Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Folk Music and Fascism: A Divisive History

By Ross Cole

Folk music is near synonymous with the left. This union is so apparent and longstanding in the Anglophone world that we rarely ever think to question it. Haunting the revival of the 1960s, the archetype of a folk singer is beholden to legends such as Woody Guthrie, his guitar emblazoned with the phrase “This Machine Kills Fascists” (now available online for $4 a piece).

Although folk music was employed in the service both of communist state propaganda (vividly illustrated in Paweł Pawlikowski’s recent film Cold War) and in support of the Third Reich, our concept of folklore has tended to remain wedded to a proletarian or progressive vision. Folk music partisans, themselves frequently stalwart Marxists or card-carrying Party members, were at the vanguard of the most iconic political struggles of the twentieth century, from the Industrial Workers of the World and the Popular Front to the civil rights movement, CND, and the movement for reproductive rights.

In the public imagination, the folk revivalist is a dyed-in-the-wool radical, an activist whose commitment to the betterment of the common woman and man was forged in the furnace of anti-capitalist hostility. The frivolous offerings of the commercial music industry only serve to compound this opposition to the marketplace and its profit-hungry moguls. And so the folk singer rages against commerce and decadence with songs of social injustice, their roots firmly grounded in the topography of home.

But this tradition of thought is built upon a paradoxical foundation, one that casts a disconcerting shadow on the vision of folk music as a tool of resistance.

Folkloric thinking echoes what Raymond Williams saw as a form of “idealist retrospect” – a way of measuring change and resisting capitalist injustice nevertheless in danger of reinforcing undemocratic hierarchies “in the name of blood and soil”.<1> Might folk music share a common history with the very forces it has strived so hard to resist?

Indeed it does. Looking back at the work of the most influential and indefatigable British song collector Cecil J. Sharp brings this strange correlation into focus.

Sharp, a Fabian socialist with strong nationalist leanings (he was a member of the imperialistic Navy League), believed that folk song should be used to combat an ostensible erosion of white, English identity. Writing in 1907, he claimed that
Our system of education is, at present, too cosmopolitan; it is calculated to produce citizens of the world rather than Englishmen. And it is Englishmen, English citizens, that we want. How can this be remedied? By taking care, I would suggest, that every child born of English parents is, in its earliest years, placed in possession of all those things which are the distinctive products of its race…If every child be placed in possession of all these race-products, he will know and understand his country and his countrymen far better than he does at present; and knowing and understanding them he will love them the more, realize that he is united to them by the subtle bond of blood and kinship, and become, in the highest sense of the word, a better citizen, and a truer patriot.<2>

Although many of his contemporaries fought vociferously against such ideas, Sharp’s vision of revivalism emerged triumphant on both sides of the Atlantic, pairing a commitment to organic nationalism and racial hierarchy with a socialist resistance against cultural degeneration and the ravages of industrial capitalism.

On the surface, these political commitments may seem baffling––what Dave Harker describes as a “bizarre mixture of radical and reactionary”.<3> But they are by no means inconsistent. As the Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell has argued, such a confluence must be seen not simply as the precursor to fascist regimes but rather as a powerfully attractive nexus of ideas circulating throughout Europe at the fin de siècle predicated on a revision of Marxism in which a “revolution of the spirit” trumps revolution proper.<4>

This ideology sought above all to unify a class-ridden society through the idea of the nation viewed as a racial community with sacred ties to the soil. “Before it became a political force,” Sternhell affirms, fascism was “a cultural phenomenon”.<5>

Our conception of folk music from Somerset to Appalachia is indelibly marked by this moment largely as a result of Sharp’s interventions. As the collector Lucy Broadwood wrote in a personal letter to her sister in 1924, Sharp elected himself “King of the whole movement” and “was by the general ignorant public taken at his own valuation”.

What’s surprising is the extent to which his ideas—deeply conditioned by extreme nationalism, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia—have managed to circulate without having their political meanings fully scrutinized.<6> In this sense, he has been supremely successful: such ideas reverberate silently and all the more powerfully within objects and cultural practices that, for many people, exist as innocent tokens of the past.

Sharp, in other words, holds a profound sway over public memory. Even within academic circles today, the term “folk” is often employed in its Sharpian guise without due attention paid to the broader discursive ecology that afforded its emergence and proliferation. Instead, it is taken as a given and hence becomes a blind spot.

Lurking under the surface of folk culture’s celebration of the past is a call not to international solidarity, equality, and brotherhood but to blood and soil nativism. This contradiction plagues the folk revivalist project, its songs and dances always endeavoring to reconcile the conflicting pull of history and locality with human unity.

In the current political climate it is worth pausing to reflect on how many ideas, assumptions, and institutions are indebted to the same patterns of thought as was Sharp. His ugly ideology rears its head as the mouthpiece of white supremacy when the majority feels under threat, from Paddy Tarleton’s noxious “Charlottesville Ballad (War is Coming)” to neo-Nazi investment in the mythology of Celtic music. To what degree, we should ask, can folk song escape this darker aspect of its intellectual heritage?
<1>Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (London: Chatto & Windus, 1973), 35–6.
<2>Cecil J. Sharp, English Folk-Song: Some Conclusions (London: Simpkin & Co., 1907), 135–6.
<3>Dave Harker, Fakesong: The Manufacture of British “Folksong”, 1700 to the Present Day (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1985), 175.
<4>Zeev Sternhell, Neither Right nor Left: Fascist Ideology in France, translated by David Maisel (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), 272.
<5>Zeev Sternhell with Mario Sznajder and Maia Asheri, The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution, translated by David Maisel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994), 3.
<6>Notable exceptions include Georgina Boyes, The Imagined Village: Culture, Ideology and the English Folk Revival (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993) and Daniel J. Walkowitz, City Folk: English Country Dance and the Politics of the Folk in Modern America (New York: New York University Press, 2010).

Ross Cole is a Junior Research Fellow in music at the University of Cambridge.

Whither “Musicologist”?

By Jacques Dupuis

Apple’s June 5, 2017 Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) keynote presentation was, by many measures, a fairly standard, very polished Apple production, full of the usual slick visuals and catch-phrase styled language that reflects the company’s famous, tightly controlled image. Toward the end of the keynote, CEO Tim Cook brought Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, to the stage to launch an announcement of Apple’s latest product, the HomePod, a product Schiller positioned primarily for listening to music. Amidst his delivery of Apple-typical claims of reshaping the world, Schiller enumerated three key innovations of the product: 1. high quality speakers; 2. adaptive spatial acoustic functions; and 3. a musicologist.

Reactions were immediate as Schiller announced that the “built-in musicologist”—working with the virtual assistant, Siri, as something between an AI disc-jockey and a fact finder—would “help us hear the music we love, or discover the music we’re going to love” through the music streaming service, Apple Music. While many people reacted to the company’s high aspirations or the product’s functionality, others were struck by the word “musicologist.” On Twitter, some users were enthusiastic:

ചെർപ്പുളശ്ശേരിക്കാരൻ (@mathi_dili), June 5, 2017: #musicologist

     #HomePods‬. Apple comes with such cool or strange Names !!

Others were critical:

Shawn Dessaigne (@satansrobot), June 5, 2017: I'm not sure Apple knows what a
      musicologist is or does.

Bronson Foster (@bronsonfoster), June 5, 2017: Still trying to get over @Apple‬'s incredibly
      incredibly ignorant use of the word "#musicologist‬." Feeling bad for my colleagues now
      dealing with it. 

Gene De Lisa (@genedelisadev), June 5, 2017: @Apple‬, N.B. "Musicologist" is an actual
      profession and the majority of them hold PhDs. What HomePod is doing is not
      musicology. #WWDC17

Jacob Daniels (@senatordaniels), June 5, 2017: Siri is not a musicologist.

Still others were skeptical the word exists:

Matt LaForest (@mudetroit), June 5, 2017: “Musicologist” is not a word
      @Apple‬ not a word

Looking slightly beneath the surface, a common theme in these responses is uncertainty of what the word “musicologist” is actually doing here, a question that some musicology scholars also grappled with, albeit in a slightly different way. Following Apple’s late-January 2018 announcement of the HomePod’s February shipping date, Linda Shaver-Gleason noted in a good-humored but nevertheless incisive post on her blog, Not Another Music History Cliché, that responses from academics had varied between humorous and self-deprecating:

Gabrielle Cornish (@gcornish91), June 5, 2017: I'll believe Apple's HomePod
      is a musicologist when I hear its response to "Hey Siri, how do you feel about John

Sam Blickhan (@snblickhan), June 6, 2017: I'm a musicologist who works in handwritten
      text transcription. @Apple‬ came for both my jobs this week but it's cool. #WWDC17

Greg McCandless (@gmccandless), June 6, 2017: "Hey Siri, please explain the influence
      of post-structuralism on this artist's oeuvre via a semiotic analysis." #HomePod

While some were decidedly neutral:

William Gibbons (@musicillogical), June 5, 2017: Am I the only musicologist unperturbed
      about this Apple thing?

As many recalled at both the WWDC and release date announcements, however, this was not the first time a music streaming service had adopted the term “musicologist” to address the limitations of algorithm driven music recommendations. Pandora Radio has long employed a team of curators it calls “musicologists” for its Music Genome Project whose goal is effectively to develop stronger metadata for the platform’s algorithms, which select music that “fits” together for automated, personalized radio stations. In September 2012, Nokia introduced an ill-fated streaming service for the similarly ill-fated Windows Phone, where “consumers [could] stream music from a suite of over 150 exclusive playlists that are curated and kept up to date by an expert team of US based musicologists.” And in 2014, Warner Music Group’s music cataloguing and marketing arm, Rhino, issued a call for the individual user to “become a Rhino musicologist,” and “share their superior musical taste with the world,” in the form of playlists submitted via its application within Spotify. In method, Pandora tends more toward machine learning, with a distinctly individual-centered and ephemeral result, while Nokia and Rhino leaned more toward human, static outcomes. And in procedure, Rhino’s crowd-sourced method acts as a foil to the in-house approaches of both Pandora and Nokia.

By the time Apple announced its HomePod, ample precedent had been set for “musicologists” in the music streaming industry, even as there remains conceptual ambiguity in individual idiosyncratic usages of the term by different companies. Still, there are some overarching implications in these usages beyond pretenses of neologism or rebranding established practices. To twist the earlier question toward historical terms: why can the word “musicologist” do any work in this situation, at all? What basis is there for marketing teams at these companies choosing it in the first place?

Nick Matarese (@nmatares), June 6, 2017: “They focused on making Siri a "musicologist" instead of a better generalist. T-shaped assistant.”

When a Google product designer, Nick Materese, tweeted this concatenation on the morning after Apple’s WWDC announcement, he gestured toward a possible interpretation of Silicon Valley’s adoption of a term that seems superficially pretty foreign to the tech industry. Matarese humanizes Siri qua musicologist in her HomePod morph by characterizing her as T-shaped, capable of many things with deep specialization in one. The description is apt, especially accounting for the other functions she performs, but rather than cast Siri as a startup team member, as “T-shaped” connotes, I would suggest that Materese’s reference to generalists invokes, intentionally or not, a historical context of yearning for guiding lights and experts amongst wider publics.

Around the turn of the twentieth century in the United States, intellectual atmospheres were in flux, particularly within the college-educated, white, middle to upper class, where emphases on broad-based knowledge lost value to deeper understanding of specific subject areas—from breadth to depth, from generalism to specialism. This philosophical evolution did not simply expunge nineteenth century genteel culture’s generalism for greater sequestration in subfields; rather, significant overlap occurred and gentility lingered well into the time when university curricula began catering to greater depth in ever more insular majors. As Joan Shelley Rubin details in The Making of Middlebrow Culture, this tension contributed to the rise of “the middlebrow,” a historically contingent category that includes products and activities intended to stimulate cultural or intellectual elevation for consumers.<1> Very often, these products bore names like “A Brief History of…”, or the “Five-Foot Shelf of Books,” intended to “furnish a liberal education to anyone willing to devote fifteen minutes per day to reading them”.<2>

Among figures like Will Durant, John Erskine, Stuart Pratt Sherman and Irita Van Doren that Rubin describes, Henry Seidel Canby supplies us with an interesting and demonstrative case. Canby’s origins and education align him closely to genteel generalism as he progressed through studies at Yale, eventually earning a PhD in 1905 and a faculty position there in 1908. Becoming restless with materialism’s specializing influence on curricula at Yale as students sought well-paying jobs over well-roundedness, he eventually left the academy and became editor of Literary Review for the New York Evening Post, a publication intended to inform its audience’s reading choices. Before long, he landed on the Board of Judges for Harry Scherman’s Book of the Month Club, founded in 1926.<3> Canby’s Ivy League pedigree and personal intellectual philosophy made him well-suited to serve as a guiding light before a wider public, part and parcel of an industry partially reliant on this sort of personality for its legitimation.

 Henry Seidel Canby<4>

Closely resembling these printed products, educational entertainment also appeared on the radio in the 1920s and 30s, with programming featuring an intellectual guide leading discussions or lectures on classic or contemporary literature. Eventually, universities supported radio lectures by their professors, in a role akin to the work of today’s university extension course lecturers. In products legitimized by professorial experts like Canby, what buyers purchased was as much the opinions of the experts as it was the Book of the Month.

What I want to spotlight here about the figure of Henry Canby and middlebrow products is the strong customer appeal of the guiding expert. Products like the Book of the Month and radio lectures by university experts took shape from a demand for cultural cache, not unlike human or algorithmic curators of streaming music playlists and radio stations. While tech companies’ adoption of the term “musicologist” came as a jolt of humility to those of us who lay claim to that title professionally, offering a patina of expertise and pre-packaged access to elite culture is the actual work that the word “musicologist” does for Pandora, Apple and others. This resonance with historical middlebrow products, I would argue, is a primary reason the term carries any significance at all. Consumers buying legitimacy buy the supposed privilege of being in the know, much like the connoisseur outlets of Pitchfork or Fanfare Magazine.

Taking a step back, applying the term “musicologist” to a digital assistant puts the face of an expert on the thing; more simply, it puts a face on a thing, humanizing and warming it. It seeks to resolve a problem that in March of 2018 Washington Post pop music critic, Chris Richards, saw in platforms like Spotify, where “algorithm-generated playlists often feel like mix tapes made by bots,” which they are. The appeal of humanity explains why, when devising the Book of the Month, Harry Scherman’s decision to cultivate images of personalities to sell his products rather than curate a faceless catalog listing worked as well as it did. Humanization sells.

While streaming services’ adoption of expert “musicologists” puts consumers in the know, it also contributes to platforms’ generation of communities. Generally speaking, individuals who follow an expert (middlebrow or other) form a virtual community akin to Benedict Anderson’s imagined communities, where readers gather in common consumption of literature, or slightly adapted, follow the ideas of an expert.<5> In the case of music streaming, literature can be substituted by playlists, which can be curated by “musicologists” (experts). Spotify, as a prominent example, plainly exhibits other markers of community, as well: if they choose, users register by linking a social media account, subsequently follow their contacts’ activities, and even make collaborative playlists with them.

Other features generate not only communities, but what can be termed publics. Literary critic Michael Warner, in his influential essay, “Publics and Counterpublics,” gives a number of criteria required for an entity to garner the status, “public.” Most significantly, Warner revises the all-encompassing and much-critiqued formulation of “the” public from Jürgen Habermas’s The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere into a nimbler, more flexible configuration of multiple publics. His criteria for whether an entity is “a” public include: 1) self-organization, 2) a relation of strangers, and 3) constitution through mere attention.<6> Determining whether music streaming users constitute a public, individuals voluntarily become users, qualifying them as self-organized. Linking to one’s Facebook friends on the platform could disqualify certain regions of Spotify from being a public, per Warner, but users can subscribe to and consume Spotify’s algorithm/musicologist-curated playlists. Such subscriber groups bring together individuals who otherwise would not know one another, creating relations between strangers. Though Warner thinks primarily of written media in his prerequisite of “mere attention” (that is, multiple strangers’ simultaneous consumption of the same piece of writing), sociologist Georgina Born cites Benedict Anderson in positing that music performs the same function: “Music animates imagined communities, aggregating its listeners into virtual collectivities or publics based on musical and other identifications.” Music streaming services do similar work to the online piracy communities Born elsewhere references as facilitating “the virtual or stranger alliances and collectivities generated by the mediation circulation of music and sound.”<8> If these parallels work only as implied evidence of the virtual communities to which streaming services’ “experts” contribute, to a self-consciously literal, nominal extreme, there is even a message board, the Spotify Community, which fulfills one other of Warner’s rules for “a” public: ongoing, reflexive discourse. Surfing alongside all of this is the “musicologist,” with its expertise and curated playlists.

Lest we dismiss these elements as menial or incidental, the proliferation of black markets for playlists shows that there is big business in fostering a healthy community or public, whether in music streaming or in middlebrow cultural products. Realistically, all of these communal features are profit-minded, exploiting the dopamine-inducing potential at the heart of social media’s allure. Nevertheless, each contributes some element of community or public. In reflecting upon what music streaming services do when they adopt a term like “musicologist,” parsing the user experience gives significant insight into why the fictional figure of the music streaming musicologist has any impact, at all. Just as the Book of the Month and university-supported radio programming catalyzed middlebrow publics, music streaming services are the platforms for their publics, to be legitimized and partly constituted by the likes of a Canby or Siri-musicologist.

As a closing thought, Apple’s lexicographic influence is not immense, but it is far from negligible, accounting for the ubiquity of the “i-” on consumer electronics packaging. Terminology (such as “musicologist”) plays an important role in the company’s branding strategy, which is to say that language is carefully selected and crafted. Without flattering ourselves too much by claiming the pushback on Apple by academic musicologists alone swayed a transnational company, it is worth noting that at the time of the HomePod’s release, Apple’s webpage for the product featured this description:

Today, it reads:
To paraphrase another public intellectual, Leonard Bernstein: whither “musicologist”? If a behemoth like Apple has forgone the word for one reason or another, it is difficult to guess if or how the word will surface again. But in this case, what may have felt to some critics like a naive co-opting of a term was actually a shrewd marketing decision connected to history, and for Apple is right at home with the Smart Keyboard, Genius Bar, and myriad Pro models meant to make customers feel in the know.
<1>Joan Shelley Rubin, The Making of Middlebrow Culture (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992).
<2>Rubin, 28.
<3>Rubin, 94.

<4>Norman Borachardt, “Sketch of Henry Seidel Canby,” Current Opinion 72 (January-June 1922), 381.
<5>Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (New York: Verso, 2006).
<6>Michael Warner, “Publics and Counterpublics,” in Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2005), 65-124.
<7>Georgina Born, “Introduction - music, sound and space: transformations of public and private experience,” in Music, Sound and Space (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 32.
<8>Born, 35.

Jacques Dupuis is a PhD candidate in historical musicology at Brandeis University, writing a dissertation on Robert Schumann and early 19th-century popular theater genres.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Dissertation Digest: The Politics of Opera in French Provincial Cities, 1685-1750

By Natasha Roule

Title-piece from an opera libretto printed in Lyon in 1706.
Photo: Natasha Roule. From the author’s collection.

In 2015, Canal+ aired the first episode of Versailles, a Franco-Canadian television series about the young Louis XIV and his efforts to consolidate political power. As the title of the series suggests, Versailles centers its plot around the luxe chateau that the Sun King built on the site of his father’s favorite hunting lodge some 50 miles southwest of Paris. A dramatized historical fiction, the series draws from the vast historiographical literature that explores how Louis XIV cultivated his power from the seat of Versailles. Yet as the king worked to centralize the French government, he had to contend with a large kingdom beyond Versailles – a kingdom characterized by political and cultural heterogeneity that occasionally posed challenges to the king’s absolutist measures. Indeed, the political centralization of France under Louis XIV was a tricky affair: far from simply demanding that legislature be put into effect in each province, the king and his ministers engaged in a game of compromise, negotiation, and sometimes coercion with city magistrates and provincial governors. Though the history of absolutism in French cities has received some study by historians, we can gain a deeper understanding of the implementation and reception of absolutism in provincial France by approaching the subject from a musicological perspective.<1> To do this, the tragédie en musique – the absolutist genre par excellence – is key.

In my dissertation, “The Operas of Jean-Baptiste Lully and the Negotiation of Absolutism in the French Provinces, 1685-1750,” I explore the performance history of Lully’s tragédies en musique in four French cities: Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, and Strasbourg. I argue that productions of Lully’s operas in these cities played a major role in the expansion of absolutism even as they functioned as mouthpieces of provincial pushback against the Crown. On the one hand, Lully’s tragédies acted as vehicles of absolutist propaganda, lending mobility to the king’s image as an absolutist monarch in much the same way as the equestrian statues of Louis XIV that were erected in major cities throughout France.<2> At the same time, many provincial artists altered or satirized Lully’s tragédies, deliberately keying their modifications to critique royal intervention in local affairs.

Musicologists have long acknowledged the political bent of Lully’s operas. Lully (1632-1687) was the surintendant de la musique of Louis XIV and is credited with the invention of French opera, along with his librettist Philippe Quinault. With the king as his patron, the Italian-born composer ensured that references to Louis XIV and his sovereignty were woven throughout his own tragédies, from heroes who preach the importance of duty to choruses that explicitly applaud the monarch.<3> During his lifetime, Lully held a monopoly over the performance of opera that effectively restricted opera production to Paris and the court, where Lully worked.<4> It was not until after Lully’s death in 1687 that theaters across the kingdom began to produce opera, with the exception of the Académie de Musique of Marseille, which was founded with Lully’s permission in 1684. Even after opera spread to the provinces, few works besides Lully’s tragédies were performed until about 1700, a testimony to the composer’s enduring command over the French musical landscape.<5>

Marseille, Lyon, Rennes, and Strasbourg had unique cultural, linguistic, and political profiles that shaped local responses to Lully’s operas. In Marseille, Pierre Gautier, founder of the Marseille Académie de Musique, composed two operas modeled after Lully’s tragédies that asserted the city’s simultaneous loyalty to the absolutist Crown as well as its adherence to its historically civic republican identity.<6> In Lyon, parodies of Lully’s operas performed in the 1690s coincided with the city’s struggle to recover from famine and contagion without significant aid from the Crown. In a parody of Lully’s Phaëton, the character of a Lyonnais municipal sergeant replaces that of Jupiter, who often symbolized Louis XIV in this period; the substitution asserts the ability of the local government rather than the Crown to take care of its subjects in need.<7> In Rennes, Lully’s Atys was performed in 1689 to celebrate the return of the city’s parlement from an exile to which the king had banished it over a decade earlier following a local revolt; this production is by far the most explicit example of a Lully opera used as royal propaganda in the provinces.<8> In 1730s Strasbourg, Lully’s operas were abbreviated to bare minimums of storyline and music. The brusque treatment of Lully’s operas mirrors the cultural resistance that the historically Germanic city felt towards the French Crown, which had annexed Strasbourg in 1681.<9>

Beyond teasing out political struggles over absolutism in provincial opera productions, my dissertation also traces changes that provincial artists made to Lully’s libretti and scores. Opera performances in Lyon are the most richly documented of all provincial Lully productions, thanks to individuals such as Nicolas Bergiron (1690-1768), who curated the performance scores used by the Lyon Académie des Beaux-Arts, a semi-amateur music society. From these scores, we learn, for instance, that Lyonnais musicians did not hesitate to rewrite Lully’s continuo lines or shrink his expansive choruses into less time-consuming affairs. Such changes underscore not so much the mutability of the tragédies, but their locality – that is, how the operas were local phenomena that adapted fluidly to local ideas and tastes.

By exploring the locality of Lully’s tragédies, we expand the network of actors involved in the performance history of this repertoire to encompass singers, directors, and printers who operated beyond Paris, as well as government officials whose ideologies might have influenced the production of an opera. We also push issues of performance to the center, especially in instances where it might seem difficult or impossible to talk about the music: even though the scores of most provincial productions of Lully’s operas have been lost, there are clues in provincial libretti for alterations to Lully’s scores that diverged from how the repertoire was performed in Paris. The canonic narrative of French baroque opera – at least the narrative that we tend to teach in the classroom – often overlooks the locality of the tragédie en musique. We tend to imagine early French opera as a genre that was as rigidly centralized as the absolutist regime of the Sun King. By taking provincial productions of Lully’s operas into account, we gain a clearer understanding of how politics shaped opera – and vice versa – beyond Versailles in Old Regime France.
<1>Several historical studies have been particularly influential to my understanding of absolutism as a process of compromise and negotiation during the reign of Louis XIV. These include Roland Mousnier, La vénalité des offices sous Henri IV et Louis XIII (Rouen: Éditions Maugard, 1945); William Beik, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth-Century France: State Power and Provincial Aristocracy in the Languedoc (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1985); and Junko Thérèse Takeda, Between Crown and Commerce: Marseille and the Early Modern Mediterranean (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).
<2>For further details on absolutist propaganda under Louis XIV, see esp. Peter Burke, The Fabrication of Louis XIV (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992).

<3>For a concise reading of the politics of Quinault’s libretti, see esp. Buford Norman, Touched by the Graces: the Libretti of Philippe Quinault in the Context of French Classicism (Birmingham, AL: Summa Publications, 2001).
<4>For an overview of Lully’s monopoly, see Caroline Wood, French Baroque Opera: A Reader (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2000), 6; 8.
<5>For a chronology of performances of Lully’s operas outside of Paris, see Carl Schmidt, “The Geographical Spread of Lully’s Operas during the Late Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries: New Evidence from the Livrets,” in Jean-Baptiste Lully and the French Baroque: Essays in Honor of James R. Anthony, ed. John Hajdu Heyer (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 183-211.
<6>Pierre Gautier, Le Triomphe de la Paix (Lyon: Thomas Amaulry, 1691); Gautier and Balthazar de Bonnecors, Le Jugement du Soleil. Mis en Musique (Marseille: Pierre Mesnier, 1687).
<7>Marc Antoine Legrand, La Chûte de Phaëton, comédie en musique (Lyon: Thomas Amaulry, Hilaire Baritel, Jacques Guerrier, 1694).
<8>Jean-Baptiste Lully, Philippe Quinault, and Pascal Collasse, Atys, tragédie en cinq actes, avec un prologue mis en musique par M. Collasse, représentée à Vitré devant MM. des États de Bretagne, en 1689 (Paris: C. Ballard, 1689).
<9>See, for example, Lully and Quinault, Isis (Strasbourg: Jean-François Le Roux, 1732).

Natasha Roule received her PhD in historical musicology from Harvard University in May 2018, where she was supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship and an American Graduate Fellowship from the Council of Independent Studies.