Book Series Speculum musicae, vol. 51

The Sound of Empire

Soundscapes, Aesthetics and Performance between «Ancien régime» and Restoration

Federico Gon, Emmanuel Reibel (eds)

  • Pages: 352 p.
  • Size:210 x 270 mm
  • Illustrations:16 b/w
  • Language(s):English, French, Italian
  • Publication Year:2024


This book explores the musical changes brought on by the multifaceted pre- and post-Napoleonic sonic world.


Federico Gon, a musicologist and composer, studied musicology (Masters Degree and PhD) at the University of Padua, and has to his credit numerous participations in conferences as well as the publication of books and essays in scientific journals specialising in opera and instrumental music of the XVIII-XIX centuries. He currently teaches at the Conservatorio ‘G. Tartini’ in Trieste.

Emmanuel Reibel is Professor of Musicology at the École Nationale Supérieure de Lyon and Professor of Aesthetics at the Conservatoire de Paris. His work focuses in particular on music discourses and the history of Romanticism. His latest book has just been published: «Du metronome au gramophone: musique et révolution industrielle» (Paris, Fayard, 2023).


The second half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century was a time of great historical and social upheavals — a melting pot of events whose repercussions are still felt. The first industrial revolution, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic wars: such were events that gradually undermined the status quo of the Ancien régime. Napoleon Bonaparte is the keystone of this period, given his role as an innovator of aspects of the military, political, civil, artistic and cultural life of his time. This book explores the musical changes brought on by the multifaceted pre- and post-Napoleonic sonic world. It focuses on the politicised dramaturgy at the Paris Opera, on the incredible diffusion of French opera in the German-speaking world, and on the question of national identity in Italian, Polish, Spanish and Portuguese contexts during this politically critical period. Beyond operas and cantatas in praise of Napoleon, this book also highlights the mechanical soundscape of the Empire, the repertoire of incidental music and the varied fortunes of the music business at that time. Finally, it analyses the place of female singers or composers from a gendered perspective.



1. GALLIANO CILIBERTI (Conservatorio di Monopoli), Napoleone I in Sassonia: Francesco Morlacchi e il mondo sonoro del Congresso di Dresda (maggio 1812)
2. MAGDALENA OLIFERKO (Bern), Napoleon’s Warsaw – Music in the Capital of Poland before Chopin
3. ERIC BOARO (University of Nottingham), «Non essendovi più capelle in veruna chiesa…». Finanziamento ed impiego musicale nella Modena giacobina (1796)
4. FEDERICO GON (Conservatorio di Brescia / Università di Udine e Padova), «Feast, Flour, and Gallows»: The Creation of Haydn in Naples 1821 and the Politics of Restoration
5. MATTHIEU CAILLIEZ (Université Grenoble Alpes), Étude des transferts musicaux franco-allemands à l’époque napoléonienne à travers le prisme de l’«Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung»

6. MARIA BRIBILI (Universität des Saarlandes), The Sound of Empire: Aesthetics and Performance in French Opera from the French Revolution to Napoleon
7. MARTIN BARRÉ (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Paris), In the Shadow of Paris: Circulation and Diffusion of Incidental Music under the Empire. The Example of the Theater of Versailles at the Beginning of the 19th Century
8. ANNELIES ANDRIES (Utrecht University), Caroline Branchu: A Model for the Napoleonic Woman?
9. CLAUDIA CHIBICI-REVNEANU (Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores / UNAM, León, Mexico) Moving towards Exclusion: A Case Study of the ‘Female Viennese School’

10. HENRI VANHULST (Université libre de Bruxelles), Trente années d’activité éditoriale de Jean-Jérôme Imbault d’après l’ « état des planches » de 1812
11. DAVID ROWLAND (Open University, Milton Keynes), Music Publishing and Markets c. 1750-1827

12. EMMANUEL REIBEL (ENS Lyon / Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris), Musiques mécaniques de l’Empire : soundscape, culture sonore et jugements de goûts
13. INES THOMAS ALMEIDA (Universidade Nova de Lisboa / FCSH / INET-MD), Imaginary Soundscapes: The Sounds of Portuguese Music as Captured by German Travellers at the End of the «Ancien Régime»
14. ALBAN RAMAUT (Université Jean Monnet de Saint-Étienne), « Il sera, peut-être un jour, le Napoléon de la Science musicale, par les pas de géants qu’il lui fera faire » : le Napoléon d’Hector Berlioz