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Music and the Benefit Performance in Eighteenth-Century Britain


Alison DeSimone, Matthew Gardner, Kathryn Lowerre, Olive Baldwin, Thelma Wilson, Robert G. Rawson, Vanessa Rogers, Roz Southey, Stefanie Acquavella-Rauch, Amanda Eubanks Winkler, Tríona O'Hanlon, John Irving, David Hunter
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  • Date Published: October 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108492935

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About the Authors
  • In the early eighteenth century, the benefit performance became an essential component of commercial music-making in Britain. Benefits, adapted from the spoken theatre, provided a new model from which instrumentalists, singers, and composers could reap financial and professional rewards. Benefits could be given as theatre pieces, concerts, or opera performances for the benefit of individual performers; or in aid of specific organizations. The benefit changed Britain's musico-theatrical landscape during this time and these special performances became a prototype for similar types of events in other European and American cities. Indeed, the charity benefit became a musical phenomenon in its own right, leading, for example, to the lasting success of Handel's Messiah. By examining benefits from a musical perspective - including performers, audiences, and institutions - the twelve chapters in this collection present the first study of the various ways in which music became associated with the benefit system in eighteenth-century Britain.

    • Reveals how benefits helped eighteenth-century musicians establish themselves within the commercial enterprises of Britain's urban centres
    • Offers a holistic approach to understanding musical life in eighteenth-century Britain, with equal focus on performers, composers, and audiences
    • Combines cultural history, social history, economic history, musicology, and theatre history to understand better the many facets of this distinctive phenomenon
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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108492935
    • length: 302 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 180 x 22 mm
    • weight: 0.68kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus. 6 tables 6 music examples
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction Alison DeSimone and Matthew Gardner
    Part I. Musical Benefits in the London Theatre: Networks and Repertories:
    1. Risks and rewards: benefits and their financial impact on actors, authors, singers, and other musicians in London, c. 1690–1730 Kathryn Lowerre
    2. With several entertainments of singing and dancing: London Theatre benefits, 1700–1725 Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson
    3. Concertos 'upon the stage' in early Hanoverian London: the instrumental counterpart to opera Seria Robert G. Rawson
    4. Cobblers, country fairs, and cross-dressing: benefits and the development of ballad opera Vanessa Rogers
    Part II. Beyond London: Mimicry or Originality?:
    5. Benefit concerts in the North of England: more than just musical entertainment Roz Southey
    6. Amateur music-making, professional musicians, and benefit concerts in Edinburgh Stefanie Acquavella-Rauch
    7. English music in benefit concerts: Henry Purcell and the next generation Amanda Eubanks Winkler
    8. Strategies of performance: benefits, professional singers, and Italian opera in the early eighteenth century Alison DeSimone
    Part IV. Charity Benefits:
    9. The Mercer's Hospital Charity Services: music charity in eighteenth-century Dublin Tríona O'Hanlon
    10. English Oratorio and charity benefits in mid-eighteenth-century London Matthew Gardner
    Part V. The Role of the Audience:
    11. Encountering 'the most extraordinary prodigy': meeting Master Mozart in Georgian London John Irving
    12. Benefits: Cui Bono? David Hunter.

  • Editors

    Matthew Gardner, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Germany
    Matthew Gardner holds a Junior Professorship in Musicology at the Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen, Germany in association with the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur Mainz. He has published widely on Handel and his English contemporaries, including Handel and Maurice Greene's Circle at the Apollo Academy: The Music and Intellectual Contexts of Oratorios, Odes and Masques (2008). In 2014, his edition of Handel's Wedding Anthems for the Hallische Händel-Ausgabe received the International Handel Research Prize.

    Alison DeSimone, University of Missouri, Kansas City
    Alison DeSimone is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. A recent publication, 'Equally Charming, Equally Too Great: Female Rivalry, Politics, and Opera in Early Eighteenth-Century London' in the Early Modern Women: An Interdisciplinary Journal won the 2018 Ruth Solie Prize for an Outstanding Article on British Music from the North American British Music Studies Association. DeSimone's work has been supported by grants from the American Musicological Society, the American Handel Society, the Handel Institute, and the University of Missouri Research Board.


    Alison DeSimone, Matthew Gardner, Kathryn Lowerre, Olive Baldwin, Thelma Wilson, Robert G. Rawson, Vanessa Rogers, Roz Southey, Stefanie Acquavella-Rauch, Amanda Eubanks Winkler, Tríona O'Hanlon, John Irving, David Hunter

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