'Lost expression': the curse of the urtext

Smith, R. L. (2014) 'Lost expression': the curse of the urtext. In: Public seminar, 4 November 2014, Birmingham Conservatoire. (Unpublished)


The establishment of Urtexts has been one of the great achievements of twentieth century musicology. But maybe their influence on performance has not been entirely positive: we have forgotten the quiver of expressive techniques used at the turn-of-the century (and beyond) from singers and instrumentalists which made these texts ‘expressive’ – of the performers and of the music. Going ‘above the text’ seems to have been forgotten. Maybe a ‘back to the future’ viewpoint on what we know of the detailed techniques of recorded performances from the early years of the twentieth century might inject a new spirit into interpretations of the twenty-first century. This presentation will be illustrated with copious musical examples.

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item