Foreman’s Historical Perspectives: 20th Century Pedagogy – Part I

At no time in history has the diversity of ways in which vocal sound can be manipulated been more apparent. Nor has there ever been less agreement on how to achieve those diverse sounds, or what constitutes “good singing.”1 On the other hand, contemporary teachers proceed to disagree with much less public acrimony than in the 19th century—for [...]

Handel and Bel Canto

There is one man who is sufficiently authoritative to help us to a fairly reliable account of bel-canto, viz., Handel. The words of Robert Franz to Waldmann (quoted by Mr Finck in "Songs and Song Writers") are definite: "If anyone understood the 'bel-canto' of the Italians, it was Handel."  Here then is firm earth. Handel understood [...]

Bel canto by way of the Netherlands (or Musica Transbelgio), part 1

Last year I had the distinct pleasure of reading Daniela Bloem Hubatka's book "The Old Italian School of Singing," I know that I quote her book quite a bit on this blog, but I wanted to share with my English readers the transcript of a radio interview that she did in the Netherlands. Since reading [...]

Cultivation vs. Production in the Voice Studio

One of the most interesting words that comes up over and over again in treatises and writings on the singing voice pre-1850 is the world CULTIVATION. Books on singing from pre-1850 or so are entitled, "Bassini's Art of singing: an analytical, physiological and practical system for the cultivation of the voice." Another singing text is "Baker's Formation and [...]

La scuola del bel canto/The bel canto school

I am including the below essay in Italian and English from Luigi Leonesi as an example upon which the bel canto school was primarily focused: register unification. Leonesi derided the modern singing of this time (1904) as functionally inferior to the vocal precepts of an earlier time. It is interesting to read here an Italian [...]