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Stephen Fine

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Everything posted by Stephen Fine

  1. I would definitely commission a bunch of instruments. My teacher growing up had a fancy 3/4 size bow that she would award and a fancy 3/4 violin she would sometimes loan out. I'd love to have a few fancy fractional size instruments. Some people have a wine closet, I'd have a violin/viola closet. I want a da Salo viola. I want a Vuillaume. But I would definitely buy some fancy bows and commission some fancy bows. Have you seen bejeweled bows by Delphine Petitjean?
  2. I found the music disturbing as well (at first). There is something dystopic about it. Also, I found the title a bit foreboding. Nice post, but maybe you could edit out the HUGE blank space.
  3. I included the program notes. But here they are again (in English): https://web.stanford.edu/~applemk/portfolio-works-darmstadt-kindergarten.html JACK Quartet reproduced the notes in the description underneath the video. And here's the score: https://web.stanford.edu/~applemk/scores/Darmstadt Kindergarten.pdf
  4. For what it's worth, I've shown it to a room full of children and they enjoyed it. It's got appeal if your preconceptions aren't wound too tight. I think the piece is really really cool. I've watched the performance a few times now. What I find fascinating about the score is the interaction between the visual translation and my ears/brain. Even the first time I watched it, I was able to "hear" the translation, but it definitely improved upon repeated viewings. I would tell you that, indeed, this music is more difficult than a quartet by Bartok, Schubert, or Beethoven. But only because Bartok, Schubert, and Beethoven have all been done for a century or two. Something I've realized over the past few decades of listening to new music is that it takes time to figure out how to perform it. The first group never quite gets a fair shot at something difficult. JACK definitely benefited from Kronos performing the piece, but it's not like they've been seeing it performed their whole lives. PS- if you want to try to be open minded, try thinking about it differently... it's not "crap," you just didn't like it. The world is large. What is important and imperative to one group of people might be completely negligible to another. It's not all for you. PPS- Phil, when is a live performance of a string quartet not performance art? We talk about costuming and choreography even when performing Haydn. I think the visual aspect of a string quartet is hugely important for an audience. (We just don't talk about it as much because we like to think that what we're doing with our instruments is the only thing that matters.) I also like that the piece explicitly addresses the issue of audience enjoyment of watching physical movement.
  5. There are several truly excellent online resources that will be mentioned in this thread. It's a great question. I have been absolutely amazed at the generosity of Mimi Zweig. She is a phenomenally successful and thoughtful teacher. Her resource, stringpedagogy.com demonstrates how best to utilize the Suzuki Method (and will give plenty of ideas to people not using the Suzuki liturgy). This resource is a MUST for people who teach beginners (or for beginners who want to watch videos of a master teacher). I think we also generally like Sassmannhaus here at Maestronet, over at violinmasterclass.com If you're an older student who wants a taste of musicology and you haven't heard Bernstein's The Unanswered Question, it's a classic and easily accessible. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fHi36dvTdE
  6. How large was the "student instrument"? Bigger isn't always better, but to find a "better" instrument under 16" is highly unusual. But once you get over 16" I don't notice any improvement in sound the larger you go. E.g. I wouldn't expect a 17" viola to sound better than a 16.25" viola. It might, but I wouldn't expect it.
  7. I like the piece, but even the naysayers among you will have to be impressed at the technical prowess on display here. As we say in the biz, holy crap: (I'm not seeing it embedded, so here's the link.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hF0LIJNdhss
  8. You'll get a few replies over many years here. If you're really curious, you should probably contact a professional researcher or visit a librarian in New York who can advise you. What you're looking for is a needle in a haystack. (His obituary made the New York Times in September 1962) (His company was acquired by D'Addario in 1982, their Kaplan Rosin and strings are named after him)
  9. I think this is a good comparison. As someone who's taken both music theory and Latin. Those silent letters help me to guess at the meaning of a word I've never seen before. And those double sharps and flats and those modulations upon modulations help me to think "Oh, crap!"
  10. I'm not sure you would hear much if the harpsichord was in tune. An in tune harpsichord is reasonably similar to an in tune piano. You would have to play it yourself in a few different keys to experience the difference. I hope you have the experience some day. It's enlightening. As for the idea that it "doesn't matter"... I guess you're right? In all our aesthetic arguments here it comes down to how subjective the interpretation of art can be. And sometimes little things make big differences. For example, Schubert's Arpeggione is in a-minor, but a friend and I played through a g-minor transcription and a whole bunch of technical and color issues became much clearer. The arpeggione had a low open A string! But you're talking about solo keyboard works where the keyboard is an equal tempered instrument. In those cases, I guess you're right that it doesn't matter too much a step or two here or there.
  11. I think you're missing my point or thinking it insignificant. Even on the piano, the difference of a fifth or a fourth is a change in color. But I think to make your question fair, you have to specify what music you're talking about. Sometimes, keys are chosen for reasons, sometimes they're not. If you're suggesting that sometimes it seems like it's on a whim, I'd have to agree. I'll tell you, learning to tune a harpsichord was an amazing experience. Really makes the physics clear.
  12. Surely a piece transposed from C major to G major is set (at least) either a 5th higher or a 4th lower? This is a significant change. The level of significance depends on the instruments involved.
  13. There's a great little book that I sometimes recommend, How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and why you should care) by Ross Duffin. Pianos sound different in different registers. Just like the human voice. Tessitura is very important. And then, as everyone is saying, our instruments ring in particular ways.
  14. I was more confused about that than you'd think a decade or so ago. But then he went from assistant conductor at Cleveland to associate conductor at San Francisco to chief conductor at Lucerne. And as of September he left Lucerne to become Music Director at the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. Cool career.
  15. I was an undergraduate there. I loved it! Can't recommend it enough for a true liberal arts education. And Shepherd is definitely one of the world's great music schools. The facilities and faculties and orchestras are all first rate. While I was there, a student won a chair in Chicago. Another won a chair in Concertgebouw and then principal in the Met. The cellist in my string quartet freshman year is principal in Israel now. The 2 bassists I played with my junior and senior year chamber music are now bassists in the LA Phil. The conducting student while I was there was James Gaffigan. A violinist a year ahead of me was Caroline Shaw. It felt exceptional while I was there... and in hindsight, it was. I was mostly sequestered behind the hedges at Rice; social life was largely on campus, but I had a teaching job at a music studio that got me out and about some, plus, the much-hailed construction of the lightrail my senior year got us downtown a bit more.
  16. I loved living in Texas. I don't love Houston's traffic, but I regard it as one of America's great cities. The food, art, entertainment, the people, the medical center, Rice University... So nice. The lifelong Texans I knew there all regarded Texas independence as a wacko fringe idea, probably something they learned in their required History of Texas classes in public schools. I found it both romantic and hilarious at once.
  17. I bought a violin from them a few years back. It was ok. At some point I'll have it set up a little better and then I'll have a beater/loaner for students.
  18. I think it's on a case-by-case, composer-by-composer basis for quite a while. Standardization seems like it came (slowly, somewhat) with music publishing houses. Even Bach sometimes seems to mean different things at different times with his dotted rhythms.
  19. No argument in this performance. They decided that the dots were shorthand for triplets. Common performance practice. Playing triplets against dotted rhythm would give this a wildly different feel, wouldn't it?
  20. Pinkie and pink entered the American lexicon via different etymological routes. I'd say pinko is pejorative, not derogatory.
  21. Not in the slightest. I'm a bit nervous wondering what word you're thinking of.
  22. The stretch between low-2 and 4 is a big stretch in First Position. Practice reaching it every day, taking care not to over-exert your hand and before long it will be easy. This is a very common problem for beginners. I think along the same lines as Andrew's "finger dancing", make sure your hand structure rotates to support the pinky side, if your hand is "back" towards your thumb and first finger, it will be much harder to reach that fourth finger. Especially on the G-string, you may find that bringing your left elbow further inside will give your pinky more length.
  23. Arensky was Rachmaninov's Composition professor at the Moscow Conservatory. I love Arensky! Such beautiful music.
  24. Hah. It's true that a motivated buyer will likely convince themselves that they like a particular sound, but still, a dealer or collector who will pay $15,000 for a Roth without playing it sounds apocryphal (or, at least, very very rare) to me. Or maybe Roths have become even more alluring than I thought.
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