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Special Features Index  

Spotlight Classical Music Before the Twentieth Century
  glbtq people have made major contributions to Classical Music since its earliest days.  
  Castrati Castrati, male singers who were castrated before they reached puberty, attained the height of their popularity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Though they were not necessarily homosexual, they occupy a "queer space" in cultural history.  
  Conductors became increasingly influential and powerful over the course of the nineteenth century, growing into celebrities in their own right. However, conductors who would now be classified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual necessarily exercised great discretion.  
  Arcangelo Corelli Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), who was probably homosexual, was one of the seventeenth century's most widely admired and influential composers and performers.  
  Divas The Diva has traditionally played a significant role in both gay and lesbian culture as an object of cult worship. Those who suffer the heartaches of forbidden love and ostracism from an unaccepting society have traditionally found solace through adulation of and identification with the Diva.  
  George Frideric Handel George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), a towering figure of Western classical music, has been surrounded by a biographical closet that has concealed the possibility that he was in some sense queer.  
  Hildegard of Bingen Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), a German Benedictine abbess, mystic, scientific and theological writer, dramatist, and composer, formed a strong emotional attachment to a young nun and wrote music that expresses physical and spiritual desire for the Virgin Mary.  
  Jean Baptiste Lully Jean Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) was a composer who established the basic principles of French opera. His career declined as the result of a homosexual scandal.  
  Opera Opera, an eclectic synthesis of voice, drama, music, costume, visual arts and spectacle, has played an integral role in queer culture since its development in seventeenth-century Venice.  
  Johann Rosenmuller Johann Rosenm├╝ller (1619-1684) was an important seventeenth-century German composer who survived a homosexual scandal in Leipzig to reconstitute his career in Venice.  
  Camille Saint-Saens Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921) was considered one of the greatest composers of his day. His personal life was both dramatic and glamorous, and he traveled in circles that included many of the most prominent homosexual figures of the fin-de-siècle.  
  Franz Schubert Franz Schubert (1797-1828) enjoyed popularity in his native Vienna, but the depth of his talent remained unknown until after his death because many of his most important works were unperformed during his lifetime.  
  Dame Ethel Smyth Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944), who became England's most important female composer of the early twentieth century, wrote a number of operas and chamber ensemble works in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.  
  Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was one of the greatest composers in history. Scholars continue to debate the impact his homosexuality had on his music.  
  Siegfried Wagner Siegfried Wagner (1869-1930), the son of composer Richard Wagner, was himself a prolific composer and conductor. His homosexuality (or, more accurately, bisexuality) was the source of both scandal and also of elaborate attempts to erase it from histories of the Wagner family.  
  Wagnerism Wagnerism is concerned with the music, theoretical writings, political ideas, and aesthetics of the German composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883). Wagnerism had a profound influence on late nineteenth-century European culture, including the expression of same-sex desire.  


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