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Music in Other Words

Victorian Conversations

Ruth A. Solie (Author)

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February, 2004.
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Just as the preoccupations of any given cultural moment make their way into the language of music, the experience of music makes its way into other arenas of life. To unearth these overlapping meanings and vocabularies from the Victorian era, Ruth A. Solie examines sources as disparate as journalism, novels, etiquette manuals, religious tracts, and teenagers' diaries for the muffled, even subterranean, conversations that reveal so much about what music meant to the Victorians. Her essays, giving voice to "what goes without saying" on the subject—that cultural information so present and pervasive as to go unsaid—fill in some of the most intriguing blanks in our understanding of music's history.

This much-anticipated collection, bringing together new and hard-to-find pieces by an acclaimed musicologist, mines the abundant casual texts of the period to show how Victorian-era people—English and others—experienced music and what they understood to be its power and its purposes. Solie's essays start from topics as varied as Beethoven criticism, Macmillan's Magazine, George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, opera tropes in literature, and the Victorian myth of the girl at the piano. They evoke common themes—including the moral force that was attached to music in the public mind and the strongly gendered nature of musical practice and sensibility—and in turn suggest the complex links between the history of music and the history of ideas.

1. Beethoven as Secular Humanist: Ideology and the Ninth Symphony in Nineteenth-Century Criticism
2. Music in a Victorian Mirror: MacmillanÅfs Magazine in the Grove Years
3. "Girling" at the Parlor Piano
4. Biedermeier Domesticity and the Schubert Circle: A Rereading
5. "Tadpole Pleasures": Daniel Deronda as Music Historiography
6. Fictions of the Opera Box

Ruth A. Solie is Sophia Smith Professor of Music at Smith College. She is the editor of The Nineteenth Century, volume 6 of Strunk's Source Readings in Music History (1998), and Musicology and Difference: Gender and Sexuality in Music Scholarship (California, 1993), and a former President of the American Musicological Society.
"A delightful journey into the highways and byways of 19th-century musical practice. Solie's observations are elegant and provocative, and her poetic way with words makes the collection a great read for scholars and general audiences alike. A wonderful achievement by a mature scholar, and an exciting contribution to the cultural study of music."—Marcia J. Citron, author of Gender and the Musical Canon and Opera on Screen

"Six brilliant essays-each a gem, and an ingenious critique of Victorian culture. Solie draws upon nonmusical sources such as diaries, novels, and journalism, and uses literary theories and historical writings as the basis of her cogent arguments. This book is not only for musicologists but for any scholar interested in the study of culture."—Judy Tsou, author of Cecilia Reclaimed: Feminist Perspectives on Gender and Music

Finalist, Otto Kinkeldey Award, American Musicological Society

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