The Child and the Musical Masterpiece

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


This chapter explores how and why the “art of listening” became so heavily intertwined with twentieth-century Western childhood. Focusing on the nationwide campaign to teach “music appreciation” in British schools, it investigates how middlebrow educators imagined that this mode of listening traditionally associated with the bourgeois public sphere could resolve the deep-seated social, cultural, and educational challenges of their day. In so doing, the chapter challenges the peripheral place that children and childhood have occupied in the growing body of scholarship on middlebrow culture, showing instead that they formed an important subsection of the middlebrow public in their own right. It ultimately argues that disentangling the children’s middlebrow from its adult counterpart throws new light on music pedagogy at large—by complicating the progressive versus traditional binary that has shaped histories of education, as it has narratives of twentieth-century music.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Music and the Middlebrow
Number of pages18
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2023


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