Catch and Glee Club prizes in the long nineteenth century: nurturing a 'national music'

Conference paper


Price, C. 2019. Catch and Glee Club prizes in the long nineteenth century: nurturing a 'national music'.
AuthorsPrice, C.
TypeConference paper
Description

Of all the music which has been largely forgotten in the Grand Narrative of musicology, the Catch and the Glee are two of the best examples.

A Catch is, quite simply, a round and in England it can date its origins to the 13th century, if not earlier. A Glee is a very particular genre of unaccompanied vocal music, and it was at its height of popularity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
Both these diminutive genres were thought to be quintessentially English, and at the end of the 18th century were believed to be under threat from foreign music and musicians: Haydn and his symphonies were the best - but by no means the only - examples, as the English felt themselves to be invaded by hordes of Italian fiddlers and French dancing-masters.

One response to this imagined danger was the compositional competition, and the best-known example was that of the London Noblemen’s and Gentlemen’s Catch Club. For thirty years, up to 1793, the Club awarded four annual prizes for the best compositions, and this behaviour - as is so often the case where the metropolitan elite is concerned - was mimicked throughout the land for decades afterwards; collections of nineteenth-century music bear the imprint of the attempt to stem the foreign tide.

This paper will explore the cultural and political significance of such overt encouragement of a ‘national’ music. Its conclusions will at least remind us that such jingoistic spasms are usually transient, largely ineffective, and can only be properly judged by the dispassionate eye of history. So there is a message of hope here, in the face of perfidious Albion’s present tantrum.

Year2019
ConferenceCompetitions in Nineteenth-Century Music Culture
Publication process dates
Deposited31 Jul 2019
Completed28 Jun 2019
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/8907z/catch-and-glee-club-prizes-in-the-long-nineteenth-century-nurturing-a-national-music

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