By Arrangement Only – Music In Other Guises

Making arrangements of composers’ music was a flourishing business up until the early 20th Century. But more recently the arrangement “is widely regarded as second-class music. At best it is tolerated, at worst disdained.” What happened? “For the last 80 years, musicology has been increasingly successful in pressing the case for the urtext: an authentic performing edition in which, purportedly, the composer’s original thought is perfectly preserved, every note is sacrosanct and the ‘sonic surface’ of the music is reproduced exactly as the composer envisaged it. A musical performance, by this view, should amount to the re-creation of a bit of history.”