About the Interpretation of a Work of Art

Natalia S. Gulyanitskaya


Author of the article focuses her attention to the issue of interpretation of works of art, including musical compositions. In works devoted to issues of aesthetics, philosophy and literary studies this issue is frequently elucidated in an abstract, sublime vein insinuating at the impossibility of total comprehension: a “trick” which “must be impenetrable to complete explanation by words” (Leo Tolstoy), “an unconsciously carried out mystery” or “the soul of the work of art” (Ivan Ilyin), or “the artistic world” possessing “inner unity” defined by the overall of a work of art or of an author, the style of a literary direction or “the style of the epoch” (Dmitri Likhachev). To what degree are these conceptions applicable to a musical composition?

The author is convinced that contemporary musical practice as the result of its diversity requires the search for a corresponding method of analysis. Depending on the type of the musical composition, it must be examined through the prism of such aesthetic conceptions as the beautiful (for example, Valery Kikta’s “The Return of St. Cecilia”), “the unity of oppositions” (Pavel Karmanov’s “Favorite Hated City,” Sofia Gubaidulina’s “The Seven Last Words,” etc.). Special approaches must be found for intertextual compositions (such as, for instance, Vladimir Martynov’s Vita nova and Valentin Silvestrov’s “Mozart’s Moments”) and compositions practically not possessing content to which such aesthetical terms as “ironic play” or “artistic deceit” (Georges Aperghis’ Simulacres) may be applied.

The well-known music of the past also presumes a search for new methods of analysis. As the central term for studying a musical work of art the author proposes the term “music as a text,” initially suggested, presumably, by Alexander Mikhaylov. The article demonstrates that music is capable to tell about itself by itself. As an example, analysis is made of Franz Liszt’s Ave Maria, the numerous versions of which, having appeared at various stages of the composer’s artistic path, comprise a hyper-cycle, according to the author. In this hyper-cycle becomes an event for the listener, in which it could “read” the change of the musical morphology and syntax.

Keywords: work of art, interpretation, modern music, methods of analysis of a musical composition, “music as a text”

For citation: Gulyanitskaya N. S. About the Interpretation of a Work of Art [Electronic source]. In: Sovremennye problemy muzykoznaniya / Contemporary Musicology, 2023, no. 1, pp. 5–19. (In Russ.) DOI: 10.56620/2587-9731-2023-1-005-019



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DOI: https://doi.org/10.56620/2587-9731-2023-1-005-019

Copyright (c) 2023 Natalia S. GULYANITSKAYA

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