Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Composer's rights

I previously asked about the right of composers to prevent their works from being performed. Commenters (whom Haloscan seems to have deleted) rightly pointed out that the composer's wishes should be respected. Now we get premieres of works that composers hadn't even completed. Are we really so deficient in the amount of musical compositions available that we have to "reconstruct" new ones by long-dead composers? There are always fuzzy lines, such as Mozart's Requiem being finished by his student. But we should not be actively trying to read the minds of composers, as is the case with the Beethoven Adagio. All that existed was "a rough outline of the themes." Beethoven left many sketch books full of half-formed and discarded ideas. He had reasons to discard each of the unrealized ideas, including the Adagio. Why go against his will now, when we have plenty of music by Beethoven, his contemporaries, and the rest of music history up to the present?

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