Message from the Director
I do not plan on cycling through past interviewees any time soon since I have so many other cellists to talk with. But when the opportunity to interview Starker presented itself in El Paso, how could I not leap at the opportunity?! Starker, though a man of few, precisely chosen words, is an endless source of wisdom that would require many conversations just to scratch the surface of what he has figured out in his long, illustrious career.
Robert Battey has written another installment in his insightful series of articles on recordings of the great cellists of the past. This time he discusses Leonard Rose's recordings, which ties in nicely with the article on Rose in the last newsletter. Battey's articles are a great resource for aspiring collectors.
We seem to have found an enthusiastic cello journalist amongst us, Chrys Wu. This time she has written about Janet Horvath, who has written a book on how musicians can prevent injury. Thank you, Chrys. Keep on writing!
I am thrilled to be publishing a thesis that Thresa Swadley has written about one of our bulletin boards, Cello Chat. Though this paper is a bit academic, it provides a fascinating insight into how opinions are formed and influenced by our mutual interactions. One of my goals always has been that the Internet Cello Society would be resource for students who are writing papers about the cello. This thesis is a great step in this direction. Students, please send me your papers! We'd all love to read them!
>> I am looking for the title/performers of a cello piece that I heard on the radio (the radio station wasn't able to find the information for me). It was a duet featuring a cellist playing the first (I think?) of the Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites (the one you hear most frequently), together with a chorale singing an old English folksong. The two blended beautifully, and I would love to find the recording for my daughter, but I have not been able to find any identifying information. I'm hoping this will sound familiar to one of you. Thank you for any help you can offer!
>> The Leonard Rose article was terrific. Having known Rose very well, I know that you give a very balanced picture of him, his neuroses and his life.
After a stellar performance of the Saint-Saëns Concerto shortly before he left the NY Phil to pursue his solo career, he invited me out for coffee; but "just wait a minute, I want to try something." He changed his clothes, took his cello out of the case and began "trying something." Two and a half hours later, we went for coffee.
On another occasion, when hearing George Ricci on his car radio, he turned his car around. He had to go back home to practice.
>> I just finished reading your incredible, almost encyclopedic article on Leonard Rose. It's just fabulous. My experience with him was somewhat limited, nevertheless, I do have a few recollections that you might find interesting.
We had our time together in Israel. As to his relationship with Judaism, at one point, he complained that one couldn't get anything good to eat in Israel. His next concert after he was returning to America was in New Orleans and he said, "I can't wait to have some bouillabaise." And then he thought for a second and said, "I guess I shouldn't say that here." He was obviously concerned about this because shellfish isn't kosher and he felt guilty admitting, while in Jerusalem, to his immediate intention to violate the kosher dietary laws.
Curiously, it may seem odd, but Rose raved to me about Felix Salmond's playing and, and at one point said, "I like his playing better than Casals.' " He also said (this was in 1977) that Yo-Yo Ma was one of the greatest cellists he had ever heard.
On technical issues, Rose would sometimes make golf analogies. He was proud to be a golfer. This was all curious to me at the time, as I didn't play golf and I didn't really understand what he was getting at. Also for a young non-golfer at that time (the 70's), golf didn't really seem very cool either. But later, when I took up as something I could do together with my father-in-law, I could see that there was a relationship between the pin-point precision of the physical demands of each pursuit. This was underscored in my thinking after I read Ben Hogan's famous golf instruction book, considered the bible of golf instruction among many top players. Its principles are very much akin to Rose's with respect to the technique of cello playing. But it was kind of interesting looking back and I realize that for an artist of his caliber, he was still relating to normal life rather than being a head-in-the-clouds type figure.
Again, congratulations on a wonderful article and an important addition to the literature about cellists and cello playing.
>> I am a hard-core fan of the website, it is fundamental cellistic nourishment during my otherwise mildly exciting life as a lawyer and part-time ex-cellist in Sydney, Australia. The parts I particularly love reading are the interviews with the cellists, and discovering new ideas, both technical and musical, to invigorate the odd hour or two I manage to spend practicing after work and on weekends.
I've just finished reading the interview with George Neikrug, and his recollections of lessons with Demetrios Dounis. I was quite simply stunned as I read, each idea (save the odd one or two) appeared to synthesize all 'cellistic wisdom' I had received over my journey with the instrument, while providing sound practical advice as to achieving each technical goal.
Many, many thanks for your excellent website. I find it a constant source of inspiration. I have to rush off now to play in a trio at a surprise birthday party ... still manage to get the odd gig or two - not bad for a lawyer!
>> I was wondering if you knew of a recording of the Goltermann Concerto No. 4 in G major. My daughter has just started learning it and I'm having a difficult time finding it.
Tim Janof replies: Not that we know of. We can't wait for somebody to record it!
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"With his peerless technical mastery and intensely expressive playing, Janos Starker is universally recognized as one of the world’s supreme musicians." (New York Times)
Janos Starker was born in Budapest in 1924 and began studying the cello at the age of six. By the age of eight he was coaching his first pupil, and by eleven he was performing in public. His early career took him through Budapest's Franz Liszt Academy, and on to positions of first cellist with the Budapest Opera and Philharmonic at the end of World War Two. In 1948 he emigrated to the United States where he subsequently held the posts of principal cellist with the Dallas Symphony, Metropolitan Opera of New York, and the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner.
In 1956 he started his world-wide touring with all the major orchestras as soloist, recording artist, recitalist, and chamber music player. In 1958 he joined Indiana University, School of Music, where he holds the title Distinguished Professor, and the first recipient of the Tracy Sonneborn Award for a faculty member who has achieved distinction as a teacher, as well as performer and scholar.
It was in 1999 that a special gala honored him in Bloomington on the occasion of his 75th birthday; an occasion when he first appeared on stage with Mstislav Rostropovich, who conducted the Brahms Double Concerto with Starker and his son-in-law, William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Mr. Starker has amassed a discography of more than 170 works. His last releases on BMB RCA Victor red seal label include the cello version of Bartok’s Viola Concerto, Dvorak, Hindemith, Schumann, Elgar, and Walton Concertos, Strauss’ Don Quixote, sonatas by Brahms, Martinu, Rachmaninoff, etc., also his fifth version of the Bach Suites which earned him a Grammy Award for best instrumental solo performance in 1998. Additional releases can be found on Angel, CRI Deutsche Gramophone, EMI London, Mercury Philips, Erato, Seraphim and other labels world-wide. His editions of the major part of the cello literature have been published by Peer International, Schirmer and now by Masters Music Publications.
Since 2001 Mr. Starker has limited his activities to teaching, master classes and occasional performances with his long time partner, the pianist Shigeo Neriki, and his son-in-law, daughter and granddaughter, violinists William, Gwen, and Alexandra Preucil.
TJ: Let's start with a very basic question. How do you pronounce your last name? It is "Shtarker" or "Starker." I've heard it both ways.
JS: Both are correct. My name means "strong" in German, so those who speak German usually pronounce it "Shtarker." In the United States, it's pronounced "Starker," which is how I prefer it.
My original name was "Starker Janos," actually, because the last name comes first in Hungary. There was a time in Hungary when the government encouraged those with German names to change them to Hungarian names. My teacher suggested that I change mine to the Hungarian equivalent, "Eros," and there was one concert in which I was called "Eros Starker Janos," but I vowed to never do that again and I retained my name as-is. I refused to do it, but others did succumb to political pressure. Eugene Ormandy's last name was originally "Blau," which means "blue" in German. George Solti's last name was "Schwartz."
People have had trouble with my first name too. Early in my career it was changed to fit whichever country I was playing in, which created some confusion. I was called "Johann," "Hans," "Johannes," "Jean," or "Jon." When I played in Romania, they meant to change my name to "Jan" because Romanians didn't like Hungarians at the time and Jan didn't sound Hungarian, but the programs ended up saying "Jano," which led some wags to say that I was Irish -- Jan O'Starker.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
Leonard Rose (1918-1984) was the first American-born & trained cellist with a world class solo career. Like Piatigorsky, Starker, and Greenhouse, his career began in an orchestra and then expanded to include all facets of the cellist's art; teaching, chamber music, editing and arranging, touring, and recording. At the end of his life he was making plans to assume the directorship of the Catholic University School of Music in Washington, D.C.
This article, a follow-up to the biographical sketch by Tim Janof in the previous newsletter, provides a general introduction and overview to the Rose discography. Rose's many virtues included a richly-varied, powerful tone; extremely clear articulation, of both notes and phrases; and an aesthetic of deep humility to his art. He eschewed any sort of showmanship, focusing completely on his cello craft and his musical goals. This integrity, and the sterling results he achieved, took him to the top of his profession. Rose's best recordings place him amongst the greatest modern string players. Although he made very few solo recordings in the second half of his career, he still left us with a rich trove of superbly-done repertoire from Bach to William Schuman.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
When you hear the words "Mahler's Fifth," you probably think "great
music." Janet Horvath wants you to think "phenomenal athleticism."
Horvath, associate principal cellist of the Minnesota Orchestra and a pioneer in performing arts medicine, has been on a mission to get musicians, instructors and management to realize that playing any instrument is physically demanding.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
One of the things I love about Zuill Bailey, cellist and Artistic Director of El Paso Pro Musica, is his deep interest in cello history and his delight in honoring the elders of the cello world. Walk into his studio at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), where he is Artist in Residence, and you'll see pictures on his wall of Casals, Feuermann, Piatigorsky, Garbousova, and other cello icons, which he put up because he wants to make sure his students know their names. Lining his shelves are record jackets of cellists a generation ahead of him, including Lynn Harrell and the late Stephen Kates, the latter one of his beloved teachers and mentors. Bailey also delights in showing off his latest cello artifact acquisition, like an old program from one of Piatigorsky's recitals -- heavy pieces in the first half, light ones in the second half -- from which he gets ideas for his own recitals, or an original program from Feuermann's concerto cycle in Carnegie Hall in 1938. It is Zuill Bailey's respect for cello tradition that provides the foundation for his own blossoming career and is what inspired him to invite Janos Starker to perform in El Paso.
El Paso, for those who haven't been there, is a fascinating town because it lies right on the border between the United States and Mexico. There are several exits along Highway 10 where one can easily drive across the border into Mexico, though it is more difficult to return. When driving east along the highway, El Paso, with its paved roads and multi-story houses and office buildings is to the left, while to the right is Juarez, Mexico, with its dusty roads and small, single-story houses that huddle together on hillsides and crowd a vast valley. The contrast between the two countries is striking, and seeing it firsthand is well worth a visit.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
Though still in its infancy, this website is dedicated to the wonderful cellist, Antonio Janigro.
**Please notify Tim Janof at email@example.com of interesting websites that you would like to nominate for this recognition in the future. Websites will be selected based on their content, cello relevance, creativity and presentation style!
In addition to our boards, you are welcome to contact our forum hosts directly. For a complete list of ICS Forum Hosts please see http://www.cello.org/The_Society/Staff.html
>> 'Unplayable' Chord in Bach Suite II
Bach d minor Menuet I
Horst: I am going through the second Bach Suite. The second chord of the first Menuet is c-e-b-flat, starting on the g string. The written fingering is 4-2-1. I can play it this way, but this fingering is out of the extended half position because it has a major third between 2 and 4. How do you play this chord? As written, 4-2-1, or do you put the thumb on the b-flat? I have tried that option, but it seems to be even more difficult than the super-extended half position.
zambocello: I play that chord with that fingering, but on the c, g, and d strings. It makes more sense in context of the first chord:
mvotapek: I do really, really rolled chords, as in seriously (but quickly) only one note at a time....
I can't play the open 5th followed by the extension in a way that sounds in character. It sounds marshal or angry.
I'm trying to think why, inherently, chords "ought to" be always rolled in order from the bass up to the treble. (And then back down again if the melody is in an inner voice.) I don't want to admit it's because of any RULE, but it just seems like the only natural way to me. Out of order sounds funny on a string instrument, and even funnier if you were to imagine a keyboard player rolling out of order. On the lute, it would be extra, extra weird. For a singer, it would be a yodel.
I don't like shifting away from the bass note during a chord, because then the G string rings, instead of the C string ringing, which is a note not in the chord vs. the bass of the chord.
batmanvcl: I only mention this option because it doesn't seem to have been stated yet. Play the second note of the piece (b flat) in fourth position on the d string, then take the c of this particular chord down an octave. Play open c, and the other two notes on the g and d strings in fourth position. This one will make the purists cringe, no doubt, but if it might not make Bach cringe, who cares?
Bob: I have long ago tried all the solutions on this thread and a couple of others. And I've decided that "it ain't worth it." Of course it's possible to do that second chord on the lower three strings, but it's awkward getting into and out of that position, at least for me. Doing so degrades the simple melody on top. So now I have decided to cheat.
The phrase starts off appropriately enough with a 3-part chord, and there are numerous other 3-part chords in the piece. But there are as many, or more, 2-voice passages (like bars 3, 4, 6, 9-14, etc.). So when I leave out the E, it's not like I'm murdering Bach and his wife & kids in their beds. I'm able to concentrate on shaping the musical line rather than on doing a back-flip off a diving board into a bucket. Just try the Bb and C together; it fits perfectly into the next two measures, and gives the tonic triad more force. Just don't tell anyone where you got the idea.
>> Aging Cello Masters
Young Cellist: Is it true that Mstislav Rostropovich is not very good at the cello anymore?
SvenW: So what? Even if he should lack certain technical abilities due to his advanced age, he still has a lifelong of experience and his incredible talent and in my book, that compensates for nearly everything and makes him an even better musician than he was at the height of his technical abilities.
rarecellos: Slava is definitely one of the great cellists ever walked this planet!!
So what if Slava missed a few notes? Like Heifetz never missed a note?? You should read about the Heifetz memory slip in this issue of ICS newsletter. Yeah, that's real humor for you.
I would give everything I have to be at Slava's age and play the way he does, and miss all those notes. For one thing, that Duport Strad has got to be one of the most amazing cellos ever!!
It reminds me that one of my favorite conductors from my youth symphony days who told this story about criticizing a Kreisler recital to his teacher -- "he was out of tune!" This conductor got an "earful" from his teacher, he almost got kicked out of studio.
On another note, EVEN GOD HAS TO PRACTICE, especially when one gets older. But I am not going to criticize Mr. Slava, for he has socks probably older than me -- and Slava is a five star general in the cello army, I am just a foot soldier (if even that).
BA: Don't throw Heifetz's name into this discussion. Heifetz was one of the very few who retired from public performing when his abilities began to decline. He felt it was an insult both to the music and to his own accomplishments to continue playing below his standards. Heifetz worked like a dog his whole life to maintain his standards and to insert him into a discussion of older performers with faltering technique displays a great ignorance of what Heifetz was about. (sorry, but I don't know a nicer way to say that).
To me the idea that great music can be created when one is not in control of their technique is complete naive fantasy -- any more than one could expect great oratory from one who was losing control of their voice. But if people want to keep paying homage to Rostropovich he's certainly earned it with his contributions to the cello world. We should all be so lucky as to have that much ability to lose!
>> Haydn D Major Editions
Iplay4u: Does anybody have recommendations on which edition of the Haydn Cello Concerto in D to use?
Cellosweet: I purchased Peters, then ended up using Schott. Also had to refer to Gavaert for some passages.
cbrey: The Eulenburg pocket score is a good urtext from which to learn the piece; Henle publishes one as well.
The Gaevert "edition" is a 19th century bowdlerization in which a hack rearranged Haydn's structure and added flutes and clarinets. Like a hand-cranked telephone, it's an amusing artifact, but I wouldn't use it for serious communication. I'm curious as to why anyone would "refer" to it.
Cellosweet: My use of Gevaert actually refers to only one measure (m. 127 in the first movement) now that I look back at my performing score -- not much of a "referral" at all now that I've double-checked. My teacher at the time for some reason found the Gevaert version of m. 127 to be better than the one offered in the Schott. Perhaps it was the more melodic and less repetitive nature of that single measure in the Gavaert versus the Schott. No, he usually didn't go substituting measures in and out willy-nilly, if that's what you're wondering. But like any good student, I blindly followed instructions. I couldn't disagree that the original measure in the Schott was rather lacking in inspiration.
cbrey: No arguing about taste. You should do what you want, so long as you do it knowing what Haydn wanted and are sure that you like the alternative better, since presumably he went to some trouble to write it down. His signoff, "Laus Deo (Praise God)," written at the end of his manuscript, would suggest that the act of composition cost him some effort.
I play the urtext. Admittedly, it's repetitive, but then so is a lot of the concerto. Think of it as a challenge to your inventiveness.
>> Rococo Variations
CaptainCello: In the second variation, on the quick upward runs, there are slurs marked over the runs, with only a single upbow. Underneath these it says up-down-up ..., which I believe is how I have seen/heard it played most of the time (and I'm thinking are Leonard Rose's editings, not Tchaik's). I just started learning the piece, and my teacher wants me to experiment with actually doing the up-bow staccato on those runs. Has anyone done this? Am I (or my teacher) completely off base? Is it possible?
justinkagan1: A former colleague of mine, Slava Ponomarev (student of Kosolupova) always played these up or downbow staccato, and said that was pretty standard technology over there when he was a student in the 70's. If you can pull it off as convincingly as with separate bows, go for it, otherwise, caveat emptor.
Peccatte: Certainly some people do the staccato in those variations. I have seen/heard Starker do it and it worked very well. I think it worked for him better than for other people I have heard do it that way because he didn't play the staccato in an overly heavy, crunchy kind of way, which can sound sort of bad and inappropriate in that piece. You could do it either downbow or upbow, each way has its own difficulties and you get to practice both ways that way. The problem that I see with doing the staccato as indicated is that it could be hard to produce a good sound and maintain the staccato with the string crossings and trying to make a crescendo etc ... and also achieving enough sound projection could be difficult doing that bowing. It's definitely worth working on, whether or not you end up playing it that way.
BA: The staccato marking is traditional but it is not original Tchaikovsky. In the original those are separate notes. There are some other runs later on that are indicated as staccato (slurred with dots) which are usually played separate, but I'd have to go upstairs to tell you where. Just buy the Dover score and you will see.
Why shouldn't this passage in the 2nd variation be staccato? The variation is marked in the tempo of the theme. There is no reasonable tempo for the theme (which is usually played too slowly IMHO, but even so) that would be conducive to playing those notes staccato and having them sound like staccato. Even at a very healthy clip for the theme, the staccato still sounds slow enough to be indistinguishable from a spiccato stroke, at least for me. Of course many people play the 2nd variation much faster than the theme. Some people collect paintings of Elvis done on velvet….
The second problem is balance. It is damnably hard to play that run staccato and make it project above an orchestra. I believe you saw Starker do it that way, but I seriously doubt you heard much of it. (Though I'm told Nick Rosen back in his Tchaikovsky competition days actually could play that staccato loud enough to be heard over the orchestra).
Anyway, that's been my experience. I think if you want to do staccato, better to find the indicated staccato passages later on in the piece that are more suited for the technique.
mvotapek: I happen to play the theme very fast, and the first two variations l'istesso tempo and yet STILL the staccato goes way too fast for me to make it sound as good as a spiccato. Not too slow.
Starker plays his up bow staccato at the very same volume as his spiccato. I can attest to that. (Not going to vouch for either being audible. That would depend on the hall and the band.)
Seriously, Captain, it probably does no harm for you to try your very best to learn it up bow staccato. When crunch time comes, you can (relatively) easily re-learn it the other way if it's not sounding good. And there may be application for your practice in other places in the repertoire.
I've done the piece with orchestra twice. Both times i did up bow staccato, and I don't think it worked. Next time I'll try it spiccato.
CaptainCello: I promise I could hear it when Starker played it that way, but I was sitting pretty close to him. It sounded remarkably good, but maybe it just looked great and I imagined the rest.
Anyway, the question wasn't whether or not it was a great idea to do those passages staccato just whether people play it that way, which some do, for better or worse.....and it certainly is possible to play it staccato.
As a serious question though, do you think its a waste of time to work on staccato at that tempo? It seems like it could have some positive impact on bow technique to be able to articulate a staccato in all parts of the bow up- and downbow at any tempo.
1. Isserlis launches a bouquet
Steven Isserlis recently threw flowers at a man in the front row of a concert in Prague. The audience member had fallen asleep and his head movements had distracted Isserlis throughout the performance.
2. One-minute Pieces for cellists
Spectrum for Cello -- 16 Contemporary Pieces, compiled by William Bruce. Ranges in difficulty from Grade 1 to Grade 8. Includes a CD of all 16 pieces. http://www.abrsmpublishing.co.uk.
3. Kronberg Academy Master Classes
Cello Master Classes at the Kronberg Academy will be held 17-24 October 2004. Cellists Bernard Greenhouse, Frans Helmerson, Boris Pergamenschikov, and Gary Hoffman will be teaching.
4. Varga honored
Laszlo Varga was honored for his contributions to the art of cello in a concert of the Berkeley Symphony, under Kent Nagano, in which Matt Haimovitz performed the Rococo Variations.
5. Irene Sharp Cello Seminar
Irene Sharp's Cello Seminar will take place June 21-25, 2004, at Stanford University in Stanford, California. "For cello students, professional cellists, amateurs, and teachers. Inspired by the teaching of Margaret Rowell. Survey of principles of artistic and healthy playing in the morning sessions. Perform cello repertoire of your choice in the afternoon master classes."
For more information, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to http://home.pacbell.net/GSZENT.
6. Summer Music Academy Leipzig
The 4th International Summer Music Academy Leipzig, presented by the Leipzig Music University and the Juilliard School, will take place from July 16 through August 5, 2004 in Leipzig, Germany. Cello study will be under the direction of Christian Giger, Solo Cellist of the Chopin Academy and teacher at the Music University. Students receive two individual lessons and a class lesson weekly and also study chamber music with other faculty members, including Bruce Brubaker and Stephen Clapp of the Juilliard School and Klaus Hertel of the Leipzig faculty. Cellists will take part in student concerts (reviewed) in major halls, and there will be excursions. For more information go to www.hmt-leipzig.de or send an e-mail to email@example.com. There are special cello scholarships available.
9. Faculty and Ensemble Appointments
10. New CD's
11. More Cello News
A cello news link has been engineered using Google.com's features. Be sure to bookmark it.
Manchester International Cello Festival
The next Manchester (U.K.) International Cello Festival has been advertised for May 5-9, 2004. In future this event will take place every three years instead of every other year. http://www.cello-festival.demon.co.uk.
The International Pablo Casals Cello Competition will be held 25 August - 4 September 2004 in Kronberg, Germany. http://www.kronbergacademy.de.
The International Cello Ensemble Society will host a festival in Kobe, Japan in May 2005. http://www.kobe-cello.com.
World Cello Congress IV
World Cello Congress IV May/June 2006 at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland. Cello Congress V is also listed on their website - May/June 2010! "Many of the greatest stars of the music world will join forces to present a one-of-a-kind event not to be missed." Concerts, recitals, masterclasses, workshops, symposia, exhibits, receptions. http://www.towson.edu/worldmusiccongresses/wcc4.html.
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2. American String Teachers Association
3. Amazon Cellists Cultural Associaton
4. Musique Classique
5. Tyka Art
6. Antonio Janigro
7. Irene Sharp Seminar
8. American String Project
9. Orpheon Foundation Exhibition
10. String Academy of Wisconsin
11. Cello Classics
12. Works by Kapralova
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