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Sounds of the MetropolisThe 19th Century Popular Music Revolution in London, New York, Paris and Vienna$
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Derek B. Scott

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195309461

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195309461.001.0001

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Music, Morals, and Social Order

Music, Morals, and Social Order

(p.58) 3 Music, Morals, and Social Order
Sounds of the Metropolis

Derek B. Scott

Oxford University Press

Nineteenth-century bourgeois values were abundant, as were their ideological functions (thrift set against extravagance, self-help against dependence, hard work against idleness) but, where art and entertainment were concerned, the key value in asserting moral leadership was respectability. It was something within the grasp of all, unlike the aristocratic notion of “good breeding”. It followed that recreation should be rational, designed to be improving, and not merely idle amusement. The rational and the recreational were linked together in the sight-singing movement. There were, of course, other kinds of musical activities to worry about: for instance, the moral propriety of the waltz, or the innuendo to be found in songs of the café-concert and music hall, or political songs. Yet, not even Gilbert and Sullivan are morally unimpeachable. A respectable moral tone is at its strongest in the drawing-room ballad, but even sterner moral fiber is found in temperance ballads.

Keywords:   choirs, improvement, morality, music hall, operetta, public, private, respectability, waltz, Gilbert and Sullivan

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