Music 1710F/G Lecture Notes - Richard Taruskin

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6 Feb 2013
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November 28 Readings/Class Notes – History
Recovering the Sound of the Past
Authenticity: what might “authenticity” mean when we talk about performing music of
the past?
Richard Taruskin on today's concept of “authenticity”
“The word needs either to be rescued from its current purveyors or to be dropped by
those who would aspire to the values it properly signifies.”
the attempt by many to recreate performances of the past as close as possible to
the original
Authenticity”?
Some definitions from Merriam-Webster: a. “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming
to or based on fact.” b. “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”
How do we know what music of the past sounded like? - Letters, notes, old recordings,
reviews, treatises, performance conventions passed on. However, time creates distance
between now and the past eg. Interpretation, language barriers
What might “authenticity” in performance mean? eg. Being authentic to the audience,
composer, instrument – can be in conflict eg. Being authentic to composer conflicts with
being true to performers, such as Beethoven's extremely fast tempo markings in some
works. Should we slow down the tempo to be sensitive to the performers? - Should we
recreate the imperfections of the performance? eg. Better musicians now than many
years ago.
Was Mahler’s re-orchestration of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony a crime against
authenticity?
Mahler’s Re-orchestration
Beethoven 9 (1824) Mahler re-orchestration (1895) - Increased performance forces –
more doubling of parts, 8 winds instead of 4, tuba, reinforced melodic lines (esp. w/
brass), thinned some orchestration - 4th movement he revised the trombones: only in
certain moments, added special performance directions – changed some dynamic
markings, winds
Prominent changes due to changes in technology. Natural vs. Value Horn (no keys,
limited amount of notes, adjust tuning manually, vs. Keys)
What was Mahler’s main defense for re-orchestrating Beethoven?
Beethoven could not realize the ideal orchestration because he was deaf. He did
the best we could, but we have perfected the problems, therefore we should change
them, because this is what Beethoven would have want. By trying to reform and question
every assumption, this will allow us to make the piece authentic to ourselves so that we
can bring a sort of authenticity to the piece.
Conclusions - Authenticity is a fraught concept. To whom must one be authentic? (the
sources, the composer’s intentions, the original performance, one’s own musical sense?)
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