Early Recordings and Musical Style: Changing Tastes in Instrumental Performance, 1900-1950

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Cambridge University Press, Aug 19, 2004 - Music - 288 pages
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Until recently, early recordings were regarded as little more than old-fashioned curiosities. Scholars and musicians now are beginning to realise their importance as historical documents which preserve the performances of Elgar, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, and other composers, and of the musicians with whom they worked. In a more general way, recordings reveal the detailed performance practice of the early twentieth century and illustrate how styles have changed over the years. Early recordings also shed new light on nineteenth-century performance, but at the same time they highlight the limitations of our attempts to recreate the styles of the period before the development of recording. In this fascinating and detailed study, Robert Philip argues that recordings of the early twentieth century provide an important, and hitherto neglected, resource in the history of musical performance. The book concentrates on aspects of performance which underwent the greatest change in the early twentieth century: rhythm, including flexibility of tempo, rubato, and the treatment of rhythmic detail; the use of vibrato; and the employment of portamento by stringplayers. The final chapters explore some of the implications of these changes, both for the study of earlier periods and for the understanding of our own attitudes to the music of the past. The book contains information tables, music examples, and a discography and will be of interest to scholars and students of music history and performance practice as well as to musicians and collectors of historical recordings.

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About the author (2004)

ROBERT PHILIP is lecturer in music, The Open University. He has extensive experience as a music performer, critic, broadcaster, and writer.

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