Urban Nostalgia: The Musical City in the 19th and 20th Centuries

This online conference organised by Lola San Martín Arbide (CRAL-EHESS) will take place from 5th to 7th of July 2020.

Scientific committeeEsteban Buch (CRAL / EHESS, Paris); Jonathan Hicks (University of Aberdeen); Gascia Ouzounian (University of Oxford); Lola San Martín Arbide (CRAL / EHESS, Paris); Christabel Sterling (University of Westminster); Justinien Tribillon (Theatrum Mundi).

KeynoteRichard Elliott (Newcastle University, UK)

The aim of this workshop is to explore space through music, approaching the history of the city via the notion of nostalgia. Often described as a form of homesickness, nostalgia is, by definition, the feeling that makes us wish to repossess or reoccupy a space. Such spaces appear to us as both near and distant, tangible and remote, and it seems that attempts at reclaiming them are frequently musical in nature. We know, for instance, that particular compositions have played important roles in helping people to navigate or mitigate a sense of displacement. In these circumstances, affective experiences may be bound up with trauma or joy, as is the case of song during wartime or musical imaginaries among migrants. Under other conditions, we might identify a ‘second-hand nostalgia’ in the guise of a musicallyinflected tourism that seeks to reactivate (for pleasure and/or profit) the historical aura of an urban site. What are we to make of the abundance of personal, interpersonal, and propositional episodes that posit music as some kind of a bridge to the urban past?

Programme (Central European Summer Time)

Urban Nostalgia: The Musical City in the 19th and 20th Centuries.



16:00 > 16:30 Welcome and Introduction

Lola San Martín Arbide, CRAL – EHESS, Paris


From Fin-de-siècle to Retromania

Chair: Jonathan Hicks, University of Aberdeen

 Part One. Beirut­–Rome: The Written Discourses of Urban Modernity

  • Beirut in the musical discourse

Diana Abbani, Freie Universität Berlin

  • In memory of Rome. Topographical and musical proofs in Il piacere by Gabriele D'Annunzio

Raffaela Carluccio, Università degli Studi di Parma

(15 minute pause, 17.30 > 17.45)

Part Two. Beirut–Japan in the 1960s

  • Beirut the Ancient City of the Future: On Hauntology, Vaporwave, and the Sounds of Nostalgia for Lost Futures

Ali Jaber, Lebanese University of Fine Arts /American University of Beirut

  • From Rustic Hometowns to Dazzling Skylines: Nostalgia, Healing and the Negotiation of Identity in the Urban Cityscapes of Japanese New Music (nyū _myūjikku)

Anita Drexler, independent scholar




The City’s Rural Idyll

Chair: Justinien Tribillon, Theatrum Mundi

  • Heimatsmusik in Prague: Rural nostalgia in the capital?

Ondřej Daniel, Charles University Prague, and Jakub Machek, Metropolitan University Prague

  • The transposition of the musical landscape of the Brazilian sertão to the urban environment through Armorial music

Cecília Pires, CRAL  – EHESS, Paris

  • ‘Those Old Melodies Touch Home’: Nostalgia Rurality in Old-Time Music’s Urban Audience (United-States, 1920-1945)

Manuel Bocquier, Mondes Américains / Centre d’Études Nord-Américaines, EHESS, Paris 


Paris: Old, New and Déco

Chair: Gascia Ouzounian, University of Oxford

  • Nineteenth-Century Popular Song and the Invention of Le nouveau Paris

Jack Blaszkiewicz, Wayne State University

  • Mal de Paris: Singing and dancing nostalgia in the late nineteenth-century city

Tristan Paré-Morin, University of Pennsylvania

  • Paris, art déco, and the spirit of Apollo

Jonathan Cross, University of Oxford




Musical Palimpsests

Chair: Christabel Stirling, University of Westminster

  • ‘Deine alten Melodien von der schönen Stadt Berlin’. Popular Song and Urban Nostalgia in Berlin, 1880-1930

Daniel Morat, Freie Universität Berlin

  •  Longing for a Disappearing City: Urban Transformation and Nostalgia in Costumbrista Music Theatre in Late Nineteenth Century San Sebastian

Asier Odriozola Otamendi, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona

  •  The production of urban nostalgias. Montevideo and Buenos Aires’ shared histories of tango

Daniel Richter, University of Maryland


Keynote lecture by Richard Elliott, Newcastle University

Revisiting Old Haunts in a Time of Lockdown:  Holiday Records, Virtuality and the Nostalgia Gap

Respondent: Esteban Buch, CRAL – EHESS, Paris


Concluding thoughts


Mémoire, Musicologie, Temps/temporalité, Ville

Informations pratiques

  • Dimanche 5 juillet 2020 - 16:00
  • Mardi 7 juillet 2020 - 20:00
  • See online registration
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