Fundamentally, performance practice research requires the investigation of two aspects: the composer's surviving scores and the period performing conventions. These aspects will be explored in relation to the music of the British composer Samuel Wesley (1766–1837). Wesley composed six symphonies, of which all but one were intended to be performed at the Wesley Family Concerts. The six symphonies were not published in his lifetime, but their manuscripts have been preserved in the British Library. Wesley's Symphony No. 1 represents a hybrid style of the divertimento, the symphony, and the concerto, all of which flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Wesley Family Concerts series typifies concert life in London during this time.
The study of the performance embodies an examination of the musical developments and the instruments employed during a specific time period. The late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries represented an age of constant change and experimentation in the fields of musical performance and instrument production. Most instruments and performing customs were modified to develop the quality of the musical sound and to respond not only to the necessity to meet the demand for greater sonority in larger concert halls than before, but also to increasing audiences.
Wesley's simplistic ornamentation clearly shows a good example of the written aspects while a large portion of his unwritten aspects remains in question. The answers may be inferred from the approaches to period pitch level, unwritten accentuation, omitted dynamics, tempo guidelines, unwritten manners of articulation, and orchestral practices, such as bowing and vibrato. One example of an answer that can be deduced was the restoration of the omitted timpani part, which was a common practice at this time. Leadership in the ensemble music during this period was executed either from the first violinist's chair or from the keyboard. Samuel Wesley, who was a violinist and keyboardist, used both types of leadership.
This case study of Wesley's Symphony No. 1 maintains that a recreation of an ideal performance can be realized through the critical study of the surviving score and through the findings veiled behind the work.
|School:||The Claremont Graduate University|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Conducting, England, Performance practice, Symphony, Wesley, Samuel|
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