On 1 April I start a new role as Reader in Music at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, London. I’m looking forward to working with new colleagues and involving myself in a broad range of research advocacy within the Music department, but primarily focusing on developing work in historical performance practice. Meanwhile, I’ll be continuing my Associate Fellowship of The Institute of Musical Research within the School of Advanced Study at London University alongside the role at Trinity, and also solo and chamber performance with Ensemble DeNOTE.
Among the research projects that will, I hope, benefit from being pursued in a conservatoire with a longstanding connection to ‘Early Music’ (not least, the hosting at the Old Royal Naval College site in Greenwich of the annual Greenwich Early Music Festival – perhaps the most renowned jamboree of its kind worldwide) is an enduring fascination with arrangements and transcriptions of Mozart’s music for a variety of chamber forces in the years shortly after his death – in the German-speaking lands, and more widely (particularly in England). Some of these are well-known; others not. The culture of Mozart arrangements started pretty much immediately after his death and allows us a degree of insight not just into the technicalities of rescoring, say, a quintet for a quartet (as in the case of a 1794 Quartet version for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello of the Piano and Winds Quintet, K.452 that Ensemble DeNOTE will be playing at Hatchlands in April), but into the uses made of his work by subsequent generations – sometimes purely commercial in inspiration, sometimes overtly as part of a project of social construction: of Mozart as icon; of national representation through his music; of chamber music as distinctive strand within a professionalised musical culture increasingly embracing the civic orchestral concert; as a strand in the developing parallel universes of amateur and professional; a species of cultural transfer across different European traditions (in which the agency of publishers is crucial)….. Journeying through these arrangements focuses our minds on the ambiguity of the ‘Work’ whose textual status dissolves, and with it the anachronistic construction of an authorial ‘intention’. The very provisionality of the text of an arrangement invites us to see Mozart’s music as mobile in its allusions and possibilities of expression. Exploring that through the refreshing sound of period performance is something I’ll relish in my new role.