10 Pages

The Rossini Thematic Catalog: When Does Bibliographical Access Become Bibliographical Excess?: Philip Gossett

These criticisms of Hopkinson's work have always struck me as fundamentally unfair. They presume a communality of shared interests on the part of those who employ the resources of our reference collections that has never and will never exist. They presume that the central "facts" in the history of music are a collection of musical works in authentic versions: until those "facts" are established, everything else would appear to be superfluous. Yet the growing importance of studies concerning the history of the reception of musical works belies this prejudice. Though we may not be prepared to follow reception history to its logical conclusion, dethroning the work of art as conceived by its composer (however problematic that concept may be) in favor of the equal historical weight of all its stages, we cannot easily deny that works have a historical life of their own, a life documented in performances, reviews, literature, art, manuscripts, and printed editions, even those published after the death of a composer.