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Romantic Anatomies of Performance

Romantic Anatomies of Performance takes as its subject the great virtuoso performers of the nineteenth century, examining the ways in which they thought of their own extraordinary gifts, the ways their contemporaries envisioned them, and how they have been imagined by history. It looks at the pianists and singers--Chopin, Rubini, Malibran, Nourrit, Donzelli, Thalberg, Liszt, and Sontag--who plied their trade in the leading musical centers of nineteenth-century Europe: London and Paris. Focusing on this musical circuit, J.Q. Davies engages with historians of culture and science in thinking about these cosmopolitan figures, whose emergence as international musical stars confronts issues of music and the body, particularly in period physiology, physiognomy, and sciences of the mind. Davies illustrates how musicians styled themselves onstage, how they trained, and how they presented their virtuosic physical abilities to contemporaries in light of competing traditions of healthy vocal and pianistic presentation. The book argues that debates about music are often actually debates about what counts as expression--not only emotional, but also physical expression.
Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Musical Examples Acknowledgments Introduction 1. "Veluti in Speculum": The Twilight of the Castrato 2. Reflecting on Reflex: A Touching New Fact about Chopin 3. The Sontag-Malibran Stereotype 4. Boneless Hands{ths}/{ths}Thalberg's Ready-Made Soul{ths}/{ths}Velvet Fingers 5. In Search of Voice: Nourrit's Voix Mixte, Donzelli's Bari-Tenor 6. Franz Liszt, Metapianism, and the Cultural History of the Hand Epilogue Notes Index

About the Author

J.Q. Davies is Assistant Professor of Music at the University of California, Berkeley.


"Davies narrating incidents and tracing connections is full of animation and amusement ... a master of the anecdote and incident." -- Stephen Brown Times Literary Supplement

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