The Life and Afterlife of Early Musics

Posted on Monday 24th February 2014

A video recording of the inaugural lecture of Professor Andrew Kirkman, Peyton and Barber Professor of Music, Head of Department of Music.

The '70s and '80s were the heyday of the 'authentic performance': the notion that it was possible, in some sense, to reconstruct the sound of performances from ages past. A subsequent backlash saw the claims of this movement instead as untenable, a delusion driven by modern priorities. Distance and temperance reveal both positions as unproductive extremes: while past events can never be fully recaptured, knowledge of the past can nonetheless inform, and enrich, the performances of today. As a scholar-performer my work is driven by a desire to glimpse, however imperfectly, past cultures and the functioning and sound of the musics they sustained. My lecture will proffer some examples from my own work of ways in which, I hope, such findings may also enrich the musical experiences of others.