Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Recent e-mails to and from NPR's "Performance Today" programme

RE: Programme of Tuesday, June 7th, 2005
Wed, 8 Jun 2005 11:08:44 -0400
"Fred Child" Add to Address Book

Dear Mr. White,
Thanks for your thoughtful note about Bach and period performance
practice. We're big fans of that approach -- we were hoping to get the
Akademie fur Alte Musik from Berlin to join us in the NPR studios during
their American tour, but they couldn't quite squeeze us into their
schedule. We're always on the lookout for top-notch performances of Baroque
music, and we'll get as many as we can on the air.
All the best,
Fred Child
Host of NPR's Performance Today
---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: terrence White <>
Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005 08:41:43 -0700 (PDT)

You asked for the opinions of your listeners, so here is mine:

I definitely agree that no work from the 18th century (or earlier)
even begins to approach true 'authenticity' unless some serious
efforts are made along the lines of what is popularly
called "period performance" practices.

It is, of course, true (and almost goes without saying) that we
can never really know exactly how any piece of 'old' music truly
sounded. The recording of music, after all, didn't really begin
in earnest until the early 20th century. But this by no means
decides that performers (and conductors!) should simply 'throw in
the towel' and lazily content themselves with modern instruments
and modern performance techniques. Far from it! A great deal is
actually known today about how music was performed in earlier
centuries, and to ignore this sound (and widely-available)
scholarship is nothing but pure, willful blindness and ignorance--
similar to the proverbial 'ostrich burying its head in the sand'.

There is currently a whole world of 'period' music performances,
broadcasts, and recordings existing in Europe, which the vast
majority of (willfully?) ignorant Americans have barely, scarcely
begun to appreciate or explore. (Perhaps this is an example of
continuing colonialism, in that American tastes--or those of any
colony or former colony--lag behind those of the 'mother
countries' by several decades.) American tastes in 'classical'
music, it is plainly obvious, are still in the 1950s (to the
discomfiture of those of us who appreciate and prefer to hear real
music from the earlier centuries--or the closest modern performers
can get to it).

Let us please hear more of this 'period' or 'authentic' early
music! You cannot possibly broadcast enough of it to suit someone
like myself! (Even mid-nineteenth century music can benefit
from 'period performance' practice.)

I only wish Georgia Public Broadcasting would do this as well


T.J. White
Thomaston, Georgia

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