Skip to content
Skip to navigation menu

AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts

Transforming Beethoven performance

Claire Holden

Claire Holden, a violinist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is undertaking a major new fellowship at the School of Music to transform modern orchestral performances of works by Beethoven and his contemporaries by re-aligning players with the lost string techniques of the early 19th century.

The research associated with the Fellowship, awarded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, addresses a long-existing void between the performing and scholarly communities. Period-instrument performance is well established and enjoys an increasingly mainstream profile within the classical music industry; but the claim that it is historically informed often does not hold true.

Nineteenth-century practices have never been fully explored or realised for a number of reasons, including commercial factors, the lack of available training, and difficulties in interpreting and realising published scholarly material. Whilst several current recordings of Beethoven's symphonies are well respected, it would be misguided to accept them as definitive examples of accurate historical performance in this repertoire.

Claire Holden's work aims to transform historical performance by establishing and communicating the information that string players need to understand and assimilate in order to reproduce the techniques that were second nature to the performers of Beethoven's time.

As part of the Fellowship, Claire is developing, for the first time, practice-led resources that will enable performers to build the skills required to reproduce more faithfully early 19th-century string style. Concerts and workshops will be held to ensure that new knowledge developed by the Fellowship directly influences public performances and pre-concert talks and lectures will help to expand and enhance audiences' understanding and appreciation of 19th-century performance practices.