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Posts posted by DR. S

  1. Actually if you listen carefully, none of the sustained up or down bow staccatos are particularlary fast (more like the 16ths at 120 that DGV mentions, which is stall faster than I can do it) - fast but not nearly so fast as you might think you are hearing.   Faster note are usually small groups done with a richochet bow.   I find no difference in difficulty between up or downbow, and might even find downbow more comfortabel, but have never had that click that let me overcome the speed barrier to make mine useful.   I had that breakthrough with vibrato in my mid teens, but never with UB or DB spicatto, much to my chagrin.  And really, it is a small minority of players who can really do a 'fast,' rhythmically rock solid, and well controlled UB/DB spicatto.  I continue to work on it.  I would dearly love to play Hora Staccato some day,but I need increase my speed quite a few clicks to have one useful for performance of anything really fun.

  2. One of teh local school districts has an amazing orchestra program, some school have as many as 5 orchestras and they play incredibly well, yet almost none of the kids keep playing after they graduate.  The local community orchestra hardly sees any alumni from these schools.  These kids are there for one thing, to win awards.  None of them go or are even encouraged to go to Symphony Concerts or the Opera or Ballet, and they develop very little appreciation for classical music,  It is really sad.  I remember when the purpose of a fine art elective was to learn appreciation and grow spiritually. 

  3. I have played on plenty of old italians that can definitely be outclassed by a good modern, but I have played on a few that a modern cannot touch in one area - feel.  I think there are moderns that in all other areas, are the equal to the finest old italians, but the responsiveness and ease of playing of a really top notch old italian stands out.  It may be nothing more than age,  Perhaps in 300 years there will be plenty of 20th and 21st century violins that have the same qualities.   Also,over the last 300 years, the cream has had time to rise to the top.  I bet that a really fine instrument had a better chance of surviving the centuries than a piece of junk and the same will be true in the centuries ahead.   

  4. Back in the 60s and 70s in Fort Worth, they started kids in the 4th grade, but there were no orchestras until middle school (6th grade), though we did usually work up a few ensemble pieces for a concert at the end of the years.  I've heard of starting grades from 3rd to 6th in the area, but one area district just started a new program and are starting the kids in kindergarten or 1st grade I think - amazingly enlightened.  Wind instruments were always started in 6th grade.  My best friend's Father was a violinist and gave his son some instruction before 3rd grade and the school program accepted him in the 3rd grade, but that was a rare exception.  An interesting side note is that most kids started on violin but the teacher wanted all the instruments in her classes, so in 5th grade she encouraged many of her better students to switch to cello or viola (they could catch up faster).  Thus in Fort Worth it was a joke about how great the viola and cello sections were in the high schools and youth orchestra, and there was some truth to it. 

  5. I was in it from 1974 to 1977.  There were two orchestras, I was Principle violist of the top orchestra in '77.  We played the last movement of Shostakovitch 5th.  We did not do full concerts then as the 'concert' was a combined deal with the band orchestra and choir performing at intervals on the floor of a convention center arena (Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio twice), so horrible acoustics.  


    Be clear, while the school systems point with pride at these orchestra, I doubt that even the best school program had more than a minimal influence on the skills these kids have, these are almost all the products of private lessons, most starting in Suzuki way earlier that the public schools start their programs.  I'd be curious to see the percentage of kids that actually started a string instrument in the public school and who go on to make the top orchestra.  I probably would not have even made any of the orchestras if I were auditioning now with the skill set I had then (I didn't even lear how to hold the bow properly until after I graduated from high School).   When I started, Suzuki had hardly been heard of in most of the US, much less, Texas.  I started in the 4th grade and did not have a private lesson until midway through 6th grade.  At the time of my freshman year audition for All-State I had never played higher than 3rd position and was still uncomfortable shifting, I had to learn a Kreutzer Etude that went probably up to 10th or 12th position (the ascending arpeggio etude). Somehow I managed well enough to get into the 2nd orchestra, that would never happen today.  As a conservatory student, I studied Don Juan for a year before I could play it well and the two times I played it professionaly, much of the orchestra spent a lot of time faking.   Its just amazing how these kids can play now though I must admit my All-State recording of the Schostakovitch is pretty good.

  6. "There's also the example of Banksy artwork selling for tens of thousands of dollars in a gallery (recognized) and his artwork not selling on the streets of Manhattan for $60 (unrecognized)."



    The value of Art has gotten to the point of where it is the name that you buy not the quality of the art.  Similar to violins.  I have played old Cremonese violins that were worth well into the 6 digits because of who/when/where they were made, that if you put a unknown modern maker label in it would not sell for $1500, they are that bad. 

  7. It tells us that his playing was beyong description.  That it left the norms in the dust.  That experienced critics and the best peer violinists of his day alike were all equally amazed, so much so as to not even allow jealousy from his 'rivals'.   Liszt, after hearing Pagannini quit playing publically for a year realizing that he had to raise the bar for piano playing, too try to emulate on the piano, what Pagannini was doing on the violin.  I read that Schubert bought tickets to a performance and took all his friends describing it as the most amazing musical experience they will ever have. 

    We can only speculate that modern violinists are as good as Pagannini, at least technically, but the universal acclaim and recurring themes in the descriptions of his playing do indicate that if he were here today, we would indeed be astonished.   People back then were as capable, intelligent and skilled as those today - and in fact, if you were to believe many scientists - more so.  Today we have great violinists due to a huge population to draw from, so great talent and skill is still bound to show up. 

    I have always thought his compositions had much more merit to them than he is given credit for.  The operatic nature of his concertos would be amazing in the hands of a great musician who did not struggle with the technical aspects of getting the notes.  Pagannini, apparently could play his concertos and concert peices like you and I could play a C major scale.  The technical passages were punctuation and ornamentation to the music, and when he played, he apparently never lost the music amid the pyrotechnics.  I would be very curious to hear his use of tone color, and hear his delicate touch. 

  8. Chirstopher Jacoby - No not batty at all.  Since at the time he really just made instruments for his own enjoyment, he had all the time in the world to finish an instrument.  He liked the color his instruments took on when the oil undercoat was given time to oxidize and age.    It probably happened at first because he got sidetracked with other things and left some instruments to be varnished for quite some time.  He was a successful home builder/remodeler, but his passion was violin making.  He built himself a dedicated shop and had wood he had bought as a young man in Chicago aging in the rafters - very good wood at that.  Whoever got that wood when he passed away hit the jackpot.  When my instrument was made in 1984, the wood was probably already near 50 years old. 

  9. I agree with SteveA.   I stated that the inside on my violin was sealed with oil, but so was the outside.  The make usually sealed his instrument then let them age often for years before applying varnish.  He let the oil oxidize to a deep golden color then varnish with clear r lightly colored varnish to give a deep rich golden color.  A friend of mine who had an instrument made for him by this maker actually played it 'white' for over a year while it aged. 

  10. Depression is such a difficult thing to deal with.  The current medical approach is drugs that can often have unintended side affects appear without warnings that often make things worse.  So many artists and creative people suffer from bi-polar disorder or manic-depression.  The down times are the price they pay for the super creativity and high energy periods.  The best solution is a tight, vigilant support group of friends and family to quickly intervene.

  11. Having some good experiences help, but often it takes perseverance to get them.   My first concerto experience was very stressful, two weeks before the concert I was informed that we could not play the piece I had prepared, and I had to switch to another concerto.  Luckily I had another work still well under my fingers, but still, preparing for a performance in that short a time made the entire thing nerve racking, particularly when I decided to learn a new cadenza for the performance.  My only real goof was missing and easy shift in the beginning of the cadenza - I got so mad I played the hell out the rest of the piece!


    I had one of those experiences a couple of years ago playing the Arpeggione sonata (viola) on a recital where I almost felt removed from my body, and I was on automatic pilot, it was more like I was directing than playing, a wonderful yet terrifying experience (after it was over anyway).  The performance was quite good I think.   And it happened again to some extent in a recital last summer when I played the Beethoven Spring Sonata - in this case the hall was so wonderful that it allowed me to use a wide palette of colors in the performance with such wonderful feedback that it inspired confidence.  I forgot about the notes and thought about the music and texture. 

    For some reason I find Orchestra Solos as frightening as recitals or concertos.

  12. IMDB says it originally released in Germany on October 31st 2013 and slowly has released around he world.  It is slated for US release in January 2015.  Reviews are luke warm to downright hostile, though most seem to think David Garrett did okay in his acting debut.   Currently there is no US format DVD version available.  Probably will not be shown where I live, never got to see "A Late Quartet" (though the trailers really did not appeal to me,) and it has not come out on cable as far as I have been able to find, nor on DVD to any outlets I have access to, to rent or stream.   The loss of Blockbuster has actually reduced the number of movies available to the population in general.  Especially if you like movies that appeal to a more niche market.  Can rarely find anything worth seeing on Netflix. 

  13. Carl, the issue of taste is separate from ability/capability.

    Will, I got to play on a marvelous Bergonzi from time to time years ago.  This instrument, by all accounts was as good as some of the best Strads in the world. I know of one person who had a very fine Strad on loan who would still occassionally borrow this Bergonzi for concerto performances.  Unless you have actually played on an instrument like this, there is no way you can understand what is being talked about here.  Perhaps many modern instruments have comparable sound qualities in sonority and richness, but nothing modern that I have come across even comes close to the feel and ease of response.   I personally think it is age as much as crafsmanship.  Many of today's modern instruments may, in a couple hundred years be just as sublime, but it is indescribable what one of these instruments can do - or perhaps better stated - it is indescribable what one can do with one of these instruments.