Review of Matthew Gelbart. 2007. The Invention of “Folk Music” and “Art Music”: Emerging Categories from Ossian to Wagner. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press

Oderdonk, Julian

A focus on the historical causes of normative social assumptions and everyday patterns of thought has been one of the many important consequences of the structuralist revolution. The focus on language, ideas, and social behaviors as interrelated forms of cultural expression has had a major impact in helping with the understanding of why we view the world the way we do. Matthew Gelbart’s The Invention of “Folk” Music and “Art Music” represents a landmark publication in these developments, for it calls into question long-held assumptions about folk and art music. These are terms of enormous significance to Western musical culture. Gelbart convincingly shows this through a wide-ranging historiographical examination of two-centuries’ worth of writings on culture and musical aesthetics.


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August 18, 2022