Women and Music Rooms in late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain
Surprisingly little has been written about the private musical spaces of late 19th- and early 20th-century Britain and their important role in the musical culture of the time. Perhaps one of the reasons for their neglect is that British fin-de-siècle music rooms were particularly welcoming of those who were different and excluded from the construction of a virile and British music and musical culture beloved of ‘English Musical Renaissance’ writers and scholar - both at the time and later.
Usually run by upper-class society hostesses, the music rooms were a space dominated by women, gay men and those who were not English. They were places where amateurs mixed with professionals and where the new and radical could afford to be heard. They also provided a particularly vital space for a generation of women who worked as composers, and found it difficult to gain a hearing for their work in the patriarchal public musical world of concert halls and choral music festivals.
This paper will provide an introduction to this fascinating and neglected world and tell some of the stories of those who inhabited it.
V&A Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, SW7 2RL
Seminar Room A, Research Department, 17.15-19.00
Nearest tube: South Kensington (link to map)
Please note that the V&A Museum closes at 17.45 on Mondays, so latecomers (after 17.30) cannot be admitted. Seminar Room A is found at the top of the Ceramics staircase, above the Silver Gallery.