Synopses & Reviews
"In Sovereign Feminine
, Matthew Head presents a compelling model for how to consider the music authored by women. In doing so, he brings to light aspects of eighteenth-century music, ideology, and aesthetics that have been neglected by musicology's excessive emphasis on the Big Five: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. An important book that takes gender studies in musicology to the next stage."and#151;Susan McClary, author of Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality
and#147;This subtle and empathetic exploration of German musical culture [brings] to life a world of feminine idealization where to compose, to write or to perform as a woman is to offer potential models of civilizing behavior. With refreshing honesty about his own changing attitudes, Head ably navigates the tightrope of this transitional era. His collection of finely-judged analyses will cause many a reader to reconsider assumptions of feminist scholarship.and#8221;and#151;Katharine Ellis, Stanley Hugh Badock Professor of Music, University of Bristol, UK
and#147;Through its exploration of womanand#8217;s role as the civilized and civilizing center of late 18th-century German music culture, this important book provokes and rewards in equal measure. Ranging from influential women composers to young ladies at the keyboard, this subtle and brilliant study argues for the positive status of the feminine, challenging narratives of female exclusion with the radiant concept of female sovereignty.and#8221;and#151;Annette Richards, author of The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque
"Head's contribution is most welcome . . . for the light that it sheds on a cultural field that was every bit as significant as literature and art."
"A significant book, which usefully applies gender studies to a previously neglected period of music history."
"Well-written and engaging . . . a significant contribution to the musicological discourse on gender."
andldquo;A work filled with wisdom about the andldquo;strangeness of the pastandrdquo; . . . [a] splendid book.andrdquo;
In the German states in the late eighteenth century, women flourished as musical performers and composers, their achievements measuring the progress of culture and society from barbarism to civilization. Female excellence, and related feminocentric values, were celebrated by forward-looking critics who argued for music as a fine art, a component of modern, polite, and commercial culture, rather than a symbol of institutional power. In the eyes of such critics, femininityand#151;a newly emerging and primarily bourgeois idealand#151;linked women and music under the valorized signs of refinement, sensibility, virtue, patriotism, luxury, and, above all, beauty. This moment in musical history was eclipsed in the first decades of the nineteenth century, and ultimately erased from the music-historical record, by now familiar developments: the formation of musical canons, a musical history based on technical progress, the idea of masterworks, authorial autonomy, the musical sublime, and aggressively essentializing ideas about the relationship between sex, gender and art. In Sovereign Feminine, Matthew Head restores this earlier musical history and explores the role that women played in the development of classical music.
"In Sovereign Feminine, Matthew Head presents a compelling model for how to consider the music authored by women. In doing so, he brings to light aspects of eighteenth-century music, ideology, and aesthetics that have been neglected by musicology's excessive emphasis on the Big Five: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven. An important book that takes gender studies in musicology to the next stage."--Susan McClary, author of Feminine Endings: Music, Gender, and Sexuality
About the Author
Matthew Head is a Reader in Music at Kingand#8217;s College London. He is the author of Orientalism, Masquerade, and Mozartand#8217;s Turkish Music (2000).
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction: Fictions of Female Ascendance
1. Europeand#8217;s Living Muses: Women, Music, and Modernity in Burneyand#8217;s History and Tours
2. and#147;If the pretty little hand wonand#8217;t stretchand#8221;: Music for the Fair Sex
3. Charlotte (and#147;Minnaand#8221;) Brandes and the Beautiful Dead
4. An Evening in Tiefurt: Corona Schrand#246;terand#8217;s Die Fischerin and Vegetable Genius
5. Sophie Westenholz and the Eclipse of the Female Sign
6. Beethoven Heroine: A Female Allegory of Music and Authorship in Egmont
Appendix: Johann Friedrich Reichardt, Two Prefaces to the Fair Sex