Curating the composer : preserving and interpreting our musical heritage through composer house museums.




MacDonald, Whitney C.

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Although historic house museums, especially those in which political or community leaders once lived, are quite common and have been analyzed by museum scholars, the sub-genre of historic houses in which European classical composers lived has not been explored in as great a depth. The purpose of this thesis is to review the history of house museums dedicated to interpreting a composer who once lived there. Following a discussion of the literature on the subject and the methods used in my research, one chapter will explore the history and current operations of several key composer house museums, and another will present a case study of one specific composer house museum. The former chapter is informed not only by mastering the literature on the subject but also by taking a European research trip in March 2012, which allowed me to experience the interpretations and to appreciate the rich variety of approaches used. The latter chapter focuses on the Handel House Museum in London, first examining in detail a master’s thesis which was quite literally a blueprint for the museum, and then exploring the ways in which that blueprint was realized. This thesis documents the diverse ways in which these museums bring to life these composers and their music.



Historic house museums., Classical composers., Handel House Museum., Handel, George Frideric, 1685-1759.