Musicality and Technique

What should the goal be for a performer, that is for the interpreter of a composition, i.e., the musical expression of another person? To interpret as closely as possible the composer's intentions, at least what the player believes are his intentions. How can one best accomplish this goal? First one should recognize this goal as such and then control the means that are absolutely necessary for its accomplishment.

In my opinion, a war exists between technique and musicality. It brings with it only confusion, and makes a great performance virtually impossible. If one understands that by musicality is meant that one recognizes the intentions of the composer, then the other half of the term-"technique"-can be explained as possessing the real means necessary for bringing these intentions to fruition.

It is clear that musicality has priority; but for that very reason one should value technique even more highly, because it alone makes it possible to do justice to a composition.

I fear that the words "virtuoso" and "technique" will be falsely understood and misused. The word "virtuoso" comes from virtus which means ability and should also characterize one who possesses the ability that is necessary for the interpretation of music. Virtuoso should be a title of honor, and I believe that even among the greatest names on the stage, only a few deserve it.

Virtuoso includes: the greatest ability, respect for a piece of art, and the ability to fit one's personality to the art work. How many of us have this? How many of us believe we have it, and are mistaken about it? And how many could have it if they were guided properly during their development?

The word "technique" is misused and misunderstood. I do not believe that I am mistaken when I maintain that technique means something entirely different: on a stringed instrument it usually means speed and intonation.

Proof that clarification of these terms is almost an absolute necessity is the fact that one always hears: X has a great amount of technique, but he is not a good musician, or: Y is a good chamber player, but he does not play violin, viola, or cello, as the case may be, well. What is really meant by such claims? Usually they mean something entirely different from what the words convey. If one maintains that someone has good technique, but he is not a good musician, then one must mean that the player can probably play quickly and clearly, but that he has no feeling for the music. Thus two or three or four factors are being taken into consideration which constitute only a small part of technique and....

Here Feuermann's notes come to an end.

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