Haydn’s Sunrise, Beethoven’s Shadow: Book Out Now

One critic, writing around 1800, had this to say about Haydn’s oratorio The Creation:

“what can aesthetics have to say to a natural history, or geogony, set to music, where the objects pass before us as in a magic lantern?”

The remark made me to wonder: what is a magic lantern? And why was it so bad for a musical work to be like one?

So began the research journey that has led to the publication of my book, Haydn’s Sunrise, Beethoven’s Shadow: Audiovisual Culture and the Emergence of Musical Romanticism, out now from University of Chicago Press (also available from the usual suspects). In it, you can find out what a magic lantern is (an early form of slide projector), why it was so bad for a musical work to be like one – but also how the links people forged between music and moving-image technologies in the time of Haydn and Beethoven fostered new ways of performing, listening to and thinking about music. As it turns out, there was a vibrant culture of peep and screen media in the eighteenth century that both involved music and informed musical experiences even when the technologies themselves were not present on stage. Beyond magic lanterns, there were telescopes, microscopes, peepshows, shadow-plays and phantasmagorias, which found their way into operas, salons, scientific entertainments and – as in the case of the quote above – the very ways people perceived and described music.

I hope you’ll check it out!

A quick flip through:

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