmodern condition that allows Maw to “plug into” and be nourished by whatever music he chooses—in his case, the music of the late romantic and early modern periods.  He writes, “Maw becomes postmodern through his rejection of the so-called high modernism of the postwar avant-garde and his positive acceptance of the ‘challenge of the past’” (p. 11).  Having outlined Maw’s aesthetic outlook, Gloag briefly discusses how Maw balances late romantic, early modernist and neoclassical elements in works leading up to Odyssey.

The four middle chapters contain the core of the study:  an in-depth analysis of Odyssey, a tone poem for large orchestra that lasts over 90 minutes.  While chapter three is a remarkably clear and concise play-by-play of this extraordinarily complex work, each of the other three chapters explores one major musical element.  Chapter four focuses on melody, and convincingly shows the relevance of Schoenberg’s notion of “developing variation” in discussing the anticipations and transformations of Odyssey’s “Ur-melody.”  The next chapter, which examines harmony, discusses the significance of temporary “pitch centers” in this highly chromatic work.  Gloag intriguingly suggests that moments of harmonic stasis might serve as “signposts” in a journey—the title of the work is after all Odyssey—“that influence the direction the music takes and punctuates its discourse” (p. 98).  The sixth chapter proposes a narrative reading of Odyssey based largely on transformations of the “Ur-melody.”  Taken together, these four chapters offer much guidance for listeners who are trying to come to terms with Maw’s massive tone poem.  An additional chapter on texture and orchestration would have made this core even better. 

From here, the focus turns to reception.  Given the small number of performances Odyssey has received to date, this chapter is understandably short, and it explores in greater depth the issue of the work’s historical lineage.  The book concludes with an all too brief chapter on Maw’s works after Odyssey

Despite its many successes, Gloag’s book is at times a frustrating read.  The main problem is that the book seems to have two divergent purposes.  On the one hand, it reads—given the play-by-play description in chapter three and the extensive examination of newspaper reviews in chapter seven—like an introduction to Maw and his magnum opus for readers with a good background in music history and theory.  Such readers would find much in the book that is helpful for their listening experiences, but they might also wish that Gloag had provided some semblance of biography and discussed at least the possibility that events in Maw’s life—both his divorce and his permanent move to the United States occurred during the genesis of Odyssey—might have influenced his gradual adoption of a more unambiguously tonal vocabulary and the meaning of this work.  Although one must recognize the speculative nature of any biographical interpretation, one must also acknowledge that neglecting biography completely might also lead to unsatisfactory readings.

On the other hand, the book appears to be an in-depth examination of theoretical issues raised by Maw’s Odyssey.  Such readers would also find much of interest, especially in the central chapters, but they will be frustrated by the many instances where Gloag does not develop his points fully.  At several points, he begins a sentence with such clauses as “a more extensive study would show.”  Given that this is a book-length study, these readers will feel somewhat cheated.  All in all, Gloag provides readers with much to think about, and it is certainly my hope that this little book would spark more scholarly interest in this understudied composer.


New Aldeburgh Anthology, eds. Ariane Bankes and Jonathan Reekie. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2009.

Reviewed by Eric Saylor

In honor of the Aldeburgh Festival’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1972, Ronald Blythe assembled a collection “of essays and reminiscences, pictures and poetry” in celebration of “the distinctive flavour” of Suffolk’s most famous coastal village, and particularly the Festival that put it on the map. 37 years later, Ariane Bankes and Jonathan Reekie have produced an updated edition of Blythe’s Aldeburgh Anthology for a new generation of readers, transforming it from a Festschrift to an imaginative compilation celebrating Aldeburgh’s place in English history and culture.

The 112 entries are divided into eight discrete sections, broadly classifiable under the rubrics of “People” and “Places.” Not surprisingly, Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears loom large throughout this collection. The section specifically dedicated to them is full of reminiscences and tributes from the likes of Eric Crozier, Janet Baker, and Hans Werner Henze, and their presence is strongly felt in the sections on the Festival itself (“The Aldeburgh Festival and its Legacy”) and on some of Aldeburgh’s distinguished visitors over the years (“Visitors”), including Aaron Copland and Steven Isserlis. Britten and Pears also get their say in the volume, in the form of Pears’ essay on John Dowland and the prepared remarks for Britten’s speeches “On Receiving the First Aspen Award” and “On Receiving the Freedom of the Borough of Aldeburgh.” Other significant figures in the Festival’s history also receive due acknowledgement for their contributions, with essays about (or by) Imogen Holst, Colin Matthews, Donald Mitchell, John Piper, and Thomas Adés, among many others.

It is important to note, however, that the New Aldeburgh Anthology is more than simply a collection of memoirs about the Festival and its founders. While the book does reproduce several of the essays from Blythe’s original, Bankes and Reekie have shifted and expanded its scope, aiming to “recapture the unique spirit of Aldeburgh and the Suffolk coast” by examining “the colourful threads of local and natural history, architecture, the visual arts, land and sea, ecology and economy” that have shaped the village over the years. More so than the original Aldeburgh Anthology, this new volume is the story of a place rather than an event; as such, it casts an enormously wide net in pursuit of its subject matter. Essays include tributes to the local seafood and produce, a brief history of nearby Sutton Hoo and the excavation thereof, a polemic on music’s rehabilitative effects in juvenile prisons, E. M. Forster’s famous article on the literary legacy of Aldeburgh native George Crabbe, Kenneth Clark’s recollections about growing up across the river from Aldeburgh, a description of the village’s life in the Victorian era, and even a short literary portrait of the lone apple tree (the “Crabbe apple”) rising from the shingle on the way to Thorpeness. There are poems and recipes, letters and speeches, clerihews and interviews—a varied and engaging motley that somehow, improbably, holds together. By any measure, this is an eccentric book with a deliberately (and unapologetically) provincial slant; yet I, who have not yet had the pleasure of visiting Aldeburgh, found myself in the position of feeling nostalgic for someplace I have never been, so vivid and all-encompassing were the entries throughout.


Readers looking for an authoritative and extensive history of the Aldeburgh Festival should look elsewhere, as should those in search of a scholarly survey of the village and its environs. Having said that, many of the reprinted articles would be of interest to historians, and many of the new ones provide thumbnail sketches of the contemporary state of affairs in and around Aldeburgh. (There are also three appendices dedicated to Britten and the Festival: one on the foreign reception of Britten’s operas, a list of the Festival’s directors over its history, and a short history of the Festival itself by Paul Griffiths.) What the editors and contributors to the New Aldeburgh Anthology have crafted, and delightfully so, is the biography of a borough: a town that has been home to farmers, artists, smugglers, capitalists, fishermen, and one of the world’s great music festivals. For readers who wonder just what attracted Britten to this little town—“And if I may say so what a nice town it is!” he remarked upon receiving the Freedom of the Borough in 1962—wonder no more: the New Aldeburgh Anthology presents an eloquent, evocative, and frequently entertaining case on its behalf.


The Piano in Nineteenth-British Culture: Instruments, Performers and Repertoire, eds. Therese Ellsworth and Susan Wollenberg. Hampshire, England: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007.

Reviewed by Jewel Smith

The Piano in Nineteenth-British Culture: Instruments, Performers and Repertoire is a collection of essays representing the most current scholarship on this topic. Seven of the contributors live in the UK, and four reside in North America. The eleven chapters are roughly twenty to thirty pages in length, and several contain tables, musical examples, and/or figures that complement the text.

Although music in nineteenth-century Britain has provided material for numerous musicological topics, an investigation of the piano’s role—composers, performers, manufacturers, and the context in which it was cultivated—has not received the attention it deserves. Perhaps since Britain did not produce composers of piano music comparable to Chopin or Liszt, music scholars have assumed that the nineteenth century was generally an inactive period in regard to the piano. As Nicholas Temperley argues in the foreword, scholars have overlooked Britain’s importance in the development of the piano and its cultural context. This book addresses many of those false assumptions.

In chapter 1 editors Therese Ellsworth and Susan Wollenberg acknowledge that rather than being a comprehensive survey, this book serves as an introduction to the topic. The following ten essays include an examination of the affect of the piano trade on a provincial town, Belfast; the repertoire; performers (native and foreign); the change from composer-pianist to pianist-interpreter; the development of the solo piano recital; and three pianists who contributed to Oxford’s musical life.

Roy Johntson places Belfast in the context of London’s piano manufacturing activities in the nineteenth-century. The ready supply of pianos in Belfast helped to attract touring virtuosi such as Frédéric Kalkbrenner, Sigismond Thalberg, and Franz Liszt. In chapters 3 and 4, Yo Tomita and Robert Stewart-MacDonald present the reception of two seminal works: Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Clementi’s Gradus ad Parnassum. In chronicling the introduction of the WTC in England, Tomita credits Bach apostles A. F. C. Kollmann and J. W. Windsor with disseminating this work. Further, Tomito includes a detailed comparison of the British editions. Stewart-MacDonald offers a fresh view of the Gradus ad Parnassum as an important didactic work within Clementi’s compositional oeuvre and studies by his contemporaries.

Two chapters concerning the piano compositions and career of William Sterndale Bennett occupy the central portion of the book. R. Larry Todd’s essay focuses on Felix Mendelssohn’s influence on Bennett. He points out salient features through an analytical comparison of works by both composers. Peter Horton contributes to Bennett’s biography with an overview of his life as a composer and offers a glimpse into his activities as pianist and teacher. His best works were written by the age of twenty-five, after which he was heavily involved in teaching and conducting. Although Schumann and Mendelssohn highly praised his compositions, and he received recognition as composer and pianist in Germany, Bennett never achieved the same level of appreciation in England.

Britain could boast of several widely-known concert pianists in the nineteenth century as well as various émigrés. The last half of the book is an examination of the performing careers of such British pianists as Arabella Goddard, Walter Bache, Fanny Davies, Donald Francis Tovey, Paul Victor Mendelssohn Benecke, and Ernest Walker, and the establishment of the solo piano recital. In chapter 7 Therese Ellsworth situates Goddard within the ranks of émigrés such as Charles Hallé, Ernst Pauer, and her teacher, Sigismond Thalberg. Although women were less inclined than their male counterparts to choose a performing career, Goddard was an exception. Ellsworth covers Goddard’s life in Britain, her tours abroad, and includes various programs and tables that document her repertoire and performances.

While the content of the benefit concert was a long-standing tradition, the solo piano recital as we know it today was born in London. Janet Ritterman and William Weber trace the rise of the solo recital beginning with the miscellaneous concert programs as they existed at the beginning of the nineteenth century. They carefully recount the development through the 1860s, documenting recitals by such performers as Franz Liszt, Charles Hallé, and Clara Schumann.

In chapter 9 Michael Allis discusses the shift from composer-pianist to pianist-interpreter through a review of Walter Bache’s performance career. As Allis notes, Bache has largely been recognized as a promoter of Liszt’s piano music in nineteenth-century Britain; however, his repertoire was not limited to Liszt. Allis underscores some of the critical reception Bache received concerning his interpretation of music by other composers, including Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Schumann. He addresses other issues in light of Bache’s pianistic ability, for example, virtuosity, transcriptions, programming, and the reception of British versus foreign performers.

Through an examination of Fanny Davies’s nearly fifty-year performance career, Dorothy de Val provides a view of this Clara Schumann pupil who was instrumental in advancing the music of both Robert and Clara Schumann and Brahms, as well as exploring music outside the canon. Further, Davies’s career offers a window on the status of female musicians in a changing society, as one who earned a viable reputation at home and abroad into the twentieth century.

In chapter 11, Susan Wollenberg considers how three pianists with very different careers—Donald Francis Tovey, Paul Victor Mendelssohn Benecke, and Ernest Walker—were unified through their German repertoire and classical training at Oxford. They shared a talent that has been overlooked: all were remarkable pianists who contributed significantly to Oxford’s musical life.

The Piano in Nineteenth-British Culture: Instruments, Performers and Repertoire provides not only groundbreaking scholarship in British pianism, but it serves as a launching pad for further research. The generous footnotes offer additional information and bibliographical sources. Given that British pianism has received slim coverage in general histories or in books on piano music, with the exception of Nicholas Temperley’s influential work on The London Pianoforte School and The Romantic Age (1800–1914), this book deserves a respected place on the scholar’s bookshelf.



Member News

Allan Atlas published Victorian Music for the English Concertina. Recent Researches in the Music of the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, 52 (Middleton: WI: A-R Editions, 2009); “Vaughan Williams’s ‘Silent Noon’: Structure and Proportions,” The Musical Times, 150 (Summer 2009); and “Where The Lark Does Not Ascend,” Journal of the RVW Society, 45 (June 2009).

Aaron C. Keebaugh, recently published "Sterndale Bennett's piano music," in Musical Times (149/1904 (Autumn 2008), 61-68.

Christopher Scheer has been awarded a Leverhulme Fellowship to Liverpool Hope University for 2010.



Upcoming Events

Music, Literature, Illustration: Collaboration and networks in English manuscript culture, 1500 – 1700, Chawton House Library, Hampshire, 16-17 February 2010

This two-day conference will bring together postgraduate and early career researchers working on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English manuscript sources.  Many of the sources from this period are multi-authored and contain strikingly disparate materials, posing a serious challenge to scholars working within traditionally defined disciplinary boundaries. For full information:



Calls for Papers and Awards

Women in Music in Ireland Conference, April 17, 2010

Women’s involvement in music in Ireland has been evident since the eighteenth century but their contribution has often been neglected or forgotten. This Conference hopes to begin to highlight their involvement across the centuries in all genres of music in Ireland. The Conference will also include two concerts featuring music by female composers from the nineteenth-, twentieth- and twenty-first centuries. The keynote address will be given by Dr. Ita Beausang.Proposals of 200 words are invited for presentations of 20 minutes maximum. Submission: by email to the Conference organizer, Jennifer O’Connor, , by October 31, 2009.

Diverse Victorians: Midwest Victorian Studies Association Annual Conference University of Iowa April 23-25, 2010

We invite all Victorian scholars to MVSA’s 2010 conference to be hosted by the University of Iowa in Iowa City on April 23-25, 2010. The theme for the Midwest Victorian Studies Conference’s thirty-fourth annual conference is “Diverse Victorians.” We invite submissions of papers covering the full range of possible meanings of “Diverse Victorians,” including, but not limited to racial and ethnic differences; Great Britain’s “four nations”; class formation and class identity; discourses of normality and abnormality; foreigners in Britain; musical diversity; Victorian understandings of the diversity of species; the range of Victorian religion and the era’s smaller sects; diversity in the imperial context; the meaning of diversity to notions of citizenship; literary and artistic representations of diversity.

In keeping with the theme, our plenary address will be by Patrick Brantlinger, author of Rule of Darkness: British Literature and Imperialism, 1830-1914, The Reading Less: The Threat of Mass Literacy in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction, and other works. Other special features include a concert of Victorian songs by baritone opera and concert singer Stephen Swanson and pianist Alan Huckleberry, and a program of Scottish dancing led by Anne Stapleton of the Stapleton School of Highland Dance in which conference participants can learn some steps. Even if you do not submit a paper, we hope you will attend this unique conference experience.

Those interested in proposing papers or full panels should submit 500-word abstracts and vitas by November 15, 2009 to the Midwest Victorian Studies Association’s email:; if you receive no reply, please re-send.
For full information:

The British Organ In The Twentieth Century And Beyond, April 15-18, 2010

The Betts Fund of the University of Oxford, and the British Institute of Organ Studies are pleased to announce the last conference of a four-year sequence entitled ‘The Organ in England: Its Music, Technology, and Role through the Second Millennium’. This year, the Royal College of Organists will be holding its spring meeting in Oxford at the same time and some joint events will be included in the Programme. 300-word proposals for 20-minute papers and lecture-recitals are welcome on any and all relevant topics. Abstracts will be due by 11 December, with responses from the panel of readers by 18 January. For more information, please contact: Dr Katharine Pardee, Betts Scholar in Organ Studies, Director of Chapel Music, Wadham College, University of Oxford,



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