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Interpreting the Musical PastEarly Music in Nineteenth Century France$
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Katharine Ellis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195365856

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195365856.001.0001

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(p.241) Conclusion
Interpreting the Musical Past

Katharine Ellis

Oxford University Press

This concluding chapter takes in the entire century, highlighting continuities and disjunctions, repertorial patterns, absences, and disappearances. It addresses the ways in which early music's increasing normality related to aesthetic conservatism after around 1840, discusses the reasons for certain works' totemic allure, cautions against the rigid association of certain aesthetic choices with particular political persuasions, and foregrounds pervasive feelings of French musical decadence as a driving force for revivalism of both French and foreign music. Paradoxically, after decades of disdain, French Baroque dance and keyboard music — low-status “feminine” repertories — became the focus for turn-of-the-century composers writing explicitly “French” music, while Bach became a “universal” reference point. Finally, the book returns to its opening (Le Vieux Paris, 1900), broadening to address the general question of what revivalism can tell us about the ideological premises that underpin cultural life.

Keywords:   early music, national identity, decadence, revival, heritage, French Baroque dance, French keyboard music, Bach

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