Introduction: An Atmosphere of Controversy

Bernard D. Sherman

in Inside Early Music

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195169454
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865017 | DOI:
Introduction: An Atmosphere of Controversy

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A music performance can try both to reconstruct early practice and to give pleasure or dramatic effect. The results can be surprisingly vital, but the tension between the goals may explain part of why the early music movement has, as Joseph Kerman says, “always flourished in an atmosphere of multiple controversy”. This book presents insiders’ views of many of the controversies—what they are about, and why they might matter. Without such views, we cannot really understand why these artists play as they do. Some of the controversies arise within the realm of musicology, but others reflect the tension between scholarship and art. The crux of this book can be expressed in a question: How can you use historical information to enliven modern performance? Answers to that question fall on a spectrum from ignoring the evidence to following it to the letter. Those two responses, and others less extreme, underlie the most obvious of the controversies—what Kerman called “disputes over turf”.

Keywords: early music movement; scholarship; musicology; artists; turf wars; performance; period instruments; authenticity

Chapter.  9508 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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