Sovereign Feminine: Music and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Germany

By Matthew Head

Within the German states within the past due eighteenth century, girls flourished as musical performers and composers, their achievements measuring the development of tradition and society from barbarism to civilization. girl excellence, and similar feminocentric values, have been celebrated via forward-looking critics who argued for tune as an outstanding paintings, an element of contemporary, well mannered, and advertisement tradition, instead of an emblem of institutional strength. within the eyes of such critics, femininity—a newly rising and basically bourgeois ideal—linked ladies and track lower than the valorized indicators of refinement, sensibility, advantage, patriotism, luxurious, and, notably, attractiveness. This second in musical background used to be eclipsed within the first a long time of the 19th century, and eventually erased from the music-historical checklist, by means of now ordinary advancements: the formation of musical canons, a musical historical past in response to technical growth, the belief of masterworks, authorial autonomy, the musical chic, and aggressively essentializing principles concerning the dating among intercourse, gender and artwork. In Sovereign female, Matthew Head restores this past musical historical past and explores the function that ladies performed within the improvement of classical tune.

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Infrequently can one boast this of the reasonable intercourse. even though a lot procedure and dexterity women’ arms own, and so they lack the [strong] nerves and the ability worthwhile for the extraordinary, attribute presentation of fine keyboard rules; they customarily unencumber keys too fast, as though they have been crimson sizzling; their [musical] utterance lacks gentle and colour. Frau Kapellmeister Westenholz (whom I occurred to listen to final summer season) is the exception; to the entire nuanced feeling for expression that belongs to girl functionality, she joins a manly, good decisiveness; a real woman scholar of the single actual Bachian functionality, she is aware the best way to unite as a lot energy as shimmer and style. I describe her skills all of the extra gladly in a public assertion simply because i will be able to achieve this with whole honesty and with no suspicion of carrying out mere flattery. nine a few of Cramer’s recommendations listed below are unremarkable. The suggestion of the feminine exception used to be rather standard at the moment and allowed Westenholz to seem as an honorary guy. yet different elements of his evaluate are extra notable. He claims that Westenholz’s functionality united gendered extremes and sexual changes inside of a unmarried ideal entire (a variation of the motif of the dwelling muse that Burney found in Marianna Martinez), and that this androgynous completeness is usually attribute of Wolf ’s track. particularly, the sonatinas own “delicacy, subtlety, tenderness” yet are, whilst, supported by way of “correct harmonic treatment”—so a lot in order that outwardly diminutive items (sonatinas) embrace a kapellmeister’s “stubborn specifications. ” If woman ascendance on the keyboard is firstly contained via a suggestion of a distinct and remarkable girl, Westenholz’s prowess turns out to either mirror and heighten androgynous points of musical variety and (male) creativity. Cramer’s evaluation additionally sends a combined message concerning the courting among composing and appearing. at the one hand those roles are starkly unusual, no longer least via intercourse, with the male composer served through the feminine performer. yet nonetheless Cramer narrows the distance, via saying that keyboard works (scores) supply specific perception into how their composers play—and hence, extra the Eclipse of the feminine signal 163 abstractly, into composers themselves. This blurring of composer and performer used to be not often awesome, on condition that, within the north German territories really, studying to compose was once usually one and an identical with studying to accomplish keyboard tune. Westenholz’s early guide (and luck) in keyboard functionality therefore went a way to equip her to compose, whether, in Cramer’s assessment, she seemed destined exclusively to accomplish. W E ST E N HO L Z ’ S C OM P O SI T IO N S Compose she did. Her works checklist (compiled right here as desk 4), which includes many newly exposed items, represents essentially the most big our bodies of tune of any lady composer of the eighteenth century. to supply an outline, and as a reference for destiny observation, i've got catalogued her opus with “SW” numbers, geared up via traditional style different types.

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