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Sound of a Symphony Greatly Influenced by Conductor

Not all symphonies are created equal. Go online and one album featuring Beethoven's Fifth Symphony might cost $5, while another one with the same exact piece might cost $15. One might chalk this up to corporate greed, but the real difference is the conductor. The way the conductor directs the music changes the way it sounds. Thus, a performance directed by one orchestra leader will sound different from one directed by someone else. This is because their individual style, perspective, and purpose in how they direct the music influences the music itself.

Listen for yourself to two versions of the same Beethoven symphony:

Notice the difference? It would be foolish to suggest that these differences in performance indicate a historical weakness in Beethoven's original creation. An expert on Beethoven would state that it speaks to the transcendence and brilliance of Beethoven's music that it could continually inspire new performances. The substance of Beethoven's works remains untouched but the communication of it changes from conductor to conductor.

Students of the Bible can say the same thing about the four Gospel accounts of Jesus' life. While the substance of Jesus' life and ministry never changed, the telling of it did. So then, the Gospel of Matthew is not a plagiarized sham of an earlier work anymore so than Leonard Bernstein's 1979 recording of Beethoven's 5th Symphony is a theft of his original masterpiece. The four Gospels are merely retellings (inspired by the Holy Spirit) of the life of Christ that preserves the original content of his ministry but is "conducted" by the Synoptic authors in such a way that reflects their styles, perspectives, and purposes.

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