The Girl in Rose
A Musical Affair in Georgian London
By (author) Peter Hobday
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Girl in Rose by Peter Hobday
Book DescriptionIn the footnotes of almost any history of eighteenth-century London or Haydn biography, is the name, Rebecca Schroeter. A talented musician herself, she was seldom on stage but always at the centre of the bustle and socialising off it. This attractive and educated Scottish heiress always had a weakness for musicians, as they did for her. 'My dearest love', Haydn called her. 'Beautiful', 'amiable' and 'a young lady of fashion', Rebecca was also independently minded and determined. Like the young women portrayed by Jane Austen, the prospect before her, viewed from the over-familiar comfort of the family home, looked restricted and uninspiring. Rebecca fell for her charismatic German music master, Johann Schroeter, and eloped with him in 1775 to London. Her family refused them permission to marry, but they went to court and were wed at St Martin's in the Fields. From the moment of her arrival in the capital as a young woman, Rebecca Schroeter found a place for herself in the musical and social life of fashionable Georgian London. She crossed paths with Bach and all the leading lights, the bluestockings, politicians and the King's circle. When her husband's hard work gained him the post of the King's Musick Master, Rebecca could host parties and debates at their elegant new house in Leicester Square. This idyllic life was cut short by her husband's death in 1788 when Rebecca is in her forties, but then Haydn, the most famous composer in Europe, meets her and demands the attention of 'the beautiful English widow'. It is a relationship, which continued until Haydn's death in 1809. Rebecca Schroeter's life is almost an archetypal one of the period: a romantically-inclined young woman, an ambitious and supportive wife, a favourite on the social scene. Peter Hobday balances an intimate account of her life with convincing historical detail to produce an accomplished portrait of the age.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780297847472
(234mm x 156mm x 29mm)
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson History
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 24-Jun-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Peter Hobday
Girl in Rose, Paperback (May 2005)» View all books by Peter Hobday
A biography of Rebecca Schroeter, Haydn's last love, and an exploration of musical life in 18th-century London.
US Kirkus Review » British radio host Hobday (Customs & Etiquette of England, 2005, etc.) pieces together the life of an English widow who loved Haydn. Rebecca Schroeter's name will be familiar to those who have mastered the minutiae of the composer's life. Born to a financially comfortable and socially ambitious family, Rebecca was expected to make a good match. Instead, she made a love match, eloping in 1775 with her music instructor, the German composer Johann Schroeter. After his 1788 death, Rebecca met Haydn, who was visiting London. Hobday quotes-in fact, he annoyingly sprinkles the quotation over and over throughout the text-an early-19th-century biographer of Haydn, who said that Haydn described Mrs. Schroeter as a widow "who loved me . . .[and] whom I might very easily have married if I had been free then." The relationship included many shared dinners, a warm epistolary correspondence, and the exchange of domestically intimate gifts like soap. Based on the 23 surviving letters from Rebecca to Haydn (they're included as an appendix), Hobday hypothesizes that the pair engaged in "a true love affair." Nonetheless, he suggests also that the relationship was circumspect, since Haydn was married. If this is the first booklength portrait of Rebecca Schroeter, it offers no path-breaking interpretation-no reconceiving the musical scene in Georgian England, no startling new directions in women's history. Few primary sources fill out Hobday's story, and, in their absence, the author supposes. He imagines, for example, that Rebecca would have found her first years of marriage unsatisfying and would have wished for more time with her husband. He muses that, on the eve of Haydn's second and final departure from London, "Rebecca may have begged him to stay." Unfortunately, the evidence is so scanty that it's a leap of faith to trust Hobday's guesses. Adequate, at best-though probably of some interest to music buffs and devotees of obscure women's history. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Peter Hobday
Peter Hobday was for many years a presenter of the TODAY programme on Radio 4, and the presenter of Radio 3's MASTERWORKS series about the life and work of the great composers. He now divides his time between the family home in London and a house in Italy which he has restored, where he grows olives, and does most of his writing.
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