George Biddlecombe’s research concerns the public perception of performers and the practicalities of professional musicians’ lives in 19th century Britain
As a researcher, George adopts a socio-cultural approach to investigate the ways in which illustrations, biographical accounts and repertoire were utilised to shape the public perception of performers, primarily singers. A specific example of research interest is the ‘Swedish Nightingale’ Jenny Lind, who became closely identified with Victorian values of morality, philanthropy, domesticity and religiosity. These influenced her decision to cease performing as an operatic prima donna and instead to espouse oratorio. George explored these themes in two publications: ‘Secret Letters and a Missing Memorandum: New Light on the Personal Relationship between Felix Mendelssohn and Jenny Lind’ for Journal of the Royal Musical Association and ‘Jenny Lind, Illustration, Song and the Relationship between Prima Donna and Public’, in The Idea of Art Music in a Commercial World, 1800-1930 for Boydell & Brewer.
Regarding the myriad practical factors facing professional musicians in the long 19th century, George’s current research examines the interactions between musicians and institutions. This includes conservatoires and organisations relevant to those who had already entered the profession as well as the economics of the music industry as areas of research focus.