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Literature and Music in the Atlantic World, 1767-1867$
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Catherine Jones

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748684618

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684618.001.0001

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The Musical Sublime

The Musical Sublime

(p.162) Chapter 5 The Musical Sublime
Literature and Music in the Atlantic World, 1767-1867

Catherine Jones

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines the tension between claims that music is a universal language, and the interest in directing musical experience towards the construction of exclusionary identities, particularly of nationality. It addresses this tension by focusing on the history, theory and representation of the musical sublime. The chapter begins by examining John Sullivan Dwight's attempts to make sense of the musical sublime in his lectures, essays and reviews. It pays particular attention to the enthusiasm for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach that developed in nineteenth-century Europe and America following Felix Mendelssohn's 1829 revival, in Berlin, of Bach's Matthew Passion. The chapter goes on to explore Emily Dickinson's engagement with, and resistance to, the musical sublime in her letters and poems. Lastly, the chapter examines nineteenth-century appropriations of Enlightenment visions of the public ethical function of music, focusing on Dwight's essays, Charles C. Perkins's and Dwight's History of the Handel and Haydn Society, of Boston, Massachusetts (1883-93), and James Monroe Trotter's Music and Some Highly Musical People (1878).

Keywords:   Johann Sebastian Bach, Emily Dickinson, John Sullivan Dwight, Felix Mendelssohn, identity, musical sublime, nationality, Charles C. Perkins, James Monroe Trotter, universal language

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