Romantic Anatomies of Performance
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: University of California Press
From the Publisher
Title Page, Copyright Page
List of Illustrations and Musical Examples
This book belongs to many hands and many voices. It emerged in the aftermath of a dissertation, the study of a single year—1829—which took me three times as long to complete. No doubt the roots of my interest in performance extend back to my pianistic training in Johannesburg and a life-changing encounter with Pauline Nossel...
In an article for the Revue de Paris, the critic Castil-Blaze told the story of how Giovanni Battista Rubini acquired his gift for unmediated expression. The incident occurred in 1831, as the singer forced the sustained B♭ toward the end of “Luna, conforto al cor de’ naviganti,” the then-famous romance from Giovanni...
1. “Veluti in Speculum”: The Twilight of the Castrato
On the night of 15 May 1829, Felix Mendelssohn had a nightmare about Giovanni Battista Velluti, the last great operatic castrato. Velluti’s voice had been in the German’s head since that afternoon, when they crossed paths at a concert at the Argyll Rooms on Regent Street in London. There he had heard the “poor wretched creature...
2. Reflecting on Reflex: A Touching New Fact about Chopin
These words formed part of an argument made by Jan Matuszyński behind the great gated colonnades of the École de médecine in Paris on 16 August 1837. The school was a celebrated institution, the foremost of its kind in Europe. The occasion was the oral exam of a doctoral thesis entitled “The Influence of the Sympathetic...
3. The Sontag-Malibran Stereotype
Just before two o’clock on the afternoon of 30 May 1829 there was a rush at the doors of the Argyll Rooms, a suite of four spacious apartments on Regent Street, in central London. Carriages drew up along the arcade (John Nash’s recent design); attendants hustled up and down making way for their employers. Most of the fashionables...
4. Boneless Hands / Thalberg’s Ready-Made Soul / Velvet Fingers
Dressed in severe black with a white cravat, Sigismund Thalberg made his London debut on 9 May 1836. The Swiss-born pianist played at the Hanover Square Concert Rooms, only a block to the west of the 1829 triumphs of Sontag and Malibran. He entered just before 9 p.m., flanked by immense reflective mirrors, glass chandeliers...
5. In Search of Voice: Nourrit’s Voix Mixte, Donzelli’s Bari-Tenor
Historians still remember the year of Gilbert-Louis Duprez’s return from Italy as the year when the Paris Opéra fell into “triste décadence.”1 A dark veil descended in 1837, when a long-favored artist-citizen was forced into exile: Adolphe Nourrit, legendary singer, idol of the Salle Le Peletier, and former inspiration for a host of...
6. Franz Liszt, Metapianism, and the Cultural History of the Hand
On 30 August 1832, Nicolas Th eodore Frédéric Benoît became the first convicted parricide in Paris to be spared the poing coupé: amputation of the right hand immediately before execution by guillotine. Nineteen years of age, this son of a respected magistrate in the Ardennes had his toilette performed at the central asylum...
The opening of this book described two iconic moments in which “pure voice” came into its own: at the literal shattering of Rubini’s clavicle and the more figurative breaking of Paganini’s hands. A later chapter pictured García fils with his laryngoscope, an instance mythologized as the historical juncture at which vocal...
Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2014
OCLC Number: 873805867
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