Architecture for music: building spaces for secular music performance in the British Isles c. 1660-1800
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date04/07/2020
Hendriks, Sarah Patricia Crambrook
This thesis investigates how an architecture for music developed during the long eighteenth century in the British Isles. It discusses why certain venues were chosen, and how the spaces used for performance evolved architecturally during this period. It therefore provides an architectural history of the concert hall and the spaces used for secular music performance in the British Isles in the long eighteenth century. The thesis focuses on the British Isles, with particular attention given to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Oxford. It uses the historical record to identify spaces and venues used for secular music performance. It analyses the architectural features of these spaces and situates them within a cultural context, arguing that their choice and appearance was influenced predominantly by social and cultural trends, alongside the practical needs of musicians. By situating architectural changes within the broader socio-historical context of the eighteenth century, the thesis contributes to the historiography of cultural and architectural history, and opens up questions about the nature and place of vernacular architecture in eighteenth-century studies. The first three chapters are broadly chronological and situate changes in siting and appearance within a socio-historical context. Chapter One focuses on the effect of the Restoration and seventeenth century political events on the development of the music meeting and the use of the tavern as a performance venue. Chapter Two examines the impact of commercial and economic enterprise on the choice and appearance of concert venues. The third chapter analyses the construction of the first purpose-built concert venues, relating these projects to polite culture and the growth of a middle class. The final two chapters of the thesis take a broader approach. The fourth chapter explores the impact of urbanism and early town planning on the siting and fortunes of music performance spaces, whilst Chapter Five looks at the question of the ‘architect’ and the science of acoustics in the design and execution of spaces for music. The thesis demonstrates that architecture for secular music performance was guided and shaped by its socio-cultural context in the eighteenth-century British Isles. It ultimately argues that an architecture for music developed during this period, one that shifted from vernacular to polite forms of expression, and in the process contributed to the genesis of a new building type: the concert hall.