Live Music Exchange Resources

Concert Life in London from Mozart to Haydn – Simon McVeigh (1993)


Author: Simon McVeigh
Organisation/Affiliation/Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Source: Academic
Date: 1993

During the second half of the eighteenth century, the pace of London’s concert life quickened dramatically, reflecting both the prosperity and the commercial vitality of the capital. The most significant development was the establishment of the public concert within the social and cultural life of fashionable society. The subscription concerts that premièred symphonies by J. C. Bach and Haydn were conspicuous symbols of luxury, even though they were promoted on broadly commercial lines. Drawing on hitherto untapped archival sources and a comprehensive study of daily newspapers, this book analyses audiences at venues as diverse as the Hanover Square Rooms, Vauxhall Gardens and City taverns. The musical taste of the London public is investigated in the light of contemporary theories of aesthetics, and there is detailed discussion of the financial and practical aspects of concert management and performance, in a period that encouraged enterprise and innovation.


  • Map of London in the second half of the eighteenth century
  • Prologue
  • Part I. The Social Role of the Concert:
  • ‘An exclusive principle’: subscription and ancient concerts
  • Other types of concert
  • The concert in London life
  • Part II. Attracting an Audience:
  • The musical product: novelty and familiarity
  • The musical product: programming
  • Taste and national idioms
  • Musical style: ‘music intended to reach the heart’
  • Musical style: the learned, the sublime and the dramatic
  • Part III. Concert Management and the Musician:
  • The finances of concert promotion
  • Life as a professional musician
  • The practicalities of concert promotion
  • Epilogue

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