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The general discussion of how to perform music from ancient or earlier times did not become an important subject of interest until the 19th century, when Europeans began looking to ancient culture generally, and musicians began to discover the musical riches from earlier centuries. The idea of performing early music more "authentically", with a sense of incorporating performance practice, was more completely established in the 20th century, creating a modern early music revival that continues today.
In England, Johann Pepusch developed an "Academy of Ancient Music" in the 1720s to study music by Palestrina, Tomás Luis de Victoria, William Byrd, Thomas Morley, and other composers at least a century old.  In Vienna, Baron Gottfried van Swieten presented house concerts of ancient music in the late 1700s, where Mozart developed his love of music by Bach and Handel. 
At the end of the 18th century, Samuel Wesley was promoting the music of Bach. 
In 1808, Samuel Wesley began performing Bach's organ music in a series of London concerts. 
Felix Mendelssohn is often credited as an important figure in reviving music from the past. He conducted a famous performance of Bach's St Matthew Passion on 11 March 1829. The concert is cited as one of the most significant events in the early music revival, although the performance used contemporary instruments and the work was condensed, leaving out a significant amount of Bach's music. 
In the early 20th century, musical historians in the emerging field of musicology began to look at Medieval and Renaissance music more carefully, preparing performing editions of many works. Aside from choirs at the cathedral churches in England which were reviving these pieces, establishing a new standard and tradition in performing Renaissance choral music, several independent instrumental ensembles also emerged in the 1960s. They included Musica Reservata and David Munrow's Early Music Consort. Research into early music was carried out by members of the Galpin Society and independent scholars such as Mary Remnant and Christopher Hogwood.
Other important milestones in the early music revival included the 1933 founding of the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland by Paul Sacher—together with distinguished musicians including the pioneering specialist in early vocal music Max Meili, who contributed to the extensive L'Anthologie Sonore series of early music recordings and recorded Renaissance lute songs for HMV—and the 1937 presentation and recording of some of Monteverdi’s Madrigals by Nadia Boulanger in France. Arnold Dolmetsch is widely considered the key figure in the early music revival in the early 20th century.  Dolmetsch's 1915 book The Interpretation of the Music of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries was a milestone in the development of authentic performances of early music.
By the 1950s the early music revival was underway, and was a fully established phenomenon by the end of the 1970s. It was centered primarily in London and Basel (at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis), although there was much activity in other European and American cities, especially New York, Boston, and San Francisco (centered around its Philharmonia Baroque). It had far-reaching and important effects for the way that people listen to classical music and the way it is taught, performed, sponsored and sold. Few people involved in the classical music industry today would not acknowledge the breadth and depth of the impact that this movement has had. As much as any other force in the period, the protagonists of the early music revival were opponents of cultural values that, in the late 1950s, seemed virtually unquestionable. The revival of interest in music from earlier periods was more widely felt than in the pedagogy and performance practice of European art music; it also influenced the performance practices and research of popular music and the music of oral traditions.[ citation needed ] Also, in the 1970s and 1980s many ensembles in Europe, led by the likes of Nikolaus Harnoncourt (Austria), Gustav Leonhardt, Jos van Veldhoven (Netherlands), Philip Herreweghe, Sigiswald Kuijken(Belgium), Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock (England) and many others, made works in baroque and early classical periods approachable and accessible for a much greater public.
The early music revival changed the listening habits of classical music audiences by introducing them to a range of music of which they were largely unaware. In the long term, the performance methods and values of the early music revivalist, particularly what became known as a quest for 'authenticity' had a permanent effect not only on early music performance, but also on the performance of music from later periods.[ citation needed ]
Most interest was centered on the medieval and renaissance periods, and to a certain extent, the first part of the baroque period. However, it could be misleading to think of this revival simply in chronological terms, because early music performers soon extended their interests to later periods. The focus was not simply on repertoire, but on the ways in which the music is conceived, the process by which it is learned, and the manners in which it is performed.[ citation needed ]
At this time established pioneers of early music such as the English counter-tenor Alfred Deller were joined by a new wave of specialist groups such as Musica Reservata and the Early Music Consort. The music they played, and the way it was performed, appeared new in comparison to the sounds that most people were used to from classical music; it seemed fresh and exotic.[ citation needed ]
But the revival could not have been complete without the reconstruction of instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. People like Otto Steinkopf (one of the most knowledgeable and talented Berlin instrument makers and performers) started the meticulous reproduction of woodwinds: crumhorns, cornamuses, rauschpfeifes, shawms, flutes and early types of clarinets and oboes. Other manufacturers like the Renaissance Workshop Company (formerly J. Woods and Sons Ltd.) played an important role in the development of early music in the 20th and 21st centuries.[ citation needed ]
There continues to be a great flourishing of ensembles, training programs, concert series, and recordings devoted to ancient music in the 21st century. In Europe a proliferation of early music festivals and specialist departments of music conservatories, have made early music an established part of mainstream musical activity.[ citation needed ]
In the United States, gatherings such as the Boston Early Music Festival and organizations such as Early Music America, the Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh and the San Francisco Early Music Society continue to promote the study and performance of ancient music. Several college music departments, such as the Peabody Institute, Indiana University, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the University of North Texas, and Boston University, have strong early music degree programs.[ citation needed ]
Recordings of all eras of early music and works of many lesser-known composers are now available. While some major recording labels have reduced funding for classical music recordings, a large number of independent classical labels, such as Harmonia Mundi and Hyperion, continue to produce early music recordings. The majority of recorded music available is found for purchase (or download) on the internet.[ citation needed ]
The clavichord is a Western European stringed rectangular keyboard instrument that was used largely in the Late Middle Ages, through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. Historically, it was mostly used as a practice instrument and as an aid to composition, not being loud enough for larger performances. The clavichord produces sound by striking brass or iron strings with small metal blades called tangents. Vibrations are transmitted through the bridge(s) to the soundboard.
Early music generally comprises Medieval music (500–1400) and Renaissance music (1400–1600), but can also include Baroque music (1600–1750). Originating in Europe, early music is a broad musical era for the beginning of Western classical music.
Renaissance music is traditionally understood to cover European music of the 15th and 16th centuries, later than the Renaissance era as it is understood in other disciplines. Rather than starting from the early 14th-century ars nova, the Trecento music was treated by musicology as a coda to Medieval music and the new era dated from the rise of triadic harmony and the spread of the ' contenance angloise ' style from Britain to the Burgundian School. A convenient watershed for its end is the adoption of basso continuo at the beginning of the Baroque period.
Historically informed performance is an approach to the performance of classical music, which aims to be faithful to the approach, manner and style of the musical era in which a work was originally conceived.
Christopher Jarvis Haley Hogwood was an English conductor, harpsichordist, writer, and musicologist. Founder of the early music ensemble the Academy of Ancient Music, he was an authority on historically informed performance and a leading figure in the early music revival of the late 20th century.
The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) is a British period-instrument orchestra based in Cambridge, England. Founded by harpsichordist Christopher Hogwood in 1973, it was named after an 18th-century organisation of the same name. The musicians play on either original instruments from the period when the music was composed or modern copies of such instruments. They generally play Baroque and Classical music, though they have also played some new compositions for baroque orchestra in recent years.
David John Munrow was a British musician and early music historian.
Dame Carolyn Emma Kirkby, is an English soprano and early music specialist. She has sung on over 100 recordings.
The Taverner Choir, Consort and Players is a British music ensemble which specialises in the performance of Early and Baroque music. The ensemble is made up of a Baroque orchestra, a vocal consort and a Choir. Performers place emphasis on a historically informed performance practice and players work with restored or replicated period instruments.
Andreas Scholl is a German countertenor, a male classical singer in the alto vocal range, specialising in Baroque music.
Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world, considered to be distinct from Western folk music or popular music traditions. It is sometimes distinguished as Western classical music, as the term "classical music" may also refer to non-Western traditions which exhibit similar formal qualities. In addition to formality, classical music is often characterized by complexity in its musical form and harmonic organization, particularly with the use of polyphony. Since at least the 9th-century it has been primarily a written tradition, spawning a sophisticated notational system, as well as accompanying literature in analytical, critical, historiographical, musicological and philosophical practices. A foundational component of Western Culture, classical music is frequently seen from the perspective of individual or groups of composers, whose compositions, personalities and beliefs have fundamentally shaped its history.
The Tudor Consort is a specialist early choral group based in Wellington, New Zealand. Depending on repertoire the group can range in size from 5 to 25 members. The group was formed in 1986 by Simon Ravens with the intention of performing lesser-known choral music from the late Medieval and Renaissance periods, laying special emphasis on English sixteenth century music. The repertoire performed by the Consort made it, in the words of the local media of the time, occupy "a unique position in [New Zealand's] musical life" and that it was "one of New Zealand's musical wonders".
Don LeRoy Smithers is an American music historian and performer on natural trumpet and cornetto. He is a pioneer for the revival of the authentic, uncompromised natural trumpet.
Renaissance & Baroque, formerly known as the Renaissance and Baroque Society of Pittsburgh is a non-profit performing arts organization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that presents performances of music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and early Classical periods with an emphasis on historically informed performance. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, describes it as having "developed one of the area's most faithful and enthusiastic followings." Its main performance venue is Synod Hall, adjacent to the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Among the ensembles which have been presented by the society are Apollo's Fire, Trio Medieval, Quadriga Consort and The Academy of Ancient Music.
Nigel North is an English lutenist, musicologist, and pedagogue.
Baroque music is a period or style of Western classical music from approximately 1600 to 1750 originated in Western Europe. This era followed the Renaissance music era, and was followed in turn by the Classical era, with the galant style marking the transition between Baroque and Classical eras. The Baroque period is divided into three major phases: early, middle, and late. Overlapping in time, they are conventionally dated from 1580 to 1650, from 1630 to 1700, and from 1680 to 1750. Baroque music forms a major portion of the "classical music" canon, and is now widely studied, performed, and listened to. The term "baroque" comes from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl". The works of Georg Friedrich Händel and Johann Sebastian Bach are considered the pinnacle of the Baroque period. Key composers of the Baroque era include, Claudio Monteverdi, Domenico Scarlatti, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Henry Purcell, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Arcangelo Corelli, François Couperin, Heinrich Schütz, Dieterich Buxtehude, and others.
Archiv Produktion is a classical music record label of German origin. It originated in 1949 as a classical label for the Deutsche Grammophon Gesellschaft (DGG), and in 1958 Archiv was established as a subsidiary of DGG, specialising in recordings of Early and Baroque music. It has since developed a particular focus on "historically informed performance" and the work of artists of the Early music revival movement of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Peter Croton is a Swiss-American lutenist and guitarist. He has attained prominence in his field through his numerous recordings, performances, publications, and teaching engagements. His recorded repertoire includes music from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical periods, as well as his own compositions. His publications include a figured bass manual for classical guitarists and publications of compositions for voice and lute.
Christophe Coin is a French cellist, viola da gamba player and conductor active in the field of historically informed performance. He is the cellist of the Quatuor Mosaïques and is the director of the Ensemble Baroque de Limoges.