Message from the Director
It is an exciting time for the Internet Cello Society as we prepare to enter the new millennium. Due to the increased participation of ICS members in contributing content, news, and updates to the Internet Cello Society, it is no longer humanly possible to process all of these contributions in a timely manner. By utilizing revolutionary Internet database technology, we are taking a giant leap forward by creating a more automated, dynamic and revitalized ICS website. The excellent Coldfusion database programmer and Classical.com designer Andrew Tollervey is already in the process of designing a state-of-the-art ICS website.
You will be able to create and customize your own personal webpage, with the option of adding your photo, an audio sample of your playing, or biographical documents. You will be able to instantly add, modify and delete entries in most of the webpage directories and lists. Our current system of updating the ICS website directory pages is slow and cumbersome to say the least. Typically, a contributer would submit materials which would usually be re-routed to the appropriate ICS staff person or sit on my bottomless ICS pile until the next big holiday. The ICS webmaster is usually swamped and backlogged with dozens of daily requests to update one of the 5,700 pages or graphics on the site.
The new system will allow members to instantly submit entries and automatically attach any related documents, graphics, and sound files! It will be much easier to research cellos made by the great makers or commission a new cello by a living cello luthier; find out where to buy Henle scores or Krovoza pegs by searching the Music Store directory; or investigate music schools, cello competitions and special scholarships. You will be able to preview music samples of various composers, look up cellists in a specific locale or post a classified ad to sell that old cello in your attic immediately! If you recently gave a recital or made a recording, you could upload an audio sample of your success. If you have a good cello article, concert review, club newsletter or other document that you would like to share with the global community, you will be able to upload it yourself instantly! If you are looking for a gig or have a job opening, it can be posted instantly. Any announcements of music camps, festivals or other events will be searchable by date and other criteria.
The Internet Cello Society will always remain a free educational resource for all, and we are implementing this database in order to allow members to play a more active and immediate roll in developing and updating the content of the ICS website. To help cover our costs we are asking for your support. Our programmer's fee for this monumental project is $5,000. ICS has saved $1000 in the bank from donations and payback earnings. A Central Washington University Small Grant Award is contributing another $800 towards this project. However, ICS's continuing monthly expenses for Internet services are about $100 a month.
Our fundraising goal is $5,000 by the new millennium! ICS needs your support now more than ever! With an annual donation to ICS of any dollar amount, you will be granted access to add, delete and modify your entries of the entire ICS database and will be helping build the new ICS website into a truly comprehensive and communal educational resource too.
To make your donation go to http://www.cello.org/callforcontributions.html. ICS will be proudly displaying banners of our major sponsors and patrons on these new category pages. Encourage businesses to support ICS!
Thank you for your support!
John Michel, ICS Director
>> I am completing work on a suite for Cello and Four-Hand Piano and want to inquire if there are any brave cellists who enjoy masochistic pieces that are barely playable by mere humans. These pieces do not use large amounts of extended technique, but are very rangy, fast, and rhythmic. I will be happy to supply midi files and scores at no cost to any interested parties. There are no cellists in my area who are technically skilled enough to read these pieces, so I appeal to YOU!
>> Hello. I am from Tampico, Mexico. I am 22 years old and I play the violin at the State's University Orchestra. For some years now I have wanted to learn how to play the cello. In fact, it is the instrument that I like the most. I am now investigating prices, experiences, and everything possible about topics related to the cello. Your website is very helpful for this.
>> My teacher says that his teacher, Paul Tortelier, taught him to place his thumb on only one string at a time when playing in thumb position. Is this correct?
Editor replies: I have reviewed several texts on cello technique and this is what I found:
1. The picture in Tortelier's book, "How I Play, How I Teach" shows him placing his thumb on both strings, so I'm not sure if your teacher is correct.
2. Maurice Eisenberg, in his book Cello Playing of Today says to place the thumb on both strings.
3. Gerhard Mantel, in his book Cello Technique, says to place the thumb on both strings, but only press the string all the way down when you are playing a note with the thumb. Otherwise, the thumb "half-presses" the string down that you are playing on. So, the thumb sort of alternates the pressure depending on which string you are playing on (done by a raising or lowering of the left arm), and only presses down all the way when the thumb actually needs to play a note. Both strings only need to be pressed all the way down when you are playing a Perfect 5th double-stop with the thumb.
4. Janos Starker believes that future generations will place their thumbs BENEATH the fingerboard.
>> Thanks for the Carter Brey interview. It was great food for thought.
>> I was reading your tips section on cello methods. I read with interest your small article on the debates about whether to put tape on the fingerboard. I found early on that I didn't need a 1st finger "fret" because for me, First Finger/First Position was exactly the length of my finger from the "primary" knuckle to fingertip, starting at the point where the neck connects to the scroll (the part where the strings actually "touch" the fingerboard). Once my friends noticed that I was able to do this, they found it worked for them too.
As for the dependancy of the tape, some contest judges will actually count off if they feel there is excessive use of tape in an orchestra (like crib notes I guess).
>> I enjoyed reading the interview on world reknowned cellist Wendy Warner. Ms. Warner came to Wichita State University for a guest master class as part of the annual cello festival back in April 1998. I was very fortunate to have worked with such a talented young individual! That's something that I'll always treasure.
>> I have read the occassional Tutti Celli newsletter, but now I feel an urgent need to become more regularly informed. I have been a teaching cellist for lo! these many years -- of course long before there was an Internet!
>> I knew Eva Czako Janzer, who was my very first cello teacher at Indiana (for a brief period only) and chamber music coach for many semesters. Everything she did was done with consummate class, whether that was playing the cello, cooking, or gardening. She appreciated, loved, and sought constantly to create beauty and beautiful things; in retrospect it seems to me as though she never failed at this either. A gentle, soft-spoken, and beautiful, elegant woman. During my undergraduate days, I began, very early on, my long series of minor fields in East European studies, including four years of Hungarian language courses; one of my fond memories is of the time I greeted her for the first time with my then elementary Hungarian and of her (and her husband George's) delight and amazement. I know that she felt out of place in America, and I like to think that this attempt to get in touch with and to understand HER culture was a comfort during her last few years in a strange country. She died at the age of only fifty-two of bone cancer. I was away from Bloomington at the time, between degrees, and it was a terrible blow. I would love to be able to communicate some of this with her half-sister, Ms. Erika Lloyd, who has been searching for Eva Czako's family, if you can put me in touch with her.
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by Tim Janof (Finholt)
Zara Nelsova has appeared with virtually every major orchestra in North America including those of New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. She has appeared with numerous European orchestras including the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Royal, Berlin, and London Philharmonics, the BBC and London symphony orchestras, and in Warsaw and Poznan with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra. She has collaborated with such eminent conductors as Bernstein, Boulez, Barenboim, Mehta, Haitink, Solti, Boehm, Rostropovich, Ozawa, and Steinberg. Her many international festival appearances have included Tanglewood, Hollywood Bowl, Aspen, Caramoor, Ann Arbor, Lucerne, Casals, Prague, Gstaad, and Bergen.
She has collaborated with many well-known twentieth century composers. Samuel Barber chose her for the recording of his Cello Concerto, as did Ernest Bloch for his "Schelomo." She performed Sir William Walton's Cello Concerto under the baton of the composer as well.
Ms. Nelsova is the recipient of Canada's Centennial Medal of the Confederation "in recognition of valuable service to the nation," and the Jubilee Medal from Canada in honor of the Silver Anniversary of the accession to the throne of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Ms. Nelsova is a fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, a member of the faculty of The Juilliard School, and chair on the Board of Governors as professor of music at Rutgers University. In 1992, she received an honorary degree from Smith College.
TJ: At what age did you begin playing the cello?
ZN: I was four years old when I first showed an interest, so my father converted an old viola into a cello and he became my first cello teacher. He was a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia in flute, so he was a wonderful musician as well as a wonderful teacher, who taught me discipline and how to practice carefully. I owe much of my early progress to him.
TJ: You also studied with Dezsö Mahalek, a former student of David Popper. How did he happen to end up in Winnipeg, Canada, your hometown?
ZN: Many years ago, European musicians were offered land in the province of Manitoba so that they could leave their homelands by obtaining visas to become farmers. My parents, who were Russian, took advantage of this opportunity, as did Mahalek, who came from Hungary. As a result of this policy, Winnipeg became a world-renowned cultural center.
In a sense, I had two cello teachers at the same time in Winnipeg, since my father continued to watch over me during my studies with Mahalek and he closely supervised my practicing. Between my father and Mahalek I was given a solid technical foundation, for which I am very grateful. I ended up studying with Mahalek until I was 10 years old, when my family and I moved to London to further my and my two sisters' musical education (my sisters and I were in a piano trio known as the Canadian Trio).
When we first arrived we were desperately poor. My father rented two rooms in a house for the five of us. Because there weren't enough rooms for each of us to practice separately, I often practiced in the same room with my violinist sister, she in one corner and I in another, for six hours a day with five minute breaks at the end of each hour. As you might guess, I learned how to shut out the sound of someone else playing, and I developed intense powers of concentration. I have learned since that you cannot do anything well without concentration. Concentration is THE key.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
Reflections on Schubertís String Quintet
by James Nicholas
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
I started at a Community Music School, but my lessons were quite informal because I was in a group. It was also my first experience of non-Suzuki music teaching, and I was amazed that so many people could play so badly, and were so unmotivated to practice. Why play an instrument if you do not want to become proficient? So, for the first year I was never really taught anything. I bought an All for Strings book to learn about fingering, a beautiful book of photos of cellists, and Suzuki Cello Book I, and worked through them all. I practiced in front of a mirror, making reference to the photos and was pleased to see that I looked like a cellist (not a violinist playing the cello!). I wasn't sure at the end of the year whether I wanted to keep on playing, but I went to a Summer Suzuki camp and had some private lessons, and, having learnt some cellistic technique, felt much happier.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
by Sarah Schenkman
My friend Helen and I traveled together from Georgia earlier this month to the University of Connecticut in Storrs to attend the New Directions Cello Festival. We are both classically trained cellists who do most of our playing in orchestras and wanted to get new ideas on playing different kinds of music. The NDCF was good for this because it is about all kinds of cello music except classical.
The first workshop we attended was with Sera Smolen, a David Darling disciple, and first she had written on the blackboard David Darling's "Musical Bill of Rights" which starts with "There are as many different ways to make music as there are people." She quickly got everyone involved and participating in improvisation. We all sat in a large circle around the room with our cellos, and there were four chairs set up in the center facing each other where she got people to volunteer to improvise, four at a time. I think everyone volunteered at least once, and I found it very exciting doing my first-ever improvising.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
by Sarah Freiberg
A few years ago, I wrote an article for STRINGS magazine, bemoaning the lack of a perfect edition of the Bach Cello Suites. Because there is no autograph, and since the Suites are so interpretation-friendly, there have been over 90 editions since the initial print of 1824. While some editors made use of the surviving 18th century manuscripts, others have imposed their own, more modern views on the works. Two of the manuscripts, copied by Bach's second wife Anna Magdalena and by organist Johann Peter Kellner, date from within a decade of their circa 1720 composition. There are two further manuscripts, both anonymous, which date from much later in the 18th century. The four manuscripts vary occasionally in pitch, but quite significantly in terms of articulation. This has left interpretation wide open!
Over the years, I have tried a variety of editions of the Suites, but often returned to my dog-eared and comfortably familiar copy of the old Anna Magdalena based Barenreiter edition. I found myself wanting something more comprehensive, something that would have compared all the manuscripts. I concluded my article by saying that I would prefer to choose my own articulations, based on my own comparison of the manuscripts. I imagined that other cellists felt the same way. I am happy to report that the new Barenreiter Urtext edition of the Suites allows cellists to do just that.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
by Dimitry Markevitch
Mr. Markevitch has updated the review of recently published editions of the Bach Cello Suites, which was published in the last Tutti Celli newsletter. It now includes a review of the new Henle edition, in addition to other minor revisions throughout.
We are witnessing, since 1996, an unprecedented proliferation of the editions of these wonderful Bach masterpieces. The obvious reason being the observance in the year 2000 of the 250th anniversary of the great musicianís death. It brings now the number of editions, since the first by Louis Norblin in 1824, to a staggering 93! Soon to be 94, when the fourth printing (with a completely new preface) of my edition will come out, hopefully before the end of this special year.
I donít know of another example of such numerous publications. The Bach violin works didnít prompted a like outburst of new editions. We have now 8 more versions to study, and for me, personally, with those I have already, it boosts my library to 62 different editions of the Suites!
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
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>>Question on Jeffrey Solow's interview
"One of the things that [Piatigorsky's] approach led me to do was to have a flat hand on the bow, which is something that I have since changed, but it got me away from rotating my arm into the string." -- from Solow's ICS interview.
I've always been taught to rotate my 1st/2nd fingers into the stick to direct the weight of my arm/shoulder into the string for a good sound. I get the impression from Mr. Solow's comment that not all cellists play this way. So what way DO they play? Or am I misunderstanding the comment?
Jeffrey Solow replies: There are two ways of getting force into the string through the first finger: active pronation and passive pronation. Active, as the name implies, uses muscles to rotate (pronate) the arm/bow into the string and produces pressure by means of torque. (One starts with the bow held vertically, rotates the forearm until the hair touched the string, and keeps rotating for more force.) Passive pronation comes from relaxing muscles and allowing the forearm to BECOME PRONATED through gravity -- as if the forearm were a detached cylinder that starts to roll downhill toward the string. (One holds the bow horizontally above the string, lowers the arm/bow until the hair touches the string, and continues lowering it for more force.) Both of these transmit power to the bow primarily through the 1st finger. Laurence Lesser talked to me about transmitting force to the bow through the 2nd finger -- which produces a much flatter hand position.
>>Past versus Present Musicians
Reading recent posts on this board by youthful and enthusiastic writers has led me to ponder my own education and the happy accident that I was fortunate enough in my youth to have better musicians than myself direct my youthful enthusiasms to recordings of Heifetz, Feuermann and other truly great artists. I still went through my stupid phases -- wanting to play Shostakovich like a rock star, wanting to play Dvorak faster than any other human -- but the grounding I was given guided my education. I wonder how I might have developed differently if I had grown up as many today have, not knowing a cellist before du Pré, wanting to emulate perhaps the most celebrated cellist ever, Yo-Yo Ma. In other words, what if someone had not taught me better?
I wonder if others here had similar guidance -- did you develop your taste strictly on your own or were you guided? And by whom?
This has led me to ponder what will come of this generation of musicians studying now. We may decry the exaggerations and indulgences of instrumentalists like Nadja or Yo-Yo (whoever -- that's not what this post is about) but they come from a generation that grew in the shadow of the golden age of string playing, with an awareness of what came before. What will come of those who subsequently grow up in their shadow?
I wonder if we are not seeing signs already ... A young Finnish violinist played a Tchaikovsky concerto here in a manner so technically weak and musically and rhythmically distorted that it would have made Kennedy or Nadja seem conservative. It was not unmusical -- it was unrecognizable. Fazil Say, a young pianist whose career has blossomed in recent years (YCA) played an easy Mozart concerto with music, wrong notes, wrong articulations, bizarre phrasing and a general performance standard that was shocking for a professional musician. Are these isolated incidents or are the cows coming home to roost? What about the dearth of conducting talent? Are we entering a musical dark age?
There can be interpretations which are different but both logical, grammatical and beautiful, and there can also be interpretations which are hamstrung by careless musical and technical habits and are lacking in aspects of musical grammar and structure.
These performances are not just 'different flavors,' they are just bad. But it takes a high degree of sophistication (of which I can claim only a small amount) and many years of experience to begin to understand the difference. I show the same degree of conviction as the young writers, but I can tell you exactly why in a detailed technical and musical sense. This is the difference. If you want to know nore of what and why I am saying this please read an example of a more detailed analysis at http://www.cello.org/theses/smith/chap2.htm.
I don't prefer the artists of the previous generation because they are dead -- but because they were good. Neither do I find any artist to be all things to all repertoire. However compare recordings of less famous players such as Garbosouva, Nelsova, Cassado with the majority of the modern recordings. Regardless of technical perfection or not, they clearly show a radically different approach to the music. Overall, something is very different in the last twenty or thirty years.
It is not just a question of taste -- a phrase can be pulled but not broken. A phrase can also be pulled to the point where it actually is broken. There is a MUCH larger degree of rubato in modern performances. Not all tempos work equally well in conveying the line. Overall, tempos have grown continually slower over the last century. And there is an epidemic of careless vibrato, accentuation, swells, and other details which interfere with the phrase. No 'taste' or 'phase' explains these things away. Perhaps Zambocello (another ICS member) is on to something with the depletion of the talent pool, but comparing the great violinists of 40 years ago to those of today, it is not that there are the same number, spread further between, it is that something is, in most cases, fundamentally different in the approach.
In my life I was extremely lucky to grow up listening to Heifetz, hearing artists like Rose and Sammy Mayes play in my parent's house, studying with Nelsova, etc. It is only because of this lucky exposure that I have learned to understand the little that I do today. If we as cellists want to move our art forward we must understand the true details of how other cellists perform and interpret and not allow ourselves the luxury of defining any performer or performance as all 'good' or 'bad' based purely on overall impulsive reaction. There is, after all, a craft to creating art.
>>On the Art of Listening
Some recent posts here have cast disparaging remarks about the opinions of some of the more musically experienced members of this board. A few of the less experienced took these knowledgeable opinions as elitism and musical snobbery. The reality is that these professional and experienced musicians hear so much more in music than we who are less experienced can even know what to listen for. I do not mean to say that our listening experiences are not valid, but only to say that there are many levels of subtleties in music. I will relate an experience of mine that really brought home to me how trained and talented ears hear so much more.
A few years back I lived near a very accomplished pianist who almost made it on the concert stage. For reasons I donít think are relevant, I will not go into why he did not. Suffice it to say that this same pianist did make it in broadcasting and, in fact, was the person to whom the pianist Vladimir Horowitz granted his first interview after many years of media silence and absence from the concert stage.
I played tennis with this gentleman on a regular basis and in between sets we would talk about music and especially pianists. He himself still played at home on his Steinway concert grand, but never gave recitals. In fact he lived pretty much in seclusion. He often mentioned to me that the quality and the individuality of most of today's pianists was not what it used to be and that many of the older pianists were better pianists and better musicians. I listened to his remarks with a high degree of skepticism, but certainly not with the same degree of distain that some of our recent posters replied to BA. I was a product of the second half of the 20th century, subject to all the promotional hype, etc. and in my mind, here clearly was someone living in the past, or so I naively thought.
I have a collection of old recordings and have many early 78-rpm records of famous pianists of the past. I invited my friend over to dinner one evening and while listening to music that evening, I asked him if he thought he could identify some of the pianists in my 78-rpm collection. One by one, I played these old recordings, some of them so early that they were only recorded on one side. The pianists that we listened to ranged through Paderewski, de Pachman, Hoffman, Levine, Cortot, Rachmaninov, Horowitz, Rubinstein, and so on. If I recall correctly there were some 14 or more pianists in all. He listened carefully to them, remarking on things I could not hear; his comments were in regard to phrasing, left hand articulation, expression, the overall architecture of the interpretation, etc. But, the most astounding thing for me was, that he identified all but one of these pianists! The only one he got wrong was Rubinstein and his only comment about this was "I didnít think Rubinstein could play that well." I was truly amazed at how much he could hear.
At a later dinner session, I thought I would test him once more. He was more than up for it and I put on the first record. He had a startled look on his face, as he could not believe what he was hearing. In excellent modern recorded quality, he was hearing playing like he had not heard for years. He became very excited and said, "Who is this new pianist you have found, he is wonderful!" As he listened further he exclaimed, "I donít know how it is possible, but that pianist cannot be any other than Rachmaninov." He was right. I was playing for him recordings made by Rachmaninov on the Pianola recording piano. These piano rolls had been restored and recorded using a restored grand piano fitted with the Pianola playing system. This system was the pinnacle of player pianos capable of capturing most of the expressive subtleties of the pianist. He went on to correctly identify the other pianists in this series as well. The modern recorded sound confused his ears at first, but his innate sense of music and his knowledge of pianists he knew so well, came through. I was truly and forever impressed and better still I learned a very great lesson about the subtleties of music and the listening process and how much more I had (and still do have) to learn.
The point of this long-winded post is this. To those that, when they listen to music, think that they hear all that there is to hear, do not make the assumption that that is all there is to hear. We all have so much more to discover and learn about the art of music. In my opinion, many of the comments made by the professionals and experienced cellists on this board should not be cast off as elitist, pedantic or technical ramblings. These are not musical snobs, but individuals who have been given a gift. Fortunately for us, they are willing to share their learning and insights. We can only benefit and learn by opening our ears and minds to the insights that they are so willing to share.
>>Bernard Greenhouse on Talent
For those of you who may not have read the book "The Beaux Arts Trio -- A Portrait" written by Nicholas Delbanco, Morrow, 1985, I recommend it. It is especially interesting for those who play or listen to chamber music and the piano trio literature. The Beaux Arts Trio has been in existence since 1955 and originally was made up by the violinist Daniel Guilet, the pianist Menahem Pressler and the cellist Bernard Greenhouse. Several of you saw Bernard Greenhouse in action at the masterclasses at the World Cello Congress in Towson. Daniel Guilet retired in 1969 and was replaced by the violinist Isidore Cohen. This grouping performed together for many years and in the past few years both Greenhouse and Cohen have retired as well.
What is interesting about this trio is what they accomplished over all these years. The endless concerts in the early years given in less than ideal surroundings, playing on bad pianos in auditoriums and high school gymnasiums. A lot of us think that todayís concert scene is the way it always has been. Most smaller cities today have some sort of concert hall suitable for the playing and presentation of chamber music concerts, but this has not always been the case. Groups such as the Beaux Arts Trio, worked very hard to establish the piano trio repertoire through their constant travel and playing in outlying areas. Touring chamber music groups really helped to establish the literature of chamber music and chamber music concerts as we know them today.
Especially interesting for cellists is the chapter of the book dedicated to an interview with Bernard Greenhouse. He talks about his period of study with Casals and how he had to persevere to get Casals to take him on as a pupil, just after WW2 in Prades. He talks about technique, the balance in ensemble and the need to balance and play in tune with the piano. Overall the book impresses one with the need for an ensemble to practice and play together for many years to get the interpretation and appropriate feel of the music.
In keeping with the gist of a couple of threads here on CC, I am quoting Greenhouse on the technique of cello playing and the talent of cellists.
"If I were to consider a career on the instrument today, and I listened to the enormous number of young gifted cellists -- gifted at least in the technical sense -- Iíd hesitate. The techniques have improved so much, and there are so many accomplished young cellists by now. When I was a student there might have been twenty young cellists at the Curtis and the Julliard; today there are hundreds. The teaching has been superior. We have garnered in this country people like [Janos] Starker and Leonard Rose; we have people on the West Coast like Gabor Rejto; we have Zara Nelsova and Bonnie Hampton; weíve had Piatigorsky teaching a superior class of students. What I want to stress, though is that -- however much techniques may have changed -- talent has not progressed. Talent remains something which one cannot instruct or invent. And while there are many, many great instrumentalists, one has to search for the true artist -- that great talent we encounter so rarely. They are still quite as rare as they were fifty or one hundred or two hundred years ago."
>>Graded Repertoire Lists
This is from the Royal Conservatory of Music Cello Syllabus, 1995. It is an interesting book to have because it gives you at least a rough idea what pieces are at a comparable level to other pieces you might be able to play.
The first orchestral excerpts show up in Grade 8, and include excerpts from Dvorak's 8th Symphony, Schubert's Unfinished, and the Nutcracker Suite. Pieces at this level include Bach Suite #1, Goltermann Concerto No. 4, and Mendelssohn's Song Without Words. (Just a representative sample.)
Keep in mind that these are probably the more difficult excerpts from these orchestral works (I didn't check to confirm that, though.) Also, other repertoire lists might have totally different rankings. But I think it is probably fairly reasonable to say that if you could play the pieces at Grade 8 level, you could play those orchestral pieces, also.
If anyone wants to know where the pieces they are playing are ranked, email me or post and I'll look them up. The syllabus includes scales and etudes, too.
Oy-Oy replies: Reading your post, and that list, reminds me of my objections to these graded lists. Some of the licks in that Dvorak symphony (such as the triplets in the 1st movement) are far harder than the solo repertoire you listed. So the propriety and suitability would greatly depend on which excerpts are chosen.
I have often noted a disconnect between what student cellists are expected do in their solo music and what they must at the same time struggle to play in orchestra. This tends to lead to several unhappy results: (1) they are turned off by the cello, since they are asked to play music that's simply beyond their abilities. Conductors should think less of their egos and more of their players' abilities when choosing repertoire (2) they are conditioned to slop through and fake stuff. Faking is an important skill, but students ought to be spared for awhile. Particularly when habits picked up from attempting to play Mahler 5th bleed through into their concerto or Bach Suite (3) in a perverse way, some students might think they are cut out more for a solo career than an orchestra career, since they CAN get through the Haydn Concerto (which, after all, Yo-Yo and Starker play), but they can't get through Mahler's 5th. Ergo, the appropriate direction for their energies is as a soloist, and there's no real reason to work hard developing orchestra techniques. Which of course leads to genuine ruin.
On top of all of this, however, is the biggest shortcoming of standardized lists. It's simple enough to put down, for example, "All major and minor scales up to three flats and sharps, a prelude and one other movement from a Bach Suite, an etude by Duport or Franchomme, and the first movement of a concerto by Haydn, Boccherini, or Saint-Saens, or a virtuoso concertpiece." But, as a long-time judge, I can tell you that the levels of competence I get for the same material range from the Mariana Trench to the moon. How does one quantify quality?
And I guess my last dig at these standardized lists goes like this: what do they accomplish? Do countries that use them produce superior musicians to countries that don't? Everybody knows the difference between good and bad playing. If a student is good he/she should progress; if not, they should be made to do remedial work. This business about lists & levels is, frankly, a distraction, a game.
(To be read with the Tristan "Liebestod" playing in the background):
To my many ICS friends, and you others as well:
For reasons unrelated to this weekís brouhaha, I will be leaving you. I am moving to a location from which I will be unable to login.
This parting will be hard for me. My humdrum existence has been immeasurably enriched by the banter, wisdom, and hurly-burly of this board. I have tried to stay out when I had nothing to add and to make each contribution count. Sometimes Iíve poked fun (too sharply at times), sometimes Iíve fulminated, and sometimes I misunderstood one of you. Always, though, I spoke to the notion that our community is one of intelligent, respectful, and talented people of all ages who have chosen to spend some of their time together in sharing and enjoyment of our common pursuit and interest.
There have been times, and this week was one such, when people would stop in with different ideas of what CC is about. Many of you chose to disregard my advice in the "Relax, folks" post, and you (CC, anyway) have reaped what you have sown. Of course, that post itself was the catalyst for much of the bile, and as such may have been a mistake. But Iíve not answered the grievous incivilities offered me, and never will. CC, to me, is about people who care what they say, care about those to whom they say it, and care about the tenor, intellectual level, and basic courtesy of the board. Those with different agendas are best ignored. They will give up more quickly that way.
But for the rest of you, know that you have made me think, made me laugh, and made me re-examine. The expertise many of you have acquired in other fields has informed your musical perspectives and helped to broaden ours. Hearing first-hand the struggles and concerns of the students and amateurs in mastering our demanding instrument has helped me become a better, more compassionate teacher. Being able to share my own modest knowledge and experience with others has helped me recall, organize, and value it.
Above all, there has been the sense of family. A squabbling one, to be sure, but the same sense of bondedness. At different times Iíve been the avuncular distant relative, the snot-nosed kid, and the enraged parent. Iíve gently spanked some of you via my parody of a year ago. Iíve thrilled to the stories of your and your childrenís musical successes, however minor. Iíve gotten to know a few of you personally. None of this would have happened without the ICS, and to the present staff and the late, lamented Marshall, I send an enormous "thank you."
In the new life Iím starting, I know I will often daydream of my halcyon days as CCís self-appointed gadfly. I will wonder what hot new argument Iím missing, what historical nugget Stucka will have beaten me to telling, what bowing issue I wonít be able to "solve" for someone. And I will know that, with all the wonderful people here on CC and the ICS generally, everything will go on as well or better without me. Such is the nature of a strong, vibrant family, and you-all have truly become one. The cello DOES bring people together in a way that other instruments canít, and I will always treasure how it brought us together.
This meeting of Oy-Oyís "sad fan club" is hereby adjourned and the club disbanded. Blessings and good intonation to you all.
1. Peabody Trio personnel change
Natasha Brofsky has joined the Peabody Trio. A graduate of the Eastman School, the 35-year-old American has appeared with groups including the Takacs and Norwegian Quartets and was principal cellist with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra.
2. Another Bach Cello Suite Edition
G. Henle Verlag has come out with a new edition of the Bach Cello Suites. (HN 666/DM 49).
3. "Cello Handbook" website
Phyllis Luckman, author of Cello Handbook, now has a website. Her website includes information on her book as well as a cello repertoire list.
4. "Olympic" Cello Workout
Erik Friedlander has included seven lessons on his website that deal with issues such as speed, endurance, and coordination.
5. New Don Quixote recording
James Kreger has come out with a new CD of Strauss' Don Quixote.
6. World Cello Congress IV
The next World Cello Congress will be held in May/June 2006 at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Mark your 2006 calendar, if you've got one.
7. Northwestern University Concert
For those who will be in Evanston, Illinois, James Curry will be performing Bruch's Kol Nidrei at Northwestern University.
8. New Carbon Fiber Cello
A new carbon fiber cello has been produced by Luis and Clark, Inc. For more information, go to:
9. Jeffrey Solow appointed competition chair
Jeffrey Solow, one of our former ICS Featured Artists, has been appointed chair of the 2002 National Solo Competition for the American String Teachers Association (ASTA).
10. Guerini Sonatas
The first modern edition of Six Sonatas for Violoncelle and Basso Continuo (CL006) by Francesco Guerini, edited by Sarah Freiberg with keyboard realization by Byron Schenkman, has just been published by PRB Productions. For more information, write to: PRBPrdns@aol.com.
11. Virtu Foundation 2001 Cello Scholarships
The deadline for application is March 15, 2001. Applications may be downloaded from the Virtu Foundation web site: http://www.virtufoundation.org.
12. Prize Winners
The Jazz String Caucus was formed this past January. Its membership is international and includes Performers, Clinicians and University Professors such as Darol Anger, String Resource Chair, David Baker, Glenn Basham, John Clayton, Eugene Friesen, Matt Glaser, Richard Greene, and Randy Sabien. A conference will be held in New York City, January 10-13, 2001 at the New York Hilton and New York Sheraton Hotels. For more information, go to http://www.iaje.org/iaje99.
14. New book on Maurice Gendron
An English edition of Maurice Gendron -- The Art of Playing the Cello will be available at the end of the year. The publisher is Schott Musik International.
15. New Peabody Faculty
John Moran has joined the faculty of The Peabody Conservatory, where he will teach viola da gamba and cello.
16. Orchestral Appointment
Bulgaria-born cellist Alexander Somov will join the UK's Northern Sinfonia as its principal cellist, starting February 2001.
Manchester Cello Festival
May 2 - 6, Manchester (England) International Cello Festival "Exploring the American Influence" with cellists Bailey, Bengtsson, Bylsma, Carr, Coin, Demenga, Eddy, Friesen, Georgian, Geringas, Gutman, Leskovar, Lesser, Mork, Muller-Schott, Nelsova, Parisot, Pergamenschikow, Qin, Starker, Tsutsumi, Wallfisch. Also the Yale Cellos. Concerts, recitals, lectures, masterclasses, exhibitions. Cello & bow making competition. For a brochure, send a s.a.e. to Festival Office, The Grange, Handforth, Cheshire SK9 3NR, U.K.
American Cello Congress/Leonard Rose Competition
Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and Sixth American Cello Congress, College Park, Maryland, May 24 - June 2, 2001. email@example.com
New Directions Cello Festival 2001
June 15-17, 2001. http://www.newdirectionscello.com
Kobe (Japan) Cello Festival
July 25-29, 2001. They hope to assemble a cello orchestra of 1000 players! Solo performers to be announced. http://www.kobe-cello.com
World Cello Congress IV
Plan ahead! World Cello Congress IV will take place May/June 2006 at Towson University, Baltimore, Maryland. Concerts, recitals, masterclasses, workshops, symposia, exhibits, receptions. . http://www.towson.edu/worldmusiccongresses .
For those who attended World Cello Congress III, videos will soon be available via the website above.
Also promised is a "Gala Benefit Performance" in 2003 to raise funds for WCC4. "Many of the greatest stars of the music world will join forces to present a one-of-a-kind event not to be missed."
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2. Johnson String Instruments
3. James Kreger
4. New Directions Cello Festival Photos
5. Talented Kids
6. Stolen Violin
8. Classical Music Radio Stations
9. Alcove Music Publications
11. USC String Project
12. Frank Music Company
13. Blue Snow
14. Frances-Marie Uitti
16. Cello Shop
17. Ifshin Violins
18. Cello Handbook
19. Chicago Symphony Cello Lithograph
20. Anton's Burger Welt
21. Surgical Tubing for bows
22. Jazz Cello
23. International Association of Jazz Educators
25. Virtuoso Obbligato
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