Music in Print and Beyond: Hildegard von Bingen to the Beatles.
This is a good book in need of a better title. Its twelve essays are not about music in print (i.e., not out-of-print); and they rarely address any futuristic beyond. Rather, their strength is in the scholarly insight with which they examine the past: the beneath, in other words, as it explains the before, and a before that rarely has to do with printing. The essays deal with our conception of the past, based on hand-written as much as printed evidence, and manifest not only in printed scholarship but also on recorded and live performance practices and settings.
Kate Van Orden begins with the only essay specifically on printing. Roman letter typography displaced gothic for the written word as early as 1500, but for two centuries music printers stuck with heavy, squarish gothic diamondshaped-note fonts. Several round-note fonts are known, most notably one by the master Franco-Flemish punch cutter Robert Granjon. It has character, perhaps too much for the conservative performers of the day. The note heads have a nice italic diagonal orientation, but the stems are heavy, and the type, never used in books in wide demand, was soon abandoned. Round notes would not prevail until around 1700, when engravers looked to music manuscript models to serve the performers of the day.
The music world and its performing editions changed drastically at this time, notably at first in England, with new settings, new patronage, new kinds of performers. Ellen Harris describes a nice range of specific performance settings, and argues for the importance of manuscript copies and of subscription publishing.
Two essays analyze the music of master composers. The firm of C. F. Peters has enjoyed a two-hundred-year history, thanks to Max Abraham and the Hinrichsen family. But Peters himself was on the scene for just over thirteen years, and they were not happy ones. His dim tastes are documented in the fit he threw when Beethoven fulfilled a commission, not with another great symphony but with the lovely keyboard bagatelles. Lewis Lockwood delights in elucidating the saga. Is there a subtle xenophobic context in Schumann's setting of Heine's "Abends am Strand"? Performers may choose to downplay it, and audiences may miss it; Susan Youens examines the historical background and the evidence of the music itself.
Two essays discuss scholarly battles between prominent scholars. The contrast is provocative. The largely forgotten one between the sixteenth-century theorists Giovanni del Lago, Giovanni Spataro, and Pietro Aaron was fought in print and probably read only by a small audience of specialists. Bonnie Blackburn uncovers and explains what was going on. In contrast, the 1965 battle between Edward Lowinsky and Joseph Kerman was fought in a public forum over ethical issues, and it left the larger musicology world in shock. Bonnie Gordon's take on the underlying factors makes sense, but she also recognizes the deep feelings that will and perhaps always ought to haunt and redefine the cutting edge of musical scholarship.
Other essays are by Craig Monson on the role of music in Italian Renaissance convents; Roberta Montemorra Marin on the patriotism behind Verdi's pedagogical ideas; and Gabriella Cruz on how fado (literally, destiny, or fate) was distorted by a repressive Portuguese government in its manipulation of the media. Joseph Auner's essay, the most future-oriented in the book, considers the obsolescence of electronic music because of updated technologies. In the final essay, Honey Meconi documents the long and fascinating publishing history of the music of Hildegard of Bingen, one of today's icons of musical faith.
Collectively, these twelve essays make up a lovely tribute to Jane Bernstein, a former president of the American Musicological Society, whose scholarship began in the early printing house of Scotto and extended to cover the larger world of music publishing in Venice, which by 1600 was the most prolific in Europe. All of the essays in this festschrift tantalizingly anticipate major works or promising scholarship to come, whether by the present contributors or by others. I do not think Jane Bernstein was the Dissertationsmutter of any of the contributors, but she should still be very proud of her friends.
D. W. Krummel
University of Illinois, Urbana
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|Publication:||Fontes Artis Musicae|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Oct 1, 2015|
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