London Voices, 1820-1840Vocal Performers, Practices, Histories

London Voices, 1820-1840Vocal Performers, Practices, Histories

Roger Parker and Susan Rutherford

Print publication date: 2020

ISBN: 9780226670188

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


Samuel Leigh’s New Picture of London (1839) promised its readers a way of making sense of the English capital at a time when it was, through expansion and diversification, becoming ever more bewildering to its inhabitants. We argue that one important way of coming to terms with the implications of that diversity is to consider London through the medium of voice: the speaking, shouting, singing, preaching, groaning, sighing, even sobbing voices—singly, or in concert, or in imagined representations—that sounded through the city during two tumultuous decades in the first half of the nineteenth century. Our volume begins on London’s street with itinerant balladeers and organ boys and ends with scientific experiments on acoustics, including en route essays on domestic singing, amateur choral societies, elite opera houses, popular performers, religious orators, and on the perception of voice in some key literary works of the period.