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The Cambridge History of Musical Performance

Cambridge History - book coverHistories of music have often focused on composers rather than on those musicians responsible for bringing the music to life. A new book, co-edited by Professor Robin Stowell, is redressing the balance by presenting a more flexible approach to the complex relationship of score, musical work and performance.

The Cambridge History of Musical Performance is the largest and most comprehensive history of musical performance to be published in the English language. A collaboration between leading academics, historians and accomplished performers, it traces performance history and practice from the ancient world up to the twentieth century and beyond.

Professor Stowell planned, compiled and co-edited the volume with Professor Colin Lawson, Director of the Royal College of Music. He has also contributed a chapter on the use of source materials in performance research and a case study on Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, as well as collaborating with Lawson on the final chapter, which speculates on the future of performance.

The book also includes a chapter by Associate Lecturer Dr David Ponsford on instrumental performance in the seventeenth century.
Robin Stowell
Professor Stowell said: “Over the past generation the intricacies and challenges of musical performance have been attracting the attention of writers and scholars. This book is the first of its kind.

“There have been no previous publications on the subject and certainly none matching the scope of its content and expertise. It’s particularly important to note that, as well as research from acknowledged experts, it also features contributions from performers, whose practical experiences give the volume a unique vitality.”

Professor Stowell is the School’s Director of Research and also Director of the Centre for Research into Historically-Informed Performance, which he established in 2004. A violinist/period violinist, he has published widely on issues of performance practice, organology, music of the long eighteenth century, violinists, chamber music and string playing.

The Cambridge History of Musical Performance is available in hardback from Cambridge University Press.

Introduction to the Cambridge History of Musical Performance from Cardiff School of Music on Vimeo.