Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo was saddened this week by the news of the death of Nikolaus Harnoncourt at age 86.
Who, you may ask?
Well, said Nick was the godfather or, if you prefer, teh grand daddy of the “period instrument” or the “historickally informed” performance movement, the idea that (especially) 17th and 18th Century musick ought to be performed the way the composers of said times intended, in terms of instrumentation, phrasing, tone and all the rest, and not in conformity with 20th Century values.
My old father had a great number of recordings of baroque musick from the 50’s and 60’s that intrigued me in my misspent yoot, but never moved me because they seemed so mechanical and over-instrumented. When I first heard the Harnoncourt-inspired revisions of said pieces? It was like looking at the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel after all teh gunk had been removed.
Despite a great deal of blowback from the Establishment, Harnoncourt persisted. As I recall, he began to make waves in teh 60’s and 70’s but really hit his stride in the 80’s. His first three followers were Christopher Hogwood (who died fairly recently), John Eliot Gardiner, and Trevor Pinnock, all of whom came to prominence (and to Robbo’s attention) at about the same time. Since this most excellent trio, the movement has expanded exponentially, to the point that I cannot keep up with all of them.
Bully, says I. As I say, the movement gave new and justly-deserved life to a collection of musick far and away better, IMHO, than anything that has been produced since.
UPDATE: My apologies for such a sloppy, disjointed post. (I’ve tried to clean it up a bit.) Pollen has become a thing again in the neighborhood of Port Swiller Manor and my, ah, self-medication for my sinus headaches, while effective, sometimes hamper my compositional style.