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The Triumph of Music: The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art

The Triumph of Music: The Rise of Composers, Musicians and Their Art

by Tim BlanningTim Blanning


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A distinguished historian chronicles the rise of music and musicians in the West from lowly balladeers to masters employed by fickle patrons, to the great composers of genius, to today's rock stars. How, he asks, did music progress from subordinate status to its present position of supremacy among the creative arts? Mozart was literally booted out of the service of the Archbishop of Salzburg "with a kick to my arse," as he expressed it. Yet, less than a hundred years later, Europe's most powerful ruler--Emperor William I of Germany--paid homage to Wagner by traveling to Bayreuth to attend the debut of The Ring. Today Bono, who was touted as the next president of the World Bank in 2006, travels the world, advising politicians--and they seem to listen.

The path to fame and independence began when new instruments allowed musicians to showcase their creativity, and music publishing allowed masterworks to be performed widely in concert halls erected to accommodate growing public interest. No longer merely an instrument to celebrate the greater glory of a reigning sovereign or Supreme Being, music was, by the nineteenth century, to be worshipped in its own right. In the twentieth century, new technological, social, and spatial forces combined to make music ever more popular and ubiquitous.

In a concluding chapter, Tim Blanning considers music in conjunction with nationalism, race, and sex. Although not always in step, music, society, and politics, he shows, march in the same direction.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674057098
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 11/15/2010
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Tim Blanning is Professor Emeritus of Modern European History and Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge. He is the author of The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648–1815.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction

    1. Status: ‘You Are a God-Man, the True Artist by God’s Grace’
  • The Musician as Slave and Servant
  • Handel, Haydn and the Liberation of the Musician
  • Mozart, Beethoven and the Perils of the Public Sphere
  • Rossini, Paganini, Liszt—the Musician as Charismatic Hero
  • Richard Wagner and the Apotheosis of the Musician
  • The Triumph of the Musician in the Modern World

  • 2. Purpose: ‘The Most Romantic of All the Arts’
  • Louis XIV and the Assertion of Power
  • Opera and the Representation of Social Status
  • Bach, Handel and the Worship of God
  • Concerts and the Public Sphere
  • The Secularisation of Society, the Sacralisation of Music
  • The Romantic Revolution
  • Beethoven as Hero and Genius
  • Problems with the Public
  • Wagner and Bayreuth
  • The Invention of Classical Music
  • Jazz and Romanticism
  • Rock and Romanticism

  • 3. Places and Spaces: From Palace to Stadium
  • Churches and Opera Houses
  • Concerts in Pubs and Palaces
  • Concert Halls and the Sacralisation of Music
  • Temples for Music
  • Two Ways of Elevating Music—Bayreuth and Paris
  • The Democratisation of Musical Space
  • Places and Spaces for the Masses

  • 4. Technology: From Stradivarius to Stratocaster
  • Musical Gas and Other Inventions
  • Pianos for the Middle Classes
  • Valves, Keys and Saxophones
  • Recording
  • Radio and Television
  • The Electrification of Youth Culture
  • The Triumph of Technology

  • 5. Liberation: Nation, People, Sex
  • National Pride and Prejudice
  • Rule Britannia? Aux Armes, Citoyens!
  • Liberation in Italy
  • Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles, Especially on the Rhine
  • From the Woods and Fields of Bohemia
  • A Life for the Tsar
  • Race and Music
  • Sex

  • Conclusion

  • Chronology
  • Further Reading
  • Notes
  • Illustrations Credits
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

M. H. Abrams

Tim Blanning's The Triumph of Music is an absorbing study of how the composition and performance of music responded to radically changing conditions--religious, political, social, technological--until, in an era of electronic production and the iPod, it has become the most diverse, ubiquitous, influential, and financially rewarding of all the creative arts.

Jonathan Keates

Trenchant, wise and richly ironic, Tim Blanning's book travels spectacular distances between Plato and Elton John, Baroque liturgy and Robbie Williams, opera seria and internet downloads. With a masterly eye for detail he explains why music and audiences are interdependent and reveals the enduring potency of music as a sovereign art.
Jonathan Keates, author of The Siege of Venice

James Sheehan

Blanning's provocative thesis is that music has become our most dynamic and successful art form, its history an extraordinary journey to cultural supremacy. An altogether delightful book.
James Sheehan, Stanford University

Customer Reviews