Historical Research into the Performance and Analysis of Macroform (HR)

PETAL - Historical Research into the Performance and Analysis of Macroform (HR)

The historical research (HR) component of this project will pursue two main aims: (1) to collect and categorize performance-related discussions of musical macroform in music-theoretical and practical treatises and other writings (instructional editions, concert reviews, letters) relevant for the analyzed corpus of musical works; (2) to collect and evaluate written sources documenting the performance and reception history of the analyzed works.


“Discussions of musical macroform” (1) in written sources of course need not refer to the kind of cyclic macroform focussed on in the present project but may (and in most cases will) be suggesting a more general manner in which local and global dimensions of music may be related in performance. In this context the discourse on
historically informed performance (HIP) has to be taken into account, clearly not in the sense of mere historicism or the “reconstruction” of historical performances but as a potential to enrich and expand contemporary performance and listening conventions, including “a hypothetical musical-mental model of [a historical] listener” (Burstyn 1997, 695; Butt 2002, 28) and opening up dimensions of “historically informed listening” (Aringer forthcoming).

Written sources pertaining to the performance and reception history of the analyzed works (2) will need to build on the existing literature which is already rather comprehensive in many cases (among others Elste 2000 or Fabian 2003 on Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” and Zenck 1980, Bergquist 1992, Bengtson 2005, Stenzl 2016 on Beethoven’s “Diabelli Variations” as well as those studies focussing on intertextual relationships between these two works such as Zenck 1985 and Kanwischer 2014). Few studies, however, connect performance and macroformal analysis pertaining to the selected repertoire (with some exceptions such as Stein/Spillman 1996 for lied cycles and of course Rink 1995, Stenzl 2016 and Utz 2017).

These sources have to be evaluated against a broader research context
attending to the historical change and “simultaneity” of performance styles (Danuser 1992; Dünki et al. 1998; Hinrichsen 1999; Ballstaedt/Hinrichsen 2008; Leech-Wilkinson 2009; Stenzl 2012; Lawson/Stowell 2012; Cook 2013, among others). These studies have increasingly corroborated the observation that “rhetorical” and “structuralist” or “literalist” performance styles do not conform to a coherent history of performance but rather co-exist in multifarious ways in different epochs. This contextualization is particularly important in order to demonstrate that macroformal performance (and perception) strategies are not made in vacuo, but rather are indebted to (partly analytically informed) performance traditions. The intention of the PETAL research is to bring some of these “hidden” agendas to light but also to reconsider and implement them toward newly invented performance and perception strategies.

Of particular relevance in this respect are
notable recent approaches aiming at an integration of historically informed performance practice, topic theory and analysis (Beghin 2014). Although a focus on local “moments” is dominant in this new “rhetoricism”, concepts such as Klorman’s “multiple agency” applied to large-scale form (2016, 156–197) might turn out to be highly relevant to the PETAL research as they connect psychologically-informed analysis of form with clear dramaturgical and “theatrical” implications for performance.

Technically the historical research will be carried out with the help of a digital library which currently contains about 500 documents and which will be continuously expanded. An e-library-software with extended full-text search functions based on the Java application JabRef, developed as part of the CTPSO project, will be used and further developed to this end. The particular challenge of this research task will be to interconnect the systematic (1) and work-specific sources (2) with one another, interpreting these against the broader framework of performance history and the history of the analysis of form.