Ian Crisp wrote:
>Many of these things may have no effect on how we hear (and "understand")
>music that was written a lifetime or more ago, but we cannot know for a
>certainty that none of them have any effect at all.....
>Music can most certainly reach across the centuries. Bach was my first
>love in classical music, and may well still be on top of the list when I
>get to the end. But we are fooling ourselves if we believe that music can
>also be a time machine, transporting us back to experience it as it once
>was. The times are different, we are different, Bach is dead and cannot
>rewrite his music for the benefit of an audience that he could not have
>begun to understand.
Frankly, I've never heard anybody try to claim that music exists as a
"time machine", and I'd be glad to hear/read where someone has made this
case. Your (and others') argument that we can't hear Bach the same way as
the folks in 1730s Leipzig seems quite logical, which is perhaps why I've
never heard anybody actually try to say it.
Now I was born in 1956, and I have no way of experiencing the world of
Copland, or most of Shostakovich for that matter. So Ian, is there a
"threshold" timeline that exists within this century where your argument no
longer holds, or is it just defined by the type of ensembles or musicians
who are playing the music? I am suspicious:-) So by this line of thought,
there is no merit in someone trying to recreate the "Rhapsody in Blue"
using the original jazz band scoring? Why is it that I never hear this
sort of case cited as an example of using music as a "time machine"?
>We do him more honour by finding ways to help his music survive into the
>future than by fossilising him with our (quite possibly incorrect) ideas
>about how he wanted his music played for people who are as long dead as he
I totally disagree. Instead of "fossilising", much of these new (yes,
that's the word I would use) ways of interpreting Bach brought him to life
for me much more than the homogenized, glutinized, monolithic way in which
his music was mostly interpreted before (i.e. let's play Bach the same way
we play Brahms).
And that doesn't even include all the music from before Bach that would
NEVER have been touched by those "honouring" ensembles.