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Kreutzer 38, 41, and are these bowing attrocities?


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I'm using these 2 Kreutzers as examples, and my Carl Fischer edition is edited by E. Singer.

Kreutzer #41 first bar, has a down bow for the first note "f" which is a semibrieve (I mean 4 counts) whilst on the second count which is C# it gives an UPbow!

How can this be, if you have already started a single note of 4 beats on a down bow, when on the second beat another string joins in (with the C#) on the bow going in the opposite direction?

You would need two bows and 3 hands!

Kreutzer #38 find the ascending A major scale which covers 3 octaves, almost halfway down the second page.

Most of those three octaves have a sustained "a" which is to be held down together with the 3 octaves.

I would say the only way of fingering it would be

sustained "a" with 2nd finger on the d string, whilst playing on the g-string a, b, c#, d, e, f#, g#, with 1-1-1-1or2-3-4-4 and the coming a on open a-string whilst "a" is still being held down with the second finger on the d-string. (If you can understand and play that, then the other two octaves should be a little easier to understand and play)

But If that's not hard enough, E. Singer has some unfathomable fingering which would only seem playable at all, if the bow is changed in the middle of the semibrieves one or two times.

If so, It should be WRITTEN that way, but It's NOT.

So who's right, me. or Singer?

[And if Singer is right, then who's to stop anyone rewriting anything which was composed, just to suit his fancy?]

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You're as literal as I am!

Singer was an editor, so you can accept or reject his bowings and fingerings as you desire (or you can do them and learn from them). That's why it is always intriguing to have more than one edition (including the urtext if possible) and comparing the markings.

I take the marking in 41 as meaning that I do the bowing as marked, on the second beat changing to an upbow as smoothly as possible. Yes, it probably would be more accurately notated with the top note as a quarter tied to a dotted half, but having it notated as a whole note gets the point across that the bow change needs to be very smooth.

In 38, on the last note of the measure, I play the last eighth note double stop AB with 4 on the D string and 1 on the A string as notated. In the following measure the first 2 sustained eighth notes of the A I play with 4 on the D string and then when the moving line switches to the E string, I play the sustained A with the open A string. Again, I think the intent is that it will sound like one long sustained A, but in reality, you're playing it a couple of different ways.

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Sorry, staylor -- I assumed the first octave was obvious --YES by all means! Play it in first position -- the ABC of the moving line with 1,2,3 fingers on the G string against the A (with 4 on the D string). I guess if I'd read the details of your original post I would have also mentioned the first octave.

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But it IS, -if only just- possible to play it EXACTLY as written, and needs much more practice, therefore I would still be interested to know if there exist other opinions, different to you and Singer. (But thanks for confirming Singer to me, as being a normal piece of common sense)

Stephen Redrobe


Technique Doc

other experts

Could you please answer too (as this IS a public forum)? D A is fine, but there are so many cases, and it's difficult to know where to draw the line, and there might be different opinions even on Kreutzer #38, not to speak of #41.

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Title: "The great masters did not write nor take things literally"


Yes, I understand the question re. Kreutzer Study No. 41. Yes, the first tone is bowed in 2 bows as you said. Now, this is completely my opinion, and I need you to understand that it can raise some eye brows, and I understand, thus in this light I will give you my thoughts.

First, it is a fact that people back in the days lived in what we call now a tonal world. Frankly I quote Daniel Baremboim when he speaks of the great pianists of the past, Cortot, Rubinstein to name 2. That is when they played say a 12 note D minor arpeggio, they were not playing 12 tones, but rather a gush of harmony which in that case employed 12 tones, and at times taking the liberty to add or delete tones according to what they felt was the need or feel of the moment.

My opinion is that violinists were also trained to think that way, in fact they knew no other way really (not until Glen Gould and others who changed this). Anyhow to the point:

That first quarter portion of that long F is a sustained tone, the first tone of the piece. I harmonize that one beat at the piano with an F major arpeggio ending in the middle C. At that point the violinist changes bow and harmony by changing the piano C natural onto a C#. It then goes onto a B flat major chord, then onto a I 6/4. Second bar into a B flat major chord and so on ending in a deceptive cadence in the downbeat of the 4th bar (D minor)

I tell my pupils that on the first note they should listen to the harmony, take their time, and make it beautiful. I then do not play the piano for them anymore, but they are supposed to imagine that they are hearing all these harmonies as they play. It was a different world, full of beauty and harmony. Once one approaches things like this in this way, dynamics, vibratos, bow speeds, etc come naturally into the picture, unbidden.

As far as the change of bow on the second beat of the first bar, I do not worry so much about it, for this kind of writing is more conceptual. One needs to think that the long F is not necessarily continuous or even in character, but rather that it has a shape, a dynamic and inflection shaped by way of harmony. Frankly, one should not aim to make that long F sound like in one bow for it will never happen. Misconceptions like this lead many violinists into dissatisfaction.

My two cents,


Pag J

PS: I do not have that study with me at home but I think I am accurate in so far as the study and the harmonies, if memory serves me right

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Thanks Paganiniest,

That's like a large part of a lesson which would amount to more than "2 cents"!

Perhaps I can understand from your PM that you didn't yet come to the place where your score (of the Kruetzers) is. When you do, maybe you will tell me if #38 follows the same idea.

But you still admit that some people might have raised eybrows? Only a very few?

[i'm making a copy of this to study away from the computer, and thanks!]

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In my edition, it has a semibrieve at note "a" (the same pitch as an open a string, but which is obviously played on the d string) whilst on the g string you must play "a" (one note above the open g string), b, c#, d, e, f#, g#, a, and b before starting another sustained "a" semibrieve.

If you start that (the first) scale with 4th finger on d string note "a", and then on the g string play a, b, c#, d, (that, you can perhaps cross over with the same 4th finger that is being held down on the d string, but) how do you suddenly get to the e and further on the g string, with the 4th finger still playing the "a" on the d string?

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I also thought of that!

Is that considered the same semibrieve?

Hmmm, I've seen something similar at the end of the Kreisler cadenza which leads to the trill of e and f#, just before the ending of the last movement, and Mutter on a DVD plays it by first striking the open e-string for a split second in order to have time to position herself for the trill on the a string. Quite a smart idea.

By the way, whilst I'm on this point, though unconnected to the actual discussion here, Kreisler himself plays one note diferently to what's written in his own cadenza. The way Kreisler plays it (as can be heard on one of his recordings of the concerto) is what I myself thought made more sense, but reluctantly followed the actual score. But Kreisler himself didn't so why should I?!

Also, Mr. Redrobe, you seem to be awake all night, like myself!

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Might I suggest a book edited by my friend Eric Wen, former editor of The Strad magazine, entitled "The Accompanied Etude". It consists of a selection of the most famous of the etudes and caprices with accompaniments by Heifetz, Elman, Kreisler etc. It also contains Massart's "The Art of studying Kreutzer's etudes".

It is published by Carl Fischer.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Anyway, I have since found my own Artok edition (which I got a long time ago second-hand) and much of the bowings and fingerings seem better. But not only that, but even the notes (e.g. note lengths) are a bit different!

I don't know who played around with what, either Artok or Singer or both.

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