CALL 2021
Music and Power in the Long Nineteenth Century

Call for papers

Siena – Accademia Musicale Chigiana
2-4 December 2021

The use of the arts, including music, as an instrument of representation and exercise of power, is widely debated within the context of the society of the ancien régime and the twentieth century, with frequent emphasis on absolutism and dictatorships. This conference aims to investigate this issue in the “long nineteenth century” (c. 1789-1914): the age of the Industrial Revolution, liberalism and social conflicts, nationalism and colonialism.
The geographical scope considered is the Western world (Europe and the Americas), including those extra-European territories subject to or influenced by colonial rule. The entire field of musical experience will be considered, without limitations on genre, from sacred to instrumental music, from musical theater to song and beyond.
“Power” is understood not only in a strictly political sense, such as state power, or as the domination of one nation or ethnic group over others; instead, in light of contemporary and emerging historiographical and philosophical debates, the scope of the concept extends broadly to all aspects of social life in which relations of dominion/submission are significant. By way of example, the following types of relationships might be considered: those between social classes, between economic powers, between religious affiliations, between genders, within the family, and others, in all possible combinations and permutations.
Proposals to further broaden the field of investigation are welcome; preference will be given to those that combine a breadth of conceptual horizons with a rigorous presentation of unpublished sources.

Possible topics for consideration include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Musicians and power

  • Musical practices as instruments of power and organizations of consent

  • The language of power in musical material

  • The use of music and entertainment in celebration

  • Symbolic representations of power relationships in opera

  • Sacred music as an expression of power

  • Song and choral music as a means of exercising and negotiating power

  • Folk, popular, and dance music within an increasingly powerful music industry

  • Negotiations of power in discourses about music

  • Domain relationships in musical education

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian. A selection of the conference papers will be published in the 2022 volume of Chigiana. Journal of Musicological Studies (

Please send proposal to by 30 November 2020. Proposals should include:
– Title of paper
– Name of speaker(s)
– A proposal of c. 300 words

The papers should not exceed 30 minutes in duration.

We are aware that the current scenario presents many uncertainties; we are constantly monitoring the situation and the measures that the Italian and other governments have put in place and we hope that by December 2021 it will be possible to travel, so that the conference may go ahead as planned and we can meet in Siena. However, if necessary, we will be running the conference online.

Scientific Committee:

Esteban Buch, Fabrizio Della Seta, Markus Engelhardt, Axel Körner, Massimiliano Locanto, Fiamma Nicolodi, Antonio Rostagno, Carlotta Sorba

Organising Committee:

Susanna Pasticci, Stefano Jacoviello, Anna Passerini, Nicola Sani