A composition is written, conceived, and, except for those experts who can read music, it is dead, does not exist, if it is not reproduced by a musician. The situation would be very simple if a machine could do this work; then a way would have been found over the centuries to pass on to the listener the composer's intention to a hair. Instead we have humans, who act as mediators; and since no two people are alike, the reproduction of the music depends on the respective performers.

In the beginning, the composer was also the player; it was more or less one profession. Then came a separation, and gradually the role of mere reproduction became all the more important. Since composer and reproducer are no longer the same person and since the composers whom one is interpreting have been dead for centuries, the reproducer has become independent and autonomous. In my opinion the relationship has been disarranged to such a degree that the performer has become less the mediator between composer and listener and more the handler of raw material, who gives it its final form. This development was inevitable, for we are dealing with a human being, whose natural impulse is to place his own personality in the foreground. Even Mozart complained that his music was being desecrated, but it cannot have been as bad then as in the nineteenth century, in which liberalism led to the false admiration of one's personality.

We must make it clear to ourselves that it would do great harm to Beethoven's music if each musician were allowed to maintain the essentiality of his own personality for the shaping and molding of Beethoven.

This arrogant attitude does great damage to both music and public. The personality cannot be excluded, but the musician must try to live up to the composer and not bring the composer down to his level. We must take it for granted that of the two, the composer is the greater. The goal which I consider as the most important for the player is: abandon vanity, and ability, if there is any thought behind it at all, will come forth.



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