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Renegotiating the composer's authority in A.E.M. Grétry's Mémoires

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-62
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number1
Published1 Apr 2018

King's Authors


The authority of the composer in matters pertaining to music is an interesting problem. We generally afford the composer the highest authority over his art, but this is a relatively recent phenomenon bound up in Romantic ideas of genius associated with the middle or later nineteenth century. It is my contention that important and overlooked developments were made significantly earlier in the oft-neglected Mémoires of A.E.M. Grétry (1741-1813), an important composer during the French Revolution (1789-1800). I argue that the publication of these memoires marked a remarkable watershed in the development of the composer's agency: a bold attempt to enlarge the composer's authority over areas of his art (like aesthetics) traditionally considered 'off limits', thereby redefining the composer's profession at the dawn of a new era.

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