Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This dissertation considers the musical people, places, and repertories of Philadelphia at the end of the eighteenth century, bringing the history of Franco-American politics to bear on the interpretation of selected musical works. The first chapter explores the role of music in diplomatic entertainments at Philadelphia's French consulate during the closing years of the War of Independence. At the 1782 fete for the Dauphin of France and in Francis Hopkinson's 1781 dramatic cantata, America Independent, music helped to solidify the postwar order and to forge a consensus on the meaning of the Revolution. Chapter two treats the Philadelphian reception of French revolutionary song, connecting it to the emergence of U.S. partisanship. After documenting the role of songs including "Ã?a Ira," "La Carmagnole," and "La Marseillaise" in Philadelphia street culture, I consider how the music printer Benjamin Carr reconciled such tunes to the refined context of the drawing room. Chapter three discusses Philadelphian examples of reactionary song that appeared in the wake of the Terror, primarily those by the St. Dominguan emigrant Jean-Baptiste Renaud de Chateaudun. English royalist laments also circulated, but they differed in terms of compositional approach. Editorial changes to Chateaudun's music sheets point to an Anglo-American hegemony in the realm of musical style. Finally, chapter four describes the proliferation of anti-French contrafacts that accompanied the decline of diplomatic relations between the United States and France. Varying widely in terms of their source material and compositional quality, these songs portrayed the Quasi-War in terms of an analogy with the American Revolution. Federalists leveraged the French crisis to promote a war-ready vigilance against perceived threats to a hard-won liberty. In all, the dissertation illustrates the contestedness of musical and political life in late-eighteenth-century Philadelphia. It shows not only that early American cultural and political expression were tightly connected, but that they were dynamic, conflicted, and necessarily related to developments in France and its colonies.
Gray, Myron, "Musical Politics in French Philadelphia, 1781-1801" (2014). Publicly Accessible Penn Dissertations. 1292.