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Musical “translation” in 18th and 19th-c. Britain

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 1


This seminar aims at studying the rich connections between the worlds of music, politics and religion in 18th-century Britain. Following George Frederic Haendel’s arrival in England in 1712 (originally as Georg Friedrich Händel, from Germany), the production of court music, operas and religious oratorios resulted from an intense and fruitful dialogue between composers, men of the Church and the world of politics. While composers, Handel and others, massively sought inspiration from the stories told in the Old Testament, the Anglican church viewed music as a means to “illustrate” their belief that England was, indeed, the New Jerusalem. Politicians – mostly the Crown and the Court – extensively relied on musical compositions, commissioned or not, to build up the nation’s narrative.

Although never an official composer per se, Haendel played a major role in this cultural/religious/political project. His many hymns, odes and oratorios form a coherent body of musical works whose religious, political and ideological dimensions offer a fascinating insight into a more general issue: how can art take part in the building up of a nation’s identity?

Students DO NOT need to know how to read music to take up this seminar. Written sources from librettos, newspapers, diaries, letters, pamphlets as well as simply listening to pieces of music will serve as a diverse and easily accessible material for the various presentations.

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Contrôle des connaissances

Students will be requested to make an oral presentation in class. Participation in class discussions will be taken into account in the final mark.

Students in “régime spécial” and those who cannot attend the seminar regularly should contact me as soon as possible, in the early weeks of the term, so that I can assign work to them. They will be required to take an oral exam at the end of the semester.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles. 

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  • BURROWS, Donald. Handel. Messiah. Cambridge: CUP, 1991.
  • BURROWS, Donald (ed).The Cambridge Companion to Handel. Cambridge: CUP. 1997.
  • COLLEY, Linda. Britons. Forging the Nation 1707-1837. London: Pimlico. 1994.
  • DEAN, Winton. Handel’s Dramatic Oratorios and Masques. Oxford: OUP. 1959.
  • KEATES, Jonathan. Handel. The Man and his Music. London: Victor Gollancz. 1985.
  • LANG, Paul Henry. George Frideric Handel. Toronto: Norton Press, 1966.
  • LEPPERT, Richard. The Sight of Sound. Music, Representation, and the History of the Body. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1993.
  • LEPPERT, Richard. Music and Image. Cambridge: CUP, 1998.
  • SWANSTON, Hamish. Handel. London: Geoffrey Chapman, Outstanding Christian Thinkers Series. 1990.
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