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Sarah Maria Sargent

of the tongue in playing mouth-blown instruments). Execution depends on such factors as the distance from the key to the pipe, the amount of air pressure and the number of stops required in the registration for the particular instrument. With the development of pneumatic action all keys in all registers became equal in touch and the fingers could not influence the beginning and ending of the sound. Important subtleties of touch were lost. By the very nature of its plucking action, the harpsichord is par excellence the instrument of the fingertip. The basic touch is


Owen Jander

Singers who were able to perform in the range between the tenor and the top voice (superius, cantus, soprano) were of five types, and the particular choice varied not only from period to period, but from region to region – even from choir to choir, or, later, from one production of an opera to a later revival. The first type of alto-range singer was the man with an extremely high natural voice. Unusually high tenors of this sort have always been rare, and highly prized. Burney, for example, described one William Turner ( 1651–1740 ) as ‘a counter-tenor singer, his voice


Fenner Douglass, Barbara Owen and David Fuller

the use of all three registers of a three-stop instrument only for a ‘thoroughbass to a Consort: for Lessons [i.e. solo pieces], any two sets of the three are more proper’ (Hubbard, 1965 , p.153). Finally, the ‘pedal’ described by Mace must have been known to Purcell, since one figured among the royal instruments in his charge, and it is therefore impossible to deny to his music the possibility of elaborate registration (though probably on a single manual) on grounds of instrumental limitations. Coarse and insensitive though it may seem, nearly all the evidence


Matthias Thiemel

distort the sense of the text. Beethoven directed his publisher to ‘have all the p , pp , cresc., decresc., f and ff crossed out of my opera- none of them will be observed, after all, and if I were to hear them, I would lose all desire to write anything else’. Similar complaints have come down to us from C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, Wagner, Mahler, Pfitzner and other composers. In 1924 Richard Strauss lamented the tendency towards louder, less refined dynamics: ‘Incompetent conductors, over-large opera houses, and sad to say, a lack of taste on the part of the general public


Leon Botstein

of the present, particularly in the context of rising rates of literacy and the expansion of the audience well beyond the ranks of the 18th-century aristocracy. Wagner himself used the term ‘modern’ in 1849 as an epithet directed against Meyerbeer as a way of characterizing grand opera’s cheap concession to popular and philistine taste. Art was being debased by those who sought to celebrate and exploit the spiritually corrupt aspects of modern life, including trade, industry and journalistically manipulated public opinion. From the mid-century, however, following