Music Archives in the Twenty-First Century: The Challenges of Politics and Technology


  • Gianmario Borio Fondazione Giorgio Cini


The transition to the twenty-first century represents a threshold in the research of twentieth-century music, which can now be perceived, more than simply chronologically, as a self-contained period. This change of view for observers in fact corresponds with musicology's gradual move away from previously dominant models of contemporary history [Zeitgeschichte] with its presumption that narrators take part, at least indirectly, in the events that they describe. The music of the twentieth century has plainly become history: as the expression of a different state of things, it is accessible to current experience in a mediated fashion - without that meaning we lose sight of the fact that its effects stretch into the present. An important factor in this change of perspective was the collection, description and inventory of primary sources, which made the foundation and expansion of music archives possible. Accordingly, in criticism, the gap has widened between source-based accounts on the one hand and descriptions that are based on personal impressions or ideological premises on the other. [...]