The Role of the Performer in the Actualization of Music


Siena – Accademia Musicale Chigiana
December 2024

In the nineteenth century, the progressive affirmation of the concept of the musical work, understood as something complete, intangible and reproducible, gradually eclipsed certain performative and listening practices which involved active mediation with works which were open to multiple interpretations. In comparison to the giant steps of the last fifty years in the field of performance practice of baroque music, and notwithstanding the continuous renewal of methods and forms of extemporaneous creations in the music of the twentieth century, the interpretation of nineteenth-century repertoire lags behind in the activation of real-time performative processes. The necessity to promote a renewed performance practice comes from the need for re-authentication of nineteenth-century repertoire through an analytical awareness not only of its textual forms, but also of the performance practices of the times and the horizons of expectation of our contemporaneity.

Whereas, in the past, interpretive traditions were handed down from teachers to pupils, in the last decades the immediate and seemingly unlimited availability of recordings from different times and circumstances is causing a progressive narrowing of artistic-interpretive choices. Today, the role of the interpreter of classical music is charged with increasing responsibilities towards so-called ‘faithfulness’ to the text and to composers’ intentions on the one hand, and towards the necessity to favour new forms of involvement and interaction with audiences on the other.

The conference aims to promote discussions about the decisions artists make to ‘actualize’ (bring into sound) musical works composed between the sunset of the eighteenth-century aesthetic and the dawn of the avant-garde poetics of the twentieth century, with particular attention to historically informed improvisatory and extemporaneous practices.

A further aim is to incentivise debate between interpreters and musicologists, with the input of musicians who have undertaken artistically significant initiatives, while bringing into dialogue the repertoires of the nineteenth-century with other musical experiences of the current day and the demands and sensibilities of modern audiences.

We invite scholars to submit proposals on the following topics:

a) Medial sources (piano rolls, audio, and audio-visual recordings) which document the persistence in the twentieth century of improvisatory practices in the performance of written instrumental repertoire of the nineteenth century, with a particular focus on the realisation of preludes and transitions between different compositions.
b) Historical sources on the theory and the spread of improvisatory practice in the performance of instrumental repertoire in the nineteenth century (treatises, didactic manuals, exemplars, reviews, chronicles, diaries, notebooks, correspondence).
c) Creative remediation of classical music by contemporaneous artists, who create a dialogue between nineteenth-century repertoire and music of different periods and/or cultural origins.
d) Reception of classical music identity and the way audience expectations are structured, in the current dynamic value system of music taste.

Among the artists participating to the conference, Uri Cane will be giving a concert on 4 December within the concert season of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana Micat in Vertice.

A session of the conference will be dedicated to discussion of the results of a workshop on the practice of improvisation in the piano repertoire of the nineteenth-century, to be hosted by Giorgio Sanguinetti, Costantino Mastroprimiano and John Mortensen in Rome, October 2024.

The workshop is organised by Sapienza University of Rome in collaboration with other musical institutions in the context of the project Improvisation – Composition: The Double Identity of European Music (PRIN 2020), realised by the Universities of Pavia, Sapienza and Tor Vergata of Rome, Cassino and Macerata.

The official languages of the conference are English and Italian. A selection of the presented papers will be published in Chigiana. Journal of Musicological Studies

Proposals should be submitted to by 15 May 2024.

Each proposal should include, in a single Word file:
– The title of the presentation;
– Name of the speaker/ s;
– Affiliation;
– Abstract (300 words).

Scientific Committee:
Antonio Cascelli, Valerie Goertzen, Stefano Jacoviello, Roe-Min Kok, John Mortensen, Susanna Pasticci, John Rink, Giorgio Sanguinetti.

Organising Committee:
Angelo Armiento, Antonio Artese, Marica Coppola, Matteo Macinanti, Nicola Sani, Samantha Stout, Giovanni Vai.