Journal Article

Playing at Refinement: A Musicological Approach to Music, Gender and Class Around 1900

Rebecca Grotjahn

in German History

Volume 30, issue 3, pages 395-411
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
Playing at Refinement: A Musicological Approach to Music, Gender and Class Around 1900

Show Summary Details


An unremarkable collection of music, examined by the author, is found to yield some interesting early-twentieth-century social history. The music from which Lucia König, a lower-middle-class girl, learned the piano, becomes a means of exploring her lifeworld. König described herself as a höhere Tochter: her parents, keen to improve her social standing, could afford to pay for a piano and some lessons, and thus offer her an opportunity for social improvement. Information gleaned from markings on König’s music, and from its physical condition, reveal her as hard-working student and a talented pianist. König’s music is in many respects typical of a höhere Tochter, as described in previous social-historical research, but it differs in ways that show her to have developed her own tastes and self-determined practice. The article also shows that apparently unpromising material can provide useful research material for both musicology and gender studies.

Keywords: bourgeoisie,; performativity,; music practice,; salon music,; gender differences,; lifeworlds,; social history,; microhistory,; piano-playing

Journal Article.  7850 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: European History

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