‘So much neglected?’ An investigation and re-evaluation of vocal music in Edinburgh 1750 – 1800
Edwards, Thomas Hayward
This thesis gives a comprehensive account of the vocal music performed in Edinburgh between 1750 and 1800. One of its aims is to highlight the importance of vocal music to a contemporary audience, an area which has hitherto been neglected in investigations into the musical culture of the city in the eighteenth century. It also attempts to place the Edinburgh Musical Society in the wider context of the vibrant concert and musical culture which developed through the second half of the century. The study attempts to demonstrate the importance of singing, not just within concerts, but as an integral part of many other social and cultural aspects of life, including: gentlemen’s clubs, schools, and the city’s churches. The careers of singers, as impresarios and teachers, and the influence they held over prevailing tastes and culture are examined. In addition to discussing the many foreign musicians active in the city this investigation also traces the impact of native born singers and teachers. It calls into question the assertions made by previous studies which suggested the primacy of instrumental music over vocal music and it attempts to demonstrate that the interest in, consumption of, and participation in vocal music grew over the course of the century. It also attempts to show that vocal music became a dominant influence following the demise of the Musical Society. The information contained in this account has been drawn from previously neglected newspapers and other archival sources, such as diaries, personal letters, the archives of the Musical Society preserved by Gilbert Innes, the Sederunt Books of the Musical Society, the repertoire of the Harmonical Society and published works on music, culture and history. The repertory itself has also been closely examined. By means of this work it has been possible to examine and expand the whole spectrum of musical life in the Scottish capital and thus establish the thriving vocal musical culture which existed at the time.