Fanfare for a City: Music and the Urban Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Paris
My research explores how urban planning interfaces with public musicmaking in nineteenth-century cities. I am interested in how street music, ceremonial fanfare, café song, and other forms of social music reflect what it means to be ‘modern’ in an urbanizing metropolis.
My research centers on public musicmaking in megacities, specifically how urban musical communities respond to changes in a city’s geography, social structure, and governing regime. In my book-in-progress, Fanfare for a City: Music and the Urban Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Paris, I explore how musicians in Paris forged distinctly city-centric subjectivities in reaction to the massive urbanization projects engineered by Baron Haussmann between 1853 and the beginning of the twentieth century. By examining imperial ceremonies, street protests, operetta premieres, cafés, and the activities of street musicians and hawkers, I show how the Parisian soundscape was at the epicenter of modernist discourses about the past, present, and future of the city.
More broadly, I am interested in how musical aesthetics and urban planning intersect. How do opera composers stage cities? What do symphonic form and urban master plans have in common? How is ‘organic’ urbanism connected to nineteenth-century theories of musical ‘organicism?’ My work is informed by a desire to hear the city from the street level. I often mine police archives, censorship documents, and other archival sources to uncover how urbanization can be an act of socioeconomic erasure, particularly of the working class. In my teaching and research I am interested in finding broader patterns of urbanistic/musical social relations. Recent forays include research into the musical history of fin de siècle Detroit, Michigan, and graduate courses on music in early modern cities.