Are composed, notated musical works primary in the musical enterprise? Are performers and, derivatively, their performances in some sense subordinate or subservient to the notated work? One strong expression of the subordination of performance to the composed work is phrased as a near commonplace in the venerable Harvard Dictionary of Music. In the entry on ‘Interpretation’, after locating the performer as ‘middleman’ between composer and audience, performance is assigned its humble role of obeisance:

A personal interpretation is the performer’s great privilege, granted him by the composer. A really fine performer is always aware of the responsibility toward the work that this privilege imposes.1