Interpreting Musical Performances

The Monist 66 (2):202-212 (1983)


Interpreting artworks involves “the overtone or implication of an obligation of a moral kind.” Here “moral” might be understood in two different ways. First, such obligation, like moral obligation, involves recognition of and submission to some law outside oneself. The law says “Do not kill” and so I intend my actions to conform with that standard; analogously, a performance presents that work created by the composer. Second, the act of interpretation may itself have moral value. Interpretation brings to life artworks which otherwise could not be as fully appreciated.

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