Authenticity in Western Classical Music

Stephen Davies

in Musical Works and Performances

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780199241583
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597329 | DOI:
Authenticity in Western Classical Music

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Authenticity is integral to the enterprise that takes the delivery of the composer's work as its goal. In such cases, authenticity is an ontological requirement, not an interpretative option, though any performance recognizable as of a given work will be minimally authentic. Whether a performance must comply with the composer's instrumentation, phrasing, tempo, and dynamics depends on whether these features are work‐determinative for the musical tradition within which the work was created. Practical considerations, recently entrenched traditions, and the possibility that performers can take for granted the audience's prior familiarity with orthodox readings might count against the pursuit of ideal authenticity, but the territory to be explored in an interpretation should lie nearer the ideal than the minimum end of the spectrum along which authenticity is measured.

Keywords: authenticity; interpretation; performance; tradition; work

Chapter.  24135 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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