Transnational approaches and Cosmopolitan localisms. 4th Biennal de Música Isabelina




March 20th and 21st, 2020

Madrid, Museo Nacional del Romanticismo

Scientific Committee: Juan José Carreras, João Silva, Alberto Hernández Mateos

Nineteenth century has been defined as the “century of nationalism and national states”. At the same time, it was a historical period characterized by an increasing level of global interconnection. Distances were shortened and the timespan was accelerated due to the advances in transportation, whilst the development of mass media facilitated the integration of regions that were geographically remote. Colonialism and exoticism—which were frequently the two sides of the same coin—epitomize the global dimension that was acquired by elements such as the economy, the political thinking or the aesthetic ideas during this time period. Following Jürgen Osterhammel’s observations, all this confirms that cross-border relations (transnational, transcontinental and trans-cultural) strengthened during the nineteenth century.

Music History was equally marked by a greater level of transnational integration. It was not by chance that critics and thinkers emphasized the common traces of musical practices in different parts of the globe at the sociological, technical, aesthetical or productive levels. Capitalist system, which expanded to reach a global dimension, was the framework in which these shared musical practices developed. They were disseminated through international and intercontinental networks able to connect major cities of the world. At this point, the musical reality acquired the form of a kaleidoscope—therefore, it is impossible to solely analyse such a reality from the restrictive angles of “the local” or “the national”.

Hence several authors in the realm of Musicology advocate for the adoption of new perspectives that make it possible to present a more-complete picture of such a dynamic and changing reality, overcoming the nationalistic visions that have dominated the discipline. Until very recently, the studies of the musical culture under the reign of Isabella II were viewed within this reductionist perspective, favouring national or even local frameworks over comparative methodologies. It has hindered enormously the construction of narratives able to integrate the Spanish culture in broader horizons (Iberian, European or Ibero-American), and has offered a distorted picture of the period, which has been frequently based on paradigms of isolation and exceptionality.

These Study Days aim to formulate alternatives to this dominant discourse, by incorporating methodologies that include comparative, cosmopolitan and transnational perspectives in the study of the music and the musical culture under the reign of Isabella II. We welcome proposals that may be included under one or more of the following thematic areas:

The emergence of integrated systems: Circulation of musicians, music scores and ideas at a transnational level (Iberian Peninsula, Europe, Ibero-America); the Atlantic Ocean as the axis of a common musical culture; the Pan-Iberist ideal and its reflection in music; metropolis, colonies and independent nations;

Music and urban experience: The city as a place for cultural encounters; interconnected cities (Paris-Barcelona-Madrid-Lisbon-Havana-Rio de Janeiro); transnational musical practices in the urban context; comparative perspectives in the spaces of music consumption and socialization;

 Musical genres and transnationality: Opera and musical theatre; nation and internationalization from Rossini to Wagner; opera, operetta, zarzuela and revue; dissemination of operatic works through adaptations, translations and arrangements; the expansion of the idea of “Classical Music”;

Travels, exiles and tournées: The impact of the means of transportation on the organization of modern musical life; the concert tournée as a symbol of modern musical culture; exile as transnational experience; music and technology;

Press, publications and historiography: Circulation of critics and commenters; the musical press and its dissemination; texts: translations, versions and circulation within an interconnected network; national historiography: local, national and transnational histories;

Cosmopolitanism and nation: Alterity and self-perception; exoticism, colonialism and self-exotization; universalism and nationalism; cosmopolitism as an aesthetic attitude; Beethoven and national music(s); eclecticism and adaptation strategies; experiences of cultural hybridization.

Proposal submissions:

Proposals (including a title, 400-words abstract, and 4-6 bibliographical references) must be sent by November 4th, 2019. The proposals will be evaluated anonymously by the members of the Scientific Committee. Please, submit your proposals (in Castilian/Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician or English) to:

Papers will have a maximum duration of 20 minutes, followed by a 10-minute discussion. All papers will be video-recorded for public dissemination purposes. All the presentations 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:

              Luísa Cymbron (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

For more information:


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: