What's New at ICS
Message from the Editor
Yep, we have added another chat board, the "College Cellists" board. This board is intended for people who wish to discuss issues related to studying the cello in college, whether one is currently a college cellist, planning to study the cello in college, a former college cellist, or a parent of a present or future college cellist.
We have added 29 new biographies to our list of Professional Cellists, including Helmerson, Gutman, Tsutsumi, and Warner -- all participants in World Cello Congress III. Extra special thanks goes to Laura Wichers, who donated her time and lightning fast typing skills to the project, an unbelievably generous effort.
The interview with Wendy Warner is my 33rd (I can't believe it!). After talking with so many world-renowned cellists, pedagogues, and scholars, one of the most important lessons I've learned is that it's important to try to maintain an open mind and to be willing to genuinely consider approaches that differ from my own. This is particularly important to keep in mind when discussing the playing of world class artists. Not once have I ever stumped my interviewees with a question where they went, "Gosh. I've never considered this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention." Each time, they have responded with something like, "Yes, I am aware of this, but…." So, whenever I've climbed on my "high horse," I've been knocked to the ground. As a result, it is I who usually ends up saying, "Gosh. I've never considered this…." Very humbling.
Please understand that I say this having once been exceedingly opinionated about musical issues (as if I were even QUALIFIED to be so certain of my views!). I once went up to a highly regarded cellist after he performed a Bach Suite and asked, "Didn't Bach do a good enough job for you?" Looking back on this, 33 interviews ago, I am filled with shame; I wish I could take it back. But at least this painful memory has provided me a good reference point; I can see clearly how I have grown over the years.
Whenever I feel like "throwing stones" at certain artists, I try to keep in mind that they are most likely choosing to play a certain way, which means that they have their reasons, perhaps as simple as "I like it better my way." It's the differing approaches that make music such a wonderful thing to experience and to discuss. Vive la difference!
Tim Janof (Finholt)
>> I saw the suggestion to write about my relationship with my cello and I couldn't resist sharing my thoughts on this "relationship." I love my cello! My cello hates me! Every time I take it out of its case it groans in protest. "Pleeeeeease don't play me today," it begs, "I've got a terrible headache."
It sees the bow falling towards it and, even before the hair touches the strings, it screeches in protest. "Noooooo," it screams like a dying deep-voiced cat. "I can't bear the thought of another torturous session where you pretend to play like Jacqueline du Pré and only achieve a terrible squealing, screeching, deafening noise." Fortunately for me (and unfortunately for my cello), I am quick to forgive its horrid remarks and continue with my practice. Who knows -- one day I'll walk into my room and I'll hear a voice calling, "Play me today. Pleeeeease play me today. I love the way you make me sing!"
Oh well, every person's allowed to have little fantasies.
>> I'm one of the lurkers in the ICS, so you probably don't recognize my name. It's said on the bulletin boards so often that I hate to be a sentimental copy-cat, but I can't come up with an original way of saying how very much I appreciate the chat boards: for the information provided to all levels of player on all subjects, for the thoughtful, stimulating questions and comments, and for the incalculably helpful support system. As a self-doubting, middle-aged beginning cellist, there's no way to measure this gift, and no way to describe it without sounding REALLY over-the-top maudlin.
As for suggestions, I have only one: there are obviously so many who appreciate your site, posters and lurkers alike, and a seemingly regular influx of newcomers, I wonder if there's any way you could periodically post a notice on all the boards to remind users how easy it is to contribute to the cause! And how helpful: if there hadn't been the server problem, and some cogent comments by some of your regulars, I never would have signed up OR made a contribution because -- A) I only just started, have no affiliation -- I thought registering was only for "the real ones," and B) I'm so ignorant in the ways of the Web, I'd have been more than happy to pay membership dues -- but since they aren't required I figured you didn't need them!
I hope to be getting my own new (first) cello in about a week, with the help of all your cello people and their input. Maybe I'll shake off my timidity long enough to share........
Thanks again for your invaluable efforts and best wishes,
Editor replies: All of our funding comes from donations. The ICS continues to operate at a significant loss each year, so all contributions are most welcome. If you would like to make a donation, please see our Home Page link called "Ways to Contribute."
>> I enjoyed reading the interview with Carter Brey. I thought you might be amused to find out that I also started cello "late" at age 12, in public school and began private lessons at about the same age Carter did, around 16!
(Past ICS Featured Artist)
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by Tim Janof (Finholt)
In addition to her tours with Rostropovich, Ms. Warner toured with the Moscow Virtuosi and Vladimir Spivakov (Toronto, Chicago, and Carnegie Hall) in the 1994-1995 season, and toured Japan as soloist with NHK and the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in the summer of 1996. Other major conductors she has worked with include Christoph Eschenbach, Andre Previn, Jesus Lopez-Cobos, Charles Dutoit, Michael Tilson Thomas, Semyon Bychkov, Yuri Falik, Leslie Dunner, Eiji Oue, and Lawrence Foster. Since 1991 she has played concertos with major North American orchestras, including those of Boston, Philadelphia, Montreal, Detroit, Minnesota, Dallas, and San Francisco, and her extensive engagements have included concerts in St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Berlin, Frankfurt, Reykjavik, London, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, as well as a performance with Anne-Sophie Mutter of the Brahms Double Concerto with L'Orchestre de Paris.
In 1991, Ms. Warner was awarded an Avery Fischer Career Grant and gave her debut recital at Carnegie Hall. She has since appeared in recital in world cities from Chicago to Paris, Milan, and Tokyo. She has recorded a CD of works by Hindemith (Bridge Records, 1997), a CD with Rachel Barton of duos for cello and violin (Cedille Records, 1998), and she has a forthcoming recording of the Barber Concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under Marin Alsop (Naxos). Ms. Warner is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and was a student of Nell Novak from age 6 until joining Mstislav Rostropovich in 1988. Also an accomplished pianist, she studied with Emilio del Rosario at The Music Center in Winnetka, Illinois.
TJ: You studied with Nell Novak for 10 years until your studies with Rostropovich. Did she basically establish the technique that you have today?
WW: Yes, though not using traditional methods. She didn't emphasize the study of scales or etudes, like Popper, Piatti, or other standard technical exercises, though they were used occasionally. For the most part, she taught technique through progressively more difficult pieces -- Haydn C, Boccherini, Lalo, Saint-Saens, Dvorak, Shostakovich, Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante, and so forth.
This reminds me of my audition at Curtis when I was 17. I knew they might ask me to play a scale, and I didn’t know any, so I spent more time practicing scales than practicing my pieces! Fortunately, they let me choose which scale to play; I chose a two-octave C major, starting on the C string.
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Jean Cras' 'Sonate pour violoncelle et piano' (1900)
and 'Légende pour violoncelle et orchestre' (1929)
by Paul-André Bempéchat
Although in actual numbers his legacy of chamber works is not as extensive as that of the Holy French Triumvirate of his times, Fauré, Debussy and Ravel, Jean Cras bequeathed two major contributions to the virtuoso 'cello literature, the first, his Sonate pour violoncelle et piano of 1900, the second, Légende, of 1929, a rhapsody for 'cello and orchestra. I am deeply grateful to Mlle Monique Cras (b. 1910), the composer's last surviving offspring, for having afforded me unfettered access to her father's musical and literary library, his unpublished correspondence, autobiography and manuscripts, which remain the foundation of my research.
Jean Cras was born and died in Brest, one of France's most important military sites on the Breton coast, into a very old and esteemed Naval and medical family. By six, he began composing short piano pieces, songs and vocal duets for house concerts with his siblings. Following in the family tradition, the young Jean enrolled at the Naval Academy in 1896 and, concurrent with basic training, taught himself theory, orchestration, counterpoint and composition.
At 20, Cras felt himself at an impasse, and decided to study with the composer under whom he felt he would most benefit, master lyricist Henri Duparc. Within days of their first meeting, Duparc declared Cras to be one of the most gifted musicians he had ever met and the two grew as close as could any teacher and student, Duparc later referring to his protégé as le fils de mon âme ("the son of my soul"). For three months during the latter part of 1900, when Cras enjoyed a rare break from the Navy, master and pupil worked assiduously, Duparc guiding Cras meticulously through the compositional processes of Bach, Beethoven and his own mentor, César Franck. These would be Cras' only lessons in composition; henceforth, he would continue refine his art independently. During this period, Duparc had recommended his pupil to the famed organist Alexandre Guilmant, whose masterclasses Cras subsequently attended at the Conservatoire. Steeped in the fervent Catholicism of the times, this side of his brief apprenticeship reflects notably through his vocal and choral writing, firmly aligned with contemporaneous national traditions.
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by Robert Battey
As a solo artist, he is simply nonpareil. The only string player to whom he could be compared as to quality and consistency is Jascha Heifetz. He has traveled the globe scores of times, appearing in the world's great concert halls, and with the most prestigious orchestras. His recording career spans nearly half a century, and covers an astounding range of repertoire -- from multiple versions of the Bach Suites, to severe, late 20th century works of Bernard Heiden and Robert Starer, to probing, provocative interpretations of all the central masterpieces of the cello literature, to the jazz works of David Baker.
Whether on stage or through recordings, the technical and musical standards he has upheld have never once wavered or compromised. And those standards are higher than anyone else's. From his world premiere recording of the Kodaly Solo Sonata at age 24 (which won the French Grand Prix du Disque) to his muscular, virtuoso renditions of the Hindemith and Schumann Cello Concertos at 70, each and every Starker recording is an object lesson in great string playing. He shows us how to sculpt the sound, how to control tension and release, when to speak and when to sing. The tone is clean and focused, the interpretations commanding and inevitable, and the technique untouchable.
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by Dimitry Markevitch
We have witnessed, 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 musician's death. It brings now the number of editions, since the first by Louis Norblin in 1824, to a staggering 92! (Soon to be 93, when the fourth printing of my edition comes out, with a completely new preface, hopefully before the end of this special year.
I don't know of another example of such numerous publications. The Bach violin works didn't prompt a like outburst of new editions. We have now seven more versions to study, and for me, personally, with those I have already, it will boost my library to 61 different editions of the Suites!
When I published my edition in 1964, based on the Kellner and Westphal manuscripts, which I uncovered, as well as the Anna Magdalena and the Lute versions, for the Fifth Suite, it was the 52nd. It means that in the last 36 years, 41 editions have come out. More than one per year! Quite a record. Now let's bet on when and by whom the 100th version will be published. Before going any further, I think it is in order to clarify the question of sources for these pieces. In absence of the lost original, until it may surface one day, like the violin works did in 1909, here is what we have to work with:
Beginning of the second half of the 18th century:
If it is surprising that there are so many editions based on the Anna Magdalena Bach (AMB) copy, since it is so unreliable, let us not forget that for years it was the only known manuscript, taken often for the original. But most editors usually try to find excuses for her errors. For instance, Bettina Schwemer and Douglas Woodfull-Harris in the latest Bärenreiter Urtext Edition, which came out in the recent weeks, say: "There can be no question that AMB is the principal source for the cello suites," then later: "For all her care (sic) AMB's copy is not entirely free of mistakes." I counted 117 errors, not including the slurs. And finally: "It is difficult to read AMB's slurs." This is quite an understatement. These editors, though, give very good examples, using the violin works of uncertain slurring by her.
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The following pictures were taken at the last Amazon Cello Encounter, which occurred from May 28th to June 6, 2000, in Belém, Brazil. They were submitted by Aureo De Freitas Junior.
This is the site created our former webmaster, Marshall St. John. In addition to being a great resource for cello related links and biographies, it is full of examples Marshall's lovable wit. It's simply a marvelous site!
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>>Quotes from Famous Cellists
"Music is like a different plane, and when you are on it you feel alone and very happy." -- A paraphrase of Jacqueline du Pré
"Imagine! They call me a great cellist. I am not a cellist. I am a musican. That is much more important." -- Pablo Casals
"Forget about modesty. Be a show-off. There has never been written a modest symphony, a humble rhapsody. You must be able to say, with great feeling, 'I hate you' or 'I love you.' Once you are able to say that, you will find you can play the cello." -- Gregor Piatigorsky
"Look at that my cello, which I have played for over half a century. I love him, and he loves me, yes he does, and he sounds good to make me happy." -- - Pablo Casals (from an interview days before he died)
" 'Espressivo' doesn't mean that you have to cry your heart out." -- Janos Starker
Paraphrased Story -- There is a story of a time when Piatigorsky and Toscanini shared a dressing room prior to a concert. Piatigorsky kept staring at himself in the mirror saying things like "I'm no good ... I have no talent ... I'm terrible". Finally, Toscanini stood up, looked at him and said "You're terrible ... I'm terrible ... The rest -- they're worse."
"My cello has been transported on mules, camels, trucks, rowboats, droshkies, bicycles, gondolas, jeeps, a submarine off Italy, subways, trams, sleds, junks, and on a stretcher in Amalfi. But by far the most nerveracking experience of all is when, in full dress, I must transport the cello in my own hands across the stage each time I have to play." -- Gregor Piatigorsky
>>Bowings in Orchestra
Wondering if those of you -- particularly professional orchestra players -- have any general or specific thoughts on what you love or hate to see in the bowings. Any opinions about always or not always matching the violins in same material (Don Juan, eg)? Some of the orchestral bowing traditions really took me by surprise, coming straight out of a conservatory without much prior orchestral experience.
Ryan Selberg replies: Speaking from the viewpoint of someone who is (and has been for the past 25 years) responsible for the bowings of the Utah Symphony's cello section, I follow one general rule: "bowings need to be cellistic!" I am fortunate in that our conductors have generally allowed diversity based on necessity, rather than strict conformity. And I have a good working relationship with our concertmaster who generally feels that the music comes first, rather than uniformity. It sounds like I have a pretty ideal situation in that regard.
Sometimes the music director has requested specific bowings for a musical reason, and we will generally go along with it. When it doesn't fit, we will generally change something to make it work, sometimes without saying anything to him. If he notices and complains, we may need to change back, but generally, if it sounds good, he leaves us alone. (Besides, our recently retired conductor of fifteen years was a violinist, and rarely noticed the cellos except to put his hand in our faces to tell us we were too loud. Our current principal guest, who is also a violinist, does the same, but with more insistance on making ourselves UNheard! "Shhhhhhhhh!!!!! Cellos too loud!!!!!!!!") The peeve time comes when a guest conductor brings his own parts! Some guests are very knowledgeable and the bowings, although different, do make sense, and we just do them for the week. (I even occasionally find a new way to look at an old standard and make a permanant change in our own parts when we do it again.) But sometimes, we get a guest who brings the parts from his orchestra, with "his" bowings, none of which match within the section, and none of which match anything anyone else in the string section is doing! And they will insist we follow them!
As to what works for a section, given my own discretion, I almost always try to make a bowing work that is not a "soloistic" bowing. When doing concertos, sonatas, etc, you can be very free to do what ever seems to serve the music best. But in a section, you need to consider that as a principal, there are players who don't play as well as you, or who don't have the experience or physical abilities, etc. So they have to be a bit more general.
My section has only eight players under contract (something I have been fighting for 25 years!) so we are always needing to be a bit creative in matching the sound level of a full orchestra, especially in large romantic works. This week, we are doing several concerts with singing-choral works with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and an opera in the park concert with the Utah Opera Company. During the summer, with floating vacation weeks, we usually have only 6 or 7 cellists in the section. One of the works on the opera program is a section from Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and we need even more bow than usual. So I redid my original bowings to accomodate the section size. Everyone was much happier afterwards, from the conductor down.
One thing that I am able to do, after doing bowings for so many years, is to do them without using the cello (except occasionally for a particularly unfamiliar work or a challenging contemporary work). I can usually just hear the phrasings in my head, and pretty much instinctively know what will work, even if the violin bowings I have to refer to are different. And if I mirror the violins, and it doesn't work in rehearsal, I just get out the eraser and do it my way!
My second general rule of bowing, by the way, is "keep the section happy!"
Paul Tseng replies: I've been in situations where the bowings I worked on for my section were changed by the conductor to match the concertmaster's bowings. It's true that sometimes their bowings are counter-intuitive for most cellists (like starting detaché scales upbow instead of downbow). But I learned a couple of things from Stephen Kates and Nathaniel Rosen about this issue.
Kates told a story of how he was invited to read chamber music with Heifetz one day (he was a pretty young cellist at the time). Before beginning he said he asked Heifetz "shall we begin downbow or upbow" and Heifetz just glared at him. Instantly he realized that Heifetz was not impressed with the young Kates trying to look like a studious musician. He said something to the effect that it should not matter what bowing you use if you are a good musician. Then he placed his bow at the frog. Waited a second or two as Kates (all embarassed) kept his eye on him. Heifetz gave the cue and just as they all began downbow, he switched to an upbow. As nasty as it may seem for Heifetz to have done that, Kates said he learned a really good lesson about being picky about bowings and learned that you must be flexible.
Nathaniel Rosen coached my piano quartet in which I was in a debate with my violinist about bowings. I was so sure that my bowing was better, it made more musical sense and I had all kinds of arguments to prove my point where the violinist had not much more than "it feels better this way."
He gave me a sympathetic look at one coaching where this came up. Basically he gave us a little speech saying that if we came to a stand-off that I should defer to the violinist. At that point she (the violinist) probably smiled smugly at me. But Rosen went on to tell me that, as a good musician, I could play anything with any bowing anyway. My deferring to the violinist didn't show weakness. Instead it showed that I was a good musician (or a better one) capable of making the music sound good no matter what the bowing.
I'm sympathetic towards cellists who are forced to do lousy bowings from violin sections, but if I can't influence the concertmaster or the conductor into seeing a better way, rather than getting into a confrontation over it, I just take on the challenge of making it sound good despite their bass-ackwards bowings. Not always easy, but it's better than feeling bad about them or getting into an argument.
>>The Misnomer of the Relaxed Bow Hand
Being an adult student with an analytical mind, and having read a plethora of posts over quite a few years having to do with bow grip, it's apparent the concept just isn't clear. And for the first time -- at least in my own case -- I understand why.
I have been under the mistaken impression that the fingers were placed on the bow, and they sort of maintained that position, but were merely supposed to stay relaxed, meaning don't hold the bow with a death grip. Then use sort of a movement of wrist and fingers to maintain a smooth, fluid motion and keep the bow straight. Huh?? Now that I understand what's going on, I can go back and understand what people were trying to tell me. But their attempts at explaining have never been clear, and my comprehension was more apprehension because I didn't think I had it right. I didn't.
If you hold the bow in the air with what you think is the proper grip, and you force that bow to stay parallel to the ground, you have to be applying pressure to counterbalance the tip, which wants to drop. Thus you already have a bad bow grip. Trying to control a bow in midair does serve to illustrate principles of gravity, but not proper bow hold. Once the bow is on the string, which is where you want it in the first place, the string is supporting the weight of the bow so you can then work more on guiding the bow than forcing it. I wish I could explain the distinction that was made to me -- my head is so full of unimportant trivia I could scream, because THIS is IMPORTANT and it's not coming to me.
In a nutshell, if you keep all your fingers on the bow and try to bow in a straight line, you have all sorts of issues of control and angles and grip and questioning how you are supposed to be positioned properly.
If you can view the bow as moving in a straight line and look instead at how your hand adjusts when it is holding the bow as loosely as possible to maintain the proper bow path, you will be on the right track. This is the movement you're watching when you see du Pré et al, and you swear the bow is going to fall out of the hand at any moment. It is the loveliest thing!
I don't know that calling it a pivot point would be accurate; I just know that you can't merely "relax the hand" without knowing what the heck you are supposed to be trying to accomplish. Letting one point of contact of the bow be on the string means fewer fingers need to be in contact on the frog end. And as the bow travels in its proper path when you have your fingers positioned well and you understand the principles behind it, the hand does sort of pivot, the fingers and elbow have the nicest little rise -- like a little machine -- as you pull the bow across to reach the tip. But the return movement for the up bow stroke doesn't have the symmetry you expect in the elbow/arm. At this point I will abandon this little dissertation because while I can see it in my mind, I can't explain any more than I have without falling into the same trap. It needs to be viewed. Then you have to try it under the guidance of someone who knows how to execute the motion properly, explain it well, and correct you when you do it wrong.
I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, just trying to get this motion to feel comfortable. It is so LOGICAL when you see it done well, that you wonder why more people don't do it, why it isn't taught earlier, why it's so hard to understand. There are apparently gifted students, and gifted teachers. If you're lucky enough to find one, they are WORTH THEIR WEIGHT IN GOLD. I feel like someone just unlocked the secrets of the universe for me.
Matthew Tifford replies: When it comes to cello playing, having things look right is only half the battle (maybe even less than half). I demonstrate this to my students all the time. I put my hand into a "good" bow grip and hold my bow out in front of me. I say, "this is a good bow grip, right?" They nod, then I say "wrong." It is wrong because I am supporting the weight of the bow. When I am holding my bow properly on the string, I am holding it so loosely that if I were to remove it from the string without tightening my grip, it would fall to the floor.
The real difficulty in bowing is learning to hold the grip using just the muscles necessary to maintain control. Otherwise, your arm and hand should be very relaxed. This allows you to transfer your arm weight into the stick.
So, my point is that the fact that your grip allows you to hold the bow longer than the "traditional" grip is misleading. What you are actually doing is using a crutch which will inevitably hamper your progress.
Terry replies: I agree that the term "relaxed hand" is not really what happens in practice. It is hard to imagine that with all the fine movements and subtleties required, that the hand can be totally relaxed. In my experience, the hand should remain flexible on the bow and not locked into a "death grip." If the bow is held too rigidly, the wrist and whole arm will have a high level of tension. The flexible hand is especially important in making smooth bow changes and in playing rapid passages.
I think the best way to tell if your hand is too tense is to listen to the quality of the sound you are producing. Are you achieving the fluidity of sound you want, or does it sound and feel somewhat mechanical? Play the same passage over and over and experiment with the hand and height of the arm. You will be able to hear the effects of these and determine what gives you the sound you are looking for.
I like to use portions of the first Bach Suite in G, to try alternate bowings on the four note patterns, for example, in the Allemande or Courante. This requires that the hand be flexible and that the notes are articulated in a way that make musical sense. A few years back, I found it difficult to make conscious changes in such bowings, having learned these pieces in a particular bowing patterns. As my playing has moved forward, I like to try these alternate ways of playing the various phrases and alternating between the tied notes and single note patterns. This requires a reasonable degree of flexibility and attention to bow distribution that is tricky at first, but develops with constant practice. Not only does it help to improve my bowing, but it is also interesting to see what different musical effects can be achieved while doing this.
There is so much to think about in every aspect of bowing, but lots of attention to this area can move one's playing forward to a higher musical level. There are a lot of studies that can help in this regard as well.
Victor Sazer replies:
I am doing a gig for the Jane Austen Society of North America and I am probably taking it a lot more seriously than they ever intended ... they asked that the program be historically accurate (i.e. only music that would have existed before JA's death in 1817). I am also supposed to talk a little about each piece, and to me this means that there should be a cohesiveness to the presentation.
What is my slant? Well, I have always been struck at the dichotomy that exists in the life of a musician. At one moment we are merely 'the dance band' (and much more so in JA's time), and then at the next moment we are a high society event when they come to hear a recital or a concert. Now, I realize that not all performers do both. I know the upper echelon would never deign to do a gig, but then, if I must eat I must work and this is the work I can get.
SO, I wanted to talk about this (in a very dignified, non-controversial way) and compare the fact that composers, like Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven did the same thing.
I want to play a little piece of dance music by Beethoven and then a Beethoven quartet. Then, a little piece of fluff by Mozart called Dance Suite followed by one of the Divertimenti or Quartets. See the juxtaposition? The 'low' works of the composers contrasted with 'high' works? For Haydn, I want to do his "Gypsy Rondo" for the 'low' work, and guess what we're going to do for the 'high' work? I arranged the Haydn Cello Concerto in C for string quartet (just the first page -- and I know it ends on the dominant, not the tonic, but I don't think anyone will care. It works well for quartet because the string accompaniment is so minimal. The viola gets to be a cello!). Hey, why not feature myself, right?
Please give some feedback about the gig stuff ... I'm kind of thinking of a title something like: "Artists and Entertainers -- Struggles in Life and in Literature." Does one compromise one's artistic integrity when one turns art towards entertainment? Mozart did it, more so than others, I believe. It also reminds me of "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand -- the struggles of Howard Roark to maintain the purity of his artistic ideals.
Oy-Oy replies: Regarding your Austen presentation, you raise many interesting issues. First of all, I'd suggest pointing out that the distinction between "highbrow" and "lowbrow" music has changed over the years; in Austen's time there was basically "art" music and "folk" music. Upper-class folk probably enjoyed slumming now and then, and didn't object at all to their younger folk going to country dances. Today, of course, music is a generational thing; many of us cannot even believe what the young folk today call "music." It's inconceivable that a typical parent today, whatever he/she listened to as a youth, would go to a rave or a hip-hop party with an offspring and enjoy what he/she heard. But there was no such generational divide in the early 19th century. And the "art" composers were much closer to the general public.
This was partly because music was a more pervasive skill among the upper and middle classes; every proper young lady was taught at least the rudiments, and most households had a keyboard of some type. Every major orchestral work was published simultaneously (or soon thereafter) in a 2- or 4-hand arrangement; this was how music "got around" before electronic media. Imagine Harbison or Corigliano publishing a 4-hand arrangment of a symphony today . . . preposterous!
But back to your proposed line-up. I suppose it's the best one can do, since the true "lowbrow" music from that time was not written down. The Haydn Gypsy Rondo, the Mozart German Dances, and other pieces of that ilk were simply a great composer's nod to popular styles. They are nonetheless still, obviously, art works of timeless beauty and value. So the dichotomy you seek to bring out will be a little strained. And by the way, the Guarneri and Emerson quartets WILL play for dinners and bar mitzvahs; they just charge more than you or I can, and people are quieter when they play. Also, Pablo Casals' early recordings consisted largely of popular songs and arrangements. No shame in any of this.
And your Haydn Concerto plan doesn't bother me. Doesn't the "Stars & Stripes Forever" end in the dominant?
Patricia White replies to Oy-Oy:
<<"So the dichotomy you seek to bring out will be a little strained.>>
Interesting point, although I think there is a significant difference in the texture and style of the simpler works by Haydn, Mozart, et al, as compared to the more complex works. HOWEVER, the fact that the dichotomy is strained leads me off on another tangent! Perhaps the fact that there is not so significantly obvious a lower-class element to the lesser works is a fact that can be paralleled with the fact that novels themselves are sometimes looked at with disdain by the elitist intelligentsia? Austen addressed this humorously herself, with her brief essay "In Defense of Novels" found in her book "Northanger Abbey":
``The progress of the friendship between Catherine [Morland] and Isabella was quick as its beginning had been warm ... and if a rainy morning deprived them of other enjoyments, they were still resolute in meeting in defiance of wet and dirt, and shut themselves up, to read novels together. Yes, novels; -- for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding -- joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! if the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens, -- there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am no novel-reader -- I seldom look into novels -- Do not imagine that I often read novels -- It is really very well for a novel." -- Such is the common cant. -- "And what are you reading, Miss --?" "Oh! it is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language. Now, had the same young lady been engaged with a volume of the Spectator, instead of such a work, how proudly would she have produced the book, and told its name; though the chances must be against her being occupied by any part of that voluminous publication, of which either the matter or manner would not disgust a young person of taste: the substance of its papers so often consisting in the statement of improbable circumstances, unnatural characters, and topics of conversation which no longer concern anyone living; and their language, too, frequently so coarse as to give no very favourable idea of the age that could endure it.''
I don't think (feel?) that Starker is a "cold" player. Of course, I know why he is often considered as such. But, when listening to his recordings, particularly the ones made when he was younger, the word "cold" is the last thing that comes to mind. I would say that there is probably a higher proportion of brain power in his performances than in performances of other cellists, but intellectual and "cold" are not synonymous.
Half-baked idea time. I'm not an expert in acting, so hopefully I'm not too far off. End of disclaimer. Comparing Starker to other cellists, like Tortelier, is like comparing Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando in "Streetcar Named Desire." Both are marvelous actors, but their approach to conveying their characters is radically different. Leigh was a "classical" actor (I shall wipe my eye and use my crying voice to portray sadness) whereas Brando used "The Method" (I AM sad). One might say that Vivien Leigh's approach is more detached, perhaps "cold," but it certainly works for me. I suppose a similar comparison could be made between Starker and Tortelier. Starker sculpts phrases, sensing where "climaxes and anti-climaxes" should be, i.e. "Create excitement. Don't get excited." Tortelier becomes "the knight saving the damsel in distress." Both approaches can produce wonderful results, perhaps similar ones at times.
I also don't want to discount Starker as merely an intellectual player either. As he says, "without emotions one is not a musician, or a human being." He also has said, "I cry in my own way." I am not buddies with Starker, but I have talked with him several times and "cold" is not a word that comes to mind. He may keep his emotions in check, but he is a thinking and FEELING human being just like the rest of us. This comes through in his playing, particularly in his earlier recordings. I have seen his emotional side in recent performances too.
Bottom line. I long for the day when Starker isn't referred to as a "cold" player. Imagine how this reputation must make Starker feel. He knows that he is full of emotions, and yet people don't seem to want to take the time to see this side of him. He is too quickly discounted as a "cold" player. Granted, it takes a long time to get to know Starker, but I'd say it's worth the effort.
Bob replies: I certainly don't like everything Starker does musically; however, I sometimes feel that there's a resentment and sour-grapes attitude about the technical perfection he represents. Somewhat like with Heifetz, some folks like to posit that playing with "feeling" and playing with technical perfection are mutually exclusive and that they prefer the former. It's sad, because they are simply missing the wonderful subtleties and architecture of a great artist who chooses not to "go overboard."
It is a fact, though, that a lot of the criticism about Starker echoes that directed at Heifetz. With the additional canard that Starker's sound is "small." Now it is true that he is not a large man. His hands are relatively small. So there's an excuse right off (kidding). Second, his conception of sound is a quality-based conception, not a quantity-based one. He is simply unwilling to make an ugly or forced tone; he is all about COLORING the sound, having a range of expression to choose from within each phrase. If he is pushing the instrument to its limit all the time, there is no variety. Third, the man is 76 years old, and now somewhat frail. As he just demonstrated in the Dvorak Concerto at the WCCIII, he can still nail the hardest licks to the wall; however, no one is claiming that his sound today has the force it did 20 years ago. People who are just now hearing him live for the first time should also listen to his EMI and Mercury recordings to get the full extent of his amazing powers on the instrument.
Gary Stucka replies: I am certainly well aware of Mr. Starker's technical prowess. My chief complaint is that I have never heard him turn a memorable phrase or produce a tone of emotional warmth as I have heard from say, Leonard Rose, for example. Feuermann, another favorite of mine, is not necessarily known for "warmth" either (much in the same way Heifetz was criticized for lack of warmth), but when I think of the 'style' and 'finesse' that he uses in such pieces as the Albeniz Tango, the Cantaloube Bouree Auvernate, the Reicha Concerto (obscure pieces, for sure, but these performances come to mind when I wish to cite examples that hopefully prove my point), I can't say I've heard Starker play with the same sort of imagination.
Frankly. I'm not moved or even impressed by reserve. I'm not an advocate of scratch or cellistic slobbering, either. I AM offended when the implication is that playing with more emotion than Starker's reserved approach IS viewed as slobbering.
As has been expressed previously, all of this is a matter of taste and opinion. It's just that, for me, if I have a choice between hearing a performance played by Starker or by just about any other "great," I will generally opt for one by the latter.
BA replies: Simply because both Starker and Heifetz were both accused of being 'cold' does not mean that Starker can therefore be wrapped in the mantel of Heifetz. Heifetz was called cold mostly by the ignorant or jealous, mainly because of his stage demeanor. But listening to Heifetz quickly shows that he was in fact one of the most profoundly romantic and passionate violinists ever to play the instrument. Indeed he is often criticised for his overly romantic interpretations (i.e. Mozart, Bach). The 'cold' label was applied to Heifetz for his stage demeanor and perhaps relentless tension he created by refusing to indulge in lugubriousness with the internal rhythms.
I do not see this being analagous to the complaints of Starker's 'coldness' at all. This is not to say that there is not much to admire in Mr. Starker's playing, but tempermentally he is the exact opposite of the previous generation of string players like Feuermann and Heifetz. Compare their use of tone shading, glissandi, rubato, etc. I am in agreement with Mr. Stucka's comments on this.
>>Brahms F Major Sonata Sextuplets
I have two major gripes about the way many cellist play the Brahms F major cello sonata. Perhaps it needs to be explained to me better, but until then, I don't agree with the folllowing:
The sextuplet string crossings at the end of the exposition and in the development of the 1st movement. Many cellists FAKE this and just do a pulsing triplet double stop. Some semi-fake it by holding one string and pulsing triplet on the other. I don't think this is justified because the sextuplets are a motivic figure taken from the Piano part. They always accompany the opening theme with 6 notes per beat, not 3. So to pulse 3 notes or to meld them into doubles stops (even if you try to do 6 pulses with the bow) is musically incorrect, not to mention not what Brahms wrote. Only a few cellists have recorded it properly (that I've heard), Starker and Harrell. Where other cellists may have attempted to get out a sextuplet string crossing, it is rhythmically indistinct and ends up sounding muddy.
In the 3rd movement, near the end of the scherzo section (right before the "trio") section there is a place where the cello exchanges a triplet (Ab-G-F, then G-F-Eb) with the Piano's one measure triplet (hemiola). Right before the descending F minor scale that brings you almost to the end of the movement. Too many cellist stretch out that Triplet so that it sounds like the same speed as what the piano plays right after it in its one measure triple hemiola. Some say this is done in the name of being expresive. I say "rubbish!". Brahms knew what he wanted when he wrote a 1 beat triplet for the cello followed by a one measure triplet hemiola in the piano part. He wanted them to sound distinct, contrasting, not indistinct, didn't he? Other wise why bother writing it differently? One only needs to look at the score to see that making them equal rythmic value (or almost) kills the rythmic tension of that moment. It's like sprinting and suddenly getting your feet stuck in TAR for two steps and then being free for another two steps and then getting stuck in tar again for 2 steps.
Anyway, just my friendly cello performance practice gripes for this week.
Tim Janof replies: Steven Isserlis discussed Gripe #1 in a master class in the last RNCM Festival. According to him, Robert Hausmann, who played this with Brahms, didn't alternate between strings at the "tremolo" section, he did more of a stuttered double-stop bowing, where you play a long double stop bow and rapidly "pull" and release the weight of the bow on the strings with a rapid wrist motion. Isserlis does the stuttered bowing version. I asked him further about this and this is what is said:
"Well, that's what my teacher told me -- who got it from Jelly d'Aranyi, great-niece (?) of Joachim. But that's pretty tenuous -- so I was glad to see it confirmed in Donald Tovey's essay on the sonata in his chamber music book. (He also says that Brahms sanctioned an accelerando in the pizzicati before the return in the slow movement). I doubt if it would have been because Hausmann couldn't play the separate notes; I think that it sounds better -- stronger -- as pulsing triplets."
Nicholas Anderson replies: I will give you a good musical justification for playing the sextuplets as pulsed "triplet" double-stops -- and even for not considering that to be "changing what's written."
(By the way, just to be clear -- I'm assuming that none of us mean ACTUAL pulsed double-stops, but rather, a kind of version of that in which even though both strings are sounding together, the bow's weight is still going back and forth in an even sixteenth-note rhythm between the two strings -- so that there's SOME sense of continuous string crossings going on. Just to cite an example, NOT to use it as a reason for doing anything, I would refer to the way Fournier did it in his recording with Wilhelm Backhaus. I'm going to assume that's what you mean by pulsed double-stops, which is really something more sophisticated than just that, and is what I've normally heard cellists do when they do it the way I think you mean. Since you're splitting hairs under an electron microscope, I just don't want to imply any ambiguity about the phenomenon in question!)
If you look at the first time it appears, bar 60, the cello's first sextuplet is written as three alternating sets of two -- which is partly to clearly indicate that it's a repeated alternation between two adjacent strings -- which in itself sets up a triplet feeling, even if one were to play it with no pulse whatsoever. It's written that way in four editions I consulted -- Henle, Wiener Urtext, Peters and International -- and I believe it implies that the sextuplets that follow are to be considered the same way. That's rather obvious, since they all follow the pattern of two sixteenths back and forth between two adjacent strings, with string crossings essentially necessary -- except, of course, for bar 112, which can also be done that way by putting the C up an octave -- and that measure, no less than the others, consists of sextuplets that are three pairs of two sixteenths.
The sextuplets in the piano part in the opening are also three pairs of two -- and as a result, those passages always sound like triplets to me. That's even more evident in the opening of the development, right after the double bar, where the piano part has pairs of sixteenths in the right hand in which each pair consists of a chord and a single note - so it really sounds triplet-y. HOWEVER -- in bar 74, Brahms sets up a new pattern of sextuplets (in the piano part), which are pulsed not as three sets of two, but as two sets of three -- to contrast with the previous pattern. It suggests to me that Brahms wanted to vary the placement of the pulse, something he often did -- and that the issue of "where to pulse" is a large part of what this comes down to. Even if one tried to do it without any pulse, whether in the cello or piano part, it's almost inevitable that a pulse will be heard - which sort of suggests that Brahms may have had it in mind. In my interpretation, what it seems that Brahms wanted was a rhythmic tremolo - a tremolo for sure, but one with a clear, even, precise, exact pulse to it, which Brahms deliberately varies by context. If that's the case, it would seem that the furthest afield from that would be the "stuttered" or arhythmic approach described in a post above -- which is how I hear it done in the vast majority of performances and recordings. It seems to me that the attempt to take the pulse out of it is what makes it sound inaccurate and unclear. But musically speaking, bringing out that pulse helps to give the piece its inherent rhythmic drive, in such a way that the energy can almost carry itself forward on its own without having to be "pushed," and in turn one can focus on the lyrical and more "expansive" dimensions.
With that in mind, there's the matter of turning this into double-stops. Since Brahms wrote it to go between two adjacent strings, I think it becomes a case of having to interpret what he had in mind and thought would be idiomatic for the cello. It can be logically argued, based on hearing and an aesthetic rationale, that the pulsed double-stops are the cello's valid version of what the piano is doing, in the sense of a rhythmic tremolo. It fits instrumentally with the cello doing a rhythmic tremolo by crossing rapidly between two adjacent strings, and it fits the cello idiomatically by what's appropriate to its technique and sonority. I think Brahms did not consider the cello and piano to be the same; there are widely different devices that each can bring to the situation. The two instruments can produce very different effects in approaching the same kind of underlying pulse, and that very difference is a reason for doing it. As the saying goes, "Vive la difference!" To me, it's musicallly justified, (NOT rationalized), based on Brahms having written this sonata for cello and piano rather than for two pianos. (Furthermore, if I were asked to, I could not think of any way to notate the pulsing double-stops in the way I like to hear them, other than the way Brahms wrote the notes. Can you? It's not a case of "Brahms knew how to write double-stops"; this is something different. I know of no precise way to write it; but I consider it more than close enough as one of the valid and legitimate ways of realizing and executing the sextuplets as written -- NOT as "changing" what's written.)
One fundamental issue in this is our role as interpreters. Excuse the tautology, but as interpreters, our job is to interpret. We start with printed notes on a page that are like a skeleton, and our job is to do something with it, and put flesh on the bones. In doing so, we're very much like someone who is translating something from one language to another - which, of course, is called interpreting. It's not just a matter of exchanging one word for another; there are a lot of synonyms for any given word, and the interpreter has to choose which one seems to match the intended meaning of the author - which in turn means weighing many subtle shades of meaning. This is why there can be many different translations of something, which all use entirely different words -- and yet they're still a "translation" of it, and scholars split hairs forever about the merits of each one, and no one is right or wrong.
If this is the case, then all there is for us to interpret is what we think the composer meant. This is what I think is closest to what Brahms meant - so I don't consider myself in any way to be "changing what he wrote" - I am interpreting what he wrote, and so are you. I think he meant this, you think he meant that. So be it. But when you talk about "musical reasons," that's something that can only be utterly subjective. That's the thing that absolutely comes down to "I like it this way" or "you like it that way" - individual taste. When Isserlis says he thinks it sounds better or stronger or whatever, you don't think that counts as a musical reason; -- but what else is it? A musical reason in that sense is nothing but an individual aesthetic preference. What I was getting into above is a concrete interpretive justification based on the score, and from that my abstraction and extrapolation of what I sincerely believe the composer intended to convey. Of course, one can argue justifications till the cows come home, and even that ultimately devolves to one's own aesthetic convictions. One person's justification is another's rationalization.
I think you have to watch out for becoming too literal-minded about things like this -- which is the kind of thinking that can lead to some of the artistic abominations that are now rampant in the classical music world, and I won't mention any of them by name -- but they come in all stripes, as we all know! I think the important thing for you to do is to give lots of recitals where you play your own beautiful and magnificent Paul Tseng version of the Brahms F Major, and let it stand for itself by the way it moves people. So with that in mind -- stop writing messages and go practice! Ha-ha!
>>"The Infinity of Bach" discussion continued
James Nicholas replies to the discussion on Bach in the last newsletter: Despite the lighthearted tone of my Bach commentary, I would be the last to deny that there are profound emotions embedded within the suites. You will note that at UCONN, I urged the audience to feel free to laugh if they heard something droll, and to sigh if something moved them. Baroque music is all about nothing if not "Affect", or emotional content. My point really had to do with style; the point being that the cello suites are really no different in style than all of Bach's other instrumental music of the Coethen period (and later); therefore, the key to interpreting the latter will give you the key to interpreting the former.
CPE Bach states that a performer's job is to move the listener, and that the performer cannot achieve this unless he himself is moved. (Essay on the True Way of Playing the Keyboard: Chapter 3: Performance, section 13). He even suggests that the performer's facial expression can clarify the composer's intentions with regard to emotional content. However, he does also state in the same paragraph that "he (the performer) must make certain that he assumes the emotion which the composer intended in writing it." When I perform the C minor suite, among my "secret Affects" are: stern, almost fearful majesty (Prelude), resignment and sweet regret (Allemande), sorrow beyond demonstrable expression (Sarabande), and the loneliness of dancing alone (Gigue). This is not a shallow set of emotions. Yet I caution the interpreter that it's not a good idea to formulate one's interpretation of Bach based solely on the rhythms and pitches, or especially the memory of other people's recorded performances, without taking into account the other aspects of Bach's musical language which are not always obvious or expressed by his notation. Among the first and most important of these are tempo and the tempo conventions inherent in a genre piece such as a "French" overture (Suite No. 5), a Menuet, a Bourree, or a Sarabande (which is certainly not a slow movement in the sense of a Classical adagio). A second one is rhythmic conventions, notably the overdotting of dotted notes as a matter of course, and the unequal treatment of pairs of notes with repect to both duration and emphasis. Neither of these is explicitly expressed by Bach's notation; for the eighteenth-century musician, it didn't need to be, and in fact it couldn't be. An inherent problem for the twentieth- and twenty-first-century musician is that Bach's notation looks the same as ours; it doesn't necessarily express the same sound, however (much as the English word "hand" and the German word "Hand" are pronounced very differently).
I myself have no doubt that there are profundities even in Bach's lighter music; joy can certainly be profound, and so can a carefree quality. It's always possible, however, to find different kinds of profundities, some of them intended and some of them not intended. It's therefore worth considering whether or not we are really expressing "the emotion which the composer intended" if we play a Sarabande at half speed, or fail to sharpen the dotted rhythms in the Overture (prelude) of the fifth suite (especially if we also fail to heed the "alla-breve" sign in the beginning), or give equal weight to both the first and the second beats in a Gavotte or Bourree.
The better one learns a language, the easier it is to discover the meaning of any text. This is why I exhort all my students and my colleagues to be open to any and all information available, and to always be prepared to discard previously-held opinions.
dacapo2 replies: Is it possible that one of the reasons that Bach's Suites is difficult to perform is because they were never meant to have an audience, at least in the sense of the term as we know it today? I'm thinking of the many examples in Bach in which there was a decided pedogogical purpose in mind. Most of Bach's published keyboard music, for example, was called "Keyboard Exercises." But these were not exercises aimed so much at finger technique but also at composition. Bach's music very often is offered as a model of form that can stimulate the performer to use in his own music-making. Afterall, any cellist that Bach would have known would have been a composer as well as a performer of possibly several instruments. So this relationship we find in Bach's music between composition and "practice" (style and technique) makes much of Bach's music seem, to quote Charles Rosen, "both personal and yet so objective."
When we perform Bach's music we must essentially be our own audience. We just happen to have a recital hall of eaves-droppers in clandestine co-conspiracy.
I realize I'm transferring something germaine to keyboard music to the Suites for Cello but because of the comprehensive approach to creating a set of suites, like a series of preludes and fugues, or a set of canons based on a single theme, or a set of variations over a ground bass, does suggest to me more than just a hint of pedagogical modeling. And further, the intent of these suites strikes me as similar to the intent of the published volumes of keyboard music which was to "refresh the Spirit of Music-Lovers (meaning the pleasure of the perfomer)." Does this mean we should not play any of this music in public? No. But we shouldn't be surprised that the music offers an almost impossible challenge: the difference of introspection and audience projection. We cellists may internalize, temporarily "understand," an Affekt but that's a very different thing than projecting an Affekt to an audience. Questions about shaping phrases, mapping out the highs and lows of a work exist because we strive to project an idea to others, to create a conception. If we were playing the suites for ourselves only I think we would be more spontaneous.
Nicholas Anderson replies to decapo2: In my thinking and my performances, the idea of interpreting the music with or without an audience is a given, and there are four related points that come to mind: 1) this applies equally to all great music, not just the Bach Suites, 2) this is completely independent of any "pedagogical" thoughts Bach may have had, 3) my interpretation does not change one single iota, based on whether there is an audience or not, and 4) it's the ultimate paradox to embrace -- that performing the music is all about communication, and at the same time, one can be communicating with oneself; the internal and external aspects are really one and the same, like a Möbius strip.
To give a bit of background on how I look at this, I'm going to quote the brilliant playwright Bob Burleson, whom I am privileged to call a friend. His words are strong; but then, consummate art is strong stuff - and it challenges us to venture into unfamiliar and difficult realms. If we don't see that, I feel we miss the point. In the context of the following quote, one can just substitute "drama" for "Bach Suites" -- which are nothing if not dramatic in nature.
"What I advocate is the writing and even the production of a play for its own sake, not the audience's. Most people think an audience is indispensable for staging a play. To them, I say the unthinkable must be thought. Since drama is ritual, it needs no more than the priest executing it and God. It's better to have a person join you in the worship service, but it's absolutely necessary to plan on nobody's being there, but yourself. It's nice to have another hold the tongue depressor or spoon in your mouth so you, the divine epileptic, don't chew your tongue to shreds and choke on blood, but you have to plan on the absurdity of your own self's holding the depressor if you can. The immortality of this drama-for-its-own-sake is the immortality given by the mechanical life support system that keeps the body going without the mind; however, here it's the utterest form which keeps the mind going without the body, if the play can be appreciated as the mind and the audience can be seen as the body. Put another way, my writing is the operation of the cerebrum without the cerebellum."
Having said that, it brings us back around to the original point of this thread, which is interpreting the Bach Suites, and whether one sees them as profound or superficial. To me, life is a bit short to stay on the surface of things. For example, the progression of the five dance movements has a developmental, organic undercurrent running through it -- so that it's not just five dance movements, but the dances are a unified metaphor for something else. In fact, in these dances, Bach was tapping into something much older than his own time, and very far removed from his immediate social environment; the dances had cultural and ritualistic roots of which Bach may well have had no conscious awareness, and yet he was invoking those roots in a way that touches the core of our being today. In that sense, it could be said that Bach came across a key to certain ultimate mysteries; and our ability to consciously penetrate into that is in turn the key to interpreting his music. Volumes could be written about this, and about so many related issues; but I'm still waiting for the "bigwigs" to say anything really meaningful about it. Casals opened the door, but almost no one has yet walked through it, and proceeded down the path. But for now, suffice it to say that the Bach Suites demand of us a kind of thinking that is not just deep but powerful and effective; not just intellectual, but difference-making and transformative.
>>Eva Janzer's lost half-sister
ICS Member Tracie Price received this e-mail: "I stumbled on your Newsletter website by accident. My father George Czako was born in Budapest in 1900 and had 2 children by his first marriage- Peter & Eva. He married my mother in 1932 and I was born in 1944. I knew about my half brother and sister but never met them. I knew that Eva played the cello as my father did and I even have some photos of her as a little girl with a very large cello! My father did not keep contact with them at all sadly.
"We emigrated to Australia in 1949 and my father died in 1954. I tried a couple of times over the years to find Eva & Peter through the Red Cross but to no avail. I assumed that they might have perished in the Russian occupations during the 50's. Imagine my surprise when I applied my newly acquired internet skills, and found as a result of a search on "Czako" that Eva Czako was a famous cellist. It appears that she is now dead unfortunately, but I wonder if you could help me to locate any of her family. Do you have an address of anyone that may have known her or even her brother Peter if he is still alive. I have no other blood relations and it would be really wonderful if I managed to find one of them after all these years.
"Thanking you in anticipation.
"Erika Lloyd (nee Czako) "
Bob replies to Tracie's request for information on Eva Czako: Eva Janzer, nee Czako, was Starker's first cello pupil; she was 6, he was 8. He recounts with the greatest pride that years later, in the Geneva Competition, he came in 2nd to her.
She can be heard on a number of CDs in the Grumiaux Trio (mostly on Phillips Duo CD's), along with her husband.
Starker later persuaded her to join him on the Indiana University faculty; she taught there until her death in 1978. The school subsequently founded the Janzer Institute, which each year brings a famous artist to the school for masterclasses and other honors. Recipients of the Janzer award have included Fournier, Greenhouse, Tortelier, Soyer, Mayes, etc.
So I would advise this woman to contact IU-Bloomington. I'm sure they would have much more information about her. There might possibly also be an archivist or someone at Phillips records who could help her.
1. Steven Isserlis wins the Robert Schumann Prize
Steven Isserlis has become the first cellist to receive the Robert Schumann prize, awarded annually to an instrumentalist and a musicologist for their contributions to the understanding of Schumann's music. Isserlis will receive DM5,000 and a bronze medal.
2. Orlando Cole Honored
The Curtis Institute has presented Orlando Cole with its new Alumni Award in recognition of his long service. Cole is a professor of cello and chamber music at Curtis, where he enrolled as a student in its inaugural year, 1924. Among his many former students is Lynn Harrell.
3. Geringas moves to Berlin
David Geringas has been appointed professor of cello at the Hanns Eisler Hochschule Berlin.
4. Dong-Oo Lee
Dong-Oo Lee has joined Korea's University of Ulsan College of Music as cello professor.
5. New Books
6. Cello Equipment
or from: http://www.cellos2go.com/iojo.htm.
Six musicians have been selected to receive Virtu Foundation Scholarship instruments as a result of the Spring 2000 competition. Three of the Scholarships awarded were for cellos. The recipients are:
Californian Amy Yetasook, 17, will enter the University of Southern California under the Resident Honors Program in the Fall of 2000 where she will also finish her high school education during her freshman year at the University. Amy will continue to study cello with Professor Eleonore Schoenfeld at USC who has been her teacher for the past two years. Amy has won numerous competitions. In 1999, she won the grand prize in the Music Teachers Association Competition as well as first place in the American String Teachers Association State Competition. An Honors Student at her high school, Amy's interests and talents extend beyond music; she has garnered a first place in the State Journalism Write-Off Competition and was a first prize winner at a recent varsity debate tournament. Amy is a volunteer worker at a hospital and takes her music into several senior citizen centers.
Cellist Caleb van der Swaagh, age 12, is the youngest recipient of a Virtu Foundation Scholarship. Caleb, who is home schooled, is one of six children in a family of musicians. All play violin or cello. At the age of four, Caleb began studying with Katharine Brainard at the School for Strings in New York (also attended by his five sisters and brothers). Ms. Brainard continues as his teacher. At the School for Strings, he participates in two orchestras and two chamber music groups. In 1999 his piano trio was selected to play at an international music conference in Japan where they played Beethoven's Piano Trio #4, B flat major. Caleb also performs with his brothers and sisters at services of the church where his father is a minister.
Christophor Miroshnikov, 26, studies cello with Andor Toth at Oberlin College. Born in Russia, Christophor comes to the United States by way of Greece. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Music and a Master's Degree in Cello Performance from the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory (1997) and an Artist Diploma in Cello Performance (1999) from Oberlin. His awards include: winner, Oberlin Conservatory Concerto Competition (1999); first prize, Schadt String Competition (1998); and first prize, THNI Cello Competition in Thessaloniki, Greece (1999). Christophor has soloed with numerous orchestras including the Athens, Ukraine, Moscow and Moldova Symphony Orchestras. He is preparing to enter the Leonard Rose and the Rostropovich Competitions in 2001.
The Virtu Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation, places by scholarship or loan cellos, violins and violas with musicians who cannot afford suitable instruments. The Foundation brings together Patrons who donate instruments or funds and the musicians who need the instruments.
The Virtu Foundation Scholarship Program, which is directed toward career musicians, awards high quality, career-altering instruments based on musical aptitude, which is judged through a competition. The deadline for applications for the next round of Virtu Foundation Scholarships is March 15, 2001. Applications and instructions can be printed from the web site:
Kronberg Cello Master Classes
Cello Master Classes, Kronberg, Germany, September 26 – October 2. Bernard Greenhouse, Young-Chang Cho and Frans Helmerson. Write to Kronberg Akademie, Koenigsteiner Strasse 5, D-61476 Kronberg, Germany. IKACello@aol.com or go to http://www.kronbergacademy.de.
Manchester Cello Festival
Manchester (U.K.) International Cello Festival, May 2- May 6, 2001.
American Cello Congress/Leonard Rose Competition
Sixth American Cello Congress (with Leonard Rose competition), College Park, Maryland May 24 - June 2, 2001. Write to L. Rose Competition, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, 1115 Holzapfel Hall, Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-5611, U.S.A.
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