The Hague Royal Early Music Conference Series

The Hague Royal Early Music Conference Series Edition 2021, Historical Music Pedagogy
from Choir Books to the Paris Conservatoire

It is tempting to see history as a succession of innovations and improvements. However, in recent decades long-lost instrument types, ways of playing, historical, national and regional styles have been re-added to our collective consciousness, enriching western musical life. Since we no longer possess the outdated belief that everything is better today, time has come to study what we can learn from our ancestors' pedagogical approaches. In this conference we seek to explore the hidden wisdom in the teaching practices of previous centuries.

View the programme by clicking below or via this link.

Keynote speakers

Partimento revival: an alternative to traditional music theory pedagogy?

Towards the end of the Seventeenth century, a technique of "guided improvisation" was developed in Italy from a branch of the basso continuo practice. The masters of the four Neapolitan conservatories adopted this technique as one of the three pillars of composition teaching, together with solfeggi and counterpoint, and called it "partimento": a term used in Naples for basso continuo or basso seguente. Partimento-based teaching proved to be extremely successful, and was used by every Italian composer, including Giuseppe Verdi. Towards the end of the eighteenth century the Paris conservatory adopted partimenti as part of its curriculum, and continued to use them in the early twentieth century.

Unfortunately, such a long and glorious tradition left precious few verbal documents: there has never been a Rameau for partimenti. Instead, masters and students left a huge number of manuscripts with the naked partimenti, with scant instructions for the realization. This, and the rise of German "scientific" Harmonielehre in the nineteenth century led to the disappearance of partimenti, which were eventually forgotten even in their homeland.

The partimento-renaissance began in the first decade of the new millennium, grew exponentially during the next decade, and represents now one of the most significant trends in music theory and music pedagogy. Partimenti represent a welcome alternative - or a complement - to the traditional, intellectually driven, teaching of harmony and music analysis.

Giorgio Sanguinetti teaches music theory at the University of Rome-Tor Vergata. He published on the history of music theory, Schenkerian analysis, form, and opera analysis. His book The Art of Partimento. History, Theory and Practice (New York, Oxford University Press 2012) received in 2013 the Wallace Berry Award of the Society for Music Theory. His latest book is Le sonate per pianoforte di Beethoven. Genere, forma, espressione (Lucca, LIM, 2020).

A Game-Based Approach to Teaching Historical Improvisation

The widespread use of improvised counterpoint in both specialist early-music programmes and mainstream theory and ear-training courses has prompted teachers to rethink how to teach improvisation to students of all levels and specialisations. Fortunately, teachers do not have to start from scratch: studies of jazz improvisation have shown how developments in perception and cognition can inform our understanding of how people learn to improvise, while decades of teaching experience in basso continuo and related improvisatory keyboard practices provide us with genre-specific tools for developing effective and inclusive approaches to teaching. Both of these suggest that repetitive pattern drilling is necessary to learn how to improvise. Anna-Maria Busse Berger has shown how this repetitive approach is encouraged in historical counterpoint and diminution treatises, while Peter Schubert, Niels Berentsen and others have experimented extensively with how to bring historical pedagogy into the classroom.

My own successes and failures at teaching improvised counterpoint and diminution have led me to modify my approach in three fundamental ways. The first is to break down musical patterns into the smallest possible chunks or building blocks that can be easily memorised and drilled and then combined to form larger units. The second is to downplay and delay the introduction of rules that encourage the visual or linguistic analysis of these building blocks, focusing instead on learning by ear. Finally and most recently, I have adopted the approach of drilling patterns using musical games. These games are mostly designed to encourage the recall of pre-learned formulas in real time, starting with drilling short units using flash cards or similar approaches and ending with the student combining small units to form entire phrases or short pieces of music.

A game-based approach to teaching historical improvisation is especially useful for adult musicians, such as conservatory and university students, and professional musicians, many of whom have learned to avoid taking risks when playing with other people. Having often observed a sense of failure and self-doubt in musicians given advanced improvisation tasks without preparation, I have concluded that introductory-level games should be easy and repetitive enough that beginners can feel adept in a short amount of time. Whether they are learning historical improvisation in order to specialise in Early Music or as part of learning basic fundamentals in a broad musical education, the use of rudimentary musical games is a positive and inclusive way of teaching, providing students with a satisfying, steep learning curve and encouraging them to embrace a healthy, playful approach to their inevitable mistakes along the way.

Catherine Motuz enjoys an active career as a performer in Europe and North America. She is teaching historical trombone at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. As a researcher, she gives workshops on historical improvisation, and is writing about ideas surrounding expression in the early Renaissance.

Photo credit: Jochen Köhler

Individual papers

Chord function to schema theory: changing perspectives on basso continuo instruction

Robert Gjerdingen’s Music in the galant style has caused a paradigm shift in the field of music theory; instead of analysing eighteenth-century music in terms of functional harmony, a growing number of scholars view compositions from the period as a complex of interconnected patterns of soprano-bass formulas, that is, schemata. In comparison, there has been far less focus on the ramifications that schema theory holds for eighteenth-century improvised musical practices, including basso continuo.

Through an analysis of six instructional manuals from Salzburg, I will demonstrate that schema theory played an integral role in the pedagogy and performance of basso continuo in that city. Written by Salzburg court organists between circa 1690 to circa 1780, these manuals display a remarkably consistent approach to instructing ‘partitura’ (a term that Austrian musicians used to refer to basso continuo). This method of instruction involves students familiarising themselves with a corpus of schemata, which consist of a combination of standardised voice-leading formulas. As suggested by this method, the practice of partitura playing involves organists recognising schemata in a figured bass and reproducing their individual structures. In addition to shining light on a historical performance practice, I will address how this pedagogical approach to basso continuo accompaniment affects our conception of improvisation; rather than a free flow of musical ideas, it would appear that an improvised partitura was highly structured with nuanced voice leading.

Anthony Abouhamad is a PhD graduate from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (SCM). He has bachelor’s degrees in harpsichord from the SCM and the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. He teaches in the historical performance and musicology divisions at the SCM.

The Salmon-Locke controversy, for a new musical pedagogy? Teaching textbooks for wind instruments during the British Restoration

The British Restoration era (1660-1688) is marked by the resurgence of arts, especially theatre and music. These two arts were banned from the public sphere during the Commonwealth period ruled by Oliver Cromwell (from the Civil War in 1641 to Charles II’s return in London). Through this time, musical printings develop, addressed to amateur musicians. So much that from the years 1650s to the end of the Restoration, profuse instrumental textbooks were published in London. In 1672, a controversy breaks out between the music theorist Thomas Salmon and the composer Matthew Locke, about music teaching. Four works published alternatively by Salmon and Locke concern the use of solmization and its pointlessness or its significance. The aim of this study is to understand if these theorical writings had an effect on the way of teaching wind instruments. We will study four textbooks for flageolet and recorder: Directions for the Flagellet, published by Richard Pawlet in 1667, The Pleasant Companion, published by John Playford in 1667, A vade mecum for the lovers, published by John Hudgebut in 1679 et The Genteel companion, published by Salter Humphrey in 1683. We will try to ascertain how the wind instrumental textbooks use the earlier and contemporary musical theory.

Mathilde Aigouy currently studies recorder at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam with Jorge Isaac. She is also doing a master in musicology at Sorbonne Université. Her research concerns the use of wind instruments in incidental music during the British Restoration.

Musica Practica: Towards a redefinition of Early Music in the Conservatoire

Musica practica was the formal, Latin term that referred to music as a practical art, as opposed to the speculative character traditionally associated with the idea of musica as one of the liberal arts.

The gradual shaping of the practical discipline of music extends through most of the Middle Ages. It first acquires coherence during the 11th century, with elements still familiar today: the multi-line staff, the usage of seven letters (A-G), the introduction of mnemonic syllables for solmization, etc. By ca. 1250 the development of polyphony forces musica to break down into plana and mensurabilis, the latter including both the technique of measuring musical time and the polyphonic doctrines of organum / discantus. The systematization of counterpoint in the 14th century effectively separates the two main aspects of musica mensurabilis.

The label musica practica appears consistently in printed treatises from the late 15th century, under humanist influence and/or to give a higher status to the practical skill of music, by now clearly divided into three components: musica plana, contrapunctus, musica figuralis.

Today, “Musica Practica” is also the name of a subject within the Early Music department of the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, created a few years ago within the reshaping of the theory curriculum. It currently defines its goal as “the development of core musical skills, as understood in the Early Modern Era (roughly 1500-1800), consisting mainly of ear-training, sight-singing and improvisation using historically inspired methodology reconstructed from sources of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries”. This “Musica Practica” places emphasis on old skills, such as solmization, direct use of early notational systems, practice of improvised counterpoint, etc., up to and including the fundamental tools used in the Neapolitan conservatoires: solfeggi and partimenti.

Isaac Alonso de Molina After studied Early Music in The Hague, where he now teaches. He specialized in historical conducting techniques. Presently he’s developing historically inspired teaching methods and learning strategies to allow students to acquire a similar set of skills to that expected from musicians in the past.

Partimento and solfeggio tradition on bowed bass instruments

Although the Italian tradition of partimento was taught on the keyboard, there are sources that indicate that viol players and cellists also practiced improvising counterpoint over bass lines on their instruments. Some early eighteenth-century sources found in the Estense Music Collection in Vienna, include Caldara’s Lezioni and anonymous Essercizii per basso (EM.68). Additionally, the Neapolitan manuscripts of cellists Rocco Greco and Supriani also provide examples of partimenti and diminution technique. Lanzetti’s cello method (ca. 1756-67) and the cello method of the Paris Conservatory (1805) reflect the solfeggio tradition, containing written out two-part examples of contrapuntal and harmonic realizations, and occasionally cantabile melodies, over a scale in every key. These were initially incorporated into the practice of scales and etudes. Cellists trained in embellishing and adding ornamentation on the thoroughbass were called “violoncellisti partimentisti.” By 1876, with the change of repertoire, the pedagogue Forino noted that few teachers knew how to teach these skills.

The partimento and solfeggio tradition enabled past bowed bass players to compose, improvise obbligato parts and realize an inventive basso continuo accompaniment. While learning these skills on the bowed bass or any other melodic instrument has its limitations with imperfect realizations, that in itself becomes the idiomatic language that defines the instrument. Rediscovering these traditions liberates the bowed bass from the usual role of doubling the bass line, enabling them to also realize the thoroughbass, and gain fluency in improvising new parts.

Catherine Bahn is a Korean-American cellist and viol player. She holds masters degrees from the Royal Conservatoire The Hague and Indiana University. Since 2019, she has been teaching music history at the Mannes School of Music in New York City.

Methods of Composition, Basso Continuo and Preluding for the Harpe Organisée: The Discovery of the Methode pour la Harpe by Michel Corrette.

The first harp methods originate in Paris in the 1760’s, the earliest publication being by the Alsatian harpist Philippe-Jacques Meyer (1737-1819) in 1763. The next methods are written in 1774, one by Meyer and the other being the recently-discovered method by Michel Corrette. These methods are principally written for harps with pedals; they include much practical advice on fingerings, ornamentation and, obviously, directions how to employ the newly-invented pedals. These pedal exercises appear to be physical or mechanical instructions for altering pitches or modulating, but actually can be clearly placed within a long tradition of treatises on composition, improvisation, counterpoint, harmony and basso continuo. This presentation will firstly review the apparent mechanical exercises in Meyer (1763, 1774), Corrette (1774), Corbelin (1779), Cousineau (1784), and Ragué (1786) and then show their intrinsic musical value when composition was taught on the most modern of instruments of the 18th century: the harpe organisée.

The final part of this presentation will show how I use these exercises when teaching composition and improvisation on pedals harps today.

Maria Cleary studied harp at the Royal Conservatoires of The Hague and Brussels. Since 1996, she has specialized in historical harps and historical performance. She teaches at the Conservatorio E.F. Dall’Abaco in Verona, and Haute Ecole de Music de Genève.

The musical accent, l’aplomb and tempo rubato in late 18th / early 19th wind instrument methods

In the 18th and 19th century metrical and tempo flexibility has without doubt been part of music practice. Early recordings give us a glimpse of how they might have been applied before the time of recording (yet we will never know how they did it). When playing in a historically informed way this flexibility should as well be part of our performance today, however, because of our education of „play what’s written“ it is hard to abandon our well educated inner metronome. Since there are no recordings, teachers or artists of that period who we could listen to, we have to fall back on written documents.

This presentation sets its focus on wind instrument methods from Quantz to Baermann. What do they tell us about metrical and tempo flexibility and how could they have been applied to music? In how far are these elements already written in the music and what did musicians add? Finally, the presentation will discuss how tempo flexibility could be learned today with the help of past methods.

Anne Pustlauk is a flute player, specialized in historical flutes. In 2016 she received a doctor of arts degree with a thesis about the simple flute system between 1790 and 1850. She is a guest professor at the Royal Conservatory Antwerp.

Adam Gumpelzheimer’s Compendium musicae: Systematic solmisation instruction in the 16th and 17th century

Of the numerous singing treatises, which were published in the 16th and 17th century, Adam Gumpelzheimer’s Compendium Musicae (Augsburg 1591) was one of the most successful, as 12 reprints from 1595 to 1681 confirm. While the section on elementary music teaching in the Compendium turns out to be essentially a copy and translation of Heinrich Faber’s Compendiolum musicae (Nuremberg 1548) into German, Gumpelzheimer augmented his treatise with a large number of music examples. Taking a closer look, it becomes apparent that the substantial section with canons in the Compendium exemplifies a systematic method for teaching how to sing with the help of solmisation syllables – a practice which had been used since the medieval. Gumpelzheimer’s gradual approach on the issue could be seen as one of the reasons for the success of his treatise and presents a valuable source for studying vocal pedagogy in the 16th and 17th century.

Bernhard Rainer, PhD, studied trombone in Graz, London and Vienna, and period trombone at the Schola Cantorum in Basel. He teaches at the Kunstuniversität in Graz (historical music theory) and is giving lectures at IES abroad Vienna (historical performance practice).

Acting rather than Rhetoric in the History of Musical Practice and Pedagogy

Musicology from the 1970s up till the 1990s put a lot of emphasis in understanding the historical relationship between music and the classical art of rhetoric. This scholarship had a good deal of influence on the Early Music movement to such a point that even departments of historically informed performance practice created courses devoted to Figurenlehre, Affektenlehre and other rhetoric-related matters. Although it is undeniable that historical sources do offer comparisons and analogies between music and rhetorical devices, this article argues, firstly, that the art of acting might have played as crucial a role in the development of musical practices as rhetoric did if not even more essential; and, secondly, that the teaching of historical techniques of acting in conservatories could yield more practical consequences for the Early Music movement than that of rhetoric has had.

I begin with a clarification about the analogy between music and rhetoric, wherein I argue that music's primary aesthetic goal is to imitate neither the order of a rhetorical speech (dispositio) nor its figures of speech (elocutio), and that the truly musical aspect of rhetoric/oratory, delivery, is not unique to this art and originally belongs to the art of acting. I proceed by focusing on late 18th-Century and early 19th-century sources which attest to the structural role acting had in musical practices of this period. I conclude by suggesting how specific elements of this art, and specially its declamatory component can be of special interest for musicians interested in historical music-making.

João Carlos Santos is a musician and researcher in the field of historical musical practices. He holds a bachelor degree in Music, Philosophy, and a masters degree devoted to both historical music-making and music theory. He is currently undertaking a PhD program in Leiden University.

The Singing Violin: vocal and violin portamento in the late-18th- and early-19th centuries

This paper presents the types of vocal and violin portamento utilised in the late-18th- and early-19th centuries. During this period, violinists sought to imitate vocal styles and techniques, and vocal and violin treatises of the time show that the vocal expressive device, portamento, was exceptionally important, with different types of portamento having different expressive uses. Treatises also show that portamento was integral to both singing and violin technique, as it was a natural by-product of the technical systems being taught. Vocal treatises from Pier Francesco Tosi (1723) to Manuel Garcia (1856) encourage a legato singing style, from which portamento is derived. Similarly, treatises by violinists such as Louis Spohr (1833) and Ferdinand David (1863) encourage imitating legato singing style in bow technique and using guiding tones when shifting left-hand positions to maintain audible connection between notes. I will present the six major types of portamento I found in the vocal and violin treatises of the late-18th- and early-19th centuries, comparing the vocal to the violin types. I will also present my analytical findings of varied portamento usage in 21 relevant early recordings of singers and violinists which, although made some 100 years after the written documentation, clearly capture invaluable aural representations of 19th-century performance practices. As a result of my own artistic experimentation with different vocal and violin portamento types, I will demonstrate the fundamental technical aspects of portamento usage and their possible expressive applications in current performance of early-19th-century music.

Link to Emma Williams’ Master of Early Music thesis on this topic.

Emma Williams holds degrees in both modern and historical violin performance from Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and the Royal Conservatoire The Hague. She is currently doing a PhD at Leiden University researching the relationship between early-19th-century voice and violin performance practices.

Book presentation

Book presentation: The Baroque Violin and Viola (Oxford University Press)

Based on the author’s highly-renowned course at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, this method provides a comprehensive exploration of the period’s rich and varied repertoire. With a vast store of info (both general & specific) pertaining to the pieces found in the book's 50 lessons.

Walter Reiter, violinist, teacher, leader & conductor, completed a Masters in violin pedagogy. His book “The Baroque Violin & Viola: a Fifty-Lesson Course” is the fruit of half a century of teaching both modern and Baroque violin to students of all ages.

Five minute research pitches

Sentimental Value in (early)music and how to connect to non-classical music audiences through communicating this value

The one thing that binds us all are emotions. While focusing on emotional content and contextualisation of (early) music, this research is the attempt to approach music curating and performing from the perspective of the audience’s demands and desires.

Laura von der Goltz is a violin and viola player, specialised in both historical informed and innovative performance practice. She initiated and realised several multidisciplinary Art-Projects and played with various international barock ensembles. Participating in cultural development and social change through music is her goal and inspiration.

The Prolonged Touch: Finger Pedaling and Legatissimo in Piano Music of Classical and Early Romantic Music

The term prolonged touch comes from Carl Czerny and is synonymous with finger pedaling, legatissimo, overlegato, and, in some cases, legato. This was a common technique used by the early pianists who took it out of the practices of harpsichord, clavichord, and organ playing. Its use in piano music declined during the Romantic period and beyond, due to the development of the piano and its sound, the advancement of damper pedal technique, and a more "literal” reading of notation. My research aims to understand how and where in music the prolonged touch was used in Classical and early Romantic piano music. Passages describing this technique were found in treatises and works by C. P. E. Bach, Türk, Milchmeyer, Adam, Hummel, Moscheles, Czerny, and more. From these passages, I examined the ways the aforementioned composers notated or indicated the use of this technique in their compositions. Next, based on what the treatises tell, I organized categories of musical applications of the prolonged touch and then gave examples from piano literature to further illustrate their use within each category. Finally, I demonstrated my artistic use of the prolonged touch in Mozart’s Sonata in F major, K. 332.

Blake Proehl holds a B.M. from the University of South Dakota, a M.M. in piano pedagogy and performance from Baylor University, and a M.M. in fortepiano from The Hague Royal Conservatoire. He is continuing his study of historical keyboards at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague.

The Rhetorical Trumpet; How a rhetorical approach can influence the teaching of the natural trumpet

In my master research I am developing an approach to teaching the natural trumpet that is centered around rhetoric and informed by performance science. As Royal Conservatoire main subject teacher and baroque trumpeter Susan Williams describes it, “playing the baroque trumpet is about the software – not the hardware.” Rhetorical music in the 17th and 18th centuries called on the performer to actively participate in bringing the composer’s music to life, setting “the intention to seize the work’s potential, amplify it, explicate it, and elaborate it through the performance” (Bruce Haynes, The Pathetick Musician). Even trumpeters in that day were approaching music in this way. In Girolamo Fantini’s “Modo per imparare a sonare,” he demonstrates the variety of articulations and sounds that were being attempted in the 17th century that to our modern ears can sound a little strange. And yet this wide variety of articulations, characters, and other nuances unique to early music are essential in order to achieve an eloquent performance of music from that day.

Caleb Wiebe, from Philadelphia, is a first-year masters student at KonCon studying baroque trumpet. He’s performed with the International Chamber Orchestra of Puerto Rico, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra (Los Angeles), and members of the American Brass Quintet at Aspen Music Festival.

Musical Performances

Alex Baker, Stefan Woudenberg, viola da gamba; Heleen Bongenaar, soprano; recital

Maciej Skrzeczkowski, fortepiano; C.Ph.E. Bach, Sonate mit Veränderten Reprisen nr 3 in a minor

Seung Gyun Yu, harpsichord; François Couperin, Preludes from the L'art de toucher le clavecin

Andrew Wong, violin; Franz Benda, Studies for violin

The Royal Early Music Conference Working Group

Kathryn Cok, Head of Master Research
Kate Clark, Teacher for Traverso, Renaissance Flute and Historical Development
Bart van Oort, Fortepiano Teacher, Master Circle Leader
Suzanne Konings, Head Theory Department
Brigitte Rebel, Coordinator and Project Manager Early Music
Teunis van der Zwart, Head Early Music Department



8 februari 2021 10.00 - 16:00


Online, with live musical performances brought to you from the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague

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Regular: €25 Students: €15