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Inadvertent Secularization: Religious Music in the Entertainment Market of Eighteenth-century Paris

Date and Time: 
Thursday, March 2, 2017. 04:30 PM - 06:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Pigott Hall, Room 216
Meeting Description: 

Andrei Pesic is a postdoctoral fellow in the French department here at Stanford. He received his PhD in 2015 from Princeton, where his research was supported by grants from the ACLS-Mellon Foundation and DAAD.

What can concerts teach us about the Enlightenment? From 1725–1790, the Concert spirituel in Paris, one of the earliest and most famous concert series in early modern Europe, presented a mixture of sacred and secular music when other entertainments were forbidden during religious holidays. The Concert’s distinctive combination of elite sociability and religious music attracted attention from its contemporaries, who noted the declining proportion of religious works in its repertoire over the century. This paper measures the decline in the Concert's religious repertoire and offers a broader framework for understanding this type of cultural change in the eighteenth century: Pesic identifies a process of “inadvertent secularization” stemming from market pressure exerted by various new concert series and other entertainments created in Paris during the second half of the eighteenth century, which transformed the conservative institution of the Concert spirituel. This analysis in terms of inadvertent secularization shifts the emphasis from battles between philosophes and the Church to changing marketplaces.

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