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Music and elite identity in the English country house, c.1790-1840

Rana, Leena (2012) Music and elite identity in the English country house, c.1790-1840 University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis , 465pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)


In this thesis I investigate two untapped music book collections that belonged to two women. Elizabeth Sykes Egerton (1777-1853) and Lydia Hoare Acland (1786-1856) lived at Tatton Park, Cheshire, and Killerton House, Devon, respectively. Upon their marriage in the early nineteenth century, they brought with them the music books they had compiled so far to their new homes, and they continued to collect and play music after marriage. I examine the vocal music in Elizabeth’s and Lydia’s collections, and I aim to show how selected vocal music repertoires contributed toward the construction of landed elite identity in these women and their husbands, concentrating on gender, class, national identity and religion.

In chapter one, I concentrate on songs that depict destitute and suffering individuals to move both listeners and performers to compassion. The songs are topical and provide insights into contemporary understandings of sympathy and landed elite responsibility for the distressed. In chapter two, I focus on the ingoing and outgoing movements of music in the country house, and the consumption of foreign music in the home. I divide the chapter into two sections, first examining Elizabeth’s Italian vocal music that she collected during her girlhood years in London and York in the 1790s. The Italian music that Elizabeth brought to Tatton complemented other Italian objects and items in the home. Italian culture appealed to the Egerton family both before and after Elizabeth and Wilbraham married. In the second section, I investigate Lydia and her family’s journey to Vienna for the Congress in 1814-1815. Lydia took away with her a book of vocal music to remind her of home in a foreign environment. While away in Vienna, the Aclands attended concerts and music salons, and they purchased music books to bring back home to add to their collection. In the final chapter, I concentrate on the man of the house at music and I consider the social expectations, duties and responsibilities that had befallen our landed elite men, Thomas Dyke Acland and Wilbraham Egerton. I discuss Thomas’s and Wilbraham’s musical engagements and occasions for performing music, and how men’s music-making contributed to a masculine identity.

By placing the vocal music in broader social and cultural contexts, reading personal correspondence, newspaper articles, account books and diaries, we can begin to understand what our families thought about music, and how they used and experienced music in and around their homes, forming an important part of their lifestyle.

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Published date: December 2012
Organisations: University of Southampton, Music


Local EPrints ID: 367018
PURE UUID: 6cc08ac3-1e0c-44d9-94fe-1514204cd9ef

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Date deposited: 22 Oct 2014 11:35
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 02:05

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Author: Leena Rana
Thesis advisor: Laura Brooks
Thesis advisor: Jonathan Conlin

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