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A musical challenge to our view of the past

Music and the Exotic from the Renaissance to Mozart

In Musical Exoticism (Cambridge 2011) Ralph P. Locke undertook an extensive appraisal of the portrayal of the ‘Other’ in works dating from 1700 to the present day, an enquiry that embraced a wide range of genres from Baroque opera to Algerian rap, and which was at once musical, cultural, historical, political and ethical.

Coughing and Clapping: Investigating Audience Experience

Is it okay to tweet during a concert, if it allows those who couldn’t attend to engage with the performance and the music? Or is it really just distracting, on top of all the coughing?

How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is an international database for musicological and ethnomusicological research, providing abstracts and indexing for users all over the world. As such, RILM’s style guide (How to Write About Music: The RILM Manual of Style) differs fairly significantly from those of more generalized style guides such as MLA or APA.

Book Review: Opera in the British Isles, 1875 – 1918

Opera in the British Isles might seem a rather sparse subject in the period 1875 to 1918. Notoriously described as the land without music, even the revival of the native tradition of composers did not include a strong vein of opera.

Diary of a Redneck Opera Zinger

Heldentenor Jay Hunter Morris tells us about the lean times when the phone did not ring, as well as those thrilling moments when companies entrusted him with the most important roles in opera.

Weill's Musical Theater: Stages of Reform

Commonly viewed as a ‘second-rate’ composer — a European radical persecuted by the Nazis whose trans-Atlantic emigration represented a sell-out to an inferior American popular culture —

Opera from Cambridge University Press

Although part of a series entitled Cambridge Introductions to Music, Robert Cannon’s wide-ranging, imaginative and thought-provoking survey of opera is certainly not a ‘beginners’ guide’.

James Melton: The Tenor of His Times

Those of us of a certain age have fond memories of James Melton, who entertained our parents starting in the 1930s and the rest of us in the 1940s and beyond on recordings, the radio, and films.

Essays on Italo Montemezzi - D'Annunzio: Nave

An important new book on Italo Montemezzi sheds light on his opera Nave. The author/editor is David Chandler whose books on Alfredo Catalani have done so much to restore interest in the genre.

Alfredo Catalani — A new perspective on later Italian opera

Assumptions about later Italian opera are dominated by Puccini, but Alfredo Catalani, born in the same town and almost at the same time, was highly regarded by their contemporaries. Two new books on Catalani could change our perceptions.

The Sopranos — Dissecting opera’s fervent fans

I was feeling cowed by Herr Engels. The four of us had retired from the Stravinsky performance to a Billy Wilder-themed bar in Berlin, the least horrible late-night option in the high end mediocrity of Potsdamer Platz.

Opera Remade, 1700-1750

This substantial book is one of the latest in the Ashgate series of collected essays in opera studies and draws together articles from a disparate group of scholarly journals and collected volumes, some recent, some now difficult to locate.

Operatic Advice and Counsel…A Welcome New Reference Book

Vincent Giroud’s valuable new French Opera, a Short History, is in hand and very welcome it is.

Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey

The noted operatic impresario and stage director, Lotfi Mansouri, with the professional help of writer Donald Arthur, has issued his memoirs under the title Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey.

Cosima Wagner — The Lady of Bayreuth

Originally published in German as Herrin des Hügels, das Leben der Cosima Wagner (Siedler, 2007), this new book by Oliver Hilmes is an engaging portrait of one of the most important women in music during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Operatic Italian

Robert Stuart Thomson’s Italian language learning text, Operatic Italian, promises to become an invaluable textbook for aspiring operatic singers, voice teachers, coaches and conductors.

Musical Exoticism: Images and Reflections

Ralph Locke’s recent book on Musical Exoticism is both an historical survey of aspects of the exotic in Western musical culture and a discussion of paradigms of the exotic and their relevance for musicological understanding.

Magic Flutes & Enchanted Forests: The Supernatural in Eighteenth-Century Musical Theater

Readers may recognize the author of this book, David J. Buch, a specialist on the origins of the libretto to Mozart’s Magic Flute.

Opera from the Greek

Perhaps it will be enough to tell you that I wasn’t halfway through this book before I searched the web for a copy of Professor Ewans’s study of Wagner and Aeschylus’s Oresteia, and ordered it forthwith: It has to be good.



Bruce Haynes. The End of Early Music: A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century
04 Oct 2007

HAYNES: The End of Early Music — A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century

Once upon a time, there was something known as early music. This was not so much a repertoire, a musico-historical epoch, as an attitude, a counter-cultural group.

Bruce Haynes. The End of Early Music: A Period Performer’s History of Music for the Twenty-First Century

Oxford University Press, 2007. 304 pages; 17 music examples; 6-1/8 x 9-1/4.

ISBN13: 9780195189872 | ISBN10: 0195189876

$35.00  Click to buy

There was classical music, the boring old standard-repertoire taught at conservatories, and played in the same old way by people who fetishized the lineage of their teachers, and their teacher’s teachers, and then there was early music, the music of Bach and his predecessors, played by amateur performers (often musicologists) on “old” instruments (recorder, harpsichords, viola da gamba), something which fit right in with the reclaiming of folk music and folk instruments by the hippie resistance to manufactured mass culture.

At the same time Albert Ayler and John Coltrane were exploring the outer limits of free jazz, and Jefferson Airplane combining psychedelics and folk-rock, amateur ensembles with krummhorns, sackbuts, shawms, and other dead instruments were reviving centuries of forgotten repertoire from Machaut onwards. Early music managed to be cutting edge by going deep into music which had been only of interest to historians, and transgressive by suggesting that this music and the music which followed did not belong only to its self-anointed priesthood, which seemed to be only mumbling half-understood inherited formulas, with no sense of the enlivening spirit within.

Time passes, and nothing from 1967 seems very current anymore, with the possible exception of Purple Haze. The amateur (and hippie) tinge to early music was washed away by decades of musicians who managed to perform early music professionally on period instruments, and with an historical awareness of the performance issues involved. Their success drew the barbed words of musicologist Richard Taruskin, himself once an amateur performing-musicologist, pointing out the lack of authenticity involved in this recuperation of both unknown and well-known repertoire. The End of Early Music may be seen as a response to the criticisms of Taruskin and others.

Oboist Bruce Haynes is one who has been involved with historically-informed performance for decades, since the first successes of four or five decades ago, and unlike the younger Taruskin, whose recordings are safely entombed on LP in music libraries, his recordings are still commercially available. His survey of the history and issues involved with period performance is compulsively readable. Though the volume has the standard scholarly apparatus of notes and bibliography, there is nothing of the dry-as-dust scholarly compendium about it. An innovation which is particularly useful is the provision of sound examples at the publisher’s site, even if means that the book can be best used with your network-enabled computer close at hand.

The notion that concert-going has become a secular ritual substituting for more explicitly religious rites has become widely accepted, but Haynes goes farther in looking at the amount of fetishism and ritual involved in musical interpretation and consumption in general, disassembling the various fetishes we take for granted as part of musical experiences – the notion of the canon, of absolute music, of genius, of score-fidelity, and others. Evidently I sympathize with Haynes’ position, but even so I think it must be clear to any reader that he has done his work well.

Tom Moore

[This review has been cross-posted to Biddle Beat, The official blog of the Music Library at Duke University.]

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