Museum music

At this time, one term appears more and more strongly in my consciousness - the term "museum music". From a contemporary point of view, it can be defined as the music of those composers who have decided to run from the current time ,or even the recent past time, and whose musical compositions are, thus, fit to hand in directly to a “music museum”. It is as if these composers were trying to reconstruct a type of music that is of a past that is already irretrievably lost. We can imagine this “museum composer” as trying to simulate past music with all its cracks, patches and different degrees of being unusable in the present. (Don’t they know that we cannot drink from broken cups?), In principal, in trying to compose the music of the past in the present they deny the unknowable qualities of past music, that the traces of time erase not just the original point of view of past composers, but, in some cases, the essence of that past music itself remains unknowable for us who are not of that past time. When performers play the music of a past time, combining inside themselves the roles of player and re-constructor, this is more than praiseworthy, though, one must admit that a whole and perfect reconstruction of past performance practice is impossible. However, when certain composer/re-constructors try to accomplish an even more impressive illusionist feat - trying to recreate in the present a work that can pass as an identical copy of past music and yet still wishing to pretend that this work is “new music”- then my tongue doesn't allow me to call this "contemporary music". Such composers deny that they compose music of the past. (This is already not the first time my tongue doesn't allow me to call this “museum music”

There existchivalrous communities which are connected directly with the historical reconstruction of medieval times. (Oh, my favourite one is the Castle Insterburg! Oh, how I adore also the festival of Grunvald in Poland!) They recreate chain mail armour, costumes, and rules of jousting in fights... But nobody has the thought in mind, for example, to call "modern art" a costume which is made following the examples of the XIIth century, even if someone added a little bit of their own fantasy to the reconstructed object. But in “museum music”, such cases as I evoke are seen as entirely and beside the point and they evoke only perplexity. Yes, there are many

quotes/stylistic disseminations/contexts, etc. in post-modern contemporary music and all is possible to combine/reconsider, proceeding from the viewpoint of our current time, but, in any case, it is clear that such mannered music belongs to our time. But for "museum music", which people write today also, perhaps, it
is the time to imagine an activity of complete historical music reconstruction. We could imagine an attempt to reconstruct the style or spirit of classicism/romanticism ,or other chosen "ism", where composers/performers and other participants would reconstruct not just the principles of composing and performing the music of that
time, but also the costumes, manners of behaviour and so on, and so forth (like festivals of medieval music already do). For such events I would go with great interest and, for me, it would be more honest in every respect than to pretend that such activities of composition/performance are of “contemporary music”.

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  • so... if i f follow, you'd be happy (happier...) with older styles of music being played, as long as the orchestra wore period costumes?

    Eh... i would think that was a neat spectacle...
  • Have you read The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works by Lydia Goehr? I haven't read it but I've heard it summarized, she had some good points, similair to yours.
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