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Who is the leader of this band? Orchestral leadership in the late 18th century as witnessed in the writings of Dr. Charles Burney

Benjamin W Carlisle, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

Abstract

Before conductors became a standard part of musical ensembles in the nineteenth century, such ensembles were usually led by a performing member of the ensemble. In this document, an analysis of a small portion of these ensembles from a period of time limited primarily to the 1770s is presented. The writings of musicologist Charles Burney, who made two "Musical Tours" through Europe in the 1770s—while researching for his Dictionary of Music—are used as a basis for the first portion of this document. In Part I of this document, Burney's writings are analyzed, with specific attention being paid to his discussion of ensemble leaders. These leaders are primarily keyboardists and violinists. Additionally, pertinent primary sources, including works of art, pay records, and letters, are examined to find what they show about ensemble leadership. ^ In Part II of this document, the results of Part I are used as a basis for the analysis of the recorded and live performances of 'Historically Informed' ensembles—modern ensembles that attempt to accurately reproduce the performance practices of the period in question. Personal performing experiences are discussed, as well as analyses of concerts, audio, and video recordings. ^ The conclusion of this document is that ensembles performing music of the late eighteenth century are better served by having a leader who is a performing member of the ensemble, rather than a conductor who leads through visual cues to the ensemble. ^

Subject Area

Music

Recommended Citation

Carlisle, Benjamin W, "Who is the leader of this band? Orchestral leadership in the late 18th century as witnessed in the writings of Dr. Charles Burney" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3297816.
http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/dissertations/AAI3297816

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