Over the last decade, musicological interest in both the composing virtuoso of the nineteenth century and the phenomenon of virtuosity has increased. Moving beyond approaches to music solely in terms of works allowed for a range of perspectives on concepts of virtuosity to emerge. Such cultural theory-based approaches crucially put the traditional musicological image of the virtuoso into a broader context. Recent advances in performance studies, furthermore, emphasise the need to include factors such as staging, the audience, sound and space, and musical practices, in our understanding of the complex phenomenon of virtuosity. The present volume tries to meet the challenges raised by these multi-layered perspectives by varying the foci on virtuosity – from specific attention to individual virtuosi and considerations of virtuosity’s historical and social context to broader questions regarding innovations in the current landscape and future virtuoso phenomena. The broad range of topics centres on the composer and virtuoso Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst and his immediate sphere of influence. The contributions in the present volume not only reveal the complexity of the research field of virtuosity but also liberate Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst from the shadow of fixed, mainly non-musical, discourses on virtuosity around Paganini.
The enclosed CD with recordings by Guillaume Tardif, Philippe Borer, Clive Brown and Friederike Spangenberg enriches these texts by including the dimension of sound.