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The Musical Culture of Freemasonry in Early Eighteenth-century London

PINK, A; (2007) The Musical Culture of Freemasonry in Early Eighteenth-century London. Doctoral thesis , Goldsmiths, University of London.

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Abstract

The musical associations of freemasonry with late eighteenth-century music are well known from the long-held musicological interest in the masonic character of such works as Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Magic Flute, and Rameau’s Zoroastre. However, the evolution of a distinct and varied masonic musical culture in London during the first fifty years of the century, following freemasonry’s founding there in 1716, have been entirely overlooked by studies of this period. Eighteenth-century English freemasonry not only benefited from the riches of London’s musical life, but also made its own contribution to it. Freemasonry’s wide-ranging network of fraternal relationships connected musicians, actors, artists, playwrights, and poets directly with patrons and audiences drawn from all levels of society, from royalty and aristocrats and politicians down to the ‘ordinary man in the street’. Apparently, English freemasonry was at first a peculiarly London phenomenon, but quickly spread nationally and internationally. From the outset it acquired its own distinctive repertoire of songs and a highly stylised performance tradition within the lodge. But eighteenth-century English freemasonry was a more public form of sociability than it is today, and its music was known widely outside the lodge. Freemasons regularly patronised the London theatre, their songs an integral part of the programme, and they annually rode and marched through the London streets in their hundreds, accompanied by a marching band, perhaps the first known examples of such an ensemble in the West. The figure of King Solomon looms large in masonic traditions. The cluster of three Solomon oratorios by Boyce, Broadway and Handel, all written in London in the 1740s, are here linked together not only by their masonic rhetoric but also by their associations with the political struggle between George II and Frederick, Prince of Wales, himself a freemason. The thesis proposes a masonic author for the hitherto anonymous librettist of Handel’s Solomon.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: The Musical Culture of Freemasonry in Early Eighteenth-century London
Language: English
Additional information: With funding from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Awards Scheme
Keywords: freemasonry, London, music, Handel, Geminiani, eighteenth century, masonic, theatre, processions, song, singing
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > VP International
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/330478
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