[Smt-talk] Theory impacting performance

Isaac Malitz imalitz at omsmodel.com
Tue Jul 3 07:38:41 PDT 2012

I will dive right in with a couple of proposed examples, for whatever 
they are worth. Then I'll provide a cautionary comment.

EXAMPLE1: Schenker Theory (or something like Schenker Theory)

I studied piano with Aube Tzerko, a student of Artur Schnabel, who 
taught a specific method of analysis which seems to have been adapted 
from Schenker. Two of the goals of the analysis were [a] To help the 
player to convey the "long line" or the "architecture" in a piece of 
tonal music; [b] To help the player to convey detail in a manner that is 
vivid, compelling, and true to the music. I and many of my fellow 
students believe that Tzerko's methods were very effective indeed.

I am not a specialist in Schenker theory myself, I am primarily schooled 
in Tzerko's adaptation of Schenker. Perhaps a Schenker specialist may 
want to contribute some comments.
I believe there are prominent musicians who claim that Schenker has been 
influential in their work (Furtwangler; Murray Perahia; ...)


My primary research interest has been "OMS", which could be described 
briefly as a way of modeling musical performances from an "experiential" 
point of view. See www.OMSModel.com  more information.

In discussions with performing musicians (I am active in the 
contemporary music activities in Los Angeles), I frequently incorporate 
ideas from OMS. And I think these ideas have influenced musical 
performances. The most evident influence I think has been to help 
musicians to understand that a performance can be more effective when 
designed as a "total experience" ("total experience" involves careful 
consideration of the program, the venue, program notes, etc.,  and also 
of the various ways in which the purely  musical content can affect the 
listeners. Performers are often short-sighted of the total range of 
possible effect of a musical performance, OMS can broaden a performer's 
perspective on what they can do.)


Just because a performer claims to have been influenced by  theory 
doesn't mean that they were significantly influenced by that theory or 
that their performances audibly reflect the theory !

Isaac Malitz, Ph.D.
imalitz at OMSModel.com

On 7/1/2012 11:15 AM, Eric Knechtges wrote:
> Dear collective wisdom,
> This is an incredibly broad question (and non-specific on purpose), so 
> I'll gladly accept any and all suggestions you would like to send.
> I'm interested in specific examples of where a specific theoretical 
> understanding of a piece of music has a direct and audible impact on 
> one's interpretation of that piece in performance, especially in 
> situations involving some ambiguity.  This could manifest itself on 
> any level.  If this could be supported by references to different 
> recordings showcasing competing interpretations, even better.  My goal 
> is to stimulate discussion among my undergrads about valuation and 
> evaluation of different interpretations, and why analysis is an 
> important piece of forming a personal (and "correct") interpretation.
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