When is a Work of Music Real?

  • James Parsons
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 61)


Although the celebrated Renaissance music theorist Johannes Tinctoris could confidently affirm in 1477 that “there does not exist a single piece of music not composed within the last forty years that is regarded by the learned as worthy of hearing,” the same statement — at least as it concerns art music — could not be made today.1 In the event, the excitement and anticipation that in previous eras greeted the musically new, nowadays is reserved for “authentic” performances of compositions from a curiously constructed past. Admittance into the canon of acceptability demands not only that a musical work have withstood the test of time, but also that it possess an unimpeachable pedigree. In other words, compositions bearing the labels “creator unknown” or “creator little known” are not granted space in today’s musical museums. At the outset two questions present themselves: why this radical shift and who is it that decides such matters?


Musical Work Great Composer Grand Opus Quartet Movement Chamber Music 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Parsons
    • 1
  1. 1.Southwest Missouri State UniversityUSA

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