Classically Trained Musicians — The Art of Historically Informed Performances

From your point-of-view in the audience you’re wondering if perhaps something’s not quite right: there’s no thumping backbeat, no flashy pyrotechnics, no screeching lead guitar. Instead, a wave of musical instruments washes over you. Some sounds are familiar yet there are others you’ve never heard before. And what’s more the instruments are just as they were 200 years ago or perhaps even longer. Welcome to an HIP — a “Historically Informed Performance” — classical music’s attempt to keep early music in the public eye. As inventive and original approach to the genre that uses historically appropriate instruments and performance styles and genres of specific eras.

Far more than just performing, HIP covers the gamut of musical styles from Gregorian chant to the music of Beethoven, from the exotic to the more familiar. From the baroque violin to the harpsichord to the piano. HIP’s span a millennium. It’s been estimated that more than 1,000 HIP ensembles all over the globe give just as many or more performances each season to millions of listeners.

The Historically Informed Performance can be traced back to 19th century London, when instrument maker and performer Arnold Dolmetsch championed the cause of “keeping touch” with not only the musical classics but performing them as they once were in order to maintain the integrity of the music.

A segue to the modern-day movement towards “historically informed performance” is rooted in Amsterdam, Basel, and Vienna, where, shortly after the Second World War, a group of musicians addressed themselves to reinventing music of the past, and specifically of the Baroque. Not just copying it, but performing it on the instruments of that time and in as true a style as possible.

Historically Informed Performance – as HIP as it sounds!