Music and modern power: a performer’s tracing of virtuosity and systems of musical value
Colombat, Pierre-Nicolas Benjamin
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The research presented here was undertaken with the aim of providing today’s musical practitioners (anyone from a scholar, performer, composer, or even listener) with a framework to begin understanding how aesthetic movements and performance practices interact with the socio-professional layout of classical music. I present what I see as a major shift from practitioner-based systems of value, as seen in Paris in the 1830s, to a practice-based system of value which came to prominence in the 20th century. This exploration covers the topics of piano literature, virtuosity, canon formation, both performance and compositional practices, as well as the rise of musical institutions in the past century. The third chapter uses the work of Michel Foucault to shed light on how the developments that occurred in classical music mirror wider societal changes. The dissertation closes with a look at how practitioners might restructure classical music’s value-giving systems so that they might regain their agency and ability to shape and participate in their field’s development.
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