QUOTE(briantrumpet @ Jun 18 2012, 06:09 PM)
Just a thought - how about something to do with comparing scores and early recordings by people like Rachmaninov (or someone less obvious), seeing discrepancies, or comparing with modern performances. Gives a good opportunity to do lots of analytical listening, and dealing with primary source materials...
An aspect of this that I was reminded of recently is the liberties that conductors took (take?) with scores. Two examples that immediately spring to mind:
Mahler's rewriting of the passage in the first movement of Schumann's "Rhenish" symphony where the tune occurs in canon, after two bars. He thought the second entry too weak, so delayed the horns two bars, moving them from the first to the second entry.
In Beethoven 5, movement 1, the horns have a motif (Bb Bb Bb Eb--- F--- Bb->->), starting at bar 59, that is recapitulated at bar 303 on the bassoons, who start on G. When I first started listening to this symphony (c. 1948) it was common to transfer this motif back to the horns, on the grounds that if Beethoven had had chromatic horns (i.e. with valves) he would have used them here. I don't know who started doing this (it could have been Mahler again), but I distinctly recall a performance under Sir Malcolm Sargent in which it happened.
With our modern taste having moved in the direction of "authenticity" or, more modestly, "historical awareness", both of these changes would now be considered old-fashioned. I don't recall hearing the change to the Beethoven after about 1960. The change to the Schumann was made with the unexceptional aim of clarifying the musical argument where there were problems of balance, but most current conductors would try to achieve the same result with different methods. Of course, on CD the engineer can correct any muddiness that remains after the instrumentalists have done their best.