[SydPhil] What is interpretation of music in performance?

Goetz Richter goetz.richter at sydney.edu.au
Wed May 11 22:09:15 AEST 2022

The final Musicology Colloquium presentation for the semester will be by Goetz Richter.

What is interpretation of music in performance?

Much confusion surrounds the nature of interpretation of music in performance. Ignoring its particular, embodied and temporal nature, we tend to regard performance as an event that can be objectively rendered in recordings or alternatively unfolds in virtual spaces. More recently we refer to performance as the object of analysis in so-called performance research. While there are some performing musicians (Sergiu Celibidache) who reject the possibility of the authenticity of recording, others (Glenn Gould) affirm recording as a privileged medium of performance. The urgency and significance of the question what the interpretation of music in performance actually is and how it takes place has been starkly highlighted by an unprecedented closure of performance and concert life over the past two years. Furthermore, endeavours to teach such interpretation of music, still a central concern of some Conservatoria, would seem to require a clear view of what it is that is supposed to be taught and what the merits of such a discipline actually are.

In this paper, I develop a philosophical answer to the question of the interpretation of music in performance through Hans Georg Gadamer's discussion of the "hermeneutic consciousness" outlined in his Truth and Method. Gadamer's thinking opens a number of clear conceptual paths for any attempt to understand what modes of being, consciousness, knowledge or action are significant in this artistic activity. Following these paths we will resuscitate the case for the unique intellectual and spiritual importance of the interpretation of music in performance which seems increasingly suffocated by postmodern ideology and opportunistic higher education culture.

Wednesday 18 May, 4pm

On zoom: https://uni-sydney.zoom.us/s/86714831012

Password: 944469
All welcome
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