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Sounds of the MetropolisThe 19th Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna$
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Derek B. Scott

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309461

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309461.001.0001

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Blackface Minstrels, Black Minstrels, and Their European Reception

Blackface Minstrels, Black Minstrels, and Their European Reception

(p.144) 6 Blackface Minstrels, Black Minstrels, and Their European Reception
Sounds of the Metropolis

Derek B. Scott

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the reception of black and blackface minstrelsy outside of the USA. Europeans first acquired knowledge of the music-making of African Americans through the distorting medium of blackface minstrelsy. The reaction to the early minstrel troupes in the 1840s, however, was not one of uniform praise in Britain and often entailed some unease. To win approval, blackface performers stressed the wholesomeness of their entertainment. The Ethiopian Serenaders made their first London appearance at the prestigious Hanover Square Rooms, and their status was assured when they were invited to perform before Queen Victoria. Although blackface minstrels did appeal to British working-class audiences, the big London troupes always had a bourgeois audience more firmly in their sights, thus leaving a cultural space to be occupied by music hall. In contrast, minstrelsy remained the most popular form of urban working-class entertainment in America until the rise of vaudeville in the 1880s.

Keywords:   banjo, Christy minstrels, Britain, Hanover Square Rooms, London, Ethiopian Serenaders

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