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La musique des lumières: The Enlightenment Origins of French Revolutionary Music, 1789-1799

HUFF, JONATHAN,EDWARD (2015) La musique des lumières: The Enlightenment Origins of French Revolutionary Music, 1789-1799. Masters thesis, Durham University.

PDF (Jonathan Huff MAR Thesis) - Accepted Version


It is commonly believed that the music of the French Revolution (1789-1799) represented an unusual rupture in compositional praxis. Suddenly patriotic hymns, chansons, operas and instrumental works overthrew the supremacy of music merely for entertainment as the staple of musical life in France.

It is the contention of this thesis that this ‘rupture’ had in fact been a long time developing, and that the germ of this process was sown in the philosophie of the previous decades. In essence, I assert that to understand the Revolutionaries’ ambitions for music which treated music as a pedagogical tool, it is imperative to evaluate their basis in Enlightenment musical aesthetics.

In order to justify this assertion, I will examine the evidence from three angles in respective chapters. The first chapter will consider the nature of Enlightenment musical aesthetics, its foundations in Classical conceptions of music, and its path to the Revolution. The second chapter will consider the ways in which this perspective was adopted and transformed by the Revolutionary authorities, who sought a system of music (and the arts) which could inculcate Republican principles. In the last chapter, I will complete the present study by examining the nature of the Revolution’s political music itself, evaluating two case studies and taking into account modern scholarship’s interpretation of the repertoire.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Keywords:Music; French Revolution; Revolution; Enlightenment; Aesthetics; Opera; Hymns; Songs; Musique; Révolution; Lumières; Philosophie; Opéra; Hymnes; Chansons
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Music, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:23 Mar 2015 15:01

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