Margaret Dziekonski received her PhD in 2017 from the Royal Academy of Music, University of London. Her thesis, entitled 'An Exploration of Leopold Stokowski's Musical Practice through Primary Sources', provides the first peer-reviewed, detailed study of Stokowski's musical practice, thereby filling a long-standing gap in the literature. Stokowski was a profoundly influential, but also deeply contentious figure; Dziekonski's work demonstrates that the way he presented himself to the outside world is markedly different from the ways in which he approached musical interpretation. Her thesis is also the first extended study of a conductor to use annotated scores as the principal means of drawing out an understanding of musical practice. Dziekonski has presented papers at the British Library, London, UK ('Leopold Stokowski's Performance Aesthetic', 2014), the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) 52nd annual conference in Baltimore, MD ('Understanding Leopold Stokowski's Musical Intent', 2018), and Dr. Charles Abramovic's doctoral seminar at Temple University, Philadelphia (2019). She is now preparing her work for wider publication.
In his violin treatise, Joseph Joachim writes that 'one expects a real artist to know what he is doing', and Dziekonski's practice-led approach to research is grounded in this core belief. Her research is executed in conjunction with her performance activities – not separately therefrom – and is completed with the intention of enhancing her own musical interpretations. Publication and presentation of this work is done with the intention of aiding any practicing, professional musicians seeking to do the same. The goal is to search for ever-new ways to bring music to life so as to do greatest justice to the meaning inherent within the 'dots on the page', the unique individuality of the performer(s), as well as the original intentions of the composer – and all that this truly entails.
Musicians are inextricably linked with others in both the past and the present, whether consciously or unconsciously. Any discussion of influences and tradition is complex – full of problems and inevitable holes – but is also critical toward an awareness of the underlying context of one's own music-making. This fundamental understanding not only provides the core basis upon which classical music is sustained, but also that which propels the art form forward, underpinning its evolution into the music of the future.
Knowledge does not replace or inhibit emotion. Knowing 'exactly what one is doing' gives the artist the tools necessary to harness his or her unique voice in a manner which will make maximum impact on the concert platform.