Performance and recording of classical and romantic music: informing changes in practice within a worldwide community of professional and amateur musicians

Submitting Institution

University of Leeds

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Clive Brown's research has had impact worldwide, informing and influencing high-profile professional musicians, those in and delivering education, and for amateurs and listeners. Recognised as a leading expert in the performance of classical and romantic music, he has advised many specialist musicians working in that area, making a far-reaching contribution to pedagogy, and providing performers with fresh insights into repertoire and relevant practice. This has had an important effect on major performing and recording ensembles. The relationship between compositional practice and performance is a central concern, as is the relevance of historically significant editions and performing materials.

Underpinning research

Research by Clive Brown (1991-present, Professor of Applied Musicology from 2001) focuses on historically informed performing practices, new performing editions, and through authoritative and wide-ranging scholarship (especially on Spohr and Mendelssohn), the rediscovery of repertoire which furthers understanding of compositional style.

Brown's Classical and Romantic Performing Practice 1750-1900 (CaRPP) was hailed "the musician's Bible [...] This book will revolutionise the study of music" (review by David Owen-Norris, BBC Music Magazine (October 2000), 106), and Choice rated it an Outstanding Academic Title in 2000 [1]. In May 2008 Oxford University Press published an online version, and it has recently been published in Chinese translation (tr. Heng-Ching Fang (Taipei: Continental, 2012 [1999])), further indicating international regard for its research quality. It features regularly in university and college performing practice reading lists.

Brown was Principal Investigator for the AHRC-funded CHASE project, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Annotated Editions of String Music (2008-2012) [G1], which collated surviving editions, early sound recordings, and relevant performance materials (many with contemporary markings, bowings and articulation indications), making them publicly available in digitised form. The CHASE collection [2] comprises over 1000 editions including parts used by leading musicians of the period. Brown spearheaded contextualisation and research into the editions, leading a team including Robin Stowell as Co-I, David Milsom, Duncan Druce, and George Kennaway. He discovered a significant quantity of music owned and extensively annotated by Ferdinand David (a leading 19th-century interpreter), recapturing a contemporary perspective lost or over-written in later editions. The project saw both text-based and practice-led investigation of the material, and its implications for performers. The CHASE website [2] places extensive commentaries and research articles (most authored or co-authored by Brown) alongside digitised copies of sources.

Brown's edition of Franz Clement's Violin Concerto [3] brought to attention a major "lost" work for the instrument, hugely influential on Beethoven's Violin Concerto (Brown's scholarly edition of which followed in 2012, published by Breitkopf und Härtel and submitted in REF2, joining his edition with preface and critical commentary for the Brahms Violin Concerto, 2006). Wiebke Thormählen's review of the Clement edition in Eighteenth-century Music (vol. 5, no. 2 (September 2008), 255-257) underlines Brown's role in documenting a "distinct Viennese school of violin playing in the early nineteenth century that influenced Beethoven", and concludes that making such compositions available "marks a vital contribution". The breadth and authority of Brown's work on solo violin and chamber music performance is further indicated by important book chapters focusing on repertoire by Mendelssohn [4] and Mozart (`Reading between the lines: the notation and performance of Mozart's chamber music with keyboard', in Mozart's Chamber Music with Keyboard, ed. Martin Harlow (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)).

Brown is an established expert on German composer and violinist Louis Spohr. In 2009 a German translation of his seminal biography (first published 1984) incorporated a range of new and revised materials [5]. Together with a new `Spohr' entry in Grove Music Online (2001) and a performing edition of Pietro von Abano (2009), this critical examination provided fresh stylistic and aesthetic assessments of Spohr. Brown also followed significant biographical work (A Portrait of Mendelssohn (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003)) with a performing edition of Mendelssohn's opera Die Hochzeit des Camacho (1825-28) [6]. Associated research on sources was the subject of a book chapter by Brown (in Art and Ideology in European Opera, eds. Rachel Cowgill, David Cooper, and Clive Brown (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2010), and an invited lecture delivered at the Mendelssohn-Kongress in Leipzig (2009); in these Brown suggests a distinctive opera language, seemingly "forgotten" in the wake of Weber's influence, as well as under-examined early developments in Mendelssohn's technique.

References to the research

[1] Clive Brown, Classical and Romantic Performing Practice 1750-1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999). (2008 online version, DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198161653.001.0001).


[2] `Collection of Historical Annotated String Editions', CHASE (2011) <>, an outcome from a major AHRC research award, Clive Brown P-I [G1]

[3] Franz Clement, Violin Concerto in D Major (1805), ed. Clive Brown, Recent Researches in the Music of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, vol. 41 (Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2005).


[4] Clive Brown, `The Performance of Mendelssohn's Chamber and Solo Music for Violin', in Mendelssohn in Performance, ed. Siegwart Reichwald (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2008) [REF2 submission]

[5] Clive Brown, Louis Spohr: Eine kritische Biographie (Berlin: Merseburger, 2009), appearing the same year as performing edition of Spohr's Pietro von Abano.

[6] Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Die Hochzeit des Camacho, ed. Clive Brown (Wiesbaden: Breitkopf und Härtel, 2011) [REF2 submission]

Research grants

[G1] AHRC research grant, 19th- and Early 20th-Century Annotated Editions of String Music: Bibliographical Problems, Editorial Content and Implications for Performance Practice, Sep. 2008-Nov. 2012, £502,430, AH/Fo1189X/1. Brown as Principal Investigator.

Details of the impact

Brown has achieved international and far-reaching impact by working with musicians (in masterclasses, invited lectures, acting as consultant and adviser), writing for them, collecting, analysing and making available important historical materials, and producing scholarly editions for performance. His expertise has influence across publishing, concert-making, recording, and education sectors.

Brown works with period-instrument groups, advising on performance practice for concerts and recordings. In the preface to CaRPP [1], Sir Roger Norrington notes that many of the London Classical Players' "landmark recordings [...] were made with his advice and encouragement". More recently Norrington has underscored his praise, confirming the benefit of Brown's research and advice, and noting "Brown's CHASE project in particular is of major importance to performers worldwide [...] This is research that our musical community needs and relies on" [A] [2].

The Eroica Quartet, devoted to the performance of nineteenth-century music, confirm they are "deeply committed to and influenced by the research associated with the Leeds University AHRC-funded Annotated Editions project (CHASE)"; they suggest that Brown's "original questioning of late-C20th performing orthodoxies [...] is steadily becoming the equivalent to the 1960's revolution in performances of Baroque music" [B]. Players from that quartet pass on this influence working in ensembles ranging from the Orchestre Révolutionaire et Romantique (ORR) and Les Musiciens du Louvre, to Opéra de Paris: "We [Peter Hanson, David Watkin] also work as section leaders [leader and principal cello] with Sir John Eliot Gardiner [...] Clive Brown's research ideas have given us an immense sense of confidence to try new ideas and techniques with this [ORR] orchestra" [B].

The internationally renowned Elias Quartet's The Beethoven Project blog notes the significance of Brown's CHASE research [2]: "a real treasure for anyone interested in historically informed performance practice of 19th century music" [C]; Martin Saving (the quartet's viola) blogs that CaRPP " is indeed a bible for anyone who wants to know about performance styles during this era", and in discussing tempo he concludes "I'd like to recommend Clive Brown's phenomenal `Classical & Romantic Performing Practice'"[1] [C].

Brown's influence extends from early stages of performance education to the latest. His article `Notation and Interpretation', which draws on the breadth of his own research, forms a part of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music's guidebook A Performer's Guide to Music of the Romantic Period (<>), which appears on their Best Sellers list in 2013 and continues to support study and tuition in preparation for ABRSM grade exams. For more advanced levels, CaRPP in particular appears as a resource for performance courses worldwide (for example supporting A2 level and tertiary foundations, it is specified as part of Singapore's H3 Music syllabus (<>)). Specialists educating the next generations of professional players rate CaRPP highly: "an excellent resource, and probably the best compendium I know of [...], an essential resource" (Barbara Kallaur, historical flutes specialist, Indiana University) [D]. This reputation is echoed by book sellers' selection of review quotes to support sales of CaRPP, (Amazon's product description at <> [accessed: 15 September 2013], includes "BBC Music Magazine: `This book will revolutionize the study of music', Choice: `Brown has produced a work of the greatest scholarship and utility ... Recommended—required!—for all libraries with music collections serving upper-division undergraduates and above', and Musical Times: `The fact that the book focuses on notation will make it permanently useful'").

Brown's research (especially [1], [2], [3], [4]) has informed workshops and masterclasses in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the USA. Working with professional group The Ironwood Ensemble at the Sydney Conservatorium in 2012, the first violinist noted that Brown's visit, "was immensely successful [...] for spreading a general consciousness throughout the Con[servatorium] and beyond about the importance and scholarly validity of these performance practices. [It] felt a little like a national dissemination" [E]. Media coverage gave a popular representation of the work's reach and capacity to change performing cultures: Australia's ABC News featured Brown's research under the title `Orchestras and conductors have lost the rhythm of the great composers', and the introducing continuity announcer chose the sound bite "...a rebellion that could change the way orchestras the world over play classical music" [F].

The Chicagoan violinist Rachel Barton Pine placed Brown's research [3] at the heart of her 2008 CD of the Clement and Beethoven concerti. She notes Brown's impact on her and the canon of romantic violin concerti, thanking him for reviving Clement, stating, "It's so wonderful all the contributions you've made [...] you've unleashed a wonderful treasure on the world, the Clement Violin Concerto" [G]. The liner notes include a brief essay by Brown, regarded as "indispensable" by Peter Grahame Woolf reviewing Barton Pine's Clement CD (Woolf was journal editor at <>).

The CHASE website [2] makes Brown's research more widely and easily available. Reviewing web statistics in October 2013 (16 months into its life), there had been over 130,000 page views (the majority unique), with access from over 50 countries; many visits were of several minutes' duration [H]. The influence of the CHASE research finds its way into modern performing editions (for example Stephen Begley's preface to a new Vitali edition cites CHASE project materials [2] [I]).

Brown's opera research has seen new performing versions used internationally. His edition of Mendelssohn's Die Hochzeit des Camacho [6] (performed 2011 by the European Opera Centre/ Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko) was reviewed as 4-star in The Guardian; and Brown's edition was then performed by the Opernbühne Bad Aibling in July 2012. Brown's first modern production of Pietro von Abano in 2009 was described by Dr Wolfram Boder, author of Die Kasseler Opern Louis Spohr (Kassel: Bärenreiter, 2007), as a "lost treasure of opera [...] rediscovered" [J]. It was picked up for performances in Abano Terme and Padua in 2010.

Sources to corroborate the impact

[A] Written testimonial from internationally renowned conductor, available on request.

[B] Written testimonial from leading chamber musicians, available on request.

[C] The Beethoven Project blog, <>, in particular:

<>, May 2012 (with link to CHASE project website) [accessed Sept 2013];

<>, March 2012 response to Clive Brown's post on the project blog entry [accessed Sept 2013];

<>, May 2011 response to blog post of March 2011 [accessed Sept 2013].

[D] Selective example of educational significance, indicating specialist use in HE internationally: contribution to Earlyflute ("the world's premier discussion list for those interested in historical flutes") by flutes specialist, Early Music Institute, Indiana University), 14 Dec 2011, <> [accessed August 2013].

[E] Written testimonial from Australian period performance ensemble, available on request.

[F] `Orchestras and conductors have lost the rhythm of the great composers', feature on Australian ABC TV News NSW, journalist Anne Maria Nicholson, 7pm 16 September 2012, <> [accessed August 2013].

[G] Podcast from leading violin soloist, discussing with Brown her approach to Clement on 3 Sept 2008 <> [accessed Sept 2013].

[H] CHASE website usage data collected from Google Analytics 24 October 2013, available on request.

[I] Tomaso Antonio Vitali, Chaconne, ed. Stephen Begley (Dietikon: Bisel Classics, 2013).

[J] 'Pietro von Abano', review by Wolfram Boder in Opera vol.5/2009, also reproduced online at <>.