Approaches to Studying Woodwind Players in the Long 19th Century and Beyond

  • Emily Worthington (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Woodwind playing in the 19th century has been subject to less scholarly research than strings, piano and voice; those accounts that do exist focus, like much of HIP research, focus on a handful of elite and solo performers. This makes it challenging to understand performing practices in orchestral contexts, which constituted the core of woodwind players’ activities.

The information contained in woodwind treatises fails to sufficiently account for the multiple identities that woodwind players take on both within and outside the orchestra: as soloists, as anonymous tutti players, as chamber musicians, as consort players, as leaders and followers, as well as composers, arrangers, teachers and impresarios. Moreover, the experience of playing in an orchestra as a woodwind player is an endless series of negotiations, both musical and social. I contend that, if modern HIP woodwind players wish to develop a deeper understanding of the playing of our historical counterparts, we should seek a holistic view of their training and their musical activities as solo and ensemble performers, as well as the external circumstances that shaped their working lives.

This paper will take a selection of examples from the late-18th to the early-20th century to demonstrate how this might work. Examples will be drawn from my research into the composing and teaching activities of Franz Tausch, a clarinettist at the courts of Mannheim, Munich and Berlin from the 1770s to the 1810s; and into the chamber recordings made by the principal woodwind players of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra c. 1920-1930.
Period11 Sep 2018
Event titlePerspectives on Historically Informed Practices in Music International Conference
Event typeConference
LocationOxford, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational