The Authenticity Movement Can Become a Positivistic Purgatory, Literalistic and Dehumanizing' Author(s): Richard Taruskin Reviewed work

(s): Source: Early Music, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Feb., 1984), pp. 3-12 Published by: Oxford University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 31/12/2012 19:47
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'whereaswhen Iturnedto writingI neverhad a doubt as to what I meant to say. partly may help to clear away some of the underbrush. 'a little sternly'. but of manypractitioners. Authenticity.Clearly. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Of course.' Here. too. they were 'passionate constatements'. opinions and demands of others. It carrieslittle or no moralweight. in one of his covertly moralizing comedies. RichardTaruskin 'The can become a positivistic dehumanizing' I was struck.obstructingthe view not only of the public and its appointed spokesmen. recently. to beginwith. noting that because of it theirperformanceswere 'more than just authentic'. though very casually put. and hence why art 'connoisseurship' is such an exacting and well-remunerated skill. With reference to works of art. It is having what Rousseau called a 'sentiment of being' that is independent of the values. a critic for the New York Times who prides himself on his 'convicphilosophical trainingpraisedthe performers' tion'.Elsewhere in the review he made reference to what he called the '"authenticity" movement'. as word and as concept. let alone a forger. was an exigent conception of authenticity indeed-one with a long and illustrious history. drawn from other fields. Butnowadays.what Stravinsky called 'a sine qua non that at the same time guarantees nothing'. is no authenticity. It must be ascertainedthat the paintingis not by a lesser master. Woody Allen. but one that is nevertheless verymuch with us still in many areas of life. even. that is. A thicket of misperceptions has grown up around it' as applied to musical performance.THE LIMITSOFA UTHENTICITY: A DISCUSSION authenticity movement and literalistic purgatory. is that of authentication. one's life all at once assumes an authenticity it might have lacked before. is more than just saying what you mean. to acknowledgesomeone's sincerityis generallya patronizing prelude to dismissal. observes (in character) thatwhen one is confrontingdeath. Letus.' she much EARLYMUSIC FEBRUARY1984 3 This content downloaded on Mon.Andyet the materialvalue placed on authorshipin Westernsociety is such that the culturalvalue of a workof art. huge sums are not usually involved in authentications madein the field of music (except in the borderlinecase of violins):when a 'new'Mozartsymphonywas discovered in Denmark no one's fortune was made. Authenticity. to read what Sylvia Townsend Warnertold VaughanWilliams when he asked her. In fact. In a recent favourable review of an early music performance. the most common meaning is simply 'genuine'.'I didn'tdo it authentically enough. The first task that confronts the discoverer of a 'new' paintingby an old master. Somefresh perspectives.afterall. why she had given up composing for a literarycareer. Thewordneeds either to be rescued from its current purveyors or to be dropped by those who would aspire to the values it properly signifies. implying by the use of quotes a kind of conformism that is quite contraryto anything Rousseau (or even Woody Allen) could have had in mind. in the areaof musical performance. and acting in accordancewith that knowledge. His obvious meaning-that one's values and priorities take on a previously unacknowledged and compelling clarity-strikes a responsive chord in each of us. in this sense. recognizethatthe word'authentic' is used in manyareasotherthan moralphilosophy. for example. Norwas anyone impoverished when Mozart's'37th Symphony'was exposed as unauthentic apartfromits slow introduction. is knowing what you mean and whence comes that authenticitythat needs ironical quotationmarks.In otherwords. and in some perfectly legitimate senses that are quite unrelated to those outlined above. And one important reason why this must be done. Thatis mere thatarisesfromthe observanceof pieties and unreflective adherence to transcending temporary authenticitythey had achieved authenticity. is obvious. on the other hand. traceable to a stipulated origin. had been stood on its sometimes seems as if authenticity. authenticity is knowingwhatyou are.Andmorethan that.

local taste or. then in biblical studies.if not most. The establishment of a work as authentic can take the place of authentic critical judgement of it. can be crucially affected by it. John Spitzerhas shown how the criticalassessments of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante in E flat K297bhave varieddepending on received opinion as to its authenticity. The ostensible motive is to eliminate human error. performances and accretions of today:let us grantthem authorityand thus be sparedthe risk of makingour own mistakes.and a critic is one who judges and chooses. This may be simply because we are.Theassumptionseems to be that the errorsor accretions of old are preferableto the errors seem toregardtheir performers Modemrn as textsratherthanacts. first in classics. Latelythere has been a tendency (andthis has been especially true of musicologists) to renounce choice among available variants altogether. Knowledgeof authorship. Criticismpresupposes a would seem. Bob Dylan. In extremecases it paralysescriticalevaluationaltogether.even though this pervertsthe whole aim of textual criticism as originally conceived.of issuing transcriptionsand even recordings of individual chansonniers and codices. of us who concern ourselves with 'authentic' interpretationof music approach musical performancewith the attitudes of textual critics.. Butwe often encounter a curious reluctance on the partof textual editorsto exercise that function. afterall. to ridtexts of errors and accretions. become a lesser worksince it was attributedto a lesser man. textual critics by trade. to subject all sources to scrutiny and to arriveat a text that is more correct(i. How else explain the strange case of the Rossini expert who informs us that 'an Italian opera in the first half of the nineteenth century . Scott Joplin.Onlyin the last 150 years or so have modern techniques of textual criticism been chant by the appliedto musical texts: firstto Gregorian monks of Solesmes. moreauthentic)than any extantsource. and. of all composers. then to medieval and Renaissance polyphony. But as thatrequiresthe courageof commitmentand choice.the artor science (opinions differ) of establishing authentic texts. not performers. the aim of a critical edition has always been precisely to be critical: that is. tacitly raisingwhat are. Or. and arestill being developed. A spurious 'authenticity'. to cite one classic debate. editors todaymoretypicallyaim lower:they fasten on a at theirchoice by methods single extantsource (arriving that are not always very critical) and elevate it to the status of authority. So textual criticism. for the reason that the version thus arrivedat did not conform to any that could be documented from Rossini's own lifetime and therefore lacked 'authenticity'?How Rossini. on many occasions.substituted or omitted depending on local conditions of performance. Nor is the value we attachto this kind of authenticity solely material. manytextual critics preferto make arbitrary a few big arbitrary decisions they then call 'laws':for example. its pecuniary value. relieves a critic of the need to make his own evaluation. would laugh at the zeal with which the sanctity of his 'intentions' is defended! This content downloaded on Mon. and the multifarious exercise of personal judgement. and now to everything--Rossini's operas. Sophisticated techniques have been developed overcenturies. mereredactions to the status of authentic texts.e.In a recent studyin the realmof musical sociology. in effect. was treated as a collection of individual units that could be rearranged. and fail to make the fundamental distinction between music as tones-in-motion and music as notes-on-page. however otherwise corruptthey may be. that printed editions are in principle more trustworthythan manuscripts.but the underlying motive is the wish to eliminate the responsibility of applying judgement.or that manuscriptsare in principlemoretrustworthy than printededitions. further reflected in the current fashion of editing and publishing sources ratherthan works. whim' and then excoriates the conductor of a revival of one such opera for treating it precisely as he described. in particular. It has.. the precious ancient heritagewas immediately seen to have been transmittedthrougha haze of imperfect documents. on the whole. that 'sincere' sources are 4 EARLY MUSIC FEBRUARY 1984 more trustworthy than 'interpolated' ones. In place of a multitude of small decisions. was born. Just try. Instead there has been a quixotic quest for mechanistically infallible get a recordcompanyto issue a collection of anonymi! And whatever happened to Missa'Dapacem' since Edgar 'Josquin's' Sparksgave it to It used to be Bauldeweyn? regarded as one of the exemplaryNetherlandsmasses. Gilbert and Sullivan. We have here a small but pernicious paradoxinvolving two meanings of authenticity. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .for example. Many. and latterly in the realmof modernliterature. Since the a paradigmof Josquin's mature style. and these have been well codified and taught to generations of scholars.When the Renaissance discovered the classics.

performeda reallyfirst-class. Eliot. date my doubts about the way musical scholars understand the nature of authenticity. and supplied us with embellishments drawn from alternative sources for the passages we wished to decorate. v a m t c U "P .definition of authenticitythat has EARLYMUSIC FEBRUARY1984 5 This content downloaded on Mon. but that is often. lp 1 (left to right) Woody Allen.This. fqr?. Thereis always an element of choice and taste involved. ornamentation. Since then I have continued to be dismayed at the extent to which it is the textual critic's. conversely.and maybringhis scholarlyrectitudeexcessively to bearon his attitudetowardsperformance. my instrumentalist colleagues and I ornamented the cadences in a mannerderivedfromvariationsobservedin the sources this repertory.3 .who had made transmitting his own transcriptionsfrom the sources he preferred. is what we do. S.Fromthat moment. who recently brought out a lavish edition of the first book of viol pieces by Marais. by implication binding and setting limits on performerstoday.. Igor Stravinsky. c > t v. it must be obvious that to invoke absolute injunctions in a field so hedged aroundand booby-trappedwith variablesof all kinds as musical performance(or textual criticism.i. There are." ~: ~ 2 v. and to try to duplicate these as faithfully as possible'.at least. I should say. But is not the term misleading?Ifthe second printing(1689)of the book shows that in the three years since the first printing Marais' way of playingthe pieces had changed. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . why should we not assume that anotherthree yearslatertherewereyet morechanges in his performances. :::I Y' `o.fingering etc. performerswho sometimes find themselves cast willy-nilly in the role of textual ??~? r . left unmentioned or even hidden behind a smokescreenof musicologicalrationalization. indeed usually. It changes what the editor's own research has shown to have been a descriptive notation of the composer's own fluid performance practice into a prescriptiveone.indeed Herculean job of textual collation in ascertaining what he deintentions with scribedas the 'terminalstate'of Marais' regard to the secondary aspects of the text: bowing. Recording some 15th-century chansons underthe direction of a scholar-performerwith exacting standards of textual authenticity. is how I choose to understand the categorical assertion made recently in print by a well-known performingscholar that all performerslabour under 'an absolute injunction to try to find out all that can be known about the performance traditions and the sound-world of any piece that is to be performed.T. One excellent gambist. Onemorepertinentexampleof this need to establish the Urtext comes to mind from my own performing experience. insisted that we refrainfromtamperingwith them. The line we drawbetween our idea of the historical realities and our present-dayperformancepractices is never determined solely by feasibility. Milton Babbitt:varieties of authenticity Sometimes a scholar who engages professionally in textualcriticismand authenticationalso performs. Without labouringthe point that literallyto do so would spell the immediate end of the early music concert as we know it. Thedirector. Why is one never told to duplicate those traditions and that sound-world 'as faithfully as one sees fit'?Forthat. ~F: a I . in the name of 'authenticity'.for that matter)can only represent once more that eagerness we have alreadynoted to evade the responsibility of judgement and choice. and probablyof the early music boom as well.and so on to the end of his life? To call the edition of 1689 'terminal'is to impute the attitudes of a 20th-centurytextual critic to an 18th-centuryperformingmusician.ratherthan the moralphilosopher's. after all.In this wayhe could be satisfied that ourornamentswere'authentic'. The ensuing quarrel was resolved by a compromise: the director made a collation of all the sources for the pieces we were to record. ~E~I~ ~i~ij ~ :?r r ??i v.

casting himself in the Journal I in 1982 Musicology. authenticity is 'a wordof ominous import. too. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step.He is heir to what Trillingcalls 'two centuries of aesthetic theory and artistic practice which have been less and less willing to take account of the habitualpreferences of the audience'-and virtually all important artistic movements since Romanticism( appealto'historicalinevitability'. Once the accretions have been removed. The artisttoday is in a tough predicament. Schoenberg tended to explain what he had done in terms practicallyborrowedfromHegel. Stravinsky.For. For Trilling. is own presence. the definition that equates it with mere freedom from error or anachronism. Forthe first thing that must go in a criticaledition.what is to take their place?Alltoo often the answeris: nothing.set the tone for our movement. our anxiety over the credibilityof existence and of individual existences'.Andthis means nothing can be allowed that will give the performance. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Some thought my thesis harsh and pessimistic. that is.His neo-classicism was a reprise but for real pessimism we mightturnto LionelTrilling' contact with after the the historical mainstream and healthy beautiful and disquieting set of lectures. Modern performersseem to regard their performancesas texts ratherthan acts. if the text must be so venerated. of his the sense in which we first defined the word. and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. or at least justified. We areback. [which]points to the peculiar natureof our fallen condition. Everyage is regarded perfectembodiment.. but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer. justified himself in de s termsnot dissimilar. But at the alism. partof the moralslang of our day. 'On Letting the Music Speakfor Itself. to what or whom is the responsibilitydue?Canthe text not be an opportunity-for the exercise of imagination. the communication of delight. musician in this field. the Romanticsense of self seems irrevocably lost to modern man. In another essay.compelled to satisfy the demands of history. our authenticity movement) have shared in this con- Ourhistorical outlook is totally as its anypopularculturalhistorianwill tell you. Sincerity 6 EARLY MUSIC FEBRUARY 1984 This content downloaded on Mon. tempt for the public as arbiterof taste. opposite pole. as Rousseau would have said. So instead he appeals (we appeal) 'to some transcendent power which-or who-has decreed his enterpriseand alone is worthyto judge it'. a god whose manifestations have been extremelyvarious. as in the kind of 'authentic'performanceI am describing. And needless to say. whatevertheir differences may otherwise have been-and yet he no longer has the cast-iron Romanticstomach it takes to proclaim that (in Trilling'swords) 'his reference is to himself only'. any sense of the editor'sor performer's any a sortof pre-Renaissance abjectnessof spiritin whichthe authenticatingfunction once exercised by religion with regardto the creations of man has been arrogated to impersonal secular gods. Whatstarted as the first impulse towards Romantic egoism--Rousseau's happily self-validatingsentiment of being-has become a stick we use (with considerable assistance from Freud and the existentialists) to beat our psyches into submission.So much of whathas happened since the 19th century has been motivated. of course. We seem to have paid a heavy price indeed for the literacy that sets Western musical culture so much apart and makes its past available in the first place. the situation that gives rise to them is not so simplydeterminedas I seem to have madeout. What-or who-are they? Surely the most exigent has been the sense of history. of published attempted to set the authenticity movement within a in the role of reluctant 'world-historical individual' broadercontext of modernistobjectivityand imperson. the authenticity of the object performed and the Andis a musical authenticityof the subjectperforming? as to be regarded an'object' at all? performance This is a complex and dauntingset of otherwords.. even the sharing of emotion? Ordoes that necessarily violate it in some way?Canthere be no reconciliation between the two authenticities. the authenticity of conviction. All too often the sound of a modern 'authentic' performance of old music presents the aural equivalent of an Urtext score: the notes and rests are presented with complete accuracy and an equally complete neutrality(and this seems to be most characteristicdare I say it?-of English performances). that is. a book with many insights to offer any the very temporalrelationship between the functions of editing and performingalready suggests. Is the text only an exacting responsibility?And if so. and this appliesto the artsno less thanto anythingelse.Nothing is allowed to intrudeinto the performancethat cannot be 'authenticated'.

. andthose who would limitthe meaning(orrather. Tounderstandthis presumedself-evidence. they are no morevaluable.that is. And for some of us. quasimechanistic or quasi-organicterms. if we are to have an 'authentic' sense of the past. but strictly on its own formal. it brushed itself off and went to music.there is a noticeable split among musical autonomists between those who regardthe absolute'meaning'of a workof artas a matter of abstractinternalrelationships.History is something 'bigger than both of us'-creator (or performer)and audience--and thereforenot to be fought. The more intellectual critics of today like to describe the performancesthey review as part of the history of the music performed. And never have we judged it less.. on an audience) or its human interest (e. And further. We are taught.that all of the arts aspire to the purity of their respective media. The past has never been so much with us. Thereis scarcely an artistat worktoday who has not the kind of precise consciousness of his place in historydescribed andthe IndividualTalent'.'New criticism'crystallizedin ! i --• ' '. The split is perhaps most evident in the realm of composition (the Babbittson the one hand and the Cages on the other). Spinoza-fashion.the essence) quite simply and stringentlyto the physical reality. Our historical outlook is totally relativistic. it seems. is really nothing but a mystique.We all take our bearings from the Germanhistoricists who sought to discoverand empatheticallycomprehendthe historical 'Ding an sich'. Moreover.not to interpolate our own judgement. like the claim of self-evidence for the virtue of adhering to a composer's 'intentions'. Every age is regarded. 2 The Chorus. Butit is nonetheless an errorto assume that the selfevident heuristic value of this approachtranslatesipso factointo a self-evident aestheticvalue.. where. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .engraving (1734) by William Hogarth (1697-1764) depicting a performance of Willem De Fesch's oratorio Judith literary studies half a century ago.and byT. We are trained not to look for teleologies. that is the only justification offered.and moreoften than one can tell. though he is happily less in evidence than before. not to discriminate.g. Haydn's than Stamitz's. We are enjoined to call no composer 'transitional'. But it profoundly affects performance values as well. of what startedout as a heuristic principle into an aesthetic one. to the sounds themselves.. It is the same wish to apprehendthe past directlyand without the distortinglens of modern values that leads us to the old instruments and old performancepractices we prize so highly. with respect to its creator).g.. Consequently.:. nor symphonies arenot more'advanced' Bach's fugues more advanced than B6hm's. we must look to another modern god to which artists have sacrificed their egos in the name of authenticity:the autonomous workof art. we can observe best the translation.nor any period 'pre' or 'post'. whose'absoluteness' as a mediumhas always been the envy of the other arts (at least in the modernist view). )---I= Yet I:1~Ib. in short. whateverour relationship or attitude to 'musicology'. as its own perfect embodiment. How smugly naive Burneyand Hawkinslook to us now (to say nothing of Parryor Wooldridge). This profoundly modernistviewpoint decrees that the workof artis not to be describedorvalued for its effects (e. Oldinstruments and old performancepractices are in themselves of no aesthetic value. EARLYMUSIC FEBRUARY1984 7 This content downloaded on Mon. Theclaimof self-evidence for the value of old instruments.Undaunted. it reigns supreme. and after a few decades of hegemony it was challenged and demoted fromits positionof pre-eminence. once again. Evenperformerstend to see themselves and to be seen in historical terms. and especially not to regardour own age as any kind of summit.S. under the rubrics 'theory' and 'analysis'.unfortunateneuroticvagariesof Romanticism. the naked emperorstill paradesthrough halls where 'authentic' performancesare heard.perhaps. and this applies as well to radicals as to conservatives. In music.Eliotin'Tradition a heavy attendantsense of responsibilityto that place.\ .

In reviewinga recent New Yorkconcert at which a new workby Milton Babbittwas played on a new B6sendorfer grand.The letter the spirit. 'that the world is reflected with perfectliteralnessin the will-less mind of the observer'. what has sound got to do with music!' Anyone who can appreciate what Ives meant will understand what sometimes depresses me about the authenticitymovement. formsthemselves. Sometimes the assumption that the sense of the music is identical with the sound of the mediumcan go to bemusing lengths. anyway)as Milton Babbitt'sin composing directlyfor that instrument:to achieve the andfreedomfrom'human' utterimpersonality intrusion theirview of music as autonomousstructuredemanded. whose Aims of Interpretation is one of the most stimulating issues books anyone interestedin currentinterpretative read. The instrument compelleth the music. that approachhas given way to the even more stringently modernist one that the medium is the message. And the difference between their interpretations is a mere'epiphenomenon'comparedwith the essential matterof the actual sound of the instrument. menon. Therelationshipbetween positivist thinking and musical interpretationcannot be bettersummarizedthan in the words of the hermeneuticist E.a secondary qualityof linguistic of the signifiedwiththe assumesa congruence Positivism withthe vehicleof its which is that of represented signifier. When followed unreflectively it can become a positivistic purgatory. while the difference between one artist and anotheris but an ephemeralone between two personalities. whereas even performancesof Brahmsor Debussy on such an instrument involved some degreeof distorting'transcription'. insofar as it was conceived for any piano at all. yielding the 'rightsound'. Well. part of the meaning it represents .for positivism. machine machineandsimplyexplainhowthe verbal verbal functions.. actually and and if the tools of linguisticanalysisare sharpened willbe resolvedinto of interpretation the problems refined.writes (in any medium) Hirsch: betweenthe letterandthe spiritis the mysticaldistinction shouldignorethe ghost in the The interpreter critic (a well-known enthusiast of period pianos) remarkedthat at last he was hearing a piano piece as it was meant to be heard. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Now if I know Babbitt. Within its context. then the'rightinstrument'. Theclaimofself-evidence for thevalueof old instrumentsis really nothingbut a mystique. holds an automatickey to the music. but the letter particular style requiresa particular meaning.Sometimesone wants to exclaim Korsakov with CharlesIves. and not only in early music. a 8 EARLY MUSIC FEBRUARY 1984 operational procedures . Bachon the Moog synthesizer. D. is an epiphenomeaning givethlife. that rosy-eyed philosophy which holds.The 'relationist'viewpoint is well exemplifiedby the once so fashionable performancesof. encapsulates one of the chief claims-perhaps the majorclaim-of the authenticity movement as well.Iftherulesandcanonsaremadeprecise. We may look back on this fad as a mere commercial venture or a bastard child of pop culture. though the attitude is obviously most pervasivethere.. except maybe in the case of orchestral pieces by Rimskyor Respighi. Hence. but mutatismutandishis description fits the authenticity movement like a glove.. The spirit killeth. was an electronic composerwith a serious approach. but in its short-lived heyday it was seen quite otherwiseby many.Hirsch's brilliant encapsulation of the positivist promise. 'the problemsof interpretationwill be resolved into operational procedures'. as one writerhas put it. thatstyleis itself comesthedoctrine Thence representation.its drivingforce. We can begin to understand what seemed the unaccountably pugnacious assertion set forth in these very pages a few years ago by an excellent fortepianist in no need whatever of special pleading: 'Perhaps it is wrong to put the instrument before the artist. was conceived in terms of some batteredold uprightin his Princetonoffice. Andthe early'Switched-onBach'recordswere greeted enthusiasticallyby GlennGould. The equation of sound and sense is by no means the selfevident proposition positivists think it to be.' Forif what is representedis congruent with the vehicle of its representation.WalterCarlos.but I have begun to feel that it must be done.whose motives in recomposing Bach for the synthesizer were as pure (at the outset. a position that owes everythingto the spiritof positivism. 'Under could positivism'.literalistic and dehumanizing. Hirsch. a thing of taboos and contingencies This content downloaded on Mon. that piece. say. compelleth Hirsch is talking about literary hermeneutics. 'My God..whose unconventional pianism (as unrelatedto normalpiano technique in his performancesof Bachas it was to that of'historical' instruments)was similarlymotivated:to stripawaythe veneer of medium and reveal the message.

: . . ...i.' went on to note drily that Sartrehimself contributed more to the gabble than practically anyone else. What entitles us to our airs of moral superiority?Our commitment to authenticity? Not if our authenticity is as spurious as I have come to believe. . . i-7 ? .: .i '. i :2 . its maxims. authenticity is just another name for purism...r . what Sartre. .: . . . 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .. Gabble is the creation of followers. At its worst. Trillingcaught well the special oxymoronicironythat is implied by the very term 'authenticity movement' (thoughthe termis ours... not his):'Theconcerted effort of a culture or of a segment of a culture to achieve authenticity generates its own conventions.: . Andabove all one encounters self-congratulation and the heaping of scorn upon the mainstreamartists fromwhom we still have many lessons-and some of the most basic ones. its generalities. Vl. t1 3 A Choral Band:pen and ink drawing by John Hamilton Mortimer(1741-1799) (private collection) instead of the liberating expansion of horizons and opportunities it could be and was meant to be.•:< • :•: • 'a. our hype machines and our beautiful people. .. in many ways. . our personality cults and fan magazines. . But that was not necessarily Sartre'sfault.We now have our own star system.calls the "gabble". .: . '. . : ti . ..7. but rather at the door of those who have heardthe sounds but not the music. its commonplaces.. ...... Andit is only in the nature of things that as the movement gathersmomentumthe gabblewill increase..1.(!. it is.. .- / .:li•.. at that-to learn. not leaders. 'o • i r I 3. .for even as the authenticity movement has begun to achieve the technical proficiencythat is at last gaining it credibility and acceptance in the music worldat large. : -?i . " - .. .. . The gabble that now surrounds the concept of authenticity in musical performance is not to be laid at the door of the movement's is unfortunatelytakingon some of the less attractivecharacteristics of that world. ? .. He takingthe wordfrom Heidegger. EARLYMUSIC FEBRUARY1984 9 This content downloaded on Mon..: 4-0Pi ii . ..-...

too. This content downloaded on Mon. when the conductor of a famous Americanorchestratook it into his head to have his men concoct an aleatory composition extempore. at least at the outset. And it is demonstrated. Andwe won'tget them by intuition.whatyou willfind if you scratch your intuition will be the unexamined mainstream. once told me that when he began to experimentwith improvisatory practicesto accompany medieval song. wholly internalized. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . our personality cults. endowed with vast reserves of cliche. say. he deliberately mistuned his instrumentso that his fingers would not be able to run along familiar paths. Butthe reason for doing so Wenow have our own star system. with endless study of that a performerschooled receives his basic in the mainstream(any mainstream) trainingbefore he has reached the age of consent. Andof course by that I mean ourselves in the actual here and now. in his spinal column. And this means. In fact it would be the best possible thing.a lutenist. ultimately. until WorldWarI. with one's love for it. or especially.The reason.We need values of our own and the courage to live up to them. But that is not what we want to find out. and it will not suffice to fill it by merely inferringwhat can be inferredfrom the docu10 EARLY MUSIC FEBRUARY 1984 mentaryremains of the past.Theyarenot anachronistic for everything. or rather. Such evidence.'no otherway of putting things has ever occurred'to us. is in large part the reason why authenticity ever became an issue). our hype machines and our beautifulpeople. rather. and military fanfares from the brass. of a movement in musical interpretation that aspires to authenticity is to foster an approachto performance that is founded to an unprecedented degree on personal conviction and on individual response to individual pieces. those perennial good for the music. They are thoroughly domesticated beasts.your most ingrainedresponses. So wheredoes one begin?Surelywiththe music. after all. anyway. to quote Whitehead. naive posture. feral things we may think they are. Those who follow the evidence whitherit leads will never achieve authenticity in any meaningfulsense. by conventional training. so to speak. and especially in folk and pop music. being as and ambiguousas our modernmainstream fragmentary is oceanic and generalized. by our intuition. either. Foras Trillingwrotein his essay'The Sense of the Past' over 40 years ago. and nonsense. And there would be nothing wrongwiththatif our musical culture were the kind of monistic thing it remained. and with the determination to challenge one's every assumption about it. when most early musicians apply embellishments. ought not to be thatthey areanachronistic. 'to suppose that we can think like men of another time is as much an illusion as to suppose thatwe can thinkin a whollydifferentway'. just as needful of being judged and tested. vibrato and seamless phrasing) that has seemed ever more essentially and disconcertinglyat variancewith the enormous stylistic diversity encompassed by their (our)repertory. and that therefore his musical responses and tastes will have been formed at a pre-conscious level-will be vested. as we may still observe in performancesof new music. for example. Forour intuitions arenot the fine.It seems to me that the special opportunity. treacherously masquerading as imagination. free.integratedand implicit idenhabitswith the demands of tification of the performer's Butnow thatour classical musical the music performed.cultivatingan essentially sceptical frameof mind that will allow no 'truth'to pass unexamined. Everyoneby now agrees (if only for the sake of argument)that we will never really know 'whatwas.and the special task. whateverthe music we perform. Manyof our most excellent performersof non-mainstreammusic have gone far out of their way to devise stratagemsto challenge themselves in this way. trainedto run along narrowpaths by long years of unconscious conditioning. not some projectionof ourselvesinto an imaginary past. and was faced with Kreutzer etudes fromthe fiddles. especially the assumptionswe do not knowwe are makingbecause. No one who reads these lines will need to be persuaded to regardmodernmainstreamperformance styles with a jaundiced eye. We want to find out what was. But simple rejection of the mainstream will only produce a vacuum.and for ourselves. and even. culture has become so wildly pluralistic (which. and we will all differ as to where the line of anachronism is to be drawn. This was most comically demonstrateda couple of decades ago.RiteofSpring arpeggiosfromthe wind. after all. Ifyou area trainedmusician. by historical evidence. the conditioned reflexes of our mainstreamperformers give rise to a uniformityof performance style (manifested in. is just as suspect. where there is a tacit. Such an approach will seek to bringto consciousness andtherebyto transcend the constraints that are variously imposed by fashion.Onemusicianwhom I particularlyadmire.

'Ph .'. occurs when aftercountless frustrating instruments.? .is the startlingshock quote froma recent recordreviewin this magazine. .C -WOO ? "Tdi " "? | ?i) .they probablyneverwill be. rather. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Wedo have an problemsit poses) forces one to see it freshly.playedin an appropriate 'Baroque experimentswe have a greater expressive range than their modern feel as though we have achieved the identification of equivalents'is the purest gabble. and therefore unconsidered.Andhere. that this is primarily benefit to the player.that of newness. K -. But they are not played in that way and.and ear to new experiences. for are valuable and perhaps indispensable in achieving reasons outlined offers us another potent challenge.Thepresentationof a familiarobject(the music)in scend his habitual. 1 jC. If played in an appro.. For truly authentic performances: as part of the mental playersof modem instrumentshave neitherthe impulse process I am describing.• !~? C. All.. It has a kind of Entfremdungseffekt. C 43 i. though. i . which I ed. Whatwe are aimingat. .•... and enable him to tranture..more observantly--in a word.moreauthen. • ..the sense of rightness that manner. for if that were tically. in my view. since mediately. The common claim. The unfamiliarity of the nor the means to free their minds from their habits in instrument forces mind. of immediacy.and only secondarily an aesthetic our aimwe would neverknowwhetherwe had succeedbenefit to the listener.same purpose for the performer:they open the mind which serves the same purpose as in modernist litera.) " '" :' I I'1 .: " O r:• 4 TheChoirpen and ink drawing by Thomas Rowlandson(1756-1827) (private collection) EARLY MUSIC FEBRUARY 1984 11 This content downloaded on Mon.performance style with the demands of the music priate manner. . familiarroutines and into more direct confrontation Experimentsbased on historical research serve the with the music. ways an unfamiliar context (the instrument and the new of hearingand thinkingaboutthe music. hand and ear out of their the way the old instruments compel one to do. more im. Notice..'absolute injunction'to take historyinto account. capable of anything the player wished to produce on Obviously any and all informationwe can gather as to ? -'•. Butthe object is a heuristic not to duplicate the sounds of the past. modern instruments too would be mentioned above as the hallmarkof a living tradition.K .. is where the 'old instruments' them..

Many of us who have devoted ourselves to the ideal of authentic interpretation of music can probablytrace our first impulse to do so to a shaming experience of this kind. and it will not be to everyone's taste'. will help us towardsthat identification. only that I must observe them if my own performancesareto have authenticity. Thatis certainly true. varyingnot only over time and from place to place. This content downloaded on Mon. but. Inthe time thathas since elapsed. What 12 EARLY MUSIC FEBRUARY 1984 few seem willing to grantis the only answerthat I find plausible: that preferences and practices were multifarious. will hesitate to infer b.personalitytypes.'requiresgreat conviction. even if the theorists disagree chaotically and we have therefore not been able to recover it (there have even been one or two misguided attemptsto legislate it for the present).unwrittenconconventions. I have long since found that my own preferencescall for arithmetical co-ordinationof successive tempos (whatI call gear shifts)-and not only for Renaissance music but for Frenchovertures.Hardlyany of them is historicallysanctioned. are readyto inferx.and manyof the practicalandtheoretical problems that bedevil us today were bedevilments then too. the subject of often acrimoniousdebate(aswe need only read Tinctoristo learn). taken as a whole. So whence comes the verification that our sense of rightness is right?Thewhole point of my argument(and. But to limit oneself to positive data is nothing but literalism. is the opposite of authentic. Mentionof Tinctorisbringsa convenient exampleto mind:that of mensuralproportions. 31 Dec 2012 19:47:37 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . they have given rise to new dissatisfactions and new ideals. But what else are we (or should we be) talking about when we talk about authenticity? An authenticity of this type has tremendous moral force and is. Performancestyles in the past. if you like. regardless of the gabble. Foras our own discoveries have changed us. of a type that is not a thing achieved but a perpetually self-renewing challenge. even on the very abstractlevel at which literaryhistory [orperformanceresearch]is conducted. but have convinced themselves on the basis of the theorists' lack of agreementthat they were all talking through their hats and that successive proportions were not arithmetically co-ordinatedat all. It is based on what Hirsch has dubbed the 'fallacy of the homogeneous past'(not that he is by any means alone in having identified it). (I have even workedout the numbersfor myself. And impersonation of anything. 'To assume'. the rub)is that it can come only fromwithin. he writes. leading at best to an impersonation of what Thurston Dart would call the 'dull dogs' of the past. they are what give our performances authenticity. are. in the words of Sartre'sRoquentin. for that is the nature of convictions. and those who. given a and c. particularly contemporary ventions. as ArthurMendel so forcefully pointed outa decade ago.'Humancharacters.too-if my own performancesare to give me the sense of rightness I seek. musicological opinion has divided rather neatly into two extreme camps: those who insist that successive proportions did possess an unambiguous uniformity in the Renaissance. Hogwoods and its Leppards. The 15th century must have had its Toscaninis and its Furtwainglers.externalverifiability.indeed. Unless we put ourselves through that crucible. had their proponents and theirdetractors. I would have added 'therefore'before the last clause. Ours is a constantly evolving style of performancethat. I seem to have built up quite a collection of specific performance practices.afterall. as I learnt recently when some members of my choir Cappella Nova presented me with a treatise they had compiled from our week-to-week doings in rehearsal. is only one of the many false promises of positivism. the 16th its Horowitzes and its 17th its the Schnabels.and those who have not only despaired of ascertaining it. our performanceswill never possess an authenticity that matters. in fact. what keeps our movementalive and gainingground.'beautiful and hard as steel and make people ashamed of their existence'. Inthe course of over 15years'experiencein conducting Renaissance choral music. but also according to personalities.surelyan unsettled issue if ever there was one.'thatanyculturalenvironmentis homogeneous. given a and b. no less than in the present. Therehave always been those who. y and z. The scholarship on both sides of the issue has been ample. tune to the lowest pitch or read from the most original notation.attractiveas it is to some. in the words of one reviewer.Theperformances of artists who have. is to make an assumption about human communities which experience contradicts. Theidea of objective. stripped themselves down and then laboriouslybuiltthemselves up again in their dedication to their chosen repertory. andthey just as surely(but tell it not at the Auffiihrungspraxis seminar!)differed then. at great personal cost. likes and dislikes differnow. But it matters little if we now use the most accurate instruments.)I do not claim that such relationships have more historical validity than the rough pifi or menomosso others prefer.

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