Music played an important role in the social life of nineteenth-century Europe, and music in the home provided a convenient way to entertain and communicate among friends and colleagues. String chamber music, in particular, fostered social interactions that helped build communities within communities.
Marie Sumner Lott examines the music available to musical consumers in the nineteenth century, and what that music tells us about their tastes, priorities, and activities. Her social history of chamber music performance places the works of canonic composers such as Schubert, Brahms, and Dvoøák in relation to lesser-known but influential peers. The book explores the dynamic relationships among the active agents involved in the creation of Romantic music and shows how each influenced the others' choices in a rich, collaborative environment. In addition to documenting the ways companies acquired and marketed sheet music, Sumner Lott reveals how the publication and performance of chamber music differed from that of ephemeral piano and song genres or more monumental orchestral and operatic works. Several distinct niche markets existed within the audience for chamber music, and composers created new musical works for their use and enjoyment.
Insightful and groundbreaking, The Social Worlds of Nineteenth-Century Chamber Music revises prevailing views of middle-class influence on nineteenth-century musical style and presents new methods for interpreting the meanings of musical works for musicians both past and present.