Women in Labor: Gender, Family, and Musical Entrepreneurship in Eighteenth-Century Britain

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

This talk presents some preliminary thoughts and ideas surrounding my newest book project on female musical entrepreneurship in eighteenth-century Britain. Rather than focusing primarily on composers or singers, my work centers on how women organized concerts, acted as their own agents in business negotiations; became impresarios, music publishers, printers, and luthiers; taught music lessons; and even established musical dynasties within their families. All aspects of musical production—from creation, to performance, to marketing, to dissemination—relied on female labor. Musical women also found unique ways of experimenting in the music business as a means of carving out their own professional niches in an otherwise male-dominated space. The talk is structured around select microhistories of individual women and their families. As examples, I will cover the Stradiotti-Gambarini family, the Weichsel family, and Black-Irish musician Rachael Baptist—all of whom invented new ways of participating in public music-making outside of the traditional methods used by men in the eighteenth century.


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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.