Daring to Perform

Anthony Gritten


I propose to explore the way in which McKenzie’s intervention into performance—which includes, in various ways, Cultural Performance, Organisational Performance, Technological Performance, Performance Studies, Performativity, Global Performance, and his own neologism “Perfumance”—can be used to provide insights into a much narrower and self-absorbed domain, namely the performance of notated western classical music. My examples both musical and discursive come from the music of Igor Stravinsky, a figure who remains as influential today as ever and whose ideals continue to exert an iron-clad impact on how many musicians live. I focus on Stravinsky because his ideals continue to influence the ways in which classical music is performed, even when it is music far removed from his own aesthetic and musical language; indeed, it remains fair to say that the discourse of western classical music performance is in large part a Stravinskyian discourse. This essay attempts to read the Stravinskyian discourse of music performance in McKenzian terms: as a challenge.

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Horowitz, Joseph. 2013. Arrau on Performance. New York: Dover.

McKenzie, Jon. 2001. Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance. New York: Routledge.

Stravinsky, Igor. 1947. Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


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