The Setting-Up and the Role of a Couple "Corpus/Counter-Corpus": The Example of the Nineteenth-Century Student Concertos
In order to establish the implicit expectations of the public for concertos in the nineteenth century, a “counter-corpus”, which, following Jean-Jacques Nattiez, may be compared to the main corpus, is obtained by applying to the standard repertoire a sorting filter comprising essential and secondary conditions. This counter-corpus consists of concertos and concertinos written for students, which offered intermediate-level instrumentalists the opportunity to discover the principles of the concerto genre. Although some of the theatrical effects specific to the genre were neglected in the works of this countercorpus, these works nevertheless provide some reliable information about the public’s expectations for concertos and the conventions regarding the three-movement form. Displaying virtuosity was a key issue for the composers of student concertos. These virtuosic passages appear to be almost always uniform with a formula developed at will, without being mingled with other formulas. This leads to the question whether this is a characteristic of the concerto repertoire or a deformation due to the sorting filter. It also invites reassessment of the importance of the nineteenth century virtuosic concerto in comparison with the symphonic concerto of the nineteenth century.
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