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Sovereign FeminineMusic and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Germany$
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Matthew Head

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520273849

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520273849.001.0001

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Sophie Westenholz and the Eclipse of the Female Sign

Sophie Westenholz and the Eclipse of the Female Sign

(p.158) 5 Sophie Westenholz and the Eclipse of the Female Sign
Sovereign Feminine

Matthew Head

University of California Press

The career of Sophie Westenholz writes small the broad historical plot traced in this study. Born to a family of musician-artisans, Sophie Westenholz was raised for a musical career at court expense, owing to the desire for native female singers. Early keyboard instruction equipped her to teach the royal children and to compose. At court, she established a culture of Mozart’s fortepiano music. But her career suffered a reversal of fortune around the time of the Napoleonic wars. An aspect of this reversal played out in reviews of the music she published in 1806. Perhaps for the first time in such reviews, which appeared in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung, the domains of sex, music, and composing were linked in a strenuously disciplinary manner, and not to Westenholz’s advantage. Sex, in particular, emerged as a master category, not inflecting, but forming the horizon of possibility for musical production and meaning within a bourgeois masculine discourse of the musically serious and transcendent. Related changes were under way at court, with the appointment of a new Kapellmeister, Massoneau, who led with his bow and baton.

Keywords:   Sophie Westenholtz, Ludwigslust, Mozart, Napoleonic wars, Massoneau, essentialism

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