It’s inevitable that a composer’s music is going to be judged by many people. But when composers discusses whose opinion really matters, the conversation gets messy quickly. Should we care about the opinions of our colleagues? Should we care what are audiences think? What about the performers? Does any opinion beyond the composer’s deserve attention?
Ultimately, the answer is murky as the question: it depends. It’s up to composers to prioritize whose ears they care about, and much of that comes from one’s own values and personal experiences.
As someone who has studied both horn performance and composition, I find that I rank the importance of judgement, from highest to lowest:
If I’m not satisfied by my music, how do I expect anyone else to be?
If performers have to practice, rehearse, and present my music, shouldn't I consider their input meaningful?
When my composer colleagues face similar challenges in writing high-quality, shouldn't I trust them?
If an audience member takes the time to come to a performance of one of my pieces, shouldn't I inspire to make a piece worth his or her time?