Even if, owing to his more and more serious health problems, he had resigned from his position as professor at the Music Conservatory in Geneva, Dinu Lipatti begins, only a few months prior to his passing away, drafting a course on piano interpretation. It was a way of honouring the promise he had made the Conservatory, of holding, each year, a special one-month course.
"It is mistakenly thought that the music of any epoch must maintain the characteristics and even the failures prevalent at the time of its creation. The interpreter who adopts this view does so with a clear conscience and thinks himself safe from any dangerous deviations from the truth. But what an effort is needed to rake through the dust of the past and how many useless scruples are necessary before confronting ‘the one and only object of our attention’. Trying to bring it to light in a too faithful manner we only end up by drowning it in a flood of prejudices and false data. We must never forget that great and true music transcends its time< moreover, it never conforms to the setting, formulae and rules accepted at the time of its conception. Bach demands electric organ, with its many devices for playing his organ pieces, Mozart demands the piano and a different style from that of the harpsichord; Beethoven vigorously calls for the modern piano which did not come in to use until Chopin who was also the first to lend it more colour ; while Debussy went further by allowing a glimpse of the ‘Martenot wave’ in his Preludes.
The desire to reset the music within the framework of its epoch is similar to dressing up an adult in adolescent clothes. This may appear charming when thinking of a revival, but it can only be of interest to those searching through the dead leaves of the past, or to collectors of old pipes.
These thoughts came to mind when I remembered the amazement I provoked when playing Mozart’s Concerto in D minor, with Beethoven’s magnificent Cadenza, at a major European festival some time ago. There can be no doubt that the same themes sounded very differently when fresh from Beethoven’s quill! The importance lay precisely in the interesting confrontation; what is more, many accused me of having written that anachronistic and unacceptable Cadenza.
How right Stravinsky was to say that ‘music lives in the present’. Music must be alive in our fingers, eyes, hearts and minds, with everything we have to offer.
Far be it from me to advocate anarchy or scorn for the fundamental laws which govern, in general terms, the co-ordination of any true and valuable interpretation. However, I do believe a grievous error is committed in any search for useless detail as to the manner in which Mozart would have played a certain trill or made a certain turn. The very different indications, often contradictory, left to us in some excellent treatises – already considered dated – lead me firmly along the path of simplification and synthesis. I abide inflexibly by those few basic principles which we all know (or should know, I suppose); but for the rest of the time I rely on my intuition (that second and most valuable intelligence), as well as on that power to penetrate deeply into a work which, sooner or later, is bound to yield up its own particular truth.
Never study a work with eyes of the past or of the dead; you may and up with no more than poor Yorick’s skull! Casella put it aptly when he said that ‘we must not be satisfied with respecting great masterpieces, we must love them!’”