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BillW

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  1. in 2 weeks time there is a book launch in Cremona of the first comprehensive monography about Nikolai Kittel.

    Written by the experts on Kittel: Grünke, Gabriel and Chins. 30 Kittel bows in it. And some photos of documents contributed by kenway.

    There will be a lot of your questions and answers in it. www.nikolai-kittel.com

    best

    bowlover

  2. I recently finished J.S. Bach: A Life in Music by Peter Williams. It complements Christoph Wolff's biography of six or seven years ago, J.S. Bach: The Learned Composer. Williams takes as his starting point the Obituary by Agricola and C.P.E. Bach that was published a few years after Bach's death and dissects it, trying to add context to the bald statements in the Obituary in light of our knowledge of Bach and the environment in which he worked. One of the book's strong points is that it asks more questions than it answers. It also discusses the music in more detail than the Wolff biography (although Wolff wrote in the preface that he would have more to say about the music in a subsequent book). I highly recommend it to anyone who has a consuming interest in Bach's life and music (and who doesn't?).
  3. Lincii is Linz, Austria. This maker seems to have been active in the latter part of the 18th century and the label is most likely fake.
  4. Maybe instead of conducting competitions based on quality of workmanship and tone, the VSA should hold violinmaking races.
  5. What's particularly puzzling or amusing is the photo of the label, which seems to be taken from an article entitled "So, You Found a Stradivarius Violin!," most likely explaining how cheap factory violins with a fake Strad label turn up all the time.
  6. "OK, basic point of principle....try to play baroque and classical as clean as possible. Any student sliding in this music is likely to be shown the door!!!" Slides seem so inherent and natural to violin playing that I wonder whether violinists in the 18th century played as cleanly as contemporary violinists are expected to play music from that period. And did 18th century singers also avoid slides, too? I suspect that the modern attitude towards slides (and vibrato, too) in 18th century music is based on books on violin playing from that period that deprecate slides (and vibrato) precisely because they were widely used and perhaps sometimes abused.
  7. Most of the information in my previous messages on the history of the S&Ps can be found in the introduction to the Baerenreiter edition. Incidentally, there is a curious slurring discrepancy in the Sarabande of the b minor Partita between the Baerenreiter edition and the Bach autograph (as photocopied in the Galamian edition). There is a figure consisting of two sixteenth notes followed by an eighth note that appears three times in the Sarabande (measures 5 and 27). Each time the autograph seems to slur the second sixteeth note with the eighth note--a strange and unviolinistic bowing--but the supposedly "Urtext" Baerenreiter edition, without comment, slurs all three notes together, which makes more sense musically. Perhaps the Baerenreiter editor decided that the tie was meant to include all three notes but the double stop written under the first sixteenth note prevented Bach from writing it that way.
  8. Both of the Steinhardt books are wonderful. He writes very well, with a light touch, and gives just the right mix of entertaining anecdotes and serious reflections. By contrast, I found Isaac Stern's autobiography not very illuminating. The Roth book is entertaining but very opinionated. He seems bent on proving that Heifetz was the greatest violinist ever (a fact that may be true but doesn't call for verification), at the expense of both Paganini and especially Milstein. Also, he seems to be obsessed with the practice of starting to vibrate on a long note after the beginning of the note (at least, that's what I think he' referring to), which he detests. Has anyone read Carl Flesch's autobiography? It's fascinating, not only for many piquant anecdotes, but also for his critical survey of the outstanding violinists he had heard in his lifetime, starting with Joachim, Sarasate and Ysaye and extending up to the 1930s.
  9. "It is correct, I think, that the violin Ms is Bach's own hand whereas the cello suite is that of Anna Magdalena?" That's correct. There is no Bach autograph of the cello Suites, as there is of the violin Sonatas and Partitas. Modern editions of the cello Suites are prepared from several 18th century copies, including Anna Magdalena's. The copies, I understand, differ in many respects. Since a Bach autograph of the Sonatas and Partitas is in existence, early copies don't contribute very much to modern editions. However, there is a small number of obvious errors even in Bach's autograph. Also, Bach's slurs are often difficult to interpret, and sometimes editors follow the other sources. I believe there is one copy that is contemporaneous with but not by Bach that gives shorter versions of some of the movements, which some scholars think may reflect an earlier version by Bach. Although the first printed edition of the complete Sonatas and Partitas didn't appear until the first decade of the 19th century (1802, if memory serves), these works circulated widely in manuscript among violinists in the 18th century. Incidentally, the date I originally gave in an earlier message for the Poelchau's discovery of one of the early copies (1804) in St. Petersburg was wrong--it was discovered in 1814.
  10. Incidentally, if anyone is interested, the Bach autograph only turned up in the 1880s. A ms. had been discovered in 1814 in St. Petersburg by the German collector Poelchau, and that was long thought to be in Bach's hand but ultimately turned out to be a copy by someone else. (Poelchau's notes states that he found it among some papers of a recently deceased pianist that were going to be sold to a butter shop, presumably to be used as wrapping paper.) Poelchau's ms. eventually found its way into the Royal Prussian Library (which is now the Preussischer Kulturbesitz collection in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin). The Bach autograph had been in the possession of Bach's granddaughter (the daughter of Wilhelm Friedemann, I think) and then seems to have been acquired by someone else in the mid-19th c. When it became known in the 1880s, Joachim tried to persuade Brahms to buy it, but Brahms had his doubts about its authenticity, and it was acquired by Wilhelm Rust, a Bach scholar and composer who was a successor of Bach at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. On his death it was acquired by the Royal Prussian Library and is also now in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (along with many other Bach manuscripts). The very extensive Bach ms. collection in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin was recently treated chemically to prevent deterioration which was beginning to occur.
  11. "BTW - anyone know where the autograph is preserved?" Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Berlin State Library, Prussian Cultural Property Foundation)
  12. Tartini flourished in the mid-18th century (1692-1770), only about 250 years ago. By that time the violin was by no means in its infancy. "I suppose, most of all, I just object to the use of Vivaldi as the example of Baroque perfection. If you had argued Bach and said something about the Magnificat or the Solo Sonatas and Partitas for Violin or the Suites for Cello... heck, as much as I believe that there is a possibility that Bach was a divine messenger, I still wouldn't say that music has been on the decline." Well, even if the Four Seasons isn't the standard, we can definitely say that music has all been downhill since Pachelbel's Canon.
  13. Contacting the publisher might be a good idea for music that was originally published relatively recently, but much of the music we play was originally printed or published many years ago and it's unlikely that someone at the publisher will have any idea what the correct reading is. The International editions edited by Francescatti and Galamian date from the 1950s or 1960s, and much of Peters' and Schirmer's catalogues was originally published before World War I, some items even before 1900. That's why they're comparatively cheap (although publishers have been unconscionably jacking up prices on older stuff that costs them very little to produce--wouldn't you if you could get away with it?). Those older editions weren't prepared to contemporary standards of accuracy, and many of them contain errors or deliberate alterations of the composer's score that had crept into the tradition in still earlier editions (until the mid-20th century or so many editors had little compunction about making small "improvements" to the score where they felt like it). And even the first printed editions of many works, supposedly prepared under the composer's supervision or at least with some involvement on the composer's part, can be riddled with errors. I can recall one teacher taking me to task for playing the wrong notes in a cadence in Bach's double concerto. His circa 1900 Schirmer edition was different from my International edition from the 1970s, which I think is based on the original Bachgesellschaft edition prepared with some scruples in the mid-19th century. He insisted he'd never heard it played the way I did and that my edition was mistaken, until we looked at several other editions including the Henle (which purports to be an "Urtext," whatever that means, and was supposedly prepared to strict scholarly standards of accuracy based on the Neue Bachgesellschaft edition or something), and these confirmed the reading of the International edition. The bottom line: you're on your own when it comes to deciding whether a suspicious accidental (or lack thereof) should be played as written.
  14. Re the New York Times article: I don't want to be close-minded and I'm hopeful that science can help violin makers produce better sounding, less expensive instruments, but I've been seeing articles like that all my life (and the sound of the new instrument always--always--compares favorably in a contest with a Strad or other old Italian instrument), and yet most folks are still using violins made the old-fashioned way.
  15. "Then it proceeds with the same notes except each is an octave lower. This time the B does not have a flat sign in front of it... can it be inferred that the B is to be played flat in this case?" An accidental only applies to other notes in the same measure that are exactly the same as the note before which the accidental originally appeared, not to the same note in different octaves. However, printed editions of music, unless they have been very, very carefully proofed, often contain numerous typographical errors--and the errors tend to perpetuate themselves in subsequent editions. It sounds as if you've spotted an error in the Francescatti edition. Some editions such as those by Henle, which bill themselves as "Urtexts," are more carefully proofed and make an effort to eliminate errors that infected prior editions, but it's probably not humanly possible to produce an absolutely error-free edition of an extended musical composition.
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