Style, Aesthetics, and Reception
12. On Jan Karłowicz’s Concept of the Revolution in Musical Notation (with the Example of his ‘Philological’ Transcription of the Prelude in B Minor op. 28 no. 6)
‘…the notation used hitherto, that is, the way in which musical notes are written, does not suit their principal purpose’
In 1892, when the emotions and discussions surrounding Volapük – the artificial syncretic language devised a dozen years or so previously by the German priest Johann Martin Schleyer – had yet to abate, the attention of the city’s most distinguished musical authorities was attracted by a critique of traditional musical notation, and a project for its reform, presented by the well-known historian, linguist, folklore scholar and musicologist Jan Karłowicz (1836–1903), a true Renaissance man, who penned such a variety of works as Poradnik dla zbierających rzeczy ludowe [Handbook for Collectors of Folklore] (1871), Rys żywota i twórczości Stanisława Moniuszki [An Outline of the Life and Work of Stanisław Moniuszko] (1884–85), Wyprawa Kijowska Bolesława Wielkiego [Boleslaus the Great’s Kiev Campaign] (1872), Słownik gwar polskich [Dictionary of Polish Dialects] (1900–1911), Poradnik dla osób wybierających książki dla dzieci i młodzieży [Guide for Persons Choosing Books for Children and Young Adults] (1881) and O człowieku pierwotnym [Of Primitive Man] (1903), and a translator of philosophical works (including Herbert Spencer) and works on music theory (e.g. Ernst Friedrich Richter’s Lehrbuch der Harmonie (1871) and Johann Christian Lobe’s Lehrbuch der musikalischen Composition (1872)). Jan Karłowicz was also – a fact that, in musical circles at least, eclipsed his own star for many years – the father of Mieczysław...
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