Authenticity in 19th century performance – the inside perspective

Köpp, Kai (9 September 2021). Authenticity in 19th century performance – the inside perspective In: AEC Early Music Platform 2021 “Historically Informed Performance (HIP) – Is it enough to just be ‘informed’?”. Staatl. Hochschule für Musik Trossingen. 8.–9.10.21.

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Imagine, we had sound recordings by Monteverdi, Bach, or Mozart, together with detailed bar-by-bar instructions on how to professionally perform from their scores. Our interpretation of their music would be much less speculative, or to put it positively – much more authentic. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Well, we do have this wonderful situation with music and composers of the 19th century: Through the internet a rapidly growing number of early recordings, of instructive editions and annotated performing material is accessible to anyone who is interested in romantic music. And audiences as well as performers are becoming increasingly aware of these resources, so that we have seen a newly proclaimed movement of “early-recordings-inspired performances”, both among HIP and mainstream musicians. In my presentation I argue that two approaches can be distinguished: One is comparing striking historical performing habits to modern playing standards, using pejorative descriptions like ‘uncontrolled flexibility of tempo and rhythm’, ‚disrespect for notation’. The other perspective of recreating 19th century performing styles may be called the ‘pick and choose’ approach and focuses on elements that may occasionally be integrated into modern standard performances, like arpeggiation, portamento, flexibility of tempo or rhythmic asynchrony etc. Both approaches, the comparative and the ‘pick and choose’ approach, fall short of understanding romantic music from an inside perspective. However, a careful study of the above-mentioned sources will enable to performers to arrive at an interpretation that is both historically informed and full of spontaneity in the style of early recordings and related instructions. This may even amount to the return of the attractive and powerful concept of authenticity in historically informed performances.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Bern Academy of the Arts
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation
Bern Academy of the Arts > Institute Interpretation > Performance and interpretation


Köpp, Kai0000-0003-3861-6305


M Music and Books on Music > M Music
M Music and Books on Music > MT Musical instruction and study


Kai Köpp

Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2021 15:03

Last Modified:

23 Dec 2021 15:08


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