November/December 1998----Volume 4, Issue 6


<What's New at ICS> 3200 members from 70 different countries
<Message from the Editor>
<Membership Letters>

<Membership Spotlight> ** YOSHIDA HIROMICHI**
<Feature Article> ** SO YOU WANT TO BE A STAR? **
<ICS Award Website> ** BACH, THE FENCING MASTER **

<ICS Forum/ Cello Chat Board>
<Music Festival Watch>
<ICS Library>
<Announcements> Detroit Symphony Audition
<Other Internet Music Resources>


ICS has almost 3,200 members. There are two new countries represented by our membership: Georgia and Malta. Here is the total list of 70 countries:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Ecuador, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Virgin Islands, Zimbabwe.

Several biographies have been added or updated. Frank Miller, late cellist of the Chicago Symphony, has been added to our list of biographies of "Great Cellists of the Past." Pierre Fournier's page has been updated with a photo. Leonard Rose's daughter has written additional information about her father on his page.

#Cellotalk, our live cello chat board, has been field tested by the webmaster and some of our faithful members, and it seems to work great! webmaster plans to be in the #Cellotalk chat room every Saturday from 9 to 10 PM, Eastern Time. Everyone is invited to join the discussion.


As you will see, there's a lot of Anner Bylsma in this issue. If you are a fan of his, you will love this newsletter. If you are not, compare your reading experience to ripping off a band-aide; you're getting it over with all at once. Regardless of your cellistic allegiances, Mr. Bylsma has many thought- provoking ideas for us all to ponder.

Of the many interviews that I have done, there are two that have really shaken me up, making me re-examine how I play -- the interviews of Victor Sazer and Anner Bylsma. The interview with Victor Sazer made me take a fresh look at my technique. The interview with Anner Bylsma has caused me to re-think how I play Bach and other composers. I do not mean to say that I have decided to become Sazer or Bylsma clones, I just mean that I am looking at what I do with fresh eyes.

We also have an eye-opening interview done by 'T.O.C.' about the Tchaikovsky Competition. 'T.O.C.' stands for "The Omnipotent Critic," who, we hope, will become a regular contributor to our site. For further information about him, go to his website, and click on the "T.O.C." button.

Tim Finholt


>>I read your "Interpretational Angst" article. What a mess is the cello world.

Anner Bylsma

>>Hi. The Internet Cello Society is very, very good. I like it very much. We don't have information available like this in China. What you do is very important. Thank you very much for the ICS.

George Xie

Cello Department
Shanghai Conservatory of Music

>>I just discovered the Internet Cello Society today and am impressed. I started playing the cello when I was 9 (in 1974) and played in some competitions and at church, as well as in orchestras. I tried my go on the keyboard but never practiced enough to become real proficient. The cello came natural for me, but I have never put my all into developing my talent to its fullest. I have since sold my Yamaha SY99 keyboard and have decided to start practicing my cello again. I don't know exactly what I will use it for, but I wouldn't mind playing in an orchestra again (on a very part time basis).

Scott N.

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



Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma received his first lessons from his father and concluded his instruction with Carel van Leeuwen Boonkamp at The Hague Conservatory, when he was awarded the Prix d’excellence. In 1959 he won a prestigious first prize from the Pablo Casals Concours in Mexico. He was solo cellist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1962 to 1968. He performs regularly around the world as a soloist and recitalist, and has recorded for Das Alte Werk, Telefunken, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Seon, RCA, Phillips, and EMI. Anner Bylsma is perhaps most famous for his interpretations of the music of Baroque and Early Classical periods. He recently published a book on the Bach Solo Cello Suites, entitled “Bach, The Fencing Master - Reading aloud from the first three cello suites,” where he discusses his analysis of the Anna Magdalena manuscript and issues related to performing Bach (

TF: I have read several times that you don’t like the word “authenticity.” What’s wrong with it?

AB: This term is used as a weapon by some to exclude fellow musicians, and as a marketing tool by record companies to help sell records, even when the performance is not "authentic" at all. This word actually means whatever one wants it to mean, and is mostly a great way of posturing: “My compromise is the best compromise, and all others are wrong!” Let us not forget that people come to concerts for musical enjoyment, not because they espouse certain musical/political views.

To play as Bach did is impossible, as it is with any other good composer. It helps to study the instruments as they were at the time and how they were played, but it will never sound as it did then. And if it accidentally did, we would not recognize it as being such. This study, however, will deliver unexpected moments of an “authentic” feeling, which can be quite an inspiration. You must admit that the current fashion of “authenticity” has brought us many beauties, and has made well-known pieces sound new.

There is a much better word than “authentic.” It is the word “true.” Somebody plays something and it rings true. It is meant honestly, comes from the heart, and gives pleasure. It's more of a feeling that you must be playing the way the piece was meant to be played. But this feeling never stays with you, since it is very ephemeral.

** The remainder of the interview has been archived at A photo is included.**





I started playing cello when I was 36 years old. Many of my friends asked me, "Why the cello? What happened to you?" I did not have any experience in playing musical instruments before starting cello, so this was totally new for me.

In 1986, for my new job, my family and I moved to the city of Handa, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan, where a new community orchestra was being formed. In order to publicize the orchestra, the organizing committee invited a famous conductor to make a speech about symphony orchestras and classical music. Since I liked listening to classical music I decided to attend. After his speech, I noticed a poster at the exit that said, "Let's have our own orchestra. We are looking for orchestral players." I thought it might be good to play in the orchestra, but I suspected that only experienced players would be welcomed, though the poster said nothing about this. I expected that the orchestra would have some sort of training program for beginners. Only later did I find out that I was wrong!

I went to the registration desk and asked for an application. I filled in the name and address. Then the next blank asked which instrument I would play. At the time I had no idea which instrument I would like. A stringed instrument seemed good, but I thought the violin was too small, and the contrabass too large. I finally chose cello and wrote it in the instrument column.

A few weeks later, a letter came from the organizing committee inviting me to an inaugural meeting. The Mayor of Handa made a congratulatory address about the new community orchestra, and, after a few more rather boring speeches, we enjoyed some refreshments. At the end of the meeting, a member of the organizing committee distributed papers and said, "We will start orchestra practice on the 4th movement next week, so please start practicing at home." He came over and gave me a cello part to the New World Symphony! It was the first time I had ever seen a cello score.

I said, "I can't play the cello."

He thought I was being modest and said, "You can start with what you can do."

I timidly said, "I can't play at all. Actually, I have never touched a cello before."

His eyes seemed to pop out of his head. I suspected he wanted to say, "Then why are you here?" but he was smart enough not to. He said, "You need to buy a cello first. Let me introduce you to a friend who owns a musical instrument shop."

The following week, I went to his friend's shop. Of course, I knew nothing about instruments, including their prices. I said, "I am just a beginner. I do not need a brand new instrument, since they must be expensive. A secondhand one would be fine with me."

The lady at the shop said with a smile, "Well, generally speaking, a secondhand instrument is more expensive than a brand new one. For instance, the old Italian cellos over there are priced at one million yen."

(A complete transcript is linked here.)





Reflections on the 1998 Tchaikovsky Cello Competition

T.O.C. (The Omnipotent Critic) interviews Tchaikovsky Competition Cello Judge, Andor Toth


T.O.C.: Almost every instrumentalist who is any good, and many that aren’t, have at least dreamed of becoming a star. The person who is called upon to replace Yo-Yo Ma at the last minute makes a sensation and is a super star forever more. Most of these people also fantasize about entering and winning competitions and getting fame and stardom this way. Andor, this past summer you were on the cello jury of what many would consider to be the most important music competition in the world, the XI International Tchaikovsky Competition. What does it take to win this thing?

AT: You like to ask the easy questions, don’t you? Ok, the answer probably is talent, friends in high places, and luck.

T.O.C.: When you say, “friends in high places,” do you mean the competition is fixed?

AT: That’s a hard question to answer honestly. I think there is a great deal of predestination in something like this. Of the twelve judges, four were current Russian cellists; one was the great Russian cellist, Michael Khomitser who now lives in Israel; then you had judges from Latvia, Finland, and Poland who have long standing ties to Russia. Those judges that had no ties to Russia were from Germany, France, Japan, and myself.

There were 53 contestants that finally took part in the competition. Of those, 14 were from today’s Russia, and six were from the former Soviet Union, and, in addition to this, six I believe work in Germany with the wonderful Russian cellist and teacher, David Geringas. So 26 out of 53 contestants had direct ties to Russia and were well known to the Russian judges.

What many outsiders don’t realize is that the Russians have an elimination competition in February to determine which Russian students will be allowed to compete. For the most part, the same Russian judges who were in Moscow for the Tchaikovsky heard this competition and decided which cellists should go. For me, in Moscow, it was the first time I heard these cellists. I had no preconceptions. The Russians, on the other hand, knew very well who was having a bad day, who was playing over their heads, and who was getting by. I think it is a very hard thing to put aside such preconceptions. Also, I am sure they had a very strong idea of who among the Russian cellists was the best, and perhaps should win.

It seemed to me that their views of the foreign competitors were more or less evenhanded. Most of these students were new to them, as they were to me. This does mean, however, that a foreign competitor is at somewhat of a disadvantage, since their mistakes are not as readily forgiven.

CLICK HERE for the full text!




British cellist Steven Isserlis is to become Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of his services to music. The order, which can be awarded to any British citizen, ranks below that of a knighthood and above an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).

Alfred Schnittke, whose compositions include two cello concertos, two cello sonatas, a triple concerto for violin, viola, and cello, a cello piece arranged from the ballet Peer Gynt, a short piece called "Sounding Letters," and "Improvisation" for Solo Cello died on August 3, 1998, of a stroke in Hamburg, Germany.





by Tim Finholt

On October 3, 1998, Anner Bylsma performed the first three Bach Suites for Solo Cello at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Victoria, BC. The concert was sponsored by Early Music Society of the Islands, which is "committed to the idea that artistically successful performances of early music are historically informed. All concerts presented by the Society feature original instruments, historical performance practices and accurate scores;” or in this case, potentially accurate second hand copies of scores.

After interviewing Anner Bylsma (see interview this month), this was one concert I couldn't miss. I had to see if what we discussed was true. Will I yearn for flowing lines? Does varying the bowings in sequences and other similar passages add discernible variety and interest to the performance? Will I miss vibrato? Will I prefer the timbre of a baroque cello and gut strings to that of a modern cello with steel strings? These were the questions that preoccupied me as I took my seat.

My contemplative state was quickly jarred by an announcement that Mr. Bylsma’s originally scheduled flight was canceled and that he had to take a later one that day. To brighten his jetlagged day further, his luggage had been temporarily lost, and would be delivered to the church very soon, perhaps before the intermission. As a result, he would be performing the first half of the concert in the clothes he wore on the plane. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, he wasn’t wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts.

After joking about tying a special knot in his tie in lieu of wearing his tux, he sat down to play -- beautifully -- and all my questions were answered. In a sense, the questions became irrelevant, because the performance felt so right, or so "true" as he calls it. He has definitely transcended the "Head vs. Heart" dichotomy.

I never once felt as if he were dispassionately playing the manuscript, playing Bach's notes and nothing more. His phrasing was very clear and wonderfully human, so no sense of line was missed. His (Bach's?) varying of bowings in sequences gave the music a syncopated feel, which definitely added interest and a sense of playfulness to the music. He used vibrato only sparingly, but, because of his profound expressive ability with the bow, vibrato became more of a tool for adding variety and interest, not merely an expectation. And what a gorgeous velvety resonance his instrument had, which you don't hear on modern instruments. I found myself content to just sit back and enjoy his performance.

So the ultimate question then becomes, "Do we want to play in this manner?" Yes, we'd all like to be able to play like him, but do we agree with the Early Music Society's belief that "artistically successful performances of early music are historically informed?" If we answer "yes," then we each have a lot of work ahead of us, and a lot of unlearning to do. If we answer "no," are we just being lazy? Or can one genuinely "disagree" with the Baroque aesthetic, if such a question even makes sense?

I'll leave these questions to you.




November/December Award Website:



This is the home page for Anner Bylsma's new book. It contains quotes from his book, as well as audio clips.

**Please notify Tim Finholt 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

>> Last night I heard Sarah Chang perform Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto in D with the London Philharmonic. Several months ago, Vengerov played the same with Rostropovich and the London Symphony. Next week Heinrich Schiff plays Dvorak's you-know-what. This, following Ma's performance of the Dvorak at the Albert Hall just a month ago. Upcoming are Lynn Harrell (Don Quixote), Isserlis (Dvorak again), and one other I'm forgetting. Why don't we throw in Rostropovich and the Elgar and be done with it?

So what's my point? In a way if feel "sorry" for these immensely talented musicians who I think are being "forced" to play the same pieces over and over again. Why? Well I suppose the Albert Hall and the Barbican would look cavernously empty if the program included, say, Ma playing Lalo instead of Elgar or Dvorak.

There are a lot of points I want to bring out, but to shorten this message, I'll just post them as questions.

1. How do these musicians feel about being "exhibited" along with the crowd-pleasing warhorses?

2. Is there anything more that can be said musically or emotionally about these pieces that hasn't been expressed?

3. Is this all imaginary? Should I just shut up and be thankful that cello soloists are at least in demand, notwithstanding that their performances leave a lot to be desired (to the "knowing" cellists)?

4. Ma playing Dvorak/Elgar/Strauss begets more interest in Ma playing more Dvorak/Elgar/Strauss, and so on and on, like rotating windmills. I don't think this pattern necessarily advances more general appreciation for cello music (how many classical music fans know about Boccherini's B-Flat Cello Concerto?)

Gracias for your indulgence.

"Sancho Panza"

>>A few thoughts about vibrato:

1.Try playing without your thumb touching the neck of cello. Allow your released thumb to go wherever it wants to. If your thumb is beside you fingers, you may find greater freedom than if it opposite your second finger.

2. Place each finger with your entire arm, allowing your forearm to rotate slightly as you go from one finger to the next.

3. Release your fingers, allowing them to be close to each other rather than spread apart. Your hand, arm, etc. are freer with your fingers this way. Open the distance between fingers to reach for the next note but keep it closed as much as possible while vibrating on each note.

4. Pull your vibrato toward the flat side of the note. Firstly, because human ear accepts the top of the vibrato’s oscillation as the pitch. Secondly, when you pull to the flat side of a note, your body’s natural elasticity automatically takes it back to the note. Fore every pulled stroke you get an extra reactive motion with no additional effort. Two for the price of one!

So, the vibrato only goes from the pitch to the flat side and back, etc. It is the upper edge of your finger that establishes the length of string that vibrates and this is what determines pitch. This knowledge can help you establish a beautiful, tension-free vibrato.

A vibrato that is pushed upward doesn’t return by itself, it must be actively returned. It requires more work,it feels tighter and tends to make you play sharp.

5. You might also experiment placing your fingers on the wood of the fingerboard between the strings and on the low side of the string and play by touching the low side of the string rather than the top of the string and pressing it down against the fingerboard.

This approach can provide the ultimate in freedom of movement. It is not necessary for the string to touch the fingerboard to produce good pitch and a beautiful vibrato. The only time the string must touch the wood, is when you play pizzicato.

Victor Sazer

>> I just wanna tell you all that I love my teacher!!! Mr. X [name deleted] is wonderful!! He is mean but he does fix my problems!!!!!! He would be the teacher that I would recommend to study with!


>>Tim Finholt replies: This message has been included because it brings up an interesting question. If a teacher is "mean" or perhaps verbally abusive (derisive name calling etc.), and yet the teacher has a talent for solving technical problems, can the teacher truly be called "wonderful"? Could he actually be labeled as a "bad teacher"?



**If you have announcements, comments or reviews of music festivals, please write Roberta Rominger at **

This is the quiet season for cello festivals. Plenty of time to plan ahead, however! Here are a few things coming up in the distant future.

International Witold Lutoslawski Cello Competition February 14-21, 1999, Warsaw, Poland

The Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Lubeck, Germany, Summer 1999.

Third Australasian International Cello Festival and Competition
Christchurch, New Zealand
19 - 25 July 1999

CELLIBASH '99, St. Augustine, Florida USA, August 2-7, 1999

Manchester International Cello Festival, Manchester U.K. May 3-7, 2000.

World Cello Congress III, Baltimore, Maryland,
USA May 28 - June 4, 2000.

Leonard Rose International Cello Competition and Festival, College Park,
Maryland USA July 19-28, 2001.



**Sarah Dorsey, official ICS librarian at (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 (Library contents will be available to all Internet users; please include author and written statement of release for unlimited or limited reproduction.)**



**Members can submit announcements or news to **

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra will be holding auditions for the position of Principal Cello. Auditions in Detroit are scheduled for January 9-12, 1999. This opportunity is for immediate employment or upon mutual agreement with the winning candidate's earliest availability. Please send a detailed resume via mail or FAX by December 4, 1998 to:

Stephen Molina, Orchestra Personnel Manager
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
3711 Woodward Ave
Detroit, MI 48201
FAX: 313-576-5182

Only the most highly qualified applicants will be considered for this position. Repertoire will not be given over the telephone. The Audition Committee reserves the right to immediately dismiss any candidates not meeting the highest professional standards.



**ICS NET Resource Editor: Deborah Netanel at**

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