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Intention, creative variability and paradox in recorded performances of the piano music of Maurice Ravel

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Intention, creative variability and paradox in recorded performances of the piano music of Maurice Ravel

Korman, Pamela (1996) Intention, creative variability and paradox in recorded performances of the piano music of Maurice Ravel. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Maurice Ravel's oft repeated comment "Je ne souhaite pas que l'on interprete ma musique: il suffit de la jouer"--exemplifies one of the most puzzling contradictions imbedded in the western musical psyche--contradictions emerging from fundamental assumptions relating to the nature of composed music and its transmission. Through its comparative analysis of over eighty years of sound recordings by master performers, the thesis challenges Ravel's dictum, and with it the received wisdom about issues involving the relationship of composer to interpreter, textual authenticity, intention, variability and invariability in performance, communication and meaning in composed music. No matter how these issues are treated they must contend with the rationally based, historical position of the interpreter (whether passive messenger or inspired commentator) as creatively subordinate to the composer. The aural evidence provided by master pianists calls into question the very concept of the performing artist as "interpreter". The thesis shows that in the process of "interpreting" the individual artist creates a distinctive complementary structure--defined herein as the "performing structure"--that in its interaction with the composer's notated text generates a new self-sufficient work of art. The blending of "musical signatures" in effect constitutes a re-shaping of the given material into a unique co-created synthesis. Taken in the context of the historical, philosophical, cultural and musical antecedents which Ravel inherited, this thesis compares the composer's statements, his recordings of his piano music and those of successive generations of master performers. It concludes that the nature and range of variability in these performances precludes the possibility of any statement of intention, nor any single performance--no matter how "authoritative"--providing a definitive measure of the implicit meaning of a piece of music. It follows that a multiplicity of "meanings" drawn from the comparative analysis of performances by master artists will offer a more reliable index of the intrinsic potential of a particular musical work.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Korman, Pamela
Pagination:xi, 283 leaves : ill., music ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Theses (Ph.D.)
Program:Special Individualized Programme
Date:1996
Thesis Supervisor(s):Cohen, Philip
ID Code:248
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:27 Aug 2009 13:10
Last Modified:08 Dec 2010 10:13
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