The American Romantics are dedicated to transforming the performance of Romantic-Era music and beyond. Each season, we present sophisticated programs that reach back in time to the world of classical music's great masterworks.
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Including Mahler's Adagietto from Symphony #5, Massenet's Meditation from the opera "Thaïs," Brahms' Hungarian Dance #2, and many others. The program will also feature an excerpt from Manaka Matsumoto's original composition "When the Hazelnuts Ripen," as set to the silent film
"Enoch Arden," written by Linda Arvidson.
Presented by AR Principal Conductor Kevin Sherwin at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music Historical Performance Conference,
January 29-31, 2021
The advent of the motion picture camera in the 1880s enabled the creation of films that revealed the musical interaction between romantic-era conductors and their orchestras. These video documents especially convey the gestural style that conductors relied on to enable particular stylistic elements of the period, such as tempo rubato, in a consistent and reliable manner.
This presentation will explore, discuss, analyze, and provide historical film samples that exhibit characteristics linked to nineteenth-century performance practices of Romantic-era repertoire. These early films of orchestral performance show conductors using distinctive gestural styles to lead orchestras with a decisively coordinated flexibility of tempo, intricate synchronization of agogic accents, and audible portamento. The highlighted conductors will include Leo Blech, Willem Mengelberg, Arthur Nikitsch, Dean Dixon, Heitor Villa-Lobos, and Erich Kleiber. The featured orchestras will include the Royal Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra.
Furthermore, the presentation will discuss how such visual representations link to written accounts on orchestral performance practice of the late nineteenth century, including “On Conducting” by Richard Wagner and “Brahms in the Meiningen Tradition,” edited by Walter Blume, as well as more recent research on Romantic-era performance practice by scholars such as Robert Philip and Clive Brown. In this way, these examples of historical footage serve as distinctive resources that can contribute to the revitalization of orchestral aesthetics and performance practices during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries.