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12/3/2000:Regarding conductors and orchestras, what do you think of the question, “Where is the music?” The conductor instructs and interprets the score, but at the same time, each individual musician also interprets the music and still possesses creative control over how he or she plays the music. Additionally, how the audience listens to and experiences the music is contingent upon the individual as well. Where, then, is the music? Or is the music with the composer, as it was intended and created to sound in the composer’s head? Do you think any person/group can claim ownership over the music?

This discussion is really more philosophical than musical. The fact is that, while alive, the composer has a pretty good control of how his music is performed. (This, of course, is dependent on how much of a micro-manager he (or she) is.) Even after death, the publisher and the author’s estate have some control. (In the case of Gershwin, the rules were fairly strict as to performance practices.)

But great music, like theater, is a living art. Perhaps that is why we still can find Bach fascinating almost 300 years later, or Sophocles over 2,000 years later.

©2000 by Joseph Rescigno. The text here may be freely reproduced for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is given.

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