The clarinet and its developing role in London’s popular culture (c. 1760-c. 1800): Recognition, perception and reception

Crisp, C. J. (2022) The clarinet and its developing role in London’s popular culture (c. 1760-c. 1800): Recognition, perception and reception. In: The Tenth Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association, 21-24 July 2022, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois. (Unpublished)

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Eighteenth-century London was a centre of diverse entertainments, and music played a vital role in a myriad of events attended by differing levels of London society. The prevalence of music in London’s culture at this time offered an ideal showcase to present the newest woodwind instrument, the clarinet, to a variety of audiences.

Perhaps the most well-known references to the appearance of clarinets in eighteenth-century London’s popular culture are in combination with horns to provide ‘outdoor music’ or music between the acts of concerts at the celebrated London pleasure gardens of Ranelagh House, Marybone Gardens and Vauxhall Gardens. However, this is only one example of the clarinet’s growing involvement in musical entertainments in the capital at this time.

To highlight this, the present paper will examine references to the increasing appearance of clarinets at a variety of entertainments in 18th-century London. The paper will draw on a selection of previously undocumented source material from contemporary newspapers and periodicals. The entertainments considered will include circuses, fairs, the smaller pleasure gardens, debating societies, river parties and health resorts, displaying the various purposes the instrument was used for in each setting. These sources will be used to demonstrate the growing employment of the instrument at a number of venues and examine the diversity in the range of events presented. Furthermore, this consideration will explore the different social classes which attended these events and were therefore introduced to the instrument and its earliest exponents.

This paper will also provide an insight into how contemporary audiences responded to both the newest woodwind instrument and clarinettists in performance, using reviews and letters to interpret how the instrument was perceived and received in this centre.

In order to discuss the growing presence and diverse roles of the clarinet in Eighteenth-century London’s popular culture, I will explore research questions such as:

• Which events and entertainments featured clarinets and in what capacity?
• To what extent was the clarinet known and recognized by London audiences and by different classes?
• What contemporary reviews and reports exist of performances including clarinets given at these events?
• Are extant reviews of these performances favourable?

This paper will display the growing use of the newest woodwind instrument in Eighteenth-century London, offering insight into the extent to which the clarinet was recognized by a wide cross-section of London society and examining the perception of the instrument amongst contemporary audiences.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
Additional Information: Conference Handbook 2022
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Divisions: Academic Areas > Conservatoire
Research Entities > Centre for Cultural History
Event Title: The Tenth Biennial Conference of the North American British Music Studies Association
Event Location: Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois
Event Dates: 21-24 July 2022
Depositing User: Catherine Crisp
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2022 14:12
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2024 07:13

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