Music: Militant Antiquarian

Time changes all things—even "immortal" music. The notes Beethoven put down on paper are the same notes today, but the instruments Beethoven wrote them for are not the same instruments. He wrote for an orchestra about half the size of the modern symphony orchestra, for mechanically imperfect horns that brayed uneven melodies, for oboes that bleated out of tune. His piano had shorter strings, his violin a shorter neck; both were different in tone quality from their modern equivalents. Eighteenth-Century Bach's violin was played with a bow shaped like an archer's. It drew...