Brahms’s 4th: doubts, decisions, documents: a lecture by Professor Robert Pascall
by Music at King Edward's School, Birmingham
Tuesday, 23 February at 1620
Ruddock Performing Arts Centre
KES/KEHS Symphony Orchestra will be performing Brahms’s Fourth Symphony on March 6 and March 7. As part of its preparations, we have invited leading Brahms scholar Professor Robert Pascall to speak at King Edward’s School. His title is ‘Brahms’s 4th: doubts, decisions, documents’, and he will talk about his edition of the symphony, the works genesis, and its performance.
This is a public event to which all are invited. The lecture will last for 45 minutes, followed by the opportunity to ask questions; there is no need to book tickets.
Robert Pascall (born Colwyn Bay, 1944) studied music with John Caldwell, Egon Wellesz and Sir Jack Westrup at Oxford, where he was organ scholar of Keble College (1962-5). He took his DPhil with the thesis Formal Principles in the Music of Brahms (1973), and this composer has formed the central focus of his research activities ever since. 1968-98 he taught at the University of Nottingham, for the last ten of those years as Professor and Head of Music, taking up the same position at Bangor University in 1998 and retiring in 2005. He is now Emeritus Professor at Nottingham and at Bangor. In 2005-7 he held a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship.
As analyst he has contributed to the literature on genre, influence and perceptual pertinence, and published analyses of works by Beethoven, Brahms, Schoenberg and Franz Schmidt, among others. He was a member of the founding committee of the Journal Music Analysis and acted as Chair of its Editorial Board 1989-2002. He has taught Schenkerian, Schoenbergian and semiotic analysis, the first of these in collaboration with Ian Bent at Nottingham.
In the 1980s his text-critical work on Brahms’s music emphasized the need for a new complete edition, founded in 1991 as the Johannes Brahms Gesamtausgabe, on which he works as vice-chair and as editor. His editions of the symphonies, including Brahms’s own arrangements of them for one or two pianos, four hands, appeared in seven volumes between 1996 and 2013. He is currently working on editions of Brahms’s concert arrangements of Bach Cantatas, which has involved the development of a new philological practice.
At the instigation of Sir Roger Norrington in 1989, he pioneered musicological research into historically-informed performance practice of the music of Brahms, since when he has published studies and advised conductors and soloists. In 1978 he founded the International Conference on 19th-century Music; in 1983 he was appointed Corresponding Director of the American Brahms Society; 1986-91 he served on the Council of the Royal Musical Association, of which he was made an Honorary Member in 2009. He believes in useful and joined-up musicology.