Overlapping Trends in Arts Management. Women and Musical Patronage at Fin-de-Siècle International Exhibitions.


María Cáceres-Piñuel

The proposed project investigates the role of women within the framework of International Exhibitions in the standardisation and globalisation of musical practices and discourses at the turn of the 20th century. Through a methodological approach based on discourse analysis and historical social network analysis, this research project aims to evaluate the role of international exhibitions in shaping narratives of musical discourse. This project seeks to analyse the gender constructions of arts management patterns related to the social life of «Western Art Music», including the emergence of Musicology as an academic discipline at the turn of the 20th century.

This project will focus on three highly significant events that took place between 1892 and 1893: the Viennese International Exhibition of Music and Theatre, the Historical American Exposition of Madrid, and the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago. The three exhibitions shared a cluster of common organisers. A select group of cosmopolitan women acted as cultural managers and mobilisers. Besides, the agency of these women in the frame of these international events mirrored the unstable economic balance between the musical patronage systems inherited from the Ancient Régime, the State arts commission, and an emerging transnational music industry, rooted in the electric revolution’s financial framework and the colonial expansion of capitalism.

I have decided to select three exhibitions celebrated in Vienna, Madrid, and Chicago because they were almost synchronic (between 1892 and 1893). They commemorate an international historical milestone (Mozart’s death – Vienna 1892 was planned to be held in 1891 – and the Americas’ discovery) from an imperialist perspective. Around the Austro-Hungarian Princess Pauline von Metternich (1836–1921), the Spanish Infanta Isabel de Borbón (1851–1931), and the American businesswoman Bertha Palmer (1849–1918), a dense elitist network of women was built. All three of them were active salonnières and renowned patrons of the arts, whose social influence was strengthened in the international exhibitions. These three mobilisers acted as cultural managers, mastering the language of status (contacting their network of personal contacts), the language of administration (promoting official bilateral diplomatic relations), and the language of «good taste» (acting as influencers from their salon network). In addition, they represented three types of elite social status of that time: the monarchy, the old aristocracy linked with formal diplomacy tasks, and the highest American bourgeoisie.
This proposed project launches an inquiry on the gender constructions related to making music’s economic aspects in the frame of international exhibitions. It also seeks to reassess how those musical managerial experiences helped to build the self-awareness of women as a transnational and interclass group excluded from some privileges and rights for gender reasons. Therefore, my proposal is mainly related to the economic History of Music and Musicology, but it also has a cross domain nature with special focus on Global cultural history and Gender history. The three main methods to be used in this proposed project are: Critical discourse analysis, Social networks analysis adapted to historical data, and Historiographical tools.

Key concepts:
Female new agents, International Exhibitions, Art management, Musical patronage, Capitalism, Musical diplomacy, Musicology and globalisation.