By James H. Johnson

ISBN-10: 0520206487

ISBN-13: 9780520206489

Starting with the straightforward query, "Why did audiences develop silent?" Listening in Paris offers a spectator's-eye view of opera and live performance existence from the outdated Regime to the Romantic period, describing the transformation in musical adventure from social occasion to profound aesthetic stumble upon. James H. Johnson recreates the event of audiences in the course of those wealthy a long time with brio and wit. Woven into the narrative is an research of the political, musical, and aesthetic elements that produced extra engaged listening. Johnson indicates the slow pacification of audiences from loud and unruly listeners to the attentive public we all know today.Drawing from quite a lot of sources--novels, memoirs, police documents, own correspondence, newspaper studies, architectural plans, and the like--Johnson brings the performances to lifestyles: the hubbub of eighteenth-century opera, the exuberance of progressive audiences, Napoleon's musical authoritarianism, the bourgeoisie's well mannered attention. He singles out the track of Gluck, Haydn, Rossini, and Beethoven as specifically very important in forging new methods of listening to. This book's theoretical facet will attract cultural and highbrow historians in lots of fields and sessions.

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Extra info for Listening in Paris: A Cultural History

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The hall of the Paris Opera is on the far right, lower level. From Patte, Essai sur Farchitecture theatrale (1782). Photograph courtesy of the Joseph Regenstein Library~ University of Chicago. 16 THE RENDEZVOUS OF THE RICH could be raised and lowered. 15 Some boxes were so closely tied to their renters, in fact, that their ouvreuses-the young female ushers of the eighteenth century-carried lists of who could enter and kept all others away by locking the doors. 16 The pleasures in possessing a box at the Opera could be private or public, and French spectators explored all possibilities.

12 But in all cases the musical link with the extramusical idea-whether word, sound or imagehad to be clear if the music was to hold one's attention. Charles Batteux, an intellectual who discussed the relation between natural sounds and their musical imitation in Les Beaux-arts reduits a ttn meme principe ( 1746 ), lent the weight of philosophy to these listeners' descriptions. For Batteux, listening was discovery and nature was the model. "The musician is no more free than the painter," he writes.

They were the most expensive but provided a terrible view of the spectacle, as the lamps on the stage shone directly into the spectators' eyes, and much of the action took place farther upstage. Princes of the blood, foreign diplomats or the king's inner circle of advisers typically sat here: in the 1750-51 season, Louis XV's future minister of state (the due de Choiseul), his minister of war (the comte d'Argenson), and the due d'Aumont regularly appeared in these boxes. 18 Of course, being blinded by the oil lamps had its advantages for these spectators: their dress, their behavior, and their reactions to the performance were every bit as visible to the rest of the audience as were the singers and dancers.

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Listening in Paris: A Cultural History by James H. Johnson


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