Jane O'Dea Virtue or Virtuosity
Post on 09-Apr-2016
DESCRIPTIONA Book about Ethics of Musical Performance
Virtue or Virtuosity?
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Virtue or Virtuosity? Explorations in the Ethics of Musical Performance
Contributions to the Study of Music and Dance, Number 58
GREENWOOD PRESS Westport, Connecticut London
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
O'Dea, Jane. Virtue or virtuosity? : explorations in the ethics of musical performance / JaneO'Dea.
p. cm.(Contributions to the study of music and dance, ISSN 0193-9041 ; no. 58) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-313-31568-X (alk. paper) I. MusicMoral and ethical aspects. 2. MusicPerformances. I. Title. II. Series.
ML3800 .034 2000 174'.978dc21 00-024936
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data is available.
Copyright 2000 by Jane O'Dea
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, by any process or technique, without the express written consent of the publisher.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 00-024936 ISBN: 0-313-31568-X ISSN: 0193-9041
First published in 2000
Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 0688 1 An imprint of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc. www.greenwood.com
Printed in the United States of America
The paper used in this book complies with the Permanent Paper Standard issued by the National Information Standards Organization (Z39.48-1984). 1 0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2
For Brian, Marcia and Deirdre
In loving Memory of Bridget Doolan 1932-1997
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1. Musical Interpretation 1
2. Turning the Soul toward Excellence: The Character of the Performing Artist 25
3. Virtue or Virtuosity? 39
4. Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 67
5. Integrity in Musical Performance 93
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I was fortunate in my youth to be taught by a number of outstanding musicians: Tilly Fleischmann, Aloys Fleischmann, Sean 6 Riada, Pilib 6 Laoghaire, Bridget Doolan and Margaret Dillon. Together they created a distinctive musi-cal community in Cork, Ireland, with roots both in the Western classical heritage and Irish traditional music. Virtue or Virtuosity? reflects the artistic ideals and values handed down to me as a student in the "Cork Musical Tradition." It was then that I was first encouraged to think about the issues discussed in this book.
My thinking has been provoked, enriched and stimulated over the years by the colleagues and students with whom I have worked. I should like to thank them all here. I am indebted in particular to Professor Harold Wiens of the Uni-versity of Alberta, Edmonton, for showing me that it is possible to create a sup-portive, nurturing learning community where competition is minimized and all musical performers may prosper and succeed. I am also grateful to Aron Edidin who reviewed the manuscript for Greenwood Publishing Group. Virtue or Vir-tuosity? is much the better for his insightful and penetrating reading.
Finally, I should like to acknowledge my continued indebtedness to my hus-band, Brian Titley, who has never failed to encourage me in my work and who has functioned as advisor, critic, and copy editor throughout the writing process. For his loving, ongoing support I am immeasurably grateful.
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Virtue or Virtuosity? addresses the ethical questions performers face in inter-preting musical works. Although not new, such questions have received par-ticular prominence in recent times due to the emergence of the historical per-formance movement and its attention to composers' original conceptions. This has prompted performers and others to ponder anew many of the hitherto ac-cepted practices of their art. It has led them to reconsider the validity of per-formers' creative contributions to the interpretation of musical works, the obligatory force of the score and of historical information, and the appropriate role and visibility of performance skills in the meaningful realization of musical compositions.
In short, more than ever before, performers today are called upon to justify their interpretations ethically as well as aesthetically. Yet the traditional struc-tures that once afforded master teachers the time to work through such issues with their apprentice-students on a one-to-one basis, are no longer in evidence. Instead, students typically find themselves enrolled in large professional music faculties or academies where the education imparted is almost totally oriented toward technical instruction and there is little time to further understanding and resolution of the ethical challenges musical performance presents. Moreover, the exacting demands and ever increasing competitiveness of the contemporary music scene all too often promote cutthroat atmospheres that actively deter stu-dents from developing the kind of integrity needed to face and resolve such complicated issues. They are left to muddle along as best they can, a situation that leads to insecurity, uncertainty and self-doubt. This in turn encourages them to engage in spiteful, jealous behaviors totally unconducive to the development of artistic excellence.
In order to combat such destructive learning environments and promote ex-cellence in interpretation, the ethical dimensions of performance need to be rein-stated as an essential component in the education of aspiring musicians. Virtue
or Virtuosity? is written with this purpose in mind. It explores in some detail the ethical responsibilities of performers, the diverse patrons they serve and the challenge this presents to their artistic integrity. As the title may suggest, it ap-plies an Aristotelian model of ethics to performance. This is one that, while recognizing the value and importance of rules and principles derived from per-formance practice, gives central place to the judgment of the individual per-former and the virtuous character traits sagacious musical judgment entails. Developing this judgment and combatting temptations that undermine it consti-tute the central theme of the book. Drawing together the collective wisdom embodied in performance practice and insights from ethical theory and philoso-phy of music, it encourages musicians to examine and explore more deeply the ethical dimensions of their art.
Interpretation is a complex notion. In the context of music it is usually associ-ated with performance. But critics too engage in the interpretation of musical works. And the Historical Performance Movement has given prominence to yet another interpretive figure the historian/musicologist.
While all of the above are legitimately described as involved in the business of interpretation, it would be a mistake to assume that they do the same thing. They do not. In a recent work,1 Jerrold Levinson distinguishes two sorts of in-terpretation: critical interpretation and performance interpretation. The first is a standardly propositional affair, an interrelated set of remarks that typically aims to explain or elucidate a composition's meaning or structure. The second is a sensuous realization of the composition, a particular way of sounding it. It highlights or effectively displays the work's meaning or structure but does not provide a determinate comment upon it.
Levinson emphasizes the dissimilarities between the two activities. But he does acknowledge (although he does not elaborate on it) that "obviously there is some connection" between them. Stephan Davies also suggests that there are "obvious parallels" between the two activities. He contends that "both the per-former and the critic must understand the work if they are to perform their jobs convincingly, even if the performer's understanding is more practical and may be difficult to articulate."2 That is my task in this chapter. I will present and develop a concept of performance interpretation that relates it to a particular kind of understanding and that delineates its separateness from, yet also its con-nection to, other kinds of interpretation.
In performance interpretation, the performer begins with something already created, the musical composition. This consists of sounds or tones grouped, ordered and related into coherent patterns of one sort or another, and symboli-cally notated in a musical score the interpretation and performance of which is the performer's task. On the most basic level, performance involves sounding
2 Virtue or Virtuosity?
aloud reproducing in actual sound sensation the tones indicated on the musical score.
But performers are not typists. There is more to musical interpretation than the mere sounding aloud of tones, something clearly illustrated by criticisms that chide performers for "merely playing the notes" or for "playing mechanically." But if performance interpretation involves not just sounding aloud indicated tones but doing something else besides, the question then becomes: What is this "something else" that the performer does? And how does it relate to the concept of interpretation?
Interpretation is characteristically linked to understanding.3 To "interpret" something is to characterize it in such a way as to make it intelligible. Mothers, for example, ordinarily interpret the crying of their newborn babies as indicating discomfort of some sort. Acting on the basis of that interpretation, they try to alleviate the children's discomfort through feeding them, changing their diapers, burping them and so forth. Interpretation in this case refers to the mothers' at-tempts to render a particular situation, the babies' crying, intelligible. And since a similar quest for intelligibility seems to be implicit in all our diverse uses of the word interpretation,4 we may tentatively characterize it as the process of bringing a thing or situation from unintelligibility to understanding.
In so characterizing interpretation we are harking back to the origins and ancient use of the Greek verb "hermeneuein" (to interpret) and the noun "her-meneia" (interpretation).5 Both words point to the wing-footed messenger-god, Hermes, whose task it was to translate something beyond human understanding into a form that human intelligence could follow. Hermes was credited with the discovery of language and writing, the tools human understanding employs to grasp meaning and to communicate it to others. Even more important for our purposes, three basic directions of meaning of hermeneuein may be distin-guished in ancient usage:6 (1) to express aloud in words, that is, to assert or to say; (2) to explain, as in explaining a situation; (3) to translate, as in the transla-tion of a foreign tongue. Interpretation, in other words, can refer to three rather different matters although they all have something in common. In each of them "something foreign, strange, separated in time, space or experience is made fa-miliar, present, comprehensible."7
The ramifications of this for performance interpretation are clear. Bearing in mind that the musical composition reaches the performer embodied in a static, visual and silent entity the music score we may cite performance inter-pretation as the process whereby that entity is transmuted into an intelligible, aural, sonorous happening in time. In other words, like the language interpreter who renders a foreign tongue comprehensible to us, the performer translates abstract, visual symbols into aurally experienceable sequences of sound. Pre-senting the performer from this point of view as a kind of go-between, Levinson describes her as someone who "essentially makes perceptually accessible a text or code that a non-musician cannot otherwise grasp."8
Musical Interpretation 3
I agree with Levinson that the performer functions something like a language interpreter. I do not agree with him, however, that this makes of her "more a transmitter than an explicator."9 I think the performer is indeed an explicator, albeit of a very subtle kind. In order to grasp the particular kind of explication at issue here, we need to look more closely at the first direction of meaning of hermenuein: "to express aloud in words, to assert or to say."
The word "express" connotes the notion of saying. But it indicates beyond that a particular kind of saying, one that directs us to the "way" something is said. Frequently, the way we say something is as indicative of the content or state of mind we wish to communicate as any words used to describe it. When a friend phones, for example, and conveys her anger at being maligned unjustly by a jealous colleague, her state of mind is communicated as much through her vocal intonations as through the words used to convey it. What communicates anger in this case are subtle vocal intonations such things as raised pitch, quicker delivery, sharper enunciation of consonants. These are features we have learned to interpret as indicative of anger. They serve to enhance and empha-size the feeling state being described.
Vocal intonations like this often serve to communicate effectively states of mind that are even in direct contradiction to those linguistically expressed. Our understanding of sarcasm or irony, for example, depends entirely on the pres-ence and recognition of such vocal inflections. Tone of voice constitutes, in fact, probably our most primary mode of communication. Animals incapable of language and babies before they acquire linguistic understanding learn quickly to interpret and respond to it. Although the words used in speaking to them may communicate little, the manner in which they are said clearly indicates a par-ticular disposition, and the child or animal responds accordingly.
Neither is the use of vocal inflection unknown in artistic areas. In the Ion of Plato, for example, the young interpreter recites Homer, and in the way he re-cites the poetry through his intonations he "expresses," subtly explains it.10 In our own time we applaud the interpretive skills of great Shakespearean actors like Sir Lawrence Olivier or Sir John Geilgud. What we admire in actors like these is their ability to "get across" Shakespeare, the manner in which they enable us to get beyond the stumbling block of a mode of English with which we are no longer familiar and help us grasp the meaning of what is being con-veyed. They accomplish this among other things, through the astute use of vocal intonation. Their subtle inflections enhance or underscore the content/states of mind linguistically articulated and in so doing enable us to follow them. They offer, in short, subtle guidance regarding the meaning and importance of what is being said. This furthers our ability to make sense of the play and so to have a meaningful, more perceptive aesthetic experience.
Musical sounds and tones are also susceptible of inflection, of sustaining varieties of intonation. And like the sounds of speech, they too may be used to further understanding of the music. In other words, performance interpretation involves more than merely sounding aloud tones or notes indicated on a music
4 Virtue or Virtuosity?
score. It entails sounding them in a particular manner, one that subtly explains them makes them intelligible, capable of being understood. Performance interpretation may be characterized as the process by which a musical score may be experienced aurally, but also and much more important, may be understood aurally.
What is it to render a musical score "aurally understandable"? What kind of understanding is being raised here? This is not an easy question to answer. Mu-sical understanding is a highly complex, elusive affair, of which even ardent music lovers are frequently hesitant to claim possession.M But while it is not uncommon to hear zealous music listeners protest that although they enjoy mu-sic, they nevertheless do not claim to understand it, one senses intuitively that there is something radically wrong with that assertion. As Leonard Meyer la-conically comments, "People seldom like what they do not understand. Quite the opposite . . . [they] generally detest and reject what seems incomprehensible. Witness the hostility which contemporary music so often excites in audiences accustomed to the syntax and structure of tonal music."12
Meyer's comment notwithstanding, it is undeniable that many music lovers are reluctant to talk about musical understanding. Usually this stems from a variety of reasons. When music lovers say that they do not understand music they mean something like: they cannot read a music score; do not play a musical instrument; have no understanding of such things as cadences, contrapuntal de-vices, transitional passages and the like not to mind such monumental constructs as Schenkerian theory. In short, their protestations focus on the fact that al-though they love music and can perhaps articulate their responses to it in extra-musical, quasi-emotional terms, nevertheless they feel they "know" very little about it. They cannot explain in technical terms how musical compositions work. Neither can they articulate (again in technical terms) what makes a work like Beethoven's Piano Sonata op. 110 a great musical composition. For many music lovers, musical understanding is equated with the ability to give appropri-ate explanation. And because they have no grasp of the technical vocabulary employed by trained experts, they see themselves as lacking that ability, con-cluding thereby that although they love music and experience it with enjoyment, nevertheless they obviously do not "understand" it.
But is this really the case? Is understanding in general and musical under-standing in particular linked to the ability to offer explanation appropriate or otherwise? Is a firm grasp of musical terminology and/or musical theory neces-sary to experience a musical work with understanding? Again you encounter what seem like anomalies. For if musical understanding does indeed necessitate a firm grasp of musical terminology and/or theory, then as a phenomenon it is restricted to a mere handful of musicologists. And congenial as such a conclu-sion might be in academic faculties of music, as Michael Tanner sardonically observes, one does not have to indulge in any dubious form of intentionalism to recognize that "composers have not usually written their music for the benefit of professional analysts."13
Musical Interpretation 5
Furthermore, it is readily apparent in the case of other types of activities in which the phenomenon of understanding is involved, linguistic activities, for example, that you do not have to be able to read words, sentences, paragraphs or poems in order to understand what is said to you. Much less do you have to have the linguist's knowledge of phonological, syntactic and semantic struc-tures. Neither is your understanding of a performance of Shakespeare's Henry V dependent upon knowing explicitly about such things as prosodic devices, dra-matic structures and so forth.
Although there are striking differences between language and music, we may nevertheless glean some useful insights into musical understanding, if we notice, after J. M. Moravcsik,14 the subtle but important difference of meaning shown by the following pair:
(1) understanding what a given sentence S is; (2) understanding a given sentence S.
Moravcsik uses these to argue that some kinds of understanding "under-standing what" or "understanding why" may be linked to explicit explana-tion. There is, however, another mode of understanding, what he terms "under-standing simpliciter." This is linked neither to literacy nor to the ability to give explanation and operates independently of both. It is indicated in English by the direct object construction and it underlies many of our cognitive competencies. Just so, I will argue that a subtle but important difference of meaning is shown by the following pair:
(1) understanding what a given musical phrase MP is; (2) understanding a given musical phrase MP.
In music also, understanding is not necessarily dependent upon knowledge of musical terminology, theory or compositional techniques. Like language, music has an "understanding simpliciter" that is linked neither to explicit expla-nation nor to the ability to read musical notation and that operates independently of both. It is to this mode of "understanding simpliciter" that we must now turn our attention.
As Moravcsik describes it, understanding simpliciter is not a matter of hav-ing lots of information about a subject. Rather, it "consists of seeing larger complexes with their ingredients interrelated in the proper way." It indicates the agent's "ability to interrelate material . . . to see larger connections between parts of the information supplied."'3 Moravcsik's central point, using mathe-matical proofs as an example, is that knowing a lot about a proof, as well as knowing what a proof is, need not amount to understanding the proof. "Under-standing" in this case, refers to the mental insight that enables us to grasp how all the diverse bits of information fit together into an operant cognitive proce-dure and to apply it afterward in different contexts.
6 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Just so in music: understanding simpliciter consists of hearing large com-plexes (musical compositions) with their ingredients (musical sounds) interre-lated in the proper way. It occurs when the sound structures that are musical compositions are heard aurally perceived as such. It takes place when we listen attentively and intelligently to musical compositions and make sense of the ongoing succession of sounds hear them not as an homogenous, undiffer-entiated series of discrete, unrelated sound stimuli but as complex, coherent, unified and meaningful sound structures.16
Understanding simpliciter consists in effect of hearing tones interrelated as motives, motives interrelated as phrases, phrases interrelated as sections and so forth. It describes our capacity to experience aurally to hear directly such musical phenomena as cadences, contrapuntal devices, transitional passages and the like. It constitutes our ability to perceive aurally various kinds of musical patterns, processes and relationships.
Both this direct mode of understanding and the explicit explanatory version associated with musical experts are concerned with discerning musical struc-tures.17 But where explicit, explanatory understanding is concerned with ar-ticulating in some sort of propositional terms the patterns, processes and rela-tionships constitutive of musical works, understanding simpliciter is concerned simply with perceiving them aurally. It has what Moravcsik terms a "non-propositional ingredient."18 It involves tracing or following aurally the sound structures that explicit understanding seeks to articulate propositionally.
I have used Moravcsik's concept of "understanding simpliciter" to propose and explicate a direct, nonpropositional mode of musical understanding, one that operates in the manner of a sophisticated, aural expertise. Although one does not find in contemporary writings on musical understanding reference to this particular concept, one does find frequent allusions to the primacy of direct aural perception. Roger Scruton forthrightly characterizes musical understanding as "a form of hearing."19 And he argues that "no . . . [propositional] account of music is of aesthetic significance unless it is also an account of what we can hear."20 In a similar vein, Aaron Ridley cites understanding as "a way of hearing certain successions and clusters of pitched and unpitched sounds as tunes, rhythms, melodies, harmonies and so forth."21 Rather than seeing it as separable from the direct experience of music, both Stephan Davies22 and Jerrold Levin-son23 locate understanding in the "manner of hearing" musical works. But per-haps the most eloquent account of musical understanding, one that speaks tell-ingly moreover to the notions entailed in "understanding simpliciter," is that of Alban Berg. In his essay "Why Is Schonberg's Music So Difficult to Under-stand?" he states:
to recognize the beginning, course and ending of all melodies, to hear the sounding-together of the voices not as a chance phenomenon but as harmonies and harmonic progressions, to trace smaller and larger relationships and contrasts as what they are to put it briefly: to follow a piece of music as one follows the words of a poem in a Ian-
Musical Interpretation 7
guage that one has mastered through and through means the same tor one who possesses the gift of thinking musically as under-standing the work itself.24
Given that understanding simpliciter operates independently of explicit, ex-planatory understanding, how do we come to acquire it? How do we learn to hear directly to map aurally various kinds of musical patterns, processes and relationships?
We learn to hear musical structures directly through experience, through constant practice in listening and/or performing. More specifically, we learn it through a kind of induction. As a consequence of repeatedly hearing composi-tions in which sounds are interrelated in certain specific ways, we generalize from there and tend to interrelate sounds accordingly. Insofar as the musical sounds encountered are susceptible of being interrelated thus, we "understand" them make aural sense of them. But insofar as they are not thus susceptible, we fail to make aural sense of them. And because music is not a universal lan-guage but encompasses a multiplicity of structuring styles that vary from culture to culture, from epoch to epoch, and even within the same epoch and culture, this is not an unusual event.
To illustrate: Irish traditional music is monolinear. It employs a highly so-phisticated, melismatic style of ornamentation that is designed to introduce con-stant variation and that makes use of subtle inflections of pitch and/or rhythm as it weaves its delicate, intricate mellifluous patterns. This places it in striking contrast to Western European "classical" music, which is polylinear. It struc-tures sounds vertically as well as horizontally, a factor that has led to its devel-oping a rich and diverse range of harmonic structures and colors totally un-known in the monolinear, traditional Irish style.
Now insofar as listeners from both traditions bring to bear exclusively on each others' music their ingrained modes of listening and of sound-structuring, both will likely have unsatisfactory aural experiences. The classical listener, accustomed to a music that has developed vertically, will try to listen harmoni-cally to the monolinear traditional style and will find it "lacking." Furthermore, unaccustomed to listening purely horizontally and unfamiliar with the melodic structuring of Irish traditional music, she will likely miss or fail to trace aurally the complex, highly subtle linear patternings that make it rich, its purely hori-zontal nature notwithstanding.25
On the other hand, the traditional listener, accustomed to a music that has developed purely horizontally, will likely find the melodic outlines of classical music strangely lacking in terms of subtle, melismatic, linear complexity. Fur-thermore, unaccustomed to listening vertically and unfamiliar with the harmonic processes that Western music characteristically employs, she will likely miss, fail to grasp aurally, the vertical structuring indigenous to the classical style.
Musical understanding simpliciter, in other words, is not an innate, intuitive ability capable of cutting across different musical traditions and cultures.26 Quite
8 Virtue or Virtuosity?
the contrary, because it is acquired in connection with particular musical styles, it is both culture bound and tradition specific. It presupposes familiarity with the structuring processes of traditions in which musical works are located or at least contiguous traditions.27
It does not require explicit conscious familiarity, however. Rather it requires deep, extensive aural familiarity. The term "understanding simpliciter" should not be taken as indicating a facile, simplified form of comprehension. As Berg's statement above illustrates, we are talking here of a sensitive and discriminating aural competence, one susceptible of considerable sophistication and refinement. Understanding like this naturally admits of degrees. And dependent upon their personal history of aural absorption, as well as upon such things as interest, taste and musical aptitude, people will be more or less discerning listeners. You do not need to study music, however, to become such a listener. Levinson writes that a listener
need never have digested a formal definition of concerto or fugue, need never have grasped the least fundamental of harmonic theory, need not know how many octaves and fractions thereof each orches-tral instrument spans, need not be able to tick off the characteristics of Baroque style. He need only have an implicit grasp of these things in his bones and ears, so to speak.28
Although explicit knowledge can prove useful in alerting us to new possi-bilities of structure or different kinds of aural patterning, in the final analysis, such (propositional) explications have to be converted into aural ability. We have to learn to "hear" the phenomena explicated. And that can only occur through repeated, attentive listening. As Moravcsik argued with regard to proofs, "knowing about" such musical phenomena is not enough. The stylistic structures and aural patternings need to be absorbed so thoroughly that they be-come a natural part of our listening apparatus.
But a discerning, attentive listener could achieve this entirely through lis-tening in an implicit, experiential, nonverbally mediated way. And this en-ables us to make sense of music lovers' sometimes odd protestations. They are well aware of their lack of theoretical knowledge. But usually they are com-pletely unaware of having developed the aural-perceptual listening skill that constitutes the core of musical understanding simpliciter and that enables them to experience musical works with enjoyment. This leads them to conclude that although they love music they do not understand it.
In believing this they are mistaken. Insofar as they are capable of aurally tracing the structures and patterns of musical works, they do in fact understand them. Knowing about such things as cadences, transitional passages, contrapun-tal forms and the like can possibly enhance one's direct understanding by in-creasing the sensitivity of the ear to musical patterns and relationships.29 But such a claim is not incompatible with the central argument advanced here that it is possible to understand and to enjoy music without any such knowledge.
Musical Interpretation 9
So far I have characterized musical understanding simpliciter in intro-musical terms as the aural perception of various kinds of musical patterns, proc-esses and relationships. Many would applaud this formalist orientation. Nev-ertheless, a general objection might be raised against my account that it presents a very minimalist portrayal of musical understanding, one that does not at all take into account what many listeners most appreciate about music: its capacity to be emotionally expressive. Any discussion of musical understanding, it might be said, must take into account music's expressive capabilities. This is impor-tant because admonitions to the contrary notwithstanding, many listeners persist in hearing in musical compositions sounds suffused with feeling.
I believe that in order to understand music, one must be able to perceive aurally various kinds of musical patterns, processes and relationships. But this is not to suggest that listening for this alone is the only way to approach music. The patterns and processes that understanding simpliciter discerns may also suggest resonances outside the musical work. The listener may perceive analo-gies between the structural patterns embodied in the music and patterns of other nonmusical phenomena. She may hear them as emotionally expressive because they bear some discernible resemblance to the structure of our emotions
This notion of musical expressiveness, often termed the "isomorphic" theory of expression30 has found many and varied adherents. Perhaps the most well-known proponent in recent times is Peter Kivy. In his book The Corded Shell, Kivy suggests that music is expressive of our emotional life because it structur-ally resembles physical manifestations of the latter.31 We perceive, for example, the Saint Bernard's face as expressive of sadness because we see its features as structurally similar to the features of our own faces when they express sadness. Just so, we hear a musical phrase as sad (the opening phrase of Beethoven's "Arioso Dolente," Piano Sonata, op. 110, for example) when we hear it as a hu-man utterance32 (as an "Arioso," something sung); and we perceive features of that utterance as tracing in sound the characteristic fall of the human voice when it weeps, sighs, or in some such way expresses sadness.
Beethoven's "Arioso" is not an isolated example of such emotional tracing. Vocal music in particular is rife with cogent exemplifications. The melodic outlines of Baroque recitative the recitative Bach writes for the Evangelist in the St. John Passion, for example, or the purely instrumental recitative of his Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue closely mirror the subtle vocal inflections33
we characteristically employ to express our emotions and feelings. Radically different but no less expressive in our own time are the vocal inflections George Crumb employs in his Ancient Voices of Children. Musical structures also model in sound other aspects of emotive life how we feel, hold ourselves, move under the influence of particular emotions.34 It is not by accident, for ex-ample, that Beethoven's "Arioso Dolente" moves as we characteristically move when we are sad adagio, very slowly. Similarly, R. K. Elliot speaks of a mu-sical phrase "making a tender gesture,"35 a comment that calls to mind the sub-tle, gestures exquisitely wrought in Schonberg's 6 Kleine Klavierstucke, op. 19.
10 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Kivy acknowledges, however, that not all types of musical expressiveness are covered by structural resemblance or what he terms the "contour" model. Accordingly, he develops a second "conventional" type of musical expressive-ness in which the customary association of particular musical features with cer-tain emotive ones (quite apart from any structural analogy between them) ren-ders them emotionally expressive. It is through convention rather than through its contour that the major mode expresses happy emotions.36 Similarly, Kivy cites the minor triad as merely conventionally expressive of the darker emotions. (He does concede that it might once have been accommodated on the contour theory of expressiveness.)37 Kivy's claim is that these two theories together account for central cases of emotion in music, sometimes one, sometimes the other, but usually both together.38
While widely read, Kivy's work has been criticized for focusing exclusively on small-scale musical details and for neglecting the expressive potential of overall form the way the piece presents itself to the listener as successive-ness, as a temporal unfolding, as a large-scale process.39 Insisting on overall structures, not small-scale details as the seat of musical expressiveness, Susanne Langer argues that music bears a resemblance to the subjective phenomenology of our emotive life. She suggests that music expresses not so much individual emotions (like sadness or joy) but rather emotion-in-general: "forms of growth and attenuation, flowing and stowing, conflict and resolution, speed, arrest, terri-fic excitement, calm" the "elusive and yet familiar patterns of sentience."40
Unlike Kivy, moreover, she adamantly refuses to verbalize the emotional con-tent of music, preferring instead to valorize its ambivalence, its capacity to ar-ticulate forms of feeling that "language is peculiarly unfit to convey."4
Langer is not alone in drawing attention to the expressive potential of overall form. Leonard Meyer maintains that as musical compositions unfold, their syn-tactical harmonic structures set up expectations, the crafted inhibition of which elicits feelings of tension in the attentive listener. Eventually this tension is re-solved when the anticipated pattern finally occurs. But since expectation, inhi-bition and resolution occur throughout the work on a variety of hierarchic levels, the entire composition is aurally experienced as a dynamic interchange of ten-sion and resolution.42 And echoing Langer, Edward Cone asserts that "a musical composition may express not only through each individual gesture, but also through the totality of gestures that constitutes its form."43
All of the theories discussed thus far have been subjected to rigorous debate and criticism. But critical commentary notwithstanding, the isomorphic conten-tion that musical compositions are as "sound maps" of feeling and emotion con-tinues to hold appeal. More important for our purposes, it enables us to under-stand why emotive terms so frequently arise in music lovers' discussions of mu-sic. Musical understanding simpliciter may consist in aurally perceiving the patterns, processes and relationships constitutive of musical works. But if those patterns, processes and relationships are powerfully suggestive of feeling and emotion, then, not unreasonably, music lovers may experience musical compo-
Musical Interpretation 11
sitions as highly expressive. And this being so, it is hardly surprising that in articulating their responses to music, music lovers resort to emotive/expressive language.
But it is not at all obvious that in articulating their responses thus, music lovers are behaving inappropriately. Insofar as their emotionally couched pro-nouncements are dependent upon, and arise out of, the intelligent (aural) cogni-tion of musical structures, they are dependent upon and arise out of the same musical phenomena as theorists' more abstract, technical formulations. And the difference between their articulations is merely one of vocabulary. This is not as significant a difference as one might think, however. Although music lovers' verbalizations may appear much less scientific and much more subjective than theorists' formulations, appearances in this case are deceptive.
First, the conventional association of particular musical features with certain emotional states, the association of the minor mode with sadness, for example, is in fact an objective matter ascertainable through the usual standards of good inductive reasoning. Further, as Kivy convincingly argues44: the criteria for ascribing expressive predicates to musical structures (in the case of sadness: falling pitch, slow movement and so forth) are the selfsame criteria we apply to human expression (to sadness) in general. But if these general criteria of human expression are accepted as conventional rather than idiosyncratic are publicly recognized as part of the logical grammar of emotive predicates like sad or happy the same must be said of the criteria of musical expression since they are parasitic on the latter.
And if expressive descriptions of music are less subjective than one might think, theoretical descriptions are less objective. Faltin reminds us45: rather than dealing with structure in and of itself, musicological analysis deals instead with its phenomenology. It tries to "find in the structure arguments that can explain why it was heard exactly as it was heard." But in so doing theorists too work with commonly accepted ideas. They appeal to such conventional, culturally learned concepts as contrast, motive, development, dominant chord and so on. Although these more technical concepts present a different descriptive slant on the work, they are not intrinsically closer to it than other more expressive for-mulations.
Technical and expressive verbalizations are but two complementary ways of articulating the same phenomena. Music lovers embarrassed about their lack of theoretical knowledge, and purists inclined to dismiss emotive descriptions as trivial nonsense, might do well to remember that in the writings of such prestig-ious figures as Donal Francis Tovey, Charles Rosen and even Heinrich Schenker, you find among the purely musical/technical depictions, openly emo-tive vocabulary.46
To summarize: our exploration of musical understanding brings to light three types of understanding. The first, "understanding simpliciter," indicates a non-propositional mode of understanding that involves tracing or following aurally the patterns, processes and relationships of musical compositions. Although this
12 Virtue or Virtuosity?
mode of understanding requires familiarity with relevant structuring pro-ceedings, it does not require explicit conscious familiarity. Rather it requires experiential aural familiarity. Sometimes, however, the structures that under-standing simpliciter discerns may also suggest resonances outside the actual musical work. The listener may perceive analogies between the structural pat-terns outlined in the musical composition and the structural patterns of our emo-tions. This recognition offers her a further way of making sense of the music, one that relates it to emotional expressiveness.47 Finally there is "technical" understanding in which the listener's explicit grasp of music theory enables her to understand/explain in technical terms how musical compositions work. All three types of understanding admit of degrees. And depending upon a variety of factors history of aural absorption, background knowledge and so forth a listener's understanding of a piece may be more or less sophisticated.48
Returning now to musical interpretation and its connection with under-standing: what we find in music are indeed two kinds of interpretation, two kinds of interpreter. On the one hand there are critic theorists. They are pri-marily concerned with explaining in propositional terms how musical composi-tions work. In other words, they are concerned primarily with promoting explicit musical understanding.49 Their erudite and often exhaustive analyses can en-hance or sharpen the sensitivity of the ear to musical patterns and relationships. Where works are composed in new and unfamiliar styles, they may help us to reorient our listening expectations. Their commentaries alert us to the possibil-ity of alternative patterning procedures, thereby prompting us to overcome the aural prejudices that ingrained habits of aural perception inevitably occasion. When works are composed in more familiar styles, their expositions can make us aware of details we had missed or perhaps were only dimly aware. And the awareness thus fostered renders more vivid and meaningful our subsequent aural experience.
On the other hand there are performer interpreters. They seek to portray non-propositionally in sound sensation the expressive structures of musical compo-sitions. Moreover, they seek to do so in a particular manner, one that facilitates their being heard as such, that furthers aural perception of them. In short, per-formance interpreters also are very much concerned with promoting under-standing of musical works. But their concern is not to promote explicit (critical) understanding. Rather, they seek to promote musical understanding simpliciter, what I characterized earlier as "aural" understanding. Like the Shakespearean actors previously mentioned, their task is to "get across" the music. Their charge is to sound musical works in such a way as renders abundantly clear to the attentive, perceiving ear, the expressive patterns, processes and relationships contained there. Most specifically, their task is to play or sing musical pieces in such a way as to make the individual sounds appear (aurally) to cohere, to relate to one another as meaningful and expressive tonal events as motives, phrases, sections and so forth. When the style of a work is unfamiliar, their convincing interpretations enable listeners to hear and appreciate alternative modes of musi-
Musical Interpretation 13
cal patterning. When works are composed in more familiar styles, their sensi-tive, original renditions draw aural attention to subtle nuances or qualities of the music formerly unappreciated
This implies that the performer herself understands the music. It suggests that she grasps or has already worked out how the individual notes, phrases, sections and so forth fit together as meaningful and expressive musical patterns. Moreover, it intimates that she enters into the act of performance with the spe-cific intention of sharing that understanding with others. It indicates that she believes that the understanding thereby demonstrated is legitimate, that it con-stitutes an effective and apt rendering of the work's structure and expressive character. It suggests that in working out her particular interpretation, the per-former has considered carefully what type of sounding most eloquently eluci-dates the work's expressive structures and that she has deliberately chosen the one that she thinks works best. In Levinson's words, it affirms that the per-former "has thought about how to play the work and stands behind the perfor-mative result."50
Although performers do advocate particular (aural) understandings,51 this is not to suggest that their interpretations are based on arbitrary, subjective fiat. Rather, they are guided by rules and procedural principles.52 The composer's score constitutes a more or less definite set of directions that the performer must, within limits, follow if her performance is to be an interpretation of that work.53
Music scores stipulate, for example, certain aspects of the sounds performers will produce their pitch, approximate duration, volume, timbre, tempo and so forth. They also determine how the individual sounds relate to one another in that it is usually the composer who is responsible for structuring and ordering the musical tones into intelligible patterns, processes and relationships.
But while music scores constitute for performers elaborate sets of sounding rules, they do not fix with rigid and inflexible precision exactly what the per-former's interpretation of the score is to be. No matter how detailed and specific a score, music notation, of its very nature, can specify only a part of what is ac-tually sounded in performance. There is a significant difference and crucial dis-tinction to be made between that which is indicated on the score conceptual-ized, imagined sound and that with which the performer works actual physical sound sensation. Music notation cannot capture the singular, unique and definite tonal properties of the latter. It cannot encode the subtle shadings of intonation nuances of pitch, duration, volume and timbre given in aural experience.
Singular tone colors such as these cannot be captured in musical notation because the latter generalizes what is experienced aurally as uniquely given. The dynamic marking P (piano) on a music score, for example, indicates that a tone or passage of tones, should be played or sung softly. But the perceived softness of a particular musical tone is ordinarily influenced by a variety of fac-tors: (1) the timbre of the tone generally speaking, a French horn sounds softer than a trumpet; (2) the acoustical environment in which the sound is made
14 Virtue or Virtuosity?
what sounds soft in a resonant concert hall will probably sound loud in a car-peted, small drawing room; (3) the stylistic context in which the sound occurs a soft passage in a Rachmaninoff piano concerto is probably acoustically equivalent to a loud (forte) passage in a Mozart piano concerto; and (4), the technique of the individual performer.
Although different shades and qualities of "softness" are clearly given in aural experience, music notation cannot and does not take these differences into account. Instead it merely indicates to the performer the notion of softness in general. It stipulates that on the whole a tone or group of tones should be sounded "softly," but leaves the judgment as to what constitutes "softness" in each particular situation to the individual performer.
In other words, music scores "sketch" rather than fully determine how musi-cal works are to be performed. Although it is correct to characterize them as sets of sounding rules that performers are constrained to follow, this description is much less stringent than it might appear. While music scores fix and deter-mine in a general schematic sort of way the broad form and shape of musical works, within the limitations set by those schematic outlines, a variety of inter-pretive soundings is both possible and permissable.54
It is the performer's task to go beyond what is only schematically presented in the score. And taking into account what scores of their very nature cannot accommodate the singular and unique properties of sound sensation it is her task to particularize what is only generally indicated there. It is her respon-sibility to exercise imagination and judgment and to select, from among the permissible soundings, one that effectively promotes aural understanding.
Here a second set of guidance factors come into play. Although performers ultimately decide what every tone will actually sound like, this is not to suggest that they make this decision in an arbitrary, autocratic fashion. On the contrary, their selections are controlled at least in part by performance traditions or what is usually termed "performance practice." Traditions establish standards of ac-complishment in interpretation.55 These come into being as musical participants reflect critically on past and present modes of performance, thereby determining which may be deemed praiseworthy and successful, which condemned as wrong or inappropriate. In other words, they create models of excellence against which performers may judge and conscientiously consider their own interpretive ef-forts.
In this, performance practice plays a crucially important role in interpreta-tion. Given the complex diversity and infinite variety of actual sound sensation, without it performers, in going beyond the generalized music score, would be faced with an infinite and overwhelming array of possible soundings such that finding an artistically adequate one is like shooting in the dark. Traditions, even flawed ones, have the utility of furnishing "interpretive exemplars" general approaches to the task of interpretation. And by using these general approaches, putting into operation the practical principles embedded there, performers learn
Musical Interpretation 15
to discriminate: to reject certain tonal qualities as inappropriate; to accept and endorse others as eminently susceptible of aural understanding.
Unlike the earlier part of the twentieth century, for example, when a roman-tic, nineteenth-century concept of performance sonority was the accepted norm and was applied to all compositions whether they were composed originally in the romantic idiom or not, performers today are much more cognizant of erst-while modes of performance. And they are very much concerned to sound com-position in their "original" sounding style in the mode of performance sonor-ity practiced at the time. Such a "historically authentic" sounding, it is argued, constitutes a more appropriate rendition of the musical composition.56
When before it would have been totally acceptable to realize the keyboard music of Bach or Handel on a piano rather than on a harpsichord or clavichord, it is now, only a short time later, considered inappropriate (at least in some cir-cles) to do so.57 Moreover, even when they are realized on a piano, you gener-ally no longer hear romantic, nineteenth-century type interpretations. Rather, performers are encouraged by present-day performance practice to develop in-terpretations that approximate pianistically the type of sounding sonority that would have been in vogue in Bach or Handel's own time "slender incisive tone qualities, semi-detached rather than legato articulation, terraced dynamics" and so forth.58
But while performance traditions "direct" performers, one must be careful once again not to overestimate the extent of that direction. Just as musical nota-tion can indicate only the general form and shape of musical compositions, so too performance traditions can encourage us to employ only generalized types of sounding. The practical principles developed there are no more specific than the generalized directives furnished by the composer in the music score. Like the dynamic marking "piano," for example, the practical principle: "employ slender incisive tone qualities in the performance of Bach," is broad enough to accom-modate a variety of subtly different yet equally correct exemplifications.59
In other words, like music scores, performance traditions cannot stipulate exactly how they are to be carried out in actual performance. Once again this has to be resolved by the performer, employing imagination and judgment, and taking into account what neither music notation nor the practical principles gen-erated by performance traditions can possibly accommodate, the singular and unique properties of sound sensation.60
Performance skills now enter into the interpretive process.61 Musicians do not work with sound sensation as a kind of generalized brute phenomenon. Rather they work with a highly refined and discriminating version of the latter. They develop the ability not just to sound out the notes of musical composition in a rough and crude fashion, but the adeptness to sound them out in such a way as makes aurally apparent their expressive structures. On the most basic level, this requires performers to develop a measure of technical dexterity that will enable them to play or sing the patterns indicated on the music score with an
16 Virtue or Virtuosity?
acceptable degree of accuracy. And depending on the style and/or genre of the work being performed, the level of technical proficiency required will vary.
Although technical skills are an essential requirement in performance inter-pretation, in and of themselves they are not sufficient to convey aural under-standing. We often hear performers play pieces with admirable ease and fluency yet we reject their interpretations as "merely technical" as displaying little or no grasp of the work's expressive features. To demonstrate the latter, perform-ers need to develop beyond technical skilfullness a further kind of sounding art-istry what I will call "craft" skills.62
Craft skills have to do with discerning and utilizing the interpretive potential of subtle tonal colors. When technical skills enable performers to produce deftly and fluently the individual notes indicated on the musical score, craft skills en-able them to manipulate, subtly shape or sculpt the tonal properties of those notes so that they unite in coherent, comprehensible successions, thereby mak-ing (aurally) apparent the manner in which they are patterned.
Performers accomplish this in an extensive variety of ways. They use the device of musical phrasing, for example, to let the listener know (somewhat like the words of a sentence) that a certain group of notes belongs together as a mo-tive or musical pattern. Phrasing can be highlighted aurally in a number of ways63: by introducing a subtle or more pronounced (subito) dynamic change at the beginning of a new phrase; by inserting a minute gap or break between phrases (especially where phrases are not separated by means of a rest); by in-troducing a slight, almost imperceptible ritardando toward the end of a phrase; by combinations of any of the above.
Modes of articulation (legato, staccato or the crafted juxtaposition of both) can point up important structural details such as the symmetry of me-lodic/rhythmic shape characteristic in baroque, sequential patterning. Fine gra-dations in tone volume and/or rhythm (agogics) can give to complex, chromatic melodic patterns (the melodic outlines of Schonberg's op. 19, for example) a sense of overall cadence or expressive utterance. They can also accentuate the expressive contours of melodic outlines the drooping (sad) character of the opening phrases of Beethoven's "Arioso Dolente," op. 110, for example, can be emphasized by making a sensitive, delicate diminuation in volume as the phrase descends.
Craft skills are also important in highlighting the overall structures or tempo-ral processes of musical works. Subtle, graduated increases in volume and/or tempo over an extended period can underscore for the listener the restless, for-ward moving, unstable character of transitional structures or development sec-tions. Conversely, slowly and calculatedly arresting the music's sense of for-ward movement and/or inserting an agogic pause can indicate to the listener the imminent arrival of a decisive, important structural event a new theme or recapitulation, for example. A performer can indicate through the subtle ma-nipulation of levels of intensity and volume the structural status of cadential
Musical Interpretation 17
points in the work: the relative closure of a sectional, midpoint cadence; the complete and total conclusiveness of an ultimate final cadence.
My reasons for designating performers explicators rather than mere trans-mitters now becomes clear. In pointing up various features of musical works, performers are in effect explicating their expressive structures.64 They are indi-cating to the audience: this is a final cadence, a development section, an impor-tant new tonal event. They are urging them: notice the similarity of shape in this succession of musical patterns; the delicate sensibility of this complex melodic outline; the pathos of this descending motive. They are prompting them to fol-low the progress of the musical work: to discern the end of one phrase, the be-ginning of the next; to hear the restless, forward moving character of transition passages; to recognize the gradual, slow descend to silence that constitutes a coda.
The presence of craft skills in interpretation, moreover, also helps to explain why listeners so frequently experience musical compositions as emotionally expressive. The subtle tonal inflections performers employ to illustrate and make aurally apparent the interrelatedness of musical tones are analogous to the delicate tonal inflections we characteristically employ to express and communi-cate our emotional states and feelings.65 In employing them therefore, as well as promoting and facilitating aural understanding, performers inevitably promote and facilitate that type of understanding described earlier as "expressive."66
Although all of the above is accomplished nonverbally, through the medium of sound, performers' explications are no less successful than those of critic theorists in furthering listeners' abilities to hear directly the expressive patterns and processes of musical works. Quite the opposite: because they are couched (sculpted) in the expressive nuances of actual sound sensation, they achieve a force and immediacy that propositional explanations can only approximate.
I have identified the different elements that direct and influence the creation of performance interpretations. But the manner in which performers utilize these in developing excellent renditions still needs to be clarified. This is per-haps best illustrated by a detailed description of the activity in which such de-velopments typically take place practicing.
We will assume that the performer enters the practice situation with the gen-eral objective of facilitating aural understanding of a particular musical compo-sition. We will assume moreover that she already possesses a greater or lesser amount of musical knowledge and know-how that will enable her to achieve this objective: she is able to play the instrument required; she knows how to read and interpret the composer's score; she has some idea of style, performance practice and so forth. This knowledge sets the stage for her subsequent interpretation, in that relevant aspects of it, together with the performer's own imaginative musi-cal ideas, all generate an initial (and as yet tentative) aural understanding of the work in question. They offer, in short, general clues about how it might be ap-propriately and intelligibly sounded. Armed with these clues, the performer begins to sound out the work in question.
18 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Especially at the earlier stages of practice (but also at intervals throughout the overall preparation period), the performer's listening plus her physical motor sensations67 may make her conscious that a bar, phrase or passage requires a certain dexterity or fluency that as yet she does not possess and that effectively hinders her efforts to play the piece. Accordingly, she may isolate that bar, phrase or passage and, having determined the basic, physical motions required to execute it with ease and facility, she may "drill" the movements required until such time as she is enabled to sound almost totally fluently and unhesitatingly the problematic bar, phrase or passage.68
Typically, however, because the performer's overall purpose is not just to play the piece fluently but rather to "interpret" it, as her technical facility in-creases, so too does her desire to shape her sounding in such a way as to vividly display the expressive structures of the work. Now her listening her experi-ence of actual sound sensation does more than simply alert her to technical inadequacies. It makes her cogently aware of "expressive" possibilities of the potential interpretive contribution of a variety of subtle nuances and intona-tions that neither musical scores nor performance traditions could possibly take into account.
These supplement or "flesh out" her initial, tentative aural understanding. They challenge or call into question certain aspects of it. They endorse or con-firm others. They offer interpretive nuances previously unimagined. Anxious to explore further all of those possibilities the performer sounds out the motive, phrase or passage again. Once more, however, the experience of sound sensa-tion prompts a further critical assessment of interpretive possibilities, a rejection of some tonal properties as inappropriate, a selection and endorsement of others as eminently susceptible of aural understanding. So the process continues in-definitely, the overall interpretation ultimately being realized through ongoing critical yet creative exploration, where each successive sounding leads to a pro-gressive selection and refinement of interpretive possibilities.
It is the performer's listening to each successive sounding that prompts her critical examination of sounding possibilities and ultimately leads to her work-ing out how best to illustrate in sound the expressive structures of the work.69 But the examining and questioning that listening generates manifestly involves thought. It involves pondering, deliberating, reflecting upon interpretive possi-bilities. In other words, it involves thinking about them and questioning their interpretive worth.
Although ordinarily we associate thinking with words, because performance interpretation employs musical sounds, it cannot really be characterized in lin-guistic terms. Instead, it more frequently takes the form of humming aloud or to yourself, running through your head or on a musical instrument, various experi-mental renditions of notes or note sequences. Ordinarily, no words are em-ployed in situations like these. But in considering, be it silently or otherwise, various alternative ways in which a musical phrase might be intelligibly sounded and choosing one as most capable of furthering aural understanding and appre-
Musical Interpretation 19
ciation, the performer is justifiably described as "thinking out" and subsequently "advancing" a particular interpretation.70
The type of thinking/practicing at issue here, however, is neither random nor aimless. It is careful, canonical and high-principled. Performers do not achieve excellence in interpretation by capriciously or arbitrarily selecting a particular mode of sounding. Nor do they achieve it by simply repeating actions that have proven successful in the past. Instead they achieve it by coming to understand the ideals of excellence embodied in performance practice and seeking to ap-proximate those ideals in their own performance. This entails their taking into consideration not uncritically, but rather in a searching, probing questioning manner, all the interpretive clues at their disposal: the directives of the composer in the musical score; the interpretive exemplars of performance traditions; the pertinent suggestions of critic-theorists; the subtle interpretive possibilities of tonal properties; their own imaginative ideas. And using those clues wisely and well, it requires them to develop new, original renditions that, in keeping with excellent interpretations of the past, vividly illustrate in sound sensation the in-telligible and coherent structures of musical compositions.71
The legend of Hermes, the winged-footed messenger, supplies our final subtle insight into interpretation as a mode of saying. Hermes' task as sooth-sayer was not merely to "explain" fateful tidings from the gods, but to "pro-claim" or announce them. There was an element of authoritativeness in his pro-nouncements, one that sought to communicate not just the meaning of the tid-ings being conveyed, but further their worth and importance. Just so, in ad-vancing particular interpretations of musical works, performers do more than simply explain them. They implicitly proclaim or assert72: this is an apt and telling rendition of an intricate, meaningful sound structure that is immensely worth hearing. At their best, their renditions evince a tone of conviction, a sense of rightness, of fittingness that lures hearers to listen carefully and attentively. Their delicately wrought sound sculptures enable them to follow discerningly and astutely the intricate sounding patterns created, and so to reap the rewards of musical enjoyment and aesthetic satisfaction.
More than mere transmitters, more even than explicators, performers may fittingly be described as advocates for musical compositions. Their task is to commend such works to listeners. Implicit in the charge of commendation, however, is an assumption of trustworthiness on the part of interpreters. It is assumed that these know the work intimately, that they have conscientiously explored and discovered its commendable features. It is supposed that they have devised thereby a sounding that aptly and vividly illuminates those features in sound sensation. In short, there is an ethical dimension to the task of interpreta-tion, one that enjoins performers to "place the composer's work in the best light possible" to realize what they judge to be the best sounding conceivable.73
This presupposes a wholehearted commitment on their part to the exacting task of interpretation, a steadfast resolution to embrace and fulfill to the best of their abilities, the responsibilities entailed. In truth, it takes a particular kind of
20 Virtue or Virtuosity?
person to accomplish successfully such a complex, open-ended endeavor. It is accordingly to the character of the performing artist that we must now turn our attention.
NOTES 1. Levinson, "Performance vs. Critical Interpretation in Music." 2. Davies, "Performance," p. 322. 3. Standard definitions of interpretation usually emphasize meaning. I am in agree-
ment, however, with Roger Scruton, when he argues after Frege "meaning is the object of understanding. The meaning of a piece of music is what you understand when you un-derstand it." "Analytic Philosophy and the Meaning of Music," p. 85. My own account of interpretation, accordingly, focuses on its connection with understanding.
4. We use the word interpretation, for example, when: a scientist makes sense of her data; a language interpreter makes comprehensible a language with which we are unfamiliar; a news commentator explains gives a particular slant on current politi-cal developments. You interpret (understand) or misinterpret (misunderstand) the words and gestures of a friend, a letter from your publisher or a sign on the street.
5. Palmer, Hermeneutics, pp. 12-32. 6. Ibid., p. 13. 7. Ibid., p. 14. 8. Levinson, "Performance vs. Critical Interpretation," p. 37. 9. Ibid., p. 37.
10. Palmer, Hermeneutics, p. 15. 11. Fanner and Budd, "Understanding Music." 12. Meyer, Explaining Music, p. 16. 13. Tanner and Budd, "Understanding Music," p. 220. 14. Moravcsik, "Understanding." 15. Ibid., p. 210. 16. Scruton makes a distinction between sounds themselves (the material objects of
our musical experience) and that which we hear them as (the intensional objects of our musical experience). The Aesthetic Understanding.
17. Moravcsik describes the structures conceptualized in understanding simpliciter as "analogous to" those explicitly explained, in terms of essential structure. "Understand-ing," p. 203.
18. Ibid., p. 203. 19. Scruton, "Analytic Philosophy and the Meaning of Music," p. 85. 20. Ibid., p. 87. 21. Ridley, "Bleeding Chunks: Some Remarks about Musical Understanding," p.
499. 22. Davies, Musical Meaning and Expression, p. 325. 23. Levinson, "Musical Literacy." 24. Berg, "Why Is Schonberg's Music So Difficult to Understand?" p. 190. 25. This is particularly evident in traditional sean nos singing in which not only the
complex ornamentation but the style of vocalization itself radically countervenes many of the established vocal practices endorsed in classical bel canto. To a listener versed in bel canto style, traditional sean nos singing will likely sound harsh, rough, nasal and even unpleasant. Ridley argues that truly understanding listeners get the perceptual properties of their experience right learn by practice, trial and error, induction or whatever to
Musical Interpretation 21
adjust the way they hear to what they hear. In order to understand and appreciate Irish traditional music, a classical listener would have to make just such an adjustment. Ri-dley, "Bleeding Chunks," pp. 591-592. For further accounts of the culture-bound struc-tures of music see Kivy, "Breaking the Culture Barrier," in The Corded Shell; and Da-vies, Musical Meaning and Expression, pp. 325-329.
26. It is of course possible to devise hybrid musical styles Thomas Moore's rendi-tions of traditional Irish airs, for example. But it is not these hybrid styles I have in mind when I speak of musical understanding simpliciter not being able to cross cultures. Rather I have in mind authentic (unmodified) traditional styles. These will appear for-eign and strange to the unfamiliar ear.
27. It is true that the astonishing range of musical styles made available by technol-ogy has enabled many contemporary listener to move with ease between different styles and kinds of music. But although listeners today are, in that sense, probably more aurally broad-minded than ever, the music of many cultures will yet be as impenetrable to the uninitiated as their languages. If musics such as these are to be appreciated for the musics they are, they must be listened to against the background of the appropriate conventions. See Davies, Musical Meaning and Expression, pp. 327-329.
28. Levinson, "Musical Literacy," p. 24. 29. Tanner and Budd, "Understanding Music." This is also one of the justifications
usually offered when students are required to study theory in academic faculties of music. Not everyone agrees, however, as to the aural-enhancing value of theoretical knowledge. Nicholas Cook distinguishes "musical" from "musicological" listening and cites the for-mer as frequently so driven by a desire to pigeonhole the composition that it inhibits and interferes with musical listening and thus with appreciation of the work. Music, Imagi-nation and Culture. While Cook's argument is less than convincing, it does draw atten-tion to the potential damage that an excessive reliance on theoretical knowledge can un-doubtedly engender.
30. A summary of the isomorphic theory and the objections to it can be found in Vernon Howard's "On Musical Expression."
31. Kivy, The Corded Shell, p. 52. 32. Kivy's theory lays great emphasis on the concept of animation, arguing that it is
the instinctive urge to endow everything we encounter with the qualities of animate life that causes us to hear music as utterance or gesture and to judge its expressive content according to our own expressive behaviour. The Corded Shell, pp. 57-60. While Kivy's argument is hotly debated, as he remarks: "a moment's reflection on the way we talk about music . . . reveals . . . how deeply animistic our perception of it really is. A fugue subject is a 'statement' . . . a 'voice' is still what musicians call a part in a polyphonic composition even if the part is meant to be played on an instrument rather than sung by a voice. Violins as well as sopranos are instructed to sing "sotto voce." A pianist is ad-vised to cultivate a 'singing' tone. A good woodwind is said to 'speak' easily." Ibid., p. 58.
33. I refer here to such things as cadence, intonation, phrasing, timbre, tone and sometimes even tessitura.
34. Kivy, The Corded Shell, pp. 52-53. Davies likewise suggests that the "expres-siveness of music depends mainly on a resemblance we perceive between the dynamic character of music and human movement, gait, bearing or carriage." Musical Meaning and Expression, pp. 228-240.
35. Elliot, "Imagination in the Experience of Art," p. 94.
22 Virtue or Virtuosity?
36. Kivy, The Corded Shell, pp. 71-83. 37. Ibid., p. 82. 38. Ibid., p. 77. 39. Newcomb, "Sound and Feeling." 40. Langer, Feeling and Form, pp. 27, 52. 41. Ibid., p. 32. 42. Meyer, Emotion and Meaning in Music. 43. Cone, The Composers Voice, p. 165. 44. Kivy, The Corded Shell, p. 149. 45. Faltin, "Musikalishe Bedeutung," cited in Newcomb, "Sound and Feeling," p.
636. 46. That emotionally couched descriptions are not always rejected as self-indulgent,
purely subjective meanderings, but rather are accepted (at least in certain circumstances) as conventional, intersubjective depictions, is demonstrated in program notes designed to help listeners follow the progress of musical works. Such commentaries characteristi-cally employ a mixture of musical and nonmusical vocabularies. They do so because very often it will be the insightful recognition of a musical phrase or structure as in some sense emotionally expressive that will prompt us to hear it as a coherent, meaningful musical pattern. Goodman succinctly states that "only at the risk of overlooking impor-tant structural features of a work can a formalist ignore what the music expresses." "Some Notes on Languages of Art," p. 568.
47. In many instances, when a musical work is perceived as expressive of sadness, for example, expressive understanding may be correctly described as a propositional mode of understanding. However, because the emotions expressed through music are frequently difficult to articulate in words, it cannot be characterized unequivocally as a propositional mode of understanding.
48. It should perhaps be emphasized here that no one mode of understanding is inher-ently superior to the other. Understanding simpliciter, being essentially a mode of hear-ing, constitutes perhaps the most fundamental, basic form of understanding. But as was mentioned in the text, this is not to denigrate it as rudimentary or facile. Neither is it incontrovertibly true that technical and/or expressive analyses enhance our aural under-standing of musical works. They can and, in many cases, probably do serve to do so. But as we also saw earlier (see Cook, Music, Imagination and Culture), this is by no means a self-evident, uncontested claim.
49. Critics, in other words, exemplify the second of the three directions of meaning of hermeneuein (to interpret): to explain as in explaining a situation.
50. Levinson, "Performance vs. Critical Interpretation," p. 47. 51. Levinson speaks of a performer "advancing" an interpretation. See "Performance
vs. Critical Interpretation," p. 47. 52. Many of the ideas contained in the following account of rules and procedural
principles and also performance skills, I have explored elsewhere. In O'Dea, "Virtue in Musical Performance"; and O'Dea, "Phronesis in Musical Performance."
53. I say "more or less definite" here because, of course, the degree of specificity in music scores varies considerably according to the style or genre of the particular compo-sition. Scores from the high baroque, for example, give performers latitude to change pitches, rhythms and durations annotated in the score when putting into practice the de-vice of ornamentation. And fantasias from the same period (as well as some present day avant-garde compositions) explicitly endorse and invite improvisation. This is much less
Musical Interpretation 23
permissabie in the performance of classical, romantic, or many other kinds of twentieth-century music (Schoenberg or Berg, for example), where performers are expected to play just the notes that are written, with no additions or omissions. But even in works permis-sive of considerable improvisation, there are boundaries beyond which performers may not go if their rendition is to count as a performance and not an "arrangement" of a par-ticular work. Rules serve to articulate or specify these boundaries. They indicate, as it were, the "essentialities" of musical compositions.
54. For an interesting account and defense of this "multiplist" notion of interpreta-tion, see Krausz, "Rightness and Reasons in Musical Interpretation."
55. A detailed account of how such standards arise is provided by James Ross in "Musical Standards as Function of Musical Accomplishment."
56. An interesting and instructive account of how this change in sounding style oc-curred can be found in Leppard, Authenticity in Music.
57. See Taruskin, Leech-Wilkinson, Temperly and Winter, "The Limits of Authen-ticity: A Discussion."
58. Tureck, An Introduction to the Performance of Bach. 59. This is true even where the practical principle is not enunciated in words but is
instead exemplified in favored and successful performances. In this case, while the slen-der, incisive tone qualities demonstrated might induce others to explore a similar "type" of sounding sonority, they would still have to adapt it to their own technique, musical conception, circumstances of performance and so forth.
60. In suggesting that no score or practical principle of realization can be comprehen-sive enough to deal with the complexities of actual sound sensation, I am, of course, im-porting into the realm of interpretation a conception of rules and principles similar to Aristotle's delineation of the latter in practical/moral conduct. Aristotle presented these as incomplete outlines schematic guides whose worthy but nevertheless highly generalized dictates need to be supplemented by the wise and attentive judgment of the individual moral agent. Just so, I am suggesting, music scores are as incomplete outlines, schematic guides whose worthy but nevertheless highly generalized dictates need to be supplemented by the wise and attentive judgment of the individual interpreter. See Aris-totle, The Nicomachean Ethics, 1103 b3 4-1104a4. See also Larmore, Patterns of Moral Complexity.
61. Musical performance presupposes a whole range of skills the ability to read a music score, to differentiate pitch and so forth. And it manifestly presupposes the sounding skills that will be dealt with forthwith in the text. Since it is these "sounding" skills that facilitate aural understanding, my discussion of performance skills will focus primarily on these.
62. After Smith, "Skills: The Middle Way." 63. Fleischmann, Aspects of the Lizst Tradition. 64. Or, as Kivy puts it: they are offering "non-verbal descriptions" of the work. Mu-
sic Alone, pp. 121-123. 65. Indeed, it is the perceived similarity between vocal and tonal inflection that leads
to craft skills frequently being characterized in expressive terms. It is noteworthy, for example, that musical instruments that permit and facilitate such tonal inflection (e.g. the clavichord) are frequently described as "expressive" instruments. It is also noteworthy that the opposite applies. Couperin, describing the harpsichord (an instrument incapable of such inflection), writes: "I shall be forever grateful to anyone who . . . succeeds in
24 Virtue or Virtuosity?
making this instrument capable of expression. . . . It seems a fruitless hope to the present time that soul can be given to the instrument." Preface to Pieces de Clavecin.
66. Other aspects of performance the posture, muscle tone, gestures and facial ex-pressions of the performer also serve to indicate to the listener the expressive charac-ter of the music. But while tonal inflection is considered a prerequisite in excellent per-formance, these others are much more controversial and are frequently derided as dis-tracting and superfluous, the mark of the charlatan rather than the true interpretive artist. These more contentious indicators of expression are considered at greater depth in Chap-ter 3, "Virtue or Virtuosity?"
67. Generally speaking, fluent technical skillfulness "feels" easy, free and unencum-bered. Consequently, technical difficulties are frequently experienced (from the physical sensation point of view) as feelings of unease, discomfort, or even pain. Such sensations serve to make the performer cogently aware that something is technically wrong.
68. I say almost totally fluently and unhesitatingly because many teachers of per-formance maintain that at a certain point near or close to perfect fluency, a precise and intense envisagement of a technically difficult passage will "complete the job" as it were supply the extra minute adjustments needed to attain total facility. When this occurs, craft skills and technical skills intertwine and it is virtually impossible to discern when one becomes the other. This is a far cry, however, from the more extreme versions of Ideo-Kinesis that achieved popularity for a time and believed that all technical problems could be resolved musically: that one only had to "imagine the art as if already performed and lo! It's done." Bonpensiere, New Pathways to Piano Technique. 1 believe such notions to be totally naive. A precise and intense envisagement may indeed help us to fine tune or adjust our technical skills in such a way as to enable us to master a techni-cally difficult passage, but this still presupposes that we already possess a certain level of basic skilfullness. Furthermore, it is not at all clear that all performing artists work with such envisagements. Rather some do, some do not. The importance of mental envis-agements in skills-based activities may be somewhat exaggerated. See Passmore, "Culti-vating Imagination," in The Philosophy of Teaching.
69. It is hardly surprising then to find listening frequently cited as an essential and crucial aspect of performance art. Liszt, for example, thought that the first task of a mu-sician was to learn to listen. See Kochevitsky, The Art of Piano Playing, p. 7.
70. For a more detailed explication of this notion of thinking, see Ryle, "The Think-ing of Thought: What Is Le Penseur Doing?"
71. Of course, in so doing, performers inevitably bring out but one side or dimension of a work. But while this is indeed the case, this is not to suggest that all of their per-formances thereafter hold fast to that particular interpretation. More usually, fresh crea-tive influences further nuances of sound sensation, new interpretations within the tra-dition and so forth serve to change (subtly or radically) the performer's conception, thereby generating different but ideally no less carefully thought out future interpreta-tions. This specificity of performance interpretation also serves to distinguish it further from critical interpretation. As Levinson observes: "A critical interpretation is ideally synthetic, overarching whereas a performance interpretation is typically selective, indi-vidualizing." "Performance vs. Critical Interpretation," p. 39.
72. Mark also claims that the art of performing is very much like the speech act of "asserting." See Mark, "The Philosophy of piano Playing: Reflections on the Concept of Performance."
73. See Kivy, Authenticities, p. 151.
Turning the Soul toward Excellence: The Character of the Performing Artist
Glenn Gould, the Canadian pianist, described the performing artist as a gladia-tor,1 an Atlas figure who carries on his shoulders the arduous strains of live per-formance the anxiety, the frustration, the blood, sweat and sometimes tears that seem to be part of performance life. Gould characterized performance as an Herculean endeavor that demanded too much of mere human musicians. He argued that it beset them with fear and anxiety and consequently, did not allow them to show the musical excellence of which they were in fact capable. Con-vinced that audiences were in the concert hall not so much to hear the music as rather to witness a humiliating disaster the horn cracking, the pianist forget-ting her notes Gould insisted that giving live concerts was a distasteful and degrading experience.2 His solution was to retire from the concert platform into the recording studio where he no longer had to worry about trivia like nerves or finger slips, and where at last he could gain control of the performance process.
Interesting as they may be, I will not discuss the merits or demerits of Gould's solution here. But I think his characterization of the performing artist as an Olympian hero from whom excellence requires the most demanding, dis-ciplined, heroic endeavors is apt indeed. I agree with Gould that musical per-formance is a tough, exacting and demanding activity. I agree with him that the quest for excellence is fraught with anxiety and frustration, and that the world of performance itself is frequently competitive and nasty. I believe that you have to be a certain kind of person and acquire a certain kind of character in order to survive those stresses and strains and to develop into an excellent performing artist. Plato argued that development such as this entails a "conversion or turn-ing about of the soul."3 In so saying, he was suggesting that excellence in en-deavor requires a commitment that involves not just the intellect but the entire self. It is the role of this self in the art of musical performance that I propose to discuss in this chapter.
26 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Before we talk of the self, we need to explore some relevant considerations regarding excellence in musical performance. There are two kinds of goods that excellent performance may bring about.4 First, there are what Aristotle called external goods. These are extra-musical benefits such things as fame, pres-tige and monetary reward. These may come your way if you achieve excel-lence in your field, and win, for example, first prize in the Dublin International Piano Competition. Goods such as these are designated external because they come essentially from outside the sphere of music. They are rewards given by and received from external sources various social institutions, corporate sponsorships and the like. Moreover, they are only contingently related to the activity of musical performance. There are any number of alternative ways for a person to acquire wealth and prestige; music by no means constitutes the only way to achieve such goods.
External and contingent as they may be, however, external goods are not to be dismissed as superficial, materialistic appendages to the art of performance. Winning that competition or audition may allow you to earn your living playing your instrument. If you love to play, that is obviously very desirable. The status and prestige you enjoy from being a major competition winner may afford you the opportunity to play in or with some of the best orchestras. This, in turn, af-fords you the opportunity to further develop your performance abilities, and to achieve higher, more exacting standards of excellence. In short, no serious mu-sician can deny the importance of goods such as these. They are very often the means which enable them to develop a professional career.
But there is a worm in the apple. Goods like these are in short supply. They are not available to everyone; only the best or, at least, the lucky achieve them. External goods are, in other words, competitive. The measure of wealth, status and prestige achieved typically depend on a person's standing in a hierarchy. And it is the task of relevant social institutions not just to distribute rewards per se but to compare and rank people's achievements and to distribute external goods accordingly. This can be done justly or unjustly. And if, as is often the case, a relevant social institution errs, or is corrupt and allows such things as prejudice or favoritism to enter into the distribution, people may not get what they deserve on the basis of their achievement.
This immediately introduces an element of anxiety into the activity of per-formance. If achieving a position in the music school or orchestra of your choice involves beating out the relevant competition, then you have to keep an eye on others and try to make sure that you manage to keep ahead of them. And that is difficult. Furthermore, even if you manage to achieve top standing in the hierar-chy, there are always new "young turks" snapping at your heels, ready and willing to take over your position should you falter and lose your place on the totem pole of success. Such a preoccupation with hierarchy, with being desig-nated the best, is frequently encountered and sometimes even encouraged in music schools geared toward professional performance. Students there engage
Turning the Soul toward Excellence 27
in a kind of Darwinian struggle for survival and dominance and the resultant atmosphere is cutthroat, competitive and nasty in the extreme.5
But there are other goods acquired through the pursuit of excellence that are not competitive in nature. These are what Aristotle called internal goods. They consist of such things as: the first-class technical facility you acquire as you struggle to achieve excellence; the original interpretation of a work you develop; the pride and satisfaction you derive from watching your musical abilities grow and prosper; the thrill of learning to withstand the stress of performance and to communicate meaningfully with your audience; the sense of being part of a long and noble artistic tradition. These are not given or received. Rather they are developed. No arts institution and/or corporate sponsor bestows on you excel-lent technical facility or originality of interpretation. These are capabilities you develop and perfect yourself through engaging in the activity of musical per-formance. Moreover, they are their own reward. When a musician finds satis-faction in devising an original interpretation of a piece, the source of satisfaction is the activity of musical performance itself, not some external prize or honour that coincidentally attaches to it. Unlike external goods, internal goods cannot be had in any way but by participating in the "practice" of music.6 And only someone with actual playing experience can recognize and appreciate all that they entail. Only someone with the relevant experience, for example, can fully realize and comprehend what is entailed in devising an imaginative, original interpretation of a work.
Unlike external goods, internal goods are not in short supply. Your devel-oping an effective range of technical skills does not prevent anyone else from doing the same. Quite the contrary; your efforts in this direction might well enable and/or inspire others to do likewise.7 As argued in the last chapter, musi-cal interpretation, of its very nature, is open-ended enough to allow and foster an ongoing, ever changing multiplicity of excellences. It does not have a goal or goals fixed for all time that only the few can attain. Rather it tolerates and even encourages change while yet remaining the same practice. It accomplishes this by using tradition creatively,8 by participants employing the public modes or reasoning and explanation developed there in ever new contexts, ever new prac-tical situations. It achieves it by performers devising their own original exem-plifications of excellence that are transformations of what has gone before which modify and extend previously established conceptions in the light of new creative insights developed.9 Although performers have their performance he-roes models of excellence whose deeds they strive to emulate they typi-cally do not aim to reproduce the interpretations of these musical giants.10 Their challenge is to develop interpretations of their own that approximate and live up to the excellences passed on through tradition. Their task is to find within them-selves that capacity for excellent endeavor.
This entails developing certain appropriate character traits and dispositions. It is not difficult to discern why such a development is necessary. If internal goods are achieved by absorbing and utilizing in ever new contexts the wisdom
28 Virtue or Virtuosity?
of the past the skills, modes of reasoning, explanation and judgment devel-oped in tradition then it follows that in order to achieve those goods, you have to learn those skills, modes of reasoning and so forth.11 Even more impor-tant, you have to acquire sound artistic judgment. You have to develop the abil-ity to take critically into consideration all the interpretive clues at your disposal and, using these wisely and well, to select from among the choices available a mode of sounding that aptly and tellingly facilitates aural understanding.
You can only develop all of these abilities for yourself. It takes time, effort and most of all practice. And here certain traits of character what Aristotle called "virtues"12 become important. You cannot accomplish all of the above without concomitantly developing and putting into practice certain appropriate attitudes and dispositions. It takes courage, for example, to go out on a stage and perform in front of people. As every performer knows (and as Gould cap-tured in his telling depiction of the performing artist as a gladiator), musical performance is a tricky, risky business. It entails more often than not minute, subtle, physical and mental readjustments, all of which have to be made in a split second and can spell the difference between success and failure. It takes courage to engage publicly in such an endeavor. It takes bravery to tap your creative resources, to open yourself, and relying on your own sense of what is fitting, worthy and right, to tackle on stage a complex and often technically dif-ficult piece of music. There are any number of ways in which you may fail in the attempt and give a less than successful performance.
You may, for example, be performing a piece of immense technical diffi-culty. And although in practice you may have risen to the challenge and suc-cessfully overcome those difficulties, the pressure of nerves and performance excitement may sabotage on stage your capacity to concentrate. This may intro-duce minute, subtle differences in timing, all of which may serve to compromise your technical facilities and your ability to give a successful rendition of the piece. Or your particular interpretation of a piece may be different enough to flout contemporary stylistic practice and invite criticism and censure. Then there are the numerous other performance factors that may contribute to a less than successful performance experience: such things as nerves, memory lapses, difficulties adjusting to the instrument provided, acoustic imbalances and so forth. No amount of care, preparation or bravery can forestall unequivocally the occurrence of incidences like these. In truth, the possibility of mishap in live performance is very real. It thus takes tremendous courage to go out on stage and face and successfully overcome the potential pitfalls.
But if courageously attempting to overcome such difficulties does not guar-antee the achievement of excellence, losing your nerve and failing to exercise courage effectively prevent you from ever achieving it. Performance by its very nature entails going out on a limb and risking failure and resultant criticism. It involves cultivating and exercising courage and continually combatting and overcoming fear of failure.
Turning the Soul toward Excellence 29
Patience and tenacity are two other important character traits entailed in the achievement of excellence in performance. Like other artistic practices, musical performance utilizes an exacting comprehensive range of physical/mental skills, all of which must be mastered. As in other such practices, mastering these skills in an abstract, noncontextualized sense is not enough; you need to learn how to use them to accomplish the end desired. Developing the ability to do this takes time, effort and practice, and patience and tenacity relate to all of these. Pa-tience is required because physical abilities often mature very slowly, especially if you have cultivated bad habits that have to be overcome. But if you are not prepared to wait for them to develop, and indeed to think the wait worthwhile, then the level of competence ultimately achieved will be less than adequate and the achievement of excellence jeopardized accordingly. Tenacity is required because abilities (both technical and interpretive) are often exacting and difficult and you can all too easily become discouraged in your attempt to develop them. While persevering in your efforts to attain mastery does not guarantee success, giving up at the first difficulty encountered will preclude such a possibility.
Your attitude to tradition also has direct bearing on whether or not you will attain excellence. Here a measure of humility becomes important. In order to learn from the great instrumentalists of the past to grasp and appreciate the principles of good realization provided there you have to recognize that you have something to learn. Refusing to acknowledge the authority of tradition and arrogantly and self-absorbedly concentrating on your own interpretive ideas amounts to refusing to learn the skills, modes of reasoning, interpretive nuances and so forth enshrined in performance practice. And the possibility of honing and developing your interpretive abilities is impeded accordingly.
But the situation is yet more complex. If humility is important in musical performance, it has always to be tempered with an equally important measure of self-respect. You need to have faith in your ability to realize meaningfully themusical structures delineated in the music score.13 You need a firm belief in the power and efficacy of your own interpretive ideas.14 Self-confidence is a neces-sity if you are to move beyond existing standards of excellence and devise ex-cellent interpretations of your own. But again, while developing an openness to the insights of past performance practice and respecting the artistic worth of your own interpretive ideas will not guarantee the achievement of excellence, neglecting to cultivate these dispositions will undoubtedly thwart your efforts. Slavishly imitating the excellent work of others, or narrowly or close-mindedly pursuing your own interpretive ideas will not work.
No less important are dispositions pertaining to the ethical responsibilities of an interpreter. As we saw in the last chapter, interpretation presupposes a cer-tain generosity of spirit. It entails a willingness on the part of performers to ex-plore and present the creative works of others. And it implies an eagerness to present the latter fairly to perform in such a way that does their work justice, and does not misrepresent it to the public. Interpretation assumes, in effect, a readiness to "share the stage," a preparedness to see and to acknowledge the
30 Virtue or Virtuosity?
formative role of the original creator (the composer). It implies a principled undertaking to respect and honor the musical structures outlined in musical scores and not to use them self-seekingly as mere vehicles for the promotion of personal interests.
This in turn brings into play the character traits associated with intelligence and good reasoning.15 Performance interpretation might fittingly be character-ized as a species of artistic problem solving. Working with a variety of inter-pretive clues, the performer slowly and painstakingly considers alternative ways in which a work might be intelligibly sounded. Ultimately she chooses one as most capable of furthering aural understanding and appreciation. The type of thinking at issue here is neither random nor aimless. Excellence in interpreta-tion is not achieved by idly running through your head or on a musical instru-ment various experimental renditions of musical phrases and then arbitrarily, or on the basis of unschooled hunches or intuition, picking out one as the most ap-propriate. On the contrary, excellent interpretation entails conducting your practicing your musical thinking in a proper and appropriate manner.
One of your tasks as performer, for example, is to consider a diverse range of interpretive clues: the directives of the composer in the music score; the tenets of performance practice; the pertinent suggestions of critic theorists; the subtle interpretive possibilities of tonal properties and so forth. It takes considerable diligence and concentration to search out and consider interpretive clues like these. But if you are not prepared to do the work required, or are unwilling to listen intensely for the interpretive potential of subtle nuances of sound sensa-tion, or to research the general style of performance a piece of early music origi-nally received, then valuable interpretive insights may be missed and the achievement of excellence jeopardized accordingly.
Seeking out a comprehensive range of interpretive suggestions is very im-portant. But it is not sufficient simply to collect an impressive array of these and casually assemble them. Meaningful interpretation entails deliberating carefullyon the artistic worth of such suggestions, considering them not uncritically but rather in a searching, probing manner one that questions and evaluates their point and purpose in the process of interpretation. This is perhaps particularly important with established principles of performance practice. Rather than ac-cepting these unthinkingly as sacrosanct and inviolate, the multiplist, open-ended nature of interpretive excellence entails being prepared to doubt them to call into question their authority, to probe and reassess the reasoning proc-esses on which they are founded.16
And if it is important to subject familiar, established interpretive suggestions to such rigorous scrutiny, it is no less important to behave similarly with other less established ones with your own interpretive ideas, for example. These cannot arbitrarily or partially be singled out as immune to this type of critical evaluation. Consistency requires that you assign your own interpretive ideas the same critical scrutiny you assign to any other.
Turning the Soul toward Excellence 31
Finally, there is the all important element of judgment: the ability to go be-yond the schematic rules and principles enunciated in the score and in perform-ance tradition, and to grasp how these might meaningfully be applied in concrete sound sensation. This entails perceptiveness, an astute sensitivity to the inter-pretive potential of intonation as well as an intelligent, discriminating grasp of the point and purpose of established, interpretive procedures. Judgment names that ability that enables you to recognize and pick out the interpretive signifi-cance of subtle nuances of sound sensation to perceive, for example, their ability to illustrate vividly the musical structures encoded in the score. Even more important, it indicates the capability to hear and grasp the interpretive sig-nificance of novel, hitherto unexplored intonations. It specifies the capacity to fashion fresh, imaginative exemplifications of sounding excellence that live up to the exacting standards achieved in the past, that modify and extend their ac-complishments in the light of new creative insights developed.17 Although exer-cising judgment and the other "virtues of intelligence" cannot guarantee the achievement of excellence, without them the reasoning process that is at the heart of musical interpretation cannot get off the ground and the quality of the interpretation will suffer accordingly.
But perhaps the most important character trait to acquire (if perhaps the most personally painful) is truthfulness or self-honesty the ability to see for your-self or to listen to what you are told about your own inadequacies and to make corrections accordingly. It is not difficult to comprehend the importance of cul-tivating such a virtue where artistic endeavors are concerned. If cultivating truth-fulness will not guarantee the achievement of excellence, avoiding it in-dulging in self-deceptive fantasies about the superiority of your abilities will effectively prevent greatness. Painful as it can be, performers have to develop a steely capacity to face unflinchingly the adequacies and inadequacies of their playing. If they may take pride and satisfaction in their progress and success, they can never allow themselves to ignore or rationalize the less than successful aspects of their playing. Quite the contrary; they have to learn not to give quar-ter for their age, their sex, their state of mind and especially their fragile ego. They have to learn to distinguish satisfaction in achievement from vanity and self-conceit, to recognize and avoid the seductive pleasures of image and self-deception. They have to become aware of the myriad ways we try to let our-selves off the hook, the ways we compromise and thus ultimately inhibit our abilities.
In summary: unlike the external goods of fame, prestige and monetary re-ward in whose achievement luck may play a significant role, internal goods (technical progress, interpretive ability and so forth) cannot but be justly ac-quired. They come to you, if at all, as a result of your becoming a certain type of person as a result of your developing alongside your musical abilities and aptitudes the character traits and dispositions mentioned above. The importance of "personhood" needs to be emphasized. Shallow, desultory exercise of cour-age, perseverance, truthfulness and so forth is not enough. Instead, steadfast,
32 Virtue or Virtuosity?
passionate commitment to excellence (and the virtuous dispositions it entails) is required. Two questions then become important: (1) how do you come to ac-quire or develop these necessary character traits and dispositions? And, even more important, (2) how do you come to be passionately committed to them?
I believe, after Aristotle, that you do so through doing.18 More specifically, you do so through "monitored doing." Through personally engaging in the ex-acting activity of musical interpretation, you develop the necessary dispositions. Through being schooled to take pleasure in the process, you come to be passion-ately committed to all it entails.19 This is accomplished typically through a mas-ter-apprentice type of initiation. Novices learn to discriminate and evaluate the interpretive potential of nuances of intonation by engaging in the type of musical thinking (practice) process cited earlier. While doing so their efforts are cor-rected or critically evaluated by "master' musicians who are themselves adept at the art of interpretation and who are willing to guide and help others in their efforts to become likewise.
This guidance or critical evaluation may take many different forms. Some-times a little, sometimes a lot can be told. There is usually much in performance interpretation that cannot be taught except by example. Joseph Kerman states:
A musical tradition does not maintain its life or continuity by means of books and book learning. It is transmitted at private lessons not so much by word as by body gesture, and not so much by precept as by example. . . . It is not that there is any lack of thought about perform-ance on the part of musicians in the central tradition. . . . There is a great deal, but it is not thought of a kind that is readily articulated in words.20
In showing novices how to assess the interpretive potential of subtle intona-tions, master musicians inevitably teach general principles of realization the components of good Mozart style, for example, or principles of baroque articu-lation. Without guidelines such as these, students could not know where to be-gin looking for interpretive potential in the sounding situations confronting them. But these principles of realization are not handed down as inviolate, sac-rosanct laws. Rather, they are handed down as superb exemplifications of inter-pretive judgment in action "summaries" of the particular judgments of es-teemed musicians.21 And the purpose of these paradigmatic examples is not to get students to hear and thereafter play in ways that have been deemed interpre-tively appropriate in the past; it is to encourage them to develop and utilize similar exacting levels of discrimination in responding to the novel intonations that their own particular sounding situations inevitably present.
Interpretive judgment is not something you acquire all at once. Like any complex skill, it is something you perfect through practice. Practice progres-sively hones and refines your differentiative abilities, thereby rendering you more and more capable of responding to and appreciating the interpretive sig-nificance of subtle sounding intonations not taken into account in general rules
Turning the Soul toward Excellence 33
and principles. In order to "use" and not just "repeat" guidance principles from the past, apprentice performers have to practice utilizing them in fresh, original sounding situations, under expert supervision, until the discriminating act of artistic judgment becomes "second nature." An ingrained, deep-rooted capabil-ity to discern interpretive potential in the subtle nuances of sound sensation then develops.
As well as example and direct instruction, coaching or what Passmore aptly calls "exhortation"22 now becomes important. It encourages neophyte perform-ers to develop the character traits and dispositions constitutive of excellence and to conceive of the task of interpretation in certain appropriate ways. Master teachers, for example, may urge student performers to persevere and not become discouraged in their efforts to master difficult technical problems. Or they may inspire them with sufficient courage to explore and develop their own interpre-tive ideas. Conversely, they may chide them for not working harder. They may reprove students for refusing to acknowledge their own lack of preparation. They may admonish them for rationalizing that it was favoritism on the part of the adjudicating panel that robbed them of that important prize or scholarship. Speaking more specifically to the overall task of realization, master teachers may advise young performers that interpretation involves more than technical display, more than merely playing the notes. They may caution them about the seductive, egotistical satisfactions of superficial virtuosity. They may reproach them for succumbing to those egotistical satisfactions; may urge them to do better in the future.
The significance of Plato's notion of "turning the soul" now becomes appar-ent. In urging performers to conceive of the task of interpretation in certain ap-propriate ways and to develop in consequence the requisite character traits and dispositions, master teachers are endeavoring to turn the soul of the apprentice toward a particular conception of interpretive excellence, one that values and esteems, above all else, the internal goods of performance. They are encourag-ing them to find the process of interpretation rewarding in and of itself. They are urging them to measure their artistic worth not in how commercially suc-cessful or famous they may become, but in how they measure up against the great interpreters of the past, the manner in which they are furthering, enriching and passing on in good standing to the next generation the standards of excellent interpretation. They are prompting them to become a certain type of person, one who has the stamina, courage and resolve to withstand the stresses and strains of live performance and do justice to the great works of musical tradition.
Novices in particular rely on such admonitions and critical guidance. But while initially they may follow their mentors' directions for reasons external to the interpretive process gaining their teachers' approval, for example gradually over time they begin to perceive the exactitudes of interpretation as worthwhile in and of themselves regardless of contingent rewards and/or pun-ishments. As they progress further through the initiation process, they begin to internalize the critical guidance procedures until eventually they can critically
34 Virtue or Virtuosity?
evaluate their own efforts. Now it is they who admonish themselves for care-lessness, lack of thought, self-indulgent egotistical virtuosity and so forth. They develop, in effect, a kind of interpreter's conscience: some contempt for shoddy, cheap, shallow interpretive work, some self-recrimination for mistakes and omissions.23
In brief: through supervised engagement in the complex process of interpre-tation, apprentice performers slowly and painstakingly come to recognize and appreciate the point and purpose of the arduous, delicate work entailed in ex-cellent interpretation. Even more important, they come to perceive it as an in-vigorating, worthwhile artistic challenge. They come to derive immense per-sonal pride and satisfaction from rising to the exacting standards entailed. Hav-ing come to enjoy it, they are motivated thereafter to seek again the exhilaration of internal success and so to continue developing and exercising, ever more ex-actingly, the virtuous character traits and dispositions entailed.
But if the pursuit of internal goods in performance requires developing and continually exercising virtuous character traits and dispositions, the same cannot be claimed for external goods. Although touted as achievable on the basis of merit, we all know that this does not always occur. Instead, luck may play a central role in their achievement as well as such unsavory items as favoritism, politics and other agendae. In direct contrast to internal goods, it is possible to attain the external goods of musical performance by nonmusical, even dishonest means by playing up to the right people, for example, employing the best spin doctors or cheating.
External goods, in short, do not require that you become a "better" (more virtuous) person. Sadly, they frequently appear to encourage exactly the oppo-site.24 And so as performers we find ourselves caught in a dilemma. Although deriving perhaps immense personal pride and satisfaction from the achievement of internal excellences, we know and recognize only too well the importance of external goods the manner in which they may facilitate our pursuing a pro-fessional career. We also know that they are not always achieved on the basis of artistic merit. And while we would like to believe that corruption does not occur or at least that it does not work, we know in our heart of hearts that this is not the case. We have all known people who succeeded through nefarious means. Like every practice, music has its embittered cynics who are only too ready to brand as hopelessly naive any musician who expresses an intention to try and play it on merit alone.
Surrounded often on many sides by people urging us to "grow up" and "play the game," the temptation is to "sell our souls" and act/play in such a manner that will garner us those external rewards. Rather than putting aside our own personal interests and concerns and dedicating ourselves wholeheartedly to the task of presenting as meaningfully as possible the particular work under consid-eration, we instead allow self-interest to enter into the interpretive process. We play/act in such a manner as will "please" relevant patrons the panel of adju-dicators in that important, international competition; the critics whose reviews
Turning the Soul toward Excellence 35
can make or break us; the public whose adulation can garner us fame and for-tune.
It is the last that some would regard as most dangerously seductive. Mindful of the public's love of spectacle and entertainment, and influenced perhaps by agents dedicated to materialistic success, the temptation is to do as many before us have done and to exploit and hype to the hilt any commercially attractive assets we may possess our technical abilities, our capacity to move listeners emotionally, our performance gestures, appearance and so forth. We are tempted, in short, to exchange our honorable role of interpreter for that of per-forming virtuoso and to embrace a concept of performance many would deplore as narcissistic, banal and utterly detrimental to the art of musical interpretation.
But does virtuosity deserve to be vilified thus? Is there not an appropriate place for it in performance art? It is this question we must now seek to answer.
NOTES 1. Bester, "The Zany Genius of Glenn Gould." 2. Gould called the attitude of the audience "blood-lust" and said that at live con-
certs he felt "demeaned like a vaudevillian." Ibid., p. 152. In a similar vein Wanda Landowska commented: "The gluttony with which the public rushes to buy tickets to hear the Goldberg Variations saddens and discourages me. Is it through love for this music? No, they do not know it. They are prompted simply by the base curiosity of see-ing a virtuoso fight with the most difficult work ever written for the keyboard." "Conver-sation with Denise Restout," cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 54.
3. Plato, Republic VII, 521 C. 4. The following Aristotelian account of internal and external goods derives from
Maclntyre's depiction of the latter in After Virtue (Chapters 14 and 15). My account also owes much to Kekes' superb explication of the distinction in his article "Constancy and Purity."
5. Sometimes such competitive atmospheres are justified on the grounds that it pro-vides students some experience of the competitive realities of the professional music world. "It's a dog eat dog world out there in professional music," a singing teacher said to me once, "and my students have to learn to be tough and mean in order to survive in it." And her singing studio was exactly that tough and mean: a place of vicious com-petition and so of back-stabbing, of innuendo; a place where what mattered most was not so much the music but staying ahead of the game; a place where everyone was insecure and afraid, where newcomers were a threat. It was in truth a lonely desolate place, and not one, I should add, where excellence prospered.
6. I am employing Maclntyre's sense of Aristotelian "practice" here. Citing as ex-amples of such practices, "the arts, the sciences and certain types of intellectual and ath-letic game" (After Virtue, p. 186), Maclntyre stipulates that by a practice he means
any coherent and complex form of socially established cooperative human ac-tivity through which goods internal to the form of activity are realized in the course of trying to achieve those standards of excellence which are appropri-ate to and partially definitive of that form of activity, with the result that hu-man powers to achieve excellence and human conceptions of the ends and goods involved are systematically extended. (Ibid., p. 175.)
36 Virtue or Virtuosity?
7. The superlative technical skills developed by eminent instrumental virtuosos, for example, frequently serve to extend and develop standard technique to new and exacting levels of proficiency. Tilly Fleischmann says of Liszt that he
extended the range of the . . . [piano's] possibilities by inventing new methods of laying out scale passages, arpeggios, broken chords, octave passages and trills, by extending the range of colour procurable by the sustaining pedal, and by using to the full both the extreme depths as well as the extreme heights of the instrument, thereby giving it an orchestral sonority. (Aspects of the Liszt 'Tradition, p. 53.)
8. Carroll, "Art, Practice and Narrative." 9. Kivy suggests that because these different exemplifications can involve among
other things differences in note grouping, in phrasing, in breathing, in articulation, in rest value, and/or in note value, they constitute, from an ontological perspective, different "versions" of the same work. And he goes on to argue that because these alternations make "the notes different," in devising their interpretations performers employ something "akin to the compositional skill of arranging." Kivy, Authenticities, pp. 132-135. I am in agreement with Kivy in designating performers' different interpretations as various "ver-sions" of the same work, and I also agree, especially in the case of more nonrestrictive scores, that performers employ something akin to the compositional skill of arranging. But I am hesitant nevertheless to associate interpretation with the art of arrangement. As an established musical genre the latter connotes and explicitly endorses a substantial amount of compositional alteration Procol Harun's arrangement of Bach's Air on a G String as the popular song A Whiter Shade of Pale, for example. Extensive alterations such as these would typically be seen as going beyond the boundaries of valid interpreta-tion. While recognizing that they are coextensive, I would prefer to maintain a subtle but important distinction between arrangements and interpretations, the former permitting substantial, explicit changes to be made to the composition, the latter working within stricter confines and endorsing thus subtler, much less substantial compositional altera-tions.
10. I say typically because there may be circumstances a show or musical built on the life of a famous singer like Edith Piaf, for example when a performer will legiti-mately endeavor to copy or reproduce the interpretive style of another performer. In-stances like this are comparatively rare, however. Although student musicians are often encouraged to study the interpretations of great instrumentalists of the past, the purpose of such study is usually not reproduction. Rather it is assumed that such study will enable them to grasp and appreciate the sound principles of good realization exhibited there. Thus having come to understand them, it is assumed that they will be enabled to use them thereafter in devising excellent, original interpretations of their own.
11. You have to acquire among other things, for example, the ability to read and to interpret a musical score, the technical and craft skills needed to realize it meaningfully in sound sensation, the principles of good realization encapsulated in performance tradition.
12. After Aristotle, Maclntyre defines virtue as "an acquired human quality the pos-session and exercise of which enables us to achieve those goods which are internal to practices and the lack of which effectively prevents us from achieving any such goods." After Virtue, p. 178. I have argued elsewhere that this necessary cultivation and exercise of virtuous character traits in excellent musical performance makes of it an effective learning tool in moral education. O'Dea, "Virtue in Musical Performance."
Turning the Soul toward Excellence 37
13. Gould suggested that the performer "should possess a faith that believes that what is being done is the right thing." Angielette, Glenn Gould, p. 92.
14. Keller argues that great performers "have a rich fund of invention, so that his or her phrasings are immediately recognizable as his or hers; there is no great performer whose creativity does not powerfully contribute to his interpretations." Keller, The Keller Column, edited by Robert Matthew-Walker, p. 60.
15. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics Book VI. 16. Mill argued that even those propositions taken for established truth must be con-
tinually open to dissent; for not only are "the grounds of the opinion . . . forgotten in the absence of discussion, but too often the meaning of the opinion itself." On Liberty, p. 48. Just so, I would argue, in allowing established principles of performance to become un-questioned dogma, we tend to forget or cease to notice the reasoning processes on which they were originally founded and which they are supposed to facilitate.
17. I have argued elsewhere that this species of artistic judgment constitutes a form of Aristotelian "phronesis." O'Dea, "Phronesis in Musical Performance."
18. Aristotle says "the virtues we get by first exercising them . . . we become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts." Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 1103a 31-1103b 1.
19. Again Aristotle suggests that "the soul of the student must first have been culti-vated by means of noble joy and noble hatred . . . loving what is noble and hating what is base." Ibid., 1179b 20-1179b 23.
20. Kerman, "The State of Academic Music Criticism," p. 196. Kivy makes a similar observation when he suggests:
anyone who takes lessons on an instrument or attends a master class knows full well that although talking of course takes place and verbal descriptions of music are offered by the teacher, very frequently words fail and the teacher finds it easier and far more effective to show rather than tell the nature of a particular passasge and how it should be rendered by singing, or playing, or gesturing: in other words by description perhaps, but in a non-verbal way. (Music Alone, pp. 104-105.)
See also Ryle, "Teaching and Training." 21. Nussbaum, "Aristotle." 22. Passmore, "Developing Capacities," in The Philosophy of Teaching. 23. Ryle, "A Rational Animal." 24. It is not unheard of, for example, for students in professional performance schools
to engage in such destructive behaviors as deliberately wrecking the audition tapes of serious rivals or neglecting to tell them of changes of date or specified repertoire in im-portant auditions. And, of course, the practice of "psyching out" your opponents by sub-tle inference or innuendo is rife in many musical instutitions.
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Virtue or Virtuosity?
As the closing strains . . . [of Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words] began, I saw Liszt's countenance assume that agony of expression, mingled with radiant smiles of joy, which I never saw in any other face except in the paintings of Our Saviour by some of the early masters; his hands rushed over the keys, the floor on which I sat shook like a wire, and the whole audience was wrapped with sound, when the hand and frame of the artist gave way. He fainted in the arms of the friend who was turning over the pages for him, and we bore him out of the room in a strong fit of hysterics.
Totally unlike in style to either Chopin or Liszt . . . [Thalberg] was admirable and unimpeachable in his own way. His performances were wonderfully finished and accurate giving the impression that a wrong note was an impossibility. His tone was round and beautiful, the clearness of his passage-playing crystal-like, and he had brought to the utmost perfection the method identified with his name, of making a melody stand out distinctly through a maze of brilliant pas-sages. He did not appeal to the emotions, except those of wonder for his playing was statuesque; cold and beautiful and so masterly that it was said of him with reason, he would play with the same care and finish if roused out of the deepest sleep in the middle of the night.
Sir Charles Halle2
These excerpts present two portrayals of two contemporaneous but very differ-ent musical performers. The first illustrates the emotional high jinks usually associated with one of music's most famous virtuosos. The second, at least at first glance, depicts the quieter, more dignified stance championed by many as the more appropriate, tasteful demeanor for a performance interpreter. Appear-
40 Virtue or Virtuosity?
ances in this case are deceptive, however. What we actually have here are de-pictions of the work of two eminent virtuosos. The one (Thalberg) highlights the extraordinary technical brilliance we have come to associate with the term. The other (Liszt) accentuates that ultra-artistic sensibility that evolved, at least in part, in reaction to virtuosity for its own sake and was spearheaded by serious romantic musicians and critics like Chopin and Schumann.
The description of Liszt's performance is probably exaggerated, perhaps even fabricated. Nevertheless, it captures well the hype and flamboyance we have come to associate with the notion of virtuosity and which has led to its ac-quiring negative, even disparaging overtones. For many of us today, the term virtuoso conjures up images of popularizing performers who stress exhibition-ism and showmanship in their efforts to woo a wider audience. We associate it with extraordinary feats of technical endeavor with dazzling displays of speed, incomparable spectacles of vocal or dexterous agility. And we associate it with overwrought, grandiose portrayals of emotion, with mannered, affected manifestations of supposedly artistic sensibility. The term brings to mind exag-gerated gestures, pretentious facial expressions in short the ostentatious theat-rics we more usually associate with crass entertainers than with serious, com-mitted performing artists. Virtuosos, says Veinius, "are among the more volu-minous spoilers of public taste. They give us more sound than sense, more manual dexterity than emotional depth, more trickery than true technique."3
But audiences love to be entertained. And the indubitable popularity of flamboyant bravura performance is manifest in the fame, wealth and notoriety virtuosos inevitably seem to attract. For the public at large, extraordinary tech-nical prowess is something to be admired, calling to mind the amazing feats of Olympian athletes and their motto of "citius, altius, fortius." In music, no less than in athletics, audiences thrill at witnessing exceptional feats of physiological accomplishment and they fete and reward those who afford them such thrills with adulation and material gain. The public's fascination with colorful, larger-than-life personalities is ably demonstrated in the media exposure granted to or visited upon icons of popular culture.
It is usually assumed that this fascination with performers extraordinaire derives from the nineteenth century. But while that century may indeed be char-acterized, perhaps more than any, as the true age of the virtuoso, well before the romantic era, virtuosity was something to be admired. The term was used ini-tially with reference to composers and theorists as well as performers. In 1703, in the first recorded definition of the term, Sebastien de Brossard notes:
Virtu means in Italian, not only that propensity of the soul which makes us agreeable to God and makes us act according to the rules of right reason, but also that superiority of talent, skill or ability which makes us excel be it in the theory or be it in the practice of the Fine Arts. . . . It is from this word that the Italians have formed the adjec-tives virtuoso or virtudioso to name or praise those to whom Provi-dence has granted this excellence or superiority . . . to them, an ex-
Virtue or Virtuosity? 41
cellent painter, a skillful architect etc. is a virtuoso, but they more commonly and more especially give this . . . name . . . to those who apply themselves to the theory or to the composition of music. . . . So tha t . . . to say simply that a man is a virtuoso is almost always to say that he is an excellent musician.4
Needless to say, excellent musicians did abound prior to the romantic era. As early as 1183, Geraldus Cambrensis observed of some Irish harpists:
They are incomparably more skillful than those of other countries. Their manner is neither slow nor harsh, but rapid and lively. . . . They astonish us by the way they observe rhythm and accents with such quick movements.5
And a comment on Francesco Landini, a blind organist of immense reputation in the fourteenth century, states that "He starts to play with incomparable art and great sweetness, and although deprived of the light of his eyes, with such speed that he surpasses all other organists whom one can remember."6
Other instruments also had their virtuoso players. Lute and gamba players in the sixteenth century developed exceptional technical skills unattainable by the mere amateur. The rise of opera and oratorio led to an increasing regard for virtuosity in solo singing, culminating in the eighteenth century in Handel's Italian opera season in London when singers, such as the castrato Farinelli, de-lighted the public with dazzling displays of technique in arias written especially for that purpose.7
Neither was the da capo aria the only composition designed to showcase technical skillfulness. Church toccatas attest to the formidable keyboard skills of Bach and Frescobaldi. The concerto under Mozart acquired a distinctly virtuoso character.8 Moreover, its cadenza offered soloists the opportunity to invent and perform technical difficulties. Even the sonata, with Beethoven, became suffi-ciently brilliant and difficult as to exceed the capacity of the dilettante. This trend continued in the work of Weber whose "Grand Sonatas" were designed explicitly for performance in the concert hall rather than the drawing room and all of which contained movements di bravura. After Weber there followed a host of virtuoso composers Kalkbrenner, Czerny and Thalberg, to name but a few all of whose compositions were specifically designed to display to the best advantage their extraordinary technical abilities.9
In the early nineteenth century, anyone who could play the most demanding music with apparent ease and rapidity was hailed as a virtuoso whether or not they had interpretive gifts. After 1820, however, a new ideal of virtuosity arose as the violinist Paganini emerged on the scene. Like earlier virtuosos, Paganini possessed extraordinary technical abilities that enabled him to engage in the most astounding pyrotechnics on the violin. But Paganini was no mere trickster. And concertgoers and musicians alike were fascinated not just by his technical wizardry, but also by the expressive powers of his cantilena. His performance
42 Virtue or Virtuosity?
roused public enthusiasm to levels previously unexperienced. Indeed, so daz-zling was his technique, so intense his powers of expression that it achieved unearthly, even demonic status (a view Paganini did little to discourage, mindful of its positive effects in the box office). Schubert said of an adagio of Paganini: "Therein I heard an angel sing."10 Liszt exclaimed after a performance: "What suffering, what misery, what tortures dwell in those four strings."11 But it is the statement in 1829 of the critic of Leipziger Musikalische Zeitung that encapsu-lates most tellingly the new visionary image of the virtuoso performer:
This man, with his long black hair and pale face, opens to us through sound a world that we may have experienced before, but only in dreams. There is something so demonic in his appearance that at one moment we seek the "hidden cloven hoof," at the next, the "wings of an angel."12
Inspired by the example of Paganini, piano composers of the romantic era Schumann, Chopin and Liszt sought to do for the piano what Paganini had done for the violin. They created works that drew from the piano possibilities of virtuosity, rhythmic splendor and melodic brilliance sounding sonorities that no one before had even imagined. In all their compositions, however, technical virtuosity was consciously exploited not as an end in itself but rather as a means to an end that of poetic expression.13 This is perhaps most strikingly illus-trated in Chopin's Etudes (op. 10 and 25). In keeping with standard "pedagogic studies" practice, each of them focuses on a single technical problem (playing the chromatic scale with only the three weakest fingers of the hand, for exam-ple). Yet each is also an expressive, dramatic or lyrical work of music in its own right, a study in color no less than technical facility. Since difficulties encoun-tered concern qualities of touch as much as speed or accuracy, playing them requires not only exceptional technical facility but also interpretive powers of the highest order.14
It is, however, with the Paganini of the piano, Franz Liszt, that the romantic image of the virtuoso reached its apex. Like his violinist counterpart, Liszt pos-sessed unprecedented technical facility and the sheer daredevilry of his tech-nique astounded the general public. Like Paganini, Lizst was also a consum-mate performer always aware of his audience and how to hold them in his grasp. Amy Fay, a young American pianist who attended Lizst's classes in Weimar in 1873, commented:
Liszt, in addition to his marvellous playing, has this unique and im-posing personality. . . . [His] face is all a play of feature, a glow of fancy, a blaze of imagination. . . . Liszt is a complete actor who in-tends to carry away the public, who never forgets that he is before it and who behaves accordingly.15
Virtue or Virtuosity? 43
This behavior included such apparent excesses as exaggerated hand ges-tures,16 breaking hammers and strings with the force of his playing,17 facial ex-pressions deliberately designed to move his audience,18 and the ultra-artistic sensibility described in the fainting episode quoted earlier.
But while much of the evidence available serves to draw attention to the more showmanlike aspects of Liszt's performance, comments from some of the most respected critics and musicians suggest that, like Paganini, he too was no "mere trickster." Schumann called him a "genius of interpretation" and wrote of "tenderness, boldness, exquisiteness, wildness succeeding] one another."19 And wildness is perhaps the operative word here, for Liszt represented and champi-oned a highly romantic view of interpretation, one that stressed above all else impassioned, rhapsodic, improvisatory qualities and that made of performers artistic creators in their own right. Comparing his playing to Thalberg's, Men-delssohn wrote:
Thalberg . . . in his way, is just perfect; he plays the pieces he has mastered and there he stops; whereas Liszt's whole performance is as unpremeditated, as wild and impetuous, as you would expect of a genius.20
And a review published in 1834, when Liszt was only twenty-three states that
His interpretation is his speech, his soul. . . . His art is an organ which he uses for developing his ideas. . . . Liszt's interpretation is no me-chanical or material exercise but much more; in a proper sense it is composition, the real creation of art.21
That Liszt himself at least as a young pianist (prior to his years as a touring virtuoso) heartily disapproved of virtuosity cultivated and exhibited for its own sake is reflected in a statement made by Auguste Boissier:
As to such mannerisms as the high raising or low diving of hands and arms, motions of the body, and other gesticulations, he considers them theatrical and unworthy of genuine artists. The same applies to exaggerated contrasts and sentimentality. Liszt's own expression is always simple because it is not motivated by a desire to show off at the expence of good taste. He does not play for others but for him-self. He depicts his own feelings, he expresses his own soul, and it is probably the best way to reach that of his listeners.22
Schumann echoes a similar sentiment, when he speaks of Liszt's playing being "No longer piano performance of this or that type but the speech of a bold char-acter. He triumphs over skill and the dangers of the tool and renders the serenity of art."23 And Felix Draeseke writes about him thus:
44 Virtue or Virtuosity?
I cannot compare his performance with those of other virtuosos, and I have the impression that the piece is rising under his hands and gives the impression of artistic improvisation. . . . On the other hand Liszt did not work for special virtuoso effects; he did not show off at the piano.24
Perhaps the most insightful and apt depiction of Liszt's concept of interpre-tation, however (and of the romantic conception of the virtuoso), is made by Liszt himself:
The virtuoso is not a mason who, chisel in hand, faithfully and con-scientiously whittles stone after the design of an architect. He is not a passive tool reproducing feeling and thought and, adding nothing of himself. . . . Spiritedly written works are in reality only the tragic mise-en-scene for feelings. He is called upon to make emotion speak, and weep, and sing, and sigh to bring it to life in his conscious-ness. He creates as the composer himself created, for he himself must live the passions he will call to light in all their brilliance. He breathes life into the lethargic body, infuses it with fire, enlivens it with the pulse of grace and charm.25
Or consider the following remark made to a friend in 1858:
What I like about so-and-so is that he is not a mere finger virtuoso: he does not worship the keyboard of the pianoforte, it is not his patron saint, but simply the altar before which he pays homage to the idea of the tone-composer.26
Liszt represents the apotheosis of the pianist as virtuoso, creating the type to which all instrumentalists since aspire that of the universal performer of grand stature. But his status as an artist is still highly controversial. Some re-gard him as nothing more than a romantic "poseur" and lay at his feet all the performance excesses the cheap display, the bombast, superficiality and sentimentality negatively associated with the notion of virtuosity. Others defend him as a revolutionary genius to whom pianists owe their aural imagina-tion and technique.27
Genius or charlatan, however, it is upon Liszt's performance and that of Paganini that the modern concept of the virtuoso is based. And every performer since has inherited a legend, the ramifications of which have to be confronted one way or another. While no one subsequently has quite lived up to the mythi-cal antics of these two colourful prototypes, the twentieth century has, nonethe-less, produced its share of virtuosos who exhibit to a greater or lesser extent many of the features outlined above. Paderewski, for example, openly acknowl-edged that his effect on the public was achieved more through his personality than through any real pianistic ability.28 Like Paganini and Liszt before him, Pablo Casals revolutionized cello technique and established the cello's reputa-
Virtue or Virtuosity? 45
tion as a virtuoso instrument. Flautist James Galway is admired, among other things, for the sheer dazzling virtuosity of his technique. And the strikingly original interpretations and personal eccentricities of Glenn Gould cast him, for many, in the role of revolutionary genius. Neither has the past century been without singer virtuosos. The public's adulation of Amelita Galli-Curci, Enrico Caruso, Fyodar Ivanovich Chaliapin and in our own time Luciano Pavorotti all attest to the continued popularity of the virtuoso performer.
Not every one shares, however, the public's enthusiasm for virtuosity. Composers over the centuries have long been suspicious of extraordinary tech-nical prowess, mindful of its capacity to lure the audience away from considera-tions of the musical work into dazzled appreciation of and preoccupation with instrumentalists' technical brilliance. So, although himself a virtuoso by profes-sion, Geminiani protested that in England "the hand is more highly regarded than the brain, the interpreter than the composer."29 Gluck's opera reforms were specifically designed to purge the genre of superfluous ornamentation (on the part of singers) as well as the mere display of difficult}' or novelties not inherent in the dramatic situation.30 Wagner, in an article "On Virtuosos," complained bitterly that "the musician who wants to gain the sympathy of the crowds is forced to keep uppermost in his mind that intractable self-love which is charac-teristic of all virtuosos."31
Speaking of creativity as "a conception that leads to the abyss," Verdi in-sisted that "I want only one single creation and I shall be quite satisfied if they . . . [performers] perform simply and exactly what he . . . [the composer] has written."32 And Stravinsky forthrightly stated that "virtuosos who serve music faithfully and loyally are much rarer than those who, in order to get settled in the comfortable berth of a career, make music serve them."33
Neither are composers the only ones to voice concerns about virtuosity. Per-formers also have been aware both of the limitations of technical accomplish-ment and the seductiveness of audiences' preoccupations with such matters. "The more I play in public," wrote Clara Schumann, "the more I hate pure virtu-osity."34 Chopin and Liszt, themselves eminent virtuosos, stood nevertheless in vehement opposition to technical brilliance for its own sake. And many of the most prestigious and well-known instrumentalists of the past century have indi-cated nothing but contempt for virtuosos in their unalloyed, acrobatic form. Wanda Landowska, for example, scathingly listed as indicative of "charlatan-ism" rather than artistry:
Acrobatic feats, glares of defiance shot at the instrument, exaggerated rallentandi accompanied by ecstatic motions of the head, swoonings, skyward gazes to command emotion, arrogant arpeggios, a boldness too close to insolence, false brillance, pianissimi after long crescendi . . . all kinds of monkeyshines to picture great ebbs and flows of the soul.35
46 Virtue or Virtuosity?
And Glenn Gould was convinced that the audience's applause misleads per-formers, luring them into crowd-pleasing tricks of personal display. Describing these tricks as "perversions," he argued that they distort the structural frame-work of the music.36
The current popularity of historical performance practice, seeking as it does to restore and reaffirm composers' original conceptions of musical works, sig-nals at last even some audiences' awareness of the potential excesses of virtuos-ity. To the delight of some and the chagrin of others, romantic exaggerations are now often portrayed as vulgar and overly emotional. And they have been re-placed by an austerity and purity of line that stands in striking contrast to the creative, impassioned conception of interpretation championed by Liszt.
But it is perhaps Anton Rubinstein who most tellingly articulates what I shall call the performer's "dilemma" when he writes to the young Eugene Ysaye:
Do not allow yourself to be carried away by the outward signs of success. . . . Always keep before you your one main objective, which must be to express the music according to your understanding and feelings, and not merely to give pleasure to those who listen. You have reached the point where it is within your power to give pleasure; what you have to do now is . . . to drink your fill of the bitter wine of triumph.37
And it is a dilemma. As a performer you find yourself poised between the com-poser and, in the present age of mass media, a large, highly heterogeneous pub-lic audience. And the interests, tastes, not to say expectations of all of these, rarely, if ever coincide.38 Playing up the more showmanlike aspects of your craft your technical skills, expressive capabilities, and other commercially attractive features you may possess such as appearance, personality or trendy eccentricities will undoubtedly procure the attention and enthusiastic ap-plause of many members of that audience. Although it is easy to denigrate that attention as fickle and superficial, as we saw in the last chapter, it cannot be dismissed as entirely meaningless and irrelevant. Thrilling an audience is an exciting, intoxicating experience and only the most ascetic of performers could fail to be attracted to the seductive pleasure it tenders. Moreover, the monetary rewards and publicity achieved thereby can be considerable. If you wish to make a successful career as a performing artist and the general public consti-tutes, as it were, your paying customers, then you cannot afford totally to ignore the predilections of a large sector of them. Your livelihood as a performer may depend on it.
But as Rubinstein pointed out to Ysaye, however lucrative and enthralling the experience of dazzling an audience, the task of the musical performer is not simply to give pleasure to the listener. You are not an entertainer whose sole aim is to amuse your audience. Rather, as interpreter, your task is to play the composition in such a way that will enable the audience to understand and ap-preciate the work in question. That appreciation could indeed take the form of
Virtue or Virtuosity? 47
delighting in bravura displays of technical brilliance, grandiloquent gestures and the like. But it need not always take this course. Instead, a work (Mozart's Rondo in A Minor, K. 511), might be prized for its delicate simplicity or the eloquence with which it captures particular emotional states or experiences (Schumann's Dichterliebe). A composition (Berg's Wozzeck, perhaps), mightprovoke serious thoughts on the human condition; a listener might marvel at the complex interweaving of voices in Bach's Art of Fugue.
Your task as a performance interpreter is to grasp the particular musical qualities that a work has to offer and to exhibit them to the audience in the most lucid, telling manner possible. Rather than merely amusing your audience, your task is to engage them draw their attention to the specific excellences em-bodied in the work, thereby enabling them to hear and enjoy them. This sug-gests that, qua interpreter, you should have other concerns besides that of pleas-ing your listeners. It implies that you should also care about the work as handed down to you by the composer. It intimates that you should recognize the latter as the original creator of the composition and that you should feel a certain quasi-moral obligation to honour her conception of it.39
Typically, performers feel (indeed as we have seen, are taught and encour-aged to feel) just such an obligation.40 They honor composers' conceptions by studying the score and respecting (following) the schematic outlines recorded there. In matters left unspecified by the notation they are guided by an array of other supporting factors standards of accomplishment enshrined in perform-ance tradition, performance conventions that existed at the time the work was first performed and/or others that developed subsequently, further clues and di-rectives left by the composer and so forth.
But while all of these undoubtedly help to flesh out the composer's concep-tion of the work, they cannot and do not specify' how it may be realized in sound sensation. As also argued in the first chapter, this has to be worked out by the individual performer, taking into account, besides the score and other factors previously mentioned, the subtle, ungeneralizable nuances of sound sensation.
This inevitably brings into play the "performance" (technical and craft) skills mentioned earlier. And with them the dilemma of virtuosity emerges. For the conscientious performance interpreter perforce must ask: what is the role of such skillfulness in performance art? In deference to composers' concerns, should you endeavor to tone down your technical abilities, thereby preventing their drawing attention to themselves and away from the musical work? Or, in defer-ence to the predilections of the public and mindful of engaging their interest and attention, should you allow them greater visibility? But how much visibility? Are bravura displays of skillfulness always in bad taste or are there places where these are entirely appropriate?
We have focused thus far, moreover, only on the interests and concerns of composers and listeners. What of your own ideas and feelings as a performance interpreter? Should you, after Thalberg, seek to play the piece as perfectly as possible and thereafter stop, adding nothing of yourself? Or should you, after
48 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Liszt, live the emotions enshrined in the score make the musical phrases speak, and weep, and sigh, and sing? At what point does this degenerate into mawkish sentimentality? And cognizant of Liszt's comment about mannerisms, the performer also might ask: is there an appropriate role for gesticulation, facial expression and so forth in musical performance? Or are these truly unworthy of genuine artists?
Clear-cut definitive answers to questions like these are unachievable. As with other matters pertaining to interpretation, the resolution of issues pertaining to virtuosity ultimately inheres in the judgment of the individual performer. But such judgments are not made in a vacuum. They are shaped and informed by principled considerations. Most of these pertain to musical/aesthetic matters and offer guidance as to the purely musical decisions performers must face when determining questions of virtuosity in interpretation. But, as we have seen, ethi-cal issues also arise. And these too influence those decisions by establishing the rights and responsibilities of the performer in such matters. It is these ethical considerations that are of interest to us here.
Considering first the issue of technical virtuosity: it is, I think, readily appar-ent that a certain measure of technical ability is necessary in musical perform-ance.41 Obviously, the level of proficiency demanded varies from work to work, with some works making comparatively small demands on the performer's tech-nique, others requiring a high level of technical mastery. But whatever the level required, since musical performance entails realizing musical compositions in sound sensation, it therefore presupposes the ability to effect such realizations and therefore a measure of skillfulness on the part of performers.
This is not to suggest that mistakes may not occur. Listeners (and compos-ers) recognize that performers sometimes make technical errors (play wrong notes, for example), and they are usually prepared to overlook a certain amount of these so long as the integrity and import of the musical work concerned are not completely undermined.42 But an inordinate amount of error is clearly in-admissible. If a performer cannot meet the technical requirements of a compo-sition, then manifestly she cannot represent it fairly to an audience. And uneasy as composers may be about technical brilliance, their interests are even worse served by technical incompetence. For better or worse, technical skillfulness is a necessary ingredient in music-making. As Pincherle aptly observes, "There can be virtuosity without music . . . [but] there cannot be, there could not have been, music without virtuosity."43
It is not so much, then, the presence of technical skillfulness in musical per-formance that is an issue for composers, but rather its visibility. Composers deplore its capacity to attract attention to itself. This runs directly contrary to the goal of interpretation: to focus attention onto (not away from) the musical structures, hence the caustic comments of Wagner, Verdi and others. But once again as a performer, this presents a dilemma. You must use technical skills in order to realize effectively in sound sensation the schematic outlines of the score. Yet it is these selfsame skills, when perceptible, that tend to deflect at-
Virtue or Virtuosity? 49
tention away from the work. The salient words here are "when perceptible." Technical skills serve as a distraction only when they are conspicuous. An ap-propriate solution therefore might seem to suggest: in order to fulfill more satis-factorily their obligations as interpreters, performers should endeavor to reduce the visibility of their technical skills. By rendering them less obvious and bra-vura, they focus the audience's attention where it belongs onto the musical work.
While this seems like an appropriate solution, however, it is much less ap-propriate than might at first seem apparent. You need to make a distinction between those works in which the skill required to realize them is irrelevant to aesthetic appreciation of the finished work and what Mark terms "works of vir-tuosity." In the latter, the display of skill enters essentially into the nature of the work, shaping it and providing its artistic subject.44
Many instances of the former kind exist. What is of interest in a perform-ance of a Bach fugue, for example, is not the skill needed to realize it in sound sensation. Rather it is the products of such skillfulness intelligible melodic phrasing, well-defined rhythmic patterning, clarity of counterpoint, a certain inwardness of expression and so forth. Features like these enable the particular qualities of the genre to be vividly illustrated aurally. The skills needed to pro-duce such features are not meant to be perceived. Instead, they lie tacit behind the finished product, the necessary but invisible foundation upon which the latter is built. Moreover, although the very invisibility of the skillfulness involved frequently gives such works an aura of artless simplicity, they are not at all easy to play. Quite the contrary; apparent artlessness entails the most exacting, me-ticulous skillfulness. Indeed it has led many pianists to insist, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, that a simple Mozart sonata is as difficult to play well as many a display piece.45
What casts a piece as a work of virtuosity, in other words, is not so much the intrinsic difficulties it presents to performers, but rather whether or not these difficulties are intended to be displayed. There exists a large body of musical compositions whose central qualities do not include the display of virtuoso skill-fulness. And it is to these works in particular that our earlier directive to per-formers most obviously applies.
Technical skills are incidental in works like these. They are nothing more than a means to the end of polished, articulate realization and, as such, irrelevant to the aural understanding and appreciation of the work's essential structures. Making these skills visible injecting a measure of bravura showiness into the performance of such a work radically changes its import and character. It suggests to listeners that virtuoso display figures prominently among its central qualities and focuses their attention onto the technical skills of the instrumental-ist. In so doing, it makes noticeable not so much the products of skillfulness, but rather the act of skillfulness in itself. In effect, it puts center stage that which was meant to be invisible. And the musical features that the performer, as inter-preter, was supposed to be vividly illuminating (and that were meant to be center
50 Virtue or Virtuosity?
stage) become in consequence merely the backdrop, the necessary but unimpor-tant prop by means of which she demonstrates her technical prowess.
It is clearly reprehensible for a performer to behave like this and to obfuscate rather than elucidate a work's central features. Rather than fulfilling the obliga-tions of an interpreter and persuasively drawing attention to the work's cardinal features, it deliberately moves to obscure them. Moreover, it does so, not for the potentially legitimate interpretive reason of accentuating or elucidating other excellent musical qualities embodied in the work that previously may have been ignored, but for the sake of virtuoso-like exhibitionism. Whether this is moti-vated by egotistical self-display or a desire to give the audience what it wants, it perpetrates a reading of the work that manifestly fails to do it justice and misrep-resents it to the listener. By putting their own self-aggrandizement over the in-terests of the musical work, performers may justifiably be charged with failing to live up to their ethical responsibilities as interpreters. Their rendering shows concern for neither the work nor the composer and as such deserves the rancor of the latter. They display above their superb technical abilities that intractable self-love of which Wagner spoke, and which injuriously has cast the pursuit of virtuoso endeavor as banal, narcissistic and utterly self-absorbed.
But while showing off your technical abilities is inappropriate in those com-positions not composed as display pieces, the same cannot be said of works of virtuosity. Whether it be a Bach organ toccata, a Mozart concert aria or a Cho-pin or Liszt etude, technical skill is meant to be evident. Rather than lying tacit and unperceived beneath (deceptively) simple musical structures, technical dif-ficulties and the superior skill needed to overcome them constitute the very subject matter. They provide the daring, the excitement, the peculiar sound ef-fects and tone colors that the composer explicitly and deliberately used in shap-ing her composition.46
Just as making technical skills visible in nonvirtuoso works radically changes their nature and structure, so too rendering unobtrusive the superior skills constitutive of works of virtuosity radically changes their character and import. Technical skills are not incidental in works such as these. They are the nerve and drive of the composition. Rendering them inconspicuous deliber-ately endeavoring to "tone down" the bravura elements of a Mozart concerto far from doing the work a service, strips it of the physicality, the daring and virtuoso sound effects that were among its central features. In effect, it removes from center stage that which was meant to be there and makes of the composi-tion a pale, unexciting (if virtuoso proof) shadow of itself.
No less than before, it is reprehensible for a performer to obscure rather than elucidate the central qualities of a work of virtuosity. Rather than fulfilling your obligations as an interpreter and persuasively drawing attention to the cardinal features of the work, this too deliberately seeks to obfuscate them. And al-though motivated perhaps by the purest and noblest of intentions, it perpetrates a reading of the work that manifestly fails to do it justice and that misrepresents it to the listener. Visibility of technical skillfulness is a conditio sine qua non in
Virtue or Virtuosity? 51
works such as these. In performing them you need have no qualms in rendering apparent your technical abilities.
But how apparent? Here the situation gets more complex. Although works of virtuosity explicitly provide performers a platform for the public display of their technical abilities, they do not, except in special circumstances (the ca-denza of a concerto, for example)47 give them total license regarding the manner in which they may exhibit those abilities. As with nonvirtuoso works, you are obligated to pay close attention to the score and to respect/follow the musical structures encoded there. Your task, in other words, is still one of interpretation. It is to illustrate as vividly and perspicaciously as possible the musical features of the work. Although in works of virtuosity these features are bravura in char-acter and demand visible displays of skillfulness on the part of the performer, you may not use them as mere vehicles for egotistical self-display. Instead your task is to honor and illustrate, to the best of your ability, the conception of virtu-osity delineated in the work. Your charge is not to show how brilliantly (how quickly, loudly or powerfully) "you" can play but rather to demonstrate par ex-cellence the exciting, dynamic features and the bravura sound effects of the par-ticular work under consideration.
Certain works of virtuosity more blatant display pieces like Liszt's Hun-garian Rhapsodies or some of Kreisler's Salon Pieces demand bravura play-ing of the highest, most flamboyant order. In performing these a player can exult in and flaunt unrestrainedly her technical prowess. But this cannot be said of all such works. As suggested already, many of our most well-known (and well-loved) technically brilliant compositions Beethoven's AppassionataSonata or Chopin's Ballades exploit technical virtuosity not as an end in it-self but rather as a means to poetic expression.
Works like these may all too easily be misrepresented to the listener. In-deed, their brilliant character makes them particularly prone to misrepresentation as performers succumb to the temptation of exaggerating the bravura elements, thereby pointing up their technical abilities and neglecting in consequence the musical structures those elements were meant to sustain. Exaggerations like this have always been prevalent. In 1753, C.P.E. Bach challenged what he de-scribed as "an erroneous preconception . . . [that] the forte of a keyboard player consists in velocity pure and simple."48 And, describing Vogler's playing, Mo-zart wrote to his father in 1778:
He played the first piece prestissimo, the Andante allegro and the Rondo really prestissimo. . . . Listeners . . . will only be able to say they have seen music and somebody playing the clavichord. They listen to him, think and actually experience as little as he in the proc-ess. . . . Much too fast!49
But it is perhaps the virtuoso works of the Romantic era, and in particular the works of the archetypal virtuoso Liszt, that have been most subjected to this type of distortion. Alfred Brendal laconically observes that "It has become virtually
52 Virtue or Virtuosity?
obligatory to play Liszt as if he knew only one tempo indication: prestissimo possible."50 And lamenting that critics all too often characterize Liszt's music as naught but a thing of "trills, scales and cadenzas," Tilly Fleischmann cautions pianists not to make too much of the technical display Liszt's often impression-istic and sketchy structures afford. Such treatment, she suggests, robs the works of their poetic quality and turns them into a "jingle of meaningless sound . . . an empty display of jugglery."51
Even in works of virtuosity, you need to remember that you are playing a musical composition, not a technical study. Although in such works the musical structures sustain and are made up of technically difficult elements, insofar as the work is a musical composition, these elements still serve a musical/poetic purpose. Your task as a performance interpreter is to illustrate in sound those musical/poetic structures. And while this involves the open display of skillful-ness, that skillfulness is yet only a means to an end the polished articulation of sounding patterns. To play up these bravura elements as ends in themselves is to miss or at the very least to obfuscate the musical qualities they are meant to sustain. And in behaving thus, the performer is once again failing to live up to her ethical responsibilities as an interpreter.
In summary: the level of visibility appropriately given to technical skills in musical performance is not one that can be articulated in a clear-cut, definitive rule or principle. Rather, it varies from work to work with some compositions demanding the most exacting artlessness, others entailing the clear demonstra-tion of technical prowess. In judging the appropriate degree of visibility, per-formers must be guided by the character and musical qualities of the work under consideration. Technical skills ultimately should serve to sustain and illuminate the latter. To do otherwise, to treat musical compositions as mere opportunities for virtuoso self-display, is to abrogate your ethical responsibilities as a musical interpreter.
Technical prowess, however, constitutes only one category of skills em-ployed by virtuosos. They also employ craft skills. These enable them to shape or subtly sculp the nuances of sound sensation in such a way that gives to musi-cal structures an aura of emotional expressiveness. As we saw earlier, it was Paganini who brought the notion of expressiveness into the bravura arena fasci-nating musicians and concertgoers alike not just by his technical wizardry but also by his intense powers of expression. These included some highly dramatic expressive effects. astonishingly beautiful tone quality coupled with "occa-sional ugliness and brutality . . . [where Paganini] literally attacked his instru-ment for dramatic effect." "
Such theatrical images were taken up and intensified by Liszt, whose string-breaking, flamboyant body gestures and exhibitions of ultra-artistic sensibility are now the stuff of legend. Imitated and caricatured by successions of less mu-sically able performers, the term virtuoso once again came to conjure up nega-tive notions of excess where emotional expressiveness is concerned. It connotes such expressive defects as exaggerated dynamic contrasts, bombast, superficial-
Virtue or Virtuosity? 53
ity, a striving after effect for effect's sake in short, a cheap, attention-seeking sentimentality.
Shallow and superficial as it may be, the pleasures of emotional hyperbole never fail to be seductive. And music lovers are no exception in this respect. Although roundly condemned and deplored by critics, composers and even many performers, expressive excesses procured and continue to procure enthusi-astic attention and applause from a large sector of the public. This in turn led to a reductionist in this case formalist backlash. Critics like Eduard Hanslick decried the intrusion of emotional elements, arguing that it ushered into the mu-sical realm, irrelevant, distracting extra musical considerations.53
Once again this places the performer in a dilemma. Expressive excesses aside, many listeners and concertgoers hear musical structures as emotionally expressive. And they desire, nay demand, that you play musical works in a manner that accentuates that dimension while disparaging playing that fails to do so as cold and mechanical. As in the case of technical skillfulness, you find yourself cast between two apparently irreconcilable positions doomed to criticism and censure whichever route you propose to adopt.
Like technical skillfulness, the issue is not really about whether or not you should play expressively.54 Rather it is about the extent to which you should be expressive and what should be the character of that expressiveness. The target of anti-virtuoso criticism is not so much expressiveness per se but that species of it that distracts from the music and that operates as an attention-grabbing, in-temperate end in itself.
Typically, performers are held responsible for perpetrating this over-indulgent, immoderate brand of emotional expressiveness. It occurs, it is ar-gued, when musicians allow themselves to become too personally involved in the emotional content of the composition, so "getting in the way" of the music. Engrossed in their own feelings, they cease to be concerned with portraying subtly and sensitively the work's expressive contours. Instead, they treat it as a vehicle for personal emotional catharsis use it to purge themselves of their own pent-up feelings, tensions and frustrations. Mindful of the public's predi-lection for impassioned, grandiloquent rhetoric, they engage in an ostentatious exhibition of emotional bravura, replete in the more extreme cases, with frenzied Paganini-like dynamic contrasts, angst-ridden facial expressions and so forth. Such theatrical chicaneries effectively deflect attention away from the music onto the performer herself and the vainglorious "poignancy" or "tragedy" of her personal emotional experience.
Now no musician could deny that those performers who engage deliberately and cynically in extravagant, hand on heart displays of emotional bravura are failing to live up to their responsibilities as musical interpreters. Rather than being concerned about the music, they are primarily concerned to woo the pub-lic. And the music, and indeed their own emotional attributes, are merely in-struments to that effect. But the situation is yet more complex. For while delib-erate and cynical exemplifications of expressive excess undoubtedly occur, not
54 Virtue or Virtuosity?
all instances of sentimentality conform to this description. The phenomenon may also occur when performers, endeavoring perhaps to "live" the emotional states portrayed in the work, get carried away or taken over by the strength of their personal feelings. And they advance in consequence heartrending, self-indulgent interpretations that are more expressive of themselves than of the par-ticular work under consideration. In situations like this, performers might allege in vindication that they cannot be charged with deliberate, cynical misrepresen-tation (although, in fact, misrepresentation does occur). Instead it comes about unpremeditatedly an unfortunate consequence of their determination to play expressively.
Performances like these are labeled "sentimental" for a variety of reasons, all of which deserve mention. The term "sentimental" in its original form meant something like "full of feeling" and was used by Flaubert and others in a posi-tive, nonderogatory sense.55 Like "virtuoso" the term over time increasingly came to have negative connotations. Richards, for example, described senti-mental responses as responses that are "too great," or "crude," or in some way or another inappropriate to the situation that calls them forth.56 And suggesting that sentimentality somehow involves a form of dishonesty, Oscar Wilde famously described a sentimental person as someone "who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it."57 It indicates someone whose feelings come "on the cheap," are shallow, had all too easily.
The dishonesty implied here refers to the tendency of sentimentality to gloss or oversimplify what are in fact complex phenomena. Sentimentality, says R. W. Hepburn:
is essentially undiscriminating . . . unperceptive of and insensitive to the detailed nature of its object. . . . Excess of excitement makes one unaware of the lack of clear-sightedness . . . [Instead] there is a drunkenness of sentiment where the object is allowed to fall quite out of focus self-indulgently allowed, since then the emotion can be wallowed in, free from the obtrusive individuality and independence of the object itself.58
Echoing Hepburn's delineation, Mary Midgley characterizes sentimentality as "misrepresenting the world in order to indulge our feelings."59 And portraying it as a species of self-deception, Anthony Savile speaks of a kind of "active false coloring" in which "want[ing] to feel in certain ways . . . we selectively and deliberately (though not necessarily consciously) misrepresent the world to ourselves so that we can feel those ways."60
What emerges from all of this is the pleasurable nature of sentimentality. There is, however, an illicit quality to the enjoyment involved. Sentimentality names emotions like the tortuous yet somehow exquisite pangs of unrequited love, or the sensitive feel of a general but not overpowering melancholy. Feel-ings such as these, Michael Tanner suggests, tend to "dislocate themselves from their origins" and are enjoyed, as it were, "for their own sake." Furthermore, he
Virtue or Virtuosity? 55
stresses in such feelings that variety of passivity sometimes called "being carried away":
The only activity which the sentimentalist manifests naturally is . . . the activity of rendering himself more passive. It is characteristic for the sentimentalist to inhibit those checking devices which are avail-able, though hard to handle, for interrogating one's experience, for asking whether one's feelings are primarily controlled by their object, if they have one, and what kind of communication they are main-taining with it.61
It is readily apparent that many of our earlier depictions of expressive ex-cesses in musical performance answer to the description of "sentimentality." Such excesses frequently are characterized in such terms as "cheap," "extrava-gant," "shallow" and "hand on heart." And in performances like these, the ex-pressive details of the work all to easily fall quite out of focus and become prey to self-indulgent emotional catharsis on the part of performers. Caught in the throes of such catharsis, they forget or cease to be concerned with portraying accurately and sensitively the emotional content delineated in the score and fo-cus attention instead on the assuasive expression of their own personal feelings. Finally, Tanner's exegesis of the passivity of sentimentality enables us to under-stand the peculiar abdication of responsibility entailed. Reluctant to assume the burdens of the interpretive role, preferring instead the exhilaration of emotional abandon, performers like this resolutely decline to interrogate their interpreta-tions. They refuse to ask whether the expressive qualities exhibited there are dependent upon and appropriate to the work under consideration. Instead they self-deceivingly endeavor to make an artistic virtue of "being carried away." They succumb to the gratifying (romantic) image of the ultra-sensitive, impas-sioned artistic spirit.
Attempting to deter such excesses, some critics and composers advocate, in reaction, stringent recommendations for emotional hygiene on the part of per-formers. Like Thalberg (and in direct opposition to Liszt's conception of virtu-oso performance), the latter are admonished to play the piece as perfectly as possible and thereafter stop, adding nothing of themselves.62 Given the account of sentimentality offered above, it is not difficult to understand the extremity of such reactions. If emotional involvement in the music leads inevitably to the kind of misrepresentation characterized in sentimentality, then performers qua interpreters are rightly urged to be cautious and to monitor carefully their affec-tive engagement in the music.
But the worthiness of the intent notwithstanding, the vigilance with which performers are urged to monitor their playing leaves little room for any emotion to survive. And that is problematic. One of the important tasks of the per-former, I have argued, is to act as advocate for the musical work. They have to persuade listeners that it is worth hearing and that it merits their careful, undi-vided attention. Advocacy such as this presupposes some sort of emotional en-
56 Virtue or Virtuosity?
gagement on the part of performers. It implies that they believe in the work un-der consideration. It intimates that they care passionately about it. Without such emotional engagement, their presentation of the work is likely to be cold, ineffectual.
Even more important, ultra-formalist admonitions forget the role of emo-tional expression in promoting understanding of musical works. This was per-haps most clearly understood (and exploited) by Liszt, but he was not the first or the only one to appreciate its importance. In 1759 C.P.E. Bach argued:
A musician cannot move others unless he too is moved. . . . In lan-guishing sad passages, the performer must languish and grow sad. Thus will the expression of the piece be more clearly perceived by the audience . . . . Similarly, in lively, joyous passages the executant must again put himself into the appropriate mood. . . . Those who maintain that all of this can be accomplished without gesture will re-tract their words when, owing to their own insensibility, they find themselves obliged to sit like a statue before their instrument. Ugly grimaces are, of course, inappropriate and harmful; but fitting expres-sions help the listener to understand our meaning.63
Liszt's conception of the performer "living" the emotions enshrined in the musi-cal work is not merely the shallow, cynical philosophy of the exhibitionist showman. It invokes a respected, time-honored tradition in musical perform-ance practice and one that speaks directly to the interpreter's goal of promoting musical understanding. Even Stravinsky, a strident critic of romantic perform-ance excesses, was prepared to acknowledge that "the sight of the gestures and movements of the various parts of the body producing the music is fundamen-tally necessary if i t . . . [the music] is to be grasped in all its fullness."64
But is it possible for performers to become emotionally engaged in the music and yet manage to avoid being carried away in the manner described as senti-mental? I believe it is, but only if the emotions involved are dependent upon and directed toward the character of the musical work. What is appropriate, says Susanne Langer, is not that "subjective interpretation that makes art a vehi-cle for the performer's personal anxieties and moods, but the element of ardor for the import conveyed?'65 What is needed is passionate commitment on the part of performers, not to the expression of their own personal emotions, but to those enshrined in the work.
Manifestly, in order to commit yourself to the expression of such emotions, you have to understand what they are and know how to express them appropri-ately.66 All of this can be accomplished, however, without actually feeling the emotion expressed. A sad violinist can play a joyful piece and do it well.67 And vice versa. In either case it is their personal commitment to the emotional con-tent of the work that enables them to rise above their personal feelings and to convey meaningfully and with passion those emotions reflected in the score.68
Virtue or Virtuosity? 57
But interpreters are not martyrs who selflessly and heroically put aside their own feelings in order to express those portrayed in the music. Although a piece may not actually reflect what you as an interpreter are personally feeling at the time, it can nevertheless relate to your personal experience. It can articulate emotional states with which you are (at least conceptually) familiar and have or may experience at some time in your life. Musical works offer the possibility of exploring imaginatively, in a concentrated, integrated manner, the complexities of those emotional states. A work like Schubert's Die Winterreise offers the possibility of examining deeply and so coming to understand the torment, an-guish and debilitating aftermath of unrequited love.
But artworks typically do not express the vicissitudes of our emotional lives in a routine conventional manner. They do so in a way that tries to evade the shallow cliches and blurred emotion stereotypes that all too often characterize our everyday experience of them. Far from portraying sentimentally unrequited love as a tortuous yet vaguely pleasurable experience, Die Winterreise engages us in a genuine and agonizingly honest exploration of the personal devastation and hopelessness that can attend loss of love. Artworks (especially great ones) have the ability to turn the commonplace into the uncanny, the searching, sub-stituting for blunted, generalized and crude emotions more specific, appropriate and discriminating ones. They offer us, in a word, an "enlargement" of our emotional experience. They teach us to see it in new, individualized more sen-sitive ways.69 Musical works in particular, it is often argued,70 tender an articu-late, intelligible expression of emotional states with which we are all familiar but find peculiarly difficult to articulate in language.
The significance of Langer's notion of "ardor for the import conveyed" the contagious excitement of the performer over the vital content of the work now becomes apparent. It indicates your willingness as a performer to engage in such an exploration, to probe extensively the ambivalence, uncertainty and complexity of the inner life (your own and others') and so, in an important way, to give it meaningful, articulate expression. Further yet, it indicates your readi-ness to share that exploration with others, to make available to listeners the en-largement of experience offered. It signifies your preparedness to enable them to learn the limitations of conventional cliches, to recognize the individuality, unpredictability and complexity of emotional experience. Most important of all, it indicates your heartfelt belief in the inherent value of such an exploration, your excitement at the potential insights offered and your faith in the clarity and resolution accurate expression makes available.
"Ardor for the import conveyed" signifies, in short, a passionate commit-ment on the part of performers to portray, as vividly and perspicaciously as pos-sible, not their own personal emotions, but the expressive content enshrined in the score. Where this occurs, the emotions expressed are not those of the per-former, they are those of the music.71 And the emotions the audience sees ex-hibited in the performer are the result of her concentration on the work.72 But the expressiveness exhibited bears no resemblance to that drunkenness of senti-
58 Virtue or Virtuosity?
ment cited earlier as indicative of sentimentality. Rather than carrying you away from the work, you are carried into it. Instead of allowing the object (the musi-cal work) to fall out of focus and wallowing in the cathartic throes of personal sentiment, your intellectual, emotional and physical capabilities are focused squarely onto the artifact itself. You bring your entire mental, physical and emotional being to bear on the work.
This throws an entirely different light on Liszt's provocative admonition to performers to "live" the passions enshrined in the work. The latter is not a call to use the music gratuitously as a mere vehicle for subjective expression. In-stead, it is a call to immerse yourself wholly in the musical work, to put aside all other concerns and dedicate your entire "being" to the task of performance. Liszt's exhortation constitutes, in effect, an appeal for concentration, and for commitment of the highest, most attentive order. Commitment like this makes the work "come alive." It gives the impression of the performing artist speaking from the heart, enunciating with passionate conviction the expressive features of the work. But there is no need to monitor this kind of emotional engagement. Quite the contrary; since the passions exhibited derive from and are directed toward the musical structures under consideration, the performer need not re-strain herself. She may give all she has to the performance of the music.
Rather than thwarting the central purposes of interpretation, passionate en-gagement of this type serves to accomplish it more meaningfully. It enables the performer to meet her responsibilities as advocate for the musical work. The concentrated intensity of her commitment indicates to the audience that this is a work worth taking seriously and that merits their careful attention. Harking back to Hermes' role as annunciator, it proclaims the importance of the artistic endeavor and its inestimable value.
Even more central to the task of interpretation, passionate engagement like this speaks directly to the role of gesture, facial expression and other movements of the body in performance art. As Liszt, C.P.E. Bach and even Stravinsky saw, these gestures can serve as powerful tools for the promotion of musical under-standing so long as they derive from and are directed toward the expressive structures of the musical work. They do so by providing visual cues about the expressive content traced in the musical structures. Recognition of this enables listeners to make more meaningful sense of the incoming sounds and so to hear the work as an articulate, coherent-sounding structure. Expressive behaviors, in other words, help listeners get inside the music. They permit them to humanize it and make it their own. They encourage them to explore the new possibilities of articulation offered, thereby opening up a whole new world of articulate ex-pression.
As Stravinsky cautions, only "if the player's movements are evoked solely by the exigencies of the music" will they "facilitate one's auditory percep-tions."73 Derived from and directed toward other purposes charming the audience, for example they serve to hinder rather than help the promotion of musical understanding. In effect they misdirect the audience's attention. They
Virtue or Virtuosity? 59
focus it on distracting extra-musical considerations, thus making it difficult for them to concentrate on the music.
You cannot, in fact, make an artistic virtue of being "carried away." Appeals to the gratifying Lisztian image of the ultra-sensitive, impassioned artistic spirit are nothing but self-deceptive subterfuges designed to cloak interpretive irre-sponsibility. They indicate, more likely, situations in which performers, wanting to feel the pleasurable throes of personal emotional catharsis, selectively and deliberately (though not necessarily consciously) misconceive their role as in-terpreters so that they can feel those ways. But the emotions exhibited have only the shallowest connections with those delineated in the musical work. In-spired initially by the music perhaps, they all to quickly become dislocated from the latter and are enjoyed instead for their own sake. Freed thus from the obtru-sive individuality and independence of the work, performers present as accurate a sounding that ultimately is a travesty of its original character. They reject the artful, discriminating, complex forms of articulation embodied in the score. And in thrall to the cathartic throes of sentiment, they substitute in their place, banal, simplistic, self-indulgent modes of expression that in no way do justice to the complex details of the work under consideration.
No less than in technical exploitation, it is clearly reprehensible for a per-former to behave in this way. Rather than fulfilling the obligations of interpreter and persuasively drawing attention to the work's cardinal features, it obscures them. In so doing, it perpetrates a sounding of the work that manifestly fails to show its excellent qualities and that misrepresents it to the listener.
But as Rubinstein clearly indicated in his letter to Ysaye (and as Liszt, per-haps, sometimes demonstrated), the temptation to indulge in such deceptions is great. Furthermore, the exacting difficulties of live performance make decep-tions like this all the more appealing. There, as every performer knows, a myr-iad range of considerations nerves, insufficient rehearsal, discomfort with the instrument provided, to name but a few all conspire to make concentration difficult and to render "living" the passions enshrined in the score an exacting, hard-won ideal.
In the final analysis performers can only do their best. And this entails culti-vating and putting into practice the character traits and dispositions listed in Chapter 2. Manifestly, developing your technical skillfulness to the level of virtuoso-like accomplishment takes time effort and practise. Patience and te-nacity play an important role in this. But interpretation demands not only that you develop superb skills; it requires you to exercise them in public. And that takes courage. Consciousness of the audience's presence can trigger nerves and lack of concentration, preventing you from showing the excellence of which you are capable. And while nervousness and feelings of insecurity are typically asso-ciated with neophyte performers, they can also occur with seasoned profession-als. Especially in today's society, where excellent recordings are routinely available, audience expectations of well-known performers can be exceedingly high. It takes enormous bravery and resolve to try to accomplish in a single live
60 Virtue or Virtuosity?
performance what was produced under very different circumstances in the re-cording studio. Indeed, it was Gould's perceptive recognition of the immense challenges entailed in live performance that led him to forswear the latter and to conduct the remainder of his music-making in the "freedom of anonymity" that the recording studio provided.74
Probably the most important virtue to cultivate in matters relating to virtuos-ity, however, is generosity of spirit the readiness to put your skills in the service of the music even to the point of making them virtually inconspicuous. This entails not being self-centered. It implies a readiness to put the music first. It intimates a deep and principled commitment to perform in a way that does the work justice and that does not use it self-seekingly as a vehicle for the promo-tion of personal interests. Truthfulness is a necessity if this is to be accom-plished. As the analysis of sentimentality offered earlier suggests, you can all too easily succumb to the temptations of self-deception and fool yourself into thinking that your bravura performance was eminently justified. Excellent interpretation demands accordingly a rigorous self honesty. It requires an un-swerving commitment on the part of performers to face, to the best of their abil-ity, the issues raised by virtuosity and to give a truthful answer. It entails a per-petual readiness to interrogate your performances and to ask whether the tech-nique and emotions exhibited there are primarily controlled by the music.
In conclusion: although virtuosity frequently serves to deflect attention away from musical works in and of itself, it is not detrimental to the art of musical interpretation. Quite the contrary. It is like a discriminating, finely wrought tool that can be used for good or for ill. Used as a means to the end of polished, sen-sitive articulation, it is beyond reproach. Employed solely as an end in itself, as a means to showcasing and drawing attention to the superlative skills of the per-former, it is rightly decried as distracting, banal and narcissistic.75
But the remedy for such ill use is not to try to banish it from musical per-formance. Rather it needs to be channeled in the right direction, toward the le-gitimate, insightful articulation of musical structures. It is precisely such an orientation that proponents of "historical performance practice" seek to bring about. Their erudite, knowledgeable admonitions are designed to question and bring to conscious awareness the nineteenth-century assumptions embedded in mainstream performance practice. They seek to promote in their place interpre-tations that, informed with greater knowledge of original sounding styles and contexts, enable performers to get closer to the spirit in which works were origi-nally conceived. This will yield, they maintain, better, more insightful perform-ances.
But does historical performance practice live up to this promise? Can its ad-monitions hinder rather than help the process of interpretation? These are the questions explored in our next chapter.
Virtue or Virtuosity? 61
NOTES 1. Description by Henry Reeves of a Liszt recital in Paris, 1835. Cited in Gerig,
Famous Pianists and Their Techniques, pp. 172-173. 2. Halle, Life and Letters of Sir Charles Halle. Cited in Gerig, Famous Pianists and
Their Techniques, p. 173. 3. Veinius, The Concerto, p. 154. 4. Sebastien de Brossard, "Dictionnaire de Musique." Cited in Pincherle, The
World of the Virtuoso, p. 16. 5. Ibid., p. 19. 6. Ibid. 7. See Arnold, The New Oxford Companion to Music, Volume 2. 8. See Rosen, The Classical Style, section five, Chapter 1, "The Concerto." Also
Veinus, The Concerto, Chapter 4, "The Classical Concerto." 9. See Einstein, Music in the Romantic Era, pp. 50-52.
10. Cited in Einstein, Music in the Romantic Era, p. 204. 11. Cited in Veinus, The Concerto, p. 166. 12. Cited in Sachs, Virtuoso, p. 15. 13. See Einstein, Music in the Romantic Era. 14. For a fascinating account of the technical/interpretive challenges contained in the
Chopin Etudes, see Rosen, The Romantic Generation, pp. 361-383. 15. Fay, Music Study in Germany, p. 269. 16. Mosceheles wrote: "the tossing about of his hands, which he seems to think a
mark of inspiration, I still regard as an eccentricity." Cited in Sachs, Virtuoso, p. 53. 17. In a letter to Robert Schumann, Clara Wieck wrote: "In his last concert but one,
Liszt with one chord broke three hammers . . . and four strings as well." Cited in Sachs, Virtuoso, p. 54.
18. "Liszt knows well the influence he has on people, for he always fixes his eyes on some one of us when he plays, and I believe he tries to wring our hearts." Comment by Fay, Music Study in Germany, p. 227.
19. Schumann, On Music and Musicians, p. 156. 20. Mendelssohn, cited in Sachs, Virtuoso, p. 53. 21. Excerpt from the Gazette musicale de Paris. Cited in Letnanova, Piano Interpre-
tation in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, p. 137. 22. Boissier, "Liszt as Pedagogue," pp. 14-15. 23. Schumann, cited in Letnanova, Piano Interpretation, p. 136. 24. Draeseke, cited in Letnanova, Piano Interpretation, pp. 137-138. The improvi-
satory quality mentioned here is also apparent in Liszt's own compositions whose open, sketchy structures require recreative ability for their interpretation. See Fleischmann, Aspects of the Liszt Tradition. Also, Brendel, Musical Thoughts and After Thoughts.
25. Friedheim, Life and Liszt: The Recollections of a Concert Pianist, p. 52. 26. Mason, Memories of a Musical Life, p. 116. 27. See Brendel, "Liszt Misunderstood," Musical Thoughts pp. 77-81. 28. See Sachs, Virtuoso, p. 8. 29. Geminiani, cited in Pincherle, The World of the Virtuoso, p. 28. 30. Gluck, "Preface to Alceste" in Strunk, Source Readings in Music History. See
also Abraham, "Changes in Opera," The Concise Oxford History of Music, Chapter 22. 31. Richard Wagner, cited in Pincherle, The World of the Virtuoso, p. 29. 32. Cited in Dorian, The History of Music in Performance, p. 8.
62 Virtue or Virtuosity?
33. Stravinsky, Poetics of Music, pp. 129-130. 34. Clara Schumann, cited in Landowska, Landowska on Music, p. 155. 35. Landowska, Landowska on Music, p. 153. 36. Payzant, Glenn Gould, p. 22. 37. Rubinstein, cited in Sachs, Virtuoso, p. 8. 38. It would be manifestly naive to suppose that an audience has definite and unani-
mous desires. Instead they usually consist of a variety of different kinds of listeners per-formers must address. Levinson speaks of: "first-time" listeners, "one-time" listeners, "practiced" listeners and "jaded" listeners. Levinson, Music, Art and Metaphysics. Urmson suggests that "some members are likely to wish the performer to play as he thinks best, others to play it authentically . . . others to play it in the way that they have always heard it before." Urmson, "The Ethics of Musical Performance," p. 160. The continued enthusiasm for virtuosos would prompt me to include as another category: those attracted to the excitement and energy of bravura performance.
39. The weight and substance of this quasi-moral obligation is hotly debated in both musical and literary circles. Zealous advocates of "historical authenticity" give compos-ers' envisagements maximum authority advocate scrupulous adherence to composers' conceptions. Radical devotees of the French notion of the "death of the author," in con-trast, toss aside originators' conceptions in favor of those of the reader. In musical cir-cles, composers' conceptions are usually thought to hold "some" degree of special authority. Kivy states: "If they are not necessarily where we . . . [performers] stop . . . they are perhaps necessarily where we begin." Kivy, Authenticities, pp. 185-186. It is this initiatory notion of obligation I have in mind when I use the word "obligation" in the text. As Kivy points out, however, that while the question "Why should you honor the composer's conception?" feels strange, logically inappropriate or even heretical in West-ern European musical tradition, the ostensible authority of such conceptions may well reflect nothing more than our preoccupation with and endorsement of the "culture of authorship." Other musical cultures Irish traditional music, for example reflect no such preoccupation. For an interesting and provocative discussion of such matters, see Kivy, Authenticities, pp. 145-187.
40. Urmson speaks of a performer having "a duty to the composer not to misrepresent him." "The Ethics of Musical Performance," p. 162.
41. Stravinsky writes that "one has the right to seek from the interpreter . . . perfec-tion of. . . translation into sound." Poetics of Music, pp. 128-129.
42. Although this is still largely true, I suspect the perfection attainable in recordings makes contemporary audiences less tolerant in this respect.
43. Pincherle, The World of the Virtuoso, p. 40. 44. Mark, "On Works of Virtuosity," pp. 28-45. 45. Schnabel is supposed to have said of a brilliant passage from Liszt that it was
easy and of a lyrical passage from Beethoven that is was hard. See Mark, "On Works of Virtuosity," p. 41.
46. It is not coincidental that works of virtuosity are often written with specific in-strumentalists in mind. Their reputed, insatiable appetite for self-display notwithstand-ing, virtuosos have always been valuable to composers for the new and exciting sound possibilities they make available to their creative imaginations. As we saw earlier, it was Paganini who inspired Schumann, Chopin and Liszt to create musical works that dis-played and exploited almost to its extreme limits, the sounding resources of the piano-forte. And virtuoso composers like Kalkbrenner, Czerny, Cramer and others all helped to
Virtue or Virtuosity? 63
codify standard instrumental technique on a high and exacting level of proficiency, thereby making routinely available to composers a range of sounding possibilities hith-erto unattainable. Indeed, so closely allied are works of virtuosity to the technical skills of particular instruments that the impression is frequently given of the instruments them-selves creating the music. This is perhaps most strikingly apparent in works from the romantic era. But even before that time, the notion of creating musical works Bach's organ toccatas, for example that delighted in the tone color and in the physical contact with a particular instrument was not unfamiliar.
47. In devising an appropriate cadenza, a performer will normally take into account the style of the overall composition and will create the cadenza in such a manner as fits generally within that style. While such stylistic considerations limit in an important sense the creative freedom of the performer, the constraints in this case pertain to aesthetic rather than to ethical matters.
48. C.P.E. Bach, cited in Letflanova, Piano Interpretation, p. 60. 49. Mozart, Letters of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, p. 63. 50. Alfred Brendel, Musical Thoughts, p. 81. 51. Fleischmann, Aspects of the Liszt Tradition, p. 53. 52. See Rosen, The Romantic Generation, p. 492. 53. Hanslick, The Beautiful in Music. 54. I have deliberately chosen not to enter into the familiar formalist/emotivist debate
here because I am not at all sure that the boundaries between the two positions are any-thing as cut and dried as the rhetoric would serve to suggest. Instead, it seems to me, most of us over the course of our listening lives move backwards and forwards between the two orientations dependent on such variables as taste, age, the particular work under consideration, background knowledge, aural familiarity and so forth. Furthermore, inso-far as both formalist and emotive responses arise out of the intelligent cognition of musi-cal structures, I think the difference between them is more one of descriptive vocabulary than anything else. Philosophical debate notwithstanding, there exists within the Western tradition of music-making a deep-rooted belief in the capacity of music to be emotionally expressive. This is manifest in such sources as the baroque doctrine of affect, the theo-ries of the Florentine Camerata and in the writings of critics, theorists and composers over the centuries. Although remaining a contentious issue (most notably among phi-losophers), emotional expressiveness is generally accepted as an integral, if controversial, aspect of music and music performance.
55. See Flaubert, L'Education sentimentale: histoire d'un jeune homme. 56. Richards, Practical Criticism, cited in Tanner, "Sentimentality," p. 129. 57. Wilde, Letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, The Letters of Oscar Wilde, p. 501. 58. Hepburn, "The Arts and the Education of Feeling and Emotion," p. 97. 59. Midgley, "Brutality and Sentimentality," p. 385. 60. Saville, "Sentimentality," p. 221. 61. Tanner, "Sentimentality," p. 134. 62. Proponents of historical performance practice frequently endorse such an ascetic
stance. See Taruskin, "On Letting the Music Speak for Itself: Some Reflections on Mu-sicology and Performance." See also Verdi's comment cited earlier (in Dorian, The His-tory of Music in Performance, p. 8). There also exists within performance practice schools of thought that construe manifestions of emotional engagement on the part of performers as inherently distracting and that urge them accordingly to maintain as objec-
64 Virtue or Virtuosity?
tive and uninvolved a stance as possible. All such admonitions ultimately reflect the long-standing formalist/emotivist debate mentioned earlier.
63. C.P.E. Bach, Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard Instruments, p. 152. 64. Stravinsky, Chronicle of My Life, pp. 185-186. 65. Langer, Feeling and Form, p. 141. 66. You need the capability to grasp what the particular emotion expressed is
know what it is like to experience sadness, for example. You also need to know how the particular sound structure reflects that emotion perceive the structural resemblance of the music to physical manifestions of sadness. And you need to know what technique what craft skill best expresses it. Although I have used the specific example of sad-ness here, a performer's recognition of the structural resemblance of the music to forms of feeling need not include the identification of a specific emotion. Instead, a composi-tion may strike her as powerfully expressive of feeling in general. Although no specific emotional concept is employed here, in perceiving the music as powerfully expressive of more general forms of feeling, the performer is bringing conceptualization (albeit a vague nonpropositional version of the latter) to bear on her auditory experience.
67. See Putman, "The Aesthetic Relation of Musical Performer and Audience." 68. Some would contest this disavowal of personal feeling. Laszlo, for example, ar-
gues that the aim of all true interpreters of music is "the expression of their own feel-ings." Laszlo, "Aesthetics of Live Musical Performance." For an insightful analysis and critique of Laszlo's position, see Putman, "The Aesthetic Relation of Musical Performer and Audience."
69. Hepburn, "The Arts and the Education of Feeling and Emotion," p. 96. 70. See Langer, Feeling and Form and Philosophy in a New Key. 71. I say the music rather than the composer here because, of course, like the sad
violinist who can play a joyful piece and do it well, it is possible for a composer to write a sad piece without feeling sad herself.
72. See Putman, "The Aesthetic Relation of Musical Performer and Audience," p. 362.
73. Stravinsky, Chronicle of My Life, pp. 122-123. It must also be acknowledged that not all listeners find visual cues helpful. Some find even the most appropriate ges-tures or movements inherently distracting and prefer recordings to live performances in which the sound structure itself can become the sole focus of attention. Although "purer" musical experiences like these are sometimes presented as "aesthetically superior," the issue is very much open to debate. Instead, I suspect, the helpfulness or hindrance of performers' movements ultimately resides in personal taste.
74. See Gould, "Glenn Gould in Conversation with Tim Page." 75. An objection might counter here that whereas sentimental renditions of many mu-
sical works manifestly does them a disservice, is this necessarily the case with all musical works? Could not some works be intrinsically sentimental the "Adagietto" for strings and harp from Mahler's Fifth Symphony, for example, or Puccini's "Un bel di" ? Are these not places where a measure of sentimentality in performance is appropriate? While inherently sentimental works may provide performers a platform for the public display of sentimental emotions, they do not thereby give them licence to cast aside the score and to engage in self-indulgent inappropriate exhibitions of emotional bravura. Like other works of technical virtuosity, the performer is obligated to pay close attention to the score and to honor and illustrate to the best of her ability the emotions delineated there. Indeed, scrupulous attention to the forms of articulation delineated in so-called sentimental works
Virtue or Virtuosity? 65
might enable performers (and thereby listeners) to engage in a meaningful exploration of the concept of sentimentality itself, thus enabling them to find, perhaps, its original more positive connotation.
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Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue?
The St. Matthew Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach is written for a chamber-music ensemble. Its first performance in Bach's lifetime was perfectly realized by a total force of thirty-four musicians, in-cluding soloists and chorus. That is known. And nevertheless in our day one does not hesitate to present the work, in complete disregard of the composer's wishes, with hundreds of performers, sometimes almost a thousand. This lack of understanding of the interpreter's obligations, this arrogant pride in numbers, this concupiscence of the many, betrays a complete lack of musical education.
The Romantic tradition can be clearly felt in most present-day per-formances . . . [of Bach's St. Matthew Passion] especially in the way the composer shapes the sound of the orchestra. . . . Despite the beauty and the persuasive quality of such an interpretation we sense that essential aspects cannot be expressed in this way . . . only one other approach remains: We must bypass the completed historical development of Romanticism and late Romanticism and return to the sound and spirit of the original. The main question . . . [of interpretation] remains the same . . . [how-ever]. How is the musical idea best served, how can the work best be made understandable for us today?
No change has more profoundly influenced musical interpretation during the last two decades than the growth of the historical performance movement. The search for original methods and styles of performance has revolutionized not only our listening habits but also our whole approach to the question of reper-tory and tradition. Stravinsky's and Harnoncourt's comments illustrate well the
68 Virtue or Virtuosity?
central principles of this approach, the conviction that "music of whatever gen-eration will sound more effective and more moving when we make every rea-sonable attempt to present it under its original conditions of performance"3 when we use the performance practice characteristic of the time of composition. In keeping with traditional precepts of musical interpretation, the objective in adopting such an approach is the clearest possible revelation of the music. It urges us to perform earlier music in such a way that renders vividly apparent its intrinsic qualities, vitality and value.
Although in general agreement with the overall objective of the historical approach, Stravinsky and Harnoncourt differ significantly, however, in how and in what ways it may best be achieved. Stravinsky's comment implies that the one and only way to reveal a piece of early music perfectly is to duplicate the ways and means of its first perfonnance. Moreover, the condemnatory tone of his comments indicates a desire to raise the historical interpretive approach to the level of a moral imperative, demanded by due and unquestioning respect for composers. Harnoncourt, in contrast, adopts a much more moderate and con-ciliatory line. While acknowledging that romantic interpretations of the St. Matthew Passion can be beautiful and persuasive, he nevertheless insists that they fail to do justice to essential aspects of the music, "drown(ing) out in a magnificent mishmash of harmonic sounds" the complicated polyphonic writ-ing.4 Unlike Stravinsky, his espousal of the historical approach is based not so much on deference to the personal wishes or intentions of the composer but rather on the traditional obligation of performers to "place the composer's work in the best light possible" to perform it in such a way as best yields aural un-derstanding and appreciation. In short, although the two views have much in common, the difference of intent is profound and the discordant attitudes5 they represent have led to distrust and confusion within and without the movement, as followers of both perspectives find themselves on opposite sides of some-times bitter controversy. In order to understand the issues underlying this divi-sion and to appreciate its potential impact on performance and performance tra-ditions, a brief chronology of the historical performance movement and the in-terpretive stances it has furthered is in order.
As Howard Mayer Brown has suggested,6 the concept of "early music" interest and involvement with music of the past has long been with us. Nev-ertheless, many historians and musicologists situate the beginnings of the "early music movement" in the Bach revival sparked by Mendelssohn's legendary per-formance of the St. Matthew Passion7 The work had been performed under the composer's direction three times during his lifetime and thereafter was confined to the archives for almost 100 years.8 Mendelssohn studied the score and was so taken with its contents that in 1829 he conducted a performance of the Passion in Berlin. This was the first time the piece had been presented since Bach him-self had last performed it.
It would be a mistake, however, to construe Mendelssohn's performance as a revival in keeping with Bach's own interpretation. Quite the contrary; contem-
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 69
porary reports and evidence indicate that little or no consideration was given to recreating the performance practice of Bach's own day.9 Instead, engaging a choir of 158 singers and a full-sized modern orchestra, Mendelssohn basically transposed the work into the musical world of Romanticism. As well as making cuts that reduced the performing time of the Passion by fully a third, he changed the instrumentation to achieve the symphonic sound then in vogue. And the tempo and dynamic marking pencilled in his conducting score indicate that he placed a premium on dynamic contrasts and highly charged emotionalism qualities associated more with the romantic era than with music of the Late Ba-
From a late twentieth-century perspective, such interpretive liberties seem highly questionable. But Mendelssohn (and indeed other musicians of the time) would have been mystified by our modern concept of historical performance practice. Instead, he approached Bach's music as a practical musician eager to bring it to life for his contemporaries and, as such, saw nothing untoward in ro-manticizing it. This is made abundantly clear in a letter to his sister Fanny in 1840. Describing his performance of Bach's Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue Mendelssohn wrote: "I take the liberty of playing . . . [the arpeggios] with all possible crescendos, and pianos, and fortissirnos, pedal of course and doubling the octaves in the bass."
Although statements like this might make Mendelssohn seem extremely lib-ertarian, he was a paragon of fidelity and constraint compared with edi-tors/arrangers of the time.12 And his revival of the Passion had an immediate and significant impact on contemporary musical life. By 1850, when the Bach Gesellschaft launched the first comprehensive scholarly edition of Bach's music, a network of Bach Societies was rapidly falling into place and performances of his music could be heard the length and breadth of Europe. The exacting edito-rial standards established by the Bach edition in turn set the standard for a long line of monumental editions produced in Germany and elsewhere. By the end of the century, music by Handel, Rameau, Palestrina, Purcell and dozens of other pre-classical composers had been published in up-to-date scholarly editions.13
Although the Bach revival undoubtedly generated increased interest and in-volvement with pre-romantic music, in the years following Mendelssohn's per-formance most musicians adopted an attitude akin to the composer and made necessary romantic adjustments to ensure the success of their presentations without any regard for authentic details. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, however, saw a significant change in direction as the idea of pursuing authenticity in the performance of early music began to be explored. On the academic front, a variety of Collegia Musica founded in German universities were influential in introducing audiences to music they would not otherwise have heard and in establishing the scholarly study of performance in the past the subdiscipline of Auffuhrungspraxis as a legitimate branch of historical research.14 On the concert front, Wanda Landowska and Arnold Dolmetsch ush-
70 Virtue or Virtuosity?
ered in a new era of performance practice, one in which the notion of histori-cally informed performance began to evolve.
Landowska was the first great virtuoso to specialize in the music of the sev-enteenth and eighteenth centuries. Like many other musicians, she began her musical training on a modern instrument, the piano, and established her first reputation in Paris as a performer on that instrument. Over time, however, she came to believe (against some opposition) that the music in which she was most interested sounded better on the harpsichord. Convinced that the latter revealed qualities in the music that modern instruments never could, she argued that she had to learn to play on original instruments and to study old treatises if she were to fulfill her obligations as interpreter and do justice to the music.15
Landowska combined an extraordinary keyboard technique with the flair and flamboyance of a born virtuoso and these factors together with the passion-ate enthusiasm with which she proselytized for her chosen instrument won over many sceptics. But if Landowska's "star" quality gave an incalculable boost to the early music revival and hastened the acceptance of the harpsichord as a le-gitimate concert instrument in its own right, she never pretended to perform ba-roque music exactly the way performers in the seventeenth and eighteenth cen-turies would have done. Instead she wrote:
At no time in the course of my work have I ever tried to reproduce exactly what the old masters did. Instead, I study, I scrutinize, I love and I recreate. . . . I am sure that what I am doing in regard to sonor-ity, registration, etc. is very far from the historical truth.16
In a similar vein, speaking of her large Pleyel harpsichord with 16-foot stop that she had built as an improvement over the weaker instruments she found in mu-seums, she wrote:
I am aware that the disposition of the registers in the harpsichord of Bach's time differed somewhat from those of my Pleyel. But little do I care if, to attain the proper effect, I use means that were not exactly those available to Bach.17
Landowska's forthright confessions of historical inaccuracy, however, should not be read as indicating blithe disregard for composers' wishes or inten-tions. Authenticity, in her mind, was not a matter of literally recreating the past but of honoring its spirit. Unlike musicians today, she did not construe inten-tions in terms of empirically ascertainable facts. Instead like many other per-formers of the time, she construed them in spiritual, metaphysical, or emotional terms. Moreover, she saw their realization not purely in terms of sound but rather in terms of imaginative, empathic identification with the composer such that the performer's own personality became, as it were, a medium through which the work could be made aurally available, the player's stance being som-
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 71
bre, whimsical, lyrical or dramatic as the work demanded.18 Answering the
rhetorical question, "On what do I base my interpretations?" she wrote:
By living intimately with the works of a composer I endeavor to penetrate his spirit, to move with an increasing ease in the world of his thought, and to know them "by heart" so that I may recognize immediately when Mozart is in good humor or when Handel wants to express triumphant joy. . . . The goal is to attain such an identification with the composer that no more effort has to be made to understand the slightest of his intentions or to follow the subtlest fluctuations of his mind.19
Landowska's supreme confidence in her ability to infer thus the "proper" meaning of a work from the music is reflected in her comment:
If Rameau himself would rise from his grave to demand of me some changes in my interpretation of his Dauphine, I would answer, "you gave birth to it; it is beautiful. But now leave me alone with it. You have nothing more to say; go away!"20
And, of course, there is the oft-quoted aphorism attributed to Landowska: "You play Bach your way, I'll play Bach his way."21
Of all the pioneers of early music active before the 1930s, however, it is Arnold Dolmetsch more than anyone else who most aptly might be called the founding father of "authenticity." Convinced that a piece of music could not be fully understood without reference to the sonorities of the instruments on which it was originally played and the performance practice of the period in which it was written, Dolmetsch urged performers to read, and to take seriously "those books of instruction which the old musicians wrote about their own art."22 And having "analyse(d) and compare(d) all available documents," to use that infor-mation in imaginatively recreating in performance the notes on the page.23
Believing that this necessitated musicians having access to old instruments or reliable copies of them, Dolmetsch set about learning how to build copies of old instruments and made harpsichords, lutes, viols and recorders exemplary for their time.24 His scholarly study The Interpretation of the Music of the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries blended scholarship and practical prescription and was the first modern book to offer a detailed summary of such essential details of performance as phrasing, bowing, articulation and ornamentation. Finally, to demonstrate in performance the theories and ideas gleaned from his studies, he gave concerts with members of his family and friends on some of his own copies of original instruments where, among other "novelties," the performers dressed in period costume and applause was discouraged.25
For all his belief in erudition, however, Dolmetsch was no purist, espousing (not unlike Landowska) an essentially nineteenth-century sensibility that empha-
72 Virtue or Virtuosity?
sized "understanding what the Old Masters felt about their own music, what impressions they wished to convey and, generally, what was the Spirit of their Art ,"26 He vehemently rejected the idea that expression was essentially roman-tic and that the old music "requires nothing beyond mechanical precision."27 Moreover, throughout his life, he remained profoundly distrustful of academi-cism for its own sake, insisting in a remark to Anselm Hughes that "I know how it goes . . . [the music] is here in my head."28
For all their success and recognition, Landowska and Dolmetsch remained somewhat isolated figures, dedicated to ideals shared by few other musicians.29 The 1930s saw the tide begin to turn, however, as musicians not dedicated solely to the revival of early music began to become interested in repertories from be-fore 1750. Although they made no attempt to be authentic, the sensitive and revelatory interpretations of earlier works offered in recordings like those of Nadia Boulanger of the Monteverdi madrigals and of extracts from Rameau op-eras made it clear that, to play early music, performers needed to approach the works differently from those of standard concert repertoire. And demonstrating a greater openness to the idea that musicians should learn both the spirit and the letter of older techniques of performance, harpsichord virtuoso Ralph Kirkpa-trick did extensive scholarly work incorporating into his editions of Bach's Goldberg Variations and Domenico Scarlatti's Sonatas extensive informed commentary about original performance techniques.30 The virtue of combining both of these approaches simultaneously in interpretation, however, began to be discredited as the musical philosophies of the "neo-classic" Stravinsky emerged into prominence.
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, both as performer and as publicist, Strav-insky propounded a philosophy of "pure" music and the properly "objective" manner of performance required to realize its purity.31 He wrote:
The conflict of. . . two principles execution and interpretation is at the root of all the errors, all the sins, all the misunderstandings that interpose themselves between the musical work and the listener and prevent a faithful transmission of its message.32
And he insisted that performers should abandon the previously accepted practice of interpretation and embrace instead "execution" "the strict putting into ef-fect of an explicit will that contains nothing beyond what it specifically com-mands."33
Couching the issue in sternly moralistic terms, Stravinsky argued that "Be-tween the executant . . . and the interpreter . . . there exists a difference in make-up that is of an ethical rather than of an aesthetic order, a difference that presents a point of conscience."34 He insisted on scrupulous fidelity to the letter of the text and an ascetic avoidance of unspecified nuance if "the composer will not be betrayed and . . . [the listener] not be cheated."35
Stravinsky's "objective" philosophy drew many adherents both in main-stream and historical performance during the first half of the century. Like
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 73
Stravinsky, Toscanini believed strongly that it was the performer's sacred duty to play precisely what the composer indicated in his score, nothing more and nothing less.36 And many early musicians began to banish all traces of Roman-tic expression from their performances. Safford Cape, organizer and conductor of the Pro Musica Antiqua of Brussels,37 for example, asserted that although the performer should not be "cold or mechanical," he should take care to keep his "emotivity" in the background.38 And in a program note for the Cambridge So-ciety for Early Music in the early 1950s, Erwin Bodky wrote:
Early Music was a highly aristocratic art and restraint governed even the display of emotion as well as the exhibition of technical virtuos-ity. . . . We want to take this opportunity . . . to thank our artists for the voluntary restraint in the display of their artistic capabilities.39
Stravinsky's moral imperative was even further reinforced when Hindemith wrote in 1952:
All the traits that made music of the past lovable to its contemporary performers and listeners were inextricably associated with the kind of sound then known and appreciated. If we replace this sound with the kind of sounds typical of our modern instruments and their treatment we are counterfeiting the musical message the original sound was supposed to transmit. Consequently, all music ought to be performed with the means of production that were in use when the composer gave it to his contemporaries.40
Rejecting the hitherto accepted Platonic idea that the meaning or essence of a piece of music existed independently of its sound, Hindemith instead made sound and spirit indivisible. It was now obligatory for performers to do their historical homework and to reproduce the sonorities envisioned by the composer as faithfully as possible. To do otherwise would be to distort and possibly even falsify the essential meaning of the music.
As Raymond Leppard has suggested, this kind of thinking aroused enor-mous controversy and ultimately led to bitter division and vituperative debate within and without the historical performance movement.41 Nevertheless, asreproductions of early instruments and techniques of playing them became in-creasingly sophisticated, and record companies noted the marketing value of the legend "Performed on Authentic Instruments," this material conception of inter-pretation increasingly came to hold sway. No longer encouraged to employ creative imagination and insight, performers were instead urged to seek out care-fully authenticated empirical research and, having become conversant with the information provided there, to exemplify it faithfully in sound sensation. Their charge, in short, as Rosen eloquently put it with regard to Bach's music, was:
74 Virtue or Virtuosity?
no longer to try to infer what Bach would have liked; instead . . . [to] ascertain how he was played during his lifetime, in what style, with which instruments, and how many of them there were in his orches-tra.42
Christopher Hogwood perhaps captured it best when he reportedly remarked (quoting Dr. Johnson) that "Nothing shall be imposed . . . without notice of the alteration, nor shall conjecture be wantonly or unnecessarily indulged."43
Unsurprisingly, not everyone agreed with the empirical thrust thus given to the concept of interpretation. Even less accepted was the notion of raising it to the level of a moral imperative. In an article in Early Music a journal founded with the specific intent of airing and discussing ideas and issues central to the historical approach Taruskin, Leech-Wilkinson, Temperly and Winter accused the movement of acquiring "airs of moral superiority" and cited in-stances of devotee critics condemning other styles of performance as "wrong" or "unjustified."44 Leppard wrote of "its having sometimes resulted in restrictionand a sort of mean-spirited isolationism, promoting the formation of musical cults."45 Dreyfus wished to rescue it "from its moralizing devotees."46 Kerman described authenticity as a "baleful term which has caused endless acrimony" for its association among other things with "art connoisseurs who evoke it to confound forgery."47 But perhaps the most acerbic comment was that of Neu-mann when he wrote:
The perfonnance of early music by organizations exclusively devoted to the special-ity has in the last decades more and more assumed the nature of a cultist ritual. Under the banner of authenticity members of the cult present us with performances that are occa-sionally boring and dull because their aim is not, or at least not primarily, to give aes-thetic pleasure, to elate and enhance, but to demonstrate, educate and provide spiritual purification. For the audience it is an ascetic exercise in spiritual uplift comparable to the dutiful absorption of a long, uninspiring sermon.48
Warning that the mechanical details of performance should not be allowed to overshadow stylistic considerations, Redlich wrote:
the belief that the employment of ancient instruments alone ensures a historically faithful reading of old compositions shows an exagger-ated appraisal of the purely material side of old music. Unless the method of performance is supported by an equally faithful interpreta-tion of the notation, the attempt at restoration is bound to remain ill-balanced and one-sided.49
Echoing a similar sentiment, Donington argued:
The instruments matter very largely because they are one aspect of the style. The right instrument . . . [however] will not play for the wrong musicians. A fine performance on modern instruments may
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 75
actually be more authentic than a weak performance on baroque in-struments; for fine musicianship is also an aspect of authenticity.50
The endorsement of emotional restraint in the performance of early music also provoked considerable criticism. Donington, for example, wrote:
Contrary to some modern opinion, there is nothing unimpulsive and nothing dry about an authentic rendering of early music, That such an opinion should have arisen was understandable and valuable earlier in the twentieth century when the most pressing necessity was to es-cape from the incongruous influence of post-Wagnerian weight, so-nority and smoothness. But the escape has now been virtually ac-complished and our present danger is not too little authenticity but too much. We are in some danger of depriving early music of the sheer animal vitality which carries all genuine musical performance along . . . . Cold formality and cautious reticence have no place in a good baroque performing style.51
Noting that the depiction "authentic performance" was all too often character-ized by a relatively uniform tempo and dynamics, a clean sound and at least an attempt on the part of performers to avoid interpretive gestures beyond those notated or documented as part of period practice, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson ar-gued for "a greater freedom of approach, for more wide ranging experiments and for the possibility of greater intensity of expression."52 Finally, Harnon-court unequivocally stated:
We naturally want to learn of the performance practice, the meaning of Monteverdi's performance conditions, but we do not want to flee into false purism, into false objectivity, into misconstrued faithfulness to the work. Nor does Monteverdi himself expect this. . . . Thus please do not fear vibrato, liveliness, subjectivity . . . but please be very afraid of coldness, purism, objectivity and empty historicism. . . . This . . . can result only in a wooden, museum-like sound, but never in full-blooded, living music.53
Disquiet notwithstanding, however, the interpretive revelations gleaned from the timbres, textures and balances of period instrument performances proved enor-mously popular. And the 1970s and beyond saw not only increasing acceptance of early music as a normal part of concert life, but also the increased specializa-tion of performing groups and a near obsession with questions of authenticity. Indeed, as old instruments groups proved more and more commercially success-ful and the principle of historically orientated performance styles became more widely accepted, the chronological justification itself began to be abandoned54 such that today we see period practice being advocated (yet again controver-sially) in classical and romantic music.
76 Virtue or Virtuosity?
As these critical comments show, the underlying assumption that most sparks debate, both inside and outside the historical performance movement, is that which raises the historical approach to the level of a moral imperative. As Rosen has suggested, this implies: (1) that there is one ideal sounding for each musical composition, the one composers intended imagined or mentally en-visaged as they wrote or at the very least, the one they knew they were going to get from current instruments and contemporary practice; and (2) that the goal of the responsible performer should be to renounce the delights (and uncertain-ties) of creative imagination and judgment and to realize that ideal sounding as closely as possible.55
In other words, in this most stringent version of historical authenticity, rather than being seen as the starting point of interpretation, composers' conceptions, as amplified, verified and authenticated by historical research, are presented as the ending point. And the task of performers is no longer to devise their own, original imaginative exemplifications of interpretive excellence but rather to try to play the work as it was originally or first performed, utilizing the scholarly input of trained historians and/or musicologists.56 Their charge is to seek out and become conversant with the information provided there and thereafter to exemplify it faithfully in sound sensation.
The notion of intentions is retained here in that it is assumed that the manner in which works were originally performed was one intended by the composer (more or less).57 It is conjectured that since composers themselves were usually involved in those original performances, and moreover as participants in the musical community presumably conceived their works in terms of the style of performance practiced at the time, the manner in which the work was originally performed corresponds more or less to that "intended" by them (note Stravin-sky's assumption that the first performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion was a "perfect" realization). So, the argument goes, if we recreate all of the external conditions that obtained in the original performances of musical works, we will thus recreate something of composers' inner experience of them and so in effect realize their intentions.58
What sorts of empirical facts do musicologists and/or historians draw upon as evidence to indicate how composers intended their works to be performed and/or to show how they were originally performed? This evidence usually takes a variety of forms.59 Through exhaustive examination of composers' personal archives their correspondence, draft/sketches of musical compositions, per-sonal papers, memorabilia and so forth historians may discover descriptive accounts or directions as to how composers envisaged their music being per-formed. Or they may find reviews or other pertinent descriptions as to how composers themselves actually performed their compositions (in the case of more recent works a reconstructed recording of composers' own performances may even be available). Inspection of relevant musical treatises, general histo-ries of the period, pictures and so forth may yield information about the manner in which particular works were originally performed the circumstances
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 77
acoustical and otherwise in which they were presented, the instruments em-ployed to present them, the general style of performance (the mode ui phrasing, tempi, ornamentation, dynamics and so forth) they received. It is assumed that exhaustive perusal of all of the above will yield accurate empirical data out of which a performer may reconstruct a sounding of the work that corresponds to how it was originally conceived and performed.
But should musical compositions be played as their original creators in-tended? Can we in fact ascertain those intentions? Is scholarly information suf-ficiently meticulous to render obsolete and no longer necessary the guesswork and uncertainty formerly celebrated as creative imagination? Is it authoritative enough to claim unquestioning compliance from performers as Stravinsky seems to suggest? It is questions like these questions that probe the practical re-alizability and musical desirability of performers abandoning traditional notions of "interpretation" and embracing instead Stravinsky's notion of "execution" that must occupy us for the remainder of this chapter. I shall consider first the tenability of recreating original and/or intended realizations from composers' descriptive accounts of how they envisaged their music being performed.
Although verified perhaps as emanating from a particular composer, ac-counts like these are much less reliable than might at first seem apparent. Like all situations in which linguistic expressions are concerned, an important dis-tinction needs to be made between what a particular utterance "means" the meaning that can be put upon the words used and what its originator (the composer) "meant" by it.60 Ordinary everyday quarrels and disagreements re-veal that these by no means always coincide. Instead, a listener may take an utterance to mean something totally different from that intended by the speaker and, when this occurs, elaborations and further explanations are usually in order. Indeed, even when the meaning put upon an utterance and the meaning intended in uttering it do coincide, the former usually has a wider, more generalized range or scope than the latter. Language, in short, can be frustratingly inexact when it comes to conveying exactly what we want to say and a whole practice of social discourse and interaction has evolved to deal with and overcome its inherent ambiguity.
Now all of this adds up to the very real possibility of misinterpretation of composers' stated intentions. It suggests that descriptive accounts or directions may themselves misleadingly describe the manner of interpretation the com-poser had in mind or may be taken to do so. And given the notorious inability of language to articulate linguistically the subtle, often ineffable particularities of musical expression, this is neither an unlikely nor inconceivable event. Or, context may have played a decisive role in leading a composer to express herself thus. And however valiant the efforts of historians to create the contextual cir-cumstances in which a statement was made (where such is even possible), a measure of historical conjecture inevitably accrues. This underscores yet again the possibility of misinterpretation. And since composers' utterances in and of themselves cannot tell us whether what we take them to mean coincides with
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that meant by composers, opposes that meant by them, or just slightly misses the mark, it cannot be assumed that they unerringly reveal composers' intentions. And therefore it cannot be argued that they must categorically be followed.
But it might be argued, if composers' utterances cannot unerringly reveal their intended realizations, can they not at least give us reliable indications of those intentions, indications we may justifiably believe to convey fairly and rea-sonably accurately how composers envisioned their works being performed?
Even here there are problems. For even when we believe that a descriptive account yields reliable evidence regarding a composer's original conception of a piece, it may sensibly be asked: what is the persuasive force of the performance preferences indicated? Are they "intentions" in the sense of fixed or firm com-positional resolves whose substantive demands performers are indeed morally obliged to honor? Or are they more correctly read as casual wishes, suggestions or tentative recommendations open to the discretionary judgment of the per-former? One needs to be mindful, particularly in today's musical-political cli-mate, of the tendency to upgrade automatically into "performance intentions" any indication composers may have given regarding preferred modes of per-formance. As both Randell Dipert and Peter Kivy have convincingly argued,61
this totally fails to take into account the varying degrees of strength potentially attached to composers' stated preferences. It suggests that wishes, desires, hy-potheses, instructions and suggestions all have the strength of commands or, at the very least, strongest level of intensity. It implies that, in creating their works, composers carefully and deliberately evaluated a range of sounding al-ternatives a variety of instruments, modes of phrasing, articulation, tempi and so forth and that their every indication of performance preferences consti-tutes, in consequence, a conclusive, determinative stipulation concerning the manner in which their work "must" be performed.
But is this in fact the case? Do composers' indications of performance pref-erences all connote deliberate, explicit decisions about performance matters? Are they all correctly read as commands to be obeyed at all costs? Common sense would seem to suggest that this is highly unlikely. It is true that we usu-ally assume certain of these indications, those that specify the essentialities of musical compositions in most cases the music score to be indeed defini-tive. But even here, as we have seen, dependent on style and context, scores may be more or less definite. And if that is the case with this most determinate mode of specifying composers' intentions, surely the same applies to narrative accounts and directions? Indeed, if we cannot readily ascertain the persuasive force of such accounts, then do we not, by adhering to them religiously, stand in imminent danger of flouting composers' intentions by giving what was meant to be a tentative recommendation the force of a fully fledged compositional inten-tion?
In summary, the establishment of composers' intentions is sufficiently prob-lematic to render their credibility as prescriptive edicts to be scrupulously and religiously adhered to, dubious in the extreme. To argue, however, that one is
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 79
not categorically obligated to follow composers' descriptive accounts is not at all to suggest that they may be dismissed as irrelevant. As the collections of quotations in books like Dolmetsch's Interpretation of the Music of the XVII and XVIII Centuries, or Donington's later Interpretation of Early Music clearly show, composers' utterances usually reflect intelligent, perceptive ideas of how to present their works in actual performance. And such ideas manifestly deserve careful consideration.
To consider carefully composets' instructive utterances, however, is not to follow them unquestioningly. Rather it is to accord them the status of serious, authoritative recommendations whose validity may be checked against other aspects of the interpretive process the general character of the music as indi-cated in the score, for example. The function of this is not so much to obviate choice and judgment on the part of performers but rather to facilitate it. Espe-cially in situations where a layer of present-day performance practice obfuscates important aspects of a composer's musical style, the information and insights composers' utterances yield may stimulate and enhance performers' under-standing of the music,62 thereby enabling them to make more informed, intelli-gent choices as to how best to present it meaningfully to others. Donington per-tinently observes that
An isolated statement, out of context and perhaps untypical can lead to devastatingly unmusical results; and that is after all the last thing we want our scholarship to end in. We are trying to be authentic not because there is anything sacrosanct in historical reproduction, but . . . in order to make better music.63
We have discussed thus far, however, only composers' verbal depictions of performance preferences, the linguistic nature of which is manifestly inappropri-ate to the task of articulating subtle matters of musical performance. Compos-ers' renditions of their own works, it might be argued, operating as they do within the realm of music itself, deftly circumvent such problems and offer an intra-musical and so more reliable guide as to how composers envisioned their works being performed.
Similar to descriptive utterances, however, one can never be sure that com-posers' renditions of their own works adequately convey their original concep-tions. For it is in the nature of intentions that you do not achieve them by simply intending to do so. Rather, in typical cases, the objective intended is achieved by something other than and in addition to having the intention. In the case of composers' renditions of their own works, the objective "intended" the sounding of their original ideal realization is achieved not only by their "in-tending" to play the composition in a manner as corresponds to the ideal tonal imagining, but also by their possessing sufficient technical and craft skills to carry out that intention.
And here it is relevantly asked: do composers necessarily have these requi-site skills? As was suggested earlier, there is a subtle but crucially important
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distinction to be made between that with which the composer works concep-tualized, imagined sound and that with which the performer operates ac-tual physical sound sensation. Talent or expertise in one does not necessarily imply it in the other, the composer's talent lying more perhaps in the conceptual area of musical creation, the performer's in physical presentation.
But even where composers do possess the requisite skills, when we are dealing with the performances of Bach, Mozart or Liszt whose formidable craft and technical skills at the keyboard are legendary, we cannot assume that even their renditions of their keyboard compositions lived up to their original, ideal envisionments. As every performer knows, whatever the nature of your inten-tions in performing a particular work, you can all too easily fail to carry them out. Indeed, given the subtle, complex nature of performance skillfulness, its susceptibility to being subverted or thrown off by the smallest unforeseen detail of environmental context, it is the rare performance indeed that manages to achieve exactly what its performer intended. More usually performers, even the most excellent among them, are content to achieve the better part of what they intended, recognizing that the subtle complexities of performance make com-plete, accurate realization a worthy goal but well nigh unattainable in practice.
But if we cannot therefore be sure that composers' realizations actually con-vey how they intended their music to be performed, then manifestly we cannot single them out as ideal, definitive interpretations to be faithfully and conscien-tiously recreated by future generations of performers. Even less can we assume reviews or reports about composers' performances to reveal adequately their ideal envisionments. In this case, neither can we assume that in the perform-ances described composers actually fulfilled their intentions: nor can we assume, even if they did, that the reports in question accurately describe the manner in which composers performed their works. Then as now we can assume that re-viewers/reporters brought their own biases and predilections to bear on their descriptions of particular performances. And even where a particular descrip-tion is indeed apt and appropriate, there is always the possibility that our reading of the report subtly or more seriously misconstrues the depiction intended by the speaker.
In summary: neither composers' realizations of their composition nor de-scriptive accounts of those performances can be assumed to reveal dependably the manner in which composers intended their works to be performed. But while this suggests that we cannot treat them therefore as sacrosanct revelations to be faithfully and assiduously reproduced, this again is not to dismiss them as entirely irrelevant. Rather, they should be taken as offering valuable, pertinent insights into worthwhile modes of performance.64 Such insights should indeed be honored and respectfully considered.
This brings us finally to original/first performances of musical works. Can these serve as reliable guides to composers' original conceptions? Once again there are problems. First, it is a rather large leap of faith to assume that the manner in which musical works were originally performed was one intended by
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 81
the composer. No less than today, especially where large-scale works such as operas and oratorios were involved, economic factors, most specifically the tastes and interests of those pulling the purse strings, had a large say in deter-mining the manner of performance a work received. And, in most cases, we have no way of knowing whether those economic factors served to satisfactorily fulfill, barely meet, mildly frustrate or radically contravene the composer's con-ception as to how the work should ideally be presented in performance.65 In other words, contrary to Stravinsky's controversial assertion, we cannot know if the first performance of Bach's St. Matthew Passion with its total force of thirty-four musicians corresponded exactly to what Bach envisioned as the ideal num-ber to perform his work. And that being the case, we cannot therefore assume that it was (and is) "perfectly" realized thus.
Similarly, with regard to a composers' choice of medium: zealous advocates of historical authenticity tend to assume that composers' specifications of par-ticular instruments reflects a careful, conscientious and deliberate evaluation on their part as to the best medium in which to sound a work. But here again it might be asked: does the selection of a particular instrument indeed reflect the latter? Could it not just as probably reflect practical considerations such as availability?66 And even if it does reflect the former, was restriction originally built into that selection? Bach's practice of transcribing certain of his works for a variety of different instruments would seem to indicate that at least in his case with regard to some particular works, it was not. But what of other works or other composers? What reasons do we have for assuming that choice of instru-ment here is determinate rather than merely recommendatory? Did the com-poser intend her choice to preclude the possibility of the work being performed on other appropriate instruments?
Lastly with regard to stylistic performance conventions original modes of phrasing, articulation, tempi, ornamentation and so forth: you have to be careful in applying to the music of a particular composer, general performance conven-tions prevalent at the time. Evidence suggests that in actual practice those con-ventions were far from universally valid.67 Furthermore, then, no less than now, personality and temperament were legitimate variables.
In short, as with composers' renditions and descriptive utterances, accounts of original/first performances cannot reliably evidence the manner in which composers envisioned their works being performed. Neither can we be sure that the number or types of instruments used were commensurate with composers' ideal imaginings, nor can we assume that stylistic conventions generally prac-ticed at the time pertained to the latter. Indeed, the appreciable uncertainties with regard to the universality of stylistic performance conventions makes even the purely empirical reconstruction of such performances extremely problem-atic. And this introduces further problems for zealous advocates of historical authenticity. For even if they choose to dispense with intentions altogether and to try simply to recreate instead the manner in which musical works were origi-nally sounded what Kivy aptly calls "sonic authenticity"68 the aforemen-
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tioned regional and individual diversity of stylistic conventions makes such a reconstruction, at the very least, highly questionable. And it follows that such questionable renditions cannot be reified as ideal, definitive interpretations to be imitated hereafter to the letter.
Indeed, as Kivy convincingly argues, even if perfect sonic reconstructions were indeed a feasible objective, we yet could not hear Bach's St. Matthew Pas-sion as it was heard by contemporary listeners at its first performance. For where they heard a contemporary work hot off the press with some daring new innovations and harmonies that likely struck them as strange or disconcerting, we hear an older, comfortable composition whose innovations have shaded into established practice and whose harmonies occasionally strike us as surprisingly romantic given the time it was written. In brief, we are not those listeners of yesteryear. We are twentieth-century listeners with knowledge of and access to a range of musical styles and genres completely unimaginable in earlier times. This cannot help but affect the way in which we hear musical works. And while we can with the aid of historical insight strive to recreate the way music sounded in its first performance and calculate how it likely affected its first-time listen-ers, we cannot in the final analysis duplicate that hearing. Our location in his-tory effectively prevents it.
In summary: however much it is desired, historical scholarship in music can-not claim to ascertain conclusively the manner in which musical works were originally conceived or performed. And that being the case, zealous proponents of historical authenticity cannot use the latter claim to argue that compositions ought to be realized according to its specifications. But, it must be emphasized again, this is not to dismiss the invaluable contribution that historical scholarship can and has made to musical performance. Its probing investigations and perti-nent observations have generated searching important questions as to what con-stitutes excellence in interpretation. If it has not rendered obsolete the necessity of employing creative judgment in musical performance, it has rendered it a sharper, more discerning tool with which performers are enabled to develop excellent, perceptive interpretations of musical works.69 Donington aptly ob-serves that
Any ideal of absolute authenticity can only be illusory, and perhaps harmful in so far as it has encouraged a rather puritanical and quite unauthentic underplaying of baroque music (and indeed, of Haydn and Mozart) in some modern performances. . . . But substantial authenticity is a realistic aim, capable of bringing improvements such as have already transformed our modern experience of baroque mu-sic.70
I would now like to argue that even if scholarly evidence did incontroverti-bly convey information of the composer's ideal conception of a piece, or the manner in which it was originally performed, notions of performance extracted
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 83
thereof would still not be sacrosanct because good musical interpretation need not cleave to either of the above.
What is a good musical interpretation? I have argued that it is one that aptly and eloquently facilitates aural understanding and thereafter appreciation of mu-sical works. And I have also argued that musical scores are too schematic to determine exactly how they are to be realized in sound sensation. Instead they are susceptible of being sounded in a variety of different ways all of which may claim to convey legitimate, equally well-founded, albeit subtly dissimilar modes of aural understanding. Now common sense would suggest that a composer's understanding of her own work, based as one might reasonably expect it to be on an intimate and detailed knowledge of its structure, should be sufficiently thorough and extensive to generate penetrating, informed ideas about how it might meaningfully be presented in sound sensation. But while there is an ex-cellent case to be made for original creators offering "an" excellent and percep-tive sounding interpretation of their work, it is another matter entirely to claim inherent superiority for this interpretation. This is a stance that I think cannot be justified for a variety of reasons.
First, as indicated earlier, we are dealing here with delicate tonal nuances. And while a composer might be superlative indeed in creating and putting to-gether ingenious, imaginative combinations of sounds, she may be much less adept (or less interested) in working with the subtle particulars of physical sound sensation, preferring to leave this to artist-performers whose creative abilities lie specifically in that area.
But even when composers are themselves accomplished in the subtleties of musical performance, this definitive view of composers' interpretations totally fails to take into account the manner in which performers, even the most con-summate among them, typically change or revise their realizations over the course of their performing careers.
Although changes such as these sometimes indicate dissatisfaction with pre-vious interpretations, more usually they arise out of performers accentuating different aspects of the work in response to changing particulars within the in-terpretive context expressive insights gleaned from personal experience, changing norms in performance practice, new developments in the concert scene and so forth. Such modifications are possible because artworks especially eminent exemplifications of the latter typically admit of a range of excellent musical qualities not all of which may be exhibited in a single interpretation. Instead, as we have seen, performance interpretations of their very nature are selective and individualizing, with the responsible performer choosing for par-ticular interpretive reasons to highlight and develop a specific set of qualities and to set aside others as less important than or inconsistent with the particular qualities being accentuated.
As time progresses, however, changing developments within the interpretive context may prompt performers to reevaluate their initial interpretations and consider anew musical qualities hitherto considered insignificant. And in the
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light of those reevaluations, they may subtly shift the orientation of their soundings, highlighting now features formerly undeveloped, shading into a more background position, qualities previously presented as significant.
The definitive notion of composers' interpretations makes revisions like these inconceivable. It suggests that, unlike performers, composers never change their minds as to which musical qualities should be brought out in per-formance. It implies that they are completely cognizant of the myriad subtle ways in which their works might be legitimately sounded and that their selection of one of these represents their final, incontrovertible judgment as to which qualities are of ultimate worth and value in the work in question.
Once again, however, common sense would seem to suggest that both of these scenarios are highly unlikely. The sensible immediacy of sound sensation the range of delicate, often indescribable tonal inflections it is capable of pre-senting to the attentive, discerning ear makes an all-encompassing mental grasp of its discriminating subtleties highly improbable. And that being the case, the composer's endorsement of a particular mode of sounding cannot be read as a final, irrefutable judgment regarding the best way to realize her work meaningfully. An alternative, subtly different but equally well-founded inter-pretation might illuminate other excellent qualities unforeseen by the composer. And in the light of these she might be prompted to revise or at the very least to expand her conception of worthy ways in which to sound her composition.
Even more important, the depiction of the composer fixing unalterably the definitive musical qualities of the composition makes of her a rigid, uncompro-mising autocrat unmindful of and irresponsive to the fluctuations of musical taste. But as historical scholarship itself demonstrates, tastes change. And whereas an original and/or intended mode of performance inevitably advances an interpretation that reflects performance styles and values fashionable in its own time, it is entirely possible that an audience accustomed to and familiar with different performance styles and values, or aurally "jaded" perhaps from hearing it performed in the same, all too familiar way, will find this mode of interpretation less than satisfactory. Rather than luring listeners into the work persuading them that it is worth hearing, that it merits their careful, undivided attention the original interpretation may come across as sufficiently familiar and unimaginative as to evoke no motivation to listen to it exactingly and atten-tively. In situations like this, an alternative, equally well-founded mode of sounding, one that accommodates radically (or more subtly) different perform-ance values, may well prove more successful. It may engage listeners' interest sufficiently to persuade them to listen anew to the work's musical structures and to perceive musical qualities previously undivined.71 Contrary to the misgivings of zealous advocates of historical authenticity, the possibility of ever putting into practice performance modifications like this is not detrimental to musical com-position. It is beneficial.72 It provides listeners throughout the ages the oppor-tunity to overcome the barriers of strangeness and unfamiliarity and to connect meaningfully with a multiplicity of compositional styles and genres. Although
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 85
the modifications introduced may specifically take into consideration the tastes and values of the audience to whom the interpretation will be addressed, they are not necessarily aimed solely at pleasing the audience (although that may be an important factor in persuading them to listen).73 Rather, insofar as the performer is an interpreter and not just an entertainer, the differences introduced are de-signed to present the work in the best light possible but to do so besides in a manner that will "engage" appeal and make sense to a particular audience.
In other words, sensitive, astute interpreters know how to bridge the gap between musical worlds. And their alternative renditions, responsive as they are to the demands both of the work and its inevitably time-bound listeners, may far better promote understanding and appreciation than the one devised during the composer's lifetime.74
But alternative and even potentially better modes of interpretation being at least in principle possible, you cannot accord privileged status to original and/or intended modes of performance. Neither, I think, could composers endorse such a resolution. The romantic myth of the unappreciated, genius composer not-withstanding, most composers do not write their compositions for themselves alone. They create them for others to hear and enjoy. And if a mode of sound-ing they had not anticipated reaches an audience better while yet preserving the integrity of the piece, they are unlikely to insist that performers must forsake this more successful interpretation and realize instead the one they had originally developed and envisaged.
And if you need not grant privileged status to original and/or intended soundings per se, even less need you grant it to performances based exclusively on historical scholarship. This is especially so for those that prescribe that "eve-rything is forbidden, that nothing existed that is not specifically authorized" in a music score, a treatise or some other such source.75 The fact of the matter is that a great deal existed outside of what was recorded in the latter. But we can never really know what that great deal consisted of because language and musical no-tation can only characterize in the vaguest, most generalized terms, the subtle tonal qualities of sound sensation.
To urge performers, on grounds of strict accountability, to employ only those interpretive gestures that can be "authenticated" (explicitly annotated in music scores or documented in historical sources) is to force them to deal only in such generalities. But to deal in generalities is not to perform the music as it was performed in its own day. Although musical and historical sources may reveal no specific evidence about delicate nuances of phrasing, dynamics, tempi and like, this does not mean that performers played without employing such subtle-ties. Instead, Harnoncourt forthrightly states that "descriptions indicate that. . . the style of. . . performance . . . [of musicians in earlier times] contained every-thing in terms of expression and sensitivity of which a human being is capa-ble."76 To ignore this fact and, "in wrong-headed reverence for the work," to deal only in documented generalities is to promote fallaciously as correct a uni-
86 Virtue or Virtuosity?
form, mechanical, generalized mode of sounding that ultimately divests the mu-sic of life and quality.
But as Robert Donington aptly writes, "unmusical results cannot be correct results."77 And if, in 1968, the work of David Munrow's Early Music Consort or Harnoncourt's recording of the Bach B minor Mass proved extraordinarily successful, it was because technically and interpretatively their performances were very strong ones, interpretations in which, to quote Nicholas Kenyon, "scholarly certainty came second to the performer's instinct."78 However much we might wish it otherwise, the historical evidence (especially in medieval mu-sic) is simply too scanty and inconclusive. It depends upon the individuality of the performer to fill out the implications of a sketchily notated text. Describing the work of Munrow's Consort, Christopher Hogwood (a founder member) said that "there just wasn't enough evidence for all the things we were doing. . . . [Instead] it was just one invention on top of another all the time."79
Haskell perhaps summarizes it best: "For interpretation, the play of the per-former's skill and personality on the composer's creation is the lifeblood of old and new music alike."80
Now the ultimate objective of this "play" must always be the (aural) en-hancement of the music. And here some of the virtues catalogued in Chapter 2 become particularly relevant and important. Probably the most obviously im-portant virtue is "respect for tradition." As the historical performance movement has clearly demonstrated, studying and putting into practice performance con-ventions characteristic of the time of composition bring to aural awareness fea-tures of the music previously obscured and unappreciated. To become cognizant of the possibilities offered, performers must study performance practice. And since this necessitates reading, and becoming immersed in a measure of histori-cal scholarship, the character traits associated with intelligence and good rea-soning become important.
It takes considerable diligence and concentration to search out and consider (as both Dolmetsch and Donington insist),81 a diverse and comprehensive range of scholarly suggestions regarding original modes of performance. Neither is it sufficient simply to consult an impressive array of these. Instead, you have to deliberate carefully on the artistic worth of those suggestions you have to weigh one piece of evidence against another, rely not too heavily on any one of them. In short, rather than accepting them unthinkingly as sacrosanct and in-violate, you have to be prepared to doubt them call into question their authority, probe and evaluate the reasoning processes on which they are founded. Moreover, your own partiality toward a particular tonal suggestion notwithstanding, you have to be consistent, assign the source the same critical scrutiny you assign to any other, check it against other aspects of the interpretive process the general character of the music indicated in the musical score, for example. Finally, there is the patience and tenacity required to pursue such rig-orous and methodical scholarship.
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 87
But as eminent performer-advocates of the historical approach also demon-strate, however erudite their scholarship, performers cannot stop there. There is also that all important element of aesthetic judgment the ability to go beyond the schematic principles enunciated in performance tradition and to grasp how these might meaningfully be applied in sound sensation. Exercising such judgment is very difficult. It takes enormous courage, and a healthy measure of self-respect, especially in a time of "musicological rectitude,"82 to go beyond the empirical evidence gathered and, relying on your own musical instincts, to con-clude that this undocumented mode of phrasing illustrates vividly the musical structures encoded in the music score, this unauthenticated subtle nuance exem-plifies par excellence the principles of good realization indicated in performance tradition. As Kenyon forcefully reminds us, it was not as purveyors of "authen-tic performance" that groups like Harnoncourt's Concentus Musicus or Mun-row's Early Music Consort won such a following among audiences. It was be-cause "they made music with a conviction and enthusiasm that won people over."83 You need to have faith in your ability to realize meaningfully the musi-cal structures delineated in the music score, a firm belief in the power and effi-cacy of your own interpretive ideas.
The danger of a too rigorous historical approach now becomes apparent. Rather than encouraging performers (especially neophyte performers) to go out on a limb and acquire and exercise such insightful aesthetic judgment, it encour-ages them instead to shy away from it. Pianist Peter Hill provocatively suggests that
The "hands-off' attitude of the specialized musician has its roots, I suspect, in a deep-seated loss of confidence, so that we rely increas-ingly on rules and evidence as a means of evading responsibility for artistic judgements.84
In other words, like virtuosity, historical scholarship is a tool that can be used for good or for ill. Used as a means to enhance and facilitate interpretive judg-ment, it is valuable and beyond reproach. Used in an excessively restrictive manner, it can impair and vitiate the art of interpretation. If the creative aspect of interpretation always stands in danger of going too far and endorsing a kind of licentious freedom and an excessive reliance on intuitive, inferential flights of fancy, scholarship in interpretation no less always stands in danger of going too far and endorsing a kind of crippling uniformity and an excessive reliance on scholarly research. The one has the potential of undervaluing traditional princi-ples of interpretation and overemphasizing creative imagination at their expense, the other has the potential of overvaluing the former and consequently obstruct-ing the vital role of creative imagination in promoting understanding and appre-ciation of musical works.
The task of the performance interpreter is somehow to manage to walk the narrow line between these two extremes to create imaginative, meaningful interpretations of musical works that yet never endanger the integrity of the lat-
88 Virtue or Virtuosity?
ter, that honor and respect composers' conceptions. A zealous advocate of historical authenticity might protest, however: "granted all of the above, in the absence of explicit rules or regulations, what will keep performers walking this narrow path? Is there no moral sanction that can be brought to bear on them?"
I believe there is. But it does not consist in a rule or regulation imposed from the outside. Rather, it is one you bring to bear on yourself as performer, a dis-position you have to acquire and exercise and that sustains you in your efforts to avoid the potential excesses of both virtuosity and historical authenticity. In a word, it involves performers acquiring and practicing the virtue of integrity.And it is to the vital import of this virtue in musical interpretation that we must now finally turn our attention.
NOTES 1. Stravinsky, Poetics of Music in the Form of Six Lessons, p. 135. 2. Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, pp. 76, 32. 3. Donington, The Interpretation of Early Music, p. 25. 4. Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, p. 73. 5. Kerman defines historical performance as "essentially an attitude of mind rather
than a set of techniques applied to an arbitrarily delimited body of early music." Contem-plating Music, p. 60.
6. Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or Liberation? A Sketch of the Historical Performance Movement."
7. See Haskell, The Early Music Revival: A History. 8. See Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, "The St. Matthew Passion: History and
Tradition" pp. 76-81. 9. See Haskell, The Early Music Revival, Chapter one, "The Musical Pompei." Also
Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, "The St. Matthew Passion: History and Tradition." 10. Harnoncourt argues that those who heard Bach's own performances said that
"when he wanted to express strong emotions he did not do this, like others, through ex-aggerated forcefulness, but through harmonic and melodic figures, i.e. through inner artistry." The Musical Dialogue, pp. 189-190.
11. Schonberg, The Great Pianists, p. 130. Cited in Haskell, The Early Music Re-vival, p. 16.
12. In a letter to William Bartholomew (1847), Mendelssohn insisted that: "it has al-ways been a rule for me to leave these works absolutely as they were written and I have often quarrelled with those who did not." Cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, Note 11, p. 199. Needless to say, claims like this cannot be taken too literally. Never-theless, taken in context viewed against the attitudes of editors/arrangers of the time it indicates Mendelssohn's desire to try to do justice to composers' conceptions of musical works.
13. See Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 22. 14. See Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or Liberation?," p. 34. 15. See Landowska, "Authenticity in the Interpretation of Music of the Past,"
Landowska on Music, pp. 355-356. Also Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or Liberation?," pp. 37-39.
16. Landowska, Landowska on Music, p. 356. 17. Ibid.
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 89
18. Tilly Fleischmann echoed a similar conception of intentions when she wrote: "it is the pianist's prime obligation to sink himself wholly into the spirit and meaning of the music he is attempting to reproduce, to make himself a mere instrument for the proper expression of the composer's intentions." Fleischmann, Aspects of the Liszt Tradition, p. 132. For a further illuminating account of the nineteenth-century notion of intentions and the differences between it and the historically authentic model, see Taruskin, "The Past-ness of the Present and the Presence of the Past."
19. Landowska, Landowska on Music, p. 406. 20. Ibid., p. 407. 21. Cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 175. 22. Dolmetsch, The Interpretation of the Music of the XVII and XVIII Centuries, p.
vi. 23. Ibid, p. vi. See also Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or Liberation?," pp. 39-42. 24. See Haskell, "The Apostle of Retrogression," in The Early Music Revival, pp.
26-43. 25. See Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 31. 26. Dolmetsch, The Interpretation, p. vii. 27. Ibid. 28. Anselm Hughes, Septuagesima, p. 56. Cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival,
p. 34. 29. Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or Liberation?," p. 41. 30. Ibid., pp. 44-^5. 31. See Taruskin, "The Pastness of the Present." 32. Stravinsky, Poetics of Music, p. 127. 33. Ibid. 34. Ibid., p. 128. 35. Ibid., p. 139. 36. See Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 90. 37. Cape's Pro Musica Antiqua was the first group to tour extensively with a reper-
tory of medieval and Renaissance music. With musicologist Charles van den Borren serving as advisor, the group cultivated a light, clear, transparent style and a quiet, intro-verted manner of presentation that contrasted sharply with contemporary manners of performance. See Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or Liberation?," p. 45.
38. Cape, cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 178. 39. Bodky, cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 178. 40. Hindemith,/* Composer's World, pp. 193-194. 41. Leppard, Authenticity in Music, p. 73. 42. Rosen, "The Shock of the Old," p. 46. 43. Hogwood, cited in Kenyon, Authenticity and Early Music, p. 6. 44. Taruskin, Leech-Wilkinson, Temperly and Winter, "The Limits of Authenticity:
A Discussion." 45. Leppard, Authenticity in Music, p. 28. 46. Dreyfus, "Early Music Defended Against Its Devotees," p. 298. 47. Joseph Kerman, Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology, p. 192. 48. Neumann, New Essays on Performance Practice, p. 169. 49. Hans Redlich, Claudio Monteverdi: Life and Works (London: 1952). Cited in
Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 182. 50. Donington, Baroque Music: Style and Performance, pp. 166-167.
90 Virtue or Virtuosity?
51. Donington, The Interpretation of Early Music, p. 30 and A Performer's Guide to Baroque Music, p. 18.
52. Taruskin, Leech-Wilkinson et al., "The Limits of Authenticity: A Discussion," pp. 14-15.
53. Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, pp. 26, 17. 54. Advocates of historical authenticity initially argued that there was a clear distinc-
tion to be made between works that have been performed in an unbroken line from the period in which they were written up until today and other works that disappeared from concert programs for a shorter or longer period of time. Because the former have been played uninterruptedly since their first performance, it was assumed that the tradition of rendition could be traced directly to the composer and therefore was correct enough to possess a "high degree of authenticity." See Harnoncourt, "Performance Traditions" in The Musical Dialogue, pp. 43-44. Recent arguments suggest, however, that "on closer examination neither the assumption of an unbroken performing history nor the corollary of an unbroken performing tradition stands up" (Robert Winter, The New Grove Diction-ary of Musical Instruments, 1984, cited in Kenyon, Authenticity and Early Music, p. 11) and the process of rediscovering a historical approach, accordingly, is now seen to have no limits. As the text suggests, this is a highly controversial development. For a discus-sion of the arguments and principles involved, see Morgan, "Tradition, Anxiety and the Current Musical Scene." See also Kenyon's Introduction to Authenticity and Early Mu-sic, pp. 11-12. And Haskell, The Early Music Revival, Chapter 10, "Beethoven Brahms and Beyond" pp. 188-197.
55. See Rosen, "The Shock of the Old." Harnoncourt also speaks of an assumption "that every composition with only very few exceptions, has only one single ideal rendi-tion and that consequently a rendition is better the more closely it approximates this ideal." Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, p. 28.
56. See Dorian's illuminating admonition to interpreters that "they should lean on the accumulated knowledge of the trained historian" as the "true guardian of the authentic style." The History of Music in Performance, pp. 31-32.
57. I say more or less because some evidence would suggest (see Rosen, "Should Music be Played Wrong?"; Young, "The Concept of Authentic Performance"; Kivy, "On the Concept of Historically Authentic Performance") that, for a variety of reasons, musical works were not always performed very well during the composer's lifetime. Hence the reluctance of devotees of the moral imperative approach to commit themselves unreservedly to the reconstruction of original performances or modes of performance. For were they to do so, they might find themselves committed to the perpetuation of what was bad as well as what was good in the latter. Invocation of the composer's intentions enables them to circumvent these problems. Since it is reasonably assumed that compos-ers intend among other things the best possible performance of their works, allying inten-tions with information about original performances enables them to sidestep the problems that might have historically accrued.
58. Dreyfus speaks of "a strictly empirical programme to verify historical practices which, when all is said and done, are magically transformed into the composer's inten-tions." Dreyfus "Early Music Defended against its Devotees," p. 299.
59. See Leppard, Authenticity in Music, Chapter 4. Also Taruskin, Leech-Wilkinson et al., "The Limits of Authenticity: A Discussion."
60. See Dickie, Aesthetics: An Introduction, Chapter 12, and Kemp, "The Work of Art and the Artist's Intentions."
Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue? 91
61. Dipert, "The Composer's Intentions: An Examination of Their Relevance for Per-formance." Kivy, Authenticities, Chapter 2.
62. See Aiken, "The Aesthetic Relevance of Artists' Intentions." 63. Donington, The Interpretation of Early Music, p. 28. 64. For an interesting and informative account of how a composer's original per-
formance of a work can offer fascinating, unforeseen insights into such issues as ensem-ble balance, tonal articulation and so forth, see Harnoncourt's description of the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion by the Concentus Musicus. The account is in The Musical Dialogue, pp. 73-75.
65. See Taruskin's amusing description of an authentic reconstructed performance of one of Verdi's operas. Taruskin, "On Letting the Music Speak for Itself," p. 341.
66. Couperin's comment about the harpsichord cited earlier, that he would "be for-ever grateful to anyone who . . . succeeds in making this instrument capable of expres-sion" (Preface to Pieces de Clavecin), suggests just such practical considerations. It im-plies that he might have preferred his pieces to be played on the later, more expressive pianoforte.
67. See Neumann, Essays in Performance Practice, Chapter 1. 68. Kivy, Authenticities, Chapter 3. 69. Taruskin states: "it is not the elimination of personal choice from perfonnance
that real artists desire, but its improvement and refreshment . . . for this purpose original instruments, historical treatises, and all the rest have proven their value." Taruskin, "The Pastness of the Present," p. 206.
70. Donington, A Performer's Guide to Baroque Music, p. 17. Harnoncourt's de-scription of the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion by the Concentus Musicus provides a powerful illustration of the kind of interpretive "improvements" historical approaches can provide, See Harnoncourt, "The First Performance of the St. Matthew Passion by the Concentus Musicus," in The Musical Dialogue, pp. 73-75.
71. It was exactly this type of situation that led listeners, jaded and all too familiar with nineteenth-century romantic modes of performance, to embrace as new, exciting and innovative the startlingly different interpretations inspired by historical performance practice.
72. Donington states: "In any music, one performance may, for example, bring out more of the latent brilliance, while another performance may bring out more of the latent expressiveness . . . if it really is latent, and not artificially worked up, this variability re-sulting from the performer's individuality is all to the good." Donington, A Performer's Guide to Baroque Music, p. 15.
73. Kivy remarks: "The performer is not merely a purveyor of musical pleasure who wishes to operate at a profit although she is that too. She is committed to an ideal or an ideology that she wants her audience to share." Kivy, Authenticities, pp. 183-184.
74. Keller argues: "a great performer invariably discloses hidden meanings, even in works which we think we know inside out. . . [their] understanding of the work he or she is playing goes so deep that it discovers meanings which had not, until that performance, been discovered by anybody." The Keller Column, p. 61. In a similar vein Glenn Gould argued that the performer should possess a faith in the potentiality of finding interpretive possibilities not wholly realized even by the composer. "Glenn Gould Interviewed by Bernard Asbell," cited in Angilette, Glenn Gould, p. 92.
75. Neumann, New Essays on Performance Practice, p. 5. 76. Harnoncourt, The Musical Dialogue, p. 17.
92 Virtue or Virtuosity?
77. Donington, A Performer's Guide to Baroque Music, p. 13. 78. Kenyon, Authenticity and Early Music, pp. 3-5. 79. Hogwood, cited in Kenyon, Authenticity and Early Music, pp. 3-4. In a similar
vein, Michael Morrow (Director of Musica Reservata) argued that any historical per-formance is bound to be "a more or less successful counterfeit." Morrow, "Musical Per-formance and Authenticity."
80. Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 188. 81. See Dolmetsch, The Interpretation of Music of the XVII and XVIII Centuries,
and Donington, The Interpretation of Early Music. 82. See Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 184. 83. Kenyon, Authenticity in Early Music, p. 3. 84. Hill, "Authenticity in Contemporary Music," Tempo 159 (December 1986).
Cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 185. Hans Keller offered a similar analy-sis, arguing that "the less you know instinctively what's good, both in creation and inter-pretation, the more frantically you depend on extraneous, historical, 'scientific' evi-dence." Cited in Haskell, The Early Music Revival, p. 185.
85. Keller perhaps captures it most succinctly when he suggests that "the great per-former's creativity does not contradict, but complements . . . the composer's creative intentions." The Keller Column, p. 62.
Integrity in Musical Performance
What is integrity? Most of us would find that a difficult question to answer. Although we all know and perhaps even use the word, our understanding of it tends to be vague and intuitive and more easily cognizant of what it is not than of what it is. We associate it probably most readily with politicians who deliver (or, more often, fail to deliver) on promises made during their electoral cam-paigns. It implies a kind of honest, wholehearted commitment to cherished principles and ideas. And we designate as persons of integrity those who remain true to their stated beliefs and ideals and who will not compromise them no matter what the temptation or the cost.
Although broad, this characterization of integrity is largely correct. Integrity is a complex notion. It is often associated with conventional standards of mo-rality, especially those of truth telling and fair dealing.1 But probably the most well-known conception of integrity is the one associated with Polonius the notion of being true to yourself. Integrity here is associated with personal ideals or convictions. It connotes the idea of being true to those values or principles of whose significance you are utterly and completely convinced. Some, perhaps even most, of those strongly held values and principles may conform to conven-tional standards of morality. Some may not. But whichever the case, integrity insists that a merely conventional relationship to them is not enough. You must genuinely or truly espouse them. You must believe in them with all your heart and soul.
Integrity, in short, entails as one of its central characteristics a species of "authenticity." It does not presuppose, however, the version of it we have come to associate with the historical performance movement. Rather, it entails the more general notion of authenticity developed in the thought of Nietzsche, Hei-degger and Sartre. To distinguish it from its historical sibling, I shall term it "personal" authenticity. Our exploration of the concept of integrity accordingly
94 Virtue or Virtuosity?
requires us to pause for a moment and develop more fully this latter version of authenticity.2
Authenticity3 is usually associated with sincerity.4 The essential characteris-tics of sincerity truthfulness and honesty are retained in the more complex notion of authenticity. But instead of holding beliefs, attitudes or values "sin-cerely," authenticity speaks of holding ones that are "truly your own." It implies that your beliefs, values, actions are in some important sense "personally owned" and that they are an expression of your true and honest self.
This immediately raises questions. You do not have to look too deeply into the human psyche to recognize that typically our beliefs, attitudes, values and actions are not so much an expression of our true and honest selves but rather an expression of the overwhelming pressure of social norms, stereotypes and oth-ers' expectations. Although twentieth-century society ostensibly prizes indi-vidualism and uniqueness, we characteristically acquire our beliefs, values and attitudes (or ones from which they derive) from external, impersonal sources from cultural inheritance, upbringing, hearsay, received opinion and so forth. Moreover, typically we do not even consciously choose these other-originating beliefs and attitudes. We slip into them unreflectingly or even unwillingly. We find ourselves as a result of upbringing or social environment sharing the beliefs and values of a particular group or community and acting accordingly. And were we to live in a radically different society, we suspect that we would find ourselves embracing and no less sincerely subscribing to a very different set of beliefs and values.
All of this suggests that people are much less individual and much more standardized than they would probably care to admit. But the formative influ-ence of societal pressures notwithstanding, such things as values, principles and attitudes are not preordained givens to which human beings must conform. Al-though we find ourselves born into a particular world, time and place whose beliefs and values we inescapably inherit, this is not to say that we have to ac-cept them. As "human" beings we can always, if only in thought, stand back from our ongoing world and critically evaluate the beliefs and values thrust on us. We can always envision further possibilities. We can always conceive of and choose alternative beliefs, alternative values.
This is perhaps most strikingly illustrated in the story of Paul Wittgenstein, brother of the philosopher Ludwig, and a successful and well-known concert pianist at the beginning of this century.5 In the First World War Paul lost his right arm. But with remarkable courage and determination he taught himself to play using only his left hand. And he attained such proficiency that he was able to continue his concert career playing, among other things, Ravel's famous Con-certo for the Left Hand that the composer wrote specifically for him. Struck with a calamity that would have prompted most musicians to give up playing altogether, much less hold aspirations of a continuing concert career, Paul Witt-genstein was nevertheless free to formulate his own response and attitude con-
Integrity in Musical Performance 95
cerning his "given" his amputated right arm. He envisaged and successfully realized an alternative lifestyle to that suggested by his situation.
In so doing, Wittgenstein flouted the response that logic or common sense would have cited as well-nigh inevitable. No doubt it would have been in many ways much easier for him to regard (sensibly) the loss of his arm as an irremedi-able impediment to his aspirations to maintain a concert career. But he did not. Against all odds, in a manner we would regard as heroic, he chose to try to maintain his career, making the accommodations that were necessary. He thus demonstrated the existential dictum that our behavior and actions ultimately derive from our own choices and decisions and not as many would have it from divine, moral, rational or naturalistic imposition. His story demonstrates par excellence, that we and we alone are responsible for our goals, beliefs, values and so forth.
As it was with Wittgenstein's amputated arm, so it is with our inherited be-liefs and values. We cannot help but acquire them but that is not to say that they preordain the manner in which we will respond to them. Like Wittgenstein we can radically or more subtly contravene their influence. We can reject them, modify them, accept them as we find them. The only thing we cannot do is to deny that we have such a choice. Characteristically, human beings are uncom-fortable with this, and prefer to behave as though custom or tradition entirely circumscribed them. They convince themselves that they have no option but to accept passively the roles in which they were raised; no choice but to act in ac-cordance with beliefs, values, lifestyles they inherit or see exhibited all around them. But people are fundamentally mistaken or self-deceived in this assump-tion. And to deny that you have alternatives open to you is to live in the way of "bad faith."6 To see yourself as "determined" by social roles, personality traits or conventional laws and principles, and therefore you cannot be held account-able for your attitudes and actions, is to forget or try to ignore that you are a self-creating, self-legislating being. It is to live and act inauthentically.
Authenticity insists that our behaviors and actions ultimately derive from our own decisions and choices. But this is not to suggest that the latter take place in a vacuum. On the contrary, our choosing is shaped by our propensity as human beings to care deeply about our self-identity about the kind of person we are going to be. This fundamental concern manifests itself in interests, purposes, aspirations and so forth. These not only incline us toward pursuing certain things, they give meaning to our lives by ascribing a value to those inclinations. They classify them as higher or lower, virtuous or vicious, more or less fulfill-ing, more or less important. They judge them as belonging to qualitatively dif-ferent modes of life fragmented or integrated, saintly or cowardly and so on. It is on the basis of such "strong evaluations" that we are enabled to choose rather than merely plumb for particular goals or styles of life.8 They enable us to reject particular beliefs and values and opt for or choose others in their stead.
All of this has pertinent ramifications for the notion of "owning" our beliefs and values. As all of us know from experience, interests and aspirations are not
96 Virtue or Virtuosity?
the sort of thing we can just decide to have. Rather they are things we simply find ourselves having.9 In other words, nothing "justifies" our being interested in a particular activity or evaluating the mode of life it sustains and expresses as worthy, higher or fulfilling. "We" simply evaluate it thus. Since the choices involved reflect what we personally take to be most important, they can justifia-bly be described as "owned." Furthermore, they determine to a large extent our personal identities.
Wittgenstein's story once again illustrates this point clearly. Obviously for Paul Wittgenstein, performing music on the concert stage counted as one of his highest, most important aspirations. It was something that gave his life meaning and made him the person he wanted to be. Indeed, musical performance was so important in Wittgenstein's life that he likely felt that without it his life would hardly be worth living. This explains his extraordinary feat of accommodation, his courageous determination to keep performing in the face of well-nigh insur-mountable obstacles.
But Wittgenstein's story illustrates too the difficulties encountered in en-deavoring to live "authentically." Although our strong evaluations of goals, projects and beliefs may give us a "sense" of what is worthy, higher, or more fulfilling,10 it is ultimately our responsibility as human beings to take these aspi-rations and translate them into concrete reality. Authenticity entails going be-yond wishful fantasy and working out and sustaining our aspirations in the cru-cible of ordinary, everyday experience. This involves resolutely facing our "givens"11 the circumstances or situation in which we find ourselves living. And working sometimes with, sometimes against, sometimes around those cir-cumstances, it entails developing a life that lives out in reality our intuitive sense of what is for us higher, more fulfilling, more worthy. This may not be easy. As Wittgenstein's story illustrates, depending on the circumstances in which we find ourselves, it may be very difficult. But the person of authenticity the person whose beliefs, values and projects are truly genuine will not shrink from their responsibilities in this respect. Their aspirations are not mere pipe dreams that are easily put aside in the face of impediments. They are projects they are prepared to sweat for, ideals for whose attainment they are prepared to go that extra mile. They are meaningful and important enough to warrant, if necessary, the kind of extraordinary perseverance and willpower that Wittgen-stein's story exemplifies.
Although not all musicians may espouse the art of perfonnance as intensely as Paul Wittgenstein did, people whose desire to perform is genuine will all feel something in the line of Wittgenstein's commitment. Performers sometimes speak of "having" to play, a remark that illustrates well the profound importance of artistic endeavors like these in the lives of many human beings. Like all creative artists, the desire of performers to create to sculpt and manipulate sound sensation in such a manner as eloquently and imaginatively promotes aural understanding and appreciation of musical works is a deep-rooted for-mative impulse and one that seeks meaningful resolution through actual per-
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formance. This urge to create is typically not an easily satisfied impulse achieved once and for all in a single performance. More usually, it is one that endures throughout the course of our lives, prompting us continually to explore and develop ever more discriminating ways in which to express it. Moreover, it takes considerable training and effort. It presupposes a readiness to immerse yourself in the disciplined mores of performance tradition and a preparedness to try to live up to the exacting standards of the latter in devising excellent and original interpretations of your own. It is this ongoing quest for creative excel-lence that propels us into the future and renders our lives as musicians meaning-ful and worthwhile. Take away our capacity to perform and we will have to go through a profound adjustment, one that may irrevocably change our concept of who we are. It may elicit from us the heroic endeavors exhibited by Paul Witt-genstein. As Keller eloquently suggests: "a musical person needs music the way fish need water... [for such a] person, music is not a subject but life."12
In brief: personal authenticity in musical performance signifies a sincere and genuine commitment on the part of a performer to the ideals of meaningful in-terpretation the goals, values, attitudes and actions the latter entails. It pre-supposes wholehearted endorsement of those goals: a genuine interest in work-ing creatively in the medium of concrete sound sensation; a passionate concern, utilizing the subtle nuances of the latter, for furthering aural understanding and appreciation of musical compositions. The interpretive work of great perform-ers is typically distinguished by such unrestrained commitment to excellence. It invests their performances with passion and conviction, thus making the music come to life in all its aural splendor. This captures listeners' attention suffi-ciently that they too become forcefully aware and appreciative of the music's excellent qualities.
As the foregoing account also indicates, authenticity implies a sincere and honest readiness to confront realistically difficulties entailed. In this regard, the phenomenon of historical performance offers a provocative challenge to present-day musical performers. The twentieth century, especially the second half of it, has revived more forgotten music of the past than any other era.13 Unlike our romantic forerunners, we do not overlay our interpretations of that music with a relatively homogenous stylistic "language" whose grammar and syntax is known and shared within the overall musical community.14 Our postmodern society values above all else a kind of eclectic pluralism, one that seeks not just to per-form earlier works but to do so in the way they were originally performed, and employing as much as possible original sonorities and styles of performance.15
This has an undeniable impact on performers' innate sense of musicality. Whereas in earlier times a performer of "classical" music could unashamedly have confidence in the validity of her intuition that a particular musical phrase demanded this or that tonal inflection or this or that mode of phrasing, in today's musical milieu of specialist styles and eclectic tastes, she can have no such con-fidence. Contemporary musical performance demands not only a level of his-torical scholarship previously unknown, but, conjointly, a much more demand-
98 Virtue or Virtuosity?
ing kind of creativity. It requires that the salient points of a range of different musical styles items like tempos and dynamics; phrasing and articulation; bow strokes and tone qualities be thoroughly absorbed and understood. Even more demanding, it requires that these be so completely internalized that true spontaneity of utterance becomes a cogent, realistic possibility. It makes the meaningful display of passionate conviction still the distinguishing mark of excellent interpretation a more elusive, problematic commodity.
Then there are the daunting demands of the act of music-making itself: a preparedness to assume and to withstand the exacting pressures of live and/or recorded performance; the fortitude to learn to effect minute, on-the-spot ac-commodations; the steeliness not to be bothered by technologically induced ex-pectations of perfection. Authenticity in today's musical milieu indicates the resoluteness to face up to all of this. It bespeaks a deep desire to experience the intense satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that the attainment of interpre-tive excellence ultimately provides.
In the broadest sense, integrity in musical performance entails acting in ac-cordance with that core set of principles or commitments that makes perform-ance interpreters who they are. But while integrity thus entails the notion of "authenticity," there is more to it than that. As well as consistency, integrity involves wholeness. It locates itself not just in isolated, discrete instances of authentic adherence to principle but in consistent exemplification of the latter over time. The principal subject of integrity is an entire life conceived tempo-rally as having a beginning, a middle and an end.16 And the person of integrity is someone whose life is "of a piece," whose self is "whole and integrated."17 Throughout the course of its existence, a human life characteristically encoun-ters and interacts with a multifarious array of values and principles, all of which cannot be pursued. This second sense of integrity wholeness necessitates ordering these into some sort of coherent, integrated pattern.18
To illustrate: you cannot maintain a life of integrity as a musical perform-ance interpreter if the commitments you espouse cannot be ranked or are incom-patible such as to pull you in opposing directions. You cannot, for example, profess to be wholeheartedly committed to the ideals of meaningful interpreta-tion while yet espousing a self-indulgent, narcissistic brand of exhibitionistic egoism that consistently thwarts and undermines your goals as an interpreter. Nor can you maintain it if you espouse as equally important fidelity to the com-poser's intentions and pleasing the audience at all costs. Neither can you call yourself a person of integrity if the commitments you honor frequently change if you fastidiously espouse one style of performance after another in response to the fickle predilections of listeners, be they important judges, critics, agents, or the general public.
The "life" of integrity demands that you deliberately select and embrace principles and commitments that are capable of co-existing. It asks you to choose ones that interconnect or come together in a more or less unified, harmo-nious whole. It requires that you assess continually the comparative importance
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in your life of your various values and commitments: the significance you at-tribute to internal versus external rewards; or the priority you ascribe to such valuable but potentially conflicting ideals as honoring the composers' concep-tion, pleasing the audience, respecting the mores of performance traditions or your own interpretive ideas. It asks you to arrange them accordingly.
Some of our principles or commitments are more important to us than others. Those that are less important and can be sacrificed without too much remorse may be called, after John Kekes, "defeasible" commitments.19 Those that reflect what we take to be most important the beliefs, values, aspirations to which we are utterly dedicated constitute our core or "unconditional" commitments. For most musicians, commercial success is usually an important but defeasible commitment. They would like to be first-prize winners in important competi-tions, but in the final analysis their ultimate, unconditional commitments are to the music.
Integrity entails ordering our commitments thus, recognizing to which group our various beliefs and principles belong and behaving accordingly. It involves, as Hoagland aptly suggests:
periodically assessing ourselves in terms of our values and in relation to others and their values. . . . It means becoming aware of what parts of ourselves we want to change, what parts go on hold for now, what parts center us and what parts we want to develop at any given point.20
A measure of stability must also characterize our selection. The commit-ments we espouse as all important must be cherished enough to merit enduring allegiance throughout the course of our lives.
Performers show integrity then when they regularly act in accordance with the deliberate pattern they have selected. But there is yet more to it. Integrity (or the lack of it) only becomes apparent in the face of challenge.21 It arises when we are tempted by the enticements of commercial success to renege on our commitments to the music and to perform a piece in a manner that pleases a capricious, spectacle-loving public. Integrity involves recognizing and resisting such temptations; refusing to be swayed from our interpretive ideals no matter what the enticements. It describes our attitude or demeanor in the face of con-flict;22 whether we remain steadfast in our beliefs or resort to cliches or consol-ing rationalizations in our efforts to justify our doing otherwise. There is, at least in popular renditions of the concept, something hard-nosed and uncom-promising about people of integrity. There are certain things they simply cannot bring themselves to do no matter what the personal costs.23 Their stubbornness is usually defended in connection with notions of personal identity. "Were I to do this," the person of integrity will protest, "then I would be no longer who I am."
Just so, performance tradition characterizes the performer of integrity as someone who will not stoop to the circus tricks of superficial virtuosity. We see them as musicians who will not sacrifice musical compositions to their own
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selfish ends, and who recognize and evaluate external rewards as ultimately less important. "True" performance interpreters, we maintain, are deeply committed to the ideals of meaningful interpretation. They care more about the music than they do about themselves.24 Furthermore, they maintain allegiance to those ide-als throughout the course of their musical lives.
In summary: integrity in musical performance entails (1) a coherent and relatively stable set of highly cherished interpretive beliefs and values; (2) con-duct (performance in particular, but also perhaps verbal behavior)25 concretising or expressing those values and principles and consistent with what one says.
Composers of Stravinsky's cast frequently imply that performers in general cannot be trusted to live up to the principles implicit in this dyad.26 They ques-tion performers' claim to include interpretive principles within their personal set of highly cherished values and commitments, insisting that their conduct in per-formance indicates otherwise. Far from exhibiting adherence to principle, musi-cians display behavior in performance we regard as deficient in integrity. Se-duced by the intoxicating pleasures of enthralling an audience, they all too easily succumb to the enticing temptations of self-indulgent exhibitionism. Mindful perhaps of the lucrative extra-musical benefits gleaned thereby, they compro-mise their interpretive ideals.
Reluctant, however, to relinquish their conception of themselves as serious artists, performers shrink from admitting this to themselves or others. Instead they pretend that their behavior is motivated by some sort of creative/artistic principle. But this is not true. They are motivated really by self-aggrandizement. Or, at the very least, their motivation is mixed stimulated by concern for themselves as well as by concern for the music. Pulled between the prompting of principle and worldly rewards, they are unequal to the task of presenting musical works in a manner that does them justice.
Skepticism like this is plainly borne out in the case of narcissistic, ultra-exhibitionistic virtuosos. They frequently choose to ignore directions intimated or explicitly stated in the musical score. Reasoning speciously that adding a few bravura flourishes here and there more readily promotes aural understanding and appreciation, they delude themselves into thinking that flashy, bombastic, tech-nically extravagant renditions are eminently justifiable, whether the works in question are display pieces or not. But even where the betrayal of principle is much less conspicuous, the open-ended nature of mainstream interpretation makes it all too easy for performers to convince themselves that "the composer would have approved such and such a cut, been delighted with this or that ac-cent, made an expressive relaxation of tempo in just that peace."27 Rationaliza-tions like this are used even when the score neither signifies nor infers any such cut, accent or tempo deviation.
In so disregarding the score, performers are deliberately turning away from facts that ultimately cannot be wished away. They are being dishonest with themselves and with the music. In the language of Sartre, they are living in the way of "bad faith"; they are pretending to themselves that their musical goal is
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to promote aural understanding and appreciation. Not so. In the first instance, their aim is really to show off their formidable technical powers and the compo-sition is merely a means to that effect. In the second instance, although there may indeed be legitimate interpretive reasons for introducing a relaxation of tempo at just that place, it may not have been this that prompted the performer's action. Technical problems may have led her to introduce the relaxation, thereby rendering a difficult passage easier to execute. Insofar as she chooses to repress this fact, however, and convinces herself that the relaxation was intro-duced purely for interpretive/expressive reasons, she is again essentially being dishonest. And from an artistic viewpoint, she is acting "inauthentically" and so without integrity.
But if musicians sometimes compromise their interpretive principles by ex-ploiting the open-ended, creative dimension of interpretation, their integrity as performers can also be endangered by forswearing it. This time they may be seduced by the apparent authoritativeness of original modes of interpretation, as well as mindful, perhaps, of contemporary reviewers' widespread criticisms of "inauthentic" performance.28 Or they may be reluctant to assume the burden of artistic judgment. In any case, they can succumb to the enticing temptations of empirical certitude and once again compromise their integrity.
Musicians engaged in this type of interpretive compromise also shrink from admitting it to themselves or others. They pretend that their behavior is moti-vated by some sort of high-minded, ethical principle. They cite due and un-questioning respect for composers. Or they extol the virtue of emptying them-selves to a self-negating extent of their own tastes and prejudices so letting "the music speak for itself."29
Contrary to what zealous advocates of historical authenticity may assume, however, to renounce your creative instincts and to realize in sound exactly and only what has been empirically documented is no less to be dishonest, to live in the way of "bad faith." It too calls for the disregard of certain "givens" in this case the subtle nuances of sound sensation. And to ignore the interpretive possibilities suggested by the latter is no longer to present works in what "you" consider to be the best light possible. It is to abdicate your artistic responsibili-ties as interpreter and to promote unquestioningly a single, definitive mode of interpretation one authorized and legitimated by historical scholarship.
Performers genuinely committed to the principle of "interpretation" cannot in all conscience endorse such a move. They know only too well the power and efficacy of sound sensation as a creative medium and its ability to make or break music lovers' receptivity to musical compositions. To employ in performance only those interpretive features explicitly annotated in music scores or docu-mented in historical treatises is essentially to deal in generalities. But to deal in generalities is specifically "not" to interpret the music. It is to produce the aural equivalent of a clean, unedited, Urtext score.30 It is to endorse as definitive a mechanical, generalized mode of sounding that ultimately divests the music of life and quality.
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Renditions like this cannot hope to do justice to musical works. As Will Crutchfield has suggested, however authoritative and historically authentic the stylistic conventions employed, one of the undocumented things that "the great composers assumed, wanted and needed was the passion and conviction of great performers." And these cannot be reclaimed directly from the treatises nor extrapolated from scholarly editions. Emptying yourself of your own tastes and prejudices may be a necessary and important step in coming to grips with new and unfamiliar musical styles, but in and of itself it can never produce excel-lence in performance. Quite the contrary; cautious correctness deprives musical works of the charismatic aural advocacy that meaningful performance alone can provide. It fails to provide the passionate conviction that induces audiences to listen attentively, and that persuades them of a work's intrinsic merits.
In short, as great period-style performers like Harnoncourt or Leonhardt have demonstrated, successful interpretation requires not just historically in-formed renditions, but the personal authenticity of performers who believe in what they are doing. However daunting and onerous the task of internalizing nonvernacular styles to the point at which spontaneous, creative utterance is a real possibility, it is a responsibility performers cannot shirk. They cannot hide behind a self-negating smokescreen of "musicological rationalization."32
Personal commitment is a necessary virtue for performers. But musicians cannot deny that performers can and do often utilize the ingredient of creative instinct to rationalize performances ultimately inconsiderate of the composer's original conception. Neither can they deny that in the name of historical authenticity, repressions and distortions of the sort previously mentioned can and do occur. The question must always arise, accordingly, whether we are sure that our performances truly live up to our interpretive ideals. And the injunction is always in place to look again. This requires a "stance of openness"33 where we are ready to bring to bear on our performances the tools of critical reflection, and to ask whether our technical and expressive capabilities are primarily di-rected toward the music. It demands that we confront honestly and without de-ception our conflicting inclinations. It asks us to acknowledge our ordinary de-sire for applause and external acclaim; it addresses our attraction not just to the internal satisfactions of excellent accomplishment but our desire as well to have that excellence recognized and endorsed by others.
Some would suggest that the mere presence in performers of conflicting in-clinations indicates at heart a lack of integrity.34 But I do not think that this is the case. Our lives are typically made good by the internal and external rewards it provides. And I think it is natural and right to want both and to develop a pat-tern of commitments that ideally makes the achievement of both a genuine pos-sibility. But, as argued already, there is a crucial difference between external and internal rewards the one bestowed on us justly or unjustly by external sources, the other self-developed and so always justly acquired. This means that you can be absolutely true to your pattern and yet only manage to achieve the "internal" rewards pertaining to it. A performer in complete fidelity to her core
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interpretive beliefs might develop an excellent and original interpretation of a piece and yet not win first prize at an important, international competition.
The challenges performers face then in striving to remain true to their inter-pretive aspirations are two-fold. First, there are the difficulties you almost in-evitably encounter in trying to develop the skills, attitudes and character traits necessary to be an excellent performer. Although most of us do not face chal-lenges of the magnitude of Paul Wittgenstein's, excellence in performance rarely comes without cost. And usually the context in which we find ourselves situated lends at best only mixed support to our performance aspirations, amply facilitating it in some respects, impeding it in others. It is all too easy to abdi-cate personal responsibility and to blame those impeding circumstances rather than ourselves for any perceived lack of progress. It is tempting to blame our less than insightful interpretation of Beethoven's Piano Sonata op. 110 on our youth, or to rationalize that we simply could not find time to practise. But, as Paul Wittgenstein's story so aptly illustrates, if you truly aspire to be an excel-lent performer, then such impediments as you inherit and/or encounter have to be faced and overcome. And it takes a measure of what Kekes calls "positive" fidelity to bring this about to remain true to your dream and to live out in cold, sometimes recalcitrant actuality your cherished aspirations.35
The other kind of challenge is the misfortune of not getting the external re-wards you deserve. In many ways it is harder to deal with this. In the case of internal goods you and you alone are responsible for the measure of success (or failure) you achieve. But the same cannot be said of external goods. You may indeed be the most deserving performer at that all important competition or audition, yet circumstances favoritism, political agendas or plain ill luck may prevent you from achieving first place.
This poses a difficult challenge to your integrity. Angry and hurt at what indeed might be a genuine injustice, you may be tempted to engage in a variety of behaviors, all of which jeopardize your ideals. You may be tempted in future to play it safe. Rather than performing a work in the way that you think best promotes aural understanding and appreciation, you may give a performance deliberately designed to please the judges.36 Or you may become sufficiently angry, embittered and resentful that you deliberately try to sabotage those fortu-nate few who did manage to achieve external success. Jealousy or spite may prompt you to engage in subtle (or not so subtle) actions and innuendos explic-itly designed to "put them in their place" and so to weaken or even eliminate the competitive threat they pose. You may become sufficiently cynical and pessi-mistic as to assume that corruption will always occur and that there is no point in even trying to be authentic.
Attitudes like these are unfortunately rife in many musical schools, espe-cially those geared specifically toward professional performance. And it takes enormous forbearance and what Kekes terms "negative" fidelity37 to resist the temptation to engage in such attitudes and/or behaviors and to hold fast to your interpretive ideal that it is ultimately the music that is important. However un-
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swerving your belief in your musical abilities, your failure to attract external recognition inevitably introduces an element of doubt. You begin to wonder if you really are as good as you think you are. You question if you truly do have what it takes to be an excellent performer. As Kekes so eloquently suggests,
A person's judgment of himself is connected in countless ways with how others judge him. . . . The opinion of others unavoidably reflects on oneself. External goods are the currency, the symbolic forms, of those opinions. . . . Of course, personal judgment should take prece-dence over public opinion; but if they coincide, they are more likely to be correct, and if they diverge, there should be good reasons for coming down on the side of personal judgement.38
How then does one cope with such injustice? Many would argue that you should rise above the pursuit of external recognition.39 You should refuse to become involved in competitive endeavors or to indulge unartistic desires for material, worldly gain. Your attitude, in other words, should be one of moral disdain. But when the stakes are so high as to influence the very course of your musical life, it is extremely hard, if not impossible, to maintain this attitude of disdain. It is hard to convince yourself that you don't care when you know in your heart of hearts that you do. Maintaining an ascetic disregard for worldly goods is the stuff of saints and martyrs, not mere musical performers.
What is needed is not outright rejection of external goods but rather a bal-anced outlook, one that acknowledges that worldly rewards are benefits anyone would wish to have, but that enjoins us nevertheless not to care about them too much. What is required is an ability to limit the importance of such goods in our lives and to withstand the corruption their competitive nature so easily fosters.
Our intuitive endorsement of such a balance is demonstrated in the per-forming artists we invariably nominate as exemplars of excellence. Usually these are not crass virtuosos. Although we may find the latter amusing and en-tertaining, we generally do not designate them "great artists" whose deeds all should strive to emulate. But we do not customarily select either the serious, ascetic interpreter whose dedication to the music is without question.40 We more usually choose performers who combine both.41 We single out people whose command of performance skills is extensive enough to create impassioned, technically superb interpretations, yet who manage nonetheless to put all of this at the service of the music. We pick musicians whose unconditional core com-mitments are to the music but who enjoy and savor as well their technical prow-ess and who have a limited, conditional commitment to the external benefits their abilities may provide.
True performance interpreters will not sacrifice their core commitments. Their enjoyment of external benefits is tempered always by their more funda-mental dedication to interpretive excellence. Their pursuit of fame and fortune only goes so far, the point at which it entails compromise of their musical ideals. This they will not countenance. Like all of us, they enjoy material reward. But
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they enjoy it only up to a point. In the final analysis, their real, fundamental commitment is to interpretive excellence.
It was clearly this kind of balanced outlook that Rubinstein had in mind when he wrote to Ysaye, "do not allow yourself to be carried away by the out-ward signs of success."42 He did not suggest that Ysaye entirely forsake such pleasures. His letter was a gentle reminder that these were not the important thing and that the primary objective must be the meaningful interpretation of the music. His words admonish Ysaye to be aware of the potential corrupting influ-ence of external benefits (the "bitter wine of triumph") and to learn to resist it.
It is then not saint-like espousal of principle that is required in musical per-formance but this balanced pattern of commitments. How do performers come to acquire such it? Ideally, they do so through working with teachers, mentors and in musical institutions that grasp the importance of fostering such a balanced outlook, and that adopt something like Rubinstein's stance in constantly ad-monishing students to maintain a proper balance between internal and external goods.43 But while many teachers and institutions are equal to the task of incul-cating in young performers such an outlook, and explicitly endeavor to create learning communities that consistently model and exemplify it, many more are not.
Sometimes it is time pressures that prohibit discussions of such matters. Although most of us would agree that the intricacies of art forms are best im-parted through a master-apprentice model, in reality the time-consuming nature of such an approach makes it economically impractical for most music schools. Teachers (especially those committed to maintaining a professional performance career of their own) characteristically find themselves with very limited oppor-tunities to work with students. The primary focus of attention therefore is on the skills students need to maintain a professional career and there simply is not time to address issues pertaining to integrity and the potential corrupting influ-ence of external rewards.
But often too it is not so much time that prevents such discussions, but rather teachers and institutions themselves buying into preoccupation with external rewards. This leads them to measure their educational worth not so much on the internal excellences students achieve but rather on such external considerations as the number and stature of competitions won, the scholarships achieved, the commercial success and fame of its alumnae. Rather than endeavoring to pro-mote a balanced perspective on the importance of internal and external goods, teachers and institutions in this case focus primarily on the latter. Implicitly or explicitly they give the impression that external recognition is all important. They promote thereby a cutthroat, highly competitive atmosphere that is highly destructive and that leaves many potentially excellent musicians spiritually and psychologically maimed.
I believe that teachers and institutions are ill-advised to countenance, much less promote, preoccupation with external rewards. I think that issues pertaining to integrity are of vital importance in the training of young musicians. Especially
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in today's competitive milieu, we cannot afford to let students cope on their own, to manage as best they can to negotiate a successful pathway between in-ternal and external inclinations. They need to be made aware of the dangers involved in attributing too much importance to external recognitions. They need to appreciate deeply the intense satisfaction derived from living up to the exact-ing standards of tradition and devising excellent and original renditions of musi-cal works. They need to recognize and honor such achievements even when the external benefits are paltry indeed when only a few turn out to your recital, when nobody of importance is there to hear your excellent interpretation.
We do not have to legislate this balanced perspective, however. I would argue that it is ultimately in performers' (and also in teachers' and musical in-stitutions') own best interests to develop such an outlook. There is a selfish, egotistical reason for maintaining a proper balance between internal and external inclinations. There are tangible benefits to be gained from refusing to become disenchanted when external rewards are refused us, and from resisting such be-haviors as sabotaging our rivals, playing it safe or indulging in debilitating, ni-hilistic cynicism.
The reason is this: engaging in such behaviors radically interferes with "your" capacity to achieve excellence. Rather than wrecking your rival's chances of success, it is far more likely to wreck your own. And if you consis-tently put yourself in the position of failing to achieve interpretive excellence, then not only will you fail to experience internal rewards, you will also, in so doing, remove yourself from the ranks of candidates who deserve external re-wards and so fail to achieve these also. In short, in musical performance it pays to be virtuous. It is personally advantageous to commit yourself wholeheartedly to internal notions of excellence and to see external recognitions as ultimately much less important. Why would this be so?
Earlier, courage was cited as an essential ingredient in musical recital. But if courage is a condition "sine qua non " in performance, fear and insecurity are its ruination. They promote an attitude of cautious correctness that effectively stul-tifies creative imagination. They generate closed, limited conceptions of artistic excellence that ultimately calcify tradition, turning it into a punitive millstone worm around the neck of neophyte musicians. They encourage us to develop and practice not the positive character traits mentioned earlier, but the more de-structive negative ones of envy, competitiveness, jealousy, spite, and one-upmanship.
Rather than providing an atmosphere and environment congenial to the achievement of excellence (and thus access to the internal and external rewards entailed), preoccupation with external rewards provides the opposite. It encour-ages us to be competitive to worry constantly about "being the best." Instead of being inspired by the excellent performance of a talented peer, it prompts us to feel threatened by it. Rather than listening to the music, we sit in the audience and look for flaws. Focused, in short, not so much on excellence per se as on its external manifestations on status, recognition or an elevated position in the
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performing and/or teaching hierarchy we exchange artistic integrity for pub-lic recognition, love of the music for love of self.
But if we could only see it, vanity and self-conceit, together with the fear and insecurity they inevitably generate, are like chains upon our ability to excel. When you sit in the audience and vindictively pull apart your peer's excellent interpretation, you create an atmosphere and environment of fear and insecurity that ultimates interferes with your capacity to achieve excellence. Triumph and disaster, in Kipling's well-chosen words, are "impostors" that need to be treated "just the same."44 The extra-musical benefits of fame and status masquerade as all important and encourage us to measure our artistic worth in those terms. But in truth, they are far less important than our developing the ability to portray meaningfully in sound the expressive structures of musical compositions. You cannot perform well if you are constantly insecure and afraid. That is the price of the vanity and conceit that inevitably accrues when we assign these extra-musical benefits too much importance, when we allow external factors to meas-ure our worth and not our ability to communicate musically.
Breaking free of that fear and insecurity committing yourself wholeheart-edly to courage, generosity of spirit, truthfulness and the other virtues effec-tively ruptures those chains and opens the door to a whole new world of creative possibilities. It frees us to become the artist, indeed the person we have it in us to become. Armed with purity of heart not a naive purity, but one based on insightful understanding of the potential corrupting influence of external goods we can engage in the competition for external rewards and yet not lose our integrity, our artistic souls in the process. One is not, except in rare cases, how-ever, born with such purity of heart. Rather, one fights and struggles to achieve it all the days of one's performance life. The prize is that integrity and self-worth from which all good things, including excellence in musical perfonnance, flow.
NOTES 1. See McFall, "Integrity." 2. The following account of authenticity relies on the writings of Nietzsche, "The
Birth of Tragedy," "Thus Spake Zarathrustra" and "The Will to Power" in Levy (ed.), The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche; Heidegger, Being and Time', and Sartre, Being and Nothingness. I have also found Cooper's illuminating account of Nietzsche's writings on authenticity in Authenticity and Learning very helpful. I have already ex-plored the ramifications of this personal notion of authenticity for performance in O'Dea, "Authenticity in Musical Performance: Personal or Historical?"
3. From now on after Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre, I shall use the general term "authenticity" to refer to "personal" authenticity. When I wish to refer to that version of authenticity associated with the historical performance movement, I will prefix the word "historical."
4. See Trilling, Sincerity and Authenticity. 5. See Monk, Ludwig Wittgenstein, p. 13.
108 Virtue or Virtuosity?
6. See Sartre, Being and Nothingness, Part I, Chapter 2. 7. See Taylor, "Responsibility for Self." 8. Although both Sartre and Heidegger made "choice" the central issue in authentic-
ity, they construed it very differently. Sartre seemed to imply that only a decision is nec-essary to set up and sustain an existential goal or project. Heidegger (and Merleau-Ponty) argued by contrast that there is characteristically some motivating factor some initial affinity for the project or some sense that it is worth pursuing that inclines one in that direction and that lends support and force to one's decision. As the text implies, my account of authenticity utilizes Heidegger's conception.
9. In many cases one suspects that interests, aspirations and so forth have a genetic dimension. I think it is not a mere coincidence, for example, that Bach and Mozart not only grew up in situations congenial to the development of their musical abilities, but also were descended from a long line of musicians. For an interesting discussion of this notion of interests, see Bonnett. "Authenticity, Autonomy and Compulsory Curriculum."
10. See Taylor, "Responsibility for Self," p. 122. 11. The distinguishing mark of the authentic person is described by Heidegger as
"resoluteness." Being and Time, p. 298. 12. Keller, The Keller Column, p. 43.13. See Crutchfield, "Fashion, Conviction and Performing Style in an Age of Reviv-
als." 14. I say "relatively homogenous" because I think it is a mistake to assume that
nineteenth-century performance practice proposed that all compositions be played in an ultra-romantic, Lisztian style. Instead, performers were encouraged to pay careful atten-tion to compositional texture and to develop in response a range of sounding sonorities in which these different textures could be taken into account. In piano, for example, it has long been a principle of mainstream performance practice that you employ a different kind of sonority for Mozart than for Chopin. The embedment of nineteenth-century per-formance practice in mainstream performance is demonstrated, however, in the assump-tion that modifications like this are to be inferred from the music and, unlike twentieth-century "historical" performance, are not to be ascertained through empirical research.
15. In an overall sense, the principles and ideals of the Historical Performance Movement illustrate par excellence many of the features associated with "Postmodern-ism": a performance practice founded on small specialist styles of interpretation rather than on one homogenous style; the emergence of a certain "depthlessness" in interpreta-tion, where compositional sound and spirit are perceived as one; the conjoining of nov-elty and nostalgia the supplanting of interest in contemporary composition by an ap-parently endless recycling of works from the past. For a discussion of these and other issues relating to the contemporary postmodern scene, see Jameson, Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. And for an interesting account of how these relate to the current music scene, see Morgan, "Tradition, Anxiety and the Current Musi-cal Scene."
16. Benjamin, Splitting the Difference: Compromise and Integrity in Ethics and Poli-tics. Some of the following aspects of integrity, I have explored elsewhere in a different context. See O'Dea, "Integrity and the Feminist Teacher."
17. Taylor, "Integrity," p. 143. 18. See Kekes, "Constancy and Purity." 19. Ibid., pp. 514-515. 20. Hoagland, Lesbian Ethics, p. 286.
Integrity in Musical Performance 109
21. Kekes, "Constancy and Purity." 22. See Gaita, "Integrity," p. 163. 23. We often associate integrity, for example, with people like Socrates, Sir Thomas
More, or Gandhi. They are admired not only for the nature of their convictions but also for their refusal to compromise them.
24. Rubinstein's letter to Ysaye (cited in Chapter 3) suggests just such an outlook, urging Ysaye to keep before him as his "main objective" the expression of the music. Furthermore, his depiction of pleasing the audience as the "bitter wine of triumph" indi-cates the seductive but ultimately less important value he attributed to commercial suc-cess. Articulating his concept of a "great" performer, Keller wrote: "even in the most fantastic virtuoso achievement, the predominant experience on the part of the listener will always be the music in the first place." The Keller Column, p. 61. And Gould forth-rightly insisted that the performer should be more concerned with the development of musical and spiritual ideas than with the physical manifestations connected with music making. Angilette, Glenn Gould, p. 91.
25. Although most accounts of integrity cite verbal behavior as an essential element, the linguistic indescribability of many aspects of musical performance leads me to give it a less central role in musical performance integrity.
26. I should add that some performers too have expressed doubts about the ability of performers to remain true to their interpretive ideals in live performance. Gould, for example, believed that live concerts almost inevitably induce the performer to be more concerned with audience reaction than with artistic expression. See Angilette, Glenn Gould, p. 94.
27. Rosen, "The Shock of the Old," p. 46. 28. For some discussion of these kinds of criticism, see Mayer Brown, "Pedantry or
Liberation?," p. 55. 29. For an interesting and often highly provocative discussion of this kind of attitude,
see Taruskin, "On Letting the Music Speak for Itself: Some Reflection on Musicology and Perfonnance."
30. See Taruskin, "The Limits of Authenticity: A Discussion." 31. Crutchfield, "Fashion, Conviction and Performance Style," p. 25. 32. Tarsukin, "The Limits of Authenticity: A Discussion" p. 5. 33. Taylor, "Responsibility for Self," p. 125. 34. Kierkegaard, for example, endorsed such a view. Presenting integrity as "purity
of heart" and characterizing it as "willing one thing," Kierkegaard regarded the presence of contrary inclinations as indicative of "double-mindedness" and so of a lack of integ-rity. Kierkegaard, Purity of Heart Is to Will One Thing. For a fascinating and insightful critique of Kierkegaard's view see Kekes, "Constancy and Purity."
35. Kekes, "Constancy and Purity," p. 510. 36. Peter Donohoe, for example, openly admitted that in the final of an important in-
ternational competition he suppressed his own interpretation and instead gave a conven-tional performance that he thought would please the judges. See Keller, The Keller Col-umn, p. 32. Gould similarly argued that originality is discouraged at competitions. He maintained that some of the best musical talents are encouraged there to preserve "a con-sensus of mediocrity a mean line of temperamental indifference." Gould, "We Who Are About to Be Disqualified Salute You!" p. 254.
37. Kekes, "Constancy and Purity," pp. 510-511. 38. Ibid., pp. 511-512.
110 Virtue or Virtuosity?
39. Gould, for example, argued that the artist should be able to work in the "freedom of anonymity." See "Glenn Gould in Conversation with Tim Page."
40. Gould liked to think of himself as just such an ascetic interpreter, describing himself as the "last puritan," Angilette, Glenn Gould, p. 96.
41. I have in mind performers like Yehudi Menuhin, Pablo Casals or Sviatoslav Richter, musicians whose virtuosic abilities are undeniable but who always strive to put them at the service of the music. Kenyon suggests that a similar combination is now being applauded in period-style performances. Kenyon, Authenticity and Early Music, p. 17.
42. Rubinstein, cited in Chapter 3. 43. As a teacher, Tilly Fleischmann promoted exactly such a balanced outlook.
Moreover, she insisted that this was the stance endorsed in the Liszt tradition. For a more detailed description of her pedagogy, see O'Dea "Turning the Soul: A Personal Memoir of a Great Teacher."
44. See Kipling's If
The dichotomy between "virtue" and "virtuosity," so often invoked in musical performance circles, is neither real nor irreparable. Quite the contrary, as the genesis of the term implies, virtuosity celebrates and endorses the virtues of per-formance competence; it names the technical excellences performers must de-velop in order to sound musical works in ways that do them justice. Like any other virtue, however, virtuosity taken to excess can subvert and vitiate the very excellence it was meant to serve. Hence the ambiguity of its role in perform-ance interpretation and the ethical challenge it presents to performers.
My purpose in writing this book was to address that ambiguity. In doing so I chose to adopt an Aristotelian approach to musical performance ethics. While recognizing the value and importance of moral rules and principles, this ap-proach gives central place to the judgment of the individual moral agent (the performer) and the virtuous character traits sagacious judgment entails. It also enabled me to recognize and endorse the plurality of goods excellent perform-ance makes available and the challenges they present to musicians' integrity. As a performer I have long wrestled with such challenges. They are ones I see young performers continuing to confront as they endeavor to make a profes-sional career in a world driven by competition and commercial interests and where integrity sometimes seems like an unaffordable luxury.
But far from being unaffordable, integrity is a necessity in musical perform-ance. It alone provides access to that excellence in endeavor that is the ultimate goal of all musical performers; that which enables them to achieve the plurality of goods superior interpretation makes conceivable. As suggested in the text, it is not a virtue easily won. It necessitates cultivating and exercising an exacting range of virtuous dispositions. Moreover, it entails steadfastly doing so in the face of challenge when we are tempted for one reason or another to compromise our integrity.
112 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Developing and maintaining an ethical demeanor in the face of such chal-lenges can be daunting indeed. It requires a supportive, nurturing environment in which the values of musicianship and creativity are paramount, and where external rewards, while appreciated and enjoyed, do not take precedence over the meaningful communication of the music. Professional music schools and individual teachers all too often fail to provide such environments. Instead, they promote an atmosphere of rivalry and competition that places far too much im-portance on external recognitions. Rather than encouraging students to support and affirm each others' efforts, they are encouraged to engage in vicious, highly destructive behaviors as they fight and jostle for position in a debilitating, sometimes patently unjust hierarchy.
In order to combat such behaviors and promote excellence in performance, issues pertaining to integrity in interpretation must be openly addressed. Institu-tions and teachers need to pay much closer attention to the learning environ-ments they are providing. They must recognize that technique is not enough. Outstanding performance requires a vibrant, healthy musical community where creative excellence is celebrated rather than feared, where students are expected to give credit where credit is due and where negative behaviors are gently but relentlessly discouraged. This cannot be accomplished without teachers them-selves consistently modeling such behavior. As master-artists they must mentor their students on the ethical dimensions of their chosen profession, the necessity of learning to cope with fear and insecurity, and the exacting, unrelenting integ-rity excellence in interpretation constantly and consistently demands. Plato, it will be recalled, long ago suggested that all of this requires a "turning of the soul." If my book serves in some small way to initiate and encourage ethical awareness and thus to facilitate such a turning, it will have served its purpose.
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Aristotle, 23 n.60, 26, 27, 28, 32, 36 n.l2,37nn.l8, 19
Authenticity (personal), 93-98, 107 nn.2, 3, 108nn.8, 9, 11
Bach, C.P.E., 51, 56, 58 Bach, Johann Sebastian, 15, 41, 49, 50,
62 n.46, 67-71, 73, 74, 80, 81, 88 n.10, 108 n.9, 91 nn.64, 70; Air on a G String, 36 n.9; The Art of Fugue, 47; Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, 9, 69; Goldberg Variations, 35 n.2, 72; Mass in B minor, 86; St. John Passion, 9; St. Matthew Passion, 61-69,16, 81,82, 91 nn.64, 70
Bach Gesellschaft, 69 Bach Societies, 69 Baroque recitative, 9 Bartholomew, William, 88 n.12 Beethoven, Ludwig van, 41; Piano
Sonata op. 57 (Appassionato), 51; Piano Sonata op. 110 [Arioso Dolente)A, 9, 16, 103
Berg, Alban, 6, 8, 23 n.53; Wozzeck, 47 Berlin, 68 Bodky, Erwin, 73 Boissier, Auguste, 43 Borren, Charles van den, 89 n.37 Boulanger, Nadia, 72 Brendal, Alfred, 51
Brossard, S6bastien de, 40 Brown, Howard Mayer, 68 Brussels, 73
Cambridge Society for Early Music, 73 Cape, Safford, 73, 89 n.37 Caruso, Enrico, 45 Casals, Pablo, 44, llOn.41 Chaliapin, Fyodar Ivanovitch, 45 Chopin, Frederic, 39, 40, 42, 45, 50, 62
n.46, mn.U; Ballades, 51; Etudes op. 10, 42; Etudes op. 25, 42
Collegia Musica, 69 Competition, 26-27, 35 n.5, 37 n.24,
103-107, 109n.36 Composers' intentions, 74-82, 89 n.18,
90nn.57, 58 Concentus Musicus, 87, 91 nn.64, 70 Cone, Edward, 10 Cook, Nicholas, 21 n.29 Couperin, Francois, 23-24 n.65 Cramer, Johann Baptist, 62 n.46 Crumb, George, 9; Ancient Voices of
Children, 9 Crutchfield, Will, 102 Czerny, Carl, 41, 62 n.46
Davies, Stephan, 1, 6 Dipert, Randell, 78 Dolmetsch, Arnold, 69, 71, 72, 79, 86
120 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Donington, Robert, 74, 75, 79, 82, 86 Draeseke, Felix, 43, 44 Dreyfus, Lawrence, 74 Dublin International Piano
Early Music, 74 Early Music Consort, 86, 87 Elliot, R. K, 9 England, 45 English language, 3, 5 Europe, 69 External goods, 26-27, 34-35, 35 n.4,
Fay, Amy, 42 First World War, 94 Flaubert, Gustave, 54 Fleischmann, Tilly, 36 n.7, 52, 89 n.18,
110n.43 Florentine Camerata, 63 n.54 Frescobaldi, Girolamo, 41
Galli-Curci, Amelita, 45 Galway, James, 45 Gandhi, Mahatma, 109n.23 Geilgud, Sir John, 3 Geminiani, Francesco, 45 Geraldus Cambrensis, 41 Germany, 69 Gluck, Christoph Willibald, 45 Goodman, Nelson, 22 n.46 Gould, Glenn, 25, 28, 35 n.2, 37 n.13,
45,46,60,91 n.74, 109nn.24, 26, 36, HOnn.39,40
Halle, Sir Charles, 39 Handel, George Frederick, 15, 41, 69,
71 Hanslick, Eduard, 53 Harnoncourt, Nicholas, 67, 68, 75, 85,
86, 87, 91 n.64, 102 Haskell, Harry, 86 Haydn, Franz Joseph, 82 Heidegger, Martin, 93, 107 n.3, 108 n.8 Hepburn, R. W., 54 Hermes, 2, 19 Hill, Peter, 87
Hindemith, Paul, 73 Historical performance (historical
authenticity), 1,15, 46, 60, 67-92, 93, 101-102, 108nn.l4, 15
Hoagland, Sarah Lucia, 99 Hogwood, Christopher, 74, 86 Homer, 3
Integrity, 93-110 Internal goods, 27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 35,
n.4, 102-107 Irish, the, 41 Irish traditional music, 7, 21 n.26, 62
n.39 Italians, the, 40
Johnson, Samuel, 74
Kalkbrenner, Friedrich, 41, 62 n.46 Kekes, John, 99, 103, 104 Keller, Hans, 37 n. 14, 97 Kenyon, Nicholas, 86, 87 Kerman, Joseph, 32, 74 Kierkegaard, Soren, 109 n.34 Kipling, Rudyard, 107 Kirkpatrick, Ralph, 72 Kivy, Peter, 9, 10, 11, 21 n.32, 36 n.9,
37n.20, 62 n.39, 78, 82 Kreisler, Fritz, 51
Landini, Francesco, 41 Landowska, Wanda, 35 n.2, 45, 69-72 Langer, Susanne K., 10, 56, 57 Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel, 118, 75 Leipziger Musikalische Zeitung, 42 Leppard, Raymond, 73, 74 Levinson, Jerrold, 1-3, 6, 8, 13, 24 n.71 Liszt, Franz, 24 n.69, 36 n.7, 39, 40,
42-46, 48, 50-52, 55, 56, 58, 59, 80, 110n.43,61nn.l7, 18,24,62 n.46; Hungarian Rhapsodies, 51
Maclntyre, Alasdair, 35 nn.4, 6, 36 n.12
Mahler, Gustav, 64 n.75 Mannerisms, 24 n.66, 48, 56, 58-59, 64
Mark, Thomas, 24 n.72, 49 Mendelssohn, Felix, 39, 43, 68, 69, 88
n.12; Songs Without Words, 39 Menuhin, Yehudi, 110 n.41 Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, 108 n.8 Meyer, Leonard, 4, 10 Midgley, Mary, 54 Mill, John Stuart, 37 n. 16 Monteverdi, Claudio, 73, 75 Moore, Thomas, 21 n.26 Moravcsik, J. M., 5, 6, 8,20 n. 17 More, Sir Thomas, 109n.23 Morrow, Michael, 93 n.79 Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 14, 32,
41,49-51,71,80,82, 108 nn.9, 14; Rondo in A Minor, K. 511, 47
Munrow, David, 86, 87 Music scores, 13-14, 36 n.l 1 Musica Reservata, 92 n.79 Musical expressiveness (expressive
understanding), 9-12, 17, 22 n.47 Musical interpretation, 1-24; concept of
interpretation (hermenia), 2-3, 20 n.4; critical interpretation, 1, 12, 22 n.49, 24 n.71; ethical dimension of, 19, 47-48, 62 n.39; meaning and interpretation, 20 n.3; performance interpretation, 1-2, 3-4, 12-13, 24 n.71
Musical understanding, 4-13; explicit (technical) understanding, 4-5, 6, 8-9, 12; aural understanding (understanding simpliciter), 4, 5-9, 11-13, 20 n.17, 22n.48
Neumann, Frederick, 74 Nietzsche, Friedrich, 93, 107 n.3
Olivier, Sir Lawrence, 3
Paderewski, Ignacy Jan, 44 Paganini, Niccolo, 41, 42, 43, 44, 52,
53, 62 n.46 Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi, 69 Paris, 70 Passmore, John, 33 Pavorotti, Luciano, 45
Performance practice/tradition, 14-15, 35n.6,36n.ll,37n.l6
Performance skills, 15-17, 23 n.61, 47-48; technical skills, 15-16,24 nn.67, 68, 36 nn.7, 11,47,48-52; craft skills, 16-17, 23 n.65, 36 n.l 1, 52-53
Performing artist: character of, 25-37; education of, 32-34; emotional engagement, 56-58, 62 n.62, 64 n.68
Piaf, Edith, 36 n.l0 Pincherle, Marc, 48 Plato, 3, 25, 33, 112 Pleyel, 70 Polonius, 93 Practicing, 17-19 Procol, Harun, 36 n.9 Pro Musica Antiqua, 73, 89 n.37 Puccini, Giacomo, 64 n.75 Purcell, Henry, 69
Rachmaninoff, Sergei, 14 Rameau, Jean Philippe, 69, 71, 72;
Dauphine, 11 Ravel, Maurice, 94; Concerto for the
Left Hand, 94 Redlich, Hans, 74 Reeves, Henry, 39 Richter, Sviatoslav, 110 n.41 Ridley, Aaron, 6, 20 n.25 Romanticism, 68, 69 Rosen, Charles, 11, 73, 76 Rubinstein, Anton, 46, 58, 105, 109
Sartre, Jean-Paul, 93, 100, 107 nn.3, 108 n.8
Savile, Anthony, 54 Scarlatti, Domenico, 72 Schenker, Heinrich, 11 Schenkerian theory, 4 Schonberg, Arnold, 22-23 n.53; 6
Kleine Klavierstiicke, op. 19, 9, 16 Schubert, Franz, 42; Die Winterreise,
57 Schumann, Clara, 45
122 Virtue or Virtuosity?
Schumann, Robert, 40, 42, 43, 62 n.46; Dichterliebe, 47
Scruton, Roger, 6, 20 nn.3, 16 Sentimentality, 52-55, 58-59, 64-65
n.75 Shakespeare, William, 3, 5 Socrates, 109n.23 Stravinsky, Igor, 45, 56, 58, 67, 68, 72,
Tanner, Michael, 4, 54, 55 Taruskin, Richard, 74 Temperly, Nicholas, 74 Thalberg, Sigismund, 39, 40, 41, 43,
47,55 Toscanini, Arturo, 73 Tovey, Donal Francis, 11
Veinius, Abraham, 40
Verdi, Giuseppi, 45, 48, 91 n.65 Virtues: definition of, 36 n.l2; entailed
in musical performance, 28-32, 37 nn.18, 19,59-60,86-87
Virtuosity, 35, 39-65, 99-101, 104, 109 n.24, 110 n.41; definitions of, 40-41, 44; technical, 48-52; works of, 49, 50-52, 62 n.46
Vogler, George Joseph, 51
Wagner, Richard, 45, 48, 50 Weber, Karl Maria von, 41 Weimar, 42 Western European classical music, 7 Wieck,Clara,61n.l7 Wilde, Oscar, 54 Winter, Robert, 74 Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 94 Wittgenstein, Paul, 94-97, 103
Ysaye, Eugene, 46, 59, 105, 109 n.24
About the Author
JANE O'DEA is Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Education and an adjunct member of the Philosophy Department at the University of Lethbridge.
ContentsAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Musical Interpretation2. Turning the Soul toward Excellence: The Character of the Performing Artist3. Virtue or Virtuosity?4. Historical Authenticity: Vice or Virtue?5. Integrity in Musical Performance ConclusionBibliographyIndexABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPRSTUVWY