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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000863.txt from 1997/12

From: "Craig E. G. Countryman" <>
Subj: Re: Morales -- Composer Intent
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 22:05:36 -0500

Josh-Boy wrote:

".....By intentionally or otherwise leaving out certain notes, passages,
whatever, this destroys the composers written work. When I said
composer's intentions, I meant following the written crescendos, notes,
ritards, etc.,etc.,etc. If we follow these as performers, then we can
preserve as much of the 'composer's intentions' as possible....."

Does it destroy it? I don't think so. Part of what music involves is
the performer's interpretation. I have three CDs with Copland's "Dance
Episodes from Rodeo" and each has a different tempo, takes different
dynamics, and alters some rhythms (sp?). Two recordings of Holst's "The
Planets" shows the same phenomenon. In Copland's Clarinet Concerto I've
even noticed a couple changed notes from performer to performer.

The key in my view is tasteful interpretation. Performances would be
very boring without some different perspectives. And the lack of
conformance to the composer's wishes is not always a historical
problem. There are many conflicts over the Copland Concerto written in
1950, and the Poulenc Sonata of 1963. So why are there conflicts:
mainly interpretation. Neglecting some problems with the Poulenc due to
the large number of revised editions, the changes made and implented are
due to interpretation. Are these works destroyed by this? NO! I
personally prefer some performances over others, but each performance I
find beautiful and exciting. This is because they all share a common
thread -- the notes on the page. What makes each one unique is how the
performer expands and builds on those notes to create something truly

This is not to say that we should totally ignore a composer's intent.
But as a performer we have rights too! The trick is to carefully
balance the two.

This is at times a difficult task. An article that describes our task
can be found at

I found this to be quite an informative article and I recommended it to
the list a couple weeks ago. I think it really speaks to what we can do
and describes our task as a musician. First we must analyize the piece
we are playing and decide what the composer had in mind, what mood he
was trying to create, etc. Then we must look at how we want to get this
mood across. Different people may will have different ideas on how to
portray this mood and out of this varying interpretations are born.

I realize this is controversial, but I think that to make such an
all-inclusive statement as saying "....destroys the composers written
work...." is very dangerous. This is not something we can apply to all
cases, but it must be evaluated on a case by case basis.


Craig Countryman (My secondary page, Geocities
is under construction.)
ICQ Uin: 1106304

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