Lessons in Music, Lessons in Love

  • Katherine WallaceEmail author
Part of the Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind book series (SHPM, volume 15)


The music lesson as a scene of seduction is a commonplace of Renaissance literature and art. Shakespeare explores the amorous implications of an intimate music lesson in the famous scenes with Katerina, Bianca and Hortensio from The Taming of the Shrew. While poor Hortensio has no success with either sister—Katerina breaks a lute over his head while Bianca scorns his love-song, exclaiming she “likes not” his “gamut”—nevertheless, Hortensio’s firm knowledge that his music-teacher disguise will gain him access to the cloistered Bianca, and allow him to plead his love for her, reveals that this ruse has been well-used before him. The philosophical equation of music, learning and seduction, so prevalent in the art and literature of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, might well have been grounded in very real instances where a pupil was seduced by her (or his) tutor. Examples from art, literature, documents, diaries, and music itself will be considered in this exploration of lessons in music and in love.


Music lesson Shakespeare Art Lute Early modern drama 


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List of Artworks Referenced

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of MusicNational University of SingaporeSingapore CitySingapore

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