We are delighted to celebrate the publication of Dr Austin Glatthorn’s monograph, Music Theatre and the Holy Roman Empire. Now an Honorary Fellow, Austin completed the book with us at Durham during his time as British Academy Newton International Fellow, working with Dr Katherine Hambridge.
His book, which is published by Cambridge University Press, draws on extensive new archival evidence collected across Germany and Austria to present a new picture of music theatre in the ‘Classical era’. Instead of focussing on centres like Vienna, Austin explores the extent to which the Holy Roman Empire —an organisation of states that was established in the 9th century and lasted till 1806 — functioned as a precondition for a network of venues, personnel and resources that shaped music for the German stage. Because he’s as good at computers as reading 18th-century German handwriting, Austin was able to map the locations that the different travelling troupes visited, creating quite a different topography of the world of music and theatre from the one we’re used to. His painstaking reconstruction of the repertoire at these different venues also rebalances our sense of what people were listening to at the time—and through his readings the correspondence of many of the directors of these troupes, miraculously preserved in archives across Germany, he’s been able to uncover the values, preoccupations and practices of the theatrical world of the Holy Roman Empire.