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Rokus de Groot
Professor at the Department of Musicology, University of Amsterdam

Cathy Berberian and Stravinsky: Performance or execution?

Igor Stravinsky preferred an actualisation in sound of his works as an 'execution' rather than as a 'performance'. With the former notion he denoted an approach which kept as close as possible to the score, while the latter notion implied to him a degree of personal interpretation on the part of the singer or player notably diverging from the notation.

In this perspective it is quite remarkable that he appreciated Cathy Berberian very much as a performer of his works. Analysing Berberian's rendering of Stravinsky’s Shakespeare Songs and The Owl and the Pussycat, as well as a recording of Stravinsky rehearsing his Pribaoutki with her, I will discuss the question of 'execution' and 'performance' in these cases.

Rokus de Groot (°1947 Aalst, Netherlands), musicologist and composer, professor of musicology at the University of Amsterdam, conducts research on music of the 20th and 21st centuries, especially in the field of the interaction between different cultural traditions, and in the perspective of present-day (re)conceptualisations of past and present religious and spiritual traditions. He was trained at the University of Amsterdam (Frank Harrison, Ton de Leeuw) and at the University of Utrecht (Paul Op de Coul, Jos Kunst). At present, with a team of researchers, he is working on the project ‘New Music and the Turn to Religion’, which is part of the Dutch research program The Future of the Religious Past.

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