Daniel Libeskind: The links between music and architecture

From the BBC Proms lecture given by the architect and musician

Thursday 05 December 2013 02:44
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What is music? Music has to do with an enormous discipline. To play an instrument, to read music, to perform music, requires a discipline. This is one of the connecting links between music and architecture, because both are extremely rigorous engagements. You cannot play music approximately, unless you're just playing around; if you really want to play a melody, you have to hit every note correctly, and every tempo and every harmony has to be there in order to be audible.

And I think that is true of architecture: you cannot really do architecture approximately, you have to do it exactly. And what ties them together in my own experience is the element of time and the element of mathematics. Both of them really are very exact disciplines, they are very precise, they are both drawn in a certain way, and the drawings, whether they are scores in music or architectural drawings, connect the music.

I've always thought that it would be very difficult to do in architecture what some contemporary composers have suggested in music, to have rotating players, to have players interpret, and yet I think what architecture can do is involve the audience in it.

The audience has somehow to complete the building. Even though architecture is very precise, because you can't have people decide how much steel you need to support a roof, I believe a building's spatiality, its materiality, has to be open so the public can form its own architectural operation on the building. I have always thought that my buildings would be nothing if they were not for people to construct their meanings.

Daniel Libeskind's talk will be broadcast in full on BBC Radio 3 on 4 August at 5.45pm

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