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Georg Corall (2015)
Artistic Associate
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Jane Davidson
The University of Melbourne
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Strumenti d’amore -uncovering the emotional affiliations of 17th and 18th century musical instrument terminology and its meaning for the performance on period instruments

This project, part of CHE's new Artistic Associates initiative, explores instruments classified as 'd'amore' in the 17th and 18th centuries. It will culminate in a recording with les hautboïstes de prusse, directed by Georg Corall.

Strumenti d’amore -uncovering the emotional affiliations of 17th and 18th century musical instrument terminology and its meaning for the performance on period instruments

Martin Heinrich Fuhrmann described in 1706 the viola d’amore as a ‘re-tuned violin with strings of wire’, which ‘sounds loveliest in the evening’s calm’. In the 18th century, the ‘d’amore’ terminology was also introduced to the oboe and the flute families to describe lower-pitched instruments. Recent discoveries that have not yet been investigated seem to indicate that instrument makers also developed a chalumeaux d’amore and a horn d’amore. Yet, what does this terminology really mean to us today? Why were these instruments described as ‘d’amore’? Can constructional differences as well as written descriptions of the instruments’ sounds help us to understand decisions of instrumentation by the composers of this era?

By exploring the range of instruments classified as ‘d’amore’ as well as the musical works associated with them, this research project aims to uncover the historical usage of these unique instruments. In addition, it attempts to uncover the emotional affiliations associated with the strumenti d’amore. Indeed, what, if any, emotional qualities did these instruments embody? And, were they used to specifically evoke certain emotions in music? These evocative questions still linger in today’s historically—informed performance practice interpretations and beg long-overdue answers.

The ensemble les hautboïstes de prusse (dir. Georg Corall) is involved as industry partner for the recording. The Viola d’amore specialist Daniela Braun from Berlin will participate in the recording as well as in the research for the anticipated peer-reviewed article that will present the outcomes to the research community.

Image: Johann Christoph Weigel, Musicalisches Theatrum auf welchen alle dieser edlen Kunst gehörige Instrumenta in anmuthigen Posituren lebhafft gezeiget und allen Music Liebhabern zu gefälliger belustigung vorgestellet werden, Nürnberg, ca1722. Courtesy of IMSLP Petrucci Music Library.