Shopping Cart Link

Wesleyan University Press

Sign up for our newsletter

Bookmark and Share
Cart link
Paperback add to cart

For Educators
View cart
Cover image

Manufacturing the Muse
Estey Organs and Consumer Culture in Victorian America
Dennis G. Waring


2002 • 336 pp. 124 illus. Audio CD. 8 1/2 x 11"
Music / Cultural Studies

$27.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-6508-2

Audio CD.

How a 19th century instrument helped to shape New World culture.

Purchases of American reed organs between 1850 and 1910 exceeded that of pianos by almost two to one. Manufacturing the Muse is the story of the reed organ, a centerpiece in American parlors, churches, and gathering places for nearly a century. It is also the story of venerable New England entrepreneur Jacob Estey, whose industrial standardization of instrument manufacture strongly affected Victorian popular culture, social stratification, gender issues, and musical taste. Dennis Waring's examination of The Estey Organ Company (1846 to 1960) and its production and marketing strategies reveals much concerning the importance of the reed organ as a significant artifact in the history of American consumerism.

The companion CD includes a variety of period pieces, some selected from the Estey Organ Method, all played on Estey organs. Extensive appendices include surveys of Estey organ case design, free-reed making operations, diagrams, maps, timelines, and music. A generous number of photographs round out the book, which may be read as a good story as well as an important part of America's history.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“This ambitious book describes the roles and fortunes of a largely unrecognized industry of the past — the 19th-century reed organ industry — by simultaneously placing it within a broad assessment of the history and culture of its time. Waring's handling of the multiple associations and roles of the reed organ within Victorian life is both subtle and revealing."—Paul Théberge, author of Any Sound You Can Imagine

"Manufacturing the Muse will make a superb addition to existing literature on American musical culture, business history and the monumental development of American society into a consumer society. An impressive, fascinating and readable book that deserves wide circulation and much acclaim." Craig H. Roell, Professor of American Business and Cultural History, Georgia Southern University

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:52:27 -0500