I thought this also deserved it’s own thread.

I am fascinated with “modern” musicians who while respecting the original composer, add their sentiments of “currency” to the project.

Perhaps you have examples for us to taste?


During the 1960s, people began studying how to perform Renaissance and Baroque music in ways that reflected the performance practices of the time. It soon became clear that improvisation was an essential to the performance of such music. Many of the slow movements in Baroque music, for instance, sound rather staid if performed as written, as the composer assumed that the soloist would improvise on the long, slow notes. Or think of the many arias in Handel’s “Messiah” in A-B-A form; the intent was that the soloist would embellish the repeats of the A section. It’s rare nowadays to hear a concert or recording of such music by a well-trained artist that does not include such “additions” to the printed score.

The study of historical performance moved up from the Baroque into the Classical period and showed that Mozart and his contemporaries improvised much more than had been generally understood. It’s been harder to bring this knowledge into performances of music that is so well known among classical music lovers, since there is a greater danger of audiences reacting negatively to performers “changing Mozart’s [or whoever’s] music.” But this is changing. The pianist Robert Levin has several videos available on youtube where he discusses and demonstrates – do a search for “Levin Mozart improv” or similar and you will find them.


Coincidentally, I recently posted about the Renaissance practice of improvising, citing as a contemporary example Jordi Savall improvising over “Folias de EspaÃa,” the Rennasiance equivalent of a 12-bar blues.


To my surprise, Wikipedia has a nice explanatory entry addressing La Folia, of potential interest to fellow music nerds: Clicky