Skip to main content
Beethoven Piano Concerto Op. 58 No. 4, first movement, edited by Carl Czerny, Supplement to Op. 500 (1845)

Singing and playing in the era of Beethoven (postponed)

Exploring and experimenting in the 250th anniversary year
In light of developments regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we regret to inform that this event will be postponed until further notice. Our call for presentations and participants remain open until 1 September 2020.

Convened by Professor Neal Peres Da Costa, this event follows on from the Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant DP 170101976.


Date: postponed until later in 2020

Venue: Recital Hall East, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

Registrations: Registrations will be open later in the year.

Key information

What did singing and instrumental playing sound like in the era of Beethoven? Contemporary written documentation gives us some idea of the practices that were considered indispensable for a ‘beautiful’ (artistic) performance, but as recent research has shown, fails to reveal the quality and frequency of such practices. Early recordings of pre-eminent 19th-century musicians (who did not succumb to the dramatic upsurge of early-20th-century modernist concepts) provide an important window into late-19th-century performance aesthetics and preserve features that were part of a continuum of practice dating back to the 18th century, if not earlier. These recorded interpretations show us that these musicians used a rich palette of expressive means (quite different to ‘modern’ taste) including unobtrusive vibrato, varied and subtle portamenti, marked alteration of note placement, rhythms and tempi, and for pianists—chordal arpeggiation and asynchrony. These recordings are therefore a useful point of departure from which to extrapolate back in time, to reimagine in the context of contemporary written texts what singing and instrumental playing sounded like in the first half of the 19th century.

We invite application (abstracts 300 words maximum) for the Symposium in the form of papers (25 mins) and lecture recitals (45 mins). Preference will be given to presentations that explore the interpretation of music by Beethoven and other composers of his era in ways that engage with the evidence of early recordings in conjunction with contemporary documentation. 

Applications close 1 September 2020.

We also invite applications from singers and instrumentalists to take part in a Workshop which will also explore interpretation of music by Beethoven and other composers of his era. The workshops will be led by Robert Toft (Professor, Western University—Ontario), Professor Clive Brown (Emeritus Professor Leeds University and Professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna) and Neal Peres Da Costa (Professor and Associate Dean Research Sydney Conservatorium of Music). We are seeking musicians who are flexible in technique and open to experimentation, and who will engage in recording emulation and other practice-led methods that will, through group work and consensus of opinion, build a taxonomy of sounds and practices for this important era in music history. Applicants who have been accepted will be guided in a recording emulation exercise prior to and in preparation for the Workshop either by face-to-face meeting/s or via Skype or Zoom. Applicants should send a short CV (one A4 page maximum)  outlining any relevant experience.

Applications close 1 September 2020.