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CLASSICAL  January 2006

CLASSICAL January 2006

Subject:

Re: Is Text Necessary?

From:

Geoffrey Gaskell <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 4 Jan 2006 15:49:07 +1300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (37 lines)

Anne Ozorio wrote:

>Pierre Boulez, who knows a little about music and music writing, said
>that music criticism was like poetry.  Good work conveyed much more than
>simply words.  It ties in with the observation of so many, including
>Mahler, that "music isn't just in the notes".  There is much more to
>understanding music than simply reading notation.  Two musicians may be
>technically on the same level, but one might create art, the other purely
>surface sounds.  Being able to play alone doesn't make anyone a musician.

It could well be true that in general terms a composer or a performer
should be capable of explaining all the various technical & aesthetic;
spiritual & emotional; performance & interpretative aspects of their
music.  Some composers, however, are not particularly interested in
"explaining their work in words".  One notable case was Jean Sibelius.
His personal assistant, whose name eludes me at present, wrote a book
shortly after the composer's death full of personal impressions of the
man & including numerous quotations regarding the composer's impressions
of particular conductors & their recordings of his work.  Generally these
were very positive (the composer was a rather vivacious host who didn't
enjoy upsetting anyone, even those who tended to outstay their welcome)
but he did make the comment that Beecham interpreted his music from a
first violinists perspective whereas Karajan appeared to uncover every
voice of the orchestra.  One can make of this what they will.

Anyway, his PA also made a point of commenting that whenever the composer
was asked to explain his music the request was met with a moment of stony
silence & that granite-like stare which comes across in his later portrait
photographs & belies the "party animal" personality that he actually
possessed.  After that moment a new subject of conversation would quickly
arise.

(Incidentally, I've found that Sibelius has a face well suited for
creating an interesting tonal oil painting or study).

Geoffrey Gaskell
http://www.geoffreygaskell.co.nz/

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