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David Barnert

Ladies' Instrument?

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Somebody told me today that the Concertina was first intended to be played by Victorian ladies, who couldn't be expected to assume the undignified position required to play the Violin.

 

New one on me. Anyone shed any light?

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David,

 

Here's one expression of a similar idea, from an early tutor, 1854:

 

From:

 

Sedgwick's Complete System

of Instructions for the Concertina.

Ent. Sta. Hall --- Price 7/6

London,

Levesque, Edmeades & Co. 40, Cheapside,

where may be obtained all Works by the Author.

 

British Museum Stamp: "4 JY 54" [04 JULY 1854]

 

p 1: "There is no instrument as yet invented that presents so many

advantages to the Amateur, as the Concertina! [sic] From its immense

power, flexibility and clearness of intonation (a desideratum not to

be acquired on any other wind instrument, save with the greatest

possible degree of labour) and the facility with which the most

complicated harmonies may be produced, it is one of those, destined to

continue alike popular in the Concert or Drawing room; ... ."

 

"To Ladies it is particularly recommendable from its extreme

elegance and portability, as also on account of its being the

only wind instrument at their command."

 

Bob

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DEAR DAVID: funny you should ask: i am currently involved on a research project dealing with your very question. . . . .my working title for what i hope will eventually turn into a publication of one sort or another is: GENDERING THE CONCERTINA IN VICTORIAN ENGLAND. . . . .

 

first, i am talking about the "English" concertina only. . . . . . .second, since i must run (my life is tied to the schedule of the Long Island Railroad), i can't go on at length here. . . . but i will add get back to it as soon as i possibly can. . . . perhaps over the weekend, though this weekend is particularly tight..............

 

in short: the instrument was not intended specifically (in the sense of only) for women, but wheatstone & co. sure pitched it towards them..............allan

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David, Robert, and Allan,

 

I found Robert's quote very interesting, with its implication that "wind instruments" (except the concertina) were beyond the pale for women at that time, in that social and musical context. I have seen many references over the years to the "taboo" against women playing the flute in particular, which seems to have extended over centuries in europe, in both "art" music and popular/traditional music. In the late 19th century Rockstro advocates for the (new) women flautists in the tone of someone fighting a deeply-seated prejudice (see also H. M. Fitzgibbon, "The Story of the Flute," etc. for more comments on how recently the flute has been popularized among women). This would be a great topic for someone's Ph. D. thesis or other academic research, and I look forward to Allan's results (Allan, maybe the flute situation would form a good counterpoint to that of the Wheatstone english concertina).

 

In SOME traditional music environments the anglo (or more likely, German) concertina also had a "gender." From an interview with Jack Doyle broadcast over Irish radio in the 1980s: [in his part of county Kerry, in the early 20th century], "a man couldn't play the concertina and a woman couldn't play the flute." In the context it's clear he's referring to social acceptance rather than biologically determined physical constraints. When learning Irish music on the concertina in the 80s I often received similar advice from Kerry natives of the older generation! Obviously elsewhere in Ireland the traditional association of the German or anglo concertina with woman players was less strictly enforced, and I have heard of excellent male Kerry concertinists from the same generation as Jack Doyle. But it's interesting that he made the point.

 

I'm sure many readers of this forum in Ireland, England, continental Europe and elsewhere can cite examples of "gender specificity" for the concertina in local traditions. Help please?

 

Paul

Edited by Paul Groff

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As Allan briefly noted, the concertina was pitched (pun acknowledged) toward women, but men were hardly excluded, with Regondi and Blagrove as notable examples.

 

I also doubt that it was developed specifically for the purpose of providing a wind instrument for women, but that this opportunity was recognized afterward. I no direct evidence, though, and I look forward to what Allan's research uncovers.

 

As for gender roles in music, until recently (about 30 years ago?) there was fairly strict segregation in Bulgaria and Macedonia, where men would play instruments for dancing, but women would dance to their own singing. For a woman to play any instrument was considered scandalous.

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FOLKS: just a quick reply right now (this morning i had to rush for the train. . . .now i'm home and exhausted). . . . . .

 

obviously, men were not excluded. . . . and they did make up the majority of those who purchased instruments (though how many men purchased them for their wives or daughters we can't say). . . . . .

 

keep the following in mind: the royal academy of music, founded in 1822, admitted women from the outset. . . . .they were, however, limited to studies in three areas and three areas only: voice, piano, and harp...............

 

i will try to formulate a more extended response on sunday or monday. . . .won't get around to it until then..........

 

Allan

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Some factors that may have influenced the inclinaton towards female engagement in the (english) concertina are that some of the first actual players may have been members of the Wheatstone family (at least one of C Wheatstones daughters) and the activities by Regondi as concertina teacher.(If he was a 'womanizer' as well -like a few known other successful musical performers - I haven't seen commented upon...) From some portraits he has a slightly androgynous appearance which might indicate also having exceptionally lean and flexible fingers something which is supported by his evident fingering capacity.

I have always been puzzled by the (for most males) too small dimensions of the english concertina keyboard and wondered if this could be related to

1) CWs own hands 2) his daughters hands 3) Regondis hands

since 'feedback' from players ought to have stimulated a modification of particularly the transverse spacing of the button rows. On the other hand the general impression is that the intention was making the instrument as compact as possible in all respects.

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I forgot to add that the concertina was still being recommended to ladies in the

late 1880s, now contrasted to the banjo which was apparently the ladies'

instrument of the hour:

 

"For Ladies the Concertina is specially adapted, being so compact and

convenient to carry, much more so than the Banjo, which seems to be

the latest idea. Ladies studying the Piano would find it an easy matter to play

on the Duet Concertina, it being always very useful, especially where there is

not a Piano, and music is desired. For persons who have to travel, nothing can

be better, being easily packed away. Instruments are specially made for

Australia, India, Canada, &c., suitable to the climate."

 

John Hill Maccann, The Concertinist's Guide, London: Lachenal, 1888,

page 9, s.v. "Concluding Remarks".

 

On the web at Maccann, Concertinist's Guide.

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FOLKS: Lady Louisa Emily Charlotte Bulteel was not the first member -- or even the first woman -- of the Bulteel family to play the concertina. Some years earlier, Lady ELIZABETH BULTEEL, sister of the famous Earl Grey, purchased at least two concertinas:

 

16 September 1843, Wheatstone No. 701; and

 

20 March 1848, Wheatstone No. 1453. . . .

 

would THIS Lady Bulteel therefore be Lady EC B's aunt??. . . . .

 

allan

Edited by allan atlas

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FOLKS: a correction. . . . .the geneology stuff can throw one for a loop..........i think that Lady Louisa Emily Charlotte Bulteel (who later married into the Baring family -- and the wheatstone ledgers also record a sale of a concertina to a Miss Baring in 1851) was actually the DAUGHTER of Lady Elizabeth Bulteel. . . . . .

 

please correct me if i'm wrong............allan

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FOLKS: as best i can figure it out working at home:

 

(1) Lady Elizabeth Bulteel was the daughter of the 2nd Earl Grey and Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby. . . .she was the sister of the 3rd Earl Grey (which one is the Earl Grey of tea fame???). . . . .her date of birth is not known. . . . .she died in 1880. . . .she married one John Crocker Bulteel, who died in 1843

 

(2) Lady Louisa Emily Charlotte Bulteel was the daughter of Elizabeth Bulteel and John Crocker Bulteel. . . . .

 

so the two Bulteel women who played concertina were mother and daughter..............allan

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Allan, Interesting information about Wheatstones 701 and 1453. Lady LEC Bulteel was known as Lady Emily. One of her daughters owned and played a Stradivarius violin, and also conducted a choir of 500 members in Devonshire. A musical family indeed.

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FOLKS: in his note about the concertina that he bought, Johannes Bosch refers to a book about the Bulteel family. . . .. .does anyone know what JB might have had in mind. . . .or how does one get in touch with him..........................allan

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FOLKS:  in his note about the concertina that he bought, Johannes Bosch refers to a book about the Bulteel family. . . ..  .does anyone know what JB might have had in mind. . . .

Allan,

 

In the Johannes Bosch note archived on Concertina.net, he mentions an actual reference to Louisa Emily Bulteel playing the concertina. His note is dated 2001.

 

A book which should be useful is "Henry & Mary Ponsonby: Life at the Court of Queen Victoria" by William M. Kuhn (London: Duckworth, 2002). If I understand the family tree, Mary Ponsonby was was born Mary Bulteel, the sister of the concertinist Lousia Emily Bulteel (usually called Emily), both the daughters of Elizabeth Bulteel (Lady Elizabeth Grey).

 

This can't possibly be Bosch's source (it was published after his note), and I cannot find in it the mention of the concertina that Bosch quotes. But it contains a thorough bibliography of sources, and so most likely contains Bosch's source.

 

Bob

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Johannes Bosch quoted from a limited first edition of a history on the Bulteel family, called "The Bulteels". A second edition is due to be published early in 2004. Lady Emily's concertina is still in possession of Johannes and will receive mention in the 2nd edition.

 

For information, the following is quoted from correspondence received from Vivien Allen, genealogist and author of the 2nd edition:

Quote - "Preparations for publication of Vivien Allen's The Bulteels, The

Story of a Huguenot Family by Phillimore & Co. Ltd are moving ahead and

it can now be ordered with a generous pre-publication discount.

Those of you receiving it by e-mail, click on the link below, which

should come up in blue on your screen, to connect to Phillimore's web site.

If it does not, then key the address into your browser. Select The Bulteels and click on Details.

The picture on the web site is of Mary Bulteel, daughter of James of Barnstaple, at

the time of her marriage to Sir Richard Vyvyan in 1637. I have to thank

their descendant Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, for copying it for us and giving

permission to reproduce it. On the dust jacket of the book it appears

with a water colour of Flete in 1790. All the information you need about

the book and the discount offered is on the web site with an order form.

It is a secure site and you can order by credit card wherever you are in

the world. Your name will be printed in the book as a subscriber if you

put it onto the form. If you would rather not, leave the space blank.

Publication is due early next year but we need a good number of

subscriptions to justify going ahead. And anyway, why pay more than you

have to!" - unquote.

 

www.phillimore.co.uk/acatalog/Special_Offers.html

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BOB: many thanks for the reference to the new book on the Ponsonbys. . . .if i remember correctly, Henry was QV's private secretary for a while..........thanks again...........allan

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