Date of Award
Music Education - Instrumental Concentration
Schwob School of Music
In recent years, much debate has ensued regarding the level of consideration that should be given to the historical context of musical compositions that were written and performed during the Baroque era, which extends from 1600 to 1750 CE. The question arises as to how closely we should strive to emulate the performance conditions that would have been present during the Baroque era. Robert Donington, an English musicologist and author of two definitive texts on Baroque performance practice, suggests in his Performer's Guide to Baroque Music that we can meet the expectations of the Baroque composers to a greater degree than many modern performers suppose. Regardless of whether one is able to invest in period instruments, or to study Baroque music extensively, a performer at any level can strive to understand and to apply the universal principles of historically informed performance practice. The rich body of music produced during the Baroque period should not be restricted to the enjoyment of Baroque scholars alone, nor should it be abused by those performers who are unwilling to explore the traditions that place the works within a unique historical context. Every work of art belongs within a specific cultural context, and our enjoyment can be enhanced rather than deterred by learning to appreciate the elements which make the work unique. While the misconception exists that the performance of Baroque music is somehow limiting or unemotional, in reality the opportunity for personal expression and individualized performance in the Baroque era is unrivaled by most other periods of music history. If one will truly seek to understand and to apply some of the basic elements of Baroque performance practice, a treasure trove of artistic options are available to the performer. Through the works of G. F. Handel, one of the most prolific composers of the Baroque era, the flutist can learn to appreciate the rich language of the Baroque era, and begin to apply the specific elements of this language that can facilitate a historically informed performance. The many instrumental works of G. F. Handel, including his Sonata in G major op. 1, no. 5 (HWV 363b), provide an excellent starting point for those instrumentalists who would endeavor to explore the elements that make the Baroque tradition unique, including the production of a desirable characteristic sound, a stylistically appropriate system of articulation, an understanding of the practice of ornamentation, well-informed choices of tempos, the application of the inigale style, and a sensitive performance of a variety of distinct musical styles.
Beard, Amanda, "Historically Informed Performance Practice of the Baroque Era" (2010). Theses and Dissertations. 133.