Foreword to the 1995 HTML Edition

A great deal has happened in the twelve years since my M.A. Thesis, "Tempo, Style, and Options in Modern Performances of Hector Berlioz' Grande Messe des morts, Op. 5" (University of Minnesota, 1983) was written. In the Performance Practice field of Musicology alone, we have moved forward considerably from our forebears, who concentrated on Baroque and pre-Baroque: "Historically-informed" performances of Beethoven, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and even Wagner have been presented in concert and recording for the delectation of the public as well as for scholars. Public controversies rage over instrumentation, phrasing, and tempi. Among all the static and flaming (to use the coy modern term), a considerable amount of signal appears mixed in with the noise, and the study of performance practice has come into its own.

Berlioz research in particular has advanced, not least with the publication of two major, if complementary, biographical works: D. Kern Holoman's Berlioz (Cambridge: Harvard UniversityPress, 1989) is perhaps the more analytical and concise of the two, whilst David Cairns' Berlioz 1803-1832: The Making of an Artist (London: André Deutsch Limited, 1989) is the more engaging, reading in parts like a fine historical novel. Berlioz' Messe Solennelle, the predecessor to the GMdm and to some others of Berlioz' works, was rediscovered in a church in Belgium, and has to date received two recordings with yet a third on the way. Berlioz' Melodies are the subject of greater interest among recording artists, and the parade of recordings of the principal works, especially the omnipresent Symphonie fantastique, continues unabated.

Interest in the Grande Messe des morts (GMdm) remains eternal. In the Discography of my Thesis I listed twenty recordings that I had been able to locate, as well as two others which I hadn't. I have since found those two, and fourteen others have been added: some old ones have come to light, and many new ones have been added to the catalogues.

Then, too, the nature of recordings has itself changed. The Compact Disc, to which I referred as a possible wave of the future even before its launch in the United States, is the audio carrier of choice, and newer, more advanced implementations of the CD (most obviously CD-ROM) are part of the Cyberage of information overload.

Technologies change, and with them the methods of presenting information. Witness for example this version of my thesis. Twelve years ago, I banged out the whole 154 pages on an IBM Correcting Selectric II with four type elements. The statistical calculations were hand-input on a borrowed Hewlett-Packard calculator; I don't even remember which model. Today, in 1995, the results of my many years of research are put forth, quivering and naked, on the World Wide Web where they may be studied by anyone with interest and the proper equipment.

To the end of making this an honest representation of my thesis, I have attempted no rewriting whatsoever. In June 1983, I was a callow youth who had not yet seen his 30th birthday, and the naïveté of the young musicologist shows through much of the writing, along with a certain tendency towards garrulousness which has always been my lot. I have let the howlers stand along with the brave insights, and I feel this electronic publication is all the better for it.

Certain technological obstacles had to be overcome in order to produce this work. First, the individual camera-ready pages had to be scanned and rendered into text. There was a comedy of errors which lasted several years before this particular goal could be accomplished, including the misplacement of the original pages in a knapsack in a returned rental car, but in the end the scanning was performed by Merlin R. "Bob" Null on a Hewlett-Packard ScanJet II. Bob has also given me much assistance and advice on computer repair and upgrade, and his is the name I would most wish to add to the Acknowledgments page if I were to revise the text.

The following steps were all performed entirely by myself. The text, though scanned and put through an optical character recognition program, had to be proofed and corrected. I stand liable for any typographical errors which have not been found. I did take the liberties of correcting a few misspellings and a few misplaced superscripts from the original text, as I feel the corrections will reflect my intentions, rather than the rushed version of the text banged out on that Selectric right after my orals.

Next, the whole lot had to be converted to HyperText Markup Language, a daunting task made somewhat simpler by the recent release of Microsoft Internet Assistant, an add-in for Microsoft Word 6.0a which has been released as freeware and trivially available on the Internet. Some decisions had to be made as to the proper presentation of the text, and if I have erred I hope it has always been on the side of clarity. A planned training session for the use of the latest Windows version of Harvard Graphics was postponed due to another student's illness, so the charts in Appendix B have been presented just as they had been scanned by Bob. I'm not sure that this isn't the wiser choice after all. The Tables in the same Appendix, however, have as an experiment been rendered into a format supported by HTML+ and/or HTML 3, an implementation supported by the Netscape Navigator 1.1 but not by Microsoft Internet Assistant. My apologies to those of who whose browsers do not support this format; if there is sufficient call for it, I may produce an alternative version using preformatted text, the traditional method of producing tables before the proposed new HTML standards.

Perhaps the most daunting part of the work was the final linking, but I think I have done well by keeping this to a logical minimum. HTML does not seem to have been written for the purpose of the publication of theses or dissertations, and it has taken far too long for the authors of the HTML standards to come up with an adequate method for displaying superscripts. Fortunately, however, all of my footnotes are bibliographical in nature, rather than commentary on the main text, so I don't think it hurts at all not to have a hypertext link at each footnote. There was one instance where I wished that HTML could portray an interruption in an ordered list, where there is an aside in regular text before the presentation of the final numbered item. It took several weeks of consulting various guides to Web publishing before I found one book that showed how I could do this, and even so, it is another HTML 3 tag.

The present presentation of the text must therefore be considered preliminary, not final, and is subject to any further adjustments that I see fit. Consider it version 0.97b. I don't know when it will reach its definitive form; perhaps I should consider a thorough revision to produce a book on the subject, if I can find an interested publisher.

This final portion of the work is being completed on 29 May 1995, observed as Memorial Day in the United States, and on this occasion also what would have been the 78th birthday of President John F. Kennedy. It is altogether fitting and proper (so to speak) that it be done today, actually, since Berlioz' GMdm was conceived, and first presented, as a memorial to those who gave their lives for their country. Therefore I humbly dedicate my work here to the memory of all those who have died as a result of war.

Updated: 29 November 1995.

Matthew B. Tepper

Foreword Copyright © 1995 by Matthew B. Tepper

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