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Opera in the Jazz AgeCultural Politics in 1920s Britain$
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Alexandra Wilson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190912666

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190912666.001.0001

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(p.71) Chapter 3 Brows
Opera in the Jazz Age

Alexandra Wilson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 focuses upon two archetypal figures in the 1920s battle of the brows: the highbrow and the so-called man in the street. It discusses the various ways in which the term ‘highbrow’ was employed during this period, before considering which music periodicals and critics fell into the highbrow camp, even if the term was not always explicitly used. The chapter proposes that there were various types of highbrow critic: some overt snobs, others more benevolent voices who wanted to share good music with a wide audience. The second part of the chapter analyses the eclectic, middlebrow tastes of the ‘man in the street’, a mythical figure who represented the burgeoning middle classes. Finally, the chapter considers publications, talks and broadcasts that were employed by various opera companies and individuals during the 1920s to encourage more people to watch and listen to opera.

Keywords:   opera, Britain, 1920s, highbrow, middlebrow, class, periodical, critic, criticism

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