In eighteenth-century Europe, musical salons—and the women who hosted and made music in them—played a crucial role in shaping their cultural environments. Musical salons served as a testing ground for new styles, genres, and aesthetic ideals, and they acted as a mediating force, bringing together professional musicians and their audiences of patrons, listeners, and performers. At a time when women’s access to education and their participation in public life was curtailed, the salon offered women an opportunity to attain an education and assert their ideals. The musical salon formed a space between the public and private spheres that allowed the salonnière to exercise cultural agency.
The program “Salonnières at the Keyboard” explores works associated with five musical salonnières with diverse agendas and approaches, including some compositions by these women and others that they commissioned or are known to have played.
Works by Marie-Emanuelle Bayon, Marianna Martines, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach (representing the salon of Sara Levy), Anne-Louise Boyvin d’Hardancourt Brillon de Jouy, and Thomas Arne (representing the salon of Ann Ford).