“United voices formed the very perfection of harmony”: Music and the Invention of Harriett Abrams (c1758–1821)’,

Joncus, Berta. 2013. “United voices formed the very perfection of harmony”: Music and the Invention of Harriett Abrams (c1758–1821)’,. In: Bärbel Czennia, ed. Celebrity: The Idiom of a Modern Era. New York: AMS Press, pp. 67-106. ISBN 9780404648701 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The remarkable career of Harriett Abrams – singer-actress, concert soprano, composer and self-styled manager – was bound up with the representative power of the music that she performed, composed and produced. Throughout her career, music was the chief means through which Abrams produced her persona, as she metamorphosed from soprano-actress, to concert soprano to composer. A closer examination of Abrams’ life and music shows how she guided this process to gain increasing control over her representation. Launched by David Garrick, she represented exoticism in musical vehicles, first written by Garrick and then others, designed to showcase her voice and negotiate her Jewish identity. Quitting the theatre, Abrams established a highly successful concert career, in part by embodying through performances with her sisters ideals of femininity. Her high standing allowed her to withdraw from public into private performance and to devote herself fully to composition, a male-dominated field to which she had earlier contributed pieces for amateurs. Her output shows increasing mastery of her craft, culminating in songs that incorporated the advances of Haydn, with whom she was associated.

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Date Deposited:

01 Oct 2018 10:55

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01 Oct 2018 10:55



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