Seattle Violoncello Society Newsletter, July 1995 (c)Seattle Violoncello
Well, I came out of nowhere to run the Seattle Violoncello Society, and now I'm moving on. I am resigning as President of the Seattle Violoncello Society. I have many reasons for stepping down, not least of which is that my new job is demanding a lot of my time. But I am not completely disappearing from the scene; I'll help the Cello Society when I can. I am also active in the newly formed Internet Cello Society, which can be reached at email@example.com.
I've had some wonderful times, including meeting Yo-Yo Ma, Janos Starker, Lynn Harrell, a few of the Seattle Symphony members, and some of the membership. My special thanks go to Eva Heinitz, Cordelia Wikarski-Miedel, David Tonkonogui, Roberta Downey, David Sires, Terry Hsu, and Lauren Daugherty for their moral support and encouragement. I would also like to thank Craig Weaver, Walter Gray, David Sabee, Rajan Krishnaswami, John Michel, Mitra Woods, and Bruce Bailey for taking the time to respond to my surveys and phone calls.
I thank you all for your support over last few years!
In this issue:
Rostropovich's Formula for Joy
Letters from Janos Starker and Jeffrey Solow
Excerpts from Casals and the Art of Interpretation
1. Roberta Downey cello recital
Roberta Downey's recital on June 11 was a great success. It was one of the most enjoyable concerts I have been to all year. Her wonderfully balanced program was as follows:
Ginastera Pampeanas No. 2
Poulenc Sonata for Cello and Piano
Shostakovich Sonata Op. 40 for Cello and Piano
I was told that the last time she performed in recital was ten years ago. Hopefully we will not have to wait as long for her next one.
2. American Cello Congress
The 5th American Cello Congress will be held on May 29-June 2, 1996 in Tempe Arizona, at Arizona State University. For more information, write to:
340 West 55th St, 5D
New York, NY 10019
or call (212) 586-7137
Margaret Rowell Remembered
The matriarch of American cello teaching, Margaret Avery Rowell, died of pneumonia on Friday, April 21 at the age of 94. An inspiring mentor and friend to four generations of cellists, Mrs. Rowell's long and distinguished career centered around her home in the Berkeley hills in the San Francisco Bay area. She is revered by friends and students in all parts of the world.
One of the founders of America's first cello society, The California Cello club, Margaret Rowell's early career included membership in the Arion Trio, which played
daily live concerts on the NBC Radio Network in the 1920's. Long married to Edward Z. Rowell, distinguished Professor of Speech and Philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, hers was an eclectic and passionately enthusiastic mind whose interests ranged far afield of the usual musical spheres.
But it was the evolution of a uniquely insightful, "whole-body" manner of teaching which, despite her quiet indifference to publicity, resulted in Rowell gaining world-wide stature in cello pedagogical circles. Noted cellists, including Pablo Casals, Gregor Piatigorsky and Mstislav Rostropovich, visited her home and counted her among their friends. Simultaneously, she embodied the highest ideals of loyalty and support for students of all levels of talent. Modest to a fault, she earnestly contended that she had learned the most from teaching students with lesser gifts. Her affiliations were with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (which mounted a major celebration of her 90th birthday in 1990), California State University at San Francisco, Mills College, Stanford University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Among the multitude of recognition bestowed upon her was Teacher of the Year honors from the American String Teachers Association.
She is survived by a son, Galen Rowell, who is a well-known photographer, author, naturalist, mountaineer, and lecturer.
A New Cello Book
A new book has come out that all cellists should read. It is called New Directions in Cello Playing, by Victor Sazer (ISBN 0-944810-02-0). This book introduces natural, tension-free ways of playing the cello. It presents anatomically-improved ways of sitting and holding the cello, a new approach to left arm and hand techniques and fundamentals of bowing. It also addresses musicians' pain problems, including causes of pain, types of injuries and pain prevention.
To order, send $24.95 to:
PO Box 66760
Los Angeles, CA 90066
Can you help the Garfield Orchestra?
The Garfield Orchestra is in great need of full-size cellos to use during school rehearsals. Many Garfield cellists are currently carrying full size cellos plus schoolbooks to school every day on Metro busses.
The Garfield Orchestra, under the direction of Marcus Tsutakawa since September 1985, has grown from 10 to currently 135 members. Garfield now has two separate classes for orchestra and the program continues to grow. On June 12, the Orchestra performed the entire Tchaikovsky Fifth Symphony.
The Garfield Orchestra was guest conducted in a rehearsal on May 24, 1995 by Maestro Gerard Schwarz, Director of the Seattle Symphony, who called the Garfield Orchestra "one of the finest high school orchestras in the country. I can say I don't recall hearing a high school orchestra perform anywhere in this country on such a level," said Schwarz.
Mr. Tsutakawa, a Seattle native, attended Franklin High School, and has Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Washington. Tsutakawa has been teaching at Garfield since 1985. His orchestras have recently won 'Best in Festival' awards two years in a row at the Northwest Orchestra Festival held annually at Mt. Hood Community College. In 1993, he took 53 students from the Garfield and Roosevelt High School Orchestras to Japan for a two week performance and cultural exchange tour. He also conducts the Garfield Orchestra in their Waltz Gala, held annually in the Sheraton Hotel Grand Ballroom.
The Garfield Orchestra has a very small amount of money to purchase instruments. If any cello society members know of any reasonably priced instruments, or would consider donating a "closet cello", please contact Mr. Tsutakawa at 322-4527. Donations are tax-deductible, and any full size cello, no matter how humble, would be well-used and greatly appreciated.
(Submitted by Barbara Balatero 782-1272)
Rostropovich's Formula for Joy
by Georgie Anne Geyer
The following is re-printed from the July 15, 1994 Washington Post.
One day in 1989, I walked into my condominium in downtown Washington and found Mstislav Rostropovich, the great conductor, at our front desk. This remarkable man, always so in control of everything, seemed slightly dazed, and there was a look of pure joy on his face.
After greeting me, he stood still for several long seconds, "Last night, I conducted 250 cellists," he finally murmured. "Last night, I conducted 250 cellists..."
At that moment, I saw as close to a beatific joy as I have seen, next to certain pictures of saints. Later, I discovered that this musician, whom many consider the world's greatest cellist, had indeed conducted at a world conference of no fewer than 5,000 of his fellow cellists.
And now "Slava," as he is affectionately called by just about everyone, is leaving the Washington he has come so to love. The newspapers and TV have been full of "Salutes to Slava," as Rostropovich retires after 17 years from his directorship of the National Symphony Orchestra. His magnificent care of the American orchestra is being heralded around the world, as is his musical genius.
But Slava, you see, was our neighbor. He lived for many years in our little condo (never playing too loudly.) So we neighbors see him differently -- much as a wife invariably sees critically the man she lives with.
There was the evening a year ago -- about 5:30 pm, as people were returning from work -- when my elevator stopped on the first floor and I beheld a delightfully comic scene worthy of Italian opera. Rostropovich had, as we all do at times, run downstairs in his bathrobe to pick something up at the desk -- thinking, of course, that no one would see him.
He was caught offstage, spindly legs sticking out of his silk bathrobe, feet in scuffs, gray hair askew! Two of the men from the building, as well as I spontaneously pointed to "the maestro" as we dissolved in laughter. Tellingly, no one laughed more heartily than he! (But then, this tall, substantially built man once came out dressed as the swan in Swan Lake for Isaac Stern's birthday!)
In short, Rostropovich is a man who unceasingly has been a delight. Coming in the front door of the building, he would invariably bear-hug all the women or kiss their hand. At parties, I have seen him get up from a serious discussion and untiringly greet every person, no matter how "important" or "unimportant." Slava respects all good people.
When I sent him my 1975 book about Russia, The Young Russians, he hand-wrote a thank-you. (He even diligently and patiently signed those wearying condo letters and petitions that we all enjoy so much.)
It is easy observing or, better, knowing Rostropovich to focus on his volcanic temperament, on his joy in living, on his genuine love for so much of humankind. But this is also a man of moral stature, with the personal and artistic courage that makes compromise not only unnecessary but unthinkable.
Born of a musical family in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1927, he was homeless in Moscow until an Armenian woman took in the family (naturally Slava recently gave a benefit for Armenian relief). In 1948, when the great composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Sergei Prokofiev were being persecuted by the Stalinists, Slava defended them until such defenses killed his own career in Russia.
Whether it's watching his magnificent conducting of the "Stars and Stripes Forever" every Fourth of July on the Mall, or enjoying his return to Moscow in triumph three years ago, or simply meeting him as he strolled into the building, I am always moved by him because I see so little of his spirit among the American young. So often, when I speak with them, they ask me passively what the world wants of them -- instead of, as Slava has demanded, what he expects of the world. And I am certain that that is the true secret of his joy in life.
In one of the many interviews he did before leaving, he said simply but firmly, "I never worry because I know that I'm right." But Slava is more than right: The final genius of Mstislav Rostropovich is that his human qualities are exactly equal to his musical genius and probably in great part the extension of them.
Don't believe it? Ask his neighbors!
"Many string players believe that they must press to play their instruments. Some even understand that pressing causes tension, but see it as a necessary evil. Evil, yes; necessary, no!"
(from Victor Sazer, New Directions in Cello Playing. ofnote. Los Angeles, 1995).
The following letters do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Seattle Violoncello Society. They represent the opinions of individual members.
I was, of course, flattered at having my name tossed around so frequently, but I was also saddened by the blatant misrepresentations by some of my colleagues in expressing their views.
The fiction I wrote decades ago deals with the trials and tribulations leading to prominence and decline. It specifically states that often greater artists stay in relative obscurity than the headliners. I have spent a lifetime telling hundreds of my students that the measure of success is in what you contribute to music, wherever in whatever post.
It is a pity when readers only perceive what their private thoughts are. On the other hand, I may have failed to communicate clearly and my sense of humor doesn't appeal to them.
Re: Bach Editions. I did state that mine is not a scholarly one. It represents one of my five recordings. If you like the performance you can see how it is done. What made me smile was that after stating, "Without another edition one could not know that Bach wrote something different..." A few lines later..."Unfortunately the original A.M. Bach manuscript is full of errors." Oh yes, didn't you forget to mention that the 6th Suite was written for 5 strings and your sample shows omission, not alteration?
In short, I am delighted with your earnest search for the truth. It is to the greater welfare of our cello community and I urge you to continue.
Tim Finholt's comparative study of seven frequently encountered editions of the Bach Suites was informative and useful. I think though, that it is important to recognize that editions of the Suites fall into two general categories: Scholarly or Critical editions, and Performance editions.
Scholarly or Critical editions are made with the intention of trying to reconstruct J.S. Bach's lost original manuscript. Performance editions present the editor's practical suggestions for bowings, fingerings, dynamics, and the like.
I divide the editions that Tim surveyed as follows:
Dimitry Markevitch (more of a
combination of the two types)
In my opinion, the Suites should never be learned solely from any performance edition. One should always have the manuscripts and scholarly editions at hand for study and reference. (Barenreiter publishes facsimiles of all four extant manuscripts in book form. I also recommend the Bach-Gesellschaft edition and particularly the 1965 Peters edition #9054, edited by Paul Rubardt.) As Tim so rightly observes, while there are many editorial decisions that must be made regarding bowings, fingerings, dynamics, etc., these decisions should
ultimately be your own.
Associate Professor of Music
P.S. The Markevitch and Wenzinger editions both have a wrong rhythm in measure 15 of the Allemande of the 6th Suite.
Suggested Topic for Future Letters
Why do you love the cello?
Excerpts from Casals and the Art of Interpretation
Compiled by Tim Finholt
Pablo Casals is the most influential cellist of our century. His rare combination of profound artistry, strength of personality, and deep sense of humanity make him such a force that, though he died over twenty years ago, he inspires new generations of cellists to this day.
Casals has been and continues to be the subject of many books and articles. If you want to learn more about his musical ideas, the best book is by David Blum, called Casals and the Art of Interpretation. The notes for Blum's book were taken from numerous rehearsals and master classes in Prades, San Juan, Marlboro, Zermatt, the University of California, and in many private conversations with Casals. So this book is definitely the most authoritative resource available.
What follows is a very brief listing of some of Pablo Casals' views on music, quoted from Casals and the Art of Interpretation. I hope you'll agree that Casals' ideas are so universal that they transcend the ideological swings that tend to occur with each new generation.
His Source of Inspiration
"For Casals, the formulation of feeling and the interpretation of music emanated from a single source, and flowed together in a single stream. Notes that stood apart from this stream were 'cold' -- without meaning." "Casals once said: 'You will see where to make the vibrato, the crescendo, the diminuendo of the notes -- all those things you have to have present, but present more in your feelings. Not present only here,' he said, as he tapped on his head, 'because it is not profound enough; but here' -- and he drew his hand to his heart." 
"Casals was not a person to withhold his inspiration from any musical interpretation. He would not allow his spirit to be imprisoned by the over-analytical approach of his critics in the Authentic movement. He did not undervalue the depth of feeling with which the composers experienced the music they wrote and performed. Those living in the eighteenth century did not regard their art as 'classical'; it was a living event."
"'The written note,' Casals said, 'is like a strait jacket, whereas music, like life itself, is constant movement, continuous spontaneity, free from any restriction. There are so many excellent instrumentalists who are completely obsessed by the printed note, though it has a very limited power to express what the music actually means.'"
Casals once said, "The art of interpretation is not to play what is written." "When we see piano, the composer means in the range of piano. The range of piano extends all the way to forte and the range of forte extends all the way to piano. One has to follow the line of the music. If it goes up you have to give more, despite the piano. Otherwise it is something that is not free -- not what the music intends."
He pointed out that in order to truly serve a composer's musical intention, "we are sometimes obliged to make bow changes within the written slurs and we mustn't be too preoccupied about this. The changes must, of course, be intelligent and in good taste. Where you have a long note or a crescendo, if you don't have enough bow, change it! You must not be a slave to the bow."
Play with Life!
"Above all, Casals hated that which was sterile, cold and lifeless. A 'correct' performance held no interest for him if it failed to communicate the essential glory of music, its ability, through the beauty of its contours, the depth and range of its expression, to move us to the heart. When confronted with a student unwilling to make an interpretative commitment, Casals would say: 'It is even better to do something in bad taste than to be monotonous.'" He would also say, "Break your cello! It is better to have character in what you play than to have a beautiful sound." [But don't overdo it]
"Life, life, life! Always try to find variety -- it is the secret of music." "Variety is a great word -- in music as in everything; variety is a law of nature. Good music never has monotony. If it is monotonous, it is our own fault if we don't play it as it has to be played. We must give a melody its natural life. When the simple things and natural rules that are forgotten are put in the music -- then the music comes out!"
Play with Musical Direction
"Each note is like a link in a chain--important in itself and also as a connection between what has been and what will be."
Play with Order
Though Casals' playing was spontaneous, he tempered his spontaneity with a responsibility towards the composer and retained his awareness of fundamental musical principles. "We talk of democracy and freedom -- but with order. You cannot just do anything you wish; music is the same." "Fantasy as much as you like -- but with order. "Be honest," he would say. "Do not put more into the music than the music itself contains."
At all times, technique was treated as means to achieve artistic goals. It must be a servant of the music:
Slow Practice -- "Students are often urged to practice slowly, mainly to analyze technical difficulties. Casals' purpose was infinitely broader; by bringing an aspect of a composition into larger view, not only did he ensure maximum awareness of every interpretive requirement but he uncovered the deep roots of expression from which all music is formulated."
Intonation -- "Intonation is a question of conscience. Your hear when a note is false the same way you feel when you do something wrong in life. We must not continue to do the wrong thing." He also stressed the concept of expressive intonation, which is a practice in which notes are slightly raised or lowered depending on the harmonies. "Playing in tune is therefore not a matter of adherence to intervals based upon a pre-ordained mathematical formula [such as the piano's equal tempered scale]; it is a dynamic process, expressing the organic relationship between notes in a musical context."
Articulation -- "'When the percussion of the finger puts the string in vibration, the sound comes easily; if the string is not put in vibration, it is much more difficult to have a clean sound.' This concept was one of Casals' major contributions to the art of cello playing. He encouraged the practice of scales or other passages without the use of the bow; the notes were to be distinctly enunciated by means of the left hand alone, so as to strengthen the articulative power of the fingers." [But don't overdo it]
What is Natural is Good
"His playing seemed so simple. His movements were natural and harmonious. When correcting a student's distorted bow grip he commented: 'What is ugly is bad; what is beautiful is good,'" because, invariably, if a player's motions and posture look wrong, it is because his or her body is out of balance, which will limit technique and therefore musical expression, and could also cause injury.
On a musical level, he once commented, regarding the glissando, "Don't be afraid of the glissando. Where a glissando is natural we must do it. What is natural is always good."
Learn from Nature
"Real understanding does not come from what we learn in books; it comes from what we learn from love -- love of nature, of music, of man. For only what is learned in that way is truly understood." "Thank heaven for music -- and for nature."
1. "Pilgrimage to Prades" by Hannah Hanani, from The Strad, April 1995.
A student played Bach's C minor Suite for Pablo Casals. Between the Prelude and Fugue, Casals motioned unhappily, "Stop -- it has no swing. I'll tell you what you do. Tomorrow go out into the valley and listen to the bells from the different monasteries and you will learn how to play the Suites."
2. "Instrument copies: a player's perspective" by David Finckel, from The Strad, April 1995.
Rostropovich said: "If you play shy you will not know your weaknesses. Play strong and you'll find them right away."
3. "From Classics to Country" by Joanna Pieters, from The Strad, April 1995.
Piatigorsky "didn't like it when people talked about the importance of self-criticism. One's flaws are so evident it doesn't take any intelligence to find them, but you need to be much more intelligent to find what is good about yourself. If your are trained only to be self-critical, you say, my intonation is dreadful, my tone is terrible, I don't know what to do with this phrase. You have to be able to seize on what is good and then build on that."
July 24 Godfried Hoogeveen performs the Max Reger Suite for Solo Cello in d minor, Op. 131, and Ronald Thomas and Rena Sharon perform the Brahms Sonata for Cello and Piano in D Major, Op. 78 at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival. 448- 8327 (before May 1) or 328- 1425 (after May 1).
July 28 Cynthia Phelps and Ronald Thomas perform the Piston Duo for Viola and Cello and the Hindemith Scherzo for Viola and Cello at the Seattle Chamber Music Festival. 448- 8327 (before May 1) or 328- 1425 (after May 1).
November 20,21 Antonio Meneses performs Schumann Cello Concerto with the Seattle Symphony. 443- 4747
April 15,16 Ray Davis and Ilkka Talvi perform Brahms Double Concerto. 443-4747.
ICICLE CREEK MUSIC FESTIVAL
The Icicle Creek Music Festival, located at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth, Washington, debuts this August with exciting programming, and dynamic musical performers from across the US and Canada.
Icicle Creek Chamber Music Institute, an intensive program of chamber music and solo repertoire study, will run concurrent to the Festival from July 30 to August 13. The Institute features close contact with artist faculty: concert violinist Camilla Wicks, the Kairos Quartet, the Chester Quartet, and pianists Peter Longworth and Francine Kay (faculty at the Royal Conservatory of Music). Daily schedule includes three hours individual practice, chamber music rehearsals, private lessons, coachings by resident artists, masterclasses, and time for hikes in the Washington Cascade Mountains.
The Institute is open to college-age string players and pianists, and advanced high school students. For application brochures or further information, contact:
Carrie Rehkopf & John Michel
IC Institute Directors
1309 Skyline Drive
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Phone (509) 962-9324
FAX (509) 963-1239.
HOLY NAMES COLLEGE TO HOST CELLO COMPETITION
The 5th Grace Vamos Cello Competition will be held on campus at Holy Names College in Oakland, California, on January 13 and 14, 1996. All activities will be held in the new Valley Center for Performing Arts which was completed in September of 1994.
Grand Prize for the national competition's 18-21 age category is $2,000 cash and the opportunity to perform with the Holy Names college Orchestra in its 1996 season. The total cash prizes to be awarded are over $4,000, with second prizes in each category being given by the California Cello club. Contestants meeting age and U.S. residency requirements may enter one of three age groups: 12-14, 15-17, and 18-21. Preliminary audition tapes must be postmarked no later than November 20, 1995.
Master Classes by Eleonore Schoenfeld and Irene Sharp will be held concurrently with Semi-Finals on Saturday, January 13. There will also be a recital by Duo-Nobile: cellist David Kadarauch and pianist Roy Bogas. The Final Competition will be held on Sunday, January 14 at 3:00pm.
Grace Vamos, who endowed the Competition, was a Bay Area cellist, composer and teacher and was always an avid supporter of programs designed to assist and encourage young cellists.
For information, call (510) 436-1330.
CELLO FESTIVAL - KRONBERG, GERMANY
On October 19-22, the International Academy of Chamber Music Kronberg will present its 2nd Cello Festival. Compositions of Hindemith will be emphasized. There will be an exhibition and lecture on Feuermann, and the showing of a new film, "Remembering Jacqueline du Pre" Soloists include Gutman, Helmerson, Demenga, Maisky, Meneses, Tsutsumi, and the 12 Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic. Master classes will be conducted by Julius Berger, Demenga, Helmerson, Young-Chang Cho, and Tsutsumi.
For more information, write to me and I send you a brochure:
15407 NE 1st St
Bellevue, WA 98007
FOR SALE: 3/4 size cello. Label inside reads "Anton Becker, COPIE, Antonius Stradivarius, No. 305-3/4 Germany." Excellent condition. $975 includes soft case. 527-5509.
FOR SALE: 3/4 size 1891 Robert Glier cello and bow, $2,000. Paul Jezick 622-3481.
FOR SALE: 3/4 size 1979 Karl Hauser German cello, $2,000. 3/4 size 1960 German bow, $250. The cello has a beautiful tone for its size. Sharon Finegold 722-1238.
FOR SALE: 1/10 size cello and bow, Strad copy, made in the former Czechoslovakia. $1,750. Jeanette Chapmann (206) 759-8768.
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