Symposium – Correct, but not beautiful performance

Sydney Conservatorium of Music is delighted to announce the Australian Research Council supported SymposiumCorrect, but not beautiful performance: Deciphering the hidden messages in 19th-century notation to take place at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music from Thursday 27 to Saturday 29 September 2018, convened by Professor Neal Peres Da Costa.

Venue – Recital Hall East and Atrium, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Symposium schedule (will be uploaded in June 2018)

Keynote speakers

Registrations will open shortly – registration will cost approximately AU$150 for the three days 

Recent performing practice scholarship makes it abundantly clear that 19th-century and earlier music notation often signified something different to contemporary musicians than it does to those of the present day. In the first half of the 19th century, the characteristic qualities of highly artistic performance and the ways to achieve these were discussed by Johann Nepomuk Hummel in his Anweisung zum Piano-Forte-Spiel (1828) and Louis Spohr in his Violinschule (1833). Both state that an accurate, literal, or face-value realisation of the notation will produce a “correct” performance (richtiger Vortrag), which is the necessary first stage for an apprentice who wishes to become a master; they explain however that this falls far short of mastery, which requires “fine” or “beautiful” performance (schöner Vortrag), in which myriad rhythmic, tempo, and dynamic modifications of the notation, as well as a range of other un-notated expressive practices, such as piano arpeggiation, or portamento and vibrato in singing, string, and wind playing, are indispensable. With the increasing internationalisation of musical culture during the 19th century, musicians (especially the younger generation) began to rely more on notation than on traditional performing conventions. Such a practice led Joseph Joachim to criticise the tendency of Franco-Belgian school violinists, such as Henri Vieuxtemps, to adhere “too much to the lifeless note-heads when performing the classics, not knowing how to read between the lines.” And for Carl Reinecke, a conscientious reading (following the score exactly) of Beethoven’s Op. 111 Piano Sonata, although it might transmit all the work’s essential details, left “much to be read between the lines which no composer can convey by signs, no editor by explanations.”

This  three-day Symposium brings together musicians (both professionals and students) interested in exploring the hidden messages in 19th-century notation and in experimentally applying well-documented 19th-century expressive practices in performance.

Guidelines for applicants

Prospective presenters are invited to submit an abstract (300 words) for paper presentations (25 mins), lecture recitals (45 mins) and workshops (60 mins).

All submissions must be received by 15 May 2018. The conference format will provide each successful applicant with 25 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for Q&A. Applicants will be informed of acceptance by 30 May 2018.

The organisation committee will also accept proposals for panel sessions related to the conference theme. Proposals for panel sessions should be 250-words in length, include a full list of panel members and be submitted as per the guidelines outlined above.

Please contact for further details and to submit your abstract or concert/workshop proposals.

Organisation committee: Professor Neal Peres Da Costa, Dr Daniel Yeadon, Professor Clive Brown