\"\"
Piano Forum logo

Are composers always right about their own music? (Read 1807 times)

Offline klavieronin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 674
Are composers always right about their own music?
« on: October 13, 2017, 10:46:54 AM »
How do people feel about deviating from the score? Do you think it is possible for a performer to interpret a piece of music in a way that is artistically justified but is different to what is written in the score? I'm not talking about changing notes or harmonies or writing paraphrases, but changing things like dynamics, articulations, phrasing, etc. One example that comes to mind is Ashkenazy playing the first few notes of Chopin's Etude Op. 25, No.11 what sounds to me like ff when the score is marked with p.

Piano Street's Digital Sheet Music Library

Chopin: Etude, opus 25 no 11
piano sheet music of Etude


Offline mjames

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2498
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #1 on: October 13, 2017, 11:14:56 AM »
deviating from the score doesn't have to be a statement on whether the composer's initial markings were right or wrong. it's just stating the performer's own preference in performing the music. besides, if composers can do it why can't we? chopin completely ignored his own markings and played the climax in op. 60 in pianissimo.

inherently there's no right or wrong in music. they're also dead, so who cares what they think? :D

Offline iansinclair

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1472
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #2 on: October 13, 2017, 09:00:28 PM »
Amen to mjames.  But.  Whatever you do, it must make musical and artistic sense.  This means, basically, that until the performer has a well developed sense of what the composer meant (otherwise, why perform the piece?) and what they want to say with the piece (again, otherwise why perform it?) they shouldn't mess with it -- in my view anyway.

Given that exception, there are times when for various reasons (which I have always felt were good and valid!) I have changed tempos and particularly dynamics without feeling even slightly guilty about it.  Less often I have changed notes (on the piano I can't reach beyond an octave and a fourth with any reliability; in choral conducting I was once blessed with choir which had both a superlative high soprano -- and a fantastic bass with real power and tone -- and sometimes added a note or sequence for one or both of them!).

Always in good taste, I hope.
Ian

Offline outin

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8213
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 03:22:45 AM »
Just listen to the survived recordings of the early 20th century composers and you'll see they did not necessarily play as written themselves. Either the edition was not what they meant or they did not think there was only one way to play the music. Or maybe they saw the pieces as still developing and experimented.

Online lostinidlewonder

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6523
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #4 on: October 14, 2017, 03:31:59 AM »
For most exams and competitions the composers are always right. For your own performances and playing for yourself you should feel that you have the right to artistic freedom especially if you can readily play as the composer intended. I much prefer to hear a fresh interpretation than the same old, but it's only because I've heard pieces played a billion times as written, in saying that though if an interpretation is distasteful I much prefer what the composer intended.
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.facebook.com/groups/348933611793249/

Offline klavieronin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 674
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #5 on: October 16, 2017, 12:14:08 AM »
Thanks for the replies. Seems like everyone is generally pretty flexible when it comes to interpretation. My feeling is that you should aim for what you feel the composer intended but on a deeper level than merely following exactly what is written in the score. I think the spirit of the music (for lack of a better word) is what is important. I'm personally hesitant to ever deviate too far from the score but if the music suggest something other than what's written in the score then that's what I would do.

Offline Bob

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 16182
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 12:21:17 AM »
I'd say no.  They give birth to it, but once it's released into the world, it's on its own.  It's possible someone else will bring more out of the work than the composer imagined.  Depends on the composer though.
Favorite new teacher quote -- "You found the only possible wrong answer."

Offline klavieronin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 674
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #7 on: October 18, 2017, 11:03:01 AM »
Haha, just noticed the typo in the topic heading. Whoops.

Offline iansinclair

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1472
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #8 on: October 18, 2017, 02:02:12 PM »
I'd say no.  They give birth to it, but once it's released into the world, it's on its own.  It's possible someone else will bring more out of the work than the composer imagined.  Depends on the composer though.
This is particularly true for "popular" music and such ditties as hymns.  Turn them loose and they take on a life of their own, and sometimes go places the original composer never ever dreamed of!  There are far too many examples to even begin to list -- I'm sure we all can think of a few dozen without even trying.
Ian

Offline quantum

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 6001
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #9 on: October 27, 2017, 11:30:22 AM »
Having worked with a number of living composers to prepare music for performance, in my experience modifications have been common place, even expected at times.  I sense a greater preference to modify a piece to bring it to its full potential rather than stubbornly adhere to a score that may have been written months or years before, a time when the composer had no idea of the instruments or acoustic in which it would be performed. 

As one composer I know always says: always annotate in pencil.  To which I add: make sure you have a large eraser.  ;)
Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline Derek

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1884
Re: Are composers always right about there own music?
«Reply #10 on: October 28, 2017, 02:06:02 PM »
I know one thing, I hate nearly all classical recordings of piano I've ever heard because they all sound like they're on fast forward. If that's the way the "composers intended," I suspect they're all turning over in their graves.