Does Knowledge Help Interpretation?
Welcome everyone to our discussion of the week focused on a live event featuring renowned classical guitarist Zoran Dukic and composer Steve Goss. This event promises to be a fiery exchange of views, as they debate their differing opinions on musical interpretation and education.
In this live stream, we will dive into the relationship between the performer and the composer and examine the significance of knowledge and interpretation in musical performance.
Here are some thought-provoking questions to kick off our discussion:
Who do you think is more important in classical music interpretation, the performer or the composer? Why do you hold this opinion?
When it comes to musical performance, what role do you believe knowledge plays? Is it more essential to understand the historical context of a piece or to connect with it on an emotional level?
These are complex topics that often inspire passionate responses from those in the classical music community. So, let's share our ideas, thoughts, and opinions in a respectful and engaging manner!
There is an interaction between the composer and the performer. I believe it is important to try to understand the composer's intentions, as well as the historical context. That being said, the work ultimately exists apart from the composer, much like a child ultimately must establish their own way in life. The performer must come to their own understanding of the work and express that. This understanding is well served by understanding the composer's intentions and its historical/stylistic context. But the interpretation is also shaped by the performer's personal relationship with the work. This relationship (the interpretation) will, most likely, evolve over time.
I think knowledge is essential to be able to play a piece. I know I enjoy playing something more and I feel more comfortable playing it with a musical, technical, and emotional understanding whether that comes from the composer or someone else. I think it's especially true with modern music where the vocabulary may be more experimental or it just isn't as ingrained as it is with Giuliani or Mertz. I've worked on Hans Erich Apostel's Sechs Musiken over the years and I doubt I'd ever understand how to approach it without Karl Scheit's introduction.
I normally completely defer to the composer initially until, as Jack Stewart put so well, I develop a relationship with the piece. Sometimes after months or years, they go off in a different direction (for better or worse). It's like the piece sets off with the composer's vision as training wheels, but once it really gets going, who knows where it will end up?
As a hobbyist, I doubt any of that comes through in my playing, but it makes it much more enjoyable for me.