Does music contain emotion? Does music have meaning? These questions are at the heart of musical experience, for professionals, amateurs and audiences. Combining readability with intellectual inquiry, this book argues that meaning and emotion are not intrinsic to music, but depend on the contexts and conditions of performance.
Starting from Eduard Hanslick, Shibboleths & Ploughshares surveys twentieth-century ideas, interviews conservatoire teachers and performers, including Sir Roger Norrington, and analyses performances of Bach’s St Matthew Passion. The tenets of the historical performance movement (authenticity, interpretation, intention) demonstrate the flexibilities of notation and performance. In keeping with the New Musicology, culture, religion, gender and literature deconstruct the notion of the ‘Golden Age’. Context is all, and meaning is always mobile.
The book argues for the power of music, encouraging students, teachers, professional and amateur performers, as well as audiences and listeners, to think about what music means – to them personally, as an art form, and as an experience to be enjoyed.
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Michelene Wandor is an award-winning writer, with an MMus in Renaissance and Baroque Music. Her early music group, Siena, made the first CD in the UK of the music of Salamone Rossi, ‘Salamone Rossi Hebreo Mantovano’. Her first novel, Orfeo’s Last Act, is about his relationship between Monteverdi, and music-making today.