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Saturday morning quotes 2.49: Rehearsal and Regression

April 20, 2013

Rehearsal:  (Practice session preparatory to a public appearance)

With so much recorded music free and readily available to all, the casual listener has a rather skewed perspective on how much effort it takes to perform historical music well.  But we can’t really fault the audience: Musicians who curl their collective lip at the idea of rehearsal can be the real culprits in undermining the value of live performances of historical music.

When discussing insufficient rehearsal time allotted to perform his music, Claudio Monteverdi (1567 – 1643) wrote the following:

“…I can envisage no other result than bad singing of the poetry, bad playing of the instruments, and bad musical ensemble.  These are not things to be done hastily, as it were; and you know from Arianna that after it was finished and learned by heart, five months of strenuous rehearsal took place.”

– letter to Alessandro Striggio dated 9 January 1620, from The letters of Claudio Monteverdi, translated by Denis Stevens, (London, 1980), p. 160

Professional musicians must keep aloft all manner of objects while performing a death-defying juggling act simply in order to sustain a meager living.  It’s probably true that the best-rehearsed musical ensembles are found in academic institutions, where students are required to attend rehearsals, and they are unshackled by the unpleasant need to make a living.


(A trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state)

But with the marginalizing of music in education through brutal elimination of funding, the powers that be are doing their level best to undo centuries of cultural development.  Of course this is not a new phenomenon; we share some sharp words  from historical sources for neo Feudalists who seek to devalue arts and education:

“If learning decay, which of wild men maketh civil; of blockish and rash persons, wise and goodly counsellors; of obstinate rebels, obedient subjects; and of evil men, good and godly Christians; what shall we look for else but barbarism and tumult?”

– Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset (c. 1500 – 1552)

“For what comfort should it be for any good man to see his country brought into the estate of the old Goths and Vandals, who made laws against learning, and would not suffer any skilful man to come into their council-house: by means whereof those people became savage tyrants and merciless hell-hounds, till they restored learning again and thereby fell to civility. ”

– William Harrison (1534-1593)

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