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What are Brahms? If music has an identity, does anyone other than the composer know it? Is any knowledge or training necessary for us to appreciate the “identity” of a musical work? Individuals and societies use music to define their own identities, but does music itself offer anything more than a construct of freely interpretable parameters? What is a Beethoven quartet? the score? the memory? a composite of performances?

Christopher Hogwood will consider the implications of education, interpretation (including the “authenticists”), concepts of “style” in both written and improvised musics, fakes, arrangements, familiarity and religion, and also comment on the work of musicology in identifying the ‘DNA’ of composers, its place in the defining of anonymous works, attempts to create computer-music and the “myth” of the compositional paradigm.


Christopher Hogwood is one of the greatest proponents of the early music movement, as well as a renowned conductor of twentieth century works. This season he becomes lifetime Emeritus Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, the orchestra he founded in 1973, and begins a series of Handel operas in concert with the rarely performed Amadigi. In addition he is Conductor Laureate of Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society and continues his close association with the Kammerorchester Basel. In demand by many of the world’s leading orchestras, he is a regular guest with the Tonhalle Zurich, Orquesta Ciudad de Granada, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and Athens Camerata. This season he also appears with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Bremen Philharmonic and Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra. Hogwood began his career as a keyboardist and has been a major force in the revolution that has forever changed the way music is performed, recorded and heard. Based on the principle of discovering and, where possible, recreating the composer’s intentions, his approach begins with musicology – going back to the original sources, correcting published errors and tracking subsequent changes. His repertoire ranges from mediaeval to contemporary music, but with a particularly affinity for Haydn and Handel and in twentieth-century music, for the neo-baroque and neo-classical schools. His current editorial work varies from the great overtures and symphonies by Mendelssohn to the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book and complete keyboard works of Purcell. Hogwood has made more than 200 records with AAM for Decca, including the first ever complete Mozart symphonies on period instruments. Other current projects range from the series of neo-classical works on Sony/BMG’s Arte Nova label with Kammerorchester Basel, to the Secret series for clavichord and Martinu’s complete works for violin and orchestra. Future plans include Prokofiev, Martinu, Copland, Haydn and Mozart and Beethoven on the clavichord.Hogwood’s many publications include a survey of patronage through the ages (Music at Court) and biographical studies of Haydn, Mozart and Handel. His latest book, `Water Music and Music for the Royal Fireworks’, is published by Cambridge University Press. He is Honorary Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge and Visiting Professor at the Royal Academy of Music. Visit for further information.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Lecture Series series.

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