Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl
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Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl

The Musicalization of Art

Diane V. Silverthorne, Diane V. Silverthorne

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eBook - ePub

Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl

The Musicalization of Art

Diane V. Silverthorne, Diane V. Silverthorne

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About This Book

Opening with an account of print portraiture facilitating Franz Liszt's celebrity status and concluding with Riot Grrrl's noisy politics of feminism and performance, this interdisciplinary anthology charts the relationship between music and the visual arts from late Romanticism and the birth of modernism to 'postmodernism', while crossing from Western art to the Middle East. Focused on music as a central experience of art and life, these essays scrutinize 'the musicalisation of art' focusing on the visual and performing arts and detailing significant instances of intra-art relations between c. 1840 and the present day. Essays reflect on the aesthetic relationships of music to painting, performance and installation, sound-and- silence, time-and-space. The insistent influence of Wagner is considered as well as the work and ideas of Manet, Satie and Cage, Thomas Wilfred, La Monte Young and Eliasson. What distinguishes these studies are the convictions that music is never alone and that a full understanding of the "isms" of the last two hundred years is best achieved when music's influential presence in the visual arts is acknowledged and interrogated.

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The Musicalization of Art, Part 1: Spaces of Intimacy, Touch and Temporality


Romantic Musical Celebrity and Printed Portraits

Visual Intimacy and Mass-Market Distance

Alan Davison
In this chapter I consider the relationship between printed portraits and musical celebrity in the first half of the nineteenth century. The historical basis of musical celebrity is still poorly understood, and the hope here is that what follows will stimulate greater interest in the nineteenth-century origins of what is now a pervasive cultural and global phenomenon. My aim is to highlight some of the mechanisms by which printed portraits played a crucial role in enabling musical celebrity, and in order to do so develop methodological tools to facilitate further research.
The underlying contention here is that not only do printed portraits of musicians reflect the changing nature of contemporary fame and celebrity during the Romantic era, but that they were an active component in this very change. Simply put, printed portraits formed a bridge between the celebrity and his/her audience by feeding a voracious appetite for a parasocial relationship. This relationship – an imagined interpersonal connection between the fan and their idol – was tied up with a ‘hermeneutic of intimacy’,1 where the increasing anonymity of the audience to the individual musician spurred a fascination with the latter’s personal life. Printed portraits, then, played a significant part in mediating disengagement between musician and public within a print-dominated public sphere.
The Romantic era saw a rapid expansion in the commerce of both music and images, and the resulting synergies that developed between the two areas are manifest in portraits of musicians, ranging from Mozart and Beethoven to Rossini and Liszt. The explosion of print media and the concurrent enthusiasm for print collecting in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries has been the focus of some scholarly studies,2 and yet the place of printed portraits within the wider context of visual culture has yet to receive sustained attention or be systematically related to the rise of celebrity culture.3 The value of portraits for historians has been demonstrated by seminal studies such as Wendorf’s early 1990s book on the links between portraits and biography in Stuart and Georgian England, where he highlighted the connection between visual and literary portraits of public figures.4 Some recent studies in theatre history have argued for the important role of portraiture in the formation of actors’ celebrity in the mid- to late eighteenth century, using the examples of David Garrick and Sarah Siddons’ self-promotion and creation of an ‘image’ that was in large part achieved via the distribution of engraved portraits.5
The late eighteenth century was the moment when living composers could be famous within their lifetime over a previously unprecedented international reach, due to the rapid printed dissemination of their music, along with biographical literature and printed portraits.6 This being the case, the connection between images of musicians and music consumption in the late eighteenth century has important and continuing historical ramifications, for it is a precursor to the modern multimedia music industry of today. It was in London, especially where ‘[t]he seeds of musical capitalism were sown’,7 that several key components with distinctly modern conditions for fame and celebrity are first found. This was a time of remarkable growth in the reciprocal relationship between music and commerce, with the rapid expansion of the manufacturing of instruments, increased printing of music and composers’ portraits, a thriving public concert scene, an active and critical musical press and an overall rise in middle-class music-making.8 These developments foreshadowed the modernization of concert life and music commodification that occurred in the following century across Europe and that are taken for granted now: the rise of symphonic music, performed at commercial orchestral concerts; and the idea of a repertoire of masterworks – a canon of musical works.9 London was, moreover, a modern musical city in that it attracted leading itinerant musicians who relied less on personal contacts with the aristocracy (such as in Vienna at the same time) and more on a wider network of commercial connections.10 While musicians were also less likely to have direct social interactions with concert goers, their biographies and portraits could be seen in periodicals, prints and exhibitions, and their music purchased at one of the many music sellers. For example, in London in the early 1790s, a music lover could attend a concert featuring Haydn’s newest symphonies with the composer himself directing from the keyboard, see the painter Thomas Hardy’s oil portrait of him exhibited at the Royal Academy and then buy it as a print published by the music seller John Bland, as well as acquire the composer’s music readily at a variety of music print sellers, including Bland’s own shop.11
One of the long-recognized facets of the emerging dynamics and contexts of late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century music culture was that of its ‘mass culture’. The question that naturally follows from this is: how did the relationship between audience and composer develop, given the widening gap and increasing depersonalization between them? Indeed, this distance was not only between musician and audience, but increasingly between audiences themselves. This was the inevitable result of rapidly widening access that a broader public had to cultural activities generally where, as John Brewer has observed, ‘it was available to almost anyone who could pay’.12 William Weber astutely characterized the impact of mass musical culture some time ago:
What has characterized musical mass culture primarily has been … the impersonality of relationships between listeners and performers and the active exploitation of a broad public by the music business. To be sure, neither the size of audience nor the circulation of sheet music during the nineteenth century compares at all closely to contemporary levels [1970s], and early marketing techniques may seem crude by comparison with those used for Elton John or Leonard Bernstein. But the impersonality of concert events and the manipulative devices of the publishing industry had much the same basic qualities then as now. Because of these dynamics, the appearance of 1,000 instead of 300 people at some concerts and the publication of tens of thousands instead of several hundred new pieces of music per year changed the social structure of music fundamentally.13
The important role that the print medium might have had in the connection between the public and composer has already been signalled by Ivo Supičić who postulated that ‘printed music increasingly became the mediator’ in the context of the impersonal relationship between musicians and their public.14
At one level, the link between the growing celebrity of musicians and their representation in print media is clear through the strong positive correlation. By the first few decades of the nineteenth century, increasing numbers of freelance musicians were congregating in the major musical centres of Europe, with London, Paris and Vienna especially playing host to the greatest pianists, singers and composers of the day.15 Coinciding with this was the exponential rise in the number of portrait prints showing famous or fashionable musicians in the new format of the physionotrace (a mechanically-aided method of portraiture) in Paris and then the new medium of lithography more widely across Europe.16 Portraits also adorned biographies in the newly emerging illustrated musical periodicals in the first half of the nineteenth century, such as Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (Vienna), La Revue et Gazette musicale and Le Pianiste (Paris) and Harmonicon (London). These publications linked the life, works and images of prominent musicians in the readers’ minds, through their juxtaposition of biographical background, discussion of music or performances, and printed portraits. For example, the very first volume of the Harmonicon (1 January 1823) began in earnest with a ‘Memoir of Haydn’ accompanied by an engraved portrait.
The challenge, then, is to connect our understanding of these events to an emerging trajectory of celebrity and its mechanisms; to understand what we would now describe as ‘celebritization’. Significant strides have been made within cultural studies over the last few decades since Boorstin’s groundbreaking work of the early 1960s considering the ...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half-Title Page
  3. Dedication
  4. Title Page
  5. Contents
  6. List of Plates and Figures
  7. List of Contributors
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Introduction: A Work in Two Parts – Continuities and Discontinuities from Romanticism to Postmodernism
  10. Prelude: The Musical in Art
  11. The Musicalization of Art, Part 1: Spaces of Intimacy, Touch and Temporality
  12. 1 Romantic Musical Celebrity and Printed Portraits: Visual Intimacy and Mass-Market Distance
  13. 2 Making an Entrance: Manet’s Still Life with Hat and Guitar
  14. 3 Time in Fin-de-Siècle Painting
  15. 4 Erik Satie and the Interart Genre
  16. 5 The ‘Figure in the Carpet’: M. K. Čiurlionis and the Synthesis of the Arts
  17. The Musicalization of Art, Part 2: Spaces of Performance, Sound and Silence
  18. 6 Music, Sound and Light: Embodied Experiences of the Modernist and Postmodern Gesamtkunstwerk
  19. 7 Squaring the Circle: Wilfred’s Lumia and his Rejection of ‘Colour Music’
  20. 8 In Concert: The Emergence of the Audio-Visual Moment in Minimalism
  21. 9 Riffing the Index: Romare Bearden and the Hand of Jazz
  22. 10 The Politics of Music and Image in Contemporary Iranian Art: ‘The Impossibility of Putting One’s Body and Voice on a Stage’
  23. 11 Contemporary Feminist Art, the Musical: Listening to the Visual Legacy of Riot Grrrl
  24. Postlude
  25. Bibliography
  26. Index
  27. Plates
  28. Copyright
Citation styles for Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl

APA 6 Citation

Silverthorne, D. (2018). Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl (1st ed.). Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved from (Original work published 2018)

Chicago Citation

Silverthorne, Diane. (2018) 2018. Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl. 1st ed. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Harvard Citation

Silverthorne, D. (2018) Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl. 1st edn. Bloomsbury Publishing. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Silverthorne, Diane. Music, Art and Performance from Liszt to Riot Grrrl. 1st ed. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2018. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.