Enlightenment Orpheus: The Power of Music in Other Worlds by Vanessa Agnew

By Vanessa Agnew

The Enlightenment observed a serious engagement with the traditional concept that song incorporates definite powers - it heals and pacifies, civilizes and educates. but this curiosity in musical application turns out to clash with higher notions of aesthetic autonomy that emerged while. In Enlightenment Orpheus, Vanessa Agnew examines this obvious clash, and provocatively questions the suggestion of an aesthetic-philosophical holiday among the eighteenth and 19th centuries.
Agnew persuasively connects the English visitor and song pupil Charles Burney with the traditional fantasy of Orpheus. She makes use of Burney as a advisor via wide-ranging discussions of eighteenth-century musical shuttle, perspectives on music's healing powers, curiosity in non-European tune, and issues approximately cultural id. Arguing that what humans stated approximately song was once vital to a couple of the nice Enlightenment debates surrounding such matters as human enterprise, cultural distinction, and nationwide identification, Agnew provides a brand new size to postcolonial reviews, which has regularly emphasised the literary and visible on the cost of the aural. She additionally demonstrates that those discussions has to be considered in context on the era's large and well-entrenched transnational community, and emphasizes the significance of go back and forth literature in producing wisdom on the time.

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Bourdieu’s insights are thus useful for understanding the ways in which individuals attempted to elevate their social position by invoking travel and its attendant gains. However, Germans, and indeed all Europeans, branded themselves as travelers not only because of travel’s material associations. As I have already suggested, travel prestige was not confined to the internal boundaries of the nation-state (or, in the case of Germany, to a collection of states). By extending a Bourdieusian understanding of symbolic capital to the transnational context, we gain insights into how travel functioned across state borders.

Britain’s global dominance meant that it exerted a potent gravitational pull, whereas Germany’s tin-pot capitals must have seemed, at least to the educated and ambitious, like points of departure rather than alluring destinations. This is worth keeping in mind as a context for understanding the impediments to Burney’s German journey. Italy and France were obvious destinations for a music scholar who wanted to gather information for a general history of music, just as they were obvious destinations for grand tourists: There was a well-beaten path that led south, at the end of which lay Europe’s cultural storehouses.

This helps explain why even those aggressive expeditionists, the Britons, cultivated their international reputation for travel. Britain was riding high after the Seven Years War, but, as I show in a later chapter, its global power belied domestic insecurities, particularly during the 1780s, when debates about national culture emerged in response to a range of political issues that threatened to transform British society. Cultivating a reputation for travel was, in other words, a way of stoking the home fires in response to domes28 | enlightenment orpheus tic and international pressures.

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