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The sound of the English picturesque in the late Eighteenth Century: native vocal music and Haydn’s The Seasons

The sound of the English picturesque in the late Eighteenth Century: native vocal music and Haydn’s The Seasons
The sound of the English picturesque in the late Eighteenth Century: native vocal music and Haydn’s The Seasons
In eighteenth-century England, the art-forms of painting, poetry and gardening were often collectively labelled, the ‘sister arts’. The increasing interest taken in the apprehension and appraisal of scenes of English landscape by artists in these fields, alongside an emerging taste for nature ‘tourism’, gave rise to the term, the ‘picturesque movement’. English music was seldom considered as belonging to this ‘sisterhood’ or discussed as a medium for conveying artistic expressions of national scenic beauty. When the picturesque was discussed alongside music it was adopted as an analogy to explain the tactics of novelty and surprise deployed by contemporaneous German composers of instrumental music; these ‘plays’ with regularity and expectation were felt to be similar to the techniques of landscape gardeners who had studied and adopted the elements of surprise and irregularity observed in picturesque ‘beauty spots’. Recent musicological references to the picturesque have also preferred to employ it in this way in order to problematize the subversion of formal characteristics in the fantasias and unconventional symphonies by German composers.

This thesis addresses the silent aporia in these discourses – namely the apparent absence of any participation in the picturesque by English composers, natives of the country most associated with the picturesque sensibility. Revealing the connections between the veneration of national landscape and eighteenth-century English vocal music, it is the ‘pictorialisms’ present in their texts, and their musical treatment, which are the focus of this project. In the process, secular song, the glee and national theatre music are positioned as appropriate sites for expressions of a uniquely English, painterly engagement with national landscapes, making possible reclamation of a neglected repertoire through the lens of the picturesque. And at the end of the project, Haydn’s oratorio, The Seasons, is shown to be as much a part of the English picturesque expression as a product of the German Enlightenment.
Groves, Stephen
881c2b51-2aa9-4c00-b11a-879f93c69d6e
Groves, Stephen
881c2b51-2aa9-4c00-b11a-879f93c69d6e
Clery, Emma
c8e13d5b-130f-4201-9bf2-f213326c226c

Groves, Stephen (2011) The sound of the English picturesque in the late Eighteenth Century: native vocal music and Haydn’s The Seasons. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 252pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

In eighteenth-century England, the art-forms of painting, poetry and gardening were often collectively labelled, the ‘sister arts’. The increasing interest taken in the apprehension and appraisal of scenes of English landscape by artists in these fields, alongside an emerging taste for nature ‘tourism’, gave rise to the term, the ‘picturesque movement’. English music was seldom considered as belonging to this ‘sisterhood’ or discussed as a medium for conveying artistic expressions of national scenic beauty. When the picturesque was discussed alongside music it was adopted as an analogy to explain the tactics of novelty and surprise deployed by contemporaneous German composers of instrumental music; these ‘plays’ with regularity and expectation were felt to be similar to the techniques of landscape gardeners who had studied and adopted the elements of surprise and irregularity observed in picturesque ‘beauty spots’. Recent musicological references to the picturesque have also preferred to employ it in this way in order to problematize the subversion of formal characteristics in the fantasias and unconventional symphonies by German composers.

This thesis addresses the silent aporia in these discourses – namely the apparent absence of any participation in the picturesque by English composers, natives of the country most associated with the picturesque sensibility. Revealing the connections between the veneration of national landscape and eighteenth-century English vocal music, it is the ‘pictorialisms’ present in their texts, and their musical treatment, which are the focus of this project. In the process, secular song, the glee and national theatre music are positioned as appropriate sites for expressions of a uniquely English, painterly engagement with national landscapes, making possible reclamation of a neglected repertoire through the lens of the picturesque. And at the end of the project, Haydn’s oratorio, The Seasons, is shown to be as much a part of the English picturesque expression as a product of the German Enlightenment.

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Published date: December 2011
Organisations: University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 367391
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/367391
PURE UUID: eccb118b-28ec-4595-9ce0-908810107d83

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Date deposited: 23 Oct 2014 12:34
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 01:59

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Contributors

Author: Stephen Groves
Thesis advisor: Emma Clery

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