A link about the history of a piece origin, and the explanations of each phrase .

Edited: November 1, 2019, 12:29 PM · I am amazed how a musician interpret phrases in a piece and communicate them to audiences that touch audiences heart.

I am curious, is there a link about the history of a piece composition/origin, and much better if there is also a link to explaining the composer's intention in each phrase of a piece

I am amazed how Ray Chen interpret Sibelius Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. So powerful and communicative, that all you can do is to listen....

And also Beethoven Romance in F by Benjamin Levy. Each phrase is like talking.....And I am curious what it communicates in each phrase.....

Replies (8)

Edited: November 1, 2019, 5:07 PM · I think music is a language in its own right. No need to tranlate in words. And, aside from program music, this may not even be possible. Everyone may have his own "story" to a piece. What we share is rather the transported emotions.

If you're looking for explanations to a piece, go for "modern music" - lots of stuff that's in serious need for explanation, for without explanation all this atonality is rather noise than music. But this is only my own small humble opinion - I'm incompetent in these things, an honestly not too curious about it.

November 1, 2019, 10:30 PM · There are booklets given to audiences in concerts, explaining the pieces origin and the phrases meaning. I wonder from where the sources are? Are there a link/website about that? I am just interested to read it.
November 1, 2019, 10:56 PM · There's not a website as such. When you buy a Urtext (Barenreiter, Henle Verlag, Wiener) there is usually a preface which gives the sort of basic background of a piece
November 1, 2019, 11:34 PM · Usually the program notes are written by someone working for the orchestra. There isn't a central location that orchestras get program notes from.
Edited: November 2, 2019, 7:43 AM · All this information is typically culled from innumerable texts on music history and musicology. This is how the liner notes for CDs get written too. Here's how it starts: You go to college and then graduate school and you write a dissertation on some unfathomably narrow corner of music history -- for example one might write an entire doctoral dissertation on the influence that Sibelius's wife's gout had on the phrasing in his violin concerto between measures 53 and 59. But in the process one reads a tremendous amount of other stuff mainly so that one can have a lot of footnotes. By and by, bits of knowledge (and speculation) are pieced together into a fabric that we call Higher Learning. A student who has written a particularly compelling (but not necessarily correct) dissertation and who has recommendations written on the right stationery will get a job teaching in a university and continue doing the same kind of research for the rest of his or her life, and in order to be tenured, one needs to write not just a dissertation but usually an entire book. All these books wind up in the library where the next generation of graduate students uses them as footnotes in their dissertations, and eventually you wind up with a more-or-less self-consistent body of knowledge, the veracity of which is inevitably questionable because of the deep influence of biases on the parts of the authors going back centuries. In the end, writing your program notes is a little bit like Biblical exegesis: You select carefully among the background material to support whatever will flatter the sensibilities of your audience.
November 3, 2019, 3:14 AM · Very apt description of graduate school, Paul!

Regarding explaining the composer's intentions in different phrases of a piece, that would only be possible if you could actually speak to the composer or if the composer actually wrote such things down in words. Otherwise each person's interpretation will be highly personal and won't necessarily reflect what the composer had in mind while writing the phrase.

In my opinion trying to explain what the composer intended with each phrase, or even just with each piece or movement, is pointless. The composer has written the music for whatever reason and with whatever inspiration, the performers have interpreted it according to their own sensibilities, and the listeners have their very unique personal lives from which to appreciate (or not) the music they are hearing. All of that is very much what makes music an art and not a science, and thus with all those different personal filters affecting how each person hears and interprets the music there is no single correct way to determine what the music "means."

Music doesn't "mean" -- it just "is."

November 7, 2019, 8:11 AM · Thank you for the answer. So, is it ok for a musician to interpret the music as he pleases? Because as watched on youtube, Sibelius was played with different feeling/interpretation by different soloists.
November 7, 2019, 11:32 AM · Some great composers did write something like programme notes, e.g., Schumann, Bruckner, Tchaikovsky.

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