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#2075897 - 05/02/13 01:13 PM about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent
music32 Offline
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Registered: 01/07/07
Posts: 1184
Loc: Berkeley, California
I was pondering this as I found you tubes of Grieg, Bartok and Gershwin playing their own music.

http://arioso7.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/...mposers-intent/
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#2076049 - 05/02/13 04:59 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
hujidong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/13
Posts: 64
Loc: Hawaii
I like this thread!!!
I have a silly thought: if musical phrases and themes are ideas, then are pieces inventions? I'm not talking about Bach inventions, but the process of idea turning into invention. So if you'd be willing to follow this little road we're talking, composers become inventors! And pieces become awesome gadgets that we can tinker with to our own enjoyment. Although program music seems to mess with this thought, isn't program music just art based on art? And how many ways are there to paint a tree?

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#2076167 - 05/02/13 08:54 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: hujidong]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7520
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: hujidong

..are pieces inventions?

Of course! grin
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Polyphonist

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#2076382 - 05/03/13 01:39 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
hujidong Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/30/13
Posts: 64
Loc: Hawaii
I think I mentioned something earlier about not taking little tunes out of context from a work.

Anyway you're from ny and you own a piano. Make some recordings you selfish bum.

Glad you agree though

smile

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#2076384 - 05/03/13 01:44 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
cefinow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/10
Posts: 355
Loc: Western NC (US)
Composers have the liberty to vary their own pieces. Last year I was learning "Golliwog's Cakewalk" and found a Youtube recording of Debussy playing it. Teacher listened and said that at one point, Debussy was not following his own directions as written on the score, and that I shouldn't take that recording as a guide (at least not at that spot). I don't generally do that anyway (take recordings as guides) but I was amused at her mock displeasure with Debussy setting a bad example. There seem to be two pieces that a composer creates: the "official" one that's published, and the personal one that the composer can continue to do with as he pleases. The rest of us don't have access to that second piece. laugh

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#2076388 - 05/03/13 02:11 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: cefinow]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4762
Loc: USA
Rant warning:

This is a huge, HUGE problem in my opinion. A lot of people take the score as gospel. Crescendo here, diminuendo here, etc. because the score says so. It just doesn't work. Even when every part of the score is taken into account, quite often the performance will still wind up being utterly boring. I think this kind of mentality is the primary source of musical banality in the classical world. Music shouldn't be premeditated in such a way. It should be spontaneous and organic. Even the composers themselves almost blatantly ignored their own scores at times. At least Debussy did.. we know that for a fact. Doesn't that tell you anything? Look, I'm not advocating rebellion against the score. All I'm saying is that music should be, like I said, spontaneous and organic. Playing an exact, literal reading of the score without plugging in your own ideas will never provide this, because then it just becomes dictation. Music doesn't belong in such shackles.


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#2076494 - 05/03/13 08:41 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Nikolas Online   content
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Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5223
Loc: Europe
The score is (on purpose) a non direct way and definitely a non specific way of notating music, for performance purposes! You get around 9 dynamic ranges (from ppp to fff) some tempo markings (Grave to Prestissimo), legato, staccato, duration and pitches. And in return you get something that include rubato and the performers' personality!

I enjoy that, as a composer. And as I've said elsewhere and got into a tiny bit of an argument I think that most (<- ok?) composers do a poor job performing their scores, because they actually cannot get out from what they've got in their heads!

If I wanted to give EXACT instructions to the performers, I'd turn the score into a midi file and work my way from there. In fact if I wanted the PERFECT performance I could, very well do that with a midi, where I've got all the control I need! But, alas, it never ends up like that: Because a performance SHOULD be personal and SHOULD be biased and influenced by all sorts of things and is ALWAYS imperfect (take that Glenn! grin).

______________________

As someone who's teaching composition, one of my main tools is to help the students analyse works. Works by dead composers most of the time. And most frequently we come to the point where we start to assume the reasons behind a note, a movement, a triplet, or whatever. And the blunt truth is that we do NOT know the reasons behind anything, let alone the intentions of a composer! We can only assume certain things and with great scholarship reach a decision that is probably 51% right (number is mine and just shows the idea that it's more probably correct than wrong, ok?).

And this is diving the classical world into some further darkness. Take for example me and my simplistic works that seem to be doing well. Apart from one person in the forums (thanks Chris) who has asked me a few questions, noted a wrong note (G# instead of G) and was curious about some other things, nobody else asked me anything. Not for the score, not for the music, not for the whys and hows and whens and whatevers... niente... Which is certainly not disappointing and I'm not complaining, but it is a bit strange, given that I'm kinda like an open book, plus rather vocal I think...

And the same goes for all other composers in EMF and their works. Nobody (Except one case) has reached back to check on something, or ask something about the work, or the composer.

If I'm gone, or any of the composers are gone, you certainly won't be getting any answers from us, so hurry up! grin
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#2076507 - 05/03/13 08:58 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
Surely the precise nature of the end result is less important than whether or not you have engaged with the music in a thoughtful way and made intelligent decisions about how to approach it.


Edited by debrucey (05/03/13 08:59 AM)

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#2076592 - 05/03/13 11:11 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17850
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Rant warning:[...] A lot of people take the score as gospel. Crescendo here, diminuendo here, etc. because the score says so. It just doesn't work.[...]I'm not advocating rebellion against the score. All I'm saying is that music should be, like I said, spontaneous and organic.[...]


Perhaps you could modify your rant to the extent that what you mean becomes clearer. First, you suggest not to follow the score because doing so "just doesn't work." Then, you say you are "not advocating rebellion against the score."

So, because Debussy - in one isolated example - didn't follow the score indications that he had written (and we don't know in what way he didn't follow the score) we should just ignore the dynamics and play what we feel?

I think most of us might have some idea of what you mean, but you do seem to contradict yourself by 1) advocating not rebelling against the score and 2) by saying that following the indications in the score just doesn't work.

If I were to follow that advice, literally, I'd play Clair de Lune ff because "that moon sure is bright, tonight and that's how I feel I can show that."

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#2076611 - 05/03/13 11:51 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 122
I think it's nice to want to honor and realize the composer's intent, and the score is a template for that purpose (i.e., a means to that end). But there's no single way of doing that, and many of the directions in music notation are relative rather than absolute in meaning. It's natural then that every single performance of the same work, even when performed by the same musician(s), is unique.

A 'sensitive' performance is, to me, one that is in touch with what the composer is communicating in the music. The score is naturally the vehicle or the medium for that and it tells you everything you need to know, but I don't think there's a need to be obsessive or overanalytical.

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#2076625 - 05/03/13 12:12 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Rant warning:

This is a huge, HUGE problem in my opinion. A lot of people take the score as gospel. Crescendo here, diminuendo here, etc. because the score says so. It just doesn't work. Even when every part of the score is taken into account, quite often the performance will still wind up being utterly boring. I think this kind of mentality is the primary source of musical banality in the classical world. Music shouldn't be premeditated in such a way. It should be spontaneous and organic. Even the composers themselves almost blatantly ignored their own scores at times. At least Debussy did.. we know that for a fact. Doesn't that tell you anything? Look, I'm not advocating rebellion against the score. All I'm saying is that music should be, like I said, spontaneous and organic. Playing an exact, literal reading of the score without plugging in your own ideas will never provide this, because then it just becomes dictation. Music doesn't belong in such shackles.
I think most of the greatest pianists, at least in the last say 75 years, follow the scores' indications most of the time. Even if one follows every indication there is still much one can include that makes each interpretation personal. If one follows every indication in the score and the performance is boring this doesn't mean that the reason it was boring is that one followed the score.

Here are 10 pianists playing just the first few measures of Beethoven's PC #4. My guess is that most of them follow the score reasonably or very closely but they all sound different:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZGiGMCiB3k


Edited by pianoloverus (05/03/13 12:28 PM)

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#2076643 - 05/03/13 01:00 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
I think editorial indications on dynamics, tempo and slurs etc. are by definition limited since there are only, what, 9(?) different possible dynamic indications whereas there is just a near infinite amount of nuance in dynamics, tonality and rising-and-falling motion that a capable pianist can produce. So the dynamic and editorial markings can never tell the whole story.

What they can do, though, is suggest a musical idea and give an outline of the general character of the piece at various spots. I really disagree that it is "boring" to follow the written editorial marks. What would be boring would be to think that the editorial marks was the beginning and the end of interpretation, which I think it's not. There's a whole world of nuance that can exist within that.

Also, sadly perhaps, I think a very many of the great pianists weren't so "spontaneous and organic" as we might suppose. When you read interviews and books, you get the sense (or I do anyway) that there was a great degree of intentionality and deliberate thought toward the tiniest details of each piece. Which I actually think is wonderful.

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#2076648 - 05/03/13 01:03 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Organist Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/18/13
Posts: 4
Loc: United Kingdom
No-one's a mind-reader...

Use your imagination; it would be boring if everyone only played the "composer's intent."


Edited by Organist (05/03/13 01:15 PM)
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#2076662 - 05/03/13 01:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 122
I find it confusing to call the words and symbols that indicate dynamics, accents, tempo, etc. 'editorial' marks or indications. Sometimes they're by the composer, and sometimes they are, literally, by an editor instead.

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#2076663 - 05/03/13 01:21 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2120
Loc: Canada
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..
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Working on:
Beethoven - Piano Sonata op. 109
Brahms - 6 Klavierstucke op. 119
Rachmaninoff - Piano Sonata no.1

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#2076666 - 05/03/13 01:27 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1979
Loc: Salt Lake City
"The composers want performers to be imaginative, in the direction of their thinking--not just robots, who execute an order."
--George Szell

Was re-reading the Szigeti biography, and came across this; glad to see it's in Hank Drake's signature! All the more telling that it's coming from Szell, someone of impeccable integrity, but who also was wrongly characterized (along with Toscanini) by uneducated critics as a literalist score-worshiper.
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#2076667 - 05/03/13 01:28 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4855
I periodically dig out my old scores - piano pieces that I wrote when I was young, and fancied myself being the next Korngold wink - to play through, to see if they'd be better off in the bonfire.

Almost always, I decided that they would sound better if dynamics were changed, the metronome markings that I meticulously noted down discarded, more rubato applied, even tempi changes within the pieces. Of course I have the composer's prerogative - it's my own music, and I can bl**dy well do what I like with it grin.

Maybe real composers playing their own music also think the same?

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#2076668 - 05/03/13 01:29 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1979
Loc: Salt Lake City
You mean composers were *gasp* human beings with emotions and actually were creative enough to change their minds? Say it ain't so!
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#2076693 - 05/03/13 02:30 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Vid Offline
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Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 808
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Throw into the mix the fact that 90% of the music we perform today were written for instruments that were considerably different (and less homogenous) in the composer's day. Its quite possible what a composer indicated in the score would be an effect, dynamic or tempo that suited the instrument(s) they were accustomed to but which is much more difficult to achieve on a modern piano.

I think how we interpret their works now could be radically different to how they were in the past. Just a thought.
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#2076714 - 05/03/13 02:58 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
I find it confusing to call the words and symbols that indicate dynamics, accents, tempo, etc. 'editorial' marks or indications. Sometimes they're by the composer, and sometimes they are, literally, by an editor instead.


I was trying to use shorthand because it's a bit tedious to type out dynamics, accents, tempo and slurs. Is there a better term for these things, collectively? No offense but it doesn't seem all that confusing as we had been talking about composer's intention the whole time, as opposed to editor's. (Right..?)

Anyway, I guess I meant editorial in the sense that one edits one's own work to clarify musical intention. But it's really just word choice and not something that needs to be belabored unless you really want to. In which case feel free to whip out the OED and set me straight. I find tedium about grammar and usage a bit anal myself, but that's just one woman's feeling about it.

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#2076717 - 05/03/13 03:00 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I periodically dig out my old scores - piano pieces that I wrote when I was young, and fancied myself being the next Korngold wink - to play through, to see if they'd be better off in the bonfire.

Almost always, I decided that they would sound better if dynamics were changed, the metronome markings that I meticulously noted down discarded, more rubato applied, even tempi changes within the pieces. Of course I have the composer's prerogative - it's my own music, and I can bl**dy well do what I like with it grin.

Maybe real composers playing their own music also think the same?


Definitely! I have this same process whenever I am revisiting some writing I did a long time ago. Maybe it's just part of the nature of creating something.

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#2076724 - 05/03/13 03:30 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 122
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
I find it confusing to call the words and symbols that indicate dynamics, accents, tempo, etc. 'editorial' marks or indications. Sometimes they're by the composer, and sometimes they are, literally, by an editor instead.


I was trying to use shorthand because it's a bit tedious to type out dynamics, accents, tempo and slurs. Is there a better term for these things, collectively? No offense but it doesn't seem all that confusing as we had been talking about composer's intention the whole time, as opposed to editor's. (Right..?)

Anyway, I guess I meant editorial in the sense that one edits one's own work to clarify musical intention. But it's really just word choice and not something that needs to be belabored unless you really want to. In which case feel free to whip out the OED and set me straight. I find tedium about grammar and usage a bit anal myself, but that's just one woman's feeling about it.

You're right that we were talking about composers and not editors, but more often than not we cannot tell the difference unless the edition is specifically Urtext. I think that is a very important point, and very much worth pointing out. What's the point of talking about a composer's intent at all if it can't be distinguished from an editor's or we aren't mindful of the distinction?

I don't think there's anything tedious or 'anal' about grammar and usage, BTW. Precision and clarity are important in communication, which is after all the very purpose of language.

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#2076725 - 05/03/13 03:34 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17850
Loc: Victoria, BC
Given the various musings that have appeared in this thread, I think we mostly agree on several things :
- a written score is only an approximation of what the composer intended for the performance of a given work
- a written score, by its very nature, is only an approximation of what musicians do when interpreting it
- the common indicators of tempo and dynamics are, themselves, not only somewhat imprecise but each indicates a range within which there is some leeway
- composers were/are human! (What?!)

I might add, given that last astute observation, that any one performance by a composer of his own work may not necessarily be deemed definitive, and may well partly be the result of the inspiration or the circumstances of the moment.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#2076726 - 05/03/13 03:37 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Again just difference of opinion :-) It's quite all right I think. Clarity and precision are very important to you. It's maybe not so nice to find little errors in other people's usage and go about pointing them out, but rather focus moreso on setting a fine example of clarity and precision in your own language. But no harm no foul. I guess you just get a bit of that on an internet forum typically, don't you?

Yes, maybe composer's intent sometimes cannot be distinguished from an editor's... That's worth thinking about. Sure.

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#2076731 - 05/03/13 03:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Goomer Piles Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 122
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin
Again just difference of opinion :-) It's quite all right I think. Clarity and precision are very important to you. It's maybe not so nice to find little errors in other people's usage and go about pointing them out, but rather focus moreso on setting a fine example of clarity and precision in your own language. But no harm no foul. I guess you just get a bit of that on an internet forum typically, don't you?

Yes, maybe composer's intent sometimes cannot be distinguished from an editor's... That's worth thinking about.

Your last paragraph is the point I was trying to make, and the only meaningful point here.

I don't know what you're going on about in your first paragraph, as no personal criticism was intended. You seem to have chosen to be offended, and one does get a bit of that on internet forums. Your 'no harm no foui' is contradicted by your perplexing choice of words and tone.


Edited by Goomer Piles (05/03/13 07:37 PM)

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#2076734 - 05/03/13 03:50 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Oh, my. It sounds like we should stick to the point about the composer's intent/ editors! For sure. I'm not quite sure where it got nasty, but let's un-nasty it now, why don't we?

Anyway, BruceD, that was a very nice summation. Carry on!

Thanks, I actually appreciated the minor edit. We cool?


Edited by mermilylumpkin (05/03/13 10:05 PM)

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#2076743 - 05/03/13 04:12 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
cefinow Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/27/10
Posts: 355
Loc: Western NC (US)
Originally Posted By: JoelW

... Music doesn't belong in such shackles.



So, if we may not let the Muse be free,
She will be bound with garlands of her own.

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#2076860 - 05/03/13 08:51 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: BruceD]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1979
Loc: Salt Lake City
Originally Posted By: BruceD


I might add, given that last astute observation, that any one performance by a composer of his own work may not necessarily be deemed definitive, and may well partly be the result of the inspiration or the circumstances of the moment.



Very well stated.
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#2076871 - 05/03/13 09:05 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: mermilylumpkin]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin


I was trying to use shorthand because it's a bit tedious to type out dynamics, accents, tempo and slurs. Is there a better term for these things, collectively?


Yes, there is. They are generally called "expression marks".

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#2076889 - 05/03/13 10:07 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
mermilylumpkin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/08/13
Posts: 121
Yes! Thanks.

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#2076894 - 05/03/13 10:36 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


+1 Thank You.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2076895 - 05/03/13 10:40 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: stores]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6080
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


+1 Thank You.


I knew you wouldn't be able to resist this thread. smile
_________________________
It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#2076898 - 05/03/13 10:47 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Damon]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


+1 Thank You.


I knew you wouldn't be able to resist this thread. smile


I've had a great deal of trouble holding my tongue.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2076902 - 05/03/13 10:52 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: stores]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4762
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


+1 Thank You.


I knew you wouldn't be able to resist this thread. smile


I've had a great deal of trouble holding my tongue.


Speak your mind stores, always. I don't understand why you made a goodbye thread, lurked for a while, and occasionally return only to re-state that you will not get involved. We WANT you to get involved. If anyone doesn't like it they can leave.

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#2076908 - 05/03/13 11:06 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
Goomer Piles Offline
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Registered: 04/14/13
Posts: 122
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: mermilylumpkin


I was trying to use shorthand because it's a bit tedious to type out dynamics, accents, tempo and slurs. Is there a better term for these things, collectively?


Yes, there is. They are generally called "expression marks".

Whoa, you got by without being attacked with weirdly passive/aggressive remarks about clarity and precision being tedious and 'anal'! Congrats!

I wonder why no one else has pointed out that many people would not know the difference between expression marks of a composer or those of an editor. If respecting the composer's intent is supposed to be the basis for this discussion, is that not a critical point?

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#2076909 - 05/03/13 11:07 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: mermilylumpkin]
Gavbrown Offline
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As a composer myself, I take the attitude that I want performers to be faithful to the notes always. I am more forgiving on the dynamics - I do want the performer to have some freedom in bringing their own artistry to the performance. Some dynamics can be assumed from context - a rising melody, in the absence of a countering dynamic, for example, often implies an increasing volume. Sometimes for a short work, I will not provide any dynamics, other than an initial mark that conveys a basic idea about how I think the piece should be performed. Dynamics become more important with longer works, because the only way to maintain interest is by varying things, such as the tempo, the volume level, the excitement level, and of course the melody and harmony. For a longer work I will put in much more specific dynamics and have a higher expectation and desire that they be followed more closely.

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#2076934 - 05/04/13 12:23 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
...tedious and anal!

Possibly you intended "banal"? wink
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#2077045 - 05/04/13 08:22 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


+1 Thank You.


I knew you wouldn't be able to resist this thread. smile


I've had a great deal of trouble holding my tongue.


Speak your mind stores, always. I don't understand why you made a goodbye thread, lurked for a while, and occasionally return only to re-state that you will not get involved. We WANT you to get involved. If anyone doesn't like it they can leave.


You've not been here long enough to understand why. I'll speak my mind when I'm ready.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2077240 - 05/04/13 04:09 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: stores]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores

You've not been here long enough to understand why. I'll speak my mind when I'm ready.


I was around a good three months before you "left". Your mannerisms often offended people, whether you said something idiotic or absolutely true. I don't know if you had any deep personal problems with fellow PW members, nor is it any of my business. What I am curious to know is why you created a goodbye thread, but for some reason continue to post every now and again stating how you will not get involved. I've seen it happen many times. What's the meaning of this lukewarm existence on PW? Make a decision and stick with it.

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#2077358 - 05/04/13 07:41 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Pogorelich. Offline
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People can change their mind. It's not a crime!

And I agree that boring performances don't come from following a score but from poor musicianship.

There's certain amount of respect with following a score and I don't understand why people seem to struggle with that concept.
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#2077361 - 05/04/13 07:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
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Most of the time, we can most fully realize the composer's intent by paying for the music, whether it is the sheet music, a recording, or performance. Sometimes the composer's intent is merely to get someone to listen to it, but usually they appreciate money.
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#2077365 - 05/04/13 07:50 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: stores

You've not been here long enough to understand why. I'll speak my mind when I'm ready.


I was around a good three months before you "left". Your mannerisms often offended people, whether you said something idiotic or absolutely true. I don't know if you had any deep personal problems with fellow PW members, nor is it any of my business. What I am curious to know is why you created a goodbye thread, but for some reason continue to post every now and again stating how you will not get involved. I've seen it happen many times. What's the meaning of this lukewarm existence on PW? Make a decision and stick with it.


It makes no difference to me, because it's just the internet. I don't care one way or another if he lurks posts here on PW, even if he says he makes ten goodbye threads.

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#2077367 - 05/04/13 07:53 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


I agree. And if someone totally ignores a diminuendo/crescendo, or a dynamic, or an articulation marking, or does the opposite of those, I think that's incorrect to do. However, if it says "tempo rubato" or "marcato," one person's rubato may be a tad less than the other, or one person's marcato may be a little "starker" than the other. I think that's more intuition and performance practice, because you're already doing one way or another what's on the score. Crescendo means crescendo; if you do a few decibels more or less than the other person, who cares as long as it's still in the overall character and context?


Edited by Orange Soda King (05/04/13 07:55 PM)

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#2077376 - 05/04/13 08:36 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Respecting the score doesn't cause boring performances - boring performances are the result of poor musicianship..


I agree. And if someone totally ignores a diminuendo/crescendo, or a dynamic, or an articulation marking, or does the opposite of those, I think that's incorrect to do. However, if it says "tempo rubato" or "marcato," one person's rubato may be a tad less than the other, or one person's marcato may be a little "starker" than the other. I think that's more intuition and performance practice, because you're already doing one way or another what's on the score. Crescendo means crescendo; if you do a few decibels more or less than the other person, who cares as long as it's still in the overall character and context?

Well, I ignored the continuous decrescendo into the slow movement of the Liszt sonata, by playing the second last chord as mezzo forte, and the last chord pianissimo, to emphasize the "ringing" effect of those last chords, as well as to put an emphasis on the the decrescendo effect. However, musically, I felt that what I did with those chords did not violate the intent of the composer.

I think the most important thing to know is that the performer should always respect the score and bring their own personality when it comes to presenting the music towards the audience. However, every musical decision is something that the musician will be held accountable for - is there an intelligent reason why you decided to follow, or deviate from, the score? Intelligent interpretation is always key.
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#2077391 - 05/04/13 09:39 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Orange Soda King Offline
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The Liszt sonata is in multiple movements?

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#2077394 - 05/04/13 09:43 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Kuanpiano Offline
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****section before the Andante Sostenuto. I call them movements to make it easier to talk about specific parts of the piece.

It's a matter of academic debate! :P
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#2077397 - 05/04/13 09:48 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

There's certain amount of respect with following a score and I don't understand why people seem to struggle with that concept.


Maybe because it's a fairly recent idea, and wasn't always dogma.

Have you read Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance yet? If you haven't, you really should. It's something of an eye-opener about all this. Besides, it's a great read.

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#2077416 - 05/04/13 11:01 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Polyphonist Offline
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
The Liszt sonata is in multiple movements?

Sort of. The movements are implied in certain places, even though the piece is written as a single movement.
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#2077436 - 05/05/13 12:17 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

There's certain amount of respect with following a score and I don't understand why people seem to struggle with that concept.


Maybe because it's a fairly recent idea, and wasn't always dogma.

Have you read Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance yet? If you haven't, you really should. It's something of an eye-opener about all this. Besides, it's a great read.


I should give that a look. It's not that it's a "dogma" per se, but I have always learned, even recently heard again that with Beethoven, Debussy, Bartok and Ravel (at least) you don't mess around. They were extreme about following markings. I mean composers worked and worked to come up with the score as it is. Why should we not follow what they wrote? I mean, with someone like Brahms, yes, it's more forgiving because he under-edited a lot of things (for instance he'll have 3 pages of forte and nothing else, so you have to be creative). You have to at least strive to achieve the overall concept. And there's SO much you can do with all the markings in the score. Like someone said, someone's staccato will be different than another person, or marcato or their dynamics even. Or their sense of "piu mosso" etc etc etc etc. That's why it's so interesting.

With Debussy violin sonata for instance, I've had at least 14 different coaches over the years. None of them disregard anything in the score, but they all have had different things to say and different ways of achieving something you see. It's incredibly interesting and rewarding to try all these things.

I don't understand why people see it as a bad thing. There's a lot you can do with that's there, in many ways - not just one.
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#2077440 - 05/05/13 12:20 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Rant warning:

This is a huge, HUGE problem in my opinion. A lot of people take the score as gospel. Crescendo here, diminuendo here, etc. because the score says so. It just doesn't work. Even when every part of the score is taken into account, quite often the performance will still wind up being utterly boring. I think this kind of mentality is the primary source of musical banality in the classical world. Music shouldn't be premeditated in such a way. It should be spontaneous and organic. Even the composers themselves almost blatantly ignored their own scores at times. At least Debussy did.. we know that for a fact. Doesn't that tell you anything? Look, I'm not advocating rebellion against the score. All I'm saying is that music should be, like I said, spontaneous and organic. Playing an exact, literal reading of the score without plugging in your own ideas will never provide this, because then it just becomes dictation. Music doesn't belong in such shackles.



It can still be spontaneous and organic, if you know what you're doing and how to interpret something..............
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#2077471 - 05/05/13 02:33 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Nikolas]
wouter79 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Nikolas
And the blunt truth is that we do NOT know the reasons behind anything, let alone the intentions of a composer!


This seems the only to the point answer so far.

Maybe we can know our own reasons, but apart from that I tend to agree with this.

So, the answer is NO
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#2077492 - 05/05/13 04:47 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
...nor is it any of my business...


Stick with that.
_________________________

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"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#2077528 - 05/05/13 07:32 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
geraldbrennan Offline
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Great thread, with unusually good input. Thanks to all.

Rachmaninoff once said that if all that was in a composer's work was what he consciously put there, it could not be great music.
The performer is part of the reality of the performance. The best never play the same piece the same way twice. A good composer will understand that this attitude in the hands of the best interpreters insures the life force in a piece of music.
He also knows that his pieces are like children, he releases them, however reluctantly, into the world and he hopes for the best, and is usually very happy when they are played at all.
The best pieces literally have NO ideal interpretation, any more than one can have a "definitive" photo of Mt. Everest.
I think that composers reading this topic will agree that the language and syntax of music composition (through the love-hate we have for Finale or Sibelius or whatever) is always approximate at best; I would maintain that that in-exactness is actually a blessing, not a curse.
A quality performer will always seek to "truly realize the composer's intent", but will keep that idea in perspective as he brings himself fully into the interpretive role.


Edited by geraldbrennan (05/05/13 07:34 AM)

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#2077539 - 05/05/13 08:01 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

There's certain amount of respect with following a score and I don't understand why people seem to struggle with that concept.


Maybe because it's a fairly recent idea, and wasn't always dogma.

Have you read Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance yet? If you haven't, you really should. It's something of an eye-opener about all this. Besides, it's a great read.


I should give that a look. It's not that it's a "dogma" per se, but I have always learned, even recently heard again that with Beethoven, Debussy, Bartok and Ravel (at least) you don't mess around. They were extreme about following markings. I mean composers worked and worked to come up with the score as it is. Why should we not follow what they wrote? I mean, with someone like Brahms, yes, it's more forgiving because he under-edited a lot of things (for instance he'll have 3 pages of forte and nothing else, so you have to be creative). You have to at least strive to achieve the overall concept. And there's SO much you can do with all the markings in the score. Like someone said, someone's staccato will be different than another person, or marcato or their dynamics even. Or their sense of "piu mosso" etc etc etc etc. That's why it's so interesting.

With Debussy violin sonata for instance, I've had at least 14 different coaches over the years. None of them disregard anything in the score, but they all have had different things to say and different ways of achieving something you see. It's incredibly interesting and rewarding to try all these things.

I don't understand why people see it as a bad thing. There's a lot you can do with that's there, in many ways - not just one.


I agree that following the score, especially with composers who really tried to put everything in, can result in wonderful performances. I don't see that as a bad thing in itself, and in my amateurish way, it is usually what I try to do.

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think. I don't think that every pianist on the planet should follow Liszt's example and add extra filigree to Chopin, but sometimes I wish just a few would dare to, if they really felt the urge. I think it's healthy to be adventurous, even outrageous, sometimes. On the other hand, if somebody turned pseudo-Lisztian score alteration into some kind of grotesque schtick (which it could easily become), I wouldn't be so happy.

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#2077567 - 05/05/13 09:48 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: wr
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

There's certain amount of respect with following a score and I don't understand why people seem to struggle with that concept.


Maybe because it's a fairly recent idea, and wasn't always dogma.

Have you read Kenneth Hamilton's After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance yet? If you haven't, you really should. It's something of an eye-opener about all this. Besides, it's a great read.


I should give that a look. It's not that it's a "dogma" per se, but I have always learned, even recently heard again that with Beethoven, Debussy, Bartok and Ravel (at least) you don't mess around. They were extreme about following markings. I mean composers worked and worked to come up with the score as it is. Why should we not follow what they wrote? I mean, with someone like Brahms, yes, it's more forgiving because he under-edited a lot of things (for instance he'll have 3 pages of forte and nothing else, so you have to be creative). You have to at least strive to achieve the overall concept. And there's SO much you can do with all the markings in the score. Like someone said, someone's staccato will be different than another person, or marcato or their dynamics even. Or their sense of "piu mosso" etc etc etc etc. That's why it's so interesting.

With Debussy violin sonata for instance, I've had at least 14 different coaches over the years. None of them disregard anything in the score, but they all have had different things to say and different ways of achieving something you see. It's incredibly interesting and rewarding to try all these things.

I don't understand why people see it as a bad thing. There's a lot you can do with that's there, in many ways - not just one.


I agree that following the score, especially with composers who really tried to put everything in, can result in wonderful performances. I don't see that as a bad thing in itself, and in my amateurish way, it is usually what I try to do.

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think. I don't think that every pianist on the planet should follow Liszt's example and add extra filigree to Chopin, but sometimes I wish just a few would dare to, if they really felt the urge. I think it's healthy to be adventurous, even outrageous, sometimes. On the other hand, if somebody turned pseudo-Lisztian score alteration into some kind of grotesque schtick (which it could easily become), I wouldn't be so happy.




Well yeah, I agree with all of that of course, and it's about 'where do you draw the line' with this.. the excellent musician will know how to use it successfully. He'll know how to transform the score into something incredible. I'm all for thinking outside the box, but it has to go with respecting the composer. I mean, I add several low octaves in Rachmaninov 1st sonata because I think it makes complete sense for many reasons.. I'm sure there are people who would crucify me, but at the same time I work like insane to be truthful to what's on the page - without feeling like I have no freedom.
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#2077568 - 05/05/13 09:50 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wouter79]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: wouter79
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
And the blunt truth is that we do NOT know the reasons behind anything, let alone the intentions of a composer!


This seems the only to the point answer so far.

Maybe we can know our own reasons, but apart from that I tend to agree with this.

So, the answer is NO


So what? Isn't that what's so fun to do? Experiment with different sounds, question things, wonder...

The most frequent question that dances in my head is usually "what did he WANT here?" And yes - I'm sure 98% of the time I'm wrong, but trying is better than not because at least this way I achieve or discover something.


Edited by Pogorelich. (05/05/13 09:51 AM)
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#2077569 - 05/05/13 09:50 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: geraldbrennan]
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Originally Posted By: geraldbrennan
The performer is part of the reality of the performance. The best never play the same piece the same way twice. A good composer will understand that this attitude in the hands of the best interpreters insures the life force in a piece of music.
I think some of the great pianists tended to vary their interpretations a lot in each performances but others played basically the same with a mostly fixed(or at least very gradually evolving and predetermined)interpretation. I don't think there's a best way in this area. I see no logical argument in favor of following a very fixed and preplanned interpretation vs. something more spontaneous. I also think that even those pianists who claim to be the most spontaneous in their playing still mostly vary only a small amount from their pre performance interpretation. The "I never perform a piece the same way twice" is in my view an exaggeration unless one is talking about minor differences. I don't think it would be possible for anyone hearing a given pianist play a given piece for the first time to tell whether that performance was exactly like a previous one or different.

I think for huge majority of all pianists(most of them being non professionals since most pianists aren't pros) the problem probably isn't following the score too much but not following the score enough.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/05/13 09:52 AM)

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#2077578 - 05/05/13 10:27 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
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Originally Posted By: wr

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think.



To hear what we're missing today, have a listen to Raoul Koczalski, who, among the pianists who have left us good recordings, was the closest in 'lineage' from Chopin himself via Karol Mikuli, Chopin's favorite student.

http://youtu.be/VRmek8kADWA Nocturne in E flat, Op.9/2
http://youtu.be/XqvLEdvrhjE Ballade No.1 in G minor

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#2077601 - 05/05/13 11:12 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think.



To hear what we're missing today, have a listen to Raoul Koczalski, who, among the pianists who have left us good recordings, was the closest in 'lineage' from Chopin himself via Karol Mikuli, Chopin's favorite student.

http://youtu.be/VRmek8kADWA Nocturne in E flat, Op.9/2
http://youtu.be/XqvLEdvrhjE Ballade No.1 in G minor
Not at all appealing for my taste.

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#2077607 - 05/05/13 11:21 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think.



To hear what we're missing today, have a listen to Raoul Koczalski, who, among the pianists who have left us good recordings, was the closest in 'lineage' from Chopin himself via Karol Mikuli, Chopin's favorite student.

http://youtu.be/VRmek8kADWA Nocturne in E flat, Op.9/2
http://youtu.be/XqvLEdvrhjE Ballade No.1 in G minor


Yep, I still remember the goosebumps I got from first hearing these fantastic performances.
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#2077614 - 05/05/13 11:47 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think.



To hear what we're missing today, have a listen to Raoul Koczalski, who, among the pianists who have left us good recordings, was the closest in 'lineage' from Chopin himself via Karol Mikuli, Chopin's favorite student.

http://youtu.be/VRmek8kADWA Nocturne in E flat, Op.9/2
http://youtu.be/XqvLEdvrhjE Ballade No.1 in G minor
Not at all appealing for my taste.


Tastes change over time. A modern period performance of Bach on period instruments would have been panned by audiences in the early twentieth century, and also possibly panned by audiences in Bach's own time. We just don't know, and frankly, who cares, except the musician trying to make a living?

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#2077626 - 05/05/13 12:16 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Thracozaag


Yep, I still remember the goosebumps I got from first hearing these fantastic performances.


And I also remember the first time I heard them too - during the Chopin Symposium held at London's Purcell Room as part of his bicentenary commemoration at the South Bank, where Kenneth Hamilton, Professor John Rink, Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (who edited the New Critical Edition for Peters, where you'll find all the known variants that Chopin is known to have annotated on his pupils' scores - especially of that Op.9/2 Nocturne), Jim Samson and two well-known concert pianists were on the stage to discuss his life and music, and the way it is performed today compared to how it was in Chopin's time, and the pianos he used.

Koczalski's recordings were played, and everyone agreed that his playing was as close to how Chopin himself would probably have played it as we're likely to hear on any recording. It opened my eyes (and ears) to a world of interpretative freedom that I'd never encountered before (disregarding some very odd performances from Vladimir Pachmann and the like wink ). Even Kenneth Hamilton admitted he couldn't imitate such a free-flowing rubato and rhythm, despite having a go on the Pleyel and Erard grands (of Chopin's time) that was on the stage together with a modern Steinway D.

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#2077644 - 05/05/13 12:43 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Thracozaag


Yep, I still remember the goosebumps I got from first hearing these fantastic performances.


And I also remember the first time I heard them too - during the Chopin Symposium held at London's Purcell Room as part of his bicentenary commemoration at the South Bank, where Kenneth Hamilton, Professor John Rink, Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (who edited the New Critical Edition for Peters, where you'll find all the known variants that Chopin is known to have annotated on his pupils' scores - especially of that Op.9/2 Nocturne), Jim Samson and two well-known concert pianists were on the stage to discuss his life and music, and the way it is performed today compared to how it was in Chopin's time, and the pianos he used.

Koczalski's recordings were played, and everyone agreed that his playing was as close to how Chopin himself would probably have played it as we're likely to hear on any recording. It opened my eyes (and ears) to a world of interpretative freedom that I'd never encountered before (disregarding some very odd performances from Vladimir Pachmann and the like wink ). Even Kenneth Hamilton admitted he couldn't imitate such a free-flowing rubato and rhythm, despite having a go on the Pleyel and Erard grands (of Chopin's time) that was on the stage together with a modern Steinway D.


I'm glad you got to hear these recordings within the context as well with some really top-notch musicologists--they're real eye (or rather, ear) openers. There are some really fabulous recordings of DePachmann, as well which I was fortunate enough (along with stunning recordings by Eugene D'Albert and Busoni) to hear through a CEDAR system, and you could really hear what these guys were all about in terms of phrasing, voicing, and their amazingly creative pedaling. If you haven't already encountered them, you might also enjoy the Chopin renditions of Alexander Michalowski.
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#2077669 - 05/05/13 01:53 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]
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Originally Posted By: Thracozaag


I'm glad you got to hear these recordings within the context as well with some really top-notch musicologists--they're real eye (or rather, ear) openers. There are some really fabulous recordings of DePachmann, as well which I was fortunate enough (along with stunning recordings by Eugene D'Albert and Busoni) to hear through a CEDAR system, and you could really hear what these guys were all about in terms of phrasing, voicing, and their amazingly creative pedaling. If you haven't already encountered them, you might also enjoy the Chopin renditions of Alexander Michalowski.


I must admit I've not heard of Michalowski - thanks for bringing him to my attention. Certainly, pianists of that era had a much greater diversity of playing styles - especially in Chopin - than today, when it is almost impossible to tell one pianist from another (apart from a few notable exceptions). Even among Polish pianists: Paderewski was as different from Koczalski as Leschetizky was from either of them.

Occasionally, in the privacy of my home, I allow my musical mind to wander freely, and indulge in some fanciful rubati and nuances, and even add the odd filigree decoration to some Chopin and Liszt music I know well. While I wouldn't dare to play like that to an audience who knows the music, I have done so for non-knowledgeable audiences, who seemed to like it.... grin

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#2077766 - 05/05/13 04:38 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
While I wouldn't dare to play like that to an audience who knows the music, I have done so for non-knowledgeable audiences, who seemed to like it.... grin


It's funny how when people play for educated audiences, they try to play like Liszt, whereas when they play for un-educated audiences, they feel free to *be* like Liszt.

I'd much rather live in a world where performers are trying to be like Liszt. (And connect with audiences and be creative artists themselves.)

I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.
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#2077775 - 05/05/13 04:59 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.
To ask the most basic question...does this mean they thought that all the markings other than the notes they put in the score are optional? Or just one suggested interpretation? Or do you mean that occasionally making some relatively small changes is what they'd approve of? Or something else?


Edited by pianoloverus (05/05/13 07:18 PM)

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#2077810 - 05/05/13 06:05 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: bennevis
While I wouldn't dare to play like that to an audience who knows the music, I have done so for non-knowledgeable audiences, who seemed to like it.... grin


It's funny how when people play for educated audiences, they try to play like Liszt, whereas when they play for un-educated audiences, they feel free to *be* like Liszt.

I'd much rather live in a world where performers are trying to be like Liszt. (And connect with audiences and be creative artists themselves.)

I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.


Couldn't agree more
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#2077822 - 05/05/13 06:22 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
patH Offline
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My two cents.

I consider the score to be just a guideline. I do not follow it to the letter.
I also believe that it's next to impossible to find a score that conveys the intent of the composer 100%. Musical language on paper is abstract.

And even if the score might be a close rendition of what the composer thought of: What about posthumous works? Chopin and Schubert come to mind. Would they have left their unpublished works the way they were found?

And (slightly OT): Anton Bruckner comes to mind, who didn't write piano music AFAIK, but lots of other music where lots of different versions exist. And when a later version differs from the first one, it's not always possible to tell if the changes were made by Bruckner himself; or if they were made by someone else with Bruckner's acceptance, his tolerance, without his knowledge or even against his will.

So: Since the score is only approximative, and it's uncertain that the composer was ok with it, the "intent of the composer" is only guesswork.
In my opinion the main focus of the pianist should not be to try to guess the composer's intent when playing the work; it should be to try to make good music.
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#2077836 - 05/05/13 06:59 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]
Goomer Piles Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.

Personally, I could not disagree more with such a statement. And why choose just those three? Why not extrapolate that idea to all of their contemporaries, too?

Would the same statement be made about great writers or painters of the past who were aware of their greatness? Seems absurd. Why would great composers who knew they were great expect their work to be taken any less seriously?

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#2077856 - 05/05/13 07:34 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.

Personally, I could not disagree more with such a statement. And why choose just those three? Why not extrapolate that idea to all of their contemporaries, too?

Would the same statement be made about great writers or painters of the past who were aware of their greatness? Seems absurd. Why would great composers who knew they were great expect their work to be taken any less seriously?


I'm utterly confused as to what you mean by their work being taken "seriously".
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#2077872 - 05/05/13 08:31 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]
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Really? I thought it would be very clear. Kreisler's own words were 'reverential and deferential treatment'. That's what I was responding to, and that's exactly what I meant by 'being taken seriously'.

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#2077874 - 05/05/13 08:35 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Really? I thought it would be very clear. Kreisler's own words were 'reverential and deferential treatment'. That's what I was responding to, and that's exactly what I meant by 'being taken seriously'.


Reverence and deference (aka score worshipping) have a far different connotation than 'being taken seriously' for me.
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#2077898 - 05/05/13 09:08 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]
Goomer Piles Offline
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For me, 'reverence and deference' do not connote 'score worshipping'.

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#2077901 - 05/05/13 09:11 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Thracozaag Offline
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Fair enough. Just hoping you're not one of those score being the end-all be-all type of philosophy.
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#2077906 - 05/05/13 09:23 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]
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Originally Posted By: Goomer Piles
Originally Posted By: Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.

Personally, I could not disagree more with such a statement. And why choose just those three? Why not extrapolate that idea to all of their contemporaries, too?

Would the same statement be made about great writers or painters of the past who were aware of their greatness? Seems absurd. Why would great composers who knew they were great expect their work to be taken any less seriously?


You made a superfluous association between paintings and writings, and music scores. The former are what they are - fixed (though written literature can be, and often are, translated into other languages or even simplified, e.g. the Bible). But music scores need to be brought to life, and are written to be performed (not just read, or admired): in the Baroque and Classical period, usually by, or under the supervision of, the composer himself, when he may often not bother to write every detail down, and will make changes and improvise on the spot. Famously, Beethoven's score of the piano part of his 3rd concerto consisted of 'Egyptian hieroglyphs', according to his hapless page-turner Ignaz von Seigfried, during the first performance by the composer grin. (Beethoven was known to add many extra notes to what he actually wrote, when he performed his own music). And everyone knows that Mozart's piano scores (especially the concertos) are only the blueprint for what he himself played during his subscription concerts.

Because classical music needs performers to bring the composers' vision to life, the performers themselves have to bring their own knowledge, intelligence and musicality to interpret what lies beneath the printed scores. During the early Romantic period of Chopin and Liszt, performers were expected to show something of themselves in their playing, even if they weren't the composers themselves (though most performers in those days were also the composers - including Mendelssohn and Brahms). They never treated the scores as set in stone.

It wasn't till the 20th century and Ravel - no great pianist himself - who declared 'performers are slaves'. And Stravinsky too. But their music ( and that of later composers who weren't also performers) are meticulously notated, leaving little of the freedom that many Chopin and Liszt scores often allow.

As wr has already recommended in his post - read Kenneth Hamilton's excellent book, and you'll realize what a straightjacket modern pianists have put themselves into, compared to how pianists used to play during the time the music (of the Romantic era) was composed.

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#2077911 - 05/05/13 09:29 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Thracozaag Offline
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I suppose one could get the scores and frame them; frozen in posterity and thus unsullied by troublesome performers.
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#2077924 - 05/05/13 09:50 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
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LOL. That is a good one, not that others were not. smile
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#2077989 - 05/05/13 11:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]
Goomer Piles Offline
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Originally Posted By: Thracozaag
Fair enough. Just hoping you're not one of those score being the end-all be-all type of philosophy.

I wouldn't say so, though it wouldn't be of much consequence if I were given I play only for my own enjoyment.

I've said before that I think the score tells you all you 'need' to know, but that's awfully basic - just notes and expression marks, really. I expect that performers go beyond what they 'need' to know. I don't expect any performance to be limited to, or limited by, the notes and expression marks.

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#2078082 - 05/06/13 02:42 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
hujidong Offline
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What if there is nothing to know. Haha! IF ONLY!

Maybe we should view limits as encouragements, and let them pull and push us as they please! That would be fun, more ideas for all!

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#2078255 - 05/06/13 11:07 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
boo1234 Offline
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I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.

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#2078259 - 05/06/13 11:18 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: patH]
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Originally Posted By: patH
My two cents.I consider the score to be just a guideline. I do not follow it to the letter.I also believe that it's next to impossible to find a score that conveys the intent of the composer 100%.
So why not follow whatever guidelines they did write even if it's not complete or one thinks it's approximate? Even if the composer's instructions are not perfect why not make the best with what he did write?

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#2078264 - 05/06/13 11:24 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: boo1234]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: boo1234
I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.
A perfect example IMO of how words with connotations can color a statement. If one replaced "anal" by "respectful" or "concerned" the statement sounds very different I think.

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#2078272 - 05/06/13 11:40 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: boo1234]
Thracozaag Offline
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Originally Posted By: boo1234
I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.


Listening to composers playing their own music (Bartok, Rachmaninoff, Faure, Scriabin, etc.) is really illuminating in this regard.
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#2078294 - 05/06/13 12:39 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: boo1234
I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.
A perfect example IMO of how words with connotations can color a statement. If one replaced "anal" by "respectful" or "concerned" the statement sounds very different I think.


What is respectful and what is concerned really depend on who you ask. And to my understanding, people in the 1800s were much more liberal about music. Pianists often did what they want with a score without a second thought. One could even argue that back then, it may have been disrespectful to NOT make the piece their own. Just a thought.

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#2078313 - 05/06/13 01:11 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
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#2078339 - 05/06/13 02:10 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
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I think all the evidence indicates that Beethoven was pretty fussy, but could be won over by a convincing personality. So, try if you want, but prepare to be fried if you're insincere.

I think Bach would ask, "if you double here, do more people come?" That man had kids to feed.

Schubert would have been happy that his music is played at all, great as it is. I think a reverential attitude with Schubert is especially wrong.

Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky would probably be the most diva-like, and complain about tempi and dynamics and instrumentation. (Mozart did it with Clementi, Chopin with Liszt, and Tchaikovsky plenty)

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#2078344 - 05/06/13 02:17 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Orange Soda King Offline
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I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page. It never restricts you. You don't have to be a purist, snob, elitist, or "score-worshiper" to do what's on the page. You just do it. If you're a good musician, there are still COUNTLESS interpretive choices to be made.

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#2078381 - 05/06/13 02:57 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Ian_G]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Ian_G

Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky would probably be the most diva-like....


There are very few pianists today who would play a Mozart concerto exactly as written in the score....... wink

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#2078387 - 05/06/13 03:07 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
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You're talking about 25? Don't fall prey to the Rosen flock. That wasn't an object-lesson in Mozart's free-wheeledness. That was a busy composer not bothering to write something out for himself.

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#2078394 - 05/06/13 03:19 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Ian_G]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Ian_G
You're talking about 25? Don't fall prey to the Rosen flock. That wasn't an object-lesson in Mozart's free-wheeledness. That was a busy composer not bothering to write something out for himself.


No, I'm talking about all his piano concertos.

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#2078398 - 05/06/13 03:29 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Whatever you do, don't ignore what the French composers wrote down (aka, Boulez, Ravel, Debussy, Messiaen)...haha. Learning how to read the score is always a new challenge and is never the same on a composer-to-composer basis. There are many shades of grey, and it's important to approach music with a flexible mindset.
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#2078405 - 05/06/13 03:42 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
AndyJ Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Whatever you do, don't ignore what the French composers wrote down (aka, Boulez, Ravel, Debussy, Messiaen)...haha. Learning how to read the score is always a new challenge and is never the same on a composer-to-composer basis. There are many shades of grey, and it's important to approach music with a flexible mindset.

Years ago now, I overheard a conversation between a rising star in avant-garde piano performance and one of the established masters. I won't name the latter, let's just call him Fred.

The young woman asked Fred how he played one bit of the piece she was working on, which used graphical notation rather than standard music notation. He glanced at it and said "I just look at it and improvise. The composers always seem to like it."

The message I took home was that there's no point writing scores that are detailed beyond human ability to reproduce. Furthermore, there's a current of self-delusion circulating in academic music where composers sweat over super-detailed scores even though they can't tell when the performer just takes them as a suggestion.

Andy

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#2078407 - 05/06/13 03:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
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Messiaen is an interesting case, because he gave his approval to recordings and performances by many pianists (not just his wife) and conductors. I've heard at least four versions of his Turangalîla Symphony on CD, which proudly boasts that he was at the recording sessions (and almost implied that the conductor and pianist worked closely with him on the work), and that the performance was 'definitive'.

Yet none of them followed every marking in his score.....

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#2078408 - 05/06/13 03:46 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
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Any excuse for some Denk...

http://jeremydenk.net/blog/2008/03/07/yet-another-ill-advised-egregious-post/

It's really a wonderful rant.
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#2078418 - 05/06/13 04:07 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Goomer Piles Offline
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page. It never restricts you. You don't have to be a purist, snob, elitist, or "score-worshiper" to do what's on the page. You just do it. If you're a good musician, there are still COUNTLESS interpretive choices to be made.
Amen.

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#2078420 - 05/06/13 04:09 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Ian_G

Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky would probably be the most diva-like....


There are very few pianists today who would play a Mozart concerto exactly as written in the score....... wink


There are few Mozart concerto sources which are more than a vague reference to Mozart's intentions, particularly for the solo part. The manuscripts are often incomplete, and most of them were not published under his supervision.
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#2078428 - 05/06/13 04:17 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kuanpiano]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Didn't any of you read my post from yesterday? The simple fact is that a performer is supposed to be making music.

I have spent the last 13 years re-discovering what that is. It absolutely is not meticulously following some score.

The early comment about the Golliwogg's cakewalk which is on the Debussy piano roll is a typical example of what most piano teachers don't know about making music.

As anyone who has ever composed a piece of music knows, what is put down on the page in terms of notes is only a rough approximation of the sound that the composer hears in their minds ear.

Debussy was an impressionist. He was not a realist.

Therefore, what he was trying to do was to create in the listener's ear the "impression" of what it was like for him to see these black circus clowns perform at the Parisien circus.

So, in case you missed it the the first time, I list part of my post from yesterday wherein I quote Earl Wild, who for 80 years played and taught people how to make "music."

From page 448 of Earl Wild's Memoir:

"Since World War II, performers have, with few exceptions, been dominated by musicologists who have frightened everyone into uniformity. We no longer have the large varitey of unique personalities in the piano field.....

When I performed at the University of Maryland Piano Festival, I began my program with the Haydn Piano Sonata in D Major No.50. I was reviewed by a Washington, D.C. critic who criticized me severely because I broke some chords (I rolled some chords at the end of the last movement). It was a very common practice in Haydn's day to do this. Reading this criticism reminded me that there is such misinformtion about music today. We are subjected daily to the "urtext mob" (as Jorge Bolet often referred to them), who have put music into a straitjacket because they believe the printed page is sacred."

Finally, for your listening pleasure, Earl Wild's recording of the A Flat Major Ballade, in case any of you want hear how it is done with rolled and block chords. Please move the cursor to the 16.00 minute mark.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-59bSNgQAY

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#2078445 - 05/06/13 04:41 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
wouter79 Offline
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Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: wouter79
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
And the blunt truth is that we do NOT know the reasons behind anything, let alone the intentions of a composer!


This seems the only to the point answer so far.

Maybe we can know our own reasons, but apart from that I tend to agree with this.

So, the answer is NO


So what? Isn't that what's so fun to do? Experiment with different sounds, question things, wonder...

The most frequent question that dances in my head is usually "what did he WANT here?" And yes - I'm sure 98% of the time I'm wrong, but trying is better than not because at least this way I achieve or discover something.


So What??? This is what the OP asks!

I did not say what to do if the answer is no as he did not ask that :-D
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#2078460 - 05/06/13 05:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Mwm Offline
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Can we ever truly realize the composer's intent?

No, of course not, and neither can the composer. If they think they can perform the work such that the listener truly hears the composer's intent, they need to take a course in psychology.

The ultimate arbiter of the music performance is the listener. No matter how one interprets the score, whether by slavishly adhering to all the markings, including editorial additions and note changes, intentional or unintentional, or by ignoring the score and playing according to their own way of expressing what they experience, having worked on the piece, it will be judged by the listener, no one else.

If a large number of listeners, at a given time, agree on the interpretation as having value, then that is all that the composer and performer can expect. Those values change over time, and change according to the listener group sampled. I prefer eccentric interpretations of music I know well, since it is a fresh approach, but I perform the same work with, sadly I might add, very careful attention to the score.

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#2078483 - 05/06/13 06:10 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
wower Offline
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I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.
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#2078485 - 05/06/13 06:18 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wower]
beet31425 Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page...
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score...

I tend to follow the score pretty closely, but I think it's a complicated issue, because it's just not clear whether a composer regarded his interpretive markings as commandments or suggestions. As has already been mentioned, listening to composers play their own works, and disregard their own markings, gives one pause.

I think the issue of fidelity to the score is subtle, and complex, and historically informed. Hence the "fuss". smile

-J
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#2078487 - 05/06/13 06:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wower]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: wower
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.


Very few composers, who are presently decomposing, approved their manuscripts. Music editors and publishers of the past (and, I might add, the present) shamelessly changed notes in scores, assuming that the composer had made an error (I mentioned in an earlier thread Saint-Saëns, who edited and corrected all of Charpentier's "errors" in cross-relations to make them more "harmonious"), and adding dynamic and phrasing markings to help the aspiring pianist. One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive.

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#2078489 - 05/06/13 06:23 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
JoelW Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.


Very few composers, who are presently decomposing, approved their manuscripts. Music editors and publishers of the past (and, I might add, the present) shamelessly changed notes in scores, assuming that the composer had made an error (I mentioned in an earlier thread Saint-Saëns, who edited and corrected all of Charpentier's "errors" in cross-relations to make them more "harmonious"), and adding dynamic and phrasing markings to help the aspiring pianist. One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive.


Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?

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#2078493 - 05/06/13 06:37 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to voice support in the corner of Kuanpiano and OSK et al. I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score. Presumably the composer approved the manuscript and I've simply never felt limited or bounded by their intentions. Quite the opposite in fact, following meticulously still reveals great degrees of freedom of expression musically.


Very few composers, who are presently decomposing, approved their manuscripts. Music editors and publishers of the past (and, I might add, the present) shamelessly changed notes in scores, assuming that the composer had made an error (I mentioned in an earlier thread Saint-Saëns, who edited and corrected all of Charpentier's "errors" in cross-relations to make them more "harmonious"), and adding dynamic and phrasing markings to help the aspiring pianist. One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive.


Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?


Being dead presents a problem. Charpentier died 1704, Saint-Saëns was born 1835

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#2078496 - 05/06/13 06:47 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: beet31425]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page...
Originally Posted By: wower
I have to agree I'm not sure what all the fuss is about when following the score...

I tend to follow the score pretty closely, but I think it's a complicated issue, because it's just not clear whether a composer regarded his interpretive markings as commandments or suggestions. As has already been mentioned, listening to composers play their own works, and disregard their own markings, gives one pause.

I think the issue of fidelity to the score is subtle, and complex, and historically informed. Hence the "fuss". smile

-J


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".

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#2078501 - 05/06/13 07:00 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".
When a composer doesn't use any markings it's safe to assume he expected the performer to do something more than keep the tempo, dynamics, etc. constant. Fidelity to the markings in the score is a non issue if there are no markings.

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#2078502 - 05/06/13 07:05 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".
When a composer doesn't use any markings it's safe to assume he expected the performer to do something more than keep the tempo, dynamics, etc. constant. Fidelity to the markings in the score is a non issue if there are no markings.


But therein lies the issue. Since the composer clearly "intended" to not put markings in the score, are you assuming that all interpretations, no matter how wild, satisfy the intent of the composer? And, do you, the listener, respond to all of the interpretations with the same, "Oh my Gawd, THAT was what the composer intended!" ?

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#2078539 - 05/06/13 08:39 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Bach put no dynamic markings in keyboard works, because harpsichords did not have dynamic contrast... We are playing them on a piano, so it's okay to do judicious phrasing, dynamic contrast, and some spare use of pedal. I wouldn't overdo the dynamic contrast, phrasing, or pedaling, though, but that's to keep in a somewhat "harpsichord-ish" style.

And this delves more into the issue of performance practice and style, which is somewhat varied between both authorities and "authorities."

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#2078568 - 05/06/13 10:17 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mwm Offline
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Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Bach put no dynamic markings in keyboard works, because harpsichords did not have dynamic contrast... We are playing them on a piano, so it's okay to do judicious phrasing, dynamic contrast, and some spare use of pedal. I wouldn't overdo the dynamic contrast, phrasing, or pedaling, though, but that's to keep in a somewhat "harpsichord-ish" style.

And this delves more into the issue of performance practice and style, which is somewhat varied between both authorities and "authorities."


Actually, that is not quite correct. Bach did put a number of dynamic markings in his autographs, just not very often. He, like many other composers of his era, used terraced dynamics, which on the harpsichord, meant a change of stop or of manual. He also occasionally indicated phrasings in keyboard works, which imitated baroque bowing conventions.

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#2078569 - 05/06/13 10:20 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
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As a "university trained harpsichordist, whatever the heck that means", I can assure you that harpsichords DO have dynamic contrast. Or was I just deluding myself?

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#2078574 - 05/06/13 10:30 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
Bach put no dynamic markings in keyboard works, because harpsichords did not have dynamic contrast... We are playing them on a piano, so it's okay to do judicious phrasing, dynamic contrast, and some spare use of pedal. I wouldn't overdo the dynamic contrast, phrasing, or pedaling, though, but that's to keep in a somewhat "harpsichord-ish" style.

And this delves more into the issue of performance practice and style, which is somewhat varied between both authorities and "authorities."



An argument can be made (but I'm not going to argue it) that if a score was written for harpsichord, then playing it on the piano violates the "composer's intent".

It is interesting that after Arrau went to the trouble of learning and publicly performing all of Bach's works that are playable on harpsichord (a pretty huge undertaking, IMO), he stopped playing them because he came to think they weren't suited for the piano.

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#2078587 - 05/06/13 10:57 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mwm


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".


Obviously it's a little different with Bach, and you must know that. If you've ever heard his choral works, that's where it's at. That's Bach. He knew what he was doing - I think in the manuscript of the Inventions he wrote "to be played cantabile", and you need shape to play cantabile. Which means you are allowed to shape. Still, we don't play it like it's a wild romantic piece (well, I guess some do but that's besides the point). Bach also preferred the clavichord to the harpsichord because it had more of a dynamic range. Btw, how much dynamic range does the harpsichord really have? Idle curiosity. I have heard harpsichordists claiming it has it, but is it basically the difference between one manual to another? I thought it definitely doesn't have the ability to crescendo from note to note. I always thought it was quite subtle and that a clavichord possesses more of a dynamic range.

But I'm in no way an expert on such instruments. It's just what I've read and experienced while playing them.
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#2078589 - 05/06/13 11:02 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Originally Posted By: wr



An argument can be made (but I'm not going to argue it) that if a score was written for harpsichord, then playing it on the piano violates the "composer's intent".



Yeah, it does. But so does playing a Beethoven sonata on a Steinway.... Or any Bach on a modern violin... etc etc. We should play them on our instruments, otherwise it would be a huge loss in my opinion. But we should also play them more or less in style and not in a grotesque way.. it just has to be done tastefully.
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#2078592 - 05/06/13 11:08 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Orange Soda King Offline
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I do think that it is sometimes fun to play music or hear performances on period instruments, though smile

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#2078611 - 05/07/13 12:02 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: JoelW]
Kreisler Offline



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Originally Posted By: JoelW
Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?


Because composers often lived very far away, and email and telephones didn't exist.

The process was very slow, and there was often a rush to get things published and on the market.
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#2078671 - 05/07/13 06:35 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I do think that it is sometimes fun to play music or hear performances on period instruments, though smile


And, too, in the case of harpsichords - they are still being built and modern composers do write music for them, so maybe they aren't really period instruments. At least not in the sense that a theorbo is.

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#2078727 - 05/07/13 09:09 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]
Nikolas Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Kreisler
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Editors changing notes is ridiculous. Why couldn't they just sit down with the composer and work it out?


Because composers often lived very far away, and email and telephones didn't exist.

The process was very slow, and there was often a rush to get things published and on the market.
If I may comment on that...

With Editions Musica Ferrum thus far I've dealt with 15-17 composers. Most were quite eager to help out the editing process. Some were gone the minute the contracts were signed and we were forced to take actions in our hands. A couple of composers were too eager to have ago at editing themselves...

So it could very well be a case that a composer is/was too busy to care for the publishing material...

Now, we're in the process of adding works from two dead composers. The first one is a case, whose daughter is an accomplished musician, who's performed her fathers works regularly, so it should be "ok". The second case though is a nightmare. His children are not musicians, his manuscripts are a bit of mess, and while there's been some attempt at musicological research on his case, things are still blurry at best.

Even if the contracts with the above two cases were to be signed today, we'd still have to publish (ergo print officially) their first work towards the end of 2014 for the first composer and 2015 for the second (talking about big orchestral works, not solo piano stuff, btw. Which is a huge game changer).

And that, only, to publish a 2nd edition shortly after with plenty of mistakes corrected and many more to be corrected thereafter! grin

_____________________

About a week ago, I was contacted by someone in this forum, about a possible error in "Piano Stories".

Here's my reply to him:

Quote:
...It's true that I play it with a G natural in the recording and tried it on the piano. but I'll be honest that G# doesn't sound exactly bad. It takes it to a new place (and there's no other G# until then to be heard, in which case it's even more fun). I'm not sure what to chose. Between you and me, it IS a typo, but if it were another composer (dead) and you had no one to ask, what would you do? The next one is G natural and the same progression at a different rhythm, but at the same time these little things add a tiny bit of a spice in the music!

So your call after all! I'm happy with both cases!

Some tpyos can be fun I guess (I frequently type the word tpyo as such, and I know that it's wrong. I do the same with the word awesmoe! ;))

His reply was equally delightful, but I can't quote it without his permission...

Perhaps the above things might shed some light on some things... :-/
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#2078734 - 05/07/13 09:36 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
Mwm Offline
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Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Mwm


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".


Obviously it's a little different with Bach, and you must know that. If you've ever heard his choral works, that's where it's at. That's Bach. He knew what he was doing - I think in the manuscript of the Inventions he wrote "to be played cantabile", and you need shape to play cantabile. Which means you are allowed to shape. Still, we don't play it like it's a wild romantic piece (well, I guess some do but that's besides the point). Bach also preferred the clavichord to the harpsichord because it had more of a dynamic range. Btw, how much dynamic range does the harpsichord really have? Idle curiosity. I have heard harpsichordists claiming it has it, but is it basically the difference between one manual to another? I thought it definitely doesn't have the ability to crescendo from note to note. I always thought it was quite subtle and that a clavichord possesses more of a dynamic range.

But I'm in no way an expert on such instruments. It's just what I've read and experienced while playing them.


The clavichord has a large dynamic range, it is just between ppp and p and is controlled by the player the same way as on a piano - velocity. The harpsichord has almost no dynamic range on a single string - an increase in the velocity of a key strike does change the volume slightly. The big change in dynamic level occurs by adding stops (strings). The Pleyel two manual I used for performance had 16', 8',8', and 4' strings on the lower manual, and 8',8' on the upper. The second upper 8 was a second set of plectra placed closer to the forward termination point of the string, causing a nasal sound. A mute stop was also used.

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#2078740 - 05/07/13 09:44 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mwm Offline
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Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I do think that it is sometimes fun to play music or hear performances on period instruments, though smile


I much, much prefer to hear orchestral performances on period instruments with scholarly research used as the basis of the performance practice.

I much, much prefer to hear the Bach's WTC played well on a piano, not by Angela H. however - BOORING! - I can listen to Edward Aldwell's WTC all day, every day.

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#2078741 - 05/07/13 09:50 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
Cinnamonbear Offline
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Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3847
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Originally Posted By: Mwm


So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".


Obviously it's a little different with Bach, and you must know that. If you've ever heard his choral works, that's where it's at. That's Bach. He knew what he was doing - I think in the manuscript of the Inventions he wrote "to be played cantabile", and you need shape to play cantabile. Which means you are allowed to shape. Still, we don't play it like it's a wild romantic piece (well, I guess some do but that's besides the point). Bach also preferred the clavichord to the harpsichord because it had more of a dynamic range. Btw, how much dynamic range does the harpsichord really have? Idle curiosity. I have heard harpsichordists claiming it has it, but is it basically the difference between one manual to another? I thought it definitely doesn't have the ability to crescendo from note to note. I always thought it was quite subtle and that a clavichord possesses more of a dynamic range.

But I'm in no way an expert on such instruments. It's just what I've read and experienced while playing them.


Not to morph the thread too much, but here are a few interesting examples I'd like to share.

In this lesson below, Robert Hill answers your question about the dynamic range on a harpsichord. (EDIT: I see Mwm answered while I was typing! thumb Consider this corroboration, then.) That answer starts at about 2:13 in the vid. I'm embedding the lesson, because the first minute and a half underscores other wisdom that has been shared previously in this thread about making music, which, btw, I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive." (That part, Pogo, I know you already know... grin )



2:18--"On the harpsichord, it's very difficult to control the dynamic of the instrument anyway, the instrument is not very sensitive to dynamic, well, actually, it is exquisitely sensitive but it's a very tiny range, so to get the difference between a note that sounds louder, and a note that's not so loud, we have to keep out hands very relaxed."

Also, regarding the question about how to get Bach to fit on a piano--an oblique answer, but this was one of those true "Ah-ha!!!" moments when I stumbled across this. Here is the prelude from Handel's Keyboard Suite in B-flat major, played on a... fortepiano ! :



In the comment section, the performer, Robert Hill, notes, "There is solid evidence that Händel had a Florentine fortepiano regularly available to him in the house of a friend from the 1730's onwards. This performance explores how his keyboard music can sound on a fortepiano of the kind he was familiar with." Fortepianos have a sustain mechanism operated by one's knee. When I heard this performance, above, it untied all sorts of mental knots I was having about "How much pedal to use when playing Baroque on a piano?" Take a deep breath and use your judgement is, I think, the answer.

And that is your early instrument lesson for today. Now, go practice piano!

--Andy


Edited by Cinnamonbear (05/07/13 09:53 AM)
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#2078767 - 05/07/13 10:57 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Thank you for that. I was familiar with this grin believe it or not, haha! It makes me glad to have a Steinway D at my disposal for my next recital.. I love how far the instrument has come!

Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear

"One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive." (That part, Pogo, I know you already know... grin )


Yes, I sure hope I know that, haha.... I try anyway. But as you know, I respect the score immensely, and try to follow it as much as I can, and use it as a guide to bring something special to a piece. I'll often even use the score to justify something that most people would think is not ordinarily done, if you know what I mean. How many people sit down with the music and examine it closely, figuring out relationships between thematic material, harmonic structure, not to mention overall structure etc - it's fascinating! Sometimes, I don't even think the composers themselves realized what's really in there. Anyway.

Quote:
When I heard this performance, above, it untied all sorts of mental knots I was having about "How much pedal to use when playing Baroque on a piano?" Take a deep breath and use your judgement is, I think, the answer.

And that is your early instrument lesson for today. Now, go practice piano!

--Andy


Yes, it should sound as if there is no pedal. I mean, most good pianists play that way - you don't exactly "notice" their pedaling. Which I think is extremely difficult to achieve!

But yes, I should go practice. Tomorrow I have a dress rehearsal in the hall. And if I crap all over it, my teacher will throw rotten tomatoes at me.

Ooooh, I should wear a red dress! Then the tomatoes will blend..


Edited by Pogorelich. (05/07/13 11:00 AM)
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#2078781 - 05/07/13 11:26 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
So, given a J.S. Bach autograph of a keyboard work that contains no markings of any kind as to tempo, dynamic level, phrasing and so on, how would you play it, being faithful to the score? I would argue a MIDI playback device set at 60bpm and mf with no phrasing would satisfy "fidelity".
When a composer doesn't use any markings it's safe to assume he expected the performer to do something more than keep the tempo, dynamics, etc. constant. Fidelity to the markings in the score is a non issue if there are no markings.


But therein lies the issue. Since the composer clearly "intended" to not put markings in the score, are you assuming that all interpretations, no matter how wild, satisfy the intent of the composer? And, do you, the listener, respond to all of the interpretations with the same, "Oh my Gawd, THAT was what the composer intended!" ?
I don't think the composer not putting markings on the score means that the composer thought any interpretation is OK.

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#2078786 - 05/07/13 11:29 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Cinnamonbear]
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Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
...I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive."
Why does it have to be one or the other?

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#2078855 - 05/07/13 02:42 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]
Cinnamonbear Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
...I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive."
Why does it have to be one or the other?


Obviously, you can't have the second thing without the first, PL'us, if you want to read things like a sentence-parsing (*ahem* score-worshipping) literalist. Yet, somehow, I was able to understand (*ahem* make sense of) what Mwm composed without putting a magnifying glass to the "or." wink
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#2078859 - 05/07/13 02:53 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Mwm Offline
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I don't want to press the point unmercifully, but, if one believes in strict adherance to the markings in a score including note lengths, then playing many pieces of the French and German baroque as written would be not respecting the composers' intents. It was expected that one would play notes inégales when and where appropriate to the style of the work. By doing research, reading the treatises, written in the time when the music was written, on performance style and technique, you are able to come closer to the style of playing that was expected by the listener of that day.


Edited by Mwm (05/07/13 02:58 PM)

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#2078863 - 05/07/13 03:06 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Cinnamonbear]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
...I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive."
Why does it have to be one or the other?


Obviously, you can't have the second thing without the first, PL'us, if you want to read things like a sentence-parsing (*ahem* score-worshipping) literalist. Yet, somehow, I was able to understand (*ahem* make sense of) what Mwm composed without putting a magnifying glass to the "or." wink
Magnifying glass or an absolutely key word in the idea that was expressed which, in my view, makes the statement dubious? The entire discussion for most of the last pages is about whether following the score is a good idea. Perhaps if you had quoted more than the single sentence the intended meaning might be clearer, but as stated the use of "or" in that sentence implies a choice of one or the other.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/07/13 03:12 PM)

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#2078867 - 05/07/13 03:11 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
...I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive."
Why does it have to be one or the other?


Obviously, you can't have the second thing without the first, PL'us, if you want to read things like a sentence-parsing (*ahem* score-worshipping) literalist. Yet, somehow, I was able to understand (*ahem* make sense of) what Mwm composed without putting a magnifying glass to the "or." wink


I would hope you both understand that, as the consummate musicians you are, by following the ink splotches on the page, you are both following the score AND trying to make sense of it.

Someone mentioned above about a painting being frozen - the artist paints it and then is out of the equation. I disagree. The viewer becomes the performer. It is up to the viewer to make sense of the painting, and her interpretation of the painting is only as good as her knowledge of the markings on the painting and their meaning, given the artist, school, and conventions of the day. Symbology in art is as complicated, and fascinating, as that in music. One can give as too romantic an interpretation of an early painting, being ignorant of the artist's intent, as one can give a too romantic interpretation of an early musical work.

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#2078881 - 05/07/13 03:43 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
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Originally Posted By: Mwm


....her interpretation of the painting is only as good as her knowledge of the markings on the painting and their meaning, given the artist, school, and conventions of the day. Symbology in art is as complicated, and fascinating, as that in music.


You are making art sound elitist, and understandable only to the 'learned', almost in the same way many ignoramus claim classical music is elitist despite never bothering to listen to it.

I don't think anyone needs an art degree to appreciate great art, just as no one needs a music degree to appreciate classical music. When I was seriously into painting (I won prizes as a teenager), all I ever wanted was for people to enjoy my paintings as much as I enjoyed 'creating' them. If people wanted to ask me who my influences were, what my inspiration was, I was happy to oblige. But to 'explain' my painting, the reason for its existence, its 'symbology', the significance of a particular brush stroke?

Perish the thought.




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#2078903 - 05/07/13 04:46 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Mwm Offline
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The point of this thread was to ponder whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent. If we don't understand the language (notation in music, use of symbols such as colour, flowers, mirrors, drapes, clocks, books in 16th and 17th century art), then we can never come close to what the composer/artist intended. I am not suggesting that one can't appreciate music or art without an education. That IS elitist. But it is not elitist to state that one can have a deeper appreciation of the music/art if one IS educated. Think of the Art of Fugue or the Goldberg Variations -exquisite music that brings tears to my eyes with its emotional content; and even more tears when I realize that this man produced that exquisite music with an underlying, complex mathematical structure. Is it elitist for me to enjoy the music at that level? If so, that is very sad.


Edited by Mwm (05/07/13 04:51 PM)

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#2078905 - 05/07/13 04:50 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
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Actually, on reading my post above, I admit that I am an elitist ____(fill in the blanks). I often think when I play this music for people, "I know all this stuff about this music and you don't!" Then I want to tell them about it, so they can enjoy the music in a different way. Sad, eh? or Huh? as the case may be.


Edited by Mwm (05/07/13 05:11 PM)

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#2078928 - 05/07/13 05:32 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
The point of this thread was to ponder whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent. If we don't understand the language (notation in music, use of symbols such as colour, flowers, mirrors, drapes, clocks, books in 16th and 17th century art), then we can never come close to what the composer/artist intended.


I see you're heavily into symbolism.

As this is a music rather than art forum, I'll leave that part of the discussion for another occasion...
But as far as understanding what the composer intended, and the performance practice of the period, HIP have changed our perception in recent decades, to the extent that even modern orchestras (playing on modern instruments) scale back their forces and reduce the use of vibrato to the bare minimum when playing music from the Classical era. And there are some who claim that vibrato should not be used even in Bruckner and Mahler.

But how much do we really know how music was performed in those days? Notation gives us no clue. (Otherwise why the discrepancy between big-band Mozart as played by the Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan and period ensemble Mozart as played by the Freiburger Barockorchester/René Jacobs? Both are faithful to the score). Correspondence from the period may give some hints as to what performance practice was like - but only hints, open to interpretation (and prejudices...).

As for understanding the 'language', let's see what Mozart has to say about his concertos K413, 414 and 415: "These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and what is too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which the connoisseurs alone may derive satisfaction; but these passages are written is such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why......The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer either known or appreciated. In order to win applause, one must write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it, or so unintelligible that it pleases precisely because no sensible man can understand it."

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#2078938 - 05/07/13 06:01 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Cinnamonbear Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
...I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive."
Why does it have to be one or the other?


Obviously, you can't have the second thing without the first, PL'us, if you want to read things like a sentence-parsing (*ahem* score-worshipping) literalist. Yet, somehow, I was able to understand (*ahem* make sense of) what Mwm composed without putting a magnifying glass to the "or." wink


I would hope you both understand that, as the consummate musicians you are, by following the ink splotches on the page, you are both following the score AND trying to make sense of it. [...]


Believe me, Mwm, I got it. I was hoping people might appreciate the metaphorical nature of my joke with PL'us as my foil. Every so often, I like to rib PL'us when he goads me. It helps him keep his post count up. grin
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#2078951 - 05/07/13 06:28 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Old Man Offline
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Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
...I think Mwm expressed quite beautifully when he said, "One can follow the score, or one can do his/her best to bring the ink splotches on the page alive."
Why does it have to be one or the other?


Obviously, you can't have the second thing without the first, PL'us, if you want to read things like a sentence-parsing (*ahem* score-worshipping) literalist. Yet, somehow, I was able to understand (*ahem* make sense of) what Mwm composed without putting a magnifying glass to the "or." wink


I would hope you both understand that, as the consummate musicians you are, by following the ink splotches on the page, you are both following the score AND trying to make sense of it. [...]


Believe me, Mwm, I got it. I was hoping people might appreciate the metaphorical nature of my joke with PL'us as my foil. Every so often, I like to rib PL'us when he goads me. It helps him keep his post count up. grin

I don't think a little ribbing hurts even when he's not goading you. grin

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#2078960 - 05/07/13 06:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Old Man Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis

As for understanding the 'language', let's see what Mozart has to say about his concertos K413, 414 and 415: "These concertos are a happy medium between what is too easy and what is too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid. There are passages here and there from which the connoisseurs alone may derive satisfaction; but these passages are written is such a way that the less learned cannot fail to be pleased, though without knowing why......The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer either known or appreciated. In order to win applause, one must write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it, or so unintelligible that it pleases precisely because no sensible man can understand it."

Thank you, bennevis, for a great quote!

Which may explain why I have such antipathy towards 20+ century music. I much prefer to hang out with the coachmen, who "know not why", than the connoisseurs, who "know it all". And for Wolfie to then say that music has something to do with being "brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid." What a concept!

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#2078970 - 05/07/13 07:02 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Old Man]
patH Offline
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Originally Posted By: Old Man
Which may explain why I have such antipathy towards 20+ century music. I much prefer to hang out with the coachmen, who "know not why", than the connoisseurs, who "know it all". And for Wolfie to then say that music has something to do with being "brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being vapid." What a concept!

Is your antipathy directed towards 20+ century classical music (i.e. avant garde music)? Because the modern coachmen (taxi drivers) listen to pop music. Usually they don't sing to it. But in Mozart's time, the car radio did not exist yet. wink

The Mozart quote still leaves room as to what is the composer's intent. Apparently, Mozart wanted to sound simple and sophisticated at the same time. But how to do it in our time? That's where the interpreter comes in.

From an amateur standpoint, maybe a good rule is: Playing the piece the way one would like to listen to it. IMO This is respectful to the composer, because if someone takes the time and effort to learn a piece, this person obviously likes and/or respects the composer, and will not butcher the work. The result may not be totally true to the score; but it will probably still be pleasant music; at least for the performer.
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#2079002 - 05/07/13 08:34 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Sort of don't agree with the concept of if you take the time to learn a piece you won't butcher it... I butcher things every day and I love my repertoire.....
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#2079011 - 05/07/13 08:58 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Pogorelich.]
Damon Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: Freddy Chopin
It never occurred to me that people would be playing my music beyond 1850


Now we know!
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#2079034 - 05/07/13 09:56 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Mwm
The point of this thread was to ponder whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent. If we don't understand the language (notation in music, use of symbols such as colour, flowers, mirrors, drapes, clocks, books in 16th and 17th century art), then we can never come close to what the composer/artist intended.


I see you're heavily into symbolism.


No, I'm not. I know next to nothing about art, but I have art that I have bought because I it spoke to me and I feel sad that I don't know enough about art to have a deeper understanding. When I read an "art 101" synopsis of of famous painting, and realize that I never saw any of the real detail in the painting, I wonder if that is how people who don't understand music feel. I still enjoy the painting, they still enjoy the music, but I think I am missing the point of the painting and i think they are missing the point of the music.

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#2079040 - 05/07/13 10:04 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Mwm Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Mwm
The point of this thread was to ponder whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent. If we don't understand the language (notation in music, use of symbols such as colour, flowers, mirrors, drapes, clocks, books in 16th and 17th century art), then we can never come close to what the composer/artist intended.

But how much do we really know how music was performed in those days? Notation gives us no clue. (Otherwise why the discrepancy between big-band Mozart as played by the Berliner Philharmoniker/Herbert von Karajan and period ensemble Mozart as played by the Freiburger Barockorchester/René Jacobs? Both are faithful to the score). Correspondence from the period may give some hints as to what performance practice was like - but only hints, open to interpretation (and prejudices...)

Actually, if you have studied early performance practice, you would know that there are a vast number of treatises, books, and primers written by composers and scholars during the time that the pieces were written that describe in minute detail the contemporaneous performance customs and techniques. Armed with this information, it is possible to make reasonable educated guesses regarding interpretation.

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#2079141 - 05/08/13 06:08 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Mwm
I know next to nothing about art, but I have art that I have bought because I it spoke to me and I feel sad that I don't know enough about art to have a deeper understanding. When I read an "art 101" synopsis of of famous painting, and realize that I never saw any of the real detail in the painting, I wonder if that is how people who don't understand music feel. I still enjoy the painting, they still enjoy the music, but I think I am missing the point of the painting and i think they are missing the point of the music.



I think it's sad that anyone needs to feel inadequate for perceived lack of knowledge or 'understanding', of art or music.

When I listen to some of the gobbledegook that some so-called 'experts' say about certain paintings or music (and they also abound in sleeve-notes to CDs), I do wonder if they're living on the same planet. I've had that sort of nonsense imposed on me when some people 'saw' all sorts of significance (and yes, 'symbolism') and fin de siècle existentialism in my paintings that I didn't (and still don't grin). I'm just a simple guy, and I paint and compose because I enjoy it, purely for pleasure. End of. (Luckily, very few people have heard my music compositions, or I'd probably be informed that I was predicting the end of the world with my use of major-minor chord clashes overlaid on top of implied atonality.....).

Buy paintings that 'speak' to you, that you want to admire again and again - not because someone 'learned' tells you there's all sorts of underlying significance and symbolism and 'detail' below the brushstrokes and color. Don't feel you're missing the 'point' of it.

Similarly, you don't need to understand the intricacies of counterpoint and fugal writing to enjoy Bach, nor twelve-tone principles to enjoy Berg's Violin Concerto. Nor know what Alberti bass is to play Mozart. Nor bitonality to enjoy Poulenc.

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#2079149 - 05/08/13 06:46 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis


I think it's sad that anyone needs to feel inadequate for perceived lack of knowledge or 'understanding', of art or music.



I love it when I look at a painting, and feel that to really get what is going on, I need to investigate more about the artist, their period, their style, what they thought they were doing, etc. - in other words, I feel "inadequate". It gets my mind going, it helps me grow my taste and expand my horizons, it keeps me from getting too self-satisfied. Please, don't feel sad for me, I am enjoying myself (plus, it's condescending to assume I need your pity).

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#2079168 - 05/08/13 07:56 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: wr]
bennevis Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wr
Please, don't feel sad for me, I am enjoying myself (plus, it's condescending to assume I need your pity).



No, I don't pity you at all, not in the least, nohow.

Just as long as you're enjoying yourself. Or even if you're not enjoying yourself..... wink .

I've seen how many people (including friends and acquaintances) who have had no music education feel that classical music is a closed book to them, because, don't you 'need to understand it to enjoy it'? They don't like to feel inadequate, so, better to avoid it than to display their ignorance. And, unfortunately, all too often, this sort of nonsense is implicitly propagated by classical music enthusiasts who adopt this kind of superior attitude towards the less musically endowed. In fact, my experience is that professional musicians themselves are the ones least likely to adopt this condescending attitude towards the great 'unwashed'. They just want the public to enjoy their music-making, at any level they may choose. Yes, even if only for the 'tunes'. Even if they went to a piano recital just because Moonlight Sonata is on. Even if they attended a performance of Turandot just because of Nessun dorma.

Is it any wonder why the likes of Valentina Lisitsa are so popular? She never adopts this 'holier than thou' attitude towards her audience - I've seen her engrossed in conversation with people who've never heard of Chopin (and pronounced it 'choppin' grin), and thought Liszt is just a misspelling of list.

Were Verdi's operas not the 'pop' music of his day? Coachmen (or taxi drivers) would go around humming tunes from Aïda. And Mozart loved it when the hoi polloi went around Prague whistling tunes from Le nozze di Figaro.

By all means, do your own research, delve deeper into the composer and his music and that of his contemporaries, understand what drove Mahler into avoiding naming his Das Lied von der Erde as his 9th Symphony, the significance of the hammer blows in his 6th etc, etc - if that helps you enjoy the music more. (I enjoy doing all that, as a matter of fact).
But let's not foist this onto others who may prefer to enjoy music on their own terms - no matter how 'shallow' this seems to the learned (or those who think they're learned.....).

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#2079198 - 05/08/13 09:37 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: wr
Please, don't feel sad for me, I am enjoying myself (plus, it's condescending to assume I need your pity).



No, I don't pity you at all, not in the least, nohow.

Just as long as you're enjoying yourself. Or even if you're not enjoying yourself..... wink .



Oh, so you don't feel sad about my feeling of inadequacy, after all? I'm not sure what changed...

Quote:

I've seen how many people (including friends and acquaintances) who have had no music education feel that classical music is a closed book to them, because, don't you 'need to understand it to enjoy it'? They don't like to feel inadequate, so, better to avoid it than to display their ignorance.



To me, that's their problem. Assuming they are intelligent enough to realize that it is a large area of their culture that may be worth exploring, then it's up to them to start exploring. Or not.

And yeah, if they drop into a concert of, say, Bartok and Webern string quartets without having a clue, the chances are pretty good they'll hate it. Or even late Beethoven, for that matter. Or maybe they wouldn't. Either way, it's their problem, not mine.

I don't feel any particular sympathy for ignorance, seeing that I was born totally ignorant of all this stuff myself, and not into any particularly cultured environment, and have still managed to get into some of it, through luck or whatever.

Quote:


And, unfortunately, all too often, this sort of nonsense is implicitly propagated by classical music enthusiasts who adopt this kind of superior attitude towards the less musically endowed. In fact, my experience is that professional musicians themselves are the ones least likely to adopt this condescending attitude towards the great 'unwashed'. They just want the public to enjoy their music-making, at any level they may choose. Yes, even if only for the 'tunes'. Even if they went to a piano recital just because Moonlight Sonata is on. Even if they attended a performance of Turandot just because of Nessun dorma.

Is it any wonder why the likes of Valentina Lisitsa are so popular? She never adopts this 'holier than thou' attitude towards her audience - I've seen her engrossed in conversation with people who've never heard of Chopin (and pronounced it 'choppin' grin), and thought Liszt is just a misspelling of list.

Were Verdi's operas not the 'pop' music of his day? Coachmen (or taxi drivers) would go around humming tunes from Aïda. And Mozart loved it when the hoi polloi went around Prague whistling tunes from Le nozze di Figaro.



Sure, there was a time during which opera was the "pop" music of the day, or at least a good part of it. So what? It's theater music, not concert music.

And we aren't in 19th century Italy (which country and time, by the way, didn't exactly contribute heavily to the classical concert repertoire, be it for solo instruments or small or large ensembles).

Quote:


By all means, do your own research, delve deeper into the composer and his music and that of his contemporaries, understand what drove Mahler into avoiding naming his Das Lied von der Erde as his 9th Symphony, the significance of the hammer blows in his 6th etc, etc - if that helps you enjoy the music more. (I enjoy doing all that, as a matter of fact).
But let's not foist this onto others who may prefer to enjoy music on their own terms - no matter how 'shallow' this seems to the learned (or those who think they're learned.....).


Who's "foisting" anything? Anybody who enjoys music can enjoy it however they will.

But if I know from my own life that when it comes to classical music, experience plus knowledge can add a great deal to pleasure and enjoyment. I don't see any particular reason to pretend it isn't true, just out of deference to people who my not have similar experience and knowledge. I was in their position once myself, and that didn't stop me.

The same kind of situation occurs in almost any area where real expertise exists, and amateurs are allowed. In the world of wine, I am probably drinking at the level of "New Age/Einaudi", and I know it. And that's fine. There are all sorts of highly cultivated wine aficionados who are kind of the equivalent of some of us music people who know a thing or two about what we love. And you know what, I may not want to go to a high-end wine-tasting with them, where they would be talking about stuff of which I had little comprehension, but having expert people like that in the world doesn't keep me from enjoying wines at my own level, and slowly getting more knowledge and expertise about that whole experience.

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#2079205 - 05/08/13 10:15 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Mwm Offline
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After I perform and people are congratulating me, while I graciously accept kudos from a 'choppin' lover, it is the person who says to me "That was an entirely adequate performance" I appreciate the most.

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#2079222 - 05/08/13 10:43 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Monica K. posted this in a thread on the forum.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2013/apr/26/james-rhodes-blog-find-what-you-love

Here is a guy who has thought about the point of this particular thread, and done something about it, rather than nattering on about elitism and the unwashed masses.

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#2079247 - 05/08/13 11:41 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4855
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Monica K. posted this in a thread on the forum.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2013/apr/26/james-rhodes-blog-find-what-you-love

Here is a guy who has thought about the point of this particular thread, and done something about it, rather than nattering on about elitism and the unwashed masses.


James Rhodes has played on less-than-high-end digital pianos in small clubs, for the great unwashed and unknowledgeable, and has no qualms about doing it. Just for the love of classical music.

Would that more classical musicians (whether professional or not) do that, rather than turn up their noses at the kind of audience that they might get, or what 'learned' people might think of them for doing that....

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#2079261 - 05/08/13 12:04 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Monica K. posted this in a thread on the forum.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2013/apr/26/james-rhodes-blog-find-what-you-love

Here is a guy who has thought about the point of this particular thread, and done something about it, rather than nattering on about elitism and the unwashed masses.


James Rhodes has played on less-than-high-end digital pianos in small clubs, for the great unwashed and unknowledgeable, and has no qualms about doing it. Just for the love of classical music.

Would that more classical musicians (whether professional or not) do that, rather than turn up their noses at the kind of audience that they might get, or what 'learned' people might think of them for doing that....

I am sorry bennevis, but I don't get your point. I go to live jazz clubs to hear real people playing real music. I also embrace the growing trend of performing classical music in clubs in the same setting as is done for jazz and blues. I don't care if my audience is learned, unwashed, high, or psychotic, as long as they enjoy the experience. But, that is not the point of the thread. Please, for once and for all, clearly restate your opinion on whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent.

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#2079278 - 05/08/13 12:22 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4855
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Please, for once and for all, clearly restate your opinion on whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent.


I think I've already posted quite enough about that issue in this thread, but if you want a straight answer, no, but we can try grin.

BTW, jazz music is normally heard in jazz clubs, not concert halls. I was referring to something completely different, and your post about jazz was beside the point.

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#2079285 - 05/08/13 12:32 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Please, for once and for all, clearly restate your opinion on whether or not we can truly realize the composer's intent.


I think I've already posted quite enough about that issue in this thread, but if you want a straight answer, no, but we can try grin.


Wonderful, and how do we go about trying?

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#2079286 - 05/08/13 12:35 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Knowledge - try to become educated

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#2079294 - 05/08/13 12:50 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
wower Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/13/10
Posts: 242
Loc: Calgary
Originally Posted By: bennevis
a straight answer, no, but we can try grin.


+1
_________________________
Bad spellers of the world untie!

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#2079297 - 05/08/13 12:53 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Mwm]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4855
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Knowledge - try to become educated


Are you answering your own question? grin

I was about to say that educated people disagree, as anyone reading the posts on this thread can see. That is assuming, of course, that we're all educated here.

Or are we?? wink

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#2079301 - 05/08/13 12:55 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Knowledge - try to become educated


Are you answering your own question? grin

I was about to say that educated people disagree, as anyone reading the posts on this thread can see. That is assuming, of course, that we're all educated here.

Or are we?? wink


Yes, I am answering my own question. That was asked for by the OP.

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#2079447 - 05/08/13 05:49 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]
patH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/09/13
Posts: 552
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: bennevis
I think it's sad that anyone needs to feel inadequate for perceived lack of knowledge or 'understanding', of art or music.

When I listen to some of the gobbledegook that some so-called 'experts' say about certain paintings or music (and they also abound in sleeve-notes to CDs), I do wonder if they're living on the same planet. I've had that sort of nonsense imposed on me when some people 'saw' all sorts of significance (and yes, 'symbolism') and fin de siècle existentialism in my paintings that I didn't (and still don't grin). I'm just a simple guy, and I paint and compose because I enjoy it, purely for pleasure. End of. (Luckily, very few people have heard my music compositions, or I'd probably be informed that I was predicting the end of the world with my use of major-minor chord clashes overlaid on top of implied atonality.....).

Buy paintings that 'speak' to you, that you want to admire again and again - not because someone 'learned' tells you there's all sorts of underlying significance and symbolism and 'detail' below the brushstrokes and color. Don't feel you're missing the 'point' of it.

Similarly, you don't need to understand the intricacies of counterpoint and fugal writing to enjoy Bach, nor twelve-tone principles to enjoy Berg's Violin Concerto. Nor know what Alberti bass is to play Mozart. Nor bitonality to enjoy Poulenc.

This reminds me of the first time I took an entry exam to a music academy. The professor asked me who my favourite E-Musik composer was (in Germany, some people divide music into "E-Musik" (Ernste Musik; serious music) and "U-Musik" (Unterhaltungsmusik, music for entertainment)). I first thought he meant electronic music and answered Jean Michel Jarre. Shortly after that the misunderstanding was cleared, and I said: Beethoven. The professor then asked me why, and I replied: I find his music beautiful. To that the professor said: Now he must be rotating in his grave. You only find him beautiful?

I guess I should have answered some hero-worshipping babble like: I love how he uses harmonies and melodies to create a development, which makes the music emerge from night to day; or something like that. But I didn't.

On the one hand, a musician (and especially a music teacher) might be expected to know more about music than enough to say it's "beautiful". On the other hand: We can analyze the music, find out the structure, harmonies, and whatever; and then conclude that it's a well crafted piece of art. But what the composer meant with it is guesswork. Music history can play a part; like: What phrases and keys were associated with which emotion? But a composer might have transcended these rules.

So, if your answer to whether we can guess the composer's intent is: No, but we can try, I'd like to add: And we will most likely fail.
What we can do is: Turn the score into art by interpreting it. It may not be what the composer intended, but: So what?

BTW I failed my exam at the time. But not because of Beethoven; more like because of my mediocre piano playing. wink
_________________________
Everything is possible, and nothing is sure.
XXXI

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#2080504 - 05/10/13 08:29 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]
poorly_tempered Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/02/13
Posts: 16
Loc: nova scotia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Rant warning:

This is a huge, HUGE problem in my opinion. A lot of people take the score as gospel. Crescendo here, diminuendo here, etc. because the score says so. It just doesn't work. Even when every part of the score is taken into account, quite often the performance will still wind up being utterly boring. I think this kind of mentality is the primary source of musical banality in the classical world. Music shouldn't be premeditated in such a way. It should be spontaneous and organic. Even the composers themselves almost blatantly ignored their own scores at times. At least Debussy did.. we know that for a fact. Doesn't that tell you anything? Look, I'm not advocating rebellion against the score. All I'm saying is that music should be, like I said, spontaneous and organic. Playing an exact, literal reading of the score without plugging in your own ideas will never provide this, because then it just becomes dictation. Music doesn't belong in such shackles.
I think most of the greatest pianists, at least in the last say 75 years, follow the scores' indications most of the time. Even if one follows every indication there is still much one can include that makes each interpretation personal. If one follows every indication in the score and the performance is boring this doesn't mean that the reason it was boring is that one followed the score.

Here are 10 pianists playing just the first few measures of Beethoven's PC #4. My guess is that most of them follow the score reasonably or very closely but they all sound different:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZGiGMCiB3k


i really enjoyed this. i also enjoyed all the opinions in this threasd as well.

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#2081886 - 05/13/13 12:39 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: music32]
jdhampton924 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1009
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
I think there is a lot more freedom in what is written on the page then we give it credit. Nearly all things are relative(the forte in a Liszt piece is not the same forte in a Bach piece). There are many more options we have as performers before we start changing things. Not many of us are as smart as someone like Glenn Gould, whose performances of some pieces were critiques. Most performers now seem to be more like craftsmen or museum curators. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

As for composer's content....Many composers we have one record...are not as good of a pianist as they are a composer. How can they be? Spending more time working on pieces the physical element of playing will suffer. Recently, for a class, I had to write a paper comparing a recording of Mendelssohn's "Spinning Song" from songs without words. I had to compare Daniel Barenboim, Artur Rubinstein, Sergei Rachmaninov, and Valentina Lisitsa.

Rachmaninov is a amazing pianist, and I am always curious to hear what he does not only with his own works, but other pieces as well, but I was surprised with the results. He had a great sense of the whole, but smaller details seemed to get lost. Something which Rubinstein and Barenboim excelled at.

It was a trend I saw repeated, the composer's we have recordings of, most of the time, while having a great sense of larger structure, seemed to skim over smaller details. That is not to say there are not exceptions, some of Rachmaninov's recordings are amazing.

My last thought, and this one might make a few composers a bit angry. Many times I have found composers(at least the ones that I know), to live in their own heads too much. Most of the time, they chose composition because they did not have the chops to play. They stress fidelity to their score.

An anecdote; last year I was premiering the work of a friend of mine who was a composer. It sounded great in the playback on finale, but was very awkward to actually play on the piano. Chords were voiced odd, and hard to even roll. One thing she stressed, was how important it was to follow her pedal markings, which showed she had no clue what the pedal actually does for the piano and music making. I tried to talk with her about a few of the issues, but she did not want to hear it. So I got her to talk about the piece, what it meant to her, and after some conversation, I decided on things like pedal, I would do it my way, and hope it turned out how she heard it in her head(luckily it did), but that was still based off a midi recording.

My point is simply sometimes people get so wrapped up in work that they forget the practical and making it come to life, and that is where us as performers can help. Now I know many of the composers here are fantastic pianists and do not have this trouble, but for me, I feel at the end of the day, it brings everything full circle. It gives us performers more purpose. We now live in a world where many are trained to either just play or just compose and we have to work together sometime.

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