Borders and definitions of music in the times of Isabella II

Call for Papers


Borders and definitions of music in the times of Isabella II

(Jornadas de estudio: Fronteras y definiciones en la música isabelina)

April 1st and 2nd, 2016. Madrid, Museo Nacional del Romanticismo

Deadline for submissions: October 31st, 2015

Keynote speaker: Professor Dr. Jesús Cruz Valenciano (University of Delaware)


This conference aims to delve into the knowledge on the musical reality during the reign of Isabella II of Spain, by taking the idea of the “border” as a starting point. The “border” has been traditionally described as a physical as well as visible barrier which separates different spaces. Conventionally associated with topography, it also possesses a symbolic nature which is enriched with different historical, temporal, ethical, psychological and artistic connotations. In this scenario, borders are now understood not only as barriers that divide, but also as dynamic spaces in which political, social, economic or cultural identities are negotiated.

At the same time, to draw up a border also means to trace a limit -to define. If defining concepts is a necessary task within any area of study, it becomes imperative in a field such as the “music in the times of Isabella II” (“música isabelina”). As the Spanish historiography of the 19th century has traditionally avoided periodizations, the idea of a “música isabelina” as a period on its own is not a unanimously accepted concept. Therefore, these study days aspire to construct a theoretical framework that will open the doors to new studies and discussions related to the musical culture during the reign of Isabella II, through the development of reflections on the chronological and geographical limits of the period, definition of its fundamental concepts, as well as analysis of the diverse borders (both external and internal) that segment the musical culture of that time.

We invite abstracts for individual 20-minute papers followed by 10-minute discussions. Proposals related to the following areas are especially welcome:

-Geographical borders: definitions of centre(s) and periphery(s); cross-border mobility of musicians and repertoires; dissemination of music between the major urban centers of the period (Madrid, Barcelona, Havana); urban musical geography; musical realities in the colonies (Antilles, the Philippines, Spanish Africa).

-Chronological borders: the definition of “música isabelina” as a music-historical period; the modernization of the musical life during the decade of the thirties; internal periodizations; the “Sexenio Democrático” as culmination/breakdown of a historical process.

-Political, class and gender borders: music, ideology and social rituals; the ideas of “Spanish music”; redefinition of religious music in the liberal state; aristocratic, bourgeois and worker-class musical culture(s); the masculine/feminine.

-Borders of the musical culture: private spaces and public spaces (salons, societies, theatres, cafes…); professional/amateur musicians; taxonomies and hierarchies of musical genres; survival/innovation in the dramatic musical scenario; variety in “salon music(s)”; the construction of the concepts of “classic” and “light” music.


Abstracts of c400 words, along with a short biography of no more than 150 words should be sent in a word-compatible format by Saturday, October 31st 2015 to Successful applicants will be notified by December 31st, 2015.