Many are aware of the problem in our classical music education system nowadays. We have many music students graduating with relatively high grades, but unable to play a simple tune without the help of a written score.
The great jazz pianist Bill Evans addressed this issue in a most profound way, in his interview themed “the Universal Mind of Bill Evans”.
Here’s a quote from the interview,
“In the 17th century, there was a great deal of improvisation in classical music. And because of the fact that there were no electrical recording techniques or anyway to permanize, or to “catch” music, and to record it. The music was written so that it could be permanize that way. And so slowly and surely, the writing of the music and the intepreters of the written music, gave way to more and more intepretation, and less and less improvisation. Until finally, improvisation became a lost art in classical music, and we have only the composer and the intepreter.”
Not many knew, or pay attention to, the fact that great classical musicians like Mozart and Bach have been improvising way back even before there was jazz.
Imagine how Mozart and Bach would feel, if a student mastered all their sonatas and fugues and claimed to have aquired a high level of artistry in classical music.
This is the video, with Bill Evans being interviewed by his brother Harry Evans: