Priesthood and Practicality: Joseph Joachim’s Concert Programmes in London

 

 

Abstract

For several centuries, London has presented a unique – and uniquely challenging – environment for freelance musicians, who flocked from across Europe to exploit the city’s extensive socio-musical networks, teaching opportunities and rich financial prospects. Joseph Joachim, together with his close colleague Clara Schumann, established a particularly deep and longstanding relationship with the city through his repeated visits over several decades from 1843 onwards. While figures like Michael Musgrave, Simon McVeigh, Christina Bashford and Steven Downes have explored aspects of the 19th-century London concert world in some detail, there is, thus far, no systematic study of how Joachim, with his reputation for uncompromising idealism, navigated that competitive and commercial environment, so different from the courts of Weimar and Hanover, or the concert life of Leipzig and Berlin. This paper therefore explores several questions. How did Joachim balance his reputation for seriousness and ‘servitude to the composer’ with commercial demands? In particular, how did he navigate multi-movement works, given the English preference for lengthy miscellany programmes? What – if any – non-canonical music did Joachim play in England, and in relation to this, how did he present his own compositions in public? Can we trace any changes in his attitude to repertoire over the years, and if so, what might have triggered them? And finally, what can be learned by a comparison with his much-admired contemporary and competitor Wilma Neruda, who also hailed from a corner of the Habsburg Empire, and similarly, established a hugely successful career in England? In exploring these questions, I hope to enrich existing scholarship by Beatrix Borchard and Karen Leistra-Jones on the complex but successful construction of Joachim’s artistic persona, as well as our current understanding of processes of repertoire canonisation.

 

Biography

Natasha Loges’s research interests include German song, concert history, 19th-century practice research, word-music relationships, and the life and music of Johannes Brahms, and Clara & Robert Schumann. She welcomes prospective PhD and DMus candidates in these areas.

Her research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. Her books include Johannes Brahms in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and Musical Salon Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century  (Boydell & Brewer, 2019), and Brahms in the Home and the Concert Hall  (Cambridge University Press, 2014). Her monograph Brahms and his Poets: A Handbook (Boydell & Brewer, 2017), received the American Musicological Society's Thomas Hampson Award in 2016. Forthcoming books include German Song Onstage: Lieder Performance in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries (Indiana University Press, Spring 2020), with Laura Tunbridge.

She has published chapters in the Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter, the Cambridge History of Musical Performance, Music & Literature in German Romanticism and the forthcoming collections Branding Western Music and Song Beyond the Nation (funded by the British Academy), as well as the journals Music & Letters, 19th-Century Music, Göttingen Händel-Beiträge and Participations.

Conference keynotes in 2019 have taken her to the University of California (The Intellectual Worlds of Johannes Brahms), Oxford (Clara Schumann and her World), Maynooth (Society for Musicology in Ireland, annual meeting) and Cornell (Performing Clara Schumann).

Natasha performs regularly as a song accompanist at venues including the Holywell Music Room, Leith Hill Place and St Johns Smith Square. She broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and reviews for BBC Music Magazine. Natasha is deeply committed to public engagement, and regularly gives talks for festivals and venues including the Southbank Centre, Wigmore Hall, the Oxford Lieder Festival and Leeds Lieder. She is a member of the TORCH-funded Oxford Song Network and a Council member of the Royal Musical Association.

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