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Joe Davies (University of Oxford and Maynooth University)




In recent years – spurred by developments in performance studies, women’s studies, and cultural studies – musicologists have increasingly recognised the need to rethink the figure of the ‘great’ nineteenth-century composer that has loomed large in histories of European music in favour of a more diverse model which is sympathetic to different kinds of musicianship. This paper contributes to this endeavour in two particular respects: first, by reconsidering the historiographical implications of the composer-performer phenomenon in Joseph Joachim’s milieu; and secondly, by developing a hermeneutic framework for interpreting the intersections between composition and performance in his creative output, as well as in that of musicians with whom he collaborated, particularly Clara Schumann. Framed in terms of ‘carnal musicology’ (Le Guin 2005), the paper focuses closely on the corporeal dimension of virtuosity, with reference to technologies of touch and sensation, as a way of mediating between the physical act of performance and its embodiment in compositional discourse. In exploring these areas, the presentation seeks not only to contribute new insights into the artistic approach of Joachim and members of his circle, but also to suggest ways of reinvigorating the wider discussion of virtuosity and composer-performer relationships in nineteenth-century musical culture.






Joe Davies, who received his AHRC-funded doctorate from the University of Oxford, is an Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at Maynooth University and Lecturer in Music at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. His research interests lie in the aesthetics and cultural history of nineteenth-century musical culture, with particular emphasis on Franz Schubert, the Schumanns, and women and music. He is co-editor of Drama in the Music of Franz Schubert (Boydell & Brewer, 2019) – a volume of essays that reevaluates the composer’s neglected stage works and offers new perspectives for the interpretation of his songs and instrumental music. In June 2019 he served as chair of the organizing committee for the bicentenary conference ‘Clara Schumann (née Wieck) and her world’, which took place at Lady Margaret Hall in association with The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), Music & Letters, and The Royal Musical Association. He is currently editing a related volume of essays, Clara Schumann Studies, the first of its kind, for Cambridge University Press, and writing a monograph on Schubert and the Gothic.

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