The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that you can never step into the same river twice. I think the same can also be said for a work of Beethoven. Even if the notes on the page are static, like the length of the Mississippi river, there are innumerable factors that change a performance each time. A piece is in a constant state of flux with every time you play it.
That spontaneity is one of the most exciting things about performing classical music to me. It’s something I never realized when I started playing. Where was the freedom? Why, the same freedom is found in jazz: you listen in the moment and respond to the unique sounds that are put in the air.
“When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never get it back”. We can take jazz artist Eric Dolphy’s statement as a source of woe or of joy in our music making. I much prefer the latter!