Message from the Editor
After reading Jeffrey S. Krieger's article on works for e-cello, which in this issue, I cannot help but wonder and perhaps worry that there are some truly wonderful pieces of music being composed right now that we aren't paying attention to because we are so focused on our traditional instruments and on warhorses such as the Beethoven Sonatas and the omnipresent Dvorak Concerto. Most seem more interested in unearthing how cellists in the Baroque era played than in the flurry of activity in the today's e-cello world. Why is that? Might we be too quick to dismiss pieces for electronic instruments with that tired jab that they are just "sound effects"? I for one am going to enrich my library immediately with the suggestions mentioned in this article. Maybe it's time we give a nod to some music that was written in this Millenium. New instruments can breed a whole new branch of creative thought, and open up a world of musical possibilities. Perhaps a composer is churning out e-cello warhorses of the future right now. Let's not miss them!
>> I am trying top trace 3 or 4 cellists that I saw performing at a function some years ago. They were all women and they had painted their cellos (I know....) all sorts of bright colours . They entertained us all immensely, while rushing between the tables - and playing very well in between. I can't remember their name as a group. I wonder if you can help me please? I thought that it would be great for my daughter's wedding as she is a cellist herself.
Editor replies: If anybody recognizes this group, please send me an e-mail. Thanks.
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Raphael Wallfisch was born in London in 1953 into a family of distinguished musicians, his mother the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, and his father the pianist Peter Wallfisch.
At an early age, Raphael was greatly inspired by hearing Zara Nelsova play, and, guided by a succession of fine teachers, including Amaryllis Fleming, Amadeo Baldovino, and Derek Simpson, it became apparent that the cello was to be his life's work.
While studying with the great Russian cellist Gregor Piatigorsky in California, he was chosen to perform chamber music with Jascha Heifetz in the informal recitals that Piatigorsky held at his home.
At the age of twenty-four he won the Gaspar Cassadó International Cello Competition in Florence. Since then he has enjoyed a world-wide career playing with such orchestras as the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Hallé, City of Birmingham Symphony, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Berlin Symphony, Westdeutscher Rundfunk, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Warsaw Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, and many others.
He is regularly invited to play at major festivals such as the BBC Proms, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Spoleto, Prades, Oslo, and Schleswig Holstein.
Teaching is one of Raphael Wallfisch's passions. He is in great demand as a teacher all over the world, and holds professorships in Switzerland at the Zürich Winterthur Konservatorium and in Germany at the Hochschule Mainz.
His extensive discography of recordings with EMI, Chandos, Black Box, ASV, Naxos, and Nimbus includes concertante works by Dohnanyi, Respighi, Barber, Hindemith and Martinu, as well as Richard Strauss, Dvorak, Kabalevsky, Khachaturian, and a wide range of British cello concertos, including works by MacMillan, Finzi, Delius, Bax, Bliss, Britten, Moeran and Kenneth Leighton. For the Chandos Walton Edition he recorded the Cello Concerto originally written for his master, Piatigorsky.
Britain's leading composers have worked closely with Raphael Wallfisch, often writing works for him. These include Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Kenneth Leighton, James MacMillan, John Metcalf, Paul Patterson, Robert Simpson, Robert Saxton, Roger Smalley, Giles Swayne, John Tavener, and Adrian Williams.
He lives in London with his wife, violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch. They have three children.
TJ: You come from a family of professional musicians.
RW: Yes. My father was an internationally known concert pianist and my mother, until very recently, was a cellist in the English Chamber Orchestra. I was surrounded by great music and great music-making my entire childhood.
Your mother was imprisoned in concentration camps during the Nazi era.
Yes, her book about her experience -- Inherit the Truth -- was published several years ago. It has been translated into French, German, Japanese, and other languages. It's an extraordinary account of that horrific time in her life.
She had gone to Berlin at age 13 to study the cello, but there was the Kristallnacht and she had to return home. Pretty soon her family disappeared, one member at a time, and eventually my mother and her sister were arrested and deported to Auschwitz. My mother survived because she was a cellist. A cellist was needed in the woman's band, which was run by Alma Rosé, who has been written about in another recently published book. The band played for people as they were marched in and out of the camp and for other occasions. At the end of 1943, thousands of people were evacuated in the face of the advance of the Russians, and Anita and her sister found themselves in Belsen where they were eventually liberated in 1945. The band members who are still alive continue to stay in touch with each other.
Was this something that hung over the household when you were growing up?
Not one iota, which I find to be quite amazing. My mother is an extraordinary person, and she's very, very strong. When I was born she had already begun her career as a freelance cellist in London. She had come to England in 1946, a year after liberation, so there was a year when she felt like she didn't have a place to go, since she couldn't go back to Germany. Eventually she emigrated to London because there was family there, and she studied with William Pleeth, who later taught Jacqueline du Pré. Slowly but surely she found her way into the professional musical scene. When I was growing up, my parents were both so busy being musicians that we were totally integrated into society. She would minimize the fact that she had a number on her arm or what had happened to her because she didn't want to fill my head with gruesome stories. It was not until much later, when I was eight or nine years old, that she started talking about it, and now her story has come out in a book. These days she spends her time talking to schools and giving lectures all over the world.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
Is it possible for a solo cellist to sustain an entire concert just like a concert pianist has for centuries without the need of a collaborator or an accompanist? Can cellists be comfortable performing in any size concert hall, outdoors, or in performance spaces with difficult acoustics? Can working with interactive electronics lead a traditionally trained cellist into the world of sound improvisation and down other creative paths?
I have discovered positive answers and more to all of the above questions. Since 1989 I have been experiencing these possibilities through performance on the e-cello. The following list of e-cello repertoire with electronics is intended to help lead the experienced cellist through three levels of difficulty. Beginning repertoire has easy digital delay settings. The intermediate section progresses to works that use real-time control over the effects. The final section is directed to advanced pieces that use a computer with multi-media software.
Whether performed on an acoustic cello that is amplified or on a true, non-acoustic electric cello, it is challenging and fun to perform the works in this article. The advantage to playing on an electric instrument is that the sound can be completely transformed (the sound not being heard coming from the instrument but from the speakers). I have used an Alesis Quadraverb, a Digitech Harmonizer, and a Jamman Digital Delay/Sampler for the past fifteen years as Multi Effects Processors. There are many new digital sound processors from which to choose. I began with a very simple setup that has grown into my traveling, interactive studio (see extensive setup diagram below). This article should help you decide your goals before you go shopping for new gear.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
Dear Chatters, it is with much honor and humility that I offer you a window, if you will, into the life, the mind, the being that is Todd French, President of StringWorks and ISIS. We sat down for several intimate one-on-ones so that I could delve into Todd's inner soul. We also drank a lot. How is it that so many virtues, so much talent, and so many insights can be contained in one gorgeous creature? Read on and discover exactly how it's done . . . BettyLou Stevens
BL: Tell me about your days at USC. With whom did you study?
TF: I did my Masters Degree at USC. There isn't much to tell about USC, as it seems like it was a very quick 2 years, and the 2nd year already started some of my professional career, both in business and performing. I do have a few items I will recall quite fondly. I was very lucky to have worked with Dan Lewis during his final two years teaching there, and moreover I was able to work under him closely as principal cellist both of those years. He was an amazing man, an incredibly gifted educator (even if his methods were considered 'old school' and perhaps not as fluffy and PC as what is required or strongly recommended in education nowadays) and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to truly work in great detail on some master works of the symphonic repertoire, whereas now it is simply play through three times and perform. That's an experience I did not appreciate as much at the time as I do now, looking back. Also, I had some fantastic education from James Tyler, head of the Early Music department. He's not just a fantastic early music director, but a consummate professional and blindingly intelligent individual. Most of my educational experience was in my undergraduate, at Illinois Wesleyan University, to whom I am eternally committed. Back to your original question, while at USC I studied with the venerable Eleonore Schoenfeld.
What was she like? I have heard all kinds of stories. What was her approach with you?
Half the people reading this likely have studied with Eleonore Schoenfeld in one way or another, either directly or through one of her tens of thousands of students or students' students. She's a living cello pedagogy legend, and exactly what I needed at the time. I had much of my development as a cellist (in fact, most of it, particularly wrangling in this wild, unstructured talent) from Ko Iwasaki in Illinois, but Ms. Schoenfeld was able to really hone my skills as a performer and an artist like I think no other teacher could have done. She was strict with me as what is required to teach those with adult ADD such as myself (self-diagnosed), yet I was able to still grow myself as a cellist. I'm amazed by such gifted teachers, as I'm one who doesn't have the patience or the skills to relay what knowledge I've obtained form such amazing educators through the years. Teaching is such a difficult task – teaching well is, to me, a truly fantastic gift.
(Click here for the complete transcript.)
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>> Don Juan
DKJcello: I was wondering what would be considered an appropriate tempo for Don Juan for audition purposes. I have always aimed for about half = 88, but this time around, I have found that if I play around half = 84 it sounds more solid and the sound is better. It is not bad at 88, but it just seems cleaner and I feel more comfortable at 84. I am wondering if something like 84 is acceptable in an audition or if it would be considered "too slow?" I guess what I am really asking is if the character is right, does the exact tempo matter that much?
Two other quick questions. In the cello quartet part of La Mer, is it generally accepted not to connect the sFp note to the note preceding it at 2 before 9, and again at 9 during the crescendo? I always hear it that way, but it is not indicated like that in the part. Also, starting at 9, is it better to start down bow as indicated, or is up bow acceptable.
In the standard Tannhauser excerpt, what type of stroke is preferred in the triplets? Is it best just to play it with a heavy spicatto and not worry to much about trying to accent each note, or is it better to really try to accent each note individually?
mvotapek: My 2 cents is that quarter = 84 is a little slow for the opening of Don Juan, but if it's played with great detail and character, I wouldn't mind. I think I always did it too slow too.
I never made a comma in the La Mer places you reference. I do a kind of light slide. I like downbow. I'm sure upbow can work fine too.
And not just to be annoying, my answer to your Wagner question is yes. Heavy spiccato, but without trying to accent each note.
David Sanders: Regarding Tannhauser, yes, a heavy spiccato. The part I'm looking at doesn't have accents on the notes, just dots.
I would say that if Don Juan sounds better at 84 then at 88, do it at 84 (to the half, not quarter!). But I really think you're splitting hairs. Just make it sound good.
zambocello: One notch on the metronome is splitting hairs. Play the tempo that sounds best. But, if you think your tempo might be too fast/slow/whatever for some tastes, be prepared to play it slower/faster/whateverer. In auditions, at least the first round(s), there is not enough time to deal with candidates individually. But there is nothing more impressive than someone who plays really well and continues to play really well while making adjustments that are asked for by the committee/MD.
And don't forget to start Don Juan downbow! :)
batmanvcl: For what it's worth, I've won two auditions starting Don Juan DOWN bow. Assuming one stays in first position for the first several notes, the string crossings fall in the way which naturally suits the arm. To illustrate the point, just try playing Piatti #1 starting down bow - ouch.
Of course, I start it up bow (or down bow, or pizzicato, or whatever the conductor wants) in orchestra, but I've always sounded better all by my lonesome starting down.
DJKcello: What part of the bow do you start at when you start it downbow?
batmanvcl: Start at the part of the bow which makes it sound the best. In other words, practically anywhere except at the frog or the tip. For me, it's slightly toward the tip from the midpoint. (Since the sixteenths are followed by a long note, up bow, presumably you want to be in the upper half to begin it.) This is where verbal advice can only go so far, and you must just try some things.
BA: One more vote for starting it downbow, though when I tried to make my section do it in Fort Worth they threatened to beat me to death. But I like violin bowings. I'm a bit backwards myself.
I like it because it moves the stronger down bow accent to the downbeat f# instead of the second beat e and it keeps an easy crescendo into the second measure. I don't find it any harder to play than the upbow start once you get used to it. But I have a lot of bizarre bowing ideas. Anyone ever tried to play Magic Flute as it comes (no double up, just reversed for the second measure)? That one may not be such a good idea....
mvotapek: Well, the concerto DOES start on the 2nd beat. I know it doesn't work, but in my body I feel it as an upbow.
LeMaster: A good reason to start upbow is that it allows one to make a very subtle "accent" on the fourth note, which is the right and proper thing to do in order to keep the tempo steady. Otherwise, the excitement and anxiety caused by wondering just how you're going to negotiate those crazy string crossings just might allow the tempo to get all out of control and such.
(Allowing no room for doubt and confusion, I use 01041414 2123 )
gloriarex: I also do the hooked thing between the E and F#. That makes the most sense to me. But seeing as how the opening of Don Juan is (at least for me) just one of those things that may or may not be there depending on the moon, I think starting upbow gives me an extra leg up on getting it coordinated right.
Then again, sometimes if you do a really impossible bowing like starting it down, it forces you to really get it together and not rely on what feels "natural."
As far as Magic Flute Overture goes, I would say, yikes! Do it as it comes? Two ups at the beginning of the second measure feels right and then you don't have competing upbows and downbows for the fourth beat.
David Sanders: Regarding LeMaster's fingering, how about 01041214 1223? I know, I know, a 2-2 whole step, but it works for me because of the bow change (and it was Frank Miller' fingering).
zambocello: I agree! Don Juan starts better down bow for the same reasons that Piatti #1 starts better up bow. And that figure need not always be played with the same bowing. When I'm doing "audition bowings" at the 'rapidamente' before D, for example, I start upbow. Of course in real life there are conductors and principal cellists to deal with; we have to be ready to play it any old way.
BA: Slurring into the f# would work as well, I'm just allergic to adding slurs where the composer didn't, though in this case it might be worth it if you start up. But then you have a different articulation than the violins on the downbeat.... Anyway, I find it very helpful to practice it with both up and downbows. It makes me clean it up more honestly....
Anyway, I will be the first to admit that there are many, many first rate cellists who do prefer the upbow. Regarding how violinists prefer to bow it, it certainly isn't for vanity that the violinists do it downbow, different bowings work differently in fiddle world as we quickly discover when we try to play Kreisler's bowings....
When it came to setting section bowings I quickly learned that the needs of the many far outweigh the whims of the few. Whatever the section sounds better doing is the best bowing. Particularly if it keeps them from beating you to death with their endpins.
Here's my other Don Juan thing, in the critical edition the 16th passage at letter R is slurred -- the only instance in the cello part. I'm wondering how many orchestras actually follow that indication.
>> Ravel Trio marathon trills
cellochakravarti: I am doing the Ravel piano trio again after many years. How do you deal with Shostakovich 6 and other such marathons can offer advice on how to maintain trills for a long time? Is it permissible to fake? :)
mvotapek: Practice with many internal rhythmic subdivisions. In other words, feel a beat while you're trilling...in your gut, in your arm, your legs, by moving, etc. Don't get it from a metronome...create the beat yourself.
Bob: Another thing is to pace yourself. Don't start off like an alarm bell if you know you can't maintain that speed. Steady as she goes. Assuming your question is particularly about the Finale, it helps that the piano part tends to interfere with the cello during the long trill passage on the G string. If you listen closely to the definitive Beaux Arts Trio recording, you'll hear that the cellist is actually trilling quite slowly there, yet the passage is still wonderfully effective. As for the many trills on the last page, the best way is to keep switching fingers, thereby giving everyone an occasional rest.
cbrey: There's little to nothing in the Ravel Trio that you can fake. I'm saying this as someone who never practices today what I can fake tomorrow; but I've performed the Ravel probably a good 75-100 times over the past 30 years and it's like no other repertoire-- except the Ravel Duo, a piece which I'm convinced was written by Turkish prison guards when they ran out of alligator clips and handcranked generators -- in its requirements for precision, clarity and inner calm in the midst of outward tempests.
The good news is that it's worth it. What a good tune, eh?
Endless trills: my favorite trick is to switch fingers every now and then. If you're trilling between, say, d and e on the a string, use 2-4 and 1-3 alternately. Just hide the fingering switch on a bow change. Or kick over the music stand. Just don't sigh heavily from ennui; my mom told me years ago that that looks bad.
>> Rite of Spring
timscott: Are the trills at the end of the first section of Rite of Spring all whole steps or according to the key signature? We realize that no one could possible tell the difference, but it is interesting. I am voting for all whole steps on account of ease of execution, and because it sounds and feels right.
gloriarex: I think I've always played them as whole steps. It seems to fit better with the harmony.
zambocello: I've always presumed it was whole step trills since it's a whole step scale. Other instruments are playing some diatonic-sounding fragments, though. To the extent that those fragments are in a key, it's not C major or A minor! Frankly, I don't think it matters; it's an effect first and foremost.
rutharito: After I practice, there is always a thin layer of rosin residue on my strings ... even after just a few strokes of my bow. I'm fairly sure my bow doesn't have too much rosin on it, and I've tried to clean the rosin off the strings everyday, but some of it seems very stubborn.
Andrew Victor: There is one other thing, without rosin stuck on the string, the rosin on the bow hair would not grab it as necessary for playing. It seems as though the rosin adheres to the string so fast that even a newly cleaned string will respond.
It is the excess of rosin on the strings that causes problems -- worse on some instruments than others. It is especially problematic for cellists and part of the reason you may often see them playing with a rag in their laps (although some use it for mopping perspiration - instead or too).
>> Music and Emotion
Simon Cullen: I'm interested in your response to Adorno:
Music resembles a language. Expressions such as musical idiom, musical intonation, are not simply metaphors. But music is not identical with language. The resemblance points to something essential, but vague. Anyone who takes it literally will be seriously misled.
Music resembles language in the sense that it is a temporal sequence of articulated sounds which are more than just sounds. They say something, often something human. The better the music, the more forcefully they say it. The succession of sounds is like logic: it can be right or wrong. But what has been said cannot be detached from the music. Music creates no semiotic system.
The resemblance to language extends from the whole work, the organized linking of significant sounds, right down to the single sound, the note as the threshold of merest presence, the pure vehicle of expression. The analogy goes beyond the organized connection of sounds and extends materially to the structures. The traditional theory of form employs such terms as sentence, phrase, segment, ways of punctuating - question, exclamation and parenthesis. Subordinate phrases are ubiquitous, voices rise and fall, and all these terms of musical gesture are derived from speech. When Beethoven calls for one of the bagatelles in Opus 33 to be played 'parlando' he only makes explicit something that is a universal characteristic of music.
It is customary to distinguish between language and music by asserting that concepts are foreign to music. But music does contain things that come very close to the 'primitive concepts ' found in epistemology. It makes use of recurring ciphers. These were established by tonality. If tonality does not quite generate concepts, it may at least be said to create lexical items. Among these we may start by singling out those chords which constantly reappear with an identical function, well-established sequences such as cadential progressions, and in many cases even stock melodic figures which are associated with the harmony. Such universal ciphers were always capable of entering into a particular context. They provided space for musical specificity just as concepts do for a particular reality, and at the same time, as with language, their abstractness was redeemed by the context in which they were located. The only difference is that the identity of these musical concepts lay in their own nature and not in a signified outside them.
Their unchanging identity has become sedimented like a second nature. This is why consciousness finds it so hard to bid farewell to tonality. But the new music rises up in rebellion against the illusion implicit in such a second nature. It dismisses as mechanical these congealed formulae and their function. However, it does not dissociate itself entirely from the analogy with language, but only from its reified version which degrades the particular into a token, into the superannuated signifier of fossilized subjective meanings. Subjectivism and reification go together in the sphere of music as elsewhere. But their correlation does not define music's similarity to language once and for all. In our day the relationship between music and language has become critical.
The language of music is quite different from the language of intentionality. It contains a theological dimension. What it has to say is simultaneously revealed and concealed. Its Idea is the divine Name which has been given shape. It is demythologized prayer, rid of efficacious magic. It is the human attempt, doomed as ever, to name the Name, not to communicate meanings.
Music aspires to be a language without intention. But the demarcation line between itself and the language of intentions is not absolute; we are not confronted by two wholly separate realms. There is a dialectic at work. Music is permeated through and through with intentionality. This does not just date from the 'stile rappresentativo', which deployed the rationalization of music in an effort to exploit its similarity to language. Music bereft of all intentionality, the merely phenomenal linking of sounds, would be an acoustic parallel to the kaleidoscope. On the other hand, as absolute intentionality it would cease to be music and would effect a false transformation into language. Intentions are central to music, but only intermittently. Music points to true language in the sense that content is apparent in it, but it does so at the cost of unambiguous meaning, which has migrated to the languages of intentionality. And as though Music, that most eloquent of all languages, needed consoling for the curse of ambiguity - its mythic aspect, intentions are poured into it. 'Look how it constantly indicates what it means and determines it.' But its intentions also remain hidden. It is not for nothing that Kafka, like no writer before him, should have assigned a place of honour to music in a number of memorable texts. He treated the meanings of spoken, intentional language as if they were those of music, parables broken off in mid-phrase. This contrasts sharply with the 'musical' language of Swinburne or Rilke, with their imitation of musical effects and their remoteness from true musicality. To be musical means to energize incipient intentions: to harness, not indulge them. This is how music becomes structure.
This points to the question of interpretation. Interpretation is essential to both music and language, but in different ways. To interpret language means: to understand language. To interpret music means: to make music. Musical interpretation is performance, which, as synthesis, retains the similarity to language, while obliterating every specific resemblance. This is why the idea of interpretation is not an accidental attribute of music, but an integral part of it. To play music correctly means first and foremost to speak its language properly. This calls for imitation of itself, not a deciphering process. Music only discloses itself in mimetic practice, which admittedly may take place silently in the imagination, on an analogy with silent reading; it never yields to a scrutiny which would interpret it independently of fulfilment. If we were to search for a comparable act in the languages of intention, it would have to be the act of transcribing a text, rather than decoding its meaning.
In contrast to philosophy and the sciences, which impart knowledge, the elements of art which come together for the purpose of knowledge never culminate in a decision. But is music really a non-decisive language? Of its various intentions one of the most urgent seems to be the assertion 'This is how it is', the decisive, even the magisterial confirmation of something that has not been explicitly stated. In the supreme moments of great music, and they are often the most violent moments - one instance is the beginning of the recapitulation in the first movement of the Ninth Symphony - this intention becomes eloquently unambiguous by virtue of the sheer power of its context. Its echo can be heard, in a parodied form, in trivial pieces of music. Musical form, the totality in which a musical context acquires authenticity, cannot really be separated from the attempt to graft the gesture of decision on to the non-decisive medium. On occasion this succeeds so well that the art stands on the brink of yielding to assault from the dominating impulse of logic.
This means that the distinction between music and language cannot be established simply by examining their particular features. It only works by considering them as totalities. Or rather, by looking at their direction, their 'tendency', in the sense of the 'telos' of music. Intentional language wants to mediate the absolute, and the absolute escapes language for every specific intention, leaves each one behind because each is limited. Music finds the absolute immediately, but at the moment of discovery it becomes obscured, just as too powerful a light dazzles the eyes, preventing them from seeing things which are perfectly visible.
Music shows a further resemblance to language in the fact that, as a medium facing shipwreck, it is sent like intentional language on an odyssey of unending mediation in order to bring the impossible back home. But its form of mediation and the mediation of intentional language unfold according to different laws: not in a system of mutually dependent meanings, but by their lethal absorption into a system of interconnections which can alone redeem the meanings it overrides in each individual instance. With music intentions are broken and scattered out of their own force and reassembled in the configuration of the Name.
In order to distinguish music from the mere succession of sensuous stimuli it has been termed a structured or meaningful totality. These terms may be acceptable in as much as nothing in music stands alone. Everything becomes what it is in memory and in expectation through its physical contiguity with its neighbour and its mental connection with what is distant from it. But the totality is different from the totality of meaning created by intentional language. Indeed it realizes itself in opposition to intentions, integrating them by the process of negating each individual, unspecifiable one. Music as a whole incorporates intentions not by diluting them into a still higher, more abstract intention, but by setting out to proclaim the non-intentioned at the moment when all intentions converge and are fused together. Thus music is almost the opposite of a meaningful totality, even when it seems to create one in contrast to mere sensuous existence. This is the source of the temptation it feels to abstain from all meaning from a sense of its own power, to act, in short, as if it were the direct expression of the Name.
Heinrich Schenker has cut the Gordian knot in the ancient controversy and declared his opposition to both expressive and formal aesthetics. Instead he endorsed the concept of musical content. In this respect he was not unlike Schoenberg, whose achievement he failed to his shame to recognize. Expressive aesthetics focuses on polyvalent, elusive individual intentions and confuses these with the intentionless content of the totality. Wagner's theory misses the mark because it conceives of the content of music as the expression of the totality of musical moments extended into infinity, whereas the statement made by the whole is qualitatively different from that of the individual intention. A consistent aesthetics of expression ends up by succumbing to the temptation to replace the objective reality with transitory and adventitious meanings. The opposing thesis, that of music as resounding, animated form, ends up with empty stimuli or with the mere fact of organized sound devoid of every connection between the aesthetic form and that non-aesthetic other which turns it into aesthetic form. Its simple-minded and therefore ever-popular critique of intentional language is paid for by the sacrifice of art.
Music is more than intentionality, but the opposite is no less true: there is no music which is wholly devoid of expressive elements. In music even non-expressiveness becomes expression. 'Resounding' and 'animated' are more or less the same thing in music and the concept of~ 'form' explains nothing of what lies beneath the surface, but merely pushes the question back a stage to what is represented in the 'resounding', 'animated' totality, in short to what goes beyond form. Form can only be the form of a content. The specific necessity, the immanent logic, evaporates: it becomes a mere game in which everything could literally be something else. In reality, however, musical content is the profusion of things which obey the rules of musical grammar and syntax. Every musical phenomenon points to something beyond itself by reminding us of something, contrasting itself with something or arousing our expectations. The summation of such a transcendence of particulars constitutes the 'content'; it is what happens in music. But if musical structure or form is to be more than a set of didactic systems, it does not just embrace the content from outside; it is the thought process by which content is defined. Music becomes meaningful the more perfectly it defines itself in this sense - and not because its particular elements express something symbolically. It is by distancing itself from language that its resemblance to language finds its fulfilment.
Quasi una Fantasia, Essays on Modern Music, Theodor W. Adorno
(Translated by Rodney Livingstone), VERSO, London, New York
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Music, to use the claptrap phrase, expresses what words cannot. Adorno is right when he says "music is not identical with language . . . [it] creates no semiotic system." And while all music is expressive, what exactly it is expressing (speaking now of absolute music) cannot be pinned down. Two people hearing the same passage of Chopin will struggle to come up with meaningful adjectives, and they will in any case be different from one another. Rostropovich once remarked that only Russian musicians understood that when Tchaikovsky repeated a minor-key phase in the major mode he was actually making it sadder, the pathos being so intense that conventional tonality idioms were insufficient. I have absolutely no clue what is Ravel SAYING in the Prelude of "Le Tombeau de Couperin" – but it's one of most magically beautiful pieces in all music. Would someone please tell me if the finale of the Schubert Cello Quintet is happy, sad, or some other emotional state? And where, in any event, does this sort of exercise get us? The answer, if there is one, lies largely in what we ourselves bring to the experience of listening; who we are, what we've heard and reacted to in the past, etc. What each of us draws from music is like the unending spectrum of what each of us draws from God (and, sadly, there are a few people who draw nothing from either).
Regardless, any music worth listening to will have a VARIETY of emotional states through which it passes. The architecture and the expression together make for the overall journey. Even if a piece is in a minor key, a slow tempo, and predominantly dolorous, it will have important moments of contrast, which are vital to its overall expressive power.
So as to "how" composers "draw out emotions"? My guess would be that they don't; that is, that they don't try to (this, by the way, would be good advice for performers as well). The goal, I think, is to construct a work of art that has its own inner logic, that appeals to both the heart and the intellect through carefully balanced elements, and which takes listeners on some sort of journey. But attempting to drawing out emotions per se seems to me to be the wrong objective. Wrong and simplistic. If you want to "draw out" happiness, write something fast, lively, in a major key, and with a lot of leaps. If you want to "draw out" sadness, write something slow, in a minor key, halting rhythms, and with a predominantly low tessitura. If you want to "draw out" laughter, write in a few wrong notes at cadences. Music is about so much more than this kind of stuff, and if it was teachable in any meaningful way, the world would be overrun with good composers.
1. World Cello Congress Cancelled
The 2006 World Cello Congress IV has been cancelled by Towson University.
2. du Pré video re-released
A documentary recording the life of Jacqueline du Pré has been re-released on DVD, including her famous performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto. The film was recorded in 1967 and 1980 by Chistopher Nupen, and has been digitally remastered by BBC Opus Arte and Allegro Films. The video also includes a short film of her performance of the 'Ghost' Trio with Daniel Barenboim and Pinchas Zukerman, as well as a photo gallery.
3. Cellist chosen for Carnegie Hall Director
Clive Gillinson, managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra, and former orchestral cellist, has been selected to be its executive and artistic director.
4. Greenhouse celebration
Bernard Greenhouse will be celebrated at the UNCG School of Music March 4-6, 2005, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Performers will include Timothy Eddy, Paul Katz, Steven Doane, Qiang Tu, Barbara Stein Mallow, Amit Peled, Pamela Frame, Maureen McDermott, Astrid Schween, Kate Dillingham, and many more.
5. 2005 ASTA National Conference
The 2005 ASTA National Conference will take place in Reno, Nevada, February 23-26, 2005. Cello sessions include lectures and master classes by Eleonore Schoenfeld, Irene Sharp, Elizabeth Morrow, Benjamin Whitcomb, Victor Sazer, Katherine Tischhauser, and Valerie Walden.
6. du Pré cello
Daniel Barenboim has given a cello once owned by his late wife, Jacqueline du Pré, to Kyril Zlotnikov of the Jerusalem Quartet. The instrument, originally a gift from Barenboim to his wife, was made in 1971 by Sergio Peresson. She once described it as "strong like a tank, with a wonderfully rich sound that reaches the corners of the largest hall."
7. Edmund Kurtz dies
Edmund Kurtz, perhaps best known for his edition of the Bach Cello Suites, died in London on August 19. He was 95. He was born in St. Petersburg and studied with Julius Klengel and Diran Alexanian before becoming principal cellist of the Bremen Opera Orchestra in 1926. He toured with Anna Pavlova from 1927 to 1930 before joining the Prague German Orchestra as principal cellist under George Szell. Kurtz emigrated to the US in 1936 and became principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but departed after eight years to pursue his solo career. His 1983 edition, first undertaken at age 70, is still highly regarded. An outstanding cellist and enthusiastic collector of cello bows, he was preparing and editing new cello editions right up until his death. His recording of the Dvorak Concerto was recently re-released on the Naxos label.
8. Ede Banda dies
Hungarian cellist Ede Banda, formerly of the Tatrai Quartet, has died at age 87. Banda studied with Jenö Kerpely at the Lizst Academy, where he also studied composition with Kodály.
9. Rostropovich scholarships
Mstislav Rostropovich has put his name to five undergraduate string scholarships at Goldsmiths College in London.
10. Pergamenschikov Scholarship
The Kronberg Academy has established a new scholarship in memory of cellist and pedagogue Boris Pergamenschikov, who died in April. Students at the Hochschule 'Hanns Eisler' are eligible for the award.
11. New NEC Faculty
Natasha Brofsky, cellist of the Peabody Trio, has recently been appointed to the faculty of the New England Conservatory in Boston.
12. Alexander Baillie concert announcement
Fauré Sonata in G minor Op.117
Sonatas by Poulenc, Debussy and Franck
Tuesday 16th November at 7.45pm
Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke's, 161 Old Street, London EC1
Following a performance of the Five Beethoven Sonatas in May, the Baillie-Lisney Duo returns to LSO St.Luke's with an attractive programme of sonatas by French composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Their previous appearance here was highly praised by The Strad - "as much an object lesson in duo playing as it was an authoritative exploration of music...........the fluidity of dynamics, the constant nuances, the overall immediacy of communication, were more akin to an actor giving a speech than to anything which could be marked in a music score".
The Baillie-Lisney Duo combines the talents of two acclaimed soloists and chamber musicians, renowned for their virtuosity, integrity and temperament. Alexander Baillie and James Lisney have established a thriving international career together, performing a wide range of music and achieving special notice for their association with the masterpieces of Beethoven. They have presented the complete sonatas many times in the UK and abroad; their CD recording for GENUIN (GEN03024) was released earlier this year. Their expertise and charismatic communication have been greeted by extraordinary audience reaction, ranging from numerous individual testimonials to standing ovations.
The sonatas of Fauré and Poulenc were completed in 1921 and 1948 respectively; both works display sparkling vivacity but show the scars of recent wars with a strong vein of melancholy. Debussy completed his Sonata in 1915 while suffering from cancer: he strongly denied a suggestion that this brief work was an evocation of the Pulcinella tale but its narrative quality and strong imagery are beyond question. The Franck sonata, written as a wedding gift for the Belgian violinist Ysaye, continues to entrance audiences, violinists and cellists alike with its irresistible passion and ecstatic lyricism.
Jerwood Hall at the London Symphony Orchestra's St Luke's Centre (near the Barbican Centre) is tipped to become one of the leading recital venues in the capital. The BBC already broadcast a series of lunchtime concerts and the evening programme is beginning to feature quality chamber music events.
13. Prize Winners
14. More Cello News
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The International Cello Ensemble Society will host a festival in Kobe, Japan in May 2005. http://www.kobe-cello.com.
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