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Listening in Paris: A Cultural History (Studies on the History of Society and Culture) [Paperback]

James H. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 4, 1996 0520206487 978-0520206489
Beginning with the simple question, "Why did audiences grow silent?" Listening in Paris gives a spectator's-eye view of opera and concert life from the Old Regime to the Romantic era, describing the transformation in musical experience from social event to profound aesthetic encounter. James H. Johnson recreates the experience of audiences during these rich decades with brio and wit. Woven into the narrative is an analysis of the political, musical, and aesthetic factors that produced more engaged listening. Johnson shows the gradual pacification of audiences from loud and unruly listeners to the attentive public we know today.

Drawing from a wide range of sources—novels, memoirs, police files, personal correspondence, newspaper reviews, architectural plans, and the like—Johnson brings the performances to life: the hubbub of eighteenth-century opera, the exuberance of Revolutionary audiences, Napoleon's musical authoritarianism, the bourgeoisie's polite consideration. He singles out the music of Gluck, Haydn, Rossini, and Beethoven as especially important in forging new ways of hearing. This book's theoretical edge will appeal to cultural and intellectual historians in many fields and periods.

Frequently Bought Together

Listening in Paris: A Cultural History (Studies on the History of Society and Culture) + Wagner On Music And Drama (Da Capo Paperback) + Georges Bizet: Carmen (Cambridge Opera Handbooks)
Price for all three: $91.36

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Editorial Reviews


"A helpful survey of both enduring and emerging themes."--"Religious Studies Review

About the Author

James H. Johnson is Assistant Professor of History at Boston University.

Product Details

  • Series: Studies on the History of Society and Culture
  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (December 4, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520206487
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520206489
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music History and More June 12, 2000
By A Customer
This is a fascinating account of musical life in Paris between 1750 and 1850. Although Johnson is trying to discover why opera audiences became silent during this period, he has a lot more than just silence on his mind. The book explores the decline of aristocratic control over music and its take-over by bourgeois audiences; it also traces how music moved from being a cerebral experience to an emotional one. Johnson writes extremely well, and knows how to pick appropriate and witty anecdotes to keep the text moving along. This is one of the few books that both academic scholars and ordinary readers should be able to appreciate and enjoy; it is easily one of the best books on music history to come along in years, and fun to read as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All-Around Excellent Book June 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The overwhelming majority of books about classical music deal primarily with the composers' lives and/or the nature of their music. This book concentrates on the audiences: their changing expectations, evolution of concert settings and social conventions , and many more considerations that have helped define how audiences today approach live music performances.

I agree with all the previous reviewer 's comments. I read the book in its paperback form, but I'm buying now for my Kindle reader so that I can easily copy quotations to send to friends for discussion.
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