London's Art Music and provincial listeners in England c.1700-1850

Rowland, David (2017). London's Art Music and provincial listeners in England c.1700-1850. In: Barlow, Helen and Rowland, David eds. Listening to Music: People, Practices and Experiences. Milton Keynes: The Open University.



London dominated the English musical scene from 1700 to 1850, but provincial listeners were increasingly able to sample what the capital had to offer by hearing travelling musicians and by visiting the capital themselves. For most of the period provincial audiences were drawn from the wealthy ranks of society, but towards the middle of the nineteenth century initiatives were taken which opened the concert experience to lower-income listeners.

How did audiences listen? A growing literature suggests that towards the middle of the nineteenth century a new, intense model of listening came to the fore, in contrast to the more casual experience of the eighteenth century. In reality, however, there appears to have been a variety of listening modes in operation at any one time, depending on the context of the musical experience and the individual listener.

What many provincial listening accounts have in common is their description of a gulf in standards between performances by London musicians and their provincial counterparts. The opportunity to hear performers from the capital therefore provided provincial listeners with a distinctive experience.

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