At the turn of the twentieth century, one German critic famously dismissed England as “Das Land Ohne Musik.” Many musicologists have since taken issue with the claim; of course, Victorian England played host to all manner of musical performances. Yet something about the old insult sticks in the eye. Whereas some nineteenth-century nations, particularly those influenced by Herder’s notions of Volkspoesie, claimed a palpable link between the land and its culture, England and its metropolitan capital seemed to exhibit an alternative model. In this talk, Dr. Hicks explores the idea of a music without land, taking the history of the Thames Tunnel as a guiding metaphor.
Jonathan Hicks is a postdoctoral fellow at Newcastle University’s Humanities Research Institute. He works on music, theatre, and cultural geography (mainly in Britain) in the nineteenth century.
Illustration from: Marc Isambard Brunel: An Explanation of the Works of the Tunnel under the Thames from Rotherhithe to Wapping, London, Warrington, 1839.