Why are performers of great music – soloists or conductors mainly – called “interpreters”? Why aren’t they simply “performers” or “players”?
The conductor is obviously not a player or performer, so he might as well be called “interpreter”, although he might also be called “time-keeper”, or “leader”; the French do call him leader, or “chief” – chef – “chef d’orchestre.” In English he is more collegially known as ‘conductor’, the one who conducts the players to a successful presentation of a piece of music.
But why is the soloist also an “interpreter”? Isn’t he simply playing what has been written? Music is different from all the other arts in that you can’t see what the composer has created.
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