Musical Women and Identity-Building in Early Independent Mexico (1821-1854)

Yael Bitran Goren

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis investigates music in Mexico City, with an emphasis on women's relationship to Romanticism, education, consumption, domestic music-making and public performance. During the first decades after independence in 1821, Mexicans began the process of constructing an identity, which musically speaking meant an expansion of the secular musical world. Such construction involved the development of internal activity alongside a conditional receptivity to external influence in the form of the visits of Italian opera companies such as those of Manuel García and Max Maretzek, and travelling virtuosi such as pianist virtuoso Henri Herz, who brought new repertoire and performance practices to Mexican theatres and homes. As consumers and as musicians, women were at the centre of such developments. In Mexico, both European music and that of local musicians was disseminated by means of ladies’ journals and imported and locally-printed sheet music by foreign and Mexican composers, in order to supply a growing home market for amateurs. Abundant surviving repertoire for the home, the widespread availability of musical instruction as revealed through advertisements, and witness accounts of soirées and concerts in the theatre reveal a budding musical world that has hitherto been overlooked and which occurred during a period generally deemed of little importance in Mexican musical history.
By investigating a key period in the social-cultural history of Mexican music, this thesis crafts a narrative of intersections between the musical life of Mexican women and the incipient construction of a musical-cultural identity.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Ellis, Katharine, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2012
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


  • nineteenth century, women, Mexico, Latin America, identity

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