Undergraduate Humanities Forum 2007-2008: Origins

Document Type


Date of this Version

April 2008


2007-2008 Penn Humanities Forum on Origins, Undergraduate Mellon Research Fellows.

URL: http://humanities.sas.upenn.edu/07-08/uhf_fellows.shtml


"Of all creative artists," wrote Hector Berlioz in his famous orchestration treatise, "the composer is almost the only one to depend on a host of intermediaries between him and his audience" (Berlioz, 2002 [1856]: 336). These intermediaries – the orchestra and its leader and time keeper, the conductor – "may be intelligent or stupid, devoted or hostile, energetic or lazy; from first to last they can contribute to the glory of [the] work, or they can spoil it, insult it, or even wreck it completely" (Ibid.). From written score to performance, realizing a composer's work of music becomes an acute problem of both collective action and aesthetic interpretation. The chief mediator between the composer's artistic intention and its social realization is the conductor, who through his or her authority not only asserts and determines the tempo of a performance, but also establishes its nuance, feeling, and overall interpretation.



Date Posted: 25 July 2008

This document has been peer reviewed.