Thursday, February 24, 2005

The composer’s wishes have nothing to do with it

Stravinsky conducted his own pieces. I remember listening to a recording of Stravinsky conducting one of his late choral pieces. It was all right there. Everything you heard in the performance was right there in the score. He added nothing—he took nothing away.

So was he right? Should we just do whatever is written down and quit making up our own meanings? Stravinsky is known to have wanted this. Nowadays this is actually possible. You can scan in a score and play it back as a midi file. You can find these kinds of files all over the internet. Ugh!

Life takes place in time and space. The experience of music changes with the passage of time, and performers are required to bring the music of the past into the present. The 100th time we hear something it goes dead on us. We can’t help that. That’s what the billboard 100 is about. It is a great challenge with wonderful rewards to make us hear the music again.

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