MM_Battisti Interpretation

by Frank Battisti


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The Conductor’s Challenge: Finding Expressive Meaning in the Score

By Frank Battisti. ISBN 978-1-57463-133-3, $24.95.

This extension and expansion of Guide to Score Study, co-authored with Robert Garofalo, examines the various stages conductors traverse in arriving at an interpretation. Battisti emphasizes the importance of the conductor’s imagination, personality and on-going study—weeks/months/years—in developing an interpretation that is personal, well informed and faithful to the composer’s expressive intent.  He examines the score analysis process including the role and function of a work’s musical elements; the need to balance intellectual understanding and intuitive feelings about a piece and the challenges faced by conductors when transforming an interpretation into a performance.  As examples, he traces the procedures he used in forming interpretations of “Lisbon” and “Horkstow Grange” from Grainger’s Lincolnshire Posy, Copland’s Down a Country Lane and “Sinfonia” from Stravinsky’s Octet for Wind Instruments.


“We must defend the composer against the mechanical conception of life . . .Our duty is to give to the listener that inspiration that the composer had.”

Leopold Stokowski

“We believe . . . that it is the performer’s business to get out of the way of the music.  His craft is to ‘reveal – not to interpret.”

Robert Shaw

“The only sensible advice one can give a performing artist [the interpreter] is to ask that a happy balance be found between slavish adherence to inadequate signs and a too liberal straying from the clear intentions of the composer…. a performance is both an exposition of the piece and an exposition of the personality traits of the performer.”

Aaron Copland

“The stronger the imaginative power . . . the more potent the final result.”

Elizabeth Green

“ . . . interpreters/conductors [have] . . reconstituted. . .all the different phases which the author’s mind went through when creating his work, and in doing so, observe the reactions which they produce deep down in his own mind.”

Pablo Casals

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