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CLASSICAL  March 2000

CLASSICAL March 2000

Subject:

Re: Repeats

From:

Ian Crisp <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 12 Mar 2000 19:49:03 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (62 lines)

Jocelyn Wang:

>Ian Crisp <[log in to unmask]> writes:
>
>>Jocelyn Wang:
>>
>>>Wow.  The composer's dead, therefore living performers have carte blanche
>>>to mess up their works any way they darned well please.  Oh, yeah, that's
>>>some reverence for art.
>>
>>Where did I mention or even hint at "carte blanche" etc.?

I note that Jocelyn has not answered this.

>That comes from you, not from me.  Of course performers have a
>responsibility to the composer, be he dead or alive, that will constrain
>their freedom.  I thought that was sufficiently blindingly obvious that it
>did not need to be spelled out.  They also have a responsibility to their
>audience.  This whole carte-blanche, anything-goes, free-for-all business
>has been dreamt up by others, and I should be profoundly grateful to anyone
>who can show anything in what I have written that justifies raising it.

Or done that.

>Your reference to " the crumbling shoulders of the long-decomposed composer
>who lived his life in a different world" was hardly reverential.

I am capable of having reverential feelings towards e.g. both Bach and his
works while simultaneously recognising the fact that he is dead, and the
consequences of that for his physical remains.  Perhaps others cannot do
that; and perhaps, as a trained biological scientist, I have fewer than
average negative emotional associations with the process of decomposition.

I have already explained my choice of language for that passage and I don't
regret it.  However, my meaning has been misunderstood by several people,
so I must accept that I might have been wiser to have succumbed to the
temptation to rewrite it before sending it.  The point is simple - if a
composer is living, any questions that might arise about performance
practice can be referred to him / her, and (as long as sufficient mental
abilities remain) the composer must of course be the final arbiter.  If the
composer is dead, then either those questions are not answered except by
single-minded reference to the historical record (primarily the score), or
somebody else has to take over the responsibility of providing answers.
Jocelyn and I take one side of that each.  I was trying to illustrate my
strongly-held position that later performers inherit responsibilty for
decisions that earlier composers can no longer make for themselves.  The
fact that I used a strong image to show the need for that should not imply
either a lack of respect for the artists of the past or an attempt to
legitimise a "carte blanche / free-for-all" attitude to their surviving
work.

>As I mentioned in another post, if such specific markings are to be tossed
>aside on a whim, what is preventing performers from tossing aside equally
>specific indications, such as dynamics, tempi, or the notes themselves?

I don't know.  The question does not arise.  I have never advocated tossing
anything aside on a whim, and I do not recall Steve Schwartz or anyone else
on "my" side of the argument suggesting that any score markings should be
"tossed aside on a whim".  I think I detect another straw man here.

Ian Crisp
[log in to unmask]

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