Music in Country Houses of the English Midlands, 1750–1810

Perkins, Martin (2021) Music in Country Houses of the English Midlands, 1750–1810. Doctoral thesis, Birmingham City University.

Martin Perkins PhD Thesis Volume 1 published_Final version_Submitted Feb 2020_Final Award Apr 2021.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (19MB)
Martin Perkins PhD Thesis Volume 2 published_Final version_Submitted Feb 2020_Final Award Apr 2021.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (2MB)


The late eighteenth century witnessed a steady rise of musical activity in England which resulted in London becoming one of Europe’s most important centres for music. Amateur participation in music was an integral part of this growth, with public concerts and much of the music publishing industry relying on the patronage of the public. Specifically, the market for amateur music-making was fuelled by the upper classes of the country – the nobility and gentry – who considered music a worthy pursuit and suitable activity for patronage. Whilst music was regarded as a commendable accomplishment for young ladies of class (and for those of aspiring classes), performance by female amateurs rarely took place in a public context. Men participated in music-making on a different plane, in which amateurs performed alongside professionals in public and private contexts.

Professional musicians’ involvement in amateur music-making was essential to their livelihood. Indeed, without the amateur market, there would not have been enough work for the hundreds of musicians known to have been active professionally during the late eighteenth century. Whereas London could maintain large numbers of professionals in performance and composition for theatres, pleasure gardens and concerts, and a high concentration of would-be music students, the provincial scene was more limiting for the full-time musician. The Midlands professional musician was likely to have been employed as organist to a church while also travelling many miles to take part in concerts, teach and make music with the nobility and gentry.

Studies of eighteenth-century music history have increasingly focused on the amateur market and on the relationships composers had with their patrons and public. The present study builds on this strand of research by concentrating on music-making from the point of view of the amateur nobility and gentry musician. By examining the archives of several prominent Midlands families, the current study reveals the relationships between these music consumers and the wider musical community. Evidence of the music tuition of gentry sons and daughters will show how these relationships manifested themselves. An exploration of music collections and collecting patterns of nobility and gentry families helps to explain the influence of professional activities in London on the Midlands. The participation of family members in amateur and professional performances, and their contacts with professionals, and the connections between Midlands and London networks are examined in order to paint a clearer picture of musical life in England.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
February 2020Submitted
April 2021Accepted
Uncontrolled Keywords: Eighteenth Century, British Music, Domestic Music-Making, Music Collections
Subjects: CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Doctoral Research College > Doctoral Theses Collection
Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Depositing User: Jaycie Carter
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2023 13:20
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023 13:20

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


In this section...