George S Bozarth
Prerequisite: MUHST 500.
Pianists, Singers, String and Wind Players, Conductors!
So you think you know how to play the music of Brahms the way he and his contemporaries did? Surely the devotees of “historical performance practice” leave him alone, for the performance styles of his time still live on intact, right? Wrong!
It’s been over a century since Brahms died, and a lot has happened since then, musically, artistically, and culturally. Modernism influenced the style of new art and music throughout the 20th century, so why should we think that it left the manner of performing the music of Brahms and his contemporaries alone? But how did they play their music then? This is the question at the heart of much current research on 19th-century music, as performers and scholars try to learn to play this repertoire on instruments of the period and in styles described in treatises, correspondence, reviews, annotated scores, and other documentary sources, and heard on early recordings by performers with strong ties to the composers of the period.
Scrutiny of the book Performing Brahms will be our starting point, reinforced by consideration of other research based on performances preserved on reproducing pianos and early recordings. Seminar members will have access to three late 19th-century grand pianos by Bechstein (1881), Chickering (1867), and Erard (1868). Seminar projects may focus on solo instruments, art song, chamber music, choral compositions, or orchestral works, and may apply newly discovered approaches to live performances of the music. (I’m especially looking for a piano trio and a piano quartet.)
MUHST 509 is a graduate-level seminar for music majors and qualified majors. Seniors are welcome to join this seminar upon permission of the instructor.
Classes will be held both on campus and at the Seattle Early Keyboard Museum on Queen Anne Hill. Transportation from campus to the SEKM will be arranged for students without cars.
Prerequisite: Completion of Music 500 or its equivalent (or permission of the professor).
Student learning goals
How to perform the music of Brahms in the manner that he and his colleagues did in the late 19th century.
How to prepare and present a seminar report—very good preparation for general exams and classroom teaching!
How to write reviews of articles and recordings.
General method of instruction
Individual student research projects leading to class discussion
Completion of Music 500 or its equivalent (or permission of the professor). Seniors also welcome, with the permission of the professor.
Class assignments and grading
Short preparatory assignments and a seminar report
Quality of the assignments, oral and written seminar report, and participation in seminar discussions