Italian Musical Migration to the British Isles, 1700-1950


University of Birmingham, 10 April 2019

The study of migration and mobilities is crucial to the modern histories of Britain and Italy, and especially their complex artistic exchanges. This one-day conference will shed light on this interdisciplinary field of investigation by focusing on Italianmusical migration to the British Isles from the eighteenth century to the Second World War. It aims to provide a new critical overview of the diffusion of Italiansinging culture and instrumental music in British theatres and concert halls, the migration of Italian-born musical professionals and entrepreneurs to the British Isles, and the publication of Italian scores by British publishers. The long time period will help to create a sense of the profound impact of these musical transfers and networks on British politics and society, on the institutionalisation of national and regional identities in modern Europe, and on the development of Italian cultural diplomacy and colonialism following the Unification (1861).

Potential topics include:
• The biographical and professional trajectories of Italian-born singers, composers, performers, virtuosos, impresarios, librettists, stage designers, conductors, prompters, and street musicians active in the British Isles from 1700 to 1950, and their impact on local policies and institutions.
• The diffusion and reception of Italian music in British theatres and concert halls and the activities of Italian opera companies and musical associations in the British Isles.
• British musicians and artists trained or educated in Italy.
• The circulation of Italian music-related goods, items, instruments and tools.
• Patterns of mobility, routes of travel, networks and Anglo-Italian cultural transfers from a transnational perspective. This may include reflection on issues of territory, borders, national and regional identities, gender, religion, cultural diplomacy and colonialism.
• The relation between the Italian musical migration to the British Isles and the first Italian diaspora as a mass and global phenomenon, especially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This could also involve comparison with different artistic migrations from Italy (e.g. to different countries or continents in the same epoch).

Abstracts for 20-minute papers (max 300 words) and short biographies (max 150 words) should be sent to by Monday 10 December 2018. Interdisciplinary approaches and paper proposals from early career researchers would be particularly welcome. The programme committee will communicate its decisions by Monday 14 January 2019.

The conference will be free to attend. A small number of travel and accommodation bursaries, generously provided by the Institute of Musical Research, will be available to doctoral candidates, early career researchers and independent scholars who cannot obtain institutional support. Potential recipients should send a short statement giving their rationale.

Susan Rutherford (University of Manchester), Alexandra Wilson (Oxford Brookes University), Flora Willson (King’s College London)

Nicolò Palazzetti and Ben Earle

Ben Earle (University of Birmingham), Matthew Gardner (University of Tübingen), Federica Nardacci (Royal College of Music), Nicolò Palazzetti (University of Birmingham), Rupert Ridgewell (British Library), Amelie Roper (British Library).

Dr Nicolò Palazzetti (University of Birmingham/Institute of Musical Research)