New Book | The Power of Pastiche

Posted in books by Editor on December 16, 2021

From Clemson UP, with distribution by Liverpool UP and OUP:

Alison DeSimone, The Power of Pastiche: Musical Miscellany and Cultural Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Clemson: Clemson University Press, 2021), 336 pages, ISBN: 978-1942954774, $120 / £90.

In eighteenth-century England, ‘variety’ became a prized aesthetic in musical culture. Not only was variety—of counterpoint, harmony, melody, and orchestration—expected for good composition, but it also manifested in cultural mediums such as songbook anthologies, which compiled miscellaneous songs and styles in single volumes; pasticcio operas, which were cobbled together from excerpts from other operas; and public concerts, which offered a hodgepodge assortment of different types and styles of performance. I call this trend of producing music through the collection, assemblage, and juxtaposition of various smaller pieces as musical miscellany; like a jigsaw puzzle (also invented in the eighteenth century), the urge to construct a whole out of smaller, different parts reflected a growing desire to appeal to a quickly diversifying England. This book explores the phenomenon of musical miscellany in early eighteenth-century England both in performance culture and as an aesthetic. Musical miscellany, in its many forms, juxtaposed foreign and homegrown musical practices and styles in order to stimulate discourse surrounding English musical culture during a time of cosmopolitan transformation.

Alison DeSimone is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She co-edited, with Matthew Gardner, Music and the Benefit Performance in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2019). She has published articles in the A-R Online Anthology, Händel-Jahrbuch, and Early Modern Women. Her article “‘Equally Charming, Equally Too Great’: Female Rivalry, Politics, and Opera in Early Eighteenth-Century London” won the 2018 Ruth Solie Prize for an Outstanding Article on British Music from the North American British Music Studies Association. She is currently an associate editor of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation.


List of Figures
List of Musical Examples
List of Tables

1  The Performance of Miscellany in Variety Concerts, 1700–1711
2  ‘An Assemblage of Every Kind’: The Pasticcio Opera Tradition as Miscellany
3  Shaping English Identity in the Songbook iscellany
4  Composition, Cosmopolitanism, and Musical Miscellany
5  Variety in Criticism and Aesthetics in Eighteenth-Century England


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