Journal Article

Introduction: Music Among the Historians

Celia Applegate

in German History

Volume 30, issue 3, pages 329-349
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
Introduction: Music Among the Historians

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This Introduction provides an overview of how historians, in conversation with musicologists, seek to explain music and account for its prominence in the societies, movements and lives of the people they study. It introduces this special issue of German History on music and history by considering the current state of the interdisciplinary field known as the ‘new cultural history of music’. The article suggests that historians have tended to study the social, intellectual and political contexts of music rather than the music itself and as a result have relegated music to a relatively passive role in society. New research on musical performances and other cultural practices makes it possible to assign a more active role to music in history. The article draws attention to the role of scholarship on music in political cultures, both affirming and resisting established power. It also considers how historians study music in order to shed new light on the construction, maintenance and interrogation of social hierarchies, gender distinctions and religious communities. New areas of research into the history of emotions, media, sound and the brain (neural history) suggest further perspectives on the powerful force that music exerts in society—as a means to express oneself, to form, reform and transcend communal boundaries. The introduction places the subsequent articles in the context of this growing body of research and suggests how all such work helps to understand Germany’s identity as a musical nation within a richer, more international context.

Keywords: music,; musicology,; nation,; nationalism,; aesthetics,; Sonderweg,; selfhood,; class,; continuity,; emotions,; media,; sound,; religion,; public,; gender,; causality

Journal Article.  12548 words. 

Subjects: European History

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