I'm studying the Baroque era at the moment, and every book I'm reading discusses performance practice (and rightly so). We also hear a decent amount about classical performance practice, and we often hear symphonies up till Beethoven performed in a way that is said to be "historically informed." I got to thinking, why don't we hear much about Romantic performance practice? (For the purposes of this discussion, let's say the Romantic era is roughly from 1850 to 1920, or through the early recording era.)
First of all, why is this? Because we're closer time-wise to the Romantic era and take the style for granted? Because our style of playing hasn't appreciatively changed in the last hundred years? (I find that hard to believe...) Because not enough research has been done on the subject? Or because research has done by musicologists and other scholarly types and haven't yet made it to the front lines of performance, as it were? Or is there another reason altogether?
Second of all, if you want to become a more historically aware interpreter of the music of Brahms and Bruch and their contemporaries (I'm thinking the generation of Sarasate, Joachim, Ysaye, and Norman-Neruda), what should you do? Where should you go? What books should you read? What recordings or violinists should you listen to? I found a book on Amazon called "Theory and Practice in Late Nineteenth-Century Violin Performance: An Examination of Style in Performance, 1850-1900" by David Milsom, but it's going for $120 at the moment, so a bit (okay, way) out of my reach, and I can't tell if it's geared toward musicologists or performers. It looks like David Milsom performs in this style, but I couldn't find any samples of recordings by him. I'm also not finding any websites that talk much about romantic performance practice.
Third - what would romantic performance practice on the violin consist of? Using rubato? How? Using a particular kind of vibrato? Using it sparingly? How? When? Where? Why? What kind of fingerings? Slides? Where? And at what speeds? Should we abandon a shoulder rest? Chin rest? Use a certain kind of strings? When I actually stop to think about it, my mind boggles. Not saying that I'd change all of those things while performing pieces from this era, but it would be nice to be at least somewhat familiar with the basic conventions.
Just some idle thoughts meant to spark some conversation.
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