Training “Early” Musicians in the Age of Recordings

Training “Early” Musicians in the Age of Recordings

A conference on the study of performance, past and present, 23–24 September 2013. The 4th International Early Music Seminar in Tel Aviv (Music Director: Drora Bruck) The Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv


Over the past few decades, the professionalization of early music performers created an immense change in the topography of music education. Specialist courses and schools, seminars and workshops, festivals and competitions—all demand an ever growing expertise on performers’ side and, although terms like ‘authenticity’ are now considered outdated, musicians are expected to be able to express themselves through a dense filter of stylistic idioms and nuances which are acquired under the general title of performance practice. This requires profound knowledge of both history and style, but whereas history can be studied, style is evasive. How should a student be exposed to early temperament; to improvisational skills; to stylistic composition? Does the acquaintance with music of multiple styles and periods undermine the attempt of specializing in any particular style? Can proper understanding of national styles be attained in an era of globalization?

One major development that occurred in recent decades and has far reaching influence on the consumption and dissemination of early music and on the training of “early” musicians is the increasing significance of recordings and their study, generally referred to as performance analysis. This field of research focuses on the work of specific performers (primarily as documented in sound recordings); rather than seeking to find the ”correct” approach to the interpretation of a given piece of music, its aim is “simply” to describe how, in fact, it has been performed, and how performances have changed our perspectives on the music itself (indeed, some scholars in this field question the very idea of “the music itself”).

Performance practice and performance analysis seem to treat each other with a degree of suspicion (to the limited extent that they refer to each other at all), despite the obvious potentials for mutual, complementary dialogue between the two fields. The proposed study-day aims to encourage such dialogue.


The programme committee encourages submissions within the following areas, although other topics are also welcome:

  1. Teaching early temperaments, improvisation and diminution
  2. Integrating early treatises within modern syllabuses.
  3. Versatility vs. Professionalization.
  4. Cultivating students’ personal style through the study historical style.
  5. Younger students and historically informed performance (when is it right to start?)
  6. What can the study of recordings (especially from the early 20th century) teach us on performance practices prior to the age of recordings?
  7. The history of the historical performance movement, as documented in sound recordings.
  8. What performers can learn from the study of their own recordings (and those of mentors and colleagues).
  9. Recordings in the classroom: The didactic and pedagogical use of recordings, both for the study of performance and for the study of music history and literature.

Deadline for proposal submission: 15 July.

The conference will be held in English

Each proposal should contain:

  1. Name and Institutional Affiliation.
  2. Title of proposed paper
  3. An abstract (up to 400 words)
  4. Short CV (up to 150 words)

Contact details:

Dr. Uri Golomb and Dr. Alon Schab. Email:

Further information regarding registration and participation fees (60$/45€) will be posted soon.

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