Conservatoire researcher’s grant win featured in Times Higher

Professor Deborah Mawer of Birmingham Conservatoire has been featured in the Grant Winners section of the Times Higher Education for her successful bid for an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) grant.

The grant, worth £461,583, is to lead a three-year project: ‘Accenting the Classics: Durand’s Édition classique (c. 1915-25) as a French Prism on the Musical Past’, in collaboration with Graham Sadler (Birmingham Conservatoire), Barbara L. Kelly (Royal Northern College of Music) and Rachel Moore (University of Oxford). This project will blend analytical, cultural and historical musicology with music performance to investigate the nature of the varying ‘French accent’ (Ravel’s ‘accent singulier’) given to earlier European piano music (the ‘Classics’) within Durand’s multi-volume edition, on the occasion of its centenary. The repertoire comprises music by well-known and since-forgotten composers, which was edited by well- and lesser-known early twentieth-century French composers, together with musicologists and teachers at the Paris Conservatoire.

Investigation will start with detailed analytical case studies of edited music. An initial group will include Ravel (editing Mendelssohn) and Debussy (Chopin); Emmanuel, Garban and Roger-Ducasse (Bach and Burgundian folksongs); balanced by music of the eighteenth-century French harpsichordists, including Couperin (edited by Tiersot) and Rameau (Diémer). Secondly, using blended archival, historical and interpretative skills, assessment of the role and wider cultural network of the Édition classique will offer new insights into early twentieth-century French cultural identity (for example, incipient neoclassicism); relations with twentieth-century French composers’ own music; canonic issues; Conservatoire pedagogy; wartime publishing, in the context of editions by Henry Expert, Saint-Saëns and Heugel. The project will also embrace how today’s users – students, scholars, musicians and the wider public – can benefit from (test out and inflect) this knowledge, including alternative interpretations for pianists and the promotion of ‘lost’ repertoire. ‘Accenting the Classics’ will run from summer 2016-2019.