I am not a governess who treats the composer like a child and tells him what he should compose. I try to understand what he has written down. I look at the composer like a father, and I look at his music with loving but critical eyes.
- Alfred Brendel, 13 September 2005, Interview with NPR
As an undergraduate, I had a great deal of admiration for Mr. Brendel. In his writings and recordings he seemed to uphold the ideal that the performer is in service to the score and composer, and must do his or her best to faithfully transmit the music to the audience. The opposite of this approach is the selfish performer, who believes that he or she knows better than the composer how to best bring the music to life. Such performers upstage the composer and do so without any compunction.
Of course, it doesn’t take long to realize that it would take sort of some sort of spiritual possession for a performer to be a a perfect conduit of the composer’s intentions (and I don’t quite think that’s Brendel’s ideal). But what really brought me away from Brendel’s line of thinking was a discussion on creativity in grad school.