Catch and Glee Culture in Eighteenth-Century England

Brian Robins

Boydell & Brewer

ISBN: 1 84383 212 7

ix + 180pp.

Price: UK £50.00

Published: 2006

The rise of the catch and glee in Georgian England represents a rare example of indigenous forms establishing themselves within a wide musical and social context. This path-breaking study examines a phenomenon that has to date been largely overlooked by historians. Taking the 17th-century background as a starting point, it moves on to a detailed account of the clubs formed to propagate the two genres, placing them within the ambiance of the thriving club life of London and the provinces. The success of the London Catch Club and its emulators in encouraging the creation of a large and popular repertoire that would come to assume nationalistic significance is reflected by the incursion of the catch and glee into mainstream concert life and the theatre. The volume concludes with a discussion of the glee in relation to the aesthetics of the period and a brief survey of its subsequent reputation among musicians and historians.  

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Extracts from Reviews of Catch and Glee Culture

Brian Robins has given an excellent history of the forms and their cultivation in their heyday… This is a fine account of a uniquely British repertoire… - Clifford Bartlett, Early Music Review.

...Robins draws together a wealth of detail, correcting some of the more hagiographic accounts and providing a meaningful social context... His book will serve as a very useful and readable conspectus of the wrttten sources... Meanwhile, it has made me want to go and sing some more of the music, which is no small compliment. - Mark Argent, Goldberg Early Music Magazine

In summary, Robins has produced an excellently researched book; the wealth of information in the footnotes and appendices makes fascinating reading in its own right. It provides an excellent entrée to those who wish to study catch and glee music itself, and it also makes a firm first mark in a hitherto barely explored area of our national culture and heritage. - James Hobson, Chombec News, 3

It is commonplace to attribute the greatest "English" music of the 18th century to non-native composers... While such attributions may be overly simplistic in that they seem to gloss over the importance of native traditions, few scholars have offered anything in the way of a corrective. Brian Robins's book is a notable exception. Undertaking a formidable amount of archival work, the author reconstructs the culture that encouraged the development of the catch and the glee... - Stephanie Pietros, Early Music America

Meanwhile, Robins has produced a thoroughly researched account of a 'phenemon' that the jacket blurb claims has been 'largely overlooked by historians'. Certainly historians should find his book a stimulating source of information on the topic; it is an important contribution to cultural history... - Susan Wollenberg, Eighteenth-Century Music.

The strength of Catch and Glee Culture... lies in the author's command of the sources, and the thorough, nuanced accounts of so many institutions, repertories, and so on. Future scholars will long be indebted to him for this presentation of material. - Christina Bashford, Music and Letters.