Reviewed Elsewhere: Michael Allis, British Music and Literary Context

Lars Fischer Discussion

Michael Allis, British Music and Literary Context: Artistic Connections in the Long Nineteenth Century.

Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012. x + 320 pp. £60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-843-83730-5.

Michael Allis’s British Music and Literary Context is a fascinating book whose interdisciplinary approach to its subject matter is both novel and thought-provoking. As he explains on the back cover, it “explores how a literary context might offer modern audiences and listeners a ‘way in’ to appreciate specific works that have traditionally been viewed as problematic”—an aim he has certainly achieved. His five substantial chapters examine the music of four composers born within a twenty-year span—Hubert Parry (1848), C. V. Stanford (1852), Edward Elgar (1857), and Granville Bantock (1868)—and are preceded by a short introduction in which he provides an overview of his aims and methods, the latter taken as much from literary as from musicological models. …

One must admire the breadth of his reading; acknowledge the generous provision of musical examples, generous index, and accuracy of the text; and commend his lucid literary style. Whether you agree with all his conclusions or not, this is a valuable book which should be of interest to both musicologists and literary scholars, handsomely produced by the Boydell Press.

Peter Horton, Victorian Studies 57, 4 (2015), 708–710.