Music and freedom






April 20th and 21st, 2018

Madrid, Museo Nacional del Romanticismo


Coordinators: Fernando Delgado, Alberto Hernández Mateos


Scientific committee: Igor Contreras Zubillaga (EHESS, Paris), José Manuel Izquierdo (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), José Máximo Leza (Universidad de Salamanca)


The SPEMI (Sociedad para el Estudio de la Música Isabelina), in collaboration with the Conservatorio Profesional de Música “Arturo Soria”, the MadMusic I+D Project and the Museo Nacional del Romanticismo invite you to send your proposal for its Study Days on the musical life under the reign of Isabella II of Spain, which will take place within the third Bienal de Música Isabelina (Biennial of Music of the Times of Isabella II). On this occasion, and coinciding with the 150 anniversary of the Glorious Revolution, the Study Days’ objective will be to explore the relations between the musical phenomenon-understood in its fullest meaning-and the multiple manifestations of freedom.

After the French Revolution, the concept of freedom becomes an international benchmark in terms of political, social, economic and artistic ideas. In the case of Spain, such a benchmark crystallized in the political regime established following the enthronement of Isabella II-the regime’s legitimacy was to be based on the defeat of Absolutism. In the midst of external conflicts and internal contradictions, the reign of Isabella II represented a deep transformation of the Spanish society under the ideological principles of liberalism. As the regime became unable to represent the liberal ambitions, it was overthrown by a revolutionary movement that ultimately was a consequence of the regime’s own modernizing dynamics.

These new conceptions of freedom were also intertwined with the nineteenth century musical life. One example of this is the mythic figure of the Romantic artist and his/her pursuit of creative and labour freedom. Another example are the new roles of women both in the public and the private spheres. The emergence of the musical journalism also invited critics and audiences alike to demonstrate their freedom in the public sphere by expressing their musical preferences. At the same time, concert societies reached a high level of autonomy, showing a well defined sociability and distinct traditions-among them a new approach to the musical repertoire and the musical canon, and, in particular, to the musical work understood now as object of aesthetic enjoyment. All this together with the emergence of paradigms such as the idea of the absolute music was crucial in the conceptualization of music as an autonomous realm.

Underlining the openness towards social sciences that has characterized musicology in recent years, these Study Days aspire to explore the relations between music and freedom -under the reign of Isabella II and during the Six democratic years- in their multiple and diverse political, social and aesthetical facets. Therefore, we welcome proposals that may be included within one or more of the following thematic areas:


The artist and the freedom: the myth of the Romantic genius; virtuosity and freedom; artists and travels; freedom and musical forms; freedom of movement and circulation.  


Freedom, sociability and musical institutions: music and musicians in the liberal regime; music and its market; consequences of the Spanish confiscation; public sphere and public concert; musical societies; salons; new choral movements; women and public/private sphere.


The musical representation of the political freedoms: patriotic anthems; revolutionary songs; the sounds of independence; the music in the 19th century Spanish revolutions; the role of music in the construction of the liberal Nation-State; music and political ideology, from Absolutism to the labour movement.


Repression and music: music and censorship; music and exile; music as an instrument of cultural domination; music and colonialism.


Musical discourses and freedom: the role of music in aesthetic and philosophic discourses; music and press; musical historiography and ideology.


Proposal submissions:

Proposals (including a title, 400 words abstract, and 4-6 bibliographical references) must be sent by October 31st, 2017. The abstracts will be evaluated anonymously by the members of the Scientific Committee. Please submit your proposals to:


Presentations will last a maximum of 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute discussion. All papers will be video-recorded for public dissemination purposes. All papers must be delivered by their authors with the intention of promoting the debate. The Organizers will not be responsible for travel or accommodation expenses.


Key-note presentation:

Esteban Buch (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris).


For more information: