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date: 02 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter starts by revisiting a now-familiar text: James H. Johnson’s book Listening in Paris (1995). On the basis of concert and opera reviews, images, and the paratexts of concert programs, Ellis reframes Johnson’s question “When did audiences fall silent?” as “Where and why did audiences fail to fall silent?” Multilayered answers show how (1) many of the noisier phenomena of the eighteenth century resurfaced in new guises from the 1850s onward; (2) the democratization of art music took place in contexts that could not always impose “religious” listening; and (3) there was a resurgent demand, possibly concomitant, for music as pure entertainment in venues where silence was neither required nor expected. The chapter argues that although attentive listening was a gold standard during the latter two-thirds of the nineteenth century in Paris, practice rarely lived up to such expectations, and it was in effect a niche activity.

Keywords: aesthetic hierarchies, concert-hall listening, ideology of silence, James H. Johnson, listening behavior, norms of listening, Paris concert halls

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