TUTTI CELLI CONTENTS-- volume 6, issue 4

Tim Janof (Finholt), Editor

What's New at ICS

Message from the Editor

Membership Letters

ICS Exclusive Interview

Feature Article

Great Cellists

World Cello Congress

Master Class Reports

ICS Award Website

ICS Forum/Cello/Equipment Chat Board

Activities and Announcements

Music Festival Watch

ICS Library

Other Internet Music Resources


Marshall St. John has decided to step down from his position as Webmaster for the Internet Cello Society. Instead, he will concentrate his energies on his own fantastic website, http://www.celloheaven.com. Please join me in thanking Marshall for all that he has and continues to do for the cello. Though he will still be in contact, his energy and cheerful nature will be deeply missed by the ICS staff, especially by the ICS Editor.

We have a new webmaster, however, Michael Pimomo. He is an intern that works with John Michel at Central Washington University. If you view our evolving home page, you will see his work in progress. Thank you, Michael!

Another new message board has been added for the ICS. This one is for composers and cellists who wish to talk to one another about developing new compositions. If you are looking for a new work to perform, post what you are looking for.

The ICS is now instituting a policy in which no single moderator has the authority to delete a post from the Chat Boards. In order for a post to be deleted, both the board moderator and I will have to agree that a post should be removed prior to taking any action. We hope that this satisfactorily addresses any concerns about censorship.

We have members from eight more countries: Armenia, Bermuda, Estonia, Micronesia, Nigeria, Panama, Peru and United Arab Emirates. That makes 84 countries!


I have changed my name from "Tim Finholt" to "Tim Janof," back to my birthname, for reasons that I prefer to keep to myself. It is pronounced "jan-off," with a hard "J" as in Jack. In order to aid in the transition, I will put my former last name in parenthesis so that the membership won't wonder if Tim Finholt has stepped down along with Marshall.

As previously stated, Marshall St. John is no longer our webmaster (sigh). Among the reasons cited were that he wants to devote his creative energies to his own website, his concerns about the amount of advertising on our site, and the fact that the Internet Cello Society is no longer under the umbrella of a non-profit organization [501(c)(3)].

We no longer have non-profit status because the Icicle Creek Festival couldn't handle the work associated with the ICS and so they invited us to look elsewhere. After weighing the pro's and con's of obtaining our own 501(c)(3) non-profit status versus becoming a not-for-profit business, we opted for the not-for-profit business. 501(c)(3) status can take several years to finalize and requires substantial legal fees, while not-for-profit business status is relatively simple and easy to obtain. Also, the regulations governing 501(c)(3) organizations are incredibly burdensome, while not-for-profit business regulations are relatively simple. We chose to devote our energies to the website instead of to keeping the government happy. Though this should be obvious, let me emphasize that our only financial aspiration, as with any volunteer organization, is to make the ICS a self-supporting organization through donations, both from businesses and individual members (we have a LONG way to get before we break even). All of the ICS staff are volunteers and that's how we intend to keep it. If we were in this for the money, we would have faded away years ago. We hope that this addresses any concerns about where the ICS is headed.

Tim Janof (Finholt)


>> I put tape on my cello's fingerboard when I first started playing. I found it to be no help at all, so I removed it. Here's the reason: an experienced cellist never looks at his/her left hand. They are always watching the music instead. Your left hand is behind your line of sight, somewhere close to your ear, so to keep a constant watch on your left hand would be incredibly awkward.

Music is not a visual art. As a cellist, it is vitally important to train your ear. There are no frets on the fingerboard and you never see your fingers, so why put tape on your fingerboard? I found that, with the tape, I was always checking my fingers and not really listening to the notes. The important thing is not where the notes are, but what they sound like.

Suzuki children use tape when they start because they learn the music by rote and everything is very touchy-feely. The whole objective is to avoid intimidating them, thereby causing them to give up music out of frustration. They also have a lot of group lessons where the instructor probably can't even hear him/herself think, let alone check every child for intonation. But if you're an adult, you're spending your own money on the lessons and are hopefully willing to concentrate and learn to hear the notes. It takes many hours of playing before one is able to really hear the cello objectively. There's a very good reason why all the old books feature a lot of etudes and arpeggios. My advice is to ditch the tape and make yourself read the music and really listen to your cello, working on a strong bow technique and playing very, very slowly until it's correct. A metronome is a much, much better investment than a roll of masking tape.


>> I just wanted to let you know that I've put up a preliminary list of wrong notes and such in the Popper High School of Cello Playing that my students and I have found over the years. I'd love it if you could post this to the list.


>> Thanks for a great site! I hope your call for donations does not go unanswered, because it really is OUR site and we've all benefitted from it.

Betsy C.

>> I've been meaning to thank you for about a year now for the wonderful work you do on the Internet Cello Society web page. It is truly phenomenal and a resource that I can scarcely live without these days!

I am the mom of a talented 12-year-old cellist and a "Cellist By Night" myself. (She is a LOT better than I). I have learned so much from the web page, and (not being a person with much computer aptitude) have found it blessedly easy to find what I need. I SO appreciate all the new innovations as they appear. Most recently though, I must thank you for the wealth of recordings available on the ICS page and on http://www.celloheaven.com. As a seriously financially challenged mom of 3 (aged 17, 16, and 12), I am unable to purchase CD's that people in the ICS talk so much about and compare. Since my 12-year-old is playing at a very advanced level for her age (currently finishing the Suzuki Book 10 -- B-flat Boccherini Concerto) and seems firmly "bonded" with her cello, an important part of her musical education is to listen to lots of cello music, by lots of different artists. Other than scraping up enough a few years back to purchase Rostropovich playing the Bach Suites, it really isn't in my budget to purchase recordings of different pieces (much less different artists playing the same piece). So - my most sincere thanks to you for maintaining not only the wealth of information on the web pages but for the opportunity you offer to listen to recordings. Through these you've enlightened many, and you've allowed a frazzled parent out here to keep her dignity by not having to deny her child the opportunity to broaden her horizons musically and find her place in the world.

Thanks again for sharing your MANY gifts!

Holley Roberts

>> I am a new member to the Internet Cello Society. I think this is a great web page and I am looking forward to discover all its details. The biggest surprise was when I opened the site for the first time and saw the picture of Gerhard Mantel, your Featured Artist, whom I studied with from '93 to '95 at the Academy of Arts, Frankfurt.

Ben Hagemann

>> I just discovered another cello story in our public library: The Cello of Mr. O, by Jane Cutler, illustrated by Greg Couch. It is an advanced picture book that seems to be based on the cellist of Sarajevo ... "a stirring message about the resilience of the human spirit."


>> I was most encouraged and entertained by your website. I am a nearly-40-year-old Australian male, thinking of taking up a new instrument for my post-40 life, and cello is the one that appeals most. The information on your site has been most inspiring. I'll let you know if I "give it a go."

Peter Quayle

>> I'm so excited to write to you. I'm a cellist playing in a orchestra in Beijing,China. I've studied your article Interpretational Angst and the Bach Cello Suites. It's very helpful for my study of the Bach's works. It has taken me a lot of time to think about and play Bach.

Helen Hou

>> I was so moved by Gerhart Mantel's interview on the ICS website. I can relate to his discussion of Maurice Gendron, who was, in my opinion, more of a performer, than a teacher. I also had a teacher who was very self-centered and emotionally unstable. I remember there were times when my former teacher would say negative things to hurt me. I remember walking out of his studio almost on the verge of tears. Although he was a nice cello teacher and encouraged me to "just do my best," I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere or accomplishing anything.

I also enjoyed Mantel's approach on Bach. I understand that everyone has their own opinion on how Bach should be approached, and how is should be played or taught. I feel that I should play Bach the way I want to play Bach or the way that Bach purposely wrote it. My former teacher never let me do that. My expectations as a performer at that time were limited.

But now that my former teacher out of my life for good, I feel that I've moved on to much better things. I have a new teacher who is WONDERFUL! He's motivated me far more than I have ever before, not only as a musician, but as a person.


>> If anyone knows of any articles on thumb replacement by cellists, please let me know. I am a cellist and have arthritis in my thumb and now have to have joint replacement. The doctor is doing research with other doctors to see which is the best way to have it done so that I can continue to play and teach. If anybody has any suggestions, please e-mail me.


>> I read your article on Bach Suite editions. I believe that Maurice Gendron's edition and recording are by far the best.

Nathan Smith

>> I heard Starker teach a master class at World Cello Congress III with Bernard Greenhouse about a week ago. I was struck by one thing Starker said, that the most important word musically-speaking in the English language is the word "and" (or words to this effect). To me, that's one of the main things that distinguishes his '92 recording of the unaccompanied Bach Suites from Ma's Inspired by Bach collection. Musically, Starker says "and" so much more intelligently than Ma does in his Inspired by Bach recordings.

Jane Weir

>> I'm pleased to report that my son, after 6 months of lessons, can now play several of the Suzuki exercises on the cello on the D and A strings. There has been a marked improvement in his performance, interest level, and enthusiasm after his teacher managed to find a 1/8-sized cello for him. The previous quarter size was just too big. I had wondered then if he'd be able to bow any consistent sound with that. Now he can with the smaller cello. Your advice was certainly right.

I agree with you that parental interest and participation contribute greatly to a child's success with any instrument. I played the piano when I was younger but my parents weren't so interested or involved so it was a struggle -- just me and the piano instead of a shared family experience. I'm trying to change that for my son. I've managed to play some of the Suzuki songs on the cello by trial and error and my son is certainly thrilled. I was thinking of picking up the cello myself but fear the lack of time to pursue it (I have 3 sons, aged 4 and below, who constantly fight! I guess that's part of the normal dynamics of young, closely spaced boys!) and don't want to drop out and discourage him. I'm still thinking about it though and highly tempted to try. It would be fun to perform with him!

Fortunately, the Arts scene in Singapore is improving and there are quite a few concerts now. My son's cello school, being the only cello school in Singapore, is often invited to perform and also organises concerts at which the school's students perform. He's so thrilled to see people he knows perform.

I'm trying to get my 3-year-old interested by bringing him to his brother's cello class, but he ends up disrupting them by rearranging all the furniture. So I've given up for now.

Thank you for your recommendation on Yo-Yo Ma's videos. I was going to expose him to audio recordings and didn't think or know of the existence of these videos. I've managed to locate them on Amazon.com. They were highly recommended there. I'm sure he'll love them.

Slim Tan

>> I am 13 and I play the violin and viola. I am starting on the cello now too. There is no way I can even begin to describe how excellent and helpful your site has been to me so far over this summer. If I can get the basics of these notes down before the summer is over then I may be able to play the cello in advanced orchestra. I have bookmarked your site and I am going to be sure to keep on going back to learn everything I can about the cello. Then I will go on to high school with the knowledge of being able to play the violin, viola, and cello. Thank you so much!!!! You are a life saver!!


>> I just read your ICS review of the Bambach Saddle Seat for cellists. Thank you for taking the time to review our product. Following are some updates that you may want to include in future versions of your product review.

SWIVEL LOCK: We located a pneumatic lift for the Bambach Saddle Seat which allows the seat to be adjusted up and down but will not swivel. So, one problem solved.

SADDLE DISCOMFORT: I can certainly understand your philosophy that one should not have "to condition your body to irritants." My experience is that children and teens universally have no discomfort on the Bambach Saddle Seat, but that many adults do at first. I suspect that if one begins using the Bambach Saddle Seat in childhood, one would continue to be quite comfortable in the seat through adulthood. Given the thousands of adults who have "gotten used to" the seat in adulthood, I expect that is the case. Some adults lose their tolerance for saddle sitting and can only adquire it again slowly, and with much motivation. The motivation being, of course, that saddle sitting relieves many pain back and neck conditions. I, myself, took more than two months to grow accustomed to saddle sitting. However I was very motivated to continue because my painful low back and neck conditions were only relieved in saddle sitting, and I found no relief in any other chair.

BAMBACH SADDLE SEAT WEBSITE: Please refer your readers either to the Australian designer's website at www.saddleseat.com or our USA manufacturer's website at www.healthydesign.com. The website link in your article is that of one of our dealers, and is not be as informative as the manufacturer's sites.

Thank you again for your time and efforts.

Eileen Vollowitz PT
Health By Design


**If you would like to respond to something you have read in 'Tutti Celli', write to sgtppr@aol.com and type "Membership Letter" in subject field. (Letters may be edited.)**



by Tim Janof (Finholt)

Carter Brey was appointed Principal Cellist of the New York Philharmonic in 1996. He rose to international attention in 1981 as a prizewinner in the Rostropovich International Cello Competition. Subsequent appearances with Rostropovich and the National Symphony Orchestra were unanimously praised. The winner of the Gregor Piatigorsky Memorial Prize, Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Young Concert Artists� Michaels Award and other honors, he also was the first musician to win the Arts Council of America�s Performing Arts Prize. Mr. Brey has appeared as soloist with virtually all the major orchestras in the United States, and has performed under the batons of Claudio Abbado, Semyon Bychkov, Sergiu Comissiona, Christoph von Dohnanyi, and other prominent conductors. In 1990, he was featured in a concert with cellist Yo-Yo Ma at Avery Fisher Hall that was broadcast via "Live From Lincoln Center." His chamber-music career is equally distinguished; he has made regular appearances with the Tokyo and Emerson string quartets as well as the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Spoleto festivals in the U.S. and Italy, and the Santa Fe Chamber Music and La Jolla Chamber Music festivals, among many others. He partakes in an ongoing, acclaimed series of duo recitals with pianist Christopher O�Riley. Together they have recorded "The Latin American Album," a disc of compositions from South America and Mexico by Helicon Records. Another Brey CD, on Decca�s Argo label, features violinist Pamela Frank and violist Paul Neubauer in Aaron Jay Kernis� "Still Movement with Hymn." Mr. Brey was educated at the Peabody Institute, where he studied with Laurence Lesser and Stephen Kates, and at Yale University, where he studied with Aldo Parisot, and where he was a Wardell Fellow and a Houpt Scholar.

TJ: Rumor has it that you started unusually late on the cello, especially considering your tremendous achievements in the music profession. Is this true?

CB: Yes. I started playing the cello in the public school system when I was 12, and I didn't start private lessons until I was 16 years old. I didn't evince any particular interest or talent for the instrument until I was about 15, and then I suddenly became very, very interested in playing. I had a rather remarkable string teacher at John Jay High School in upper Westchester County, New York, who had several of us work on some very difficult chamber music. It was way over our heads but it served to stimulate and challenge us to become better players. It was the Schubert Quintet that suddenly made me feel that I couldn't live without music, though this may have been as much due to the onslaught of hormones as anything else.

This experience inspired me to study with a private teacher, which is when I started to take the cello very seriously, practically overnight. I immediately started a regimen of scales, arpeggios, and open string exercises and practiced for hours every day. I would practice early in the morning before school and at night before I did my homework. I wish I had that much time to practice now!

TJ: Laurence Lesser was your first teacher in college. Did he tend to emphasize technical issues, or did he concentrate on music like his former teacher, Piatigorsky?

CB: His approach varied with each student. He is also trained as a mathematician and he has a very analytical mind, in addition to having a wonderful ability to use the English language, so I took to his style like a duck to water.

He was very technically oriented with me, almost exclusively so. When I came to him as a freshman, I'd only been studying the cello for two years. I was in desperate need of a solid technical foundation, so he put me on a steady diet of Popper etudes and other technical exercises for the next two years. His most valuable gift was showing me how to think for myself in order to find solutions to technical problems in a non-dogmatic manner. Of course he had his own approach -- everybody every mature artist does -- but he was not rigid about it and he tried to present his ideas in terms of problem solving. He was the perfect teacher for me at the time.

TJ: Are there any principles that he emphasized that you now deviate from?

CB: One example I recall is that he used a rather shallow bow grip, more in the fingertips, and that he used the second finger of his bow hand to brace his index finger as he pronated his wrist. I evolved away from this approach and went more towards the Rostropovich model, a very deep "sloppier" bow grip, where the stick is held more in the palm, which helped me to get the sound I wanted.

I don't mean to say that I hold the bow one way for everything. If I am playing something that is very delicate, I use a shallower grip, more in the fingertips. If I am playing something that is broad and lyrical, I use a deeper grip with the paintbrush technique, where the fingertips lag behind the wrist in order to smooth out the bow changes.

(Click here for the complete transcript.)

(Click here for the transcript without musical excerpts for faster downloading.)



by James Nicholas

James Nicholas received his doctorate and two master's degrees from Indiana University, where his cello instructors included Eva Czako-Janzer, Fritz Magg, Janos Starker, and Helga Winold. He is particularly interested in the performance practice of the Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic eras, and has collaborated and/or performed with such early music luminaries as Anner Bylsma, Max van Egmond, Christopher Hogwood, John Holloway, Steven Isserlis, Martin Pearlman, Stanley Ritchie, and Elisabeth Wright. He is also active as a composer and editor, having published several original works as well as performing editions of Bach's solo string music, reconstructions of two unfinished Mozart horn concerti, and most recently the first English-language setting of the traditional music of the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He has published an idiomatic version of the Bach Sixth Suite arranged in G Major for a normal 4-string cello, a critical edition of the scores of six Boccherini cello concerti, and recently published a new edition for solo cello of the Biber Passagalia of 1674 . He lives and works in the Hartford area, where for years he and his German shepherd sidekick, Sparks, were well-known as the Sunday afternoon announcing team on Connecticut Public Radio.

First things first: I must apologize for the title, which is a thinly-disguised paraphrase of a Kellogg's Corn Flakes commercial from the early nineties.

We grew up in the age of recording. I'd venture to say that most of us learned our basic cello repertoire from recordings; perhaps as children, teenagers, or young adults, we had one, maybe two LP's or CD's of each of our favorite works. The positive result of this was that we learned, early on, to appreciate a body of music which teeters precariously on the verge of extinction, and we developed a desire to preserve it and cultivate it. The negative result is that the distinction between between "musical work" and "performance of that musical work" tended to become confused and blurred. Repeated hearings of a single performance (usually edited, spliced, digitally remastered, or otherwise ossified and petrified) became embedded in our aural memories and defined that piece of music for each of us. Since our cellist heroes were virtuosi, we may have assumed that among their virtues was some some sort of authoritative insight into the music they performed. And so, each of our idols played the "definitive" version; no two versions ever the same, of course.

Because of the conditioning resulting from the strong influence of aural memory, many of us find it difficult to override impressions formed years ago, and we are surprised when we begin to carefully examine printed musical texts. Often, the conflict between printed directives and our aural memory makes us oblivious to such basic instructions as tempo markings and dynamic indications. Sometimes, we actively choose to ignore or discard them because they clash with our preconceptions born of "received tradition".

The Schumann concerto has been treated especially casually in this regard; so much so, in fact, that I suspect that our most basic notion of its character and content may be seriously distorted. There are two fundamental reasons for this. First, the unusual technical difficulty of the piece has, in the minds of some, justified all sorts of changes in the text, principally involving basic tempi and also articulations. Secondly, false assumptions regarding Schumann's mental state at the time of the concerto's composition, and all-too-often repeated myths about his insanity in general, have led to general acceptance of the alleged necessity and inevitability of making such changes. I'll address the second issue first, so that it can be quickly dismissed.

All biographers agree that Schumann was both lucid and content (or at least appeared to be) when he sketched and orchestrated the concerto in two weeks (October 10-24, 1850), shortly after moving to Duesseldorf. Nine days later (November 2), he began work on the Third Symphony ("Rhenish"), which he completed in five weeks. I've never heard anyone suggest that there are any signs of mental illness in that piece! It is true that in early February 1854, after Schumann had begun to experience the hallucinations which ultimately led to his suicide attempt and voluntary institutionalization, he took out the cello concerto to proofread, and made corrections to prepare the work for publication. This mechanical work actually seems to have calmed him down and kept him lucid during the day; he was probably very much what we would call "sleep-deprived" today. Significantly, even though Brahms, Clara Schumann, and Joseph Joachim decided to suppress the Violin Concerto (September-October 1853) from publication, detecting (with the usual hindsight) supposed signs of mental fatigue and uneven quality, the cello concerto escaped any such judgement. Clara always maintained that it was an exceptionally fine work, and "must give the greatest pleasure to those who hear it".

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by Robert Battey

Emanuel Feuermann (1902-1942). Feuermann was born in Galicia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and now part of Poland. The family moved to Vienna when he was still a child and his early career was centered in Germany. He toured the world extensively during the mid-1930's and eventually settled in the US, where he applied for citizenship. Feuermann never played in an orchestra; a child prodigy who made his debut at 11 with the Vienna Philharmonic in the Haydn concerto, he was destined for cello stardom from the outset. He did, however, excel as a chamber musician and teacher, holding positions at the Berlin Hochschule and Curtis. Among his students were Bernard Greenhouse and David Soyer.

This artist occupies a special niche in our constellation; many who heard him considered him the most extraordinarily gifted instrumentalist ever. His tragic death, due to medical negligence following a routine operation, prevented him from attaining the full fruition of his artistic potential (though his genius was already well-recognized -- pallbearers at his funeral included Toscanini, Szell, Ormandy, Schnabel, Serkin, Elman, and Zimbalist). Worse, for us; it limited his recordings to a maddeningly small number.

(Click here for the complete transcript)



by Tim Janof (Finholt)

The last page of the Elgar Cello Concerto was the sound track to my waking life for about a week after World Cello Congress III in Baltimore. Unfortunately, having over-played my du Pre recording of this piece years ago, her interpretation echoed within me instead of Frans Helmerson's, who performed the concerto at the Congress. The inspiration that results from these congresses is as enjoyable as the events themselves.

My trip certainly started off right. US Air's "welcome" video featured a cellist! The video showed her cello travelling up the conveyor belt into the luggage compartment oh so carefully, and then it was given back to her by a cheerful US Air employee. This was a coincidence, right?

The opening ceremony on Sunday evening began with a slide show of past and present cellists of the last century, accompanied by various cello recordings. For some reason, Rostropovich was the only one who was shown in a brief video, a somewhat off-putting gesture, despite Slava's amazing contributions to the cello. As I watched the images go by, I couldn't help but reflect on how hard each of these great cellists -- from Casals to Fournier to Yo-Yo -- worked to create beauty in whichever way they considered it. For these great cellists, music was or is important, period.

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by Tim Janof (Finholt)

The following are my notes from the master classes at the World Cello Congress III (May 28-June 3, 2000).

David Geringas Master Class

Shostakovich Sonata (First Movement)

(Click here for the complete transcript)


July/August Award Website:

*** Jeffrey's Exploration Site***


The fabulous site was created by Jeffrey Chih-Chen Wang. It includes a discussion of the parts of a cello, its history, cello repertoire, strings, and much more. Check it out!

**Please notify Tim Finholt at sgtppr@aol.com of interesting websites that you would like to nominate for this recognition in the future. Websites will be selected based on their content, cello relevance, creativity and presentation style!


**If you would like to ask a question, discuss an issue or get some expert advice, post a message at CELLOTALK, which is located at our website.

ICS Forum Hosts have been asked to check your posts regularly. In this way, not only the forum hosts, but the entire membership and Internet community see your message! You are still welcome to contact the forum hosts directly. For a complete list of ICS Forum Hosts please see http://www.cello.org/The_Society/Staff.html**

>>Mantel Interview

Mantel has obviously put a great deal of thought into the mechanics of cello playing, and, I'll say right off, most of the ideas expressed in the interview conform to mine (independently, I might add; I tried to skim his book years ago, but got bogged down and gave up). He's especially good in describing the functions of the right arm & hand. But let me pick some of this apart and see what you all think:

"In addition to my work on systematizing cello technique, I have been trying to understand artistic issues, like why is one interpretation more compelling than another, or how is it that two equally competent cellists can sound completely differently on the same instrument?"

Is it just me, or is this guy naive? Since when, in the history of art, has anyone, ever, been able to "bottle" creative genius? We can all say, after the fact, "this prelude of Bach's is superior to this prelude of Telemann's for these reasons . . ." but of what use is that? Has anyone ever become a greater artist upon adoption of a set of rules? And is it not patently obvious that the true spark of creativity in a work is at precisely the point where the creator BENDS "the rules"? This, to me, points up certain recurring shortcomings I've noticed in German aesthetics; that things can be reduced to little more than engineering standards if one simply studies them hard enough. Finally, as to this point, his premise seems to be that there would be general agreement about which interpretation is "more compelling," and thus we should study that artist to find out what he does differently. Excuse me? Does he ever read Cello Chat? Have we EVER agreed on whose interpretation of the Bach Suites, the Dvorak Concerto, etc., is "more compelling"??? Ridiculous! What might be the more worthwhile study would be the study of different LISTENERS hearing the same four interpretations to see what personality characteristics people have who like Slava as opposed to those who like Ofra. Kind of like the Myers-Briggs for musicians. Maybe he and I can collaborate on the Battey-Mantel test!!!

As to his second question, I am mystified that someone who has dissected the physical actions of cello playing to the detail he has, and noted the antatomical differences between players, could even ask such a question. DUH!]

"{in response to a question about sitting}: When you do something with your hands, like peeling a potato or carving a piece of wood, it is natural to lean over what you are doing. The same thing applies to cello playing, particularly in the higher positions, where you need to move your body closer to the left hand's activity in order to maintain the necessary leverage."

What is he talking about? I don't lean forward when I peel vegetables, and if I carved wood I would lean forward only if I needed to see something up close. And what is this "necessary leverage"? Has anyone noticed any particular weakness in their left hand when playing up high but sitting normally? Lord have mercy, Starker's been playing wrong ALL THESE YEARS!!!

"{on the left hand}: I use a changing amount of thumb counter-pressure in order to have what amounts to a pair of tongs between my fingers and thumb. I release the thumb for shifts or when I am playing a series of fast notes, when fluidity is necessary."

This "pair of tongs" image is the most gruesome in all of cello pedagogy. How can he think this? Does he really keep these "tongs" clenched when, for example, vibrating on the pinky in a singing passage? If so, this may be one reason why we don't see a lot of Mantel recordings in the CD stores.

I have more to say, but I need to get to a gig. My rhetoric is somewhat biting because I respect so much of what this man has done. Indeed, I'm envious; he has publicly elucidated many concepts that I found on my own but now will be seen as simply following his. Early bird gets the worm, I guess. So what do you all think?

Pat White replies: I was disappointed to hear that Fournier likens the daily playing of scales to the brushing of one's teeth because I use that one and now I know it is an older idea from a wiser cellist!

You quoted, "In addition to my work on systematizing cello technique, I have been trying to understand artistic issues, like why is one interpretation more compelling than another, or how is it that two equally competent cellists can sound completely differently on the same instrument?" and then you asked, "Is it just me, or is this guy naive?"

I have to say, his remark would have been read by myself with no comment on his naivete. Yet, I am the one who marvels at the fact every human being has a face approximately the same size as the next human being, with two eyes, two ears, a nose, and a mouth -- yet how do we all look so different from each other? I think Mantel was just marvelling at the abstract nature of creativity, and the question was more rhetorical ... except for the fact he proceeded to get analytical on the subject in the next breath.

Using the word "analytical" brings me to the crux of my problem with the man. I am not prone to minute analysis. I never could be, and do not have the patience for it. I read the entire interview and, as always, enjoyed Tim's skill at asking interesting questions. However, the idea of such detailed analysis of what, to me, should come naturally left me cold.

However, Bob, I will say that I do lean forward over the counter when I am slicing and dicing. I cannot imagine you mean to suggest you stand up straight as an arrow when engaging in that activity? I must confess I round my shoulders to play in thumb position (upper register), and find that my upper back and shoulders lean forward about 5 degrees or so. Again, I cannot imagine someone who does not. I always try to get my students more physically aware of themselves when playing. Those who are doing their best to imitate statues are asked to throw a frisbee, using only their hand. They quickly realize that it is impossible to throw something without also using the arm, shoulder, back, and momentum. I think Mantel was getting at this adaptibility of the body when playing.

I must claim ignorance in never having heard of Mr. Mantel, but I did not find his ideas so absurd as did you.

Tom Flaherty replies: I agree that a study of Slava vs. Ofra lovers would be interesting, but I wonder if Mantel really meant "more compelling" to refer to a concensus opinion. I often use such language to get students to intently focus on "what is there" rather than "what is good." In the end, a heightened sensitivity to what is there is rewarding in itself; there is generally more "there" than we ever completely perceive. It is sometimes worth the effort to discover in some detail what it is that WE find compelling in a performance, even if our friends think we should just get a good night's sleep and feel better in the morning.

And Pat, I'm also a great believer in "what should come natural", but not everything that should does, at least not for everyone. Sometimes minute analysis can help solve a problem for a student when more intuitive analogies and the like will not. Frankly, I prefer the less analytical approach, in teaching cello or composition or in learning or composing a piece myself, but I do often find the analytical approach helpful in all endeavors.

>>String Physics

I want to mention a few details which are not often accounted for in the analysis of bowed strings. One phenomenon which, for the life of me I can't remember the name of is that the direction of the vibrations of a plucked or bowed string changes, i.e. the string goes around in a circle. This is easily observed on the cello. What I find most fascinating about this is that, as you would expect, when the string is vibrating in the direction of the bow, it applies a completely different force on the bridge from when it is vibrating perpendicular to the bow. I believe you can hear it, if you listen carefully.

The torque (turning force) which is applied to the string by the bow also affects, but is not responsible for, the previously mentioned phenomena. Each time the bow grips and releases the string, it also twists the string slightly and the string snaps back around when it is released. As you would expect, this twisting motion adds an extra "wobble" to the direction of the string vibration.

Is it getting more complicated?

Combine all issues with the vector forces perpendicular and parallel to the string as they change throughout the bow stroke. Believe it or not, a component of any bow stroke is a force parallel to the string which either pulls the contact point slightly away from or towards the bridge. You got it ... the string is also stretched spring-like along its length.

And finally (for this post, but this is by no means all the components contributing to the action of a bowed string) the rate at which the bow repeatedly "plucks" the string needs to be investigated. I have not come across any research dealing with this issue but there is no reason to assume that the bow plucks the string at the same frequency as the string vibrates. This is the real part in which Mantel's "shaking a loose rope" analogy falls apart, because, in that analogy, the frequency is set by the rate at which you shake the rope. When bowing a taut string, the frequency is set by the length and tension of the string (and the thickness, material, construction, etc.) and not by the rate of grabbing and releasing by the bow. So the little wave travelling in a nice neat shape between the bridge and your finger ceases to exist for all practical purposes because there are simply so many of them.


>>Vibrato and Pitch Perception

Victor Sazer's post on Cello Chat indicates that the perceived pitch of a vibrato'd note is the pitch at the top of the vibrato cycle. Gerhard Mantel indicates that the perceived pitch is nearer the center of the vibrato cycle, at the "statistical average" of the vibrato motion. Who's right?

Tim Janof (Finholt)

Victor Sazer replies: Try this:

Play a single note:

1. Without vibrato.
2. Vibrate pulling to the flat side and returning to the starting point.
a. Vary the width of your vibrato making it wider and narrower.
3. Without vibrato.
4. Vibrate moving (even slightly) above the starting point.
a. Vary the width as above.

Do you hear a difference in pitch between 2 and 4?

If you widen your vibrato by moving farther to the low side the note and returning to the starting point, the pitch stays constant. It remains the same as when you did not vibrate. This is because the pitch is controlled by the length of string that is permitted to vibrate: longer length = lower pitch, shorter length = higher pitch. The length of string that you allow to vibrate is set by the upper edge of your finger. As you vibrate, momentarily moving down from and back to the starting point, your ear and memory retain the sound of the starting pitch.

If you move your vibrato, even the slightest bit above your starting point, you will very likely find that you are playing sharp.

Many years ago, my violinist daughter taped a piece for a competition. It was inadvertently played back at too low a speed. Although all of it was pitched down in the cellar, and it was so slow that the vibrato motions sounded something like eighth notes, the opening theme of the Mendelssohn concerto sounded clearly in tune at the top of her vibrato while the bottom of her vibrato strokes varied considerably.

Bob replies: I first heard this vibrate-below-the-note idea from no less an artist than Joseph Silverstein. Joe is not only a great violinist (who could play perfectly in tune), he's a thoughtful, well-read scholar of the instrument as well. So when I mentioned this idea to Bernard Greenhouse, who simply snorted, I was still troubled. And I think there is other literature propounding this theory as well.

I don't know from acoustical theory, sine waves, or what-all. What I DO know is that (a) no one vibrates on every note, and (b) when you add vibrato to an existing "white" note, the action is clearly a motion AROUND (above and below) where the finger is placed. This means that, as a practical matter, vibrato does include pitches slightly above where the finger is centered.

Thus, under the Silverstein/Sazer theory which posits that the "true" pitch is the highest point of the vibrato wave, someone who plays in tune can differentiate, in the placement of EACH finger, whether that note will include vibrato (in which case it will land slightly below pitch to account for the higher part of the wave) or won't (in which case it will land directly on pitch). Since this is impossible, the theory fails, for me.

Victor Sazer replies to Bob: I certainly agree with Bob when he states �... vibrato does include pitches slightly above where the finger is centered.� However, is where the finger is centered the same part of the finger that stops the string; the part that sets the length of string that is permitted to vibrate? Suppose your finger was several times as wide as it is, would its center be in the same place on the fingerboard as a narrower finger, to produce the same note? If you assume that the center of your finger is on the true note, would the pitch change as you change the width of your vibrato?

There is no disagreement about the fact that the vibrato moves in both directions from the balance center nor that the pitch changes in both directions. I suggest however, that pulling the first stroke of the vibrato downward toward the lower side of the note ensures that, whether you vibrate or not, the pitch remains the same (with no adjustment needed) because your vibrato always returns to the same starting point.

This in no way changes the tactile sensation of going equally in both directions from the balance center nor the feeling of aiming for notes with the center of your fingers.

If you move downward on the first stroke, the range of your vibrato goes from the true note to some point below it. The distance below may vary as you widen or narrow your vibrato for expressive reasons. As the span of your vibrato is enlarged or reduced, your balance center tends to move to the center of the span, whatever its amplitude to maintain an even vibrato. As long as the uppermost point remains the same, the intonation will be stable. On the other hand (no pun intended), if you start your vibrato with an upward stroke, the upper part of the range begins from a sharpened note.

I believe it is helpful to notice in which direction your vibrato starts, to see if it makes any difference and if it does, what the difference/s might be. As I have tried to explain, I do not subscribe to the idea (seemingly attributed to me) that you have to place your finger in a different place for vibrated or non-vibrated notes. The exact opposite is the true.

See the following summary of my points:

1. When you place a finger on a string, you shorten the length of string that you allow to vibrate. This establishes the pitch of the note.

2. The length of the vibrating string is set by the upper (toward the bridge) edge of the finger.

3. If you then vibrate on this note, you will continue to hear the same pitch if the first vibrato stroke moves downward and alternates going back to its starting point. So, the vibrato moves from its starting pitch to, sometimes varying points, below it, but never above it.

4. The pitch that you hear is not somewhere in between, but precisely, the starting pitch set by the upper edge of the finger. The place where the upper edge of your finger started is the top of the vibrato movement.

5. If the first stroke of your vibrato moves downward and returns to its starting point, the pitch will remain constant, even if you widen or narrow your vibrato. I believe that this not only helps assure accurate intonation but also aids purity of sound.

6. If your vibrato movement goes above the starting point, you will tend to play sharp.

7. I do not advocate restarting vibrato on every note, quite the contrary. I suggest the advantage to continuing it by begining each note at the top of its oscillation (where it is in tune) and vibrating downward as you transfer it from one note to the next. This produces seamless connections and easy tension-free motion.

8. Your ear and memory retain the sound of the upper part of the alternating movement even though the pitch at the bottom of the vibrato may vary.

9. You might try starting a note senza vibrato and then vibrating, gradually increasing the width of your vibrato. If your first stroke is upward, and you try to go an equal distance in both directions, see if the pitch stays the same or begins to change.

10. Most string players habitually tend to start their vibrato downward while others start upward. Many, probably never think about this at all, but still tend to regularly start in one direction or the other.

11. In my experience, just providing awareness to students, that the direction of the start of vibrato does make a difference, seems to improve their playing.

Bob replies to Victor Sazer: My biggest fear is that people will snicker at this thread as simply the effete nattering of four cello geeks with way too much time on their hands. My next biggest fear is that members will write me off as simply a reflexive Sazer-basher who has some unexplained vendetta going. But I�m an equal-opportunity critic, as Mantel can attest. Quite possibly the silent majority is going, "of course vibrato is both above and below the pitch; DUH!" and moving on. However, as I've mentioned, this flat-only idea, harmful as it is, has some traction out there; some of you may well run into prestigious string players who espouse it. Hence, with thanks to Victor Sazer for stating his side of the case succinctly, I offer a polite rebuttal:

Your clarity has not been wanting, in any respect. What has been wanting is logical coherence.

"1. When you place a finger on a string, you shorten the length of string that you allow to vibrate. This establishes the pitch of the note."


"2. The length of the vibrating string is set by the upper (toward the bridge) edge of the finger."

Without question.

"3. If you then vibrate on this note, you will continue to hear the same pitch if the first vibrato stroke moves downward and alternates going back to its starting point. So, the vibrato moves from its starting pitch to, sometimes varying points, below it, but never above it."

Here's where you are mistaken. Vibrato, regardless of the direction of the �first stroke,� moves the pitch both below and above the starting point. As you yourself seem to understand ("There is no disagreement about the fact that the vibrato moves in both directions from the balance center . . ."). Indeed it does. It goes up and it goes down. Vibrato goes above the starting pitch and it goes below. It is this reality your thesis cannot overcome.

As I explained in my previous post, it is particularly the comparison of vibrated vs. unvibrated notes which makes the point most clearly. For a "white" note, the finger remains in one spot 100% of the time. That spot is the perceived and actual pitch. In the vibrato action, the finger transmits a wave motion, never staying on any one spot. The assertion that the perceived pitch is now at the very highest, tippy-top point of the vibrato wave, a spot that is reached only a tiny percentage of the time, while the ear discounts all the pitches it hears during the other 95% of the vibrato cycle, is simply silly. The medial pitch, on the other hand, will be crossed twice per wave, approached from both directions, and, obviously, spend more time in the ear. This is why, when a well-trained player intensifies the vibrato on a long note (thus raising the upper, as well as lower, edge of the wave) the pitch doesn�t rise.

So although you may not �subscribe to� the conclusion that a finger must be placed in a different spot depending if it's a vibrated or �white� note, that nonetheless is the inevitable conclusion of your pitch perception theory. It�s that pesky reality of the pitch going above the center, starting point again. Since the vibrato motion does encompass higher pitches, I must repeat: �someone who plays in tune would have to be able to differentiate, in the placement of EACH finger, whether that note will include vibrato (in which case it will land slightly below pitch to account for the higher part of the wave) or won't (in which case it will land directly on pitch). Since this is impossible, the theory fails.�

Lastly, this idea that the direction in which the vibrato cycle begins has anything to do with anything is a true red herring. First of all, I challenge you or anyone to find a prominent artist who even thinks about this issue, let alone believes that one should strive to start in one direction or the other. Second, the very act of trying to strait-jacket a wave motion that should occur in a connected, unforced way is itself tension-producing. As I found this evening when I investigated, what the hand does naturally is to vibrate in the direction it's going, i.e., an ascending fingering or an upward shift will typically produce a vibrato that commences upward, and the descending fingerings or shifts will produce one that begins downward. These are the body's "natural impulses" you often harp on, yet a deeply-flawed acoustical theory has caused you to ignore them.

As I said, when Bernard Greenhouse heard this theory, he simply snorted. People should, of course, make their own investigations and draw their own conclusions, as I've tried to do here. I respect your inquiring mind and eloquence. And though I�m in Mantel�s corner against you on this issue, I�m hardly his shill. Teaching vibrato as you suggest would be stultifying.


I want to talk about talent. A year or two ago, I took some aptitude tests from the Johnson O'Connor Research Institute. There were tests for all sorts of things (kind of like IQ tests), including "ideaphoria" (sort of a creativity index), pitch discrimination, tonal memory, rhythmic memory, fine motor control, analytical thinking, visual memory, spatial relationships, etc. The results are then compared with the many thousands of others who have taken the same tests. They then tell you what people with your particular combination of aptitudes would typically enjoy doing, the theory being that people tend to enjoy doing things that they are naturally good at. They are not saying that we cannot learn to be quite good at skills that are not in our aptitudes, i.e. hard work CAN pay off, only that certain things come more naturally to certain people.

My point? Well, I don't exactly have one, but I thought it might be interesting to pre-test people to see which instrument they would enjoy more, or at least be better suited to (unfortunately the testing isn't cheap). I was told by the tester that somebody with a lower pitch discrimination index might want to consider playing the piano instead of a string instrument, or perhaps a percussion instrument (other than timpani). Somebody with a low tonal memory or visual memory index may not be suited for a career as a soloist. Somebody with low fine motor control may want to stay away from a string instruments. And so on.

I have always treated these kinds of tests with a grain of salt, but they are somewhat fun to think about, at least when I'm in the right touchy-feely mood. I sometimes ask people, "Is there such a thing as somebody with no talent for their instrument?" Based on the Johnson-O'Connor tests, the answer could very well be "yes."

Tim Janof (Finholt)

Tracie Price replies: Is there such a thing as somebody with no talent for their instrument?" I think the answer is yes. Almost everyone has run across someone who is playing an instrument for which they have little aptitude. They struggle endlessly and seem to make little progress.

However, this is such a complex topic. I personally don't like the idea of labeling kids' talent levels, because I feel that it can discourage kids who are not branded smart and talented. Lord knows it's hard enough to be a kid and deal with peers teasing you without having someone come right out and say "You aren't suited for the violin, here's a triangle." Kids should be encouraged to sample things and see what activities and areas of study they are drawn to. Their aptitudes will generally show through, and this way, they can feel that they have made the decision to pursue a particular avenue rather than being pigeon-holed into something because some test administrator who doesn't even know them said they have abilities in one area or another. In reality, there are many things to be learned from studying a musical instrument, regardless of one's level of talent. I don't believe people should be mislead into thinking they will become great virtuoso players when it's unlikely, but let people go as far as they can without a limit being applied by some test.

I don't believe necessarily that having an aptitude for something means you will enjoy doing that thing. I personally have a very high aptitude for math, yet I really don't like it. I'm sure it spills over into theory, and logic, which do interest me, but math itself I've never enjoyed even though it has always been easy for me. There are also many talented musicians who have come to hate music due to other influences such as pushy parents or bad experiences. They have an aptitude for it, but don't want to play anymore. It used to sadden me greatly when I would come across a student like that.

>>The "Infinity" of Bach

I recently listened to Bach's Chaconne for solo violin. It's pieces like this that make me question James Nicholas' thesis (author of "It says 'Suite,' not 'Sweat.'") that we try too hard to find meaning in Bach's music, that we just need to play the Suites as if they are the Brandenburg Concerti (as if they have little meaning!). No, not everything Bach wrote was intended to be profoundly poetic, but, when he is being poetic (in my view), I for one am overwhelmed by the "Infinity of Bach."

Tim Janof (Finholt)

Nicholas Anderson replies: It's truly amazing how many people, even musicians, fail to see the depth of Bach, or to have any idea of how to bring it out interpretively. You're absolutely right about the profundity, and it needs to be expounded upon at some point. Of course, Casals helped greatly to steer things in that direction, and his work could be carried further.

It's ironic what you said about the Brandenburg Concerti, and I have a related anecdote. Recently I was giving a recital with a VERY prominent, established pianist here in New York whom I won't name, and we were to do the G minor Gamba Sonata. He just wanted to race through it, without shaping phrases, or making any climactic moments or arrivals, highs and lows, lyricism, or anything - and he was very insistent that I was trying to read way too much musical depth into it. He said, "It's just like the third Brandenburg" -- and proceeded to sing a bit of THAT in a rushed and trivialized way. (Of course, I think the Brandenburgs are profound too! Though, contrary to what he was saying, there are great differences between those and the Gamba Sonatas.) After just one rehearsal, I suggested that we drop that piece and have me do a Bach solo cello suite instead, which fortunately he agreed to. The funniest thing about it was that many people who heard that I was playing with him were very impressed; and I thought, if only they knew how superficial he really is - to put it "euphemistically!" (With all due respect.)

By contrast, the other day I happened to see a film on PBS called "The Art of Piano," and they had part of an old video from 1960 of Glenn Gould playing the Bach D Minor Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic and Leonard Bernstein -- in black and white, of course, and there was Laszlo Varga right in front as principal cellist! Talk about a poetic interpretation! It was just astonishing how Gould controlled and shaped every nuance of the phrasing and tone color through his physical approach to the instrument with the deepest kind of caring and commitment to the inner message on both the large and detailed levels. I thought that this is the kind of ARTISTIC playing which one almost never hears anymore.

After performing all six of the solo cello suites myself for many years, I've become convinced that in them, Bach, whether consciously or unconsciously, was making use of and honoring certain very specific underlying structural principles that can be found in all CONSUMMATE art, and which can be articulated and used as an interpretive guide, not to establish one correct interpretation, but to clarify, illuminate, and open up horizons and possibilities of interpretation. And again, of a kind of interpretive depth that seems to be mostly missing today, but which I think people really want. I find it extraordinary that more has not been written about this by others, and that no book exists about it. I've read everything out there, and nothing touches on the matters to which I'm referring. In any case, I have developed a lot of far-reaching ideas about this which I hope to communicate some day.

dennisw replies: I think you can find the depth of the Bach suites without getting carried away by it all. Perhaps that is what Mr. Nicholas was referring to. If you have a feel for the music, then the interpretations will be, for the most part, self-evident.

Another point is this: the suites vary in depth, usually in direct proportion to their harmonic complexity. The minor keys are more complex than the major keys, and as a result they have more color and nuance. In Bach, the harmonic rhythm is the basis for the structure and the expression.

The G major suite, for example, is very simple harmonically. There isn't all that much "depth" to be mined. It's pretty much a matter of what-you-see-is-what-you-get. I think its a waste of time to get caught up in mining the depths of this suite. There just isn't that much to get. And yet, there is a real beauty in its utter simplicity.

There certainly isn't anything shallow about the c minor suite, and there are lots and lots of opportunities for interpretive freedom, but I wouldn't get lost in the quest for the perfect interpretation, either. In fact, the one thing that kills this suite for me is when the cellist takes it too seriously. I will say, however that the c minor sarabande does have an unusual enigmatic quality, directly tied to its harmonic movement, that is not easily communicated to the listener.

For me, the beauty of the Casals recordings lies in the rhythmic vitality he brings to each and every movement, really playing them as a dance. That tends to explain what these suites are really about: a prelude followed by 5 dances.

>>The purpose of etudes

One must ask, "What is the function of an etude? Etudes, and my comments do not include etudes for the piano such as those by Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Bartok and many others whose writing in this genre certainly goes well beyond my remarks -- in other words they exist in many cases as etudes by name but as great music as well. The Popper and other cello studies (Servais, Dotzauer, Franchomme, Gruetzmacher, etc.) do not occupy this lofty plateau and must be looked upon purely as teaching aids. So then what is an etude supposed to do or accomplish?

Basically, as I see it, an etude attacks a problem, focuses on it and by sheer dint of repetition and complexity brings one closer to a solution to the problem raised. When one comes across the same kind of problem posed by an etude in a piece, sonata, or concerto much of the work has already been done through one's having dealt with the problem vis-a-vis the study/etude. I have found, however, that most players are quite unimaginative when dealing with the problems raised by these studies and seem to want to get through them as quickly as possible, with as little thought as possible; one could say the whole process is one of rote. This should be avoided at all costs!

Popper seems to be the course du jour so lets have a quick look at the first of the forty studies in the "High School" and see what can really be done with it. The etude is in 4/4 time and consists (with the exception of the last note) of nothing but triplet eighth notes starting up bow with the instruction "with very loose wrist, at the nut, lightly staccato." These instructions in my opinion should probably be taken with a grain of salt. If the wrist "is very loose" the stroke becomes flabby and unfocused. "At the nut," once again I think not, towards the center of the bow seems to make more sense. "Lightly staccato" in feeling perhaps but I far prefer the term "brush stroke" as used by Galamian applied to this study.

What is this study trying to accomplish, what problem does it attack? Two things as I see it:

1. The use of the staccato bowing described by Popper or, as mentioned, the brush stroke.

2. String crossings.

The left hand is not really the problem with this study, it is the right hand/arm that gets the work out.

So now that we have learned and mastered the study as written, what can we now do to derive more benefit from the same group of notes. Many things, different rhythms being one but in addition:

1. Reverse the bowing for the entire study, starting down bow. A whole new set of problems emerge not dealt with at all with the up bow start.

2. Go back to the up bow start but rethink the study so it falls into 3/4 time with three groups of four 16th notes per bar. This is not as easy as you might think particularly as you get to line four and beyond.

3. Same as above but start down bow.

Many of the studies of Popper can be approached in the same fashion. For a further idea of how all of this can work I strongly suggest trying to find a copy of the Piatti, "12 Capricci," opus 25, as edited by Luigi Silva and published by Ricordi (E.R. 2014). The practice hints and methods he shows are quite brilliant, make sense, and really work.

Peter Schenkman

>>Contemporary Music

I am at a loss when I hear people decry "modern" music as unattractively angst-ridden and cerebral. Tchaikovsky is angst-ridden. Schoenberg is not many steps removed from him. "Angst" is as much a part of our lives as joy, or peaceful contentedness, or lyrical abandon. The joy is more intense for the juxtaposition with the angst. Don't get me wrong, I love Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Bach, Josquin, etc. And I love chocolate, too. But a healthy, enjoyable diet needs variety, and all the flavors on the menu become more intense for the variety.

As for "thinking" about music, that is done largely for the purpose of experiencing the music more vividly. Many (non-ICS!) people would use the terms angst-ridden and intellectual to describe passages in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. ICSers might agree that such an attitude will result in missed opportunities for intense emotional fulfillment. Listening to Carter's first string quartet is an emotional experience for me, not a cooly calculated consideration of metric modulation devices and their reflection in use of the all-interval tetrachord.

I think a lot of the resistance to music of the last 90 years has to do with habits of time, more than harmony or melody. For the previous several hundred years, and especially in romantic music, a certain kind of regularity was found in phrase lengths, repetition of large chunks of material, and pacing of harmonic changes. In much of this music it was of course in the surprising irregularities posed against this background that people find the most delicious moments. Composers like Carter, Messaien, and Webern have looked for more interesting ways to play with time than symmetrical repetition.

There is a lot of music out there, and it would take many lifetimes to get to hear it all, but I do hope that an entire century is not put aside as too difficult to listen to.


I'm about to teach my first batch of cello students this coming Sunday. Being a first-timer in teaching, I'd like advice from some of the more experienced teachers here. Some of my questions:


Pat White replies: First of all, whenever I am teaching a first lesson, I allow a double portion of time. It just seems that first lessons take much more time than subsequent lessons. Next, realize that a first lesson feels quite jumbled. A routine has not yet evolved, nor has a relationship between teacher and student. Therefore, there is a lot going on in the mind of both teacher and student and there is some anxiety on the part of each.

Once you are both settled in, you will want to look at the student's instrument. Take it to tune it and this will give you an idea of what they are working with. If there are any problems that jump to your attention, you will want to mention them. Once you have tuned/inspected the instrument, hand it back and tell them it is a good idea to simply start at the very beginning (a very good place to start...)

I do "Feet-Seat-Set" with any first student, no exceptions. In other words, "Feet" are to be shoulder width apart, "Seat" is to be on the front edge of the chair, and cello is to be "Set" into the chest. I survey the student once they have done "Feet-Seat-Set" to see how he looks. Some look fine, others need adjustment of some sort -- longer/shorter endpin, turn the instrument, move a knee out of the way, etc. Once the cello is set, we do the bow balancing exercises and they demonstrate their bow grip to me. If the student is not a beginner, we do this anyway. I tell the student that he/she may want to teach lessons someday and these are beneficial things to do at the beginning. Then, they do not mind the seemingly basic approach and I get to make sure they have the same understanding of the basics that I have.

Next, if it is a student who has played before I ask him to play something for me. I explain that I am not judging, I am simply assessing. I want to see how they look and sound when they play.

Once the student plays something for you, the areas that need attention will suggest themselves. The bowing might be weak or crooked. The left hand position might be incorrect. You don't want to overwhelm a new student with a list of what is wrong. Once they have played something for you, give a compliment and a complaint. I am so religious with this approach that whenever I give a compliment, my students expect the next sentence to contain a point needing correction, and are sometimes pleasantly surprised when a compliment is just a compliment!

I advocate a 'regimen' to new students. I give them some left hand exercises/routines that include a basic Cossmann drill, some left-hand pizzicato with each finger, and pivot exercises. I also give bowing exercises with open strings and string crossings. Scales are immediately introduced, once again in a very basic way. The student is to follow the regimen the way an athlete follows a coach's workout plan. The regimen obviously changes and expands as new concepts are introduced.

All of the above will probably more than use your time in a first lesson, but may not leave you or the student feeling as if there is enough to do during the week. Therefore, you will want to find what music the student has and evaluate whether they have what they need, or will need to order new music. If they will need new music, be sure to recommend where they can procure it. I have my students order from Shar Music (1-800-248-7427). I want each student to have an etude book appropriate to his/her level, along with a book of songs (usually I do work through the Suzuki books with additions all along the way), and a scale book. I usually want the student to also have a fun book. Either the Applebaum "Beautiful Music for Two", or the "Jazzin' About Fun Pieces", or the Mooney "Double Stops for Cello" are good for fun.

In the subsequent lessons, follow a routine. I have my students run their scales and etudes first. They are the "vegetables." I ask them if I would be a good teacher if I allowed them to eat dessert rather than vegetables! They understand and go through the scales and etudes. The better they have prepared, the faster those basics go. We = next get into the "meat," their current solo. In the solo, both technique and musicality are addressed, in whatever proportion is correct for the student. Finally, at the end of the lesson we get to do the fun stuff, the "dessert." It is not so essential as the other material, but being able to have fun with the teacher and on the instrument is sometimes what creates the most interest.

Obviously, there are reasons to vary the routine, but if there is a sense of a basic routine it also helps the students to organize the practice time. They will want to be properly prepared for each aspect of the lesson.

Here are some direct answers to your questions:

Q: Which should I concentrate on first? Left or right hand technique?
A: I believe this was addressed above, but my suggestion is to watch the student play something for you, and, by that, ascertain which needs the most attention. Give exercises for each that will encourage regular development, but concentrate on whichever is weakest in that particular student.

Q: What advice should I give when teaching posture (holding the cello and the bow)?
A: Again, I briefly addressed this above. You will want to establish a position that is natural, looks right, and allows proper movement in the student. You might address each aspect of holding the cello: the lower peg close to the ear, the cello resting against the chest, the cello turned slightly in to the right leg, the placement of the knees, etc. Make sure that the student has a chair of the correct height and that the student understands the endpin needs to be changed depending upon the relative height of whichever chair is being used. If you let them know the ways to gauge the positioning of the instrument, that will help them know how much endpin to use.

Q: What are the problems most likely to be encountered by most beginners, and what is the best way to help them?
A: Beginners have a host of problems! I tend to get them started playing before I bog them down with reading music and approaching theory. They struggle with maintaining the proper position. They struggle with the fact their left hand is usually weak. They struggle with keeping the tone quality, they struggle with string crossings, they struggle with keeping the bow straight. Each new concept is a struggle! Adding a slur, a shift, a double stop -- things that seem easy to us, things about which we do not even think are a struggle to a beginner. Some struggle more than others, so there is no one general answer for you. Being a teacher is like being an analyst. Each student is an individual. You will have to learn their individual personalities and thought processes. Then, you will have to tailor your comments and corrections based on your knowledge of their individual personality and thought process.

Q: Can intonation be taught, or is it something inherent in the student?
A: The answer is that both are true to an extent. Intonation can and should be taught, taught, and re-taught. However, some have an inherantly better ear than others. Some will get it right away and correct their own intonation almost from the beginning. Others will seem oblivious to the concept. I love to use the "target" idea of Rick Mooney -- any note that has the same name as an open string is a target and can be tested. I greatly encourage the observation powers of the student. They learn to listen and look for the 'ring' and vibrations which are caused by in tune playing.

Q:Regarding ear training, what are some of your experiences like?
A: I was never taught ear-training until I had to take it at Juilliard. Rebecca Scott was my teacher there, and she was perhaps the first teacher I had ever encountered who did not think I was wonderful! This made me think she did not like me, so of course I missed the point. The point was that she knew I needed to learn what she was teaching and yet it was obvious I did not think I needed to learn. Thankfully, she was such a tough teacher that I was afraid of her. That ear-training class (solfege) was incredibly valuable to me. Sight-singing and interval recognition was what I learned to do. I try to introduce that in small doses to my students. We especially examine intervals, and it always makes a great point when we do the following: I start with a unison -- showing them how to play it and explaining what it is. Then, we progress through each interval and I ask them to tell me whether the interval is consonant (blends) or dissonant (clashes). This alone is a good learning experience. I explain that dissonant is not bad, it is actually like the spice of music. Bland consonance would become quite dull! Once we have finished all of the intervals, I ask them to try and remember which was the most dissonant. I consider the minor second to be the most dissonant. I then turn this into an intonation lesson, because I explain that most student orchestras are full of sections playing in minor seconds (accidentally) with each other and that is why the sound of a student orchestra is so unmistakeable! This really hits the point home that it is NOT good enough to be CLOSE with the intonation. It must be a UNISON, not a MINOR SECOND!!!!

>>Why study music theory?

Do you think someone can become a really good cellist without a strong knowledge of music theory?


Pat White replies: I guess this is where semantics come into play. Define: "Really Good." Is a really good cellist someone who is able to make a living with their skill, or someone who achieves fame with their skill? I guess it really doesn't matter for the answer to the question...

I like to think I might be able to be called really good, but my knowledge of theory is merely basic. On the other hand, I know people who know much more than I about theory but who play hardly so well. Then, on the OTHER hand (wait, how many hands do I have here...???), I know musicians who know LOTS of theory and play EXTREMELY well. They are the ones I admire the most. I likewise have a violin-playing friend who is the most incredibly versatile musician. He can improvise anything at the drop of a hat, and can whisper chord changes to the rest of us at a gig while he is improvising or playing from memory a song someone just requested. So, a firm knowledge of theory can be quite useful and not merely an academic skill. Never mind the fact that the more well-rounded one is, the more employable one becomes. Finally, the ability to analyze a piece's harmonic structure is very important to anyone desiring to play well.

So, Janet, my answer would have to be, "Learn as much theory as possible!" It certainly can't hurt!

Tada replies: I don't think the main advantage of having a background in theory is that you can play one F-sharp sharper than the next and be able to justify that in writing. Any natural musician can do this without any theoretical training.

Throughout much of the three centuries prior to the 20th, harmony was used as a tool for distinguishing different ideas or for combining them in a meaningful manner. An analysis of the harmony will reveal landmarks, contrasts and directions which are inherent in the form of the work.

It is our job to make these things apparent to our audience. I am sure a few people can work them out without harmonic analysis and from that, convince the audience. I know that I find a bit of analysis helps me to know where I am with respect to these things and also helps keep my emotions in check in performance. I am sure this makes me a better cellist.

Having said this, there is much more to the theory of music than pure harmony.



I just stumbled across the fact that Walter Freeman, the "pioneer" of lobotomies in the U.S., played the cello!


>>More on Feuermann and the Dvorak Concerto (continuing the discussion from the last newsletter)

Hats off to Oy-Oy and Gary Stucka for playing "the composer's advocate" (see Erich Leinsdorf's book of the same title) in the matter of the Dvorak concerto and what may seem like unusually fast tempi by the standards of present-day recordings. It seems improbable that one can enter into the spirit of a work, or find out what it's all about, without honestly examining an element as fundamental as tempo. As an example: in the wrong tempo, the trombone solo in 6/3 chords from the "Tuba mirum" of the Mozart's Requiem is identical to a passage in Lepoello's "escape" aria in Act 2 of Don Giovanni). In the case of earlier music, choosing a basic tempo can be a challenge, but in the case of the Dvorak cello concerto, there are no serious ambiguities. One has to read the directions before one can claim to be more faithful to the spirit of the "law" (as it relates to a musical composition) than the letter. At the opening of the first movement, Dvorak clearly writes "Allegro", not "Moderato", or "Allegro comodo" or "Allegretto." Even though the word "Allegro" can be interpreted subjectively, Dvorak also qualified it with an unambiguous marking: quarter note = 116.

The nineteenth-century tradition of slowing down for the second theme is confirmed here, but note that the quarter note only slows down from 116 to 100. These are subtle nuances of tempo; the second theme is still within a general context of allegro.

In the second movement, the marking of 108 to the eighth-note (or 54 to the quarter note) works very naturally both for the tempestuous middle section and for the flanking A-sections. Dvorak even indicates "Tempo I" at the beginning of the stormy G-minor central episode, ruling out any possibility of a different tempo, and this section cannot move much more slowly than 108 without sounding limp.

Similarly, in the last movement, Dvorak's numeric and verbal tempo indications again involve fairly subtle variations in tempo. Even in the nostalgic "dream-sequence" coda (which was not part of Dvorak's original plan, but an afterthought inspired by an emotional crisis), the slowest tempi indicated numerically are: quarter note = 84 (at Meno mosso, bar 437), and 76 (at Andante, bar 459).

It is thought-provoking that it is not only Feuermann whose tempos may seem unusually brisk to ears more accustomed to recent recordings. Casals, who was already 19 or 20 when the piece was composed, performed it in between 33 and 34 minutes in an early recording with George Szell. These earlier performers, plus Dvorak's own indications in the score, suggest that the composer's conception of this piece was much more solidly rooted in the Mozartian-Beethovenian concerto tradition than in the realm of the Romantic tone poem, with its freer forms and non-formulaic tempi. By the way: please note that not only in the newer Artia score, but also in the older Simrock score and all reprints from it, the chords in the solo part of bar 90 in the first movement are correct, and make much more harmonic sense than those printed in the solo part of virtually every available edition. There are no augmented chords and no parallel fifths in bar 90!!!!

Lest anyone believe that Dvorak was indifferent to the details as to how this "conzerto" [sic] was to be performed, it should be known that the manuscript score is rife with alterations and retouches in blue, red, and regular pencil, presumably made during the rehearsals before the premiere. Dozens of bars of cello figuration were rewritten, some of them only achieving their final form at the third or fourth revision.

Dvorak also took upon himself the task of making the piano reduction, rather than leaving that time-consuming task to an arranger. And as a testimonial to Dvorak's concern that the integrity of his masterwork remain intact, see the following excerpt of his letter of October 3, 1895, to the publisher Simrock: "I do not agree with my friend Wihan [the dedicatee] in regard to a number of places. I do not like many of the passages, and I must insist upon my work being printed as I have written it. I shall only then give you my work if you promise not to allow anyone, even my honored friend Wihan, to make changes without my knowledge and permission. Therefore, no cadenza like the one Wihan wrote for the last movement. It must be in the form which I felt and conceived. No cadenza is to be found in the last movement, either in the score or in the piano reduction. I told Wihan right away, when he showed it to me, that it would be impossible to patch in a piece like that. The Finale closes with a diminuendo, like a sigh, with reminiscences of the first and second movements; the solo fades out to pp; then it sells up and the orchestra concludes in a stormy tone. That was my idea, and I cannot abandon it".

James Nicholas



** Members can submit announcements or news to sgtppr@aol.com **

1. "Music in the Air"

"Music in the Air" is a project whose purpose is to assist in protecting the instruments of musicians when flying and to represent the interests of musicians to Congress and the airlines with respect to modifying legislation and regulations.

There is current legislation in Congress SB 1294 that will restrict the size of carry on baggage for all passengers on all airlines. The bill provides for a maximum of 45 inches found by taking the sum of each dimension of the carry-on baggage which shall not exceed 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches. This size limitation will exclude many instruments that easily fit into overhead compartments.

Go to this web site to answer the Music in the Air Questionnaire:


Download the questionnaire and send it the address provided.

2. Vadim Tchervov dies

On the 11th of March died Ukrainian cellist and teacher, Vadim Tchervov. Professor Tchervov was born on the 25th of December, 1930. A talented musician, he studied at the Moscow Conservatory with M. Rostropovich (cello pedagogy). Tchervov left us more than 80 hours of recorded music of Ukrainian and European composers, of which more than seventy-six works were written for him. Tchervov gave a big step in the Ukrainian cello school.

3. California Music Festival

The California Music Festival is holding its first Festival in the Contra Costa County area of California, (which is East of San Francisco about 30 miles) July 31 through August 13. We have openings for 5 cellists, 3 violas, 2 bassoons and 2 horns. Preference will be made for performers in the age bracket of 17 to 25. The focus this year is on Mozart and Haydn and friends, and we will have solo, ensemble and orchestral opportunities, including vocal soloists and chorus members, as the festival will close with a performance of Mozart's Requiem. Sight-seeing trips are available. Home stays will be an option if coming from out of town. Scholarships are available. For further information contact James Greening in New York, (718) 699-3966 or jgrv@juno.com, or Ariel Witbeck in California, (925) 837-3814, FAX (925) 837-4417 or arielbob@jps.net.

4. Message from the BBC

The 106th BBC PROMS will be attended by near 400,000 people, and every single one of the 72 concerts is broadcast live by BBC Radio 3. We have looked through our concert dates and found a few things that may interest ICS members:

Thursday, August 10
Alban Gerhardt with the Royal Scottish Orchestra will perform Shostakovich Cello Concerto No.1

Sunday, August 27
Prom 57The 12 cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic will be performing works by Villa Lobos, Dean and Francaix.

Tuesday, August 29
Natalia Gutman solos with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Strauss' Don Quixote -- conductor Claudio Abbado.

5. New competition in Japan

In May 2001, the International Competition for Violoncello and Double Bass will be held for the first time in Izumisano, south of Osaka Prefecture, near the Kansai Airport.

6. James Nicholas' new edition

James Nicholas, author of "Schumann Concerto: Hear It Again For The First Time," has come out with a new edition for solo cello of the Biber Passacaglia of 1674, originally for unaccompanied violin. He has also made available a set of performance-practice observations on all the movements of all six Bach suites (similar to those in the foreword to the edition of the Sixth), entitled "Sheets on Suites."

7. Prize Winners

Corpus Christi Young Artists' Competition -- Daniel Gardner, of Akron University, one first prize in the college division. Third prize went to Tomoko Fujita of Rice University. In the Pre-College division, Xiodan Zheng of Juilliard took second prize.

Third Annual Sphinx Competition -- Desmond Neysmith, 23-year-old originally from London, now studying in Akron University, won first prize. 16-year-old cellist Jard Snyder won the junior division.

American String Teacher Association (ASTA) Competition -- Kathleen Balfe, principal cellist of the New World Symphony and former pupil of Larry Lester and Irene Sharp, took first place in the cello division and won grand prize in the senior division. Amy Yetasook, student of Eleanore Schoenfeld, won first prize in the junior cello division.

Johansen Competition -- Tao Ni, 15 years old, won first prize in the cello division.

Washington International Competition -- Panu Luusto (Finland) won first prize in the cello division.

D'Angelo Young Artists Competition -- Jakob-Jerzy Ornsky was the co-winner.

Kingsville Young Performers Competition (Texas) -- Deanna Talens, 14 years old, won second prize.

8. New Maisky CD ROM

The new recording by Mischa Maisky, on DG 463-314 2, comes with an extra CD-ROM that uses Schott's CD-PluScore. This gives the viewer Maisky's own edition of the Suites, complete with fingerings, and a playback cursor for following the recording and score simultaneously. There are also illustrated articles about the works.

9. Orchestra Appointments

Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra -- Stanimir Todorov and Henrik Dam Thomsen are the new principal cellists.


Here�s a list of the festivals I know about in 2000:

Viva Cello
Viva Cello, August 23-27, Liestal, Switzerland. Concerts and masterclasses with Julius Berger, Christophe Coin, Patrick & Thomas Demenga, Ralph Kirshbaum, Antonio Meneses, Siegfried Palm, the Cellissimo Ensemble and many young cellists. http://www.vivacello.ch.

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.

There are also summer institutes for study and performance:

International Festival-Institute
International Festival-Institute at Round Top (Texas) June 4 � July 16.

The MasterWorks Festival, Western New York
June 25 - July 23.

Young Artist Institute
Park City (Utah) Young Artist Institute July 10 � Aug 7.

Foundation for Artistic and Musical Excellence (FAME) Cello Institute
Princeton New Jersey, July 23 - Aug 5. Tuition in repertoire and technique.

Looking ahead:

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.

** If you know of any other cello events happening around the world,
please send word to Roberta Rominger, roberta@rominger.surfaid.org **


**Sarah Dorsey, official ICS librarian at sarah_dorsey@uncg.edu.

(Please do not abuse this valuable service; check local libraries and resources before contacting Sarah.)

If you know of newsletters, teaching materials, references, lists or articles that should be added to ICS Library, please send data to michelj@cwu.edu. (Library contents will be available to all Internet users; please include author and written statement of release for unlimited or limited reproduction.)**


** ICS NET Resource Editor: Tim Janof at sgtppr@aol.com **

1. Internet Travel Guide for Classical Music Lovers


2. New Grove II (New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians)


3. Jeffrey's Exploration Site


4. Soesterberg Music Festival


5. Daniel Kazez


6. Tao of Cello


7. Cyber Scales


8. Strings Magazine


9. Sandro Asinari -- Violin Maker in Cremona


10. "From the Top"


11. Aaron Von Cello


12. Airline Travel Questionnaire for musicians


13. Blues Now


14. Cello Endpin Stops


15. Tom Flaherty


16. Opus 4 Music


17. Jerome Alvarez


18. Edward Hines Music


19. The Healing Cello


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Direct correspondence to the appropriate ICS Staff
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