Haydn, Solfeggio, and the Art of Melody: A New Approach to the Classical Style

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Music

Abstract

Solfeggi, or studies in melody, were central to the training of European musicians c.1670-1850. The method originated in Italian conservatoires for disadvantaged children, especially at Naples and Bologna. The presence of large ms. collections in European archives (almost 300 in Italy alone) testifies to the importance of this kind of exercise for composition and performance in the 18th and 19th centuries, including for the 'Classical Style' of Haydn and Mozart, which continues to underpin modern notions of art-music as an academic discipline and creative industry.
Despite its historical significance and its potential to enliven current debates, the tradition has featured fleetingly, if at all, in modern scholarship. The reasons for this are complex, but can be explained in part by a prevailing Germanocentric bias and a continuing reliance on 19th-century theories.
In mapping out a significant new direction for musicology, this project challenges ingrained attitudes founded on a dominant national(ist) meta-narrative, framed in 19th-century Germany. It demonstrates the importance of music as a mechanism of transnational cultural exchange, which in many ways transcends linguistic barriers. It explores a vanished network of cultural relations - a shared understanding of melody - that once brought together the poorest and richest on (almost) equal terms. Although the conservatoires that pioneered solfeggi produced musicians for the super-rich, to provide entertainment at courts and chapels, they were at the same time charitable institutions that offered vocational training for the poor and dispossessed. Many great musicians of the western tradition (including Haydn) rose to exalted status from humble backgrounds, primarily through the spread of these training methods.
This Fellowship will produce the first monograph on the solfeggio tradition, supported by a free online database, public engagement and networking activities. It will reconstruct a forgotten art of melody, drawing on primary source material not available elsewhere, to provide scholars with a framework for further studies and performers, teachers, and learners with new insights (by e.g. informing the development of curricula and music education software, facilitating collaboration through an international network, offering workshops at schools and conservatoires, preparing an international conference and exhibition, attracting PhD students, and mentoring a research assistant).
To focus its scope, the study investigates Haydn's operas and string quartets in light of the teachings of Neapolitan maestro Nicola Porpora, from whom he claimed to have learned 'the true fundamentals of composition'. This involves the construction of a new theory, which inverts the conventional modern understanding of western 'common practice' music by identifying the main compositional determinant not in the bass, as bearer of harmony, but in the melody, as bearer of form (or discourse). Solfeggi taught melodic writing and 'conduct', or what would now be called musical form.
The solfeggio tradition embodies the meritocratic spirit of the Enlightenment. It testifies to a shared European heritage of melody as a cultural practice (or a kind of language) that crossed national boundaries. Meaningful parallels can be drawn with contemporary popular music culture, which can similarly unite people across linguistic and social barriers. Haydn learned his craft busking on the streets and backing singers. His music was founded on the elaboration of simple well-known formulas, like modern pop music. Its aim was to entertain.
With appropriate leadership, this seminal study of the solfeggio tradition will contribute to an increased understanding of inter-cultural relations in terms of the influence of a transnational diaspora (primarily of Italian musicians, transmitting their practices across Europe through oral teachings) and the power of music as a common language of popular culture.

Planned Impact

The publication of the first authoritative monograph on the solfeggio tradition and its relevance to Haydn and the Classical Style, written in a style accessible to non-specialists, will have a considerable and sustained international impact amongst all those with an interest in gaining fresh insights into classical musical in general, and 18th-century music and opera in particular. The research puts forward new insights into one of the most internationally successful composers in European history, and encompasses a substantial body of evidence to support new approaches to the study and performance of a vast repertoire of opera and instrumental music (cf. Pathways). This enormous breadth of exposure - which embraces concert-goers, opera-goers, CD and DVD purchasers, radio listeners, TV viewers and internet users, in addition to performing musicians of all levels of attainment, from children and amateurs up to world-class professionals - ensures that the research will reach a wide and diverse audience. Non-academic beneficiaries include the following:

(1) Professional performing musicians will find much of interest in my research, especially those who engage with historical practice. It will be of use in particular to singers, string players, conductors, and directors working for stage, concert hall, and radio - not just in terms of Haydn's music, but opera and 18th-century music in general. Solfeggi provide a key to the expressive embellishment of melody and to perceptions of its coherence as a mode of discourse or 'conduct' (cf. Pathway 1).

(2) Straightforward practical summaries of the research, together with material on the free online database and workshops in schools, will enable music teachers at primary and secondary levels to offer their pupils the opportunity to experience the same methods of musical training that were taught to children in the 18th and 19th centuries. These methods were so effective and easily grasped that children at the age of twelve or thirteen would commonly be able to improvise and compose fugues, sonatas, and other complex pieces to a near-professional standard (cf. Pathway 2).

(3) The project will provide a resource for critics, journalists, and other freelance writers working in the fields of music and opera criticism, who will be able to draw on it for occasional pieces and the preparation of programme notes, CD and DVD liner notes and articles for (e.g.) opera house or concert programme books - an area in which many academic musicologists are also highly active (cf. Pathway 3).

(4) The project will contain numerous details of previously unpublished primary source materials of interest to Arts festival and events programme-planners, including exhibition organizers, and will suggest avenues of exploration for all those concerned with mounting stage and concert performances of Haydn, opera, and 18th-century music in general. These resources will also be of use to those engaged in broader issues of cultural history during the Enlightenment (cf. Pathway 4).

(5) All members of the public with an interest in classical music and related cultural issues, who may include concert-goers, opera-goers, CD and DVD purchasers, radio listeners, TV viewers, and internet users. Knowledge of the solfeggio tradition encourages new ways of hearing and responding to classical music, in terms of the elaboration of standard patterns and forms, and the importance of a coherent and diverting sense of discourse (cf. Pathway 5).
 
Description My research documents (for the first time) how musicians in the 'golden age' of European music, roughly from Bach to Beethoven, actually conceived their music. My findings show just how different modern theories - which continue to underpin training worldwide - are from the historical reality they purport to represent. My findings promote an entirely unknown system of key, harmony, modulation, and form.
Exploitation Route My findings have the potential to transform the accepted history of western music and the way that music is taught today.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
 
Description My research has generated significant interest and discussion within the academy and the general public, as witnessed by emails received and online discussions.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal
 
Description First International Conference on Historical Music Pedagogy 
Organisation University of Naples
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am organizing a conference to take place in late 2015 or early 2016.
Collaborator Contribution The activities are at an early stage.
Impact No outputs to report as at 11/11/2014.
Start Year 2014
 
Description First International Conference on Historical Music Pedagogy 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am organizing a conference to take place in late 2015 or early 2016.
Collaborator Contribution The activities are at an early stage.
Impact No outputs to report as at 11/11/2014.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Historical Music Pedagogy - International Network 
Organisation Northwestern University Chicago
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are applying or funding to establish an international research network. A dedicated website is already under construction and invitations have been sent to over 100 academics. The network will eventually be open to music practitioners and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution We provide academic leadership to the network. I oversee the website content.
Impact No outputs to report as of 11/11/2014.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Historical Music Pedagogy - International Network 
Organisation University of Rome Tor Vergata
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are applying or funding to establish an international research network. A dedicated website is already under construction and invitations have been sent to over 100 academics. The network will eventually be open to music practitioners and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution We provide academic leadership to the network. I oversee the website content.
Impact No outputs to report as of 11/11/2014.
Start Year 2014
 
Description Luigi Marchesi: Oceano dei soprani 
Organisation Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I co-organized an international conference and gave a keynote speech. The conference was entitled 'Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos' and was hosted by the Donizetti Foundation in Bergamo, on 16-17 October 2015. I am currently co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution The Donizetti Foundation paid for my travel and accommodation. The organizing committee consisted of: Prof Paolo Fabbri, Prof Claudio Toscani, and Dr Giulia Giovani, University of Milan Prof Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Dr Damien Colas, French National Centre for Scientific Research
Impact An edited volume of conference proceedings, Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos', will be published by Stile Galante, Amsterdam, in late 2017
Start Year 2015
 
Description Luigi Marchesi: Oceano dei soprani 
Organisation Fondazione Donizetti
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution I co-organized an international conference and gave a keynote speech. The conference was entitled 'Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos' and was hosted by the Donizetti Foundation in Bergamo, on 16-17 October 2015. I am currently co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution The Donizetti Foundation paid for my travel and accommodation. The organizing committee consisted of: Prof Paolo Fabbri, Prof Claudio Toscani, and Dr Giulia Giovani, University of Milan Prof Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Dr Damien Colas, French National Centre for Scientific Research
Impact An edited volume of conference proceedings, Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos', will be published by Stile Galante, Amsterdam, in late 2017
Start Year 2015
 
Description Luigi Marchesi: Oceano dei soprani 
Organisation National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS)
Country France, French Republic 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution I co-organized an international conference and gave a keynote speech. The conference was entitled 'Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos' and was hosted by the Donizetti Foundation in Bergamo, on 16-17 October 2015. I am currently co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution The Donizetti Foundation paid for my travel and accommodation. The organizing committee consisted of: Prof Paolo Fabbri, Prof Claudio Toscani, and Dr Giulia Giovani, University of Milan Prof Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Dr Damien Colas, French National Centre for Scientific Research
Impact An edited volume of conference proceedings, Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos', will be published by Stile Galante, Amsterdam, in late 2017
Start Year 2015
 
Description Luigi Marchesi: Oceano dei soprani 
Organisation University of Milan
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I co-organized an international conference and gave a keynote speech. The conference was entitled 'Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos' and was hosted by the Donizetti Foundation in Bergamo, on 16-17 October 2015. I am currently co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution The Donizetti Foundation paid for my travel and accommodation. The organizing committee consisted of: Prof Paolo Fabbri, Prof Claudio Toscani, and Dr Giulia Giovani, University of Milan Prof Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Dr Damien Colas, French National Centre for Scientific Research
Impact An edited volume of conference proceedings, Luigi Marchesi: Ocean of Sopranos', will be published by Stile Galante, Amsterdam, in late 2017
Start Year 2015
 
Description Music Pedagogy in Eighteenth-Century Naples 
Organisation Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I was a co-organizer of, and principal speaker at, an international conference, which took place at the University of Milan and the Bern University of the Arts on 25-27 January 2017. I assisted with the organization and reading of abstracts. I am co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution My collaborators on the organizing committee were: Prof. Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Prof. Claudio Toscani and Dr Marilena Laterza, University of Milan Dr Claudio Bacciagaluppi and dr Giulia Giovani, Hochschule der Kunste Bern The University of Milan and the Hochschule in Bern hosted the conference, and paid for my travel and accommodation expenses.
Impact Edited volume of conference proceedings, forthcoming
Start Year 2016
 
Description Music Pedagogy in Eighteenth-Century Naples 
Organisation University of Bern
Department Institute of Applied Physics
Country Switzerland, Swiss Confederation 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I was a co-organizer of, and principal speaker at, an international conference, which took place at the University of Milan and the Bern University of the Arts on 25-27 January 2017. I assisted with the organization and reading of abstracts. I am co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution My collaborators on the organizing committee were: Prof. Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Prof. Claudio Toscani and Dr Marilena Laterza, University of Milan Dr Claudio Bacciagaluppi and dr Giulia Giovani, Hochschule der Kunste Bern The University of Milan and the Hochschule in Bern hosted the conference, and paid for my travel and accommodation expenses.
Impact Edited volume of conference proceedings, forthcoming
Start Year 2016
 
Description Music Pedagogy in Eighteenth-Century Naples 
Organisation University of Milan
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I was a co-organizer of, and principal speaker at, an international conference, which took place at the University of Milan and the Bern University of the Arts on 25-27 January 2017. I assisted with the organization and reading of abstracts. I am co-editing a volume of proceedings.
Collaborator Contribution My collaborators on the organizing committee were: Prof. Rosa Cafiero, Catholic University of Milan Prof. Claudio Toscani and Dr Marilena Laterza, University of Milan Dr Claudio Bacciagaluppi and dr Giulia Giovani, Hochschule der Kunste Bern The University of Milan and the Hochschule in Bern hosted the conference, and paid for my travel and accommodation expenses.
Impact Edited volume of conference proceedings, forthcoming
Start Year 2016
 
Description Nicola Porpora and Frederick of Galles: Italian Ways in Music, Art and Poetry in 18th-Century Britain 
Organisation Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the co-organizer of an international conference to take place in Amsterdam on 13-15 October 2017: 'Nicola Porpora and Frederick of Galles: Italian Ways in Music, Art and Poetry in 18th-Century Britain'. I will also be giving an invited paper.
Collaborator Contribution The other members of the organizing committee are: Dr Stefano Aresi (Stile Galante) Prof Talya Berger (Stanford University) Prof Rosa Cafiero (Università Cattolica di Milano) Prof Claudio Toscani (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Impact I will be co-editing and contributing to a volume of conference proceedings.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Nicola Porpora and Frederick of Galles: Italian Ways in Music, Art and Poetry in 18th-Century Britain 
Organisation Stanford University
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the co-organizer of an international conference to take place in Amsterdam on 13-15 October 2017: 'Nicola Porpora and Frederick of Galles: Italian Ways in Music, Art and Poetry in 18th-Century Britain'. I will also be giving an invited paper.
Collaborator Contribution The other members of the organizing committee are: Dr Stefano Aresi (Stile Galante) Prof Talya Berger (Stanford University) Prof Rosa Cafiero (Università Cattolica di Milano) Prof Claudio Toscani (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Impact I will be co-editing and contributing to a volume of conference proceedings.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Nicola Porpora and Frederick of Galles: Italian Ways in Music, Art and Poetry in 18th-Century Britain 
Organisation University of Milan
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am the co-organizer of an international conference to take place in Amsterdam on 13-15 October 2017: 'Nicola Porpora and Frederick of Galles: Italian Ways in Music, Art and Poetry in 18th-Century Britain'. I will also be giving an invited paper.
Collaborator Contribution The other members of the organizing committee are: Dr Stefano Aresi (Stile Galante) Prof Talya Berger (Stanford University) Prof Rosa Cafiero (Università Cattolica di Milano) Prof Claudio Toscani (Università degli Studi di Milano)
Impact I will be co-editing and contributing to a volume of conference proceedings.
Start Year 2016
 
Description BBC Documentary Educating Isaac, Writer and Presenter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I wrote and presented a BBC Radio 3 Documentary (Sunday Feature), which aired on 27 April 2014. It reached an audience of over 2,000,000 people. It remains available free on iPlayer and iTunes. The documentary outlined the main findings of my research, and its significance to contemporary music education and the music profession. It involved travel to several countries and several contributors, including an 8-year-old trained according to the historical results of my research.

I was inundated with messages of approval from the general public, as well as requests for similar outputs. Several music service providers requested a presentation from me. There are many leads to follow up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b041vg00
 
Description BBC Proms 2014, guest expert 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The talk was heard by over 2,000,000 listeners live, and has since been downloaded internationally. It was followed by 30 minutes of live questions from the general public.

I received many messages of support and interest on the topic of the forgotten solfeggio tradition and its importance for past musicians, including, surprisingly, Johannes Brahms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04f8tqb
 
Description BBC Radio 3 Building a Library 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I wrote and presented a 1-hour programme on BBC Radio 3, broadcast on Saturday 11 March 2017
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description BBC Radio 3 Live Opera, special guest presenter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I managed to get the (radically new and provocative) message across to over 2,000,000 listeners that Wagner studied music in the same way as Donizetti. His only composition teacher, Theodor Weinlig, studied with Mattei in Bologna. Wagner - who came to symbolize German musical culture - learned to compose using the same methods as Donizetti.

I received many messages from the public, especially music teachers, asking for further information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b048bk9g
 
Description BBc Radio 3 Building a Library, writer and presenter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I received many messages of support and requests for further information from members of the public.

I received requests to give talks from two regional music service providers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01zb9vm
 
Description Guest Presenter on Radio 3 Live Opera on 3 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I received many messages of interest and support from the general public.

This talk was intended primarily to maintain and enhance my media profile, as a way to ensure future coverage of my research findings.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03kpb9c
 
Description Guest presenter, BBC Radio 3 CD Review 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I reviewed recordings of operas for 90 minutes live on Radio 3, reaching an audience of just under 2,000,000. I received many messages of support from the public.

This activity was designed primarily to maintain and boost my media profile, as a way to ensure future coverage of my research. Discussions are underway for a full-scale documentary on the topic of my AHRC fellowship.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited Talk at Kingston University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk was part of the postgraduate curriculum. It was well attended and was followed by an hour of open discussion. Staff and students were keen to find out more.

Messages of support and interest received from students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited Talk at University of Bristol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk generated interest among academic colleagues and postgraduates.

Those present were convinced of my conclusions and were surprised to note how far the historical evidence differs from conventional modern theory.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited Talk at University of Surrey 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk formed part of the postgraduate curriculum and was followed by an hour of open discussion with staff and students. It was well attended, with over 50 participants. There was much discussion.

Several students emailed me to request further information.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited Talk at Wagner Society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I presented information on Wagner's relation to the cantoral (solfeggio) tradition to the Wagner Society in Manchester. The audience was made up mostly of academics from other disciplines, interested in the topic. They seemed very interested.

I received suggestions for contacts in other disciplines who might be able to contribute to my research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Invited plenary speaker EuroMac Conference 2014 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact I was invited to speak as a member of the panel for a day-long discussion group at the VIII European Music Analysis conference, Leuven, Belgium. The other members were Prof. R. Gjerdingen (Northwestern) and Prof. G. Sanguinetti (Rome). The discussion group "Non-verbal Theories: Partimento and Craft Training" promoted a radical new direction in the study of European music, to which my research contributes.

My presentation stimulated much interest among academic colleagues and professional teachers and musicians. I was invited to speak at the Universities of Chicago and Northwestern.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.euromac2014.eu/programme
 
Description Invited talk at RNCM 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The talk was filmed and made available as a free podcast on the RNCM website. It sparked much discussion - especially my claim that every modern theory of 18th-century harmony has little or no relation to historical reality.

The talk reached students who will become professional musicians, as well as their teachers. There was considerable interest in finding out more. I directed attention to a website that I would soon be constructing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.rncm.ac.uk/uploads/Research_Forum_Programme_2013-14.pdf
 
Description Music Pedagogy in 18th-Century Naples 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I gave an invited talk at a conference in Milan, which I co-organized.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Recorded Five BBC Radio 3 Opera Guides 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The opera guides are intended for the general public and are freely available as podcasts online. They reach a wide audience. I received many messages of interest and support.

These guides are intended primarily to enhance my media profile, as a way to increase the audience for my research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio3/operabytes/rss.xml