Friday, February 18, 2005

The meaning of the piece

The book I'm currently reading is a magnificent collection of essays by Jacques Barzun titled A Jacques Barzun Reader. Here's a thought from that, from an essay titled "Is Music Unspeakable?", which has some food for thought for critics of any of the art forms:
[W]e have all heard the anecdote of the composer who played his latest piece to his guests, after which one of them asked what its meaning was. The composer sat down at the piano again and played the piece through once more.

The composer's answer was entirely right. But it holds good not just for music. The meaning is inside any work of art and it cannot be decanted into a proposition.

And still we try in vain!

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