‘The little that I have done is already gone and forgotten’:Farinelli and Burney Write Music History

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Abstract

Eighteenth-century narratives of Carlo Broschi Farinelli’s inimitability and superiority did not arise fortuitously but resulted to a large extent from artistic, professional and personal choices made by the singer in order to create a unique artistic profile and influence public perception of him. Similarly, Charles Burney created his historical writings with the aim of establishing himself as a man of letters in order to rise in social status and leave a lasting legacy. Analysis of Farinelli’s careful manipulation of his reputation in his encounters with Burney and the latter’s calculated representation of Farinelli in The Present State of Music in France and Italy and A General History of Music sheds light not only on both men’s self-promotion strategies, but also on the high degree of mediation of historical fact in writings that have long served as supposedly reliable ‘primary’ sources on eighteenth-century music.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-238
JournalCambridge Opera Journal
Volume27
Issue number3
Early online date12 Nov 2015
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Nov 2015

Keywords

  • Carlo Broschi Farinelli
  • Charles Burney
  • Historiography
  • Primary Sources
  • 18th-Century Opera
  • Music History
  • A General History of Music
  • The Present State of Music in France and Italy
  • 18th-Century Publishing

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