The Lost English Accent and Style in Singing and Composition

No one asks why Adele speaks like a Londoner and sings like an American.

I once put this down to the obvious commercial reason that to sing in a manner that pleases American audiences is to make your music potentially more successful on the worldwide stage.

But that is too simplistic a solution. Writing Music Mania: How the Victorians joined the cult of Classical Music and why England has never been the same since, made me think about about the effect of accent on musical style. For instance, listen to this:

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King Arthur Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan was an ambitious composer. He wanted to put pride into English music by promoting new English operas. The idea was straightforward - three English composers at a time would be commissioned to produce an opera each and these would be performed in the same theatre as a block. It might have succeeded if Sullivan had not been the only composer of the three to produce an opera. The other two left a gap that had to be filled somehow and the only solution was to use an existing European opera. Already the ideal had died. Sullivan's contribution - Ivanhoe - ran until everyone who wanted to hear/see it had done so. This was not a failure on Sullivan's part, but it was treated like one and - when the production closed - so did the dream.

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