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Response to Review no. 205

I thank Dave Russell for his lengthy and thoughtful review and would like to respond to a few of the issues he raises.

The book’s title and subtitle follow one typical model of academic practice in pointing first to the widest reach of a chosen subject – “Musical Women in England” – and then, by means of a subtitle, limiting coverage to specific aspects of that subject, in this case, to those “musical women” who were seen to be “encroaching” on areas of musical life hitherto reserved to males. Thus my emphasis is, as Russell correctly states, on music philanthropy as a vehicle for the movement of women into the public sphere; on breakthroughs into performance on tabooed instruments (most notably, the violin); on the rise to great wealth and power of internationally famous divas; and on the activism of a group of prominent women musicians in the campaign for female enfranchisement. Other areas of such encroachment would certainly have enriched the book, but additions without sustained analysis would have been mere tokenism, while properly studied inclusion of all the truly valuable aspects of musical life that Russell mentions would have resulted in a book whose research agenda, length, and density would have been daunting, at least to this author.

Russell is correct in pointing to women’s contributions to the provincial music scene as a critically important and inadequately studied area. I hope very much that my book will stimulate other scholars to pursue research in this area, as in many other aspects of musical life that remain to be described, analysed, and integrated into our understanding of the wider culture of this dynamic era.