Music and Mass Education: Cultivation or Control?

Golding, Rosemary (2019). Music and Mass Education: Cultivation or Control? In: Collins, Sarah ed. Music and Victorian Liberalism: Composing the Liberal Subject. Cambridge University Press, pp. 60–80.



The nineteenth century witnessed the rise of public institutions, affecting the education and welfare of people across the social classes but with most impact on the lower orders. Music was to be found throughout, whether in schools, workhouses of asylums. Its role plays an important part in investigating the balance and tensions inherent in liberal attitudes between controlling the individual and allowing for self-expression and cultural development. In this chapter I investigate examples from public institutions using music for discipline, development and rational recreation. Large pauper institutions such as the workhouse, prison and asylum form the basis for exploring the possible uses of music within the new reforming liberalism. This is followed by a more extended investigation into the role of music within the elementary educational reforms of the 1850s and 1860s, using parliamentary reports, journals and new sources to explore the varying arguments and ideals debated during this period.

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