Women as Musical Entrepreneurs in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Fri, Apr 28, 2023
5:00 pm EDT - 6:30 pm EDT

Eighteenth-century musicology has long been fascinated by women’s contribution to music as professional singers, but to date very few have investigated how women labored in music outside of performance. This is, in part, due to a lack of obvious and immediate sources. Evidence of public activities has been preserved and analyzed in scholarship, while more domestic activities, such as running a local business or teaching, have been largely ignored. In this talk, Professor DeSimone will offer examples of case studies: women who worked as booksellers, contributing to the musical economy by selling printed books of music; women who worked as luthiers alongside their husbands, or helped to sell the instruments their husbands made; women who organized concert series and marketed themselves in new ways. This talk will bring new insight and understanding to the varied ways in which women’s labor in music blurred the lines between public and private, showcasing how they were able to create sustainable and successful entrepreneurial careers beyond singing.


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Alison DeSimone is Associate Professor of Musicology and Interim Chair of Music Performance at the UMKC Conservatory. Her monograph, The Power of Pastiche: Musical Miscellany and Cultural Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century England was published in 2021 (Clemson University Press). With Matthew Gardner, she edited Music and the Benefit Performance in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press, 2020). She has published articles in the Journal of Musicological Research, A-R Online Anthology, Händel-Jahrbuch, and Early Modern Women, and has forthcoming work in Eighteenth-Century Music and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. In 2018, she won the Ruth Solie Prize for an Outstanding Article on British Music from the North American British Music Studies Association. She has served on the board of the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music and the American Handel Society.