Presumably, many performers would use theoretical insights to deepen their interpretations. But unfortunately, the marked separation of theory, composition, and performance into different disciplines has become a key feature of modern musical life. In contrast to the past, people in different walks of musical life often have very little to do with each other. I find this development rather sad.
Overspecialization is a very serious problem. I think it has many causes. It’s related to the state of composition nowadays and the fact that most performers are very detached from what most composers write. Then, there is certainly a pervasive tendency for people in academia to intellectualize about everything and to feel that collecting quantities of information and categorizing it is in itself valuable. And of course there’s the widespread use of computers, which keeps many people in music far away from real music. One finds many people going into the field of theory who may not have much musical talent — who have bad ears or don’t play anything or don’t know the literature very well — but who do have the kind of self-discipline and intelligence that enables them to get through graduate courses, write some kind of dissertation, and teach. Specialization is meant for such people because it means they can work with some little corner of music theory and thereby hide their general inabilities. The same thing happens in every field. Of course, music theory deals in abstractions—that’s what it is—but the person who’s doing the theory ought to know what an abstraction is and what it is being abstracted from. For many of these people, the abstraction is the only concrete aspect of music. I think this is very bad."
— Carl Schachter
Interview, 1977 (via leadingtone)
NASA recently announced that it has named a unique basin found on Mercury after the great composer, conductor and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff. Read more here —> http://bit.ly/RachBasinMercury
(Image Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington)