Francophone Music Criticism, 1789-1914
The musical and theatrical press is central to our understanding of nineteenth-century musical culture. It provided a parallel universe to that of the theatre, café-concert and concert hall, giving its original reading public vicarious access to those very pleasures. Press criticism contains material that helps us understand how music, dramaturgy and ballet were understood, and, with its wealth of detail on interpretation and production values, has tangible practical value on the operatic stage or in the concert hall today.
Scholars in the field have amassed personal collections of often comprehensive 'slices' of such material. They are ripe for use, from a new perspective, by others. As the acidic paper of the nineteenth century crumbles, libraries take fragile materials out of circulation, and OCR remains unequal to the challenges of reading microfilmed images of semi-transparent paper, an AHRC Network of around 30 international scholars decided in 2006 to begin donating their copies of these primary materials for inputting and web-mounting in a searchable form that renders them a multi-faceted research tool.
This network of scholars from three continents continues to meet virtually and face to face, despite the formal ending of the AHRC-funded project. In addition to sharing the accumulated wisdom of several decades' research, and adding to the FMC web resource, the network is contributing information, collectively, towards a handlist of music critics and their pseudonyms. Its members also share bibliographical material and post work in progress that will benefit from the input of others.
To download the latest edition of the 'Notes for Research Assistants', prepared by Rachel Moore, click here.
The network has a JISCMAIL e-discussion list at: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/FRENCH-MUS-CRIT.html. The JISCMAIL list is open to all interested scholars.
The group was further supported in its work via a School of Advanced Study Initiatives grant, 2006-8, and a further award, 2008-09.