Edited by Annette Richards
Editorial Assistants: Mark Ferraguto, Martin Küster, Ellen Lockhart, Damien Mahiet
Frederick K. Gable
Conversation: Fortepianist Andrew Willis talks with Instrument-maker David Sutherland
This inaugural volume of Keyboard Perspectives, the Yearbook of the Westfield Center, reflects not only the breadth of interest and approach of the organization's membership and programs, but also of the field of keyboard studies more generally. Like the Westfield Center itself, our Yearbook seeks to foster research, performance, and discussion concerning the entire history of keyboard instruments and their music. It is a vast history: only that of song stretches further into the past. The present volume spans a rich and diverse four centuries of that long historical trajectory, from Heinrich Scheidemann and Johann Joachim Froberger in the seventeenth century, to J. S. Bach and Mozart in the eighteenth, and on to builders of fortepianos and organs in the twenty-first. The range of themes reflects only some of the diversity of the Westfield Center's membership and interests, and its continued mission as a resource for the study of keyboard music.
Keyboard Perspectives hopes to provide a venue in which current and ongoing projects can be considered, scholarly research presented, questions raised, and a host of issues viewed from many complementary angles. The Westfield Center is made up of experts and amateurs interested in a great many topics, repertories, instruments, and performance practices, of which each edition of the Yearbook can give only a partial, but nonetheless fruitful, view. In editing the present volume, I have been continually struck by how seemingly disparate ideas and arguments from one article would enhance my reading of, and thinking about, the other contributions. I can hardly claim that this was by design, and it must rather reflect the fact that although individuals in the group pursue their own interests, there are myriad points of contact between them—some obvious, others all the more alluring because of their fortuitous, even accidental, nature.
The essays by Frederick Gable and Tom Beghin both have to do with issues of performance, though much more than that as well. Beghin grapples with issues at the nexus of organology and performance practice, and his essay sparks a vibrant discussion with Joel Speerstra's presentation of important new organ building research and the aesthetic foundation underpinning its results. Similarly, the conversation between David Sutherland and Andrew Willis transposes many of the issues relevant to Beghin and Speerstra to the early Italian piano andthe music of J. S. Bach. Owen Jander's considered and creative reflections on the seminal organ sonatas of J. S. Bach present a new view of this collection, so central to the musical life of every organist. Jander's direct engagement with this well-known and much-analyzed repertoire yields fascinating results, and reminds us that sounding music is at the center of all our discussion. David Yearsley argues that contemporary fiction can help us understand Froberger's enigmatic music; the element of travel through time and space explored in his essay (as in Froberger's music) is shared with the Westfield Center's project of bringing old music into our own age in creative and enriching ways. Finally, Mark Ferraguto's review essay of some recent Buxtehude recordings, issued to coincide with the three-hundredth anniversary of the Lübeck organist's death, considers changing approaches to interpretation, and the evolving relationship between players and the historic and modern instruments at their disposal.
In all of this, disciplinary distinctions between performance and scholarship often begin to dissolve, not only when, as is the case with the contributors here represented, the writers themselves are multi-dimensional, but because none of the work is abstract or intellectually isolated: all of these essays inspire further thought and real performance. That is not to say that this is a performance practice journal. Placing keyboard music in its wider cultural context brings its potential meanings into greater relief, makes it more richly textured, and can only increase the delight it gives us. The accompanying CD exemplifies the symbiosis of theory and practice in the life of the Westfield Center and its Yearbook.
I hope that these chapters—scholarly articles, freer essays, reviews, and a spirited colloquy—will foster further inquiry and discussion, and that this and future editions of the Yearbook will provide a fertile forum for such work. In its format as presently conceived, the Yearbook moves from essays of varying lengths, to a conversation with, or profile of, a significant figure in keyboard studies (whether builder, player, scholar, or promoter), and then to a review of a book, recordings, instrument (or all three) by a promising student. I hope this arena for younger members will encourage inter-generational colloquy, and, as it were, keep us all on our toes. It remains for me to thank Mark Ferraguto, Martin Küster, Ellen Lockhart, and Damien Mahiet, whose editorial work has brought Keyboard Perspectives into being.
— Annette Richards