[I]t was the primacy of interpretation, in [John] Guillory’s view, that licensed literary critics of his own generation to wander away from, and in some cases abandon, literature entirely, in search of new worlds to conquer: “By the later 1960s, the literary professoriate had begun to tire of producing ‘readings’ of literary works.” But rather than finding something to do with literature besides interpret it, they simply moved on to producing interpretations of everything: films, works of visual art, philosophical systems, archival documents, feelings, society itself. “A door was opened leading beyond literature to all of culture,” Guillory writes. “But having passed through this magic portal, it was difficult to return to literature, to be content with that object.”

Evan Kindley, “Departments on the Defensive”

Recording technology changed the very nature of music’s being in the world. The fact that musical performances could be rescued from ephemerality, lifted out of the river of time and retained for unlimited future reference, gave rise to the modern concept of interpretation. It’s interesting that Wagner does not use the German word Deutung for what the conductor does when he rehearses and performs musical works, but Vortrag—recitation. His concern is that the music be played properly, and in translating Vortrag as ‘interpretation’ [Chris] Walton shows a peculiarly modern bias. Wagner is adamant about the way Beethoven’s Ninth should be played, but he didn’t think there were an indefinite number of possible versions of the symphony. Once you understood its idiom, you would know how it was to go. Conscious of the radical idiosyncrasy of his own musical idiom, Wagner was plainly anxious that it should be understood correctly by future generations […].

Nicholas Spice, “Theirs and No One Else’s”