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German Song Onstage 1770-1914

12-14 February 2016

Conference Committee: Natasha Loges, Royal College of Music; Laura Tunbridge, Oxford University; Andreas Gestrich, German Historical Institute London

Venues: Royal College of Music and Wigmore Hall

This conference explores the history of the public musical concert as an artistic, cultural and social phenomenon, specifically through the role of German song.

Recent years have seen an explosion of interest in the public musical concert as an artistic, cultural and social phenomenon.The purpose of this conference is to explore the role a largely private genre – German song – played within these public events. Concert programmes are littered with cryptic mentions of ‘Lied’ or ‘Gesang’, and although the specific songs are rarely listed, song seems to have played a small but essential role in the makeup of public concerts alongside the more obvious symphonies, concerti, overtures and even arias. Furthermore, as William Weber has argued, it was the inclusion of song which upset the eighteenth-century hierarchies of concert genres, leading to a change in concert programming over the century. Alongside this was the gradual emergence of the practice of singing complete song cycles beginning in the 1850s, and the even later concept of the dedicated song recital.

Conference programme (PDF file)