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Re: More thoughts on GG as "non-composer"

At 22:49 1/02/97 -0500, you wrote:
>>Actually, I think the exact opposite.  Many (most?) composers are forever
>>changing their first ideas or concepts in a composition while in the act of
>        Yes, I agree that revisions are constant, but not always before the
ink is dry. Rachmaninoff, for example, was his own most stringent critic and
made major revisions to works that had been considered finished. In Mach's
book *Great Pianists...* Horowitz says

Almost all composers revise/d their works after the ink was dry.  This is
why I used the word "text" in the original message.  This point about
revision brings up the discussions regarding improvisation/composition and
their temporal relationship ie comoposition is improvisation frozen and
improvisation is "real-time" composition.  At some temporal point, a "text"
has to be considered finished, although the interactions between a text and
reader is never finished (i had to bring post-modernism in somewhere!).

>        I am not a composer, but I think the concept of "finished" must be
far more nebulous for composition than for interpretation and would have
been harder for Gould to have reached. To compose seems far more emotional
and personal, and the urge to "find one's own voice" is constantly
emphasised - something Gould 

        I think that interpretation and composition are a lot closer
together in a conceptual sense, especially when discussion Gould.  Although
the interpreter has a text to work to finish ie perform, the composer
doesn't interpret the text (unless they also perform the work).  
        One of the interesting points of music in the 20th century is that
the status of the composer and the interpreter in regard to "received
method" has changed.  "Received method" can be defined basically as the
methods of standard production eg how a composition "should" sound both from
a composers point of view and a performer's point of view.  Before the 20th
century, a composer was limited in what would be perceived as musically
correct eg using standard harmonic processes, standard instrumentation etc
Of course, the composers who are now more (historically) famous, were the
ones that stretched the rules until they (almost) broke.  The performer, on
the other hand, was not so constrained, often taking liberties with the
composer's text, and rearranging the works for completely (inappropriate)
        Now the situation is reversed.  A composer can basically do what
they want and call it composition.  The performer, however, is quite
restricted.  The playing of Bach's keyboard works on the piano, for example,
has almost disappeared in concerts, although most competition,
paradoxically, ask for a Bach piece.  Performers are criticised for using
"incorrect" ornamentation more than they are taken to task for overall
musicality.  "Incorrect" tempi are outlawed. [I am overstating the case,
obviously, to make a point].  I think this is one reason that Glenn Gould is
so important for music in this century.  While being aware of the recieved
method of playing Bach, as well as being aware of the received method of
concert giving was to perform late Romantic works with doses of Russian
music, he arrived at his own decision and stuck to it.  I can only imagine
what the effects of his playing was on the audiences, as well as, more
importantly for this discussion, on fellow performers.  It must have been as
if a whole new world opened up to them, as composers would have felt after
Schoenberg's ideas had filtered through, allowing the old order to continue
as well as to allow new ideas of interpretation.
        As an end note, I am working on a paper as to why I think Gould is
one of the three most important people to Western Art music in the 20th
century.  Schoenberg and John Cage are the others.
Bruce Petherick                          |
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