Music & Aristocracy
Would an aristocratic composer be socially accepted?
Much of the research for The Duke and The Enchantress focused on music, namely such topics as soundproofing, patronage, style and tonality, and reputation.
An article that touches on a little of each of these can be found here. Music composers during the late 18th century depended on patrons for their livelihood, typically those patrons being wealthy aristocrats, the church, or the Crown. The largesse from patrons was not only needed for survival, but also the upkeep of instruments, supplies for penning the music, and the cost of the libretto for operas.
One might think, then, that if a wealthy person wished to compose, what a success that would be! Composing was considered a trade rather than a talent, however. Composers were, essentially, servants of aristocracy. No self-respecting gentleman would compose. That's what hired composers were for--create the music to entertain the gentleman. A crude comparison, but what gentleman would build himself a table when he could have it built for him?
Music was written on request, dictated by the tastes and interests of the wealthy patrons. Until the rise of the middle class, only the wealthy could afford to attend musical entertainment, not to mention afford to have a composer on the payroll, so to speak. The patrons' taste sculpted the style since the music was written for them.
The Age of Enlightenment was a pivotal time in music history. As industry expanded, so did the wealth of the lower class, enough to create a new class--the middle class. The audience for musical entertainment widened from aristocracy to middle class. The style and tone preferences of the classes differed, as did the views of the composer as an artist versus a servant. Read a bit more about this changing time here.
Instead of music being used to entertain aristocrats, music served new and varied purposes. Handel was a leading figure in such philanthropic work, arranging charity concerts quite early in the 18th century. My research findings on his charity concerts inspired plot points in three separate books: The Duke and The Enchantress, The Baron and The Enchantress, and A Counterfeit Wife. Read more about Handel's charity work at these two sites: The Foundling Hospital and Handel The Philanthropist. And as an extra little bonus, if you're in or around the London area, The Foundling Hospital often hosts special presentation about Handel, 18th century music, and similar topics. You can learn more about upcoming events here.
Spoiler alert! In The Duke and The Enchantress, we see a few things happening to showcase the societal and stylistic shifts. Style is one of the most important elements. Drake, a composer in hiding, isn't crafting his art for anyone's taste but his own, and thus his style doesn't follow the conventions of his time.
He writes what he wants to hear and experience--passion. His music rebels against tradition in an attempt to move the listener. The intention is to show the beginning of these shifts where the Classical transitions to the Romantic, the audience transitions from aristocracy to middle class, and the composer crafts for a far different audience and motivation.