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vieuxtemps

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  1. "Quasi" means "almost." So "quasi allegretto" is almost as fast as allegretto, which means different things to different composers, performers, metronome makers, and Maestronetters. If Rameau wanted you to play the triplets like duples (regular eighth notes), he would have written them that way. I'd say it's safe to take the speed of other Baroque gavottes, and adjust your tempo as you see fit. Some gavottes I have in mind would sound OK at half note=69-76 or so: maybe more, maybe less.
  2. I just caught wind of the three Schubert Sonatinas Op. 137. What have you tried so far? What do you think?
  3. Zukerman was OK. He had just spoken to our youth orchestra, and I caught him on his way out. He signed my copy of the Conus Concerto. He didn't stick around after playing and conducting an all-Mozart concert that night, though. Midori, Bell, Josefowicz, Repin, McDuffie, Hahn, and Awadagin Pratt were nice. My friend's teacher got Pamela Frank's autograph when they went out to lunch, so I know the person in possession of the only McDonald's receipt signed by Pam Frank. I got Dubya's autograph when he was just Governor Dubya. I played in a quartet for his fundraiser luncheon in Atlanta (for a free lunch). It was the worst free $2000 meal I've ever had.
  4. I've read in Boris Schwartz's book that it was Elman who used the Russian hold because of his small build. The same book also says Wieniawski used it too, even though his training was Franco-Belgian. There was a webpage by Yuri Beliavsky about the Auer school, Elman and the "Jewish cantorial style," but I can't find it. Beliavsky mentions a rare record of Heifetz at 11 or so, and also says Elman introduced the Russian grip to Auer because Elman couldn't easily reach the tip of the bow otherwise. Flesch was a fan of the Russian (Art of Violin Playing, Book 1). He thought by now it would be the only bow hold taught because of its superior tonal results.
  5. One thought is to think about it more when you practice your double stops. Don't just demand intonation; demand dynamic (and tonal) evenness too. Does it tend to happen a lot in any particular part of the bow, or with certain strings? Another idea is to isolate the problem. Practice bowing two open strings from frog to tip (and back), playing as softly as you can. Aim for 30 seconds per bow. Keep the balance even, and don't allow any scratches, bumps, or swells in the sound. (Each day's practice goal should be either to go for 4-5 seconds longer or to improve evenness.) You may find that it's hardest to keep the balance at the frog and tip, or that you start favoring the upper string once you get the the upper half of the bow. Individual results may vary. Whatever dynamic you start with at the frog, maintain it all the way to the tip. Whatever dynamic you start with at the tip, maintain it all the way to the frog.
  6. Sorcerer's Apprentice is tough. Many flats and accidentals, unforgiving tempo. Fun, though. I've never played Rhapsody in Blue. I tried out for a youth orchestra with excerpts from Porgy and Bess (intro)--not too easy at the time. E major, 16th notes, some 5th position or maybe a bit higher. Gershwin's Lullaby for string orchestra should be manageable for high school and youth orchestras. It has some harmonics at the end, and I think you need a mute at some point. The Variations on a Shaker Hymn from Appalachian Spring shouldn't be too much of a problem for most youth orchestras. Copland's Outdoor Overture is probably a bit harder (melody in high register for first violins). I don't know about El Salon Mexico, but our high school band played a version of it.
  7. Is your right shoulder tense or relaxed? I don't know if it will work in this case, but long tones have made my right hand fingers dramatically more flexible. Pick an open string and try to play it for as long as possible in one bow. Keep your tone perfectly even and scratch-free, and start with very very soft dynamics (keep it soft throughout). I don't know how it worked, but once a few years ago and then again last semester, people mentioned my flexible right hand within a day or two of lots of long tones. (I usually feel the benefits of long tones when I play the next day.) That exercise also helped my bow hold by "forcing" it into a more efficient position and way of working. Try string crossing etudes that alternate between strings in long slurs (or just do open strings). Position your arm as if you were going to play on both strings at once, and use your wrist to smoothly and evenly oscillate between the strings. Your up-bow crossings should be just as smooth and even as your down bow. When you get near the frog, you'll need to use more wrist and then more fingers. Martele and collé might be good too. If they don't help your fingers, at least they're pretty good for your bow arm in general. You could also try bowing at the extremities. Starting at the frog, do a downbow halfnote that takes you to the tip. Then do 4 eighth notes (up down up down) and another halfnote, this time taking you to the frog. Do four eighth notes at the frog, then repeat the whole thing as necessary. You may find separate notes more helpful at the frog. Make sure your shoulder is relaxed (it tends to creep up when you play at the frog). Look in a mirror to see that your bow is more or less parallel to the bridge. This exercise helps smooth bow changes too.
  8. Welcome back! While you were gone, I think I found out where Yojimbo's name comes from.
  9. Beethoven #1 was my first non-Suzuki sonata. I'm preparing Tartini #9 (G minor "Didone Abbandonata") for a recital. Whatever you choose, please do not cheat yourself: play with a pianist!
  10. Could you elaborate on the shifting? (I'd listen myself, but my home computer doesn't have Internet yet.)
  11. Typical Danchenko--I'm very glad to hear you're compatible with (and not crushed by) his teaching style. He'll tear down egos (you're not alone!), but he leaves hope and violin-learning knowledge. I once had a teacher like that who tore me apart and helped me put it back together, and another the summer before who just tore me apart. (Both were Russian violists.) One of my best friends from school used to be a Danchenko student. He said Danchenko was very good at getting students to teach themselves, plus they got the benefit of his decades of performance experience: good fingerings you can't easily figure out on your own, or practical tips like "play such-and-such passage so it sounds a little harsh under your ear" (but it sounds just fine in the audience). I asked if he ever demonstrates on his own violin to make a point. "His English is so good, he never has to." Where are you living and taking lessons? Do you go to his rep classes? Has he told you how much unfulfilled potential you have?
  12. Players who support the violin more with the left hand hold down or pull the chin inwards (against the lip of the chinrest) for big shifts from high to low positions. Or, if you're thumb is long and flexible enough, you could use it to support the instrument while your fingers are in high position, and use the thumb as a pivot.
  13. I've seen Haapanen's name on a few juries for international competitions. I can't believe Minjae Kim didn't make the semi-finals! She got 2nd prize in the Paganini last year, and she's an incredible musician and violinist.
  14. 1) The current shoulder rest thread is too long. I'm posting here free of the clutter. I don't intend this to be a huge discussion/flamewar. This is just a list of observations. 2) Flesch wrote that the violinist should be able to hold up the instrument without the left hand for at least 30 seconds straight to ensure one can play in a way that leaves the left hand free. 3) Milstein, on the other hand, said the collarbone and left hand were enough. Raising the shoulder was a waste of effort to support a violin, though I think his point was more against shrugging the shoulder as opposed to needing static support (a pad). Keep in mind that Milstein was also against practicing scales. A little off topic: observe in pictures/videos how low he held the violin on his body. His chin is near the left edge of the chinrest. (Turning your head to the left puts less space between your jaw/chin and shoulder/collarbone. I don't know if that's the point. Thibaud also held his violin "low" like that.) 4) I've seen one violinist with no pads whatsoever and two cosmetic sponge users raise their left shoulders just a little bit to support the instrument. All three play better than I do, practice more than I do, and don't seem to be in a lot of pain as a result (one of them is competing in the Indianapolis this fall). I'm told a famous anti-rest teacher said to position the arm/elbow in a way that makes the left shoulder rise naturally (since it's attached to the arm, not because the player is raising just the shoulder). That led me to believe that only a few (like Milstein) can really use just the left hand and collarbone. 5)Maia Bang wrote that Auer only demanded that his artist-pupils go without a pad (because he expected the most from them). She either said or implied that it doesn't matter so much for amateurs. 6)We need to make a clearer distinction between a cosmetic sponge or chamois cloth for friction, multiple cosmetic sponges or a thicker pad for extra support, and a shoulder rest (those mechanical contraptions with feet, etc.). Mimi Zweig is quite opposed to the shoulder rest, but advocates something like a Playonair for those who need extra support. 7)Most of the great violinists I've seen in pictures (playing and otherwise) have less space between their jaws and shoulders (by neck shortness or extra jowls). I'd really like to see how players like Kathleen Parlow managed. 8)If you lean your head and neck forward, that makes lots of space between your jaw and the top of your chest (and it doesn't look too natural). Shoulder rests are a potential means of making this posture possible while playing. I've seen 2 people play that way over the summer. 9)My personal complaint about the shoulder rest is it made it easy to clamp down with the had and shoulder, creating lots of tension in my neck and shoulders. I find that (and shifting) a little harder to do without the Kun. 10)The Kun-style shoulder rest (as opposed to a sponge, or cloth, or stolen Galamian studio doorstop) is a relatively new invention. Thus, "no great violinist of the past ever used one" is not the greatest argument.
  15. "Galamian's book also says at the end of it, re. the attitude of a teacher... " That same passage that you misleadingly quoted a small part of says the teacher should only lose his/her temper with the student (no mention of interrupting parents) as part of a plan (psychology, because simply saying "please do this, rebellious young person" is not always enough in the real world), not out of actual emotion. And an earlier part of that same book also mentions that a book is no substitute for a real person. Looks like the old man beat you to it. Your story confirms Galamian's dedication to his students, and hints at his consistent 55 minutes of undivided attention no matter who the student. Thank you for sharing.
  16. Do any of you know what model chinrest is on the Brookings Amati and Kreisler del Gesu at the Library of Congress? They look like the same model. Also, does anyone still make them that way? A teacher at my school has a copy of the original Flesch model chinrest (not center-mounted), made by Charles Beare. Does anyone know where else I could find such a chinrest? I don't have a car, so London's a long haul for me.
  17. Does anyone know what model chinrest is on the Brookings Amati and Kreisler del Gesu (at the Library of Congress)? The contour and lip looked pretty comfortable. And I'll bet the violins weren't so bad either.
  18. If you're going to rant and rave about the shoulder rest being the devil, the least you could do is stop using empty arguments. I am not a great violinist of the past, present, or future, nor will I ever be one. Maybe I'm just happy scraping away, out of tune, not a care in the world in the privacy of my own home. That's my problem (and my neighbors'), not yours. To quote my teacher: "what's the point of tone if you can't play?!?" Oistrakh said the volume of sound lost from a pad is negligible if it keeps him from raising his shoulder out of nervousness. Someone else, maybe Flesch, said Auer was incorrect about a third of the volume being lost by a pad that touches the instrument (the person said it's much less). If you speak against a pad that touches the back of the instrument directly but like one under the jacket, doesn't it still make your jacket touch the instrument more? If it doesn't increase contact with the back of the instrument, then what exactly does it do? For the record, I do not use a shoulder rest anymore. I'm not immune to neck and shoulder pain, but it's much less when I don't have a deathgrip on the instrument. Ditching the Kun didn't make me sound much better; working on my tone and practice standards did. Oh, and Kabal can indeed play in first and third position, having recorded commercially in both. (I think I'll get the album, just to hear him. I guess the band's alright, too.)
  19. There's a CD of Oistrakh and Rostropovich playing their respective Shostakovich #1 Concertos, and Melodiya has released a 5-disc set: Brahms 2 & 3 and Franck Sonatas w/ Richter; Tchaik & Sibelius w/ Rozhdestvensky, Dvorak & Brahms w/ Kondrashin; Shostakovich and Bartok #1 Sonatas w/ Richter; and short pieces. I think it's relatively inexpensive (I got one at Tower for $35). My violist friend likes the Sibelius with Ormandy better than the Rozhdestvensky, but either one is great. See if your school music library has videos. There's one out there of Oistrakh playing Leclair & Debussy Sonatas, Tzigane, etc. w/ Frieda Bauer, a video about Oistrakh's life ("Artist of the People"), and maybe something else I'm forgetting.
  20. vieuxtemps

    Trills

    "Personally, I'll aspire towards perfection, not towards being a clone of Oistrakh and Kogan." How do you define perfection in art? Is it really possible, ever? I understand today's clone violinists are as such because they've been trying to imitate Heifetz's technical consistency while neglecting trifling details such as "only Heifetz sounded like and interpreted like Heifetz on top of that monster technique." If you don't think Heifetz's musical strengths were a major component of his artistry, I have two words for you: Jan Kubelik. And even if Heifetz was perfect, where would we be if every violinist played exactly like him? Mr. Redrobe's past comment about Elvis impersonators comes to mind. Aside from bow changes, how much more technique do you want out of Oistrakh? The guy could do a flawless Paganini Caprice #17 with frozen hands. I prefer Rabin, Oistrakh, Ysaye, Kreisler, and Hassid to a walking MIDI file player.
  21. I'm sorry to see Mr. Redrobe go, but you can't deny the reasons behind it. Daisy and Mr. Darnton posted contrary to Mr. Redrobe, and were very reasonable. Daisy even conceded that her experience may be an isolated one and apologized, even though she was blatantly belittled as just "Daisy" next to a self-proclaimed internationally known soloist. And Mr. Redrobe, great soloist and assistant to Erick Friedman that he is, felt he had to waste the time of himself, Ithak Perlman, Aaron Rosand, and Vadim Repin just to prove that he is right and Mr. Darnton is bad. There was sarcasm in the comments accompanying his photograph of his violin. ("Sarcasm is the protest of teh weak.") The attitude of that post was one of anger that others did not know something so obvious. So why the rancor if it's so obvious and true? Veritas vos liberabit. And it has. I understand Mr. Galamian was adamant that students follow his teachings. You could say he had strong opinions, just like Mr. Bronstein, Mr. Rosand, Mr. Redrobe, and Mr. Friedman. David Oistrakh wasn't so opinionated. As far as he was concerned, his student could do anything as long as it worked for the student. I got more out of Sergei Girshenko's masterclass than I did from Mr. Friedman's. If you're offended, relax: that proves how little I know if I can't appreciate Friedman's knowledge as much, right? Anyway, not all of us are ready for Erick Friedman's tricks of the trade, especially when we're still struggling with the trade. Trashing people for having different opinions is contrary to the spirit of discussion of any kind. If you're so right and everyone else is so wrong, then either a) let the smart readers see for themselves, or let reality prove it for you. (To do otherwise and have to insist on one's own high qualifications suggests insecurity.) Hitler had strong opinions and voiced them repeatedly. But I guess he was successful, since he pulled Germany up and rose to the top of his profession, right? Furthermore, this board isn't just for uberprofessionals and aspiring Legendary Violinists of Heifetz Fame. So militant views against "unqualified" teachers seem a bit out of place. What if you applied Mr. Redrobe's doctor/teacher example to your parents? Would you fire your parents because they might have asked for advice, even though they performed a great service to you for free? Should I quit my intended math major because I had a couple bad teachers in high school and now I'll never be Einstein, Leibnitz, or Nash? The world isn't perfect. Neither are people, and it's painfully obvious right now. As for the language, I recall many Maestronet members calling for Mr. Redrobe to stop the innuendo. The language was not an isolated incident. It was a frequent problem. If it's any consolation, Berl Senofsky was fired from the Peabody Conservatory for sexual harrassment. He was on the faculty for 31 years, beginning 10 years after he left his Cleveland Orchestra associate concertmaster job (Under Szell) and became the first, last, and only American winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition (1955). His roster of students included 1994 Paganini Competition winner Bin Huang (before she won the competition). Yet he was still fired. "I am a man first, an artist second." -Pau Casals
  22. By the (f)laws of acoustics, an open E tuned to sound like a perfect fifth with an A below it has to be a bit sharp compared to if you tuned it by the half steps you'd get from an equally divided octave. An in-tune piano's E would sound a bit lower than yours, since if pianos tuned their fifths to sound as pretty as ours, eventually they'd keep going sharp and mess up the whole system, which is why you don't see a lot of pre-Bach (Well-Tempered Clavier) with more than 4 sharps or flats. Keeping that in mind, if you were to play that B on the A string against your open E and you wanted to double stop to sound in tune, you'd have to play the B a little sharp because perfect fourths aren't as perfect as they say they are. Maybe it's those two effects together. For the math geeks: take A440, and multiply by 1.5 (or 3/2, since counting the fundamental, the 3rd and 2nd notes of the series are a fifth apart). That gives you the frequency of an E that sounds like a perfectly in-tune fifth when played with A440. To get the frequency of a note one equally tempered half step higher, you multiply by the 12th root of 2 (because if you did that 12 times for 12 half steps, you'd really be multiplying by 2, and 2:1 is the ratio for octaves). Do this seven times to get a fifth up, so you're actually multiplying 440 by 2 to the 7/12 power. (I like to use a calculator for that one.) With the right software on your computer, you can hear how pretty those two pitches sound together. Hooray!
  23. If you're in college or will be soon, consider stuff like the College Light Opera Company. It's 10 weeks of the summer in Falmouth, MA, on Cape Cod. You typically rehearse in the morning, go to the beach in the afternoon, and perform at night. Pay is $1000 for the summer. Two services per day, six days a week, and both the vocal company and the audience appreciate the orchestra very much since only about two other summer stock theaters feature a real orchestra. When I was there, I was told many CLOC alumni end up in New York, both from the vocal company and the orchestra. Let me know if you want more info. I know a few people who have gone and enjoyed it very much, and I went for 3 weeks this summer (I left because I went for the wrong reasons and hated it there).
  24. I haven't tried any Beethoven yet, but from playing Dvorak 6 and watching Beethoven 59/1, I'd say Dvorak is friendlier than middle and late Beethoven. I think Op. 18 should be more manageable. Mendelssohn might be a good candidate. Try Smetana "From My Life" as well. I'd say Grieg is around Dvorak 6 level, but more fun to play than to hear. It's first violin heavy, like that Mendelssohn F minor. Mozart's first few quartets and Haydn could be good to get the group started. I like Mozart K. 157 (C major).
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