Seducing Paris: piano virtuosos and artistic identity, 1820-48 Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Levin, Alicia Cannon
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Music
  • Cultural, musical, and even erotic icons of the 1830s, pianists such as Franz Liszt and Fryderyk Chopin ignited Parisian audiences with their spectacular virtuosity, physical appearance, and flamboyant showmanship. Their audiences responded with a fanatical devotion like that lavished on modern-day celebrities, who owe their charismatic personae in some measure to the cultural paths blazed by these early Parisian idols of the keyboard. Indeed, from the period of Liszt's sojourn in Paris (1824-48) emerged influential attitudes and practices that shaped nineteenth- and twentieth-century musical life the world over. In the early 1820s, virtuoso musicians flocked to Paris to establish their careers and their fortunes, directing their attention to the audiences that populated public concert halls. Pianists in particular began to craft their public images with the same care that they lavished on their art, self-consciously engaging with audience tastes, social context, and intellectual and musical ideals to project images that appealed to the audiences of musical Paris. The virtuosity of these musicians extended beyond the keyboard into social, practical, and ideological realms, and their activities influenced more than the immediate reception of their music: their larger-than-life exploits also shaped subsequent accounts of music history. This study examines how such virtuosos as Chopin, Friedrich Kalkbrenner, Liszt, Marie Pleyel (the female Liszt), and mile Prudent, constructed their identities and launched their careers in Paris. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, including journalistic accounts, personal papers, iconography, and archives records from concert halls and piano manufacturers, this dissertation investigates largely uncharted issues of concert life, gender, nationalism, and aesthetics in Parisian musical life.
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  • Fauser, Annegret
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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