Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Nineteenth-Century Marketplace


Palmer, Fiona (2016) Conductors and Self-Promotion in the British Nineteenth-Century Marketplace. In: The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800-1930. Boydell Press, Woodbridge, pp. 130-149. ISBN 9781783270651

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Abstract

Today, serving the globalized and media-driven society of our time, major orchestral institutions strategically control commercial ‘message-making’ on behalf of their conductors. Now the function of conductor is synonymous with leadership, celebrity, power and the embodiment of interpretative wisdom – a change of image that came about in continental Europe during the second half of the nineteenth century following the deaths of Wagner and Brahms.1 In Britain, however, it was only as recently as the twentieth century that this personalitydriven and centralized concept of the conductor’s role became normalized. This chapter focuses on two previously underexplored individuals and examines the commercial aspects surrounding conductors and their roles as mediators of art music during this time of change. It probes the ways in which two prominent musicians in Britain, Julius Benedict (1804–85) and Frederic Cowen (1852–1935), exploited, valued and promoted the function of conductor within their careers, thereby revealing a clearer sense of the extent to which they led and shaped their own progress as conductors. The ways in which their overall contributions mirrored current traditions, while also contributing to the genesis of the function itself within the scope of the commercial marketplace in which they operated, provide insights into the changing status of conducting as an art.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Conductors; Self-Promotion; British Nineteenth-Century Marketplace;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > Music
Item ID: 7729
Depositing User: Fiona Palmer
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2017 17:31
Publisher: Boydell Press
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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