Violinist.com recently conducted an interview with Hilary Hahn, the noted 27 year old violinist. As Laurie Niles writes from the Violinist.com website:

She’s won a Grammy, and she’s recorded most of the major repertoire, between her current contract with Deutsche Grammophon and her previous one with Sony. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, she began playing at the age of three and started concertizing at age 15. She has played with major orchestras the world over and recorded nine albums that include many of the major concertos of the violin repertoire.

Not bad. In my experience, violinists of this rank and stature usually have strong opinions about their craft. It turns out that Ms. Hahn is no exception. The interviewer knows of Schoenberg’s fondness for tone rows, and inquires of Ms. Hahn if the works she recorded were “built” on them. Ms. Hahn’s response in instructive for a general theory of aesthetics:

I don’t care. […] It doesn’t matter how a melody is constructed, it’s still a melody. It doesn’t matter whether a structural element is there because a composer woke up with it from a dream, or they sat down and mapped it out. It doesn’t really matter. That’s all in the music, and it’s all there to be interpreted. People draw their inspiration from different areas, and whatever helps them express what they want to express musically should not be the determining factor for how it’s interpreted. […]

If you take all emotional bias out, everything has equal musical importance.

Three cheers for Ms. Hahn’s take on her craft and its role in the broader scope of things. This is a delightful slap at those who believe that art possessing some kind of technical mechanism (be it a tone row or a parallel to something or a tongue-in-cheek reference) lends it some kind of quality or superiority. If you ask me, these contrivances take away from the authenticity of art. Kudos to Ms. Hahn for keeping it fresh.

(h/t Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise; graphic credit: Anonymous from the Hahn website)

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