More than half a century after Emanuel Feuermann's tragic early death, there
still remains a strong consensus that he was a cellist without equal. His
graceful, elegant playing shows both a warm, Kreislerian musicality and
a fluid and facile command of the instrument that most cellists agree has
never been approached since. Feuermann's revolutionary playing had a surprisingly
limited impact on the generations of cellists that followed, however. His
premature death prevented him from developing a group of students well versed
in his craft, as Casals and Piatigorsky did, to relay his musical and technical
ideas to future generations. The question this document pursues is how
to gain insight into his technical and interpretive methods?
Following a brief introduction, the second chapter contains a detailed analysis
of Feuermann's two commercially available recordings of the Dvorak concerto,
which are contrasted with Dvorak recordings of Casals, Piatigorsky, Rostropovich
and Yo-Yo Ma in order to better understand the specific differences that
define Feuermann's playing. Chapter 3 examines Feuermann's performing edition
of the Schumann concerto and contrasts it to three other editions of the
same concerto by Joachim Stutschewsky, Leonard Rose and Heinrich Schiff.
The details of Feuermann's choices of fingerings and bowings are observed
and contrasted with those of the other editors. Chapter 4 is an analysis
of the physical aspects of Feuermann's technique, observed in the one existing
film of him performing. Observations are compared to those taken from filmed
or videotaped performances of Casals, Piatigorsky, Rostropovich and Ma.
General physical characteristics are discussed, in addition to detailed
analysis of the mechanisms of the bow hand and arm, and those of the left
hand, fingers and arm. Interviews with Feuermann students Suzette Forgues,
Bernard Greenhouse, Mosa Havivi, Zara Nelsova, David Soyer and Feuermann's
sister and accompanist, Sophie make up the final chapter of the document.
The interviews focus on technical and musical issues.
** The remainder of the dissertation will be archived at http://cello.org/Newsletter/Articles/feuermann.htm