Glenn Miller <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>Just so I understand correctly, authentic 18th century can be perform as it
>really sounded in their day but "we" in 20th century cannot hear it because
>of our bias toward 20th century pitch? Is this the general understanding?
It's broader than that: we lack the pretty much the entire context within
which the music was performed; from the small concert halls through the
chosen pitch to the contemporary perception of performance style.
To use a specifically difficult eg: in On Conducting, Wagner criticised
Mendelssohn for adopting tempos which were too fast for the music; &
frankly makes him sound rather like the Boulez of his time. The problem
is: are we listening to the musical innovator or the racist when we read
Even assuming we have concrete values for the tempos he chose, to answer
this question, we'd also need to know what everyone else was doing at that
time for that criticism to be quantifiable (it's obviously pointless to cf
these tempos with the way we perform these scores now). The same statement
can also be made of just about every facet of the performance technique;
from the chosen use of instrumental to the observance of dynamic markings
In theory, one might be able to recreate elements of contemporary
performance by close study of contemporary performance; but a total
package is a practical impossibility....
All the best,
Robert Clements <[log in to unmask]>