The Performance of Time (or the time of musical performance)


  • William Teixeira Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul
  • Silvio Ferraz University of São Paulo



Cello, Philosophy, Theology, Music analysis,


In the twentieth century, time became a key-concept for music – maybe the art more dependent on time. Even so, a myriad of definitions did turn this idea not only into a rich element for musical discourse but also into a conceptual battlefield in discourses about music. Unfortunately, there was an issue for this struggle between theoretical ideas and musical composition that always insisted in striking the debate: the performance. Thus, this is the aim of this short reflection: to bring performers as protagonists in the debate, listening to their experience in time and of time in performance. For this, the Augustinian link between Time and Memory is taken as a bottom line for the discussion. In understanding music as a kind of discourse, another important conceptual device will be claimed for this reflection, that is Rhetoric. The first part of this reflection recollects concepts from the Aristotelian and Augustinian approaches on time and discourse, and concludes with a review of the main definitions of time by composers in the twentieth century. The second part reviews three theoretical approaches of musical form as process. A third section comprises the embodiment of those discussions into practice in the Cello Sonata, written by Bernd Alois Zimmermann.

Author Biographies

William Teixeira, Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul

William Teixeira is a cellist and professor of Performance Studies at the Federal University of Mato Grosso do Sul, in Brazil. He holds a BA in Cello Performance by the São Paulo State University, MA in Music by Campinas University and PhD in Music by São Paulo University. As a cellist he is mostly dedicated to the performance of Contemporary Music, and has premiered dozens of pieces of several generations of Brazilian composers, including performances as a soloist with the Campinas University Orchestra and the São Paulo University Chamber Orchestra. As a researcher he has published several articles and chapters and read papers in conferences in United States, United Kingdom and Portugal about his research on philosophical aspects of musical performance, particularly in its link with Rhetoric.


Silvio Ferraz, University of São Paulo

Silvio Ferraz is composer and professor of Musical Composition at the São Paulo University. PhD in Semiotics by the Catholic University of São Paulo, he has participated in the seminars of Brian Ferneyhough at the Royaumont Foundation in Paris, and under Gerard Grisey and Jonathan Harvey at IRCAM. His compositions have been performed throughout Europe and in United States at the Sonido das Americas Festival, at the Carnegie Hall. He is a CNPq Research Fellow and has published four books, beyond chapters and articles. Currently, he researches processes of writing with extended techniques and technological processing.


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How to Cite

Teixeira, W., & Ferraz, S. (2019). The Performance of Time (or the time of musical performance). Performance Philosophy, 4(2), 490–509.