We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

The Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies

Music, Death and Grief in the Long Nineteenth Century

"Oh may I join the choir invisible, of those immortal dead who live again In minds made better by their presence” (George Eliot)

09.00 - 17.00 | 4 June 2015 | Penthouse Suite, Collingwood College, Durham University 

Keynote Address

Rev. Dr Ian Bradley, University of St Andrews

Music, Death and Grief in the Long Nineteenth Century

Responses to death in the nineteenth century were often musical. Whether it was the massed choir singing for the funeral of the Duke of Wellington in 1852, or a pious evangelical woman reciting the text of a favourite hymn on her bed as she died a ‘good death’, music was employed to comfort the dying and the bereaved. The elegiac lieder of Schumann and the cathartic singing at death rituals in rural Greece offer two disparate examples of how the ‘work of mourning’ could be achieved through musical composition and performance. Death could also be represented and understood in musical terms, such as after the outbreak of cholera during a Paris carnival in 1832 which inspired the portrayal of Death playing the fiddle in Alfred Rethel’s ‘Death as a Cutthroat’.
This one-day interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the role of music in response to death and grief in any part of the world between 1780 and 1918. It is a subject that may be addressed from many perspectives, from history to psychology and from literature to philosophy. Musicological and historical studies are welcomed, as well as papers exploring the theology of death, the psychology of grief, and literary and artistic representations of music, death and grief during this period.


Registration for this event has now closed.

This event is hosted by the Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies and is supported by the Centre for Death and Life Studies, the International Network for Music Theology and St. John's College, Durham.