(Re)-configuring the idea of the Conservatoire in late-nineteenth-century London

Golding, Rosemary (2012). (Re)-configuring the idea of the Conservatoire in late-nineteenth-century London. In: Sirch, Licia; Sità, Maria Grazia and Vaccarini, Marina eds. L´insegnamento dei conservatori, la composizione e la vita musicale nell´Europa dell´Ottocento. Strumenti della Ricerca Musicale (19). Lucca: Libreria Musicale Italiana.

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Late-nineteenth-century London boasted a wealth of opportunities for aspiring professional musicians to gain musical training and employment. Despite this flourishing musical life, however, status as a professional musician was problematic: often associated with immorality, low social status and poor general education, musicians struggled to define themselves as a profession in the same way that many employment groups had done during the century. The different characters and values of the conservatoires are testimony to such a fragmented profession. This chapter focuses on the definition and function of the conservatoires with respect to contemporary ideas of professionalisation, education and status. In particular, I examine how the conservatoires were compared with the universities in terms of their contributions to professional and social identity, and the problems which complicated their development.

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