What is new about early music?

And what is old about new music?

What is old about new music?
WDR3 Music Passages

Why is Early Music New Music?
A foray by Uli Aumüller

Fifteen years ago, a film by Alain Corneau starring Gérard Depardieu, recorded by Jordi Savall and his Ensemble Hesperion XXI, made a piece of music from the 17th century by the Frenchman Mr. De Sainte Colombe famous at a stroke and, in a kind of exotic marginal existence, it was previously known only to a handful of early music specialists. The sparse surviving musical material of music from this period - mostly ornaments or bass foundations were improvised only in concert - raises the question of how new early music actually is. The number XXI in Jordi Savall's Ensemble Hesperion hints at it: Early music heard and played with the ears and interpretations of the 21st century, resulting in New Music along the lines of the old masters. Or is it perhaps only the sound of the historical instruments that fascinates so many people and caused the sales figures of the aforementioned film soundtrack to soar? But this "old" sound is again due to modern recording techniques - never before had anyone been able to hear a viola da gamba or a theorbo from such close quarters, from a completely new perspective, quasi under a microscope. Moreover, it is so obviously fascinating that contemporary living composers today try to compose new music with the sound of the old instruments - such as the series of five concerts "About Baroque" commissioned by Siemens Arts Program - or the composer Brice Pauset, born in 1965, who has been taking sound and form models of the Baroque as the starting point for his compositions for about 10 years. New old music = old new music?


Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller
Gabriele Faust