The English musical journal

The English Musical Journal in the Early Nineteenth Century (PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2 vols., 1983). Published Ann Arbor, Michigan, and London, England: University Microfilms International, 1984; 688 pages

Based on a thorough examination of more than 60 music and non-music periodicals published in England or Scotland between 1665 and 1845, this study discusses the English musical journal as a distinctive genre of specialized literature in the early 19th century. Part I treats the origins, development, function, reception and impact of English music journals; Part 2 examines in greater depth the two most important journals of the period, the Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review (1818-1830) and the Harmonicon (1823-1833). Bibliographic details as well as a summary of the content and outlook of each of the 64 periodicals examined appear at the end of the study in the form of a descriptive catalogue (vol. 2).

Briefly stated, my conclusions are historical, literary and to some extent social. A view of musical style and English taste clearly emerges, but neither music nor aesthetics is a primary focus. I show that the 19th-century English music periodical was part of a journalizing tradition much wider than simply the serial publication of music. By addressing the commercial issues of production and readership, I also gauge the influence of single publishers, editors and contributors with more accuracy than has previously been possible. Much anonymous music criticism is identified, and the careers of several eminent periodical writers are considered in depth.

The richness of English periodical writing on music is nowhere more striking than in Richard Mackenzie Bacon's QMMR and William Clowes's Harmonicon, edited by William Ayrton. Produced largely by single writers in the same decade, these two titles present an ideal comparison between provincial and London musical life, amateur and professional interests, Handelian and Mozartian tastes, essay and encyclopedic format, philosophical and technical language. Both were reputedly highly successful publications, recognized in Britain and abroad, before they collapsed around 1830. For the insights they offer to modern scholars of 19th-century music, the QMMR and the Harmonicon deserve fresh attention.

'one of the best-written PhD theses I've ever read'

Christopher Hogwood, conductor, harpsichordist, musicologist

Available on demand, hard copy or pdf file, through Dissertation Express at ProQuest, publication no. 8406923, here.

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