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Paper Session
Nov 11, 2021 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1200 20211111T1250 America/Chicago Modern Reflections of Musical Pasts AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
How Early Music Became “Crisp”
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 18:50:00 UTC

In 20th- and 21st-century English-language reviews, critics often praise "crisp" performances of Baroque programs. Instrumentalists, vocalists, and conductors are praised for "crisp" articulations, textures, or diction, often accompanied with remarks on "brisk" tempos. Baroque violinist Fabio Biondi guest directed the Chicago Symphony Orchestra "with occasional flourishes of his baroque bow to ensure crisp attacks and elegant releases" (John von Rhein, 2017), while Banchetto Musicale led by Martin Pearlman delivered a performance of "Messiah" on period instruments at Carnegie Hall that would have "shocked our grandparents" and "sounded more plausible to Handel," in which "slender voices, transparent textures; crisp, detached phrasing and brisk dancing tempos were the watchwords" (Will Crutchfield, 1984). Critics also hear "crisp" performances in Renaissance and Classic era music. The Newberry Consort gave "lively, crisply articulated performances" of Robert Morton's "L'Homme Armé" setting (Allan Kozinn, 2005), and the conductor Matthew Hall "brought his own ideas of period style" to Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, "eliciting smooth yet crisply articulated playing at brisk tempos" (James Oestreich, 2016). ¶ While over 100 of such reviews are found in the press (e.g. _New York Times_, _San Francisco Chronicle_, _Boston Globe_, _Guardian_, etc.), "crisp" is not conspicuous in historical sources, which instead focus on impassioned, tasteful, and rhetorical delivery. If historically informed musicians are striving for rhetorical performances while critics hear these as "crisp," what is at work here? Is there a performer-critic feedback loop for "crisp" performances? ¶ This paper will explore how "crisp" became a shorthand for "good" Early Music. Drawing on Richard Taruskin (1988, 1995), Dorottya Fabian has already remarked upon the success and modernity of HIP not because they are "historically or stylistically 'correct' but because they reflect current listening tastes that favour sleek, clear and crisp performances" (2003). Claire Holden (2021) likewise commented on listeners describing HIP "using adjectives such as 'clean,' 'clear,' 'crisp,' and 'light' that imply precise ensemble." I will contextualize trends in Early Music performances and consider whether current tastes (mis)align with practices of the past.

Presenters
AL
Addi Liu
Case Western Reserve University
J.S. Bach’s _Passion_ Premieres in the United States: An American Bach Festival Family Tree
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 18:50:00 UTC

The first full North American performances of J.S. Bach's _St. Matthew Passion_BWV 244, and _St. John Passion_BWV 245, were given in 1879 and 1888 by the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston and the Bethlehem Choral Union in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, respectively. These premieres were the first complete performances of any of Bach's large-scale choral-orchestral works in the United States, and the performance choices made by Handel and Haydn Society conductor Carl Zerrahn and Bethlehem Choral Union conductor John Frederick Wolle were vital to the _Passions_' performance history in America. They not only set a precedent of performance outside of the church in this country, but they also spawned other ensembles and festivals in diverse locations across the United States, including the Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival, the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, and the Bach Society of Saint Louis. While historians Paul Larson, Grant W. Cook III, David W. Music, Charles Perkins, J.S. Dwight, and H. Earle Johnson, have written about the American Passion premieres individually, this paper is the first study to compare the performance practices of the two premieres and to explore how they prompted the creation of Bach festivals across the United States. Individuals such as Albert Riemenschneider, Isabelle Sprague Smith, and William B. Heyne, were inspired by the Bethlehem Bach Choir and Handel and Haydn Society's Bach performances to bring Bach's music to their local communities in Ohio, Florida, and Missouri. The performance practices of the _Passion_ premiering ensembles continue to influence the subsequent performance history of Bach's music in the U.S., especially in these descendant festivals, in terms of ensemble size, use of modern instruments, and performance language. The _Passion_ premieres are thus more important to the reception and history of twenty-first century Bach performance culture in this country than has been previously understood.

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Presenters
AF
Alannah Rebekah Franklin
Oklahoma Baptist University
The "In Between" Generation: Mid Sixteenth-Century Polyphony and the Long Shadow of Early Twentieth-Century German Historiography
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 18:50:00 UTC

Discussions of mid sixteenth-century polyphony continue to reverberate with narratives set in motion by early twentieth-century German scholars. Joseph Schmidt-Görg and Hermann Zenck pioneered research on Nicolas Gombert and Adrian Willaert, respectively; Heinrich Besseler delved into matters of historiography in his influential _Die Musik des Mittelalters und der Renaissance_. Recent work by Pamela Potter and Thomas Schipperges has offered insight into how these scholars used their political and institutional power to foster nationalist agendas in the Weimar Republic and during the Third Reich. But we have yet to fully appreciate the long shadow early twentieth-century German scholarship continues to cast on the historiography of mid sixteenth-century music, above all its tendency to lump together and give short shrift to a heterogeneous collection of composers. Indeed many scholars continue to skip over this period or characterize it mainly as building on Josquin and preparing the way for Palestrina.


I argue that a confluence of factors catalyzed the notion of an "in between" generation ca. 1515–1555. A longstanding cultural program devoted to promoting Luther's Protestant contemporaries led Schmidt-Görg and Zenck to deemphasize the aesthetic value of music by Catholic musicians such as Gombert and Willaert. Alongside religious politics, nationalist agendas caused what would have been groundbreaking critical-edition projects to be placed on the back burner. Besseler, too, neglected the music, both because he drew his conclusions from a mere handful of examples and because he prioritized teleological and organicist historiographical models that he would later reject.


After the war, younger German scholars seeking to break with the past largely avoided sixteenth-century topics; in the United States, by contrast, German émigrés picked up where Besseler and his colleagues had left off, with scholars such as Edward Lowinsky adopting–and amplifying–many of their negative judgments. All of this invites a new interpretation of mid sixteenth-century polyphony alongside a historiographical critique. By placing the writings of Zenck, Schmidt-Görg, and Besseler in dialogue with the historical materials they studied, I reveal the enduring influence of early twentieth-century German scholarship on the discipline.

Presenters Benjamin Ory
Stanford University
Oklahoma Baptist University
Case Western Reserve University
Stanford University
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