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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000578.txt from 1996/01

From: Nick Shackleton <>
Subj: Re: Is that it? Is it all over?
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 1996 05:50:34 -0500

>At 9:25 AM 1/26/96, Dan Leeson: wrote:
>>As an example, for more than 3 years I have tried unsuccessfully to
>>discuss in detail the subject of spontaneous improvisation in Mozart.
>>I think it to be a terrific discussion topic to say nothing of the fact
>>that it is important for people in this business to know about the
>>current state of thinking of these things.
>What's to discuss? It should be obvious to anyone with half a brain (or
>even a whole brain) that by definition in performance art one performs
>according to the creator's (in the case of music, the composer's) wishes.
>If you do not follow the clearly expressed wishes of the creator, then you
>are not performing the work, you are performing some other derivative work.
>Clearly, there are mounds of documentation showing that Mozart REQUIRED
>spontaneous improvisation in virtually everything he wrote. Case closed,
>end of story.
>In other words, if you play Mozart without spontaneous improvisations, then
>you are playing it INCORRECTLY. It's the same as playing in the wrong key
>signature, or the wrong rhythm, or the wrong dynamic, or the wrong
>phrasing. It's WRONG.
>But that brings me back to the question: What's to discuss? :-)
>--Jonathan Cohler
An excellent beginning for a discussion!
To one audience your "spontaneous improvisations" could include snatches of
West Side Story and bring cheers. To another audience this would be THE END
of your career. Almost certainly the same was the case in Mozart's day- one
would not turn one's sponteneity in the same direction regardless of the
The difference is that today you might be playing in a high school in
London, Oklahoma one day and in London, England the next; can your
spontaneity switch that fast? Somebody may surreptitiously tape your high
school concert and play it to your London agent.
Personally I can't play the Beethoven octet without spontaneously doing
something in the Minuet...I have no reputation to lose but a serious player
may not want to lose face even once through not having adequately learned
the bounds within which "spontaneity" is appropriate.

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