As an introduction to the Contemporary Performance Practice Research Day(s), Jan Michiels will also give the lecture recital Brahms-ein Bilderrätsel on Wednesday 12th November (evening).
In 1949 the following text by Eduard Steuermann was published in the 'Philadelphia Conservatory of Music Yearbook' :
"You look at the music page in front of you and strike the first chords : are you transferring into finger motions the signs you see ? Or - are you making audible the sonorities shaping up in your ear ? Or - are you bringing to life the world of sounds and expressions sealed in the page in front of you ? (...) Arnold Schönberg once called the musical notation 'das Bilderrätsel', the picture puzzle, as every line of these traditional signs conceals as well as it reveals the secret meaning of the melody, the rhythm, the sonority. It was created by magic - as we do not know what the 'secret' of music is - and we can re-create it by magic only : the magic of devotion and sincerity."
In this lecture-recital we look together to some signs written on paper by Johannes Brahms - by 'contemporary' playing and listening and by listening to some performances from a very distant past (close to Brahms' lifetime). Can we solve the puzzle in this way - with Steuermann as guide and bridge between Brahms and us ?
To make things even more 'puzzling' I add another quote from Steuermann's writings : "The more I teach and explain music, the more I believe what Schönberg once said (in the good old times) : 'One learns only what one already knows anyway.' "
Welcome to (y)our puzzle!