Reception history is an important issue in all branches of the arts, including music, fiction, and visual culture.
For Renaissance painting, modern viewers inevitably bring to bear a wealth of visual and conceptual experience (later artistic movements, photos, film, and so on); by contrast, the world-view of audiences of the time was based on a far more detailed knowledge of scenes depicted. The social context of viewing has changed radically; such messages constantly change over time. In my post on visual culture I cite perceptive comments by Michael Baxandall, Marcia Pointon, Michael Jacobs, Alan Bennett, and (for China) Craig Clunas.
Even synchronically, Daoist ritual means very different things to local patrons, urban dwellers, young and old, local and central cadres, and scholars of Daoism—a theme I broached in Recreation.
I’ve touched on this issue in several posts on music, often relating to the HIP movement and changing styles of performance:
- In Bach—and Daoist ritual I note the very different ears, eyes, minds, and bodies of 18th-century and modern audiences.
The work of John Butt pursues such themes:
Further posts on changing interpretations of Bach are also relevant:
- Mengelberg’s 1926 Matthew Passion
- the keyboard break from Brandenburg 5, with versions from Cortot, Gould, Leonhardt, and others
- the Bach double
- Alternative Bach
- and in The Feuchtwang Variations I continue the theme of time travel in 18th-century Leipzig and Beijing.
More recent works too are pervaded by our changing experience:
- Haydn: 1795, 1927, 1973, 2018
- Brahms: tempo and timbre
- Rachmaninoff’s 2nd piano concerto
- The Rite of Spring
and on a lighter note,
- The iconic 1932 recording of Ted Ibert’s Pique Nique.