Journal of the Conductors Guild
Special 35th Anniversary Retrospective Issue 1975-2010
7 1 9 Tw i n r i d g e L a n e R i c h m o n d , VA 2 3 2 3 5 - 5 2 7 0 T: (804) 553-1378; F: (804) 553-1876 E-mail: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.conductorsguild.org
Michael Griffith, President James Allen Anderson, President-Elect Gordon J. Johnson, Vice-President John Farrer, Secretary Lawrence J. Fried, Treasurer Sandra Dackow, Past President
Pierre Boulez Emily Freeman Brown Michael Charry Harold Farberman Adrian Gnam Samuel Jones Tonu Kalam Wes Kenney Daniel Lewis Larry Newland Harlan D. Parker Maurice Peress Donald Portnoy Barbara Schubert Gunther Schuller Leonard Slatkin
Thelma A. Robinson Award Recipients
Beatrice Jona Affron Eric Bell Miriam Burns Kevin Geraldi Carolyn Kuan Katherine Kilburn Octavio Más-Arocas Laura Rexroth Annunziata Tomaro Steven Martyn Zike
Board of Directors
Ira Abrams Leonard Atherton Christopher Blair David Bowden John Boyd Jeffrey Carter Stephen Czarkowski Charles Dickerson III Kimo Furumoto Jonathan D. Green Earl Groner Claire Fox Hillard Paula K. Holcomb John Koshak Anthony LaGruth Peter Ettrup Larsen Brenda Lynne Leach David Leibowitz* Lucy Manning Michael Mishra John Gordon Ross Lyn Schenbeck Michael Shapiro Jonathan Sternberg* Kate Tamarkin Harold Weller Kenneth Woods Amanda Winger* Burton A. Zipser*
Journal of the Conductors Guild Editor
Max Rudolf Award Recipients
Herbert Blomstedt David M. Epstein Daniel Lewis Gustav Meier Otto-Werner Mueller Gunther Schuller Paul Vermel
Conductors Guild Staff
Executive Director Assistant Director Amanda Winger Scott Winger
Theodore Thomas Award Recipients
Claudio Abbado Maurice Abravanel Marin Alsop Leon Barzin Leonard Bernstein Pierre Boulez Frederick Fennell Margaret Hillis James Levine Kurt Masur Max Rudolf Robert Shaw Leonard Slatkin Esa-Pekka Salonen Sir Georg Solti Michael Tilson Thomas David Zinman
The publication date of the present issue of the Journal of the Conductors Guild is November, 2010. The Conductors Guild reserves the right to approve and edit all material submitted for publication. Publication of advertising is not necessarily an endorsement and the Conductors Guild reserves the right to refuse to print any advertisement. Library of Congress No. 82-644733. Copyright © 2010 by Conductors Guild, Inc. All rights reserved. ISSN: 0734-1032.
Table of Contents
The Conductor Gustav Mahler, A Psychological Study (JCG Volume 1, No. 3, 1975) by Dr. Ernst J. M. Lert Contemporary Mozart Performance: A Diverse Landscape (JCG Volume 2, No. 2, 1981) by Max Rudolf Rehearsal Efficiency and Score Analysis (JCG Volume 2, No. 3, 1981) by Alan Pearlmutter Schubert’s Position in Viennese Musical Life (JCG Volume 3, No. 3, 1982) by Otto Biba Appropriate Brass Timbre: A Conductor’s Responsibility (JCG Volume 5, No. 1, 1984) by William E. Runyan The Rationalization of Symphony Orchestra Conductors’ Interpretive Styles (JCG Volume 11, No. 1&2, 1990) by Jack B. Kamerman Oral History, American Music (JCG Volume 11, No. 3&4, 1990) by Vivian Perlis Medicine in the Service of Music; Health and Injury on the Podium (JCG Volume 12, No. 1&2, 1992) by John J. Kella From Classroom to Podium: Teaching All of the Craft (JCG Volume 13, No. 2, 1992) by Jonathan D. Green Dimitri Mitropoulos: The Forgotten Giant (JCG Volume 15, No. 1, 1994) by William R. Trotter Are Our Audiences “Skeered to Clap”?: A Brief Survey of Applause Practices (JCG Volume 16, No. 2, 1995) by Robert Ricks Benjamin Britten’s WAR REQUIEM: Notes on Conducting (JCG Volume 23, 2002) by Paul Vermel Toscanini and the Myth of Textual Fidelity (JCG Volume 24, 2003) by Linda B. Fairtile Conducting Cannot Be Taught (CCBT) (JCG Volume 27, 2008) by Harold Farberman page 1
page 73 page 85
page 94 page 104
History of the Conductors Guild
The Conductors Guild was founded in 1975 at the San Diego Conference of the American Symphony Orchestra League. including conductors of major stature and international renown. 6.. seminars and symposia on the art of conducting. its history. To publish periodicals. To support the artistic growth of orchestras. To enhance the professionalism of conductors by serving as a clearing house for knowledge and information regarding the art and practice of conducting. and it continued for a decade as a subsidiary of that organization. choruses. To share and exchange relevant musical and professional information about the art of conducting orchestras. musical theater. chorus. ballet. To support the development and training of conductors through workshops. newsletters and other writings on the art.
Purposes of the Conductors Guild
1. and 7. development and current practice. choruses and other conducted ensembles. musical theater and other instrumental and vocal ensembles. 2. bands. Since then. ballet/dance.
The Conductors Guild is the only music service organization devoted exclusively to the advancement of the art of conducting and to serving the artistic and professional needs of conductors.. bands. it has expanded its services and solidified its role as a collective voice for conductors’ interests everywhere. To serve as an advocate for conductors throughout the world. 4.600 individual and institutional members representing all fifty states and more than forty countries. including.
. history and practice of the profession of conducting. including symphony and chamber orchestra. opera.Advancing the Art and Profession
Mission of the Conductors Guild
The Conductors Guild is dedicated to encouraging and promoting the highest standards in the art and profession of conducting. 3. Membership is open to all conductors and institutions involved with instrumental and/or vocal music. To communicate to the music community the views and opinions of the Guild.. It is supported by membership dues. grants. opera. 5. with a membership of over 1. wind ensemble and band. In 1985 the Guild became independent. The Guild is international in scope. but not limited to. donations and program fees and is registered with the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit corporation.
Specht’s elaboration on the following anecdote is. because he is free from the distortions of partisanship still inevitable with the other two. yet while Toscanini and Stokowski are with us. Almost twenty years ago. textbooks on conducting. the conductor. edited and colored by the personal bias of the biographer. but that’s it!” (Strange! Because the printed score of this first movement bears the programmatic title: “Pan awakens. In short. Philosophically. said jestingly. stopped at a point where the real task should have begun: the psychological analysis of conducting in general and of Lohse’s in particular. True. Richard Strauss. achieved by citations from newspaper criticisms. Finally. As for the numerous biographies of outstanding conductors—these are hardly more than fictional life stories. eulogies of arraignments of the individual art of their subjects. would have exclaimed. who had conducted. stands aloof in the distance. “Why Gustav Mahler? Why not Toscanini or Stokowski?” Gustav Mahler the conductor is unknown to the present generation. and perhaps most important and intriguing of all. sprang all the pseudo-philosophic “isms. His compositions. while Toscanini and Stokowski are still here to testify to the relative accuracy of any analysis of their conducting art. I shall now try to make up for that omission of long ago by analyzing Gustav Mahler’s art of conducting. summer marches in. At the close of a concert featuring Mahler’s Third Symphony.” Therefore.”)
1 JCG Vol.” Quite obtusely Specht adds. Some will ask. There are also histories of conducting. a safer historical subject. to be sure.1 This juvenile attempt. but they teach only the technicalities of the profession. for he left no gramophone records of any of his interpretations. Mahler’s career as a conductor reached its peak just when the European mentality was passing through the crises Victorian bourgeois-individualism and twentieth century mass-mindedness. M. in the course of a short biography. a sorry joke indeed.The Conductor Gustav Mahler A Psychological Study
(JCG Volume 1. mere records of the development of those technicalities. in turn. at best. a veritable revelation of his approach toward music. records of triumphs and struggles. “During the first movement I had a vision of interminable battalions of workers marching in the (socialistic) May-Parade at the Prater. his method of scoring are incontrovertible facts illuminating his mentality as conductor. however. 1980) By Dr. Mahler’s published correspondence is a fund of evidence. that world outlook which later degenerated into a collectivistic dogmatism out of which. There are. he is sure that Mahler. but they are. Lert
No attempt (as far as I know) has yet been made at a scientific analysis of orchestral conducting in the light of modern psychology. Mahler was an idealist in the days when Schiller’s individualistic idealism was being supplanted by Hegel’s and his school’s absolute idealism. 3. Ernst J. had he heard this Straussian bon-mot. “That’s it! I didn’t know it myself until this moment. Mahler. No. I tried to trace the development of a typical operatic conductor. Besides. 30
. there exists no scientifically reliable description of the artistic nature of the conductor’s work. in the main.
it evokes no reality. Lipiner treated great mythical subjects (Adam Hippolytos) as transcendental philosophies personified. poetic imagery. while with Richard Strauss such a
program is presented at the outset as a given task to be performed…In evolving a major musical conception I always come [to] the point where I have to reach for the ‘word’ as the indispensable bearer of my musical ideas” (Letters 228). whose entire boyhood was spent in the atmosphere of a military barracks.e.’ where things are no longer bounded by time and space” (Letters 187). as dramatist. suffering) human being” (Letters 277). Eduard von Hartmann’s Philosophy of the Unconscious. “You are really creating music. it tells. if not outspoken mystics. much like Wagner’s philosophic libretto-slogans. or through music. but proceeds at once to separate himself from the tone-painters and describers. description. breathing. with a decided inclination toward mysticism. and the philosophical poems of the mystic Angelus Silesius: philosophers all. “You are right in saying that my music eventually arrives at a program as the ultimate revelation of a dominating conception. he is compelled to admit programmatic tendencies in modern music: “There is no modern music since Beethoven which has not an inner program. only the idea of reality. His characters are not life-like individuals. packing involved ideas into skeleton-formulas. “The realm of music starts where the dark. (Mahler unconsciously proved the truth of this when he travelled through Italy without visiting museums and cathedrals. was thoroughly Mahlerian. oder das Seelenleben der Pflanzen. It is his rhetorical conception of music which makes him feel so close to Siegfried Lipiner. of expanding the individual to a universal symbol. So thought the mind that called Schopenhauer’s explanation of music (as expressing “the essence of all things”) the best definition of music (Letters 126). while remaining philosophically the enlightened individualist. his skeleton-language literally crying out for fulfillment through flesh and blood. He has literally made “Capital” of the absolute. at the threshold of that ‘other world. Corroborating my description of a mystic2 the recent Mahler book by Bruno Walter tells us that his favorite readings were Lotze’s Mikrokosmos. Nobody will ever understand you better than JCG Vol. a Viennese dramatist. To Mahler. thinking. Fechner’s Zend Avesta and Nanna. a “sound of nature”— Naturlaut (Letters 215). They are impersonal megaphones declaiming high-sounding commonplaces. to use his own favorite term. music does not imitate. the feeling. but expressing the world beyond our senses. brought him into close kinship with Mahler. and. also a case of borderline-crisis between Victorian Romanticism and modern mass-ideology. Lipiner. “that our music involves the ‘purely human’ (all that belongs to it. the mind which contended that the musician lives “inwardly” (Letters 202) with little interest for and capacity of understanding the outside world. Mahler studied these authors to confirm his own painful experiences of the double personality of the limited man and the limitless artist. including ‘thinking’) (sic!)…If we wish to make music. His practice.” Mahler wrote to him (Letters 283). To him music is beyond all that is matter-of-fact. That Mahler the idealist should have portrayed in tone masses of proletarians marching for higher wages and shorter hours is simply unthinkable. we must not think of painting. anticipated the manner of the collectivistic expressionists. By making music one expresses only the integral (i. shadowy feelings assume full sway. In his music it is only the march itself that marches. According to him.” says he (Letters 296). 30 2
.” he wrote.What a hopeless misconception on the part of Specht to imply that Mahler hijacked Marxist music from the Kurt Weills and Hanns Eislers before they were born. This is a blank affirmation of Mahler’s conception of music both as spiritual and rhetorical. “My dear Siegfried. the march pulsation was a general human expression. A musician standing at the borderline between two civilizations. Mahler’s marches (like Beethoven’s) celebrate the progress of no man-made factors. “It cannot be denied.) (Letters 482).
and by the creation of such lines as his own (Vater. his (apparent) absentmindedness. through subtle alchemy. and they become. In fact. II “But Mahler was attacked for his stark realism as conductor and composer. that finale which expresses the resurrection of all flesh on Judgement Day. Resurrection. In the Eighth Symphony his treatment of the mighty medieval hymn Veni Creator Spiritus and the transfiguration of this rhetorical conception on an exalted plane. 30
Taking part in the funeral services for von Buelow he hears the chorus sing “Auferstehen.— all these personal features of the musician. midst the fanfare of military trumpets. heedless of the clock of time. He himself relates the following significant instance: 3 JCG Vol. slogan-like formulas. merely expressed the Bible in terms and characters of New York’s Harlem of today. and even so was his conducting. produce Julius Caesar in modern costumes and uniforms. ja auferstehen” (“Arise. for his texts Mahler not only used. he has found the finale for his Second Symphony. in The Green Pastures. and this process of spiritualizing is a mental struggle of stirring passion. are but symptoms of his enforced struggle to project ephemeral reality into the timeless form of the idea. but himself produced such poetry as evidenced both by his adoption of humble folklore verse from the Wunderhorn. read into Beethoven’s Ninth the mass-minded orchestra message of spiritual propaganda for the super-national unification of humanity. the first modern artist to conceive humanity as an army marching to its destiny. and I may add. his fanatical insistence on the accurate execution of all his intentions. As was his life so is his music—never sensual. sich an die Wunden mein: Kein Wesen lass verloren sein—Letters 161). which so often contradicted the soft-hearted man. his insatiable greed for correcting and improving. We know that many conductors virtually live on the sex-appeal they exercise on their audience and on the female singers. arise”).” I answer with the New York lady of a former article of mine. yet he claimed New York. He married rather late to remain a one-woman man to the end of his life. Mahler’s despotism. as Connelly. yea.
.” An important admission! Mahler confesses his rhetorical conception of music as an expression paralleling transcendental poetry achieved by simple. particularly myself! Sometimes it strikes me as almost absurd how akin my own ‘music’ is to yours. his terrible nervousness. These words move him profoundly. abstracted and magnified into “Great Roll-Call” and the tremendous Resurrection chorus of all humanity. the world-core of modern standardized collectivism.” objects my honored opponent. as his “spiritual homestead” (Letters 393). “The real mystic is the real realist. his sudden angers. That lone love incident occurred in his early twenties and so disrupted his inner life that he fought down and overcame the sensual impulses it evoked as though they had been his worst enemies. Another proof of his spiritual world outlook is the almost complete absence of romance in his life. Mahler’s abstract idealism in life and music has been demonstrated. As modern directors of Shakespearean plays. his unbearable sarcasm. Reality and ideology: is every fiber of his being the typical Austrian. he was a traditional individualist.the musician. so Mahler. This personal experience at the obsequies of an acquaintance (von Bulow was nothing to Mahler) combines with his ever-present childhood impressions of marches and Military signals.3 Unfortunately the superficial textbook-andmagazine-philosophers fail to realize that the “idea of reality” includes “reality” as an object to be spiritualized. Thus the boy who wanted to become a martyr lived up to his idealism until he died. In Mahler’s case we know of but one romance during his entire career as conductor prior to his marriage.
deviating development. or. and differentiation. with violent sarcasm. as a little boy. Beethoven started in the Haydn style. Mahler’s development is one of expansion. nay. Nevertheless he reveals himself exclusively the musician to the uttermost boundaries of his rather considerable learning. created just the same uncanny impression. but Mahler the composer started as Mahler. at the general-rehearsal of the same symphony. of increasing depth. Das Klagende Lied and Das Lied von der Erde are. even when it exploded into an indescribable turmoil of temperament and despair.Beside that of other famous conductors. Mahler “ran up and down in his dressing-room. Strangely enough. It is very significant that he speaks of Halevy’s La Juive as “a wonderful. It is true that Mahler (when I. Like most idealistic artists he shows no striking. refinement. saw him conduct at Vienna) made upon me the weird impression of a frenzied gnome. in contrast to his statuesque. Yet many years after. Mahler was at first little understood by the orchestra because he did not “beat” the trodden path of tradition. Eventually he found that he could eliminate most motion as superfluous and concentrate on that subtle fluidum which establishes a deeper communion between leader and his men than any amount of waving and signaling. often grotesque movements of the baton.” III Although idealism is a permanent feature with Mahler. Frau Mahler relates how at Essen. much as the letters of Wagner (but unlike those of von Bulow or Reger). He frightened and fascinated me at the same time. because a single impulsive movement of his hand or head would have relieved the almost unbearable tension. Furthermore. skat or tarok-tables. He himself admits that the musician has no appreciation of the visible world. hand. His conception of the works he interpreted was the same. Mahler connoisseurs will shake their heads and point to Mahler’s violent. and eyes during his early years. Yet he fails consistently to find any solution. had to be trained to the intensity of polyphonic thought and expression which was Mahler’s orchestral ideal. from conception to orchestration. sublime work. from Olmutz (1882) to New York (1907). JCG Vol. Any given aggregation of performers. Mahler is not highly discriminating. 30 4
. his life and his letters betray the notoriously poor taste characteristic of musicians in all matters outside of music. That external change (his abandonment of the baton-waving manner) has no counterpart in any inner development. unmistakable expressions of the same mentality through the same style. at least. and Wagner in the Meyerbeer manner. body. That immobility of his was anything but calmness. he always returns to the two integral problems of his personality: the double life of the musician and the problem of expressing a given reality by music (program in absolute music). head. irrepressible sobs literally bursting from his lips” (Letters 13). feet. but only the manner of expressing them that changed as he matured. He expresses his thoughts by means of keen formulas tinged with sentiment and. It was not the matter. Mahler too had to find the proper technique for his new polyphonic method of handling an orchestra.
So too was it with Mahler the conductor. any new or convincing solution. even in the world of the audible. almost affected-looking immobility towards the end of his career. often. prior to a proper grasp of his style. without any accompanying material change or growth in his artistic personality. I number it among the loftiest ever created. Mahler’s education seems to have excelled by far the usual learning of professional musicians. His letters show an almost complete lack of humor. when he conducted the premier of his Sixth Symphony (perhaps the most typically Mahlerian of all his works) his statuesque immobility before the huge orchestra. whose spiritual oscillates between their scores and friendly bridge. Gradually the orchestras grew accustomed to this new style. the expression of this Weltanschauung (world outlook) is anything but permanent. Whatever the subject of his commentary. an even more frightening one.
assimilated self is required for the expression of this quintessence through the actual orchestral reproduction. The most amazing example of such genius and power in the world today is Arturo Toscanini. However. and it can be.” But “Alas. and always has been done by every technical artisan. Though the power of such identification of work and interpret[ation] was not natural to Gustav Mahler. we cannot grasp their “exact” meaning. In short.. but so do impulsive changes we unconsciously inflict upon the original by our own individuality. why. His intuition functions exactly like that of a great scientist. he often came quite close to it. He writes to Bruno Walter from New York. He just loved and—could. so I require fresh preparation each time for conducting the scores of other composers. they served only to intensify. if all the written notes and marks of the author are reproduced literally. merely technical. of so merging his own ego with the object of his attention that his own life becomes one with the life of that object.e. for “He has the parts well in hand. but whoever has it needn’t be afraid of anything…Any prattling back and forth about the matter strikes me as if one.” This “spiritual band” is the sole key to the meaning of the original. and Toscanini. he even changed his own works!” Well let us see what Mahler had to say for himself on that score. This imponderable quintessence of an artwork achieves revelation through that power or mental assimilation possessed only by one able to switch off his own ego completely in order to merge it with the ego dominating the work itself. he possesses the extreme faculty of Einfuhlung. BUT WAS ALWAYS IMPELLED TO CONTINUE ON ALONG THE OLD PATH. slogan-like manner. racks his brain afterwards over the question whether it is really a baby and whether it was produced with the right intentions. that “best music [is] not written in the notes” which even the utmost of sheer technical prowess cannot conjure forth in sound. to clarify that meaning for the immediate environment by means of the particular group of players on a given occasion and in accordance with that relentlessly evolving spirit of change which we call the “march of time. i.” The “changes” he made never affected the meaning of a work. his power of re-producing an artwork is the very instinctiveness of nature itself. although they revolve on the same axis.
. who assimilates his spirit to Verdi’s Requiem so that Verdi’s own spirit seems to interpret his work. invisible band joins them inseparably.“But Mahler did change continually!” I hear many object.” Mahler used to say in his crisp. “Why. Since our understanding of the words or works of others depends entirely on the sum of our inborn individuality and our private fund of acquired experience. The thing is simple. We can only understand them as our own mind receives them. Period! And if one doesn’t love and can’t. after 5 JCG Vol. 1909 (Letters 417): “Just as I want my scores edited anew every fifth year. and education. without the spiritual band. My only solace is that I REALLY NEVER HAD TO ABANDON MY WAY FOR A NEW ONE.” Yet a reconciliation between these two apparently clashing ideas is not out of the question. the madman who identifies himself with Napoleon. This process is. That uniting psychological force is the conception of the artwork by its conductor-interpreter. A subtle. mentality. Yet Toscanini is a realist by nature. To the interpreting artist the re-production of a work is “correct”. should keep away from the work. Furthermore. 30
all. Not only does our personal color qualify the “view-point” with which we regard a work. who has made a baby. This personally-tinged understanding of a thing is. are certainly two opposite poles. our “conception” of it. is being.” IV “The essence of every re-production is exactness. in fact. etc. an intense power on this part of this new. apparently contradicting another favorite expression of his: “The best music is not written in the notes. He once wrote to Bruno Walter: “In a word: one who does not have genius.
“I experience strange things with all of my works while conducting them. As one is and can—so the child will be. sudden ff and pp. Its constant theme was the conflict between two worlds. Therefore. naive. if we are to continue living—even if we shall only continue dying. were aimed at that climax. “What is it that thinks within us? And what is it that acts within us?” (Letters 415). all the apparently sweet melodies with their bitter underlying meaning. only mentions how the little wedding-march seemed irritated by “accents of stinging painfulness. the world where the unio mystica is a fact. For then he must answer terribly for the laws of the one world in the other. Here is the key to Mahler’s individual conception of music. perhaps the most striking feature of the man and the musician. one could hardly resume living). “Why did you live? Why did you suffer? Is all this nothing but a gross. it is all extinguished suddenly. Mahler JCG Vol. V The idealist is by nature. takes hold of me. This strange reality of visions. a split-personality. 90). 95). 30 6
. is the deepest cause of the split-life of an artist. point to the future. he might also be called the finale-conductor because everything he conducted was subjected to a dominating finale-concept.
And not a happy future. realistic artist Toscanini. that happy fusion of work and interpretation. The central idea of rebellion was ever-present. No less appropriately.” in short. Not only did this outlook on a world. where things are no longer bounded by time and space. While two big bowls of sinister red fire lit up the wedding-ceremony. Wondering curiosity. Some great French bonmotier said of the play by Beaumarchais: “Voila. Everything else in the world itself was subordinated to that idea.no baby comes of it. in which triumph meant the attainment of the “other world. Here is the intuition which made his interpretation. present and future. p.” (Letters 189). this eternal struggle between reality and the idea of reality is the bitter legacy of transgressing idealism. Take his production of Mozart’s Nozza di Figaro. devilish hurry of the overture he continuously built up to the slow movement of the finale. terrible JEST? We must solve these problems in some way. What is that world which mirrors such sounds and shapes? BUT ONLY WHILE I AM CONDUCTING! For afterwards. All the sforzati.4 Mahler himself throws considerable light upon this matter in the following synthesis of cited extracts. Here is his contradictory position between a world which has been and a world to come.” Mahler revealed in Mozart’s opera buffa the bitter social arraignments of Schiller’s Kabale und Liebe. (otherwise.” (Letters 419). describing Mahler’s reading of this work. where pure humanity opened yearning eyes for a moment only to be eclipsed again by the commonplace of the noisy stretta-finale. but he also imposed it on whatever music he conducted. which suddenly melts away like the chimera of a dream. hence his fundamental sarcasm. express itself in his own music. “Why do I believe that I am free while I am imprisoned by the walls of my character as in a cell?” (Walter. was denied to Mahler the idealist. Specht (p. This is the goal toward which all his symphonies strive. which is prerogative of the objective. even of the old classics. He foresaw the breakdown of our civilization—through the all-toocomprehensive realization of absolute idealism. From the sarcastic. woe to him if life and dream become confused. This discord between man and artist. implying that the old order will go on and on.” played against the “dark background of a silent crowd of people behind the iron garden-fence. Period again. Condemned to a twofold existence. Once again: Period!” (Letters 277). c’est la revolution qui marche. a tragic struggle. as poignant as a burning sensation.” Actually.
His absolute unity of idea and execution. Rhythm retains its natural. The sense of rhythm is inborn. the ensuing pause was so long that I looked up from my score to find out why the conductor did not continue. The moment an appointed leader superimposes his individual rhythmic conception upon the group’s collective (almost instinctive) sense of rhythm. Involuntarily the Maestro. everything functions only as a cog in the machine of the art-work’s microcosm. Mahler the musician dramatized everything he conducted. He never portrayed the struggle of petty humans. impious von Bulow. separate the fanfaresque chords which began the overture to The Magic Flute. To him the demiourgos was in everything. pristine correctness so long as it is the pulse of music performed by a coordinated group of musicians. he unwittingly uttered a scientific truth. however. Just then he attacked the second chord. this pause was reproduced in exact facsimile by the same conductor. The clash of reality and idea is the very core of dramatics. 385) to Italy and played it for his colleagues. Toscanini brought a copy of his recording of Mozart’s Symphony in D Major (K. his reading of harmony and counterpoint. VI What were the technical means employed by Mahler during a performance to transmit to an orchestra his complicated conception of a musical composition? Analyzing a conductor’s art from a technical viewpoint means testing it for the following: his sense of rhythm. that the first musical expression of animal and 7 JCG Vol. with the close of the first movement. Pauses emphasized by Fermatas. As early as the Sixteenth Century critics protested against the “arbitrary rhythmical movements” of the conductors. his finale-conducting were but the natural consequences of the split-personality of the idealist striving and struggling for final amalgamation. When Mahler finished the first chord. his sense of tempo. there arise discrepancies in the styles of performance. amply corroborated in our own day: viz. leaving no indication as to the exact moment the second section will begin. everything had to be subordinated to that idea. who had been beating the time during this record. It may be subtilized. it can be so observed.. but it cannot be acquired. Toscanini is. To Mahler there could be no independent episodes in an art-work. punning on the Bible and Goethe. The first movement of the symphony finishes in the middle of a record. At a concert this pause cannot be observed faithfully because of the disturbing conditions in the reactions of the audience. Yet the factors of his dramatizations were never personified. Now came a pause that
. to point out the modern revolutionary trend of Mozart’s work. his agogics. Originally measured before a living orchestra. gave the up-beat for the second section on the very dot it actually began. his treatment of orchestration. technical marks of prolongation. His was this fascist ideology half a century before Fascism.even re-interpolated the original trial in court and composed biting secco-recitatives for it. although he now beat the time to a mere mechanical instrument—the gramophone. exclaimed: “In the beginning there was Rhythm”. Since he was convinced that the central-idea created the art-work according to an architectonical plan (blueprint). The drum is the earliest musical instrument. his despotic insistence on architectonic structure. 30
man is purely rhythmic. his dynamics. This showed that for Toscanini the pause between the two movements had an exact rhythmical value. of course. Impersonal abstracts alone clashed in the world of his creation. When the impish. an extreme example of rhythmical logic. Rhythm is music in its most primitive state. the dance is the very backbone of music. but only of ideas. Rhythm now becomes a problem. In the enforced calm of the recording laboratory.
was now in a turmoil and needed still more time to recompose itself. for he adds. It stands on every piano. That was quite logical and natural. “He takes all the tempi wrong!” is the commonest criticism one conductor whispers to you about another. It is over a hundred years old. Mahler’s reading of rhythm was primarily rhetorical.” These few instances (I could have cited many more) suffice to show how Mahler made rhythm a primary spiritual element of his interpretations. Rhythm to him was not the natural pulse-beat of a composition but rather the rhetorical accentuation of the evolving content of the work. sacrificing that to intensify the music’s underlying spiritual content. pg. He was the herald whose pronouncement awaited the reaction of his listeners. Yet there can be no scientifically demonstrated right tempo just as there is no set. the way he took the first four measures of the great Leonore Overture [No. after the fugue. When. Even those who haven’t read Beethoven’s letters will cite Beethoven’s dictum on the metronome the moment JCG Vol.. implying that the so-called “right tempo” is the sine qua non of all correct interpretation. i. It would oscillate between rigid strictness and reckless daring. until finally the low F-sharp lay revealed in its majestic. However. 3]. but certainly not an instinctive treatment of rhythm. We have a very precise. “Compose your thoughts for this message!” Thus Mahler established the central-idea of the Realm of Saratro. more impressive and clear than at first. 43). A similar rhythmical presentation of an idea by Mahler during his early years (Leipzig) has been transmitted by Max Steinitzer (Stefan. perhaps a psychological. Mahler made the pauses even longer than before. By this Delphic distinction Monteverdi means the tempo beaten by the hand of the conductor as opposed to that produced by the effect of the music upon the performers. He treated rhythm in the works of Wagner and Beethoven just as he did in his own symphonies: with freedom and flexibility. “It was something to remember. Its solemnity must be revealed on a still higher level. He unhesitatingly disobeyed the letter of a score in this respect so that he might be more faithful to its spirit. Even beneath an apparent rigidity there was a world of almost imperceptible degrees of pulsation that was in open disagreement with the normal rhythmic beat of the music. calm immobility. When the third chord finally sounded the audience had grasped the idea Mahler wished to convey: the solemnity of the “trumpet” call. that it “operates without anyone beating time. It was dominated by thematic considerations alone. musicians and especially conductors don’t pay much attention to it. In a word. the same three chords returned. To him the latter is the only right tempo. in the preface to his eighth book of Madrigals (1683) distinguishes between two different species of tempo. VII Tempi! The first disputed and still debatable of all the characteristics of conducting. 30 8
. Composers have used and still use it freely and frequently to indicate the exact tempo they want.” meaning that the right tempo does not need a conductor. Out of this breathlessness the central-idea must emerge again. not uniformly measured.e. the tempo which is right for one particular conductor. His was a logical. In the most simple manner each one of the descending octaves became a moment of increasing import for us. introducing startling
accents and irregular melodic scansions. objectively correct interpretation. somewhat maliciously. Therefore the rhythmic element was a highly subtle matter for him. scientifically accurate device for fixing the right tempo: Malzel’s metronome. having been swept along with the tide of the Allegro. for the mind. the tempo dello mano (of the hand) and the tempo dell ‘affetto dell’ animo (affected by the mind). There is only a subjectively right tempo. When is the tempo “right”? The great Monteverdi.seemed still longer.
booklets. it doted on so-called medium-tempi and
. his conducting was Wagnerian. trumped up to defend the conductor against the criticisms of the profession.” He meant that conception could never entertain any essential. What IS the real essence of any art-work? It is its integrity crystallized in the unalterable impression: Thus it is. never varied more than a few seconds. then that vision becomes final. Smith assisted at all the Maestro’s rehearsals and performances and. and the prelude to the third act. “I can’t understand arbitrary changes in anything which is evident. Toscanini illustrated this axiom once and for all when he said. which he lead in genuinely Furioso manner. and split-seconds Toscanini required for performing certain compositions. since that time. Mahler accentuated every detail of contrast as sharply as possible. conducting only according to the dictates of their heart and mood. A very primitive and crude statement. 30
Mona Lisa. The late Otto Lohse used to look at his watch before giving the first upbeat and after the last note of an opera-act. and articles have been written on Mahler. The writer asserts that he had played Lohengrin under Wagner’s own direction and claims that. Mahler was the first conductor with the right tempi. or whether his tempi were as unchanging as his general conception of a composition. In short. We have only a few rather contradictory documents pertaining to this subject. It cannot be altered thereafter.you mention it to them: “It (the metronome) is a stupidity. measured carefully the minutes. organic changes. One may not alter the smile of 9 JCG Vol. you must FEEL the tempi!” That’s just what Monteverdi said in 1638-and what Sibelius said (to Rodzinski) in 1937. nor the prelude to Tristan und Isolde. He timed at least twenty different performances of the Eroica and of Debussy’s La Mer and found that Toscanini’s readings of the same compositions on various occasions never differed in the slightest in this respect. for the steady integrity of his tempi is the test of a conductor’s artistic integrity. Yet subjective feeling is an unreliable means of achieving correctness of tempo. insisting that they are not metronomes. unless… The late Max Smith devoted the last years of his life to a study of Toscanini’s conducting-art. nor the inscription on the door to Dante’s Inferno. There is. including the first act of Gotterdammerung and the last act of Meistersinger. will scornfully sweep the question aside. if it is really a work of art. and especially contrasts of tempo. so it must be.. nor for that matter. Nevertheless it is just stability that sets off the creative artist (even as interpreter) from the arbitrary Gipsy. but free artists. If I study and restudy a work until I have attained a clear vision of it. because Mahler “knew how to modify the tempi” to conform with Wagner’s intentions. there never was. perhaps.e. stopwatch in hand. for then it proves that Mahler was inclined to slow up the slow tempi and speed up the swifter ones. He stresses especially Mahler’s conception of the prelude. but it hits the nail on the head. such as revisions in tempo. Though innumerable books. unfortunately. His various timings of the same act of an opera. a mythical letter (unpublished and anonymous)5 supposedly written by a member of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra after Mahler’s first performance of Lohengrin at the Vienna Hofoper. seconds. Yet the majority of conductors. which he took just as slowly as Wagner himself. a Max Smith with his stopwatch to report whether Mahler subscribed to that rather amateurish notion of the artist being swept along by his momentary whims. Toscanini’s reading of Beethoven’s Pastorale. A work of art (and conducting also has to be such a work) is irrevocably fixed. it is still more eloquent. It implies that in order to bring out the central ideas as clearly as possible. it cannot be otherwise. If that letter is authentic it is a revelation. when sounded upon this very stability of tempo. for instance. i. If it is apocryphal. The Romantic tradition in music was all for the transitional evasion of violences.
against his habit of acceleration (Letters 477). It made no difference to Mahler that Elsa would see through Ortrud’s too obvious distimulation. in this case the concept of the dying father. The audience was to be taken by surprise. “That was not the right tone for the hypo-critical Ortrud with her mysterious behavior. Stravinsky). Thus. Mahler’s modifications consist not only in the striking pp Steinitzer notes relative to beginning of the Allegro of the third Leonore.” I remember this gradually expiring music well. according to Steinitzer (Stefan p. unobtrusive Nature. Mahler was so sensitive that he himself rehearsed Le Nozze di Figaro (one of his most carefully prepared standard performances at the Vienna Hofoper) with orchestra and complete stage personnel throughout six successive general rehearsals when he brought that production to Salzburg. our letter implies that Mahler used to “modify” the tempo. introducing the spiritual significance of architecture into his interpretation. It consisted in a rather fervid naturalism expressed through exaggerated declamation. That again (along with our disclosures concerning Mahler’s rhythmics) means that he subordinated the tempo to the central idea of the composition.standardized. The conductor’s (Mahler’s) treatment of dynamics was also subordinated to the demands of rhetoric. 30 10
. but mere ideas personified.” As Mahler puts it (Letters 281) “all that is material must be dissolved into form. exploiting all the possibilities of dynamics. Such a study. Here we have the finale-conductor again. unobtrusive contrasts. for I really had the feeling of the inexorable (steadily retarding!) approach of Death.” It is in keeping with such principals that Mahler reproaches the singer cast as Ortrud (Lohengrin) for having been too “loud” during her first scene with Elsa. moreover. he began the terzetto of the dying Commendatore (in Don Giovanni) in a rather fast tempo. her assumed meekness” (Letters 155). What mattered to him was that Ortrud be established as a regular JCG Vol. Steinitzer does not mention this effect was achieved in the first place by the reluctantly drumming monotony with which Leporello stammered his fast-beating counter-melody. some years before. overstated by actors who were forced to be “symbols. We see by this little instance how the general idea. but also in the slow beginning of that movement and its subsequent acceleration. 43). when he took over some concerts for von Buelow (who was quite a violent dramatizer himself) the orchestra rebelled against Mahler’s tempi (Letters 136) just as they rebelled anywhere against his scorn of the classical tradition (Letters 102). An examination of the dynamics in Mahler’s
orchestral works reveals most interesting data concerning the orchestral language in vogue during the period of transition from Romanticism (Wagner. In Mahler’s time the outstanding style of dramatic interpretation on the legitimate stage was that for which Max Reinhardt (inspired by Stanislawski’s Russian Art Theatre) was held responsible. until the few bars of the postlude resulted in an “Adagio of the most moving effect. VIII His highly individual employment of dynamics was one of the features by which one could single out Mahler’s conducting. Even at Hamburg. And why? Only because he wished to accommodate the opera perfectly to the acoustics of the Salzburg theatre. Strauss) to modern realism and expressionism (Alban Berg. throws particular light on Mahler’s style as a conductor. part of real. Furthermore. because it was the first time that an operatic death-scene did not make a ridiculous impression on me. Into that atmosphere of old-time Viennese mellowness Mahler crashed like a bombshell. who acted the drama. It was not characters. but immediately started to slow down very gradually and steadily. a higher realm of phenomena where types are individualities. modified the interpretation. from the hushed whisper to the stentorian shout in opposition to the pleasant transitions favored by tradition.
He engineered the dreamy prelude. but one conceived for the piano. a real delight to every intelligent theatergoer. He writes (Letters 316): “The audience is raised to the highest tension by the fanfares of the trumpets. In order to stress his idea of an innocent. (not the original pp) up to the ff of the brasses. With you all this still seems confused. I suggest that the chorus (which has been seated until this point) remain seated. he intensified the markings. unnatural declamation. now the mystical sound of the human voices (which may enter ppp. at abundant variety.6 He loved the “drastic treatment of the orchestra. Vienna’s most renowned dramatic critic. We include within the limits of that term also any details of execution pertaining to the expressiveness of an interpretation. freely reinforcing or muting sound effects. Yet the Wagnerian idea. rendered interesting by the unfailingly logical development of the central-idea. The outburst in the prelude had been but a foreboding of this final touch. and rise only with the E-flat major ‘Mit Flugeln. heightened by the clear contrasting of opposing themes. perhaps better than anything else. Ortrud’s poisoning of Elsa’s confidence.” was carried out. next. the little cresc and dim. instead of portraying the climax of an organic growth (usually one of Mahler’s strong points) exploded like a sudden onslaught of blunt reality. sweet Elsa as contrasted with a saccharine. austerely elevated. Thus he created a magnificent suspense. the sudden sfz and pp. In fact.” IX By the term agogics we mean not only “the process and the result of modifying strict tempo to bring out the full expression of a phrase” (tempo rubato) (Pratt). claiming that Beethoven favored it. but in this case it reached “Earth” with a crash. fff instead of the original f. I know of a similar stage of my own development…Mood-music (Stimmungsmusik) is a dangerous foundation (Boden). yet dangerous Ortrud. for these things are no different than they were.” (Stefan. described this effect as “magical” (Zauberhaft). while I remember only a harsh awakening from a dream. Furthermore: you must get rid of the pianist in you! Yours is not a setting for orchestra. (Logic and psychology were. which may be readily recognized in any transformation or development whatever.’ I have found this to be an infallibly astonishing effect. 65). attained with Mahler a strange flavor of artistic perfection through ham-acting singers and a ham-declaiming orchestra. I could not help the feeling of overemphasis. However.” Mahler doted on dynamic contrasts. p. What was Mahler’s reason? At the very end of the opera one knew it. cheap obviousness. such was his general practice. Mahler exaggerated all the musical marks Wagner wrote into this scene.villainess regardless of logic and psychology. There the motif returned again. then he literally drenched the following scene. and still are. Aim at THEMES clear and plastic. die ich mir errungen. One of his instructions given to the conductor of his Second Symphony portrays. which (musically and dramatically) borders perilously on bad taste. In this connection the conductor-composer speaks best for himself in a letter full of good advice to a beginner in composition (Letters 191): “You are still too intent on ‘sound and color!’ That is a defect of all talented beginners doing creative work today. Speidel. 11 JCG Vol. as if out of the remote distance) must come as a surprise. it was my first Lohengrin.” to be sure.
. That anecdote concerning the premier of his First Symphony is significant of Mahler’s sudden dynamic assaults. if only to relieve its own tension. The effect was striking. he led up to the outburst “Entweihte Gotter” in a way that caused the audience to applaud that invocation. the theatrical nature of Mahler’s dynamics. despised by the idealists of expressionism. and then somehow translated into the orchestral language. Take my advice. 30
When he edited Beethoven’s Ninth. in the theatre and in the concert hall I don’t want to be “intelligent. from the pppp.) I remember that scene very well. the Holy Grail descended to “Earth. the “program. Lohengrin. with the colors of a thrilling mystery-play. but above all.
striving “particularly hard to render the single voices in the characteristic range of the instruments.I too suffered from the same trouble. p.” The central idea. ever intent on the content of the single phrase. Day vs. He followed the orchestral score faithfully.” (Letters 156) In other words he formulated even the small details of agogical expression in the rhetorical way. for he regards pianistic phrasing (especially that instrument’s wealth of rubati and grupetti) as anti-logical. He prefers to oppose phrases of “genuine contrast” against each other. not
harmonically. He proved this principal when he was a youngster. 94). to which the sound and color were to be subordinated. Yet in his own interpretation it sounded anything but simple. The “soulful” vibrato. To him “accompaniment” did not exist. It was Mahler who first showed that even second violins of Verdi were not monotonous fillers-in. He does not want the orchestral score approached from the pianist’s viewpoint.” (Letters 220). though he never gave a single lesson in conducting during his entire career. when he arranged Bruckner’s Third Symphony for piano for four hands.” wrote Mahler (Letters 102). Night. while the old masters came from the violin and from singing.” You see? “Sound and color” are not Mahler’s primary concern.” concentrating on the harmonies. Mahler justly may be called the savior of the middle voices (the filling-in parts) of the orchestra. “What tortures would I have to undergo there with my manner of handling things musical? If I were only to attempt teaching my conception of a Beethoven Symphony to the famous Richter-trained JCG Vol. 30 12
. Every part of the orchestra expresses itself independently. 29). Therefore you will find no sweet sentimentality in Mahler’s interpretation. p. even during moments of the most peaceful transfiguration. regardless of traditional harmonic and esthetic tenets. Mahler would say to his orchestra: “I breathe every breath with you. the sensual devices are alien to his ascetic intellectuality. and importance of their own. “There is no harmony.” one who reads the orchestral score horizontally. X He was a “linear musician. knowing it to spring from the chordal nature of the piano. Listening to Mahler’s music today we regard it as comparatively tame and harmonious. a basic trait at variance with the melodic. Today Mahler’s polyphonic conducting does not appear revolutionary at all since almost every conductor born east of Munich calls himself a “pupil” of Mahler. even though such practice sacrificed facile and convenient rendering on the piano” (Stefan. there is only counterpoint” is an utterance legend ascribes to him (Stefan. singing quality of the orchestra. Result: the orchestras execute faithfully the most extravagant stupidities of their conductors. Mahler’s daring in leading of discordant parts against each other. as opposed to one who reads “vertically. “Suppose I did come to Vienna. If Mozart is called the savior of the woodwinds (especially of the clarinet). Mahler experienced music thematically. Plasticity (which means distinctness) and the “logical development of the central-idea” are his leading principals. His jest on his own style of composing also applies to his style of conducting when he quotes an imaginary critic and writes: “My musicians play without paying the slightest attention to each other and my chaotic and bestial nature reveals itself in all its vile nakedness. giving them thought. manifested itself by clash and discord. never the color. The Vienna Philharmonic of 1900 was a band calculated to inspire fear in a conductor. the meaning. created the revolution we call “modern music. Similarly he made Beethoven and Wagner anything but the mellow classics they had seemed before him. life. Only the design counted. for his Tristan often sounded like that modern atonality it actually created. He finds the expression of “moods” dangerous. perceiving melodies. Today we all originate from the piano. We must remember that Schoenberg and his school were born out of the performances of Tristan und Isolde conducted by Mahler.
In an announcement to the public he said:
“The unsatisfactory condition of the brass instruments at that time [Beethoven] rendered impracticable certain sequences of sound necessary to the undisturbed maintenance of the melodic line. today it is a common practice. He reveled in the higher positions of the violin G and D strings without indulging in the sentimentality natural to such fingerings. In 1900 such an innovation was attacked as sacrilege. It can be demonstrated by means of the orchestral score…that the conductor was concerned only with following Beethoven’s intentions to the smallest detail.
harmony. glorying in the popularity of their emotional soarings. “The ancient device of multiplying (Verfielfachung) the string instruments eventually resulted in a corresponding increase of the wind instruments in order to attain a balancing reinforcement of certain parts without the slightest emendation of the orchestral voices. I occupy here a position of unquestioned authority. he wished neither to sacrifice the slightest intention of the master nor to permit such an intention to be lost in an overwhelming concordance of sounds” (Stefan. impressive delivery. to balance the preponderance of the strings. The ascetic Mahler did away with the constant. but in counterpoint. and in the last movement a third and fourth trumpet. though. but lots of logic. for he knew Beethoven as one who created not in 13 JCG Vol. Mahler dethroned the first violins from their ancient absolute sovereignty over the orchestra. resented being banished from the golden Viennese heart to the limbo of the Mahlerian transcendent brain. his tremolo was insidious rather than weird. Never before and never since Mahler did they play the prelude to Lohengrin. He explained his principal notions of orchestral treatment when he justified his retouching of Beethoven’s Ninth. The Vienna Philharmonic. not much sex-appeal. hard chords played by the whole section had the reckless. the transfiguration music of Bruckner’s Fifth with such unearthly. the sensuous. 66). sweet vibratos. It was through Mahler that the woodwind section attained the importance it enjoys in all good orchestras today. The hitherto apathetic state of the second violins and violas was elevated to one of equality with the first violins and cellos respectively. thanks to the support of Brahms and Buelow. In general (if I may be permitted the comparison) Mahler’s treatment of the string section had something of the intellectual style. p. When (especially in his beloved Beethoven) the different
By “concordance of sounds” Mahler meant the result of the traditional practice of conducting Beethoven from the melodic-harmonic viewpoint. breathtaking spirituality. the severe chastity of the Busch Quartet’s playing today. the Adagio of Beethoven’s Ninth. Mahler wanted singing passages in the strings played with the whole length of the bow. to contrast them with the short figures gasped at the frog or tittered at the point. His secco of short. It was that defect which gradually brought about the perfection of those instruments. 30
. for it sounded completely dematerialized. despotic dryness of a volley of gunfire. with the sensuality and pompous glamour of the string section.” XI Mahler was the father of that huge orchestra of our period of mass-minded superlatives that has to be furnished every conductor who has even a modicum of self-esteem. Failure to utilize these improvements in order to achieve as fine a performance of Beethoven’s works as possible would be a crime. but the rich Schmaltz they lost was amply compensated by a proportionate gain in deliberate. Though he refused to be hampered by ‘tradition’ in this regard.Philharmonicum I would at once find myself in the midst of the most disgusting squabbles. Therefore in his edition of Beethoven’s Ninth. particularly to Beethoven. They can’t perform with less than the now accepted 20-20-16-10-10 proportion of strings. he added a third and fourth pair of French horns. he doubled the woodwinds. Mahler transplanted his own magnified orchestral conception of the classics. That was my experience even here (at Hamburg). almost Gipsy-like sobbing of their strings. He tempered the different colors of the various instruments to organ-like equality.
piatti. He even trained the single instruments to make imperceptible transitions from one position to the other. beaten by a gigantic wooden hammer). in the prelude to The Flying Dutchman). to achieve contrast. if the dramatic expression so required. He featured short but violent crescendo exaggerating them as in roaring glissandi (e. His percussion-battery shows equally the influence of his military boyhood surroundings. his tempi dramatically modified. built up his re-productions (interpretations) on a rhetorical development of the central-ideal of a work to its final climax and exit (the finale conductor). He made the naturally dark low register of the flute or clarinet sound almost black and urged the high register to shrillness. orchestration) were subordinated to the architectonic structure and had no independent significance. sensuality. Again. even sexuality. His exultant. agogics. were his chief concern.. or. The trumpets and trombones. polyphony. Mahler’s pet hobbies in the orchestra.” a programmatic nuance which Beethoven had been content to express with a modest kettledrum. On the other hand. “padding” of the highlights of a composition. roughness and delicacy. It is in no idle praise of his conducting to assert that even specialists could not differentiate between woodwinds and brasses in the “offstage” passages of the cemetery scene in Don Giovanni. Theirs were dramatic functions throughout. (Note the “vulgar” use of the C and the higher E-flat clarinets in his own symphonies. he had a certain way of getting a secco from his trombones that made you shiver: that hard. for contrast’s sake. even a certain vibrato to the trombones and particularly to the Bayreuth Tubas. his reading multi-voiced. however. Their rhythm was always dominating. Mahler’s rhythms were rhetorically accentuated. tempo. his dynamics and agogics histrionically declaimed. they came in as a sudden surprise. were the brasses and percussion. dynamics. Mahler’s percussion declaimed heavily. He showed a marked difference in his handling of timpani and bassdrums. he exaggerated the tonal differences between those positions. XII The conductor Mahler. he gave to his trumpets: sensuality.g. This instrument really sounded like “fate pounding at the door. The disciple of the wonderful Austrian military bands became a master in blending the brasses. What he denied to his strings. (He grew up near the military barracks in Moravia. you never felt a break in color unless it was intentionally so marked. They also were never mere accompaniment. solo-like projection of the climactic trumpet passage in the second Finale of Aida still rings in my memory. It yelled like a joyous animal while violins sounded restrained. These are the instruments most often mentioned in his letters. He blended woodwinds and brasses to a unity of sound never realized before. culminating in the Sixth. All tectonic features (rhythm. were (strange enough for a basically Romantic musician) the most indifferent group to Mahler. especially the trumpets. the group which tradition made transitional from the woodwinds to the brasses. Somehow I always had the impression.) Often in unison of strings and winds (flutes with violins or cellos and double basses with bassoons) he forced the weaker winds to dominate the strings. This is one of the ironical “twists” in his musical nature. contrapuntal JCG Vol. with typically Mahlerian contrast. where he used an especially constructed gigantic drum (an entire bullhide stretched over a huge square sounding-board.woodwinds alternated concertante. if necessary. when Mahler made the brasses enter. consistent idealist by temperament and mentality. All his symphonies employ a large battery. short sfz. sweetness. Glitter and despair. that they seemed to be already playing though they were certainly silent until that moment. literally ran amok in his percussion. the entrance of the battery had somewhat the effect of outstanding solo-work.7 I can’t remember any particular feature of his treatment to them.) The French horns. To them too he gave what he denied to the
strings. whenever they sobbed out their theme. almost like barking. 30 14
. even by doubling the winds. and tam-tam.
The net result of such conducting was an unabashed intellectualism8 vehemently presented. (Letters 477).” Gabriel Engel. Twentyfive of them were by Beethoven. “On Naive and Sentimental Poetry. “Music must beat fire from a man’s mind. and rarely grasped in its ultimate meaning. by clairvoyant brainwaves. we must bear in mind that in Mahler’s time brains and personality were the most honored property of man. Mahler performed seventy-seven concert works. pages 10 through 28. Vienna – 1955. 30
. The Stefans. a dignified lady.” is often quoted. interpretations which individualized the orchestral parts. scientific seriousness.” Therefore. Spechts. Neither of Richard Wagner nor of
Gustav Mahler Briefe – Paul Zsolnay Verlag. yet interdependent ideas. 2 Chord and Discord. copyright by Paul Zsolnay Verlag. and music historian. etc. Beethoven’s dictum. Munich 1920. Breitkopf und Haertel. Piper & Co. 4 Notwithstanding the great progress of modern psychology. 6 At the attacca introducing the last movement. and sincerity of research. 1918).rather than harmonic. the nomenclature “intellectual” is regarded as an insult equaled only by that of “individualist. Gustav Mahler – Bruno Walter – Wien 1937 – Herbert Reichner Verlag.
Mahler have we biographical works which can be compared with Wyczewa and Saint Foix on Mozart or with Kurth on Bruckner. 8 In our times of rugged collectivism and instinctivism. or singing in its deepest tones it would lend a passage the air of tragic gloom. but who lack reliability. Verlag. Stuttgart-Berlin 1925. With the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. 7 EDITORS NOTE —“The horn (in the treatment of which authorities agree Mahler was one of the greatest masters of all time) had never so important a role. in short. making them carriers of integral. Volume I number 9. Gustav Mahler – Paul Stefan – R. the best psychological explanation of the difference between the realistic and idealistic artist is still Schiller’s study. his emphasis one of design rather than color.
Ernst Joseph Maria Lert (1883. enabling it by means of dying echoes to carry smoothly an idea already exploited into a changed musical atmosphere. stage director. Gustav Mahler – Richard Specht – Duetsche Verlags Anstalt. It originally appeared in Chord and Discord. New York City)was an Austrian composer. seldom felt. almost placarded. librettist. Gustav Mahler – Song Symphonist. 3 Ibid.
15 JCG Vol. In Mahler’s resourceful use of the horn every register seemed possessed of a different psychological significance. shocked by the violence of the “attack. The preceding article is reprinted by permission of the Bruckner Society. but they themselves do nothing of real importance to explain these idols.” dropped her handbag. ENDNOTES
1 Otto Lohse ein Duetscher Kapellmeister (Leipzig. To the noble level of expressiveness it had attained in Bruckner’s hands Mahler added a new power. Yet it was fully realized by Mahler the conductor. December 1936.. are fanatical fighters against anybody who dares the slightest criticism of their idols. spilling its contents on the floor. writer. January 1938. Note: Numerals after the word “Letters” in this article refer to pages in Gustav Mahler Briefe. Wien 1924. Sometimes a solo horn would issue with overwhelming effect from a whole chorus of horns among which it had been concealed.” 5 It seems to be the common fate of the great revolutionary musicians to find biographers who overflow with praise and orthodox zeal.
or force of habit. to strive for authenticity by emulating performance practices which have evolved over nearly two centuries? If so. One wonders. and meant to be performed. Rather. Moreover. how do we explain the diversity of approach to Mozart among prominent musicians? Limited space permits only brief answers.” A discussion of this type often raises more questions than it can possibly answer. when searching for the “Mozart style. In a number of cases.” thorough knowledge of a score is not sufficient. accepted and practiced by a majority of performers and teachers. notated. we conduct a survey of present usage which compares selected readings of Mozart’s works. 1981) By Max Rudolf
Are there guidelines for the performance of Mozart’s works? If we look for readily applicable universal rules. through the use of biographical data and other pertinent sources. Some listeners welcome the diversity. Obviously. Others. notated. For example. No.” Specific data should always therefore be of special interest. the lack of unanimity as regards tempo. however. The second would be a list of the divergent or non-conformant practices. 2. is a recognized and accepted fact. they act as a guide to the available choices which are derived from prevailing performance practices. live or recorded.” ought to seek out tangible criteria. such as the manner in which a composition was conceived. 30 16
. and performed his music? Did he expect performers to comply with his own interpretations? Is it possible. The degree to which the divergent practices outnumber the similarities would certainly fluctuate from one work to another. as well as of his musical habits. is it desirable? Finally. a comprehensive study of his letters and contemporary reports allows for acceptable conclusions. The first would include characteristics that most of the readings have in common. individual taste.Contemporary Mozart Performance: A Diverse Landscape
(JCG Volume 2.” are blithely unconcerned about other Mozart admirers who may confer the same honor upon a performer with totally divergent ideas. we must attempt. musicians. under present conditions. In the recent past the accuracy of Mozart’s musical notation has been ascertained through autographs and other important JCG Vol. To quote Goethe’s simple mandate: “Whoever wants to understand the poet must go in the poet’s land. observations based on comparisons do not proffer guidelines. If.” In order to gain insight into his “workshop. We do not always know how Mozart conceived a work. the response would have to be negative. aspirations and tastes. In order to separate transitory musical customs from a composer oriented evaluation. Whatever the ratio. is information available which could inform us as to how Mozart conceived. why Mozart’s own German translation of two scenes in Don Giovanni (to which he added colorful stage directions that well illustrate his ideas) has gone virtually unnoticed. Each single composition must be viewed as part of Mozart’s total creative effort. This should be done in the light of what one might call Mozart’s “workshop. expression and other details of interpretation. to formulate a living picture of his personality as an artist and human being. partial to a favorite artist whom they regard as a master of the “Mozart style. two lists would be created. yet more frequently much is left to the “educated guess. then.
changing the rhythm. For musicians who accept the sanctity of the written note virtually as an act of faith. Not only the pitch. but also the sound quality and mechanics of all our instruments. tempo marking.. It is indeed hard to believe that works such as Mozart’s Haffner Symphony are still being performed from bowdlerized scores. Therefore. tempo was “The most necessary. Mozart believed that the ability to add embellishments was an essential part of music education (contradicting the everything-is-in-thescore theory cherished by some famous 20th century musicians). new approaches are needed to infuse life into musical masterworks of the past. Those taking an opposite position claim to serve a master like Mozart better by trying to stay close to his own intentions. To assume that the great master would have welcomed all these changes would be a rather tenuous speculation. they say. but expected. In his words.” This attitude is readily understandable. however. They should be consulted. Mozart performances have steadily yielded to performance devices typical of the Romantic era. it seems almost incredible that Mozart not only permitted.” These differences in attitude are not related to musical questions alone. tastes. For the performance of orchestral and ensemble music. sonatas. that 17 JCG Vol.sources. Although we had long suffered from unreliable editions. Mozart generally expected the players to adhere to the written text. and modes of expressions change continually. Although aware of the inherent limitations of their efforts. Trusting their intuition and the “feeling” for style (based perhaps on recent traditions rather than on factual knowledge) they remain convinced that they are serving the great masters of music in the best possible way. to the driving force that produced its works of art. Although directions as to how to “read behind the notes” were well explained in books of the time. Even more importantly. they advocate a quest for authenticity. whether in arias. Consequently. more appropriate. phrasing and emotional expression. were allowed to alter the melodic line by adding ornaments. Mozart devoted considerable care to marking the speed. Those who disapprove of efforts to revive former performance practices point to the impossibility of restoring the physical and mental environment which is inseparable from each era’s artistic creations. It is interesting to note that Mozart’s ideas on this subject were diametrically opposite to those of his older confrere Gluck. even if this practice causes a disregard of former concepts of sound. They also insist that art created in former days should be understood and enjoyed with the help of an imagination that leads the listener back to the spirit of an era. musical habits. “modernized” phrasing. lives and feels differently. or concertos.. However. In his manuscripts he would cross out one indication only to replace it by another. have been substantially altered. he will probably continue playing (or singing) incorrect notes. and be mislead by faulty tempo indications. distorted rhythms. textbooks of the day contained the following caveat: performers who lack a thorough training in composition and have not acquired a refined taste should keep their hands off! On one point Mozart was extremely strict: the choice of tempo. since about 1950 most of the composer’s output has been made available in well-researched volumes. They reflect divergent
. If a performer fails to do so. who rejected the time-honored practice. another is trying to avoid errors. They also direct our attention to changes in the public’s receptivity. an attitude reflected in the words of Henry James: “Admitting that ultimate truth is unobtainable is one thing. the most difficult. Solo performers. since the pacing of a composition determines its intrinsic character. and the most important thing in music. and inventing variations. Since Mozart’s days drastic changes have taken place in musical performance. It is only by acquiring such special knowledge. 30
performers can hope to understand the composer’s ideas. Modern man. tampering with his music. He went so far as to eliminate the word “cantabile” in an “Andante cantabile” to prevent too slow a pace.
before moving to the United States in 1940. in his Poetics of Music.views on the theory and philosophy of art. Where does this leave the performer? Stravinsky. piano. the most widely used text for orchestral conducting. 1902 — February 28. In 1945.
JCG Vol. it was republished with significant revisions in 1980 and again in 1995. take on the character of a free arrangement. while every musical performance is unavoidably a sort of translation. He served on the conducting staff of the Metropolitan Opera between 1946 and 1958. and Prague. 1995) was a German conductor who spent most of his career in the United States. performers had to make sure that the original would not. trumpet. After his tenure in Cincinnati. Rudolf was born in Frankfurt am Main where he studied cello. and composition (with Bernhard Sekles) at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. dealt at length with the problem. as well as regular engagements with major American orchestras and opera houses. he served as conductor of the Dallas Symphony for a season (1973-74). over a period of time and unnoticed by the public. 30 18
. In between this time. Darmstadt. He held positions in Freiburg. he became a naturalized citizen. when he became music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for 13 years. artistic advisor of the New Jersey Symphony (1976-77). He spoke of the “loving care to which performers should be committed. serving on the staff of the Tanglewood Institute. gradually. During this period he became a noted orchestra builder and teacher. for such a project. the sine qua non! Stravinsky also maintained that. since many of the leading conductors of this day studied under him. ***** Max Rudolf (June 15. he was head of the opera and conducting department at the Curtis Institute of Music (1970-73 and 1983-89). He wrote The Grammar of Conducting. which is perhaps what he is best remembered for. must contain an overt demonstration of intellectual curiosity which is. organ. Genuine love for a composer. just as for any love object. First appearing in 1950.
since it provides the conductor with an opportunity to familiarize his players with the structure of a composition. Often. including dynamics. Thus. Working with students or community musicians can be a very inspiring experience. it is sometimes difficult to negotiate string and woodwind rehearsal time. depending upon the results of the previous reading. relevant primarily to nonprofessional orchestras. it is advisable to decide what to rehearse in advance of the rehearsal. every player wants to read clearly marked parts. 1981) By Alan Pearlmutter
The primary consideration is not who needs a rehearsal but what use is being made of it. fugal passages help players understand the melodic development of the composition. bowings.
Whether we are directing professional musicians or young students. especially if difficult string passages need considerable practice.Rehearsal Efficiency and Score Analysis
(JCG Volume 2.1
length of time that brasses and woodwinds have been idle. 30
. Nevertheless. In general. while working with the orchestra. successful communication with players depends upon the successful rehearsal. before the first rehearsal of a composition. and fast page turns. the feasibility of holding a sectional rehearsal. a significant factor that will develop maximum interest and efficiency is theoretical. For example. Indeed. The best way to develop fluency in rehearsals is to consider the needs of the orchestral player. in addition to technical ability. Considering the needs of the player means taking into account the amount of time a section of the orchestra has been idle. is the decisive factor in leading a successful rehearsal. It is the happy combination of objectivity and initiative. No. Of course. 3. Discipline problems encountered during rehearsal result from boredom. rationalization and feeling. Aside from the aforementioned organizational considerations. This sense can be developed through experience and will be enhanced if the conductor himself has spent time playing in orchestras. a symptom of inefficient rehearsal technique. should contribute to making a rehearsal an exciting experience. For example. Educating our players does not entail superfluous verbal commentary. the crux of a rehearsal is impromptu decision-making. Maximum rehearsal efficiency will be achieved with a proper balance between pre-rehearsal planning and appropriate extemporaneous decisions during its course. This assumes that the orchestra has already read the composition and is also dependent upon factors such as the level of the players. A great deal of rehearsal time will be gained if parts are clearly marked to begin with. the fact that the conductor. discernment and intuition that. Granted. and the technical demands of the composition being rehearsed. a conductor needs to develop an inner sense for knowing the 19 JCG Vol. rehearsal of a section for one orchestral group is relevant to other groups. totally dependent upon the sounds emanating from the rehearsal. still has to decide on details of interpretation which are of vital importance to the performance. Additional efficiency can be gained by planning what and how to rehearse. the conductor is responsible for making clear markings on all parts.
14. Tension is built into the chromatic alterations simply because the tones do not change simultaneously. the orchestra will be informed about its compositional structure. the celli and violas should emphasize individual note changes without creating artificial accentuation. Here the modulation is from D-Flat Major to E-Major. particularly when the final bar of each phrase contains an expressive swell. In rehearsal. and can serve to minimize monotony. G-Flat Major. conductors sometimes need to be more attentive to inner voices than to melodic passages. and saves rehearsal time. 30 20
. In rehearsing this entire fugal section. A Major. The patterned sequence of chromatic change occurs instrumentally as follows: winds. This entire 35-bar passage must emphasize the fugal entrances. p. makes the rehearsal interesting for all players. articulation. A structure of six six-bar phrases includes motivic counterpoint on offbeats. and is continued with the second violins at m. with the second violins having provided the example. Early in the overture is a fugue for strings. with accents as written. In order to successfully negotiate thematic balance. During rehearsal. E-Flat Major. and f.31. At m. This kind of rehearsal technique clearly delineates what must be audible. Rehearsal of this 16-bar section based on the preceding theoretical knowledge will enlighten the orchestra and encourage a willingness to perform what is indicated in the score.52.It involves utilizing the rehearsal in such a way as to interest all players. The conductor’s gesture should invite these instrumental entrances in JCG Vol. even if they are not participants at a given moment.378 (Example 3). Efficiency is gained during the rehearsal if the conductor insists that the strings listen to the second violins in the first place. the fourth bar of each phrase must have hairpins. the conductor might consider using the second violins as a model for the other string sections. a four bar pattern begins. This in turn will enable the player to understand that any scale passages during the course of this section must not overshadow the motivic elements illustrated.237.128. so that a true fortissimo is reached at
m. The orchestra needs to be made aware of this sequential structure. first violins enter. and phrasing. Inside celli and basses enter with the fugal theme at m. if rehearsed properly. If only these isolated excerpts are played during initial rehearsal of this passage. which is begun at m. which is repeated three additional times. During rehearsals.144. It is extremely difficult to maintain a gradual crescendo throughout the entire 16 bars. and the syncopated motivic imitation. mf. Each section of the strings should be rehearsed in this fashion. inside celli. At m. without exaggerating the dynamic of the following sequential phrase. even after the next fugal entrance. followed by a subito piano. Smetana’s Bartered Bride Overture provides an interesting study with regard to structural techniques and how they can be used to optimize rehearsal efficiency. Sequences can provide an orchestra with insight into compositional structure. The piano (or pianissimo) dynamic must continue throughout. A case in point is the chromatic modulation in the Smetana overture which begins at m. the orchestra must be advised to make a gradual crescendo. it would be wise for the conductor to rehearse only what needs to be audible (Example 2). with inner voices supplying rising tones independent of each other. It is a fugal sequence beginning with viola and bassoon. in order to gain a proper concept of dynamics. The entire string fugue should be performed after each string section has been given the opportunity to practice the head motive.8 tutti. violas. and will add needed interest to the many repeated scales that are being performed. The five bar head motive needs to be played fortissimo. Another interesting sequence begins at m. outside celli. and not sooner. and C Major. The head motive for the fugue is quoted in Example 1. Moreover.73. Violas and outside celli state the theme at m. in keys which are a minor third higher than the preceding key.2 These four four-bar phrases must be performed and rehearsed at four different dynamic levels: pp. Thus the cycle of keys are C Major. Utilizing rehearsal time in this manner will help develop string ensemble.
He also has served Boston University’s online graduate music education program and the Department of Fine Arts of Merrimack College in North Andover. p. Such meaningful and practical score analysis will serve the best interests of the composer. the players and. (b) save rehearsal time. as players would not ordinarily be familiar with the parts of other sections. He currently teaches at Bristol Community College in Fall River. the audience. Here again. the important theoretical and/or structural devices used in the composition. (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. (c) help support his own interpretation and.M. ENDNOTES
It is surely no coincidence that the keys are a minor third apart. therefore.. 1950). 329.A.that order. Alan Pearlmutter earned his D. theoretical knowledge or analysis can lend insight into making a rehearsal efficient and worthwhile for all players. of course. Alan is Music Director of Boston’s Kammerwerke Orchestra which he established in 2006. Massachusetts. 30
. his reasoning for making musical decisions prior to and during the course of the rehearsal. since the critical melodic interval of the overture is a minor third. an organization which he served as secretary in its earliest years. Implied in the above study is a simple but important distinction between theoretical analysis for its own sake and theoretical analysis for the sake of an efficient rehearsal. at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. in his own thought. Massachusetts. After learning a score a conductor should clarify. The rehearsal of this passage should emphasize the importance of each individual note change. ***** Alan Pearlmutter is a conductor and music professor. Alan has had several articles published in the Journal of the Conductor Guild. It should also insure the interesting and effective use of valuable rehearsal time. The only theory that need concern him is the theory that will (a) help his orchestra understand the music. Inc.
23 JCG Vol. The Grammar of Conducting: A Practical Study of Modern Baton Technique.
polyphonic vocal music. the Gesellschaft des Privat-Musik-Vereins. This is best achieved under several different headings. and Schubert will be performed. Mozart. were highly esteemed composers in their day. We read that masterpieces by Haydn. Both Onslow and Spohr. Out of these investigations several startling new perspectives on Franz Schubert’s musical and professional life have emerged. the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde was the most important. Before this performance could take place. but seems common practice today. The sesquicentennial celebrations in 1978 afforded me the opportunity to delve afresh into a rich variety of archival material housed in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna. Hence it is not possible to assess Schubert’s position within this rich tradition if we insist on making comparisons by today’s standards. and elsewhere I was able to examine a number of important collections of concert programs from the period. and Beethoven. Beethoven. The result can be a dramatization of what appears extraordinary to us now. Onslow. and from 1819 on. but was self-explanatory then.Schubert’s Position in Viennese Musical Life
(JCG Volume 3. In the early 19th century in Vienna. devoted to Lieder.
drawing special attention to new disclosures. 1982) By Otto Biba
In the first decades of the nineteenth century. Along with offering a general overview of Viennese musical life in Schubert’s time. His return to the solid ground of contemporary documentation can be put to even better use when we compare events in Schubert’s biography with those of his fellow composers and musicians. concerts were presented either by independent virtuosi-who assumed both the artistic and the financial risks-or by private societies. the Concerts sprituels einer Geslischaft von Musikfreunden. however. Spohr. I propose to define Schubert’s position within this network. as well as Haydn. We remain indebted to Otto Erich Deutsch who. Perhaps most central is the arena of public concert life. This later earned the title of Musikalische Abendunterhaltungen. it was to play an important role in Schubert’s life as well. more than sixty years ago. and chamber works. founded in 1812 and still very active today. or if we evaluate historical testimony using our own experiences as the reference point. Viennese musical life was decidedly different from the relatively homogeneous international scene so familiar to us today. 3. To be sure. There were at that time three such organizations: the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. Mozart. On a poster from the year 1818 announcing the commencement of these concerts. Schubert’s name is already found. it can also lead to our overlooking a development that was indeed extraordinary in Schubert’s time. Schubert’s relationship to the Gesellschaft received JCG Vol. and in 1818 it inaugurated a second series. 30 24
. From 1816 on the society sponsored regular orchestral concerts. All three of these societies were on friendly terms with the others. Schubert’s inclusion is all the more impressive in light of the fact that in 1818 not a single work of his had yet appeared in print. founded in 1818. Franz Schubert has perhaps suffered more than any other composer at the hands of biographers unable to distinguish between yesterday and today. No. rescued Schubert from the twin realms of fantasy and fiction.
Three years later. in December 1828. with Mozart now in third and Beethoven in fourth place. On patently specious grounds his petition was denied. a symphony had to be chosen for the memorial concert. by 1825 Schubert had surpassed both of them in popularity. Rossini’s preeminence comes as no surprise in light of the Rossini-Rummel that had swept over Vienna. and I can well imagine that to some of his contemporaries this was viewed as anti-bourgeois and irresponsible. We do not know what the precise grounds were. but my suspicion is that they involved strictly personal matters. the Sixth Symphony was selected. but that Schubert’s popularity was eclipsed only by the Italian’s is remarkable. Schubert was the very first Viennese composer to live solely from his compositions. for one thing. however. Members of this Repräsentantenkörpers exercised direct influence on the makeup of concert programs. The widespread belief that the musicians preparing the Great C-Major for its premiere rejected it because of its unreasonable difficulties is false. 30
. and in 1827 as a regular member of the representative body which provided much of the leadership for the Gesellschaft. two copyists set immediately about preparing performance parts. and Schubert’s name can now indeed be found among the membership. The first authenticated performance of the Great C-Major Symphony––although in abbreviated form-took place in 1839 at the instigation of Robert Schumann. or else they worked in the civil bureaucracy and composed on the side. Apparently a concert performance was never intended. We know. Moreover. several duplicate orchestral parts were prepared.
To be sure. In March of 1818 the young composer applied to the society for membership. his works received regular performances in the concerts sponsored by the society. Having been slightly overshadowed by Mozart and Beethoven in the years following 1821. however. Paper and scribal evidence make it clear that sometime in the early 1830s. With the aid of watermarks Robert Winter was able to determine that the parts cited in both receipts are almost certainly identical in large measure with those now in the Gesellschaft library. No easy answer suggests itself. and for an undetermined occasion. Nevertheless.
25 JCG Vol. From the memoirs of Leopold von Sonnleithner we know that the C-Major Symphony received at least one reading during the rehearsals of the society’s conservatory orchestra—and this during Schubert’s lifetime.a harsh blow. All other composers supported themselves either through teaching. and it is probably no accident that from 1825 until his death Schubert’s music was second in popularity on the Abendunterhaltungen only to that of Rossini. under Felix Mendelssohn’s direction in Leipzig. The well-preserved records of the Gesellschaft make it clear that the work was never planned for an official public performance. we must ask why Schubert did not exercise the same zeal on behalf of his orchestral works. in no way marked a rediscovery of the work. we are quite safe in assuming that Schubert heard the work in an orchestral rehearsal of the Konservatorium. that as soon as Schubert had presented and dedicated his Great C-Major Symphony to the Gesellschaft at the end of 1826. without either a steady income or a traditional profession. Even at that time Schubert was already a freischaffender Komponist. From this time on. Even Beethoven had a base income in the form of an annuity supplied by a group of aristocratic patrons. This performance. there was a change in the constitution of the board. This could have been one reason why the worthy gentlemen of the Gesellschaft’s board of directors did not wish to welcome Schubert into their ranks. as is so often asserted. When. the finale of the symphony was performed in a public concert in Vienna in 1836. In 1825 he was elected as an alternate. their paper suggests a completion date during the summer of 1827. one who earned his entire income through his own artistic efforts. I was fortunate in being able to locate the receipts for both copyists in the archives of the Gesellschaft.
it brought him net earnings of 800 gulden. while Schubert accompanied Normans Gesang. though very few survive. D. he did nothing to promote them. In light of all the publicity garnered by the Schuppanzigh Quartet with regard to its performances of Beethoven. it is important to stress that Schuppanzigh was an equally ardent advocate of Schubert. But the vitality of Viennese musical life is best attested through the presence between 1780 and 1840 of musical salons. D. The concert itself was an unqualified critical and public success. and that a minor civil servant received around 400 gulden per year. Even after Schubert’s death his chamber works remained on the programs of the Schuppanzigh Quartet. Second. Contemporary performance materials for the First. but between 1824 and 1828 alone he premiered no fewer than four works of Schubert. With the dedication of his A-Minor Quartet. 913. Even so. at Jansa’s concert. or even entirely. to which I referred above.As regards to performances in the composer’s lifetime. Such concerts. in any case. 30 26
. The public concerts put on by the three private musical societies occurred relatively infrequently. In numerous families a welcome was also extended to music lovers not necessarily known to them. It was typical for a composer to present a sheaf of his newest works in a public concert organized by himself. And whereas these were generally limited to the works of a single composer. one of their regular concerts. The idea of musical salon is placed in better relief against the backdrop of concerts organized by individual artists. It might on occasion be necessary to assemble the performers in one room and the listeners in another. but it also constitutes evidence of how established Schubert was on the Viennese musical scene. The performances featured not only chamber music combinations but orchestral works as well. Between 1797 and 1826 Schuppanzigh premiered seven works of Beethoven. These less formal musical evenings were the active transmitters of Viennese musical life. On 22 April 1827. was not the public concert but the so-called musical salon. then. largely. around his own works. It was not until March 1828 that Schubert was persuaded by his friends to organize just such an evening. Of the numerous other instrumental virtuosi who frequently performed Schubert. There is even reason to believe that he worked actively to discourage such performances. The most famous instrumental soloists of the day regularly performed works by Schubert on their programs. for male voices and horns. might also bring acquaintances and friends. For this purpose the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde placed its concert hall at Schubert’s disposal. Lewy offered the first performance of Schubert’s Nachtgesang im Walde. Along with the artistic acclaim. and Sixth Symphonies survive in the archives of the Gesellschaft. and there is every indication that they were used then. two deserve special mention. Third. The forum. Both middle classes and aristocracy sponsored such events. could be described as semi-public. the violinist Leopold Jansa and the hornist Joseph Lewy each presented. Schubert was partly able to repay Schuppanzigh for his support. or to works which showed off the abilities JCG Vol. it cannot be stressed too strongly that Schubert was inhibited by an inordinate shyness when it came to the public performance of his orchestral works. free of charge. to which it was customary to invite acquaintances and friends who. it would be a mistake to assume that Schubert never heard his symphonies. Fifth. Ascertaining the reasons for this would doubtless call for a deeper psychological study. in their turn. however. 846. Consider that his father received 240 gulden per year as a teacher. op. This violinist-conductor
clearly recognized the worth of the young composer and did everything in his power to promote him. Further concerts like this one proved impossible only because eight months later Schubert suddenly and unexpectedly contracted typhus and died. The picture of a composer unable to attend a premiere of one of his own works may be ascribed to accidental circumstance. A number of families had their own invitations and admission tickets printed up or handwritten. at the same hour but in different halls. 29.
That Lieder and polyphonic vocal works of Schubert were performed frequently in musical salons is one aspect of the composer’s musical life sufficiently well known. as well as a few overtures. we do not really know how Schubert would have responded to a performance by an ensemble of this size. Second. Diabelli’s investment was nevertheless a sound one. but they were certainly not inconsequential. what then were his opportunities for remuneration? In the period between 1816 and 1821 we can be quite sure that it was the goodwill and financial support of his friends that sustained Schubert. This relatively large ensemble was directed by Otto Hatwig himself from his vantage point as leader of the first violins. 1. and from April on 200 gulden. Schubert composed his Fifth Symphony. We can also confirm that the above-mentioned orchestral parts for the First. for he earned a small fortune from brisk sales of Schubert songs over the years. for example. songs. long after the rest of his stable had ceased to attract buyers.) The orchestra at Otto Hatwig’s included Franz Schubert among its violists. It was at these concerts that the most important performances of Schubert’s music took place. and paired winds. (I see no reason why the Fourth Symphony would not have been performed as well. for example. the repertoire at a musical salon was both varied and innovative. In the years 1821-22 the publication of Ops. since there was no such thing as royalty payments. Fifth. In this short period of time Schubert’s earnings had soared almost to the level of the imperial Hofkapellmeister. three violas. neither of these small amounts. These five years mark the interval between his resigning from the teaching profession and the publication of his Op.1 I had the opportunity to report on the size of orchestras employed in public concerts. At the same time Diabelli had become accustomed to paying Schubert 200 gulden for opuses that generally contained three. we have a complete list of the participants: seven first violins. Bearing in mind the annual salary of a minor civil servant. In those days
. From Schubert’s letters we learn that for each printed opus—generally of Lieder—he received from the publisher 125 gulden until the spring of 1823. critical acclaim achieved at a salon was just as significant as that earned in a public concert. three cellos. Again. 1-7 and 10-12 realized for the composer a profit of some 2000 gulden. or at most four. and Sixth Symphonies. two contrabasses. In the year 1825. The precise sums have been preserved in only a few instances. 30
financially no more penalized for a semi-public performance in a salon than for our customary public concert. a composer was 27 JCG Vol. Since a number of Schubert’s orchestral works are preserved in contemporaneous collections. In an earlier paper. six second violins. With their fifty to sixty players they were markedly bigger than Hatwig’s group. that Reichsgraf Moriz von Fries gave Schubert 200 gulden for the dedication of Op. the well-established composer Johann Hugo Vonsek requested an honorarium of 75 gulden from the publisher Diabelli for a collection of six songs. regardless of artistic merit. a comparison with a contemporary best clarifies Schubert’s position. a prominent citizen of Vienna and an important musical figure. In fact. this amounted to some five years’ income. otherwise the best paid musician in Vienna.of a single performer. Third. For a salon organized by Otto Hatwig. We know. In fact. If Schubert was the first Viennese composer to live entirely from his musical compositions. we can probably assume that its parts have been lost. 2. Yet too many observers fall into the trap of equating these salons with our present day notions of Hausmusik. In just these numbers we can be sure that Schubert heard his early symphonies. were used in performances at musical salons of Otto Hatwig. Diabelli found this amount too high. To this healthy figure must be added the sums of money presented by nobility to whom Schubert dedicated compositions. Finally. we must assume that performances outside of Hatwig’s salons— among the most prestigious in Vienna—took place on a fairly regular basis. half our civil servant’s yearly salary.
Instruction in music was considered an essential ingredient toward the well-rounded education of a young person. Schubert’s works were favored for reprintings by other than the original Verleger. This is evident not only from the hundreds of published works. Rather more common were works for piano and orchestra. the first opuses of Schubert each appeared in three hundred copies. for example. the field of dance music enabled Schubert to demonstrate yet another dimension in his mastery of instrumental music. then. After the highly successful premiere of Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischutz. The growing public had a seemingly rapacious appetite for the new and the novel. for guitar and flute. Keyboard music was in no small way a participant in this success. Collections such as the Witteczek-Spaun anthology of Lieder. it became the rather unlikely object of a chain of Erlkönig-Walzer by Schubert’s friend Anselm Hüttenbrenner. This is reflected in the size of the Auflagen. While an initial printing of one hundred was normally considered high. brought out once more by Cappi & Diabelli. Erlkönig. In addition. The publisher offered the composer an honorarium.
JCG Vol. Finally. an average of sixteen new works by Schubert appeared annually. A common tribute to an especially popular work was to arrange its best-known themes as a dance piece. much of it done professionally and some for personal pleasure. a string of Freischutz-Walzer suddenly appeared. Only a few months after Schubert’s very first opus. Since the solo keyboard recital did not yet exist. close to ninety-eight numbered opuses of Schubert appeared. We do not know why it remained unfulfilled. Within an eight-year period from 1821 to 1828. there were twenty-eight works without opus numbers. Likewise. a Liebhaber in the privacy of his own home is not likely to have left a written account. 30 28
. upon acceptance of which the work became the publisher’s own. He had indeed assumed a position at the summit of Viennese musical life. Other indications of Schubert’s popularity are the arrangements of keyboard dances which Cappi & Diabelli regularly commissioned from anonymous journeymen. it lies in the numerous reprintings issued by publishers. and we know that Schubert received a commission in the year 1818 to compose a rondo for piano and orchestra. That the composer might share in the profits generated by sales was completely unheard of. including one in Leipzig. an instrument was assumed. Publishing was supplemented in Schubert’s case by the widespread copying of his music. it is hardly surprising that so few details about this intimate art
have come down to us. Solo works for piano occur only infrequently. or at least facility on. was published by Cappi & Diabelli. Rossini’s greatest triumphs in Vienna found their echo in a stream of dance music. but in very small amounts. and it is unthinkable that publishers would have rushed to engrave his works unless there was a constant and steady demand. Only three of these had appeared by 1821. and keyboard music are only later manifestations of the keen interest aroused by Schubert’s music during his lifetime.the modus operandi was to produce a great deal of music very quickly. and the fortepiano was the preferred instrument. The public clamored for these works to be made available in other than a solo configuration—for example. Such were the quantities in which Schubert was published that he can scarcely be compared in this regard to any of the contemporaries. but also from certain typical Viennese practices. We have already seen that Schubert was better paid than his contemporaries because the publishers felt assured of a healthy demand. apparently the dramatic opposition of a solo instrument with orchestra aroused little compositional interest in him. with reissues following soon thereafter. These can be discerned on the basis of small but often highly significant corrections made in each issue. The programs in public concerts during Schubert’s lifetime were quite mixed. In the following years. part-songs. Mastery of. along with the financial risk—and the profits. But if any proof is needed to demonstrate the popularity of Schubert’s keyboard music.
and in spite of repeated attempts. then. The first printed collection of Schubert’s dance music appeared in 1821.’s in 1828. Once more there is a dearth of written accounts of performances. the tune which forms the basis of this collection is none other than Schubert’s Trauerwalzer. The best dance music. And many occasional pieces which were never intended to be printed received widespread circulation in manuscript copies. This relative failure has achieved the status of an a priori judgement today. for example. has been composed by the Herren Schubert. in a curious endorsement of contemporaneous taste. D. The actual reasons. The active membership in these Vereine included persons who offered musical salons or participated in the programs of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde and other organizations. One persistent thorn in Schubert’s side was surely his inability to obtain performances at the highest ranking ecclesiastical center in Vienna: the Imperial Court Chapel. For each of these same houses Schubert also wrote works on commission. he began his career as a sacred musician.” Two of his most illustrious contemporaries—Joseph Lanner (1801-43) and Johann Strauss Sr. For one thing. A large number of churches in Vienna and the surrounding area. In this light a newspaper review for the Karneval of 1828. is especially revealing. partly because the semi-public nature of musical performance in churches rendered such reports unnecessary. Although he had himself worked there as a boy. however. which evaluates the work of a dozen different composers. he was unable to gain entry into this bastion of tradition. may be more complex than the simplistic explanations generally offered. Ill luck may also be said to have plagued Schubert’s efforts as an opera composer. I do not believe it was Schubert’s unfortunate choice of libretti.Another strong witness to the popularity of Schubert as a dance composer is a set of variations by Carl Czerny. a survey of Schubert’s stature in Viennese life would not be complete without mentioning it. all showing ample signs of use. But there are other kinds of testimony. and there seems little doubt that more comprehensive investigation will unearth even more treasure. and Strauss. In countless Lieder. the Kärtnerthortheater and the Theater an der Wien. To be sure. and for another he regularly maintained close connections with the most important churches and their Kirchenmusikvereine. reports the reviewer with confidence. part-songs. 2. Schubert was well acquainted with both men. (1804-49) were known only for their dance music. Schubert was well known to virtually all of them. for extremely successful operas have been created from pitiful texts. 30
turn up these documents. now an association drawn from the membership of the church saw to it that appropriate artistic standards were maintained. 365. and settings of the Credo of the mass he shows himself to be a
. Lanner. Only in 1865 was this situation rectified. no. Though remembered today chiefly for his pedagogical studies. eluded him. A lasting success. Schubert’s success in the field of religious music should come as no surprise. It is also too easy to assert that Schubert was simply not a dramatic composer. Czerny was an enormously popular composer in Schubert’s time. A work of Schubert’s. Although in some respects church music occupied a position of secondary importance. which by then had already become so much a part of the popular consciousness that it was no longer considered necessary to supply the name of its composer. however. between “popular” and “classical. No longer were the priests of the congregation solely responsible for selecting the music to be used in their celebrations of the mass. whatever his own artistic deficiencies. It is only recently that systematic research has begun to 29 JCG Vol. possess music printed during Schubert’s lifetime. and the first of Johann Strauss Sr. We ought not to forget that during Schubert’s time no distinction existed between Unterhaltungsmusik and Ernste Musik. through which both achieved international fame. had been raised to the status of folk music. the first of Lanner’s in 1825. several operatic works were performed in the two opera houses of that time. In 1821 he brought out his Variationen über einen beliebten Wiener Walzer.
The sole link he was fortunate enough to forge turned out to be as much of a liability as an asset. the operatic music of Schubert affords repeated insights into his desire to absorb from these diverse styles all that was most suited to his own. In short. but throughout all classes of Viennese society. those which did reach the stage were by no means fiascos. In 1821 the Hoftheater official Ignaz von Mosel—with whom Schubert was on very good terms—was appointed to the position of Vice-Director. even he was not able to promote his own cause. just as today. in the musical salons or in sacred music. opera ought to approach the ideal of the oratorio. he was. He was paid handsome fees and offered generous honoraria for new compositions. but many of them were members of his own circle of friends. Then. and finally the old-fashioned opera seria in the tradition of Gluck. Schubert enjoyed a distribution that must have been the envy of many other composers. Although Schubert’s continuously growing reputation was still largely confined to regional boundaries upon his death. Yet precisely because Mosel was so out of touch with public desires. for which he was unable to obtain performances. Only against the background of Rossini’s near stranglehold on the Viennese musical stage could the limited success enjoyed by Schubert be viewed in so critical a light. How many other composers could point to two different years—for Schubert 1821 and 1826—when two public concerts given on the same day both featured works of theirs? From Lieder to chamber music. But Mosel had developed his own eccentric view of opera. for many works whose first performance can only be authenticated in the decades following Schubert’s death were quite probably unveiled in one of the many musical salons we know to have JCG Vol. And although he must have been frustrated with works like Die Verschworenen and Fierabras and. In published writings Mosel advanced the view that opera ought to express spiritual states and not dramatic actions and events. doubtless among the most celebrated composers living in Vienna.highly-charged dramatist. There were really only three genres that the Viennese would tolerate: most preferred were the operas of Rossini. Armed with suitable allies.
To this grouping might be added the German Singspiel. at the age of thirty-one. On a more modest scale. But among the influential personages on Vienna’s operatic scene—and by this I do not mean singers but members of the administration—Schubert was not able to establish a single meaningful contact. Schubert’s potential achievement on the musical stage would have been greatly enhanced. and the assumption that especially the early Singspiele of Schubert were premiered in this setting is almost certainly correct. second the French Spiel-Opern. and it coincided neither with Schubert’s nor with the public’s taste. There is some evidence that in certain works Schubert made an effort to compose within these narrow boundaries. His popularity resided not only with a few powerful arbiters of musical taste. Schubert was not only well-acquainted with the leading figures in Viennese concert life. such contacts were essential. more compelling explanation. Every expression of virtuosity was to be banned from the stage. it becomes clear that our image of a penniless. Claudine von Villa Bella—which the composer set to a text of Goethe’s in 1815—we have unimpeachable evidence that it was intended for just such a Haustheater. These might be viewed as the operatic wing of the musical salons. If the successive bits of evidence that have accumulated throughout this essay are viewed as a whole. perhaps most of all. I believe there is another. we know that Singspiele were frequently performed in the smaller theaters of private homes. a genre in themselves. in any event. exemplified by Méhul. 30 30
. Even today we probably underrate its extent. with Alfonso und Esstrella. then. from dance music to sacred music. Too little research has been carried out in this area. threadbare Bohemian is not only highly tinted but fundamentally inaccurate. Large portions of his musical output were widely performed and widely published. but for at least one Singspiel of Schubert’s. and the plot was to be presented through commentary rather than overt action.
Robert Winter (forthcoming). November 1979.” Beethoven. libraries. That Schubert could have used. and that they were enormously popular. 3. by permission of The Regents. 30
31 JCG Vol. With only a single handwritten program from one of these evenings having survived. The choice of this path must have nevertheless required a great deal of courage from a young man whose social instincts were not particularly radical. and with meager statistics. Critics. “Concert Life in Beethoven’s Vienna. ***** In 1973 Otto Biba began working as a staff member in the archives. ed. Schubert’s commitment to composition was obviously such that he required all of his waking hours to pursue it.taken place during his lifetime. Reprinted from 19th-Century Music. pp 106-113. and collections of the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna where he later became its director. that they were held frequently. Vol. we are left only with the knowledge that such events existed. No. ENDNOTES See Otto Biba. and Performers. Yet his model remains today’s ideal. 2. Copyright 1979 by The Regents of the University of California. How many composers teaching undergraduate theory would not gladly change places with Schubert? Perhaps the only modification the 20th century might offer are the services of a good investment counselor accustomed to dealing with irregular incomes.
obscure. Furthermore. these parts are almost inevitably given to members of the common brass section. This is a versatile group and has become so because of its adaptability and wide availability. and professional and amateur concertizing. there were numerous. Of course. One of the hallmarks of musical Romanticism was the continuing refinement of the instrumental means that supported the search for increasingly subtle and evocative musical timbres. However. Central to this phenomenon. This change in philosophy is reflected in the unprecedented activity in music journals. 1. yet affords a pragmatic approach to greater musical authenticity. No. was the invention and eventual adoption of valved brass. But there is an intermediate ground that respects the realities of today’s musical scene. most of the standard orchestral repertoire may be performed with appropriate and pleasing results. 1984) By William E. This practice is emphatically not JCG Vol. Fostered by the technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution. and often short-lived. As in any period of experimentation and rapid technological change. With these instruments. solutions to musical demands. One of the hallmarks of our culture is the increasing interest in creating performances that more closely reflect the original style and overall aesthetic intent of the composer than hitherto has been the case. The standard complement consists of piston-valved trumpets. The infinite resources of the palette of orchestral colors are among the major achievements of Western music. Runyan
The preponderance of the so-called standard orchestral repertoire was composed during the 19th century. symphony orchestras in this country are institutions. Today. further stimulating the imagination of composers and orchestrators with an assortment of novel and versatile instruments. this laudable attitude is only slowly penetrating orchestral circles. 30 32
. This is especially true of the instruments of the orchestral brass section. and a bass tuba (in CC or BB-flat). to revert to the use of gut strings and ophicleides. it clearly would be impractical to expect the average community orchestra. or amateur. and a central focus of those 19th-century developments that begat these resources lay in the changing nature of the orchestral brass instruments. double horns of German descent. music editions. or obsolete. obscurity. and the instrumentation of today’s symphony orchestra reached its final definition as that epoch ended. there are many instances in the repertoire where the score originally called for brass instruments whose present-day rarity.Appropriate Brass Timbre: A Conductor’s Responsibility
(JCG Volume 5. large-bore trombones. and as such may be expected to maintain conservative attitudes. and obsolescence preclude their general usage. On the whole. but which unfortunately include parts for brass instruments that are now rare. of course. However. whether it be professional. with a few notable exceptions. This frequently resulted in major composers creating compositions that have found their way into the permanent legacy of the time. the creative abilities of makers of brass instruments were given full rein. semi-professional. there are many practical reasons why larger ensembles respond more slowly to changes in aesthetic philosophy than may chamber ensembles or soloists. instrument manufacture.
common brass instruments. Although discussion of most of this whole realm of instrumental history. However.1 The following discussion of the correct modern brass instruments for appropriate tone color is not intended to be exhaustive. or that a brass player’s training to a high executive skill automatically imbues him with a concomitant knowledge of history and orchestral aesthetic. Thus. and the artistic decisions concerning the selection of appropriate brass tone color must not be wholly abandoned to the members of the brass section. 19th-century orchestral literature composed by Frenchmen.necessary in many instances. the basic philosophy and its execution is even more applicable to professionals. and the scoring differences often colored the compositions in ways that are lost in today’s performances. It must be admitted that this solution of convenience is sometimes musically correct. When speaking of practical substitutions. As every conductor knows. This is a remarkable change from the situation in the recent past when almost every part would be played on one instrument. The thoughtful conductor should consider a middle ground and avail himself of these practical substitutes. for despite traditional theoretical usage. the wise conductor generally respects the player’s choice. and that influenced by the French musical tradition. nearly all modern conductors simply allow the two cornet parts and the two trumpet parts to be played on four trumpets. There are practical substitutions available for the “standard” instruments that yield more aesthetically satisfactory results without resorting to esoteric instruments that smack of antiquarianism. And in this case. owing to the relative absence of problems stemming from a variety of instrument types. trombone. Sad to say. The conductor simply must arm himself with a knowledge of historical aesthetic philosophies. or of special scoring. the cornet parts often were more active. a concern for a 33 JCG Vol. the reference to advanced students serves only to indicate the basic practicality of the following suggestions. we mean modern brass instruments available to skilled college and conservatory students. yet do so without undue inconvenience. 30
correct presentation of composer’s intentions. All responsible conductors are keenly aware of the magnitude and the diversity of knowledge and skills necessary for musical leadership. In far too many cases they are no more qualified than anyone else. aesthetic intent. the issue of stylistic integrity and authenticity is often polarized between those who admit no compromise with historic “correctness” and those who condemn all such concerns as being merely academic. conductors have often taken the attitude that these matters are the player’s responsibility. but rather illustrative of the thoughtful consideration that is requisite in a variety of orchestral repertoire. *** The average present-day orchestral trumpet player usually arrives at rehearsal laden with a variety of trumpets cast in different keys. Thereby. and – as a means – a basic understanding of the timbral capabilities of all of the modern. this does not justify the
. Unfortunately. as well as a concern for the composer’s specific musical intentions. is often characterized by two trumpet parts and two cornet parts. and tuba players (the horn is not included for reasons discussed below). while those for the trumpets were simpler. However. This scoring technique capitalized on the tonal purity of the trumpets and the chromatic facility of the cornets by assigning appropriate parts to each. it is painfully obvious that many conductors continue to ignore their responsibilities in this specific area. The French horn is not treated. and technical details has at one time or another appeared in public professional forums. he would avoid the aesthetic limitations of an insensitive and firm adherence to the common orchestral brass. Unfortunately. the situation is much different with regard to the parts designed for the cornet. Naturally. and easily played by average community orchestra trumpet. radical differences of tone color preferences. composers actually often wrote very similar parts for both instruments. The difference in tonal quality between the two instruments was pronounced.
and it is imperative that its tone color be readily distinguishable from that of the trumpets. In the Pines of Rome. There are instances in the orchestral repertoire where the flugelhorn is the only real choice. Otherwise. Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite calls for a solo cornet. 9 uses the flugelhorn in important solo and tutti passages. It is simply folly to request that the player use a cornet. an JCG Vol. and the bucolic atmosphere Mahler creates in this movement suggests that the mellow tone of the flugelhorn is much more appropriate. it will suffice to simply point out two possible solutions. these parts are occasionally given to trumpets and trombones. Probably no other issue is as controversial in brass circles as this one. conductors assuming it is the only easy solution. is simple. There are many instances when the cornet parts demand consideration of a darker. its valved descendants. for the sound of the modern cornet is practically identical to that of the B-flat trumpet. Flicorno) and is generally the instrument to use in such instances. there remains the knotty problem of choosing an appropriate modern instrument. Respighi calls for an offstage band consisting of two each of flicorni soprano. the treatment of the two instruments is somewhat different. In another instance Italien. but the increasing popularity of the instrument makes it readily available. harp and cellos. Mahler indicates that for the wind band “in der Ferne. In No. in Harold en Italie. 7. will reveal different approaches to scoring for the cornets and trumpets.” the cornets often are the only brass doubled with the woodwind section in florid passages. the style is mixed: much of the time the four parts are similar. Rather than enter the fray here. in the fourth movement “Orgie de Brigands. then success is possible. Having determined that some attempt should be made to distinguish the tone color of cornet parts in performance. But here. but flugelhorns are the correct instruments for the soprano flicorni parts and. the famous posthorn solo in the third movement is often played on trumpet – even in the most august of orchestras. and when it is not. again. Moving on to the 20th century. if they are available. In Das Klagende Lied. Even an authentic cornet sound would be preferable to that of the trumpet. It is true that the flugelhorn is essentially a saxhorn (It. rather. use the correct cornet mouthpieces. are preferred over trumpets. but occasionally there is a valuable distinction of color between the two kinds of instruments.modern practice of assuming this is always the case.” the first cornet often doubles a lyric solo passage in the bassoon. In the Symphonie fantastique there is little difference between the cornet and trumpet parts. A brief consideration of the nature of the historical posthorn. and it has been suggested that a flugelhorn would be suitable for the part. it is incumbent that he draw his conclusion from a close examination of the nature of the part during his score study. though. more lyrical sound than that produced by trumpets.” flugelhorns. In his Symphony No. Even a cursory examination of the scores of Berlioz. The conductor must not be mislead by the instrumental label on the part. 3. Berlioz is referring to the piccolo instrument. for example. Some
instrument factories have recently introduced cornet models that are supposed to have the lyrical. easily available. Unfortunately. The solution to determining just when it is worth the effort to find an appropriate instrument for cornet parts. In the first movement “Harold aux Montagnes.” of his Te Deum Berlioz calls for a petit saxhorn suraigu in B-flat. The suggestion may seem unusual. On the other hand. One must beware of making glib assumptions. tenori. and bassi. 30 34
. Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. rounder. and possess the correct concept of cornet timbre. and it would be a waste of effort to attempt to utilize two different modern instruments. If your trumpet players have access to these instruments. In both of these instances it would be desirable to recapture something of Berlioz’s original concept of the appropriate brass tone color. and its range and tone color enable it to provide a distinctive contrast to orchestral trumpets. The same may be said for the three buccine parts in Respighi’s Feste Romane. a very plausible solution is to simply use flugelhorns. dark quality of earlier models. “Marche.
Mozart. Ravel. and bass trombones. The oratorios of Haydn. beautiful though it may be. clear trombone color. Although many alto trombone parts lay quite high. Today. The heavy. with its dark. tenor. and Mendelssohn regain much of their desired color when performed with alto and small or medium-bore tenor and bass trombones. That this application of heavy. clear. Much of the standard literature. Schumann’s Rhenish is an evergreen on orchestral auditions. Beethoven. Weber. There are a variety of works that would profit from the use of the alto trombone. an important aspect of the scoring of Schubert’s C-Major Symphony. and bass instruments of small to medium bore. In contradistinction to the trumpet players. primarily for the difficulty of its ascent to e-flat2. however.octave higher than the familiar B-flat flugelhorn. Schubert. The music of Berlioz. the only fit modern substitute for this instrument is the piccolo trumpet in high B-flat. Debussy. is simply not desirable in this music. 30
course. for orchestral literature ranging in style from Mozart to Mahler. naturally the timbre of the alto trombone is the appropriate one. and not dominate. should be performed with a light. the choral parts. where
. Yet. There can be a significant difference between the doubling of an exposed d2 with the altos by an alto trombone or by a large-bore tenor trombone. For example. But the major exception is Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. Germanic tone color to all of the repertoire is inappropriate is unquestionable. Beethoven. The same concern for authentic balance and color is every bit as important when we consider the orchestral music of Germany and Austria in the period roughly from Gluck and Haydn to Schumann. the true perspective is simply that Schumann scored the trombones in this manner in order to evoke an atmosphere of traditional cathedral music. The symphonies and overtures of Mozart. subtlety. rich timbre. The standard trombone trio for which all these composers wrote consisted of alto. Almost all symphonic trombonists have access to small-bore instruments (they probably already perform on them in other kinds of ensembles). yet. jazz-influenced Paris of the 1920s when it is performed on the smaller instrument. for example. Obviously. and penetrating. and integrity when this concept of trombone sound is employed. balance. two large bore tenors and a large bore bass are generally used for this literature. regardless of the capabilities of modern performers on large-bore tenor trombones. Recent generations of American symphonic trombonists have been immersed in a philosophy that deprecates any symphonic concept but that produced by large-bore instruments. and many others sounds with far greater clarity. tenor. and Mendelssohn benefit immensely from the use of the correct alto. it is vitally important that trombonists employ light instruments that blend with. That. including most of that by French composers and all of the late classical and early romantic repertoire. any competent orchestral trombonist can execute them on the largest equipment. sonorous quality of late-Romantic trombone style. the trombone solo in Bolero is far more evocative of the intense. Furthermore. This practice completely alters the orchestral texture. Schumann. There is general agreement that the standard trombone trio for 19th–century French repertoire utilizes a tenor for the first part. and this is correct. and they should be encouraged to use them when appropriate. He uses this instrument. of 35 JCG Vol. the timbre and lightness of the alto is what is desired – not ease of execution of the higher register. the sensitive and responsible conductor can do much to alter this unfortunate attitude. Roussel. With these oratorios’ use of the 18th-century practice of doubling the choral parts with the trombones. is not the point. and timbre that the composer intended and lays on a drape of late-Romantic coloring. in his famous instrumentation treatise. the typical orchestral trombonist uses only one instrument – inevitably a large-bore B-flat tenor trombone. he characterizes the sound of this instrument as brilliant. This mad rush toward ever bigger and darker trombone sound often runs the risk of endangering the important contrast between horn and trombone sections. and beyond.
whose tessitura is generally far too high.g. There are other examples of parts for this instrument in the literature. In passing.. 30 36
. 7 is best played upon the euphonium’s brother. 7.” the instrument needed is the common euphonium. and tubas in a variety of keys and configurations have all taken their place in the orchestra. but almost never under its common name. Strauss. These parts only occasionally descend as low as AA (two octaves JCG Vol. For example. but the timbre of the large-bore tenor is more suitable for these late 19thcentury works. and the major instrument of hundreds of students in the United States. and “Bydlo” in Pictures at an Exhibition should be played on this instrument. and Puccini. Don Quixote. bass horns. anyway. Otello. These standard modern tubas possess too great a depth and breadth of tone for these parts. Although perhaps obvious to many. Leoncavallo. and others manifestly sound better performed on those instruments. the baritone horn. any proficient bass trombonist can usually creditably play the contrabass part on a double-valve bass trombone by utilizing his pedal register. e. Mahler broached the possibility of using alto trombone in a soft. The famous solos in The Planets. However. chorale-like passage in his Symphony No. which is the case with Brahms’ symphonies and Elgar’s Enigma Variations. As in the case of the cornet/trumpet parts. though. it is interesting to note that much later. may push the range upward. there are occasions when the conductor needs to share this responsibility. Parts written for valve
trombones are uncommon. that the part for “Tenor-horn in B” in Mahler’s Symphony No. Ein Heldenleben. although the first trombone must ascend to d2. occurring primarily in the operas of Verdi. it may be suggested that when an alto or a small-bore tenor is used by the first player. Except in a few instances where valve effects are essential. the contemporary conductor need not face the problem of obtaining this instrument that was current in the recent past. In almost all cases the use of the large BB-flat or CC tuba is completely inappropriate. Finally. In those situations where it is not available the substitute is simple: use a small-bore tenor like that discussed previously. it still needs to be emphasized that when one encounters parts calling for the “tenor tuba. the alto trombone must not be used simply because the alto clef is employed – as is the situation in many Russian publications – or because the composer designated the alto. but literally is the tenor tuba. serpents. The alto is enjoying a renaissance in this country. the second should play a small tenor. Mascagni. Although contrabass trombone parts such as those in Wagner. nothing is gained by the use of the alto. and increasing numbers of students and professionals play and possess the instrument. A major problem in the wind parts of French (and French influenced) music of the first half of the 19th century lies with the ophicleide and serpent parts. the technical facility of modern trombonists enables them to very adequately cope with these parts on traditional slide trombones. the euphonium is not merely a substitute for the tenor tuba. and the third should use a medium-bore instrument with an F-attachment. Most contemporary editions of orchestral music now label these parts simply “tuba. Ophicleides. ultimately the determination of what is the correct instrument to use must be made by a careful examination of the score. The last century and a half has witnessed the use of a confusing variety of instruments intended as the bass of the brass family. a very practical compromise is available. Verdi. euphonium.” and in most instances the present-day orchestral tuba player can best choose the correct instrument himself. They are one and the same. There only remains the matter of parts intended for valve trombones and contrabass trombones. Having determined that the alto trombone is often desirable. in a student production of Falstaff. Found in almost any band. like Strauss. It should be pointed out.the high tessitura (up to e-flat2) and Berlioz’s own original concept and designation of the part calls for an alto trombone. This arrangement matches the section for a better blend. Brahms and Elgar.
light orchestration. Every professional tuba player – and many students. and Ph.A. So. the flicorni tenori parts should be performed on baritone horns.
. a word about parts designated for tenor or baritone saxhorns or flicorni.below middle C). A number of examples come to mind: The Overture to Rienzi. ***** William E. and the serpent (not the ophicleide) part in the Overture to Rienzi is a good example. Unless the high note is only in the vicinity of middle C. It is possible to tread that thin line between a dogmatic adherence to the practice of the recent past and the impractical pursuit of bringing back the distant past. combined with the flugelhorns. He earned his M.D. These instruments. Exceptions exist. Runyan is an Emeritus Associate Professor of the Department of Music. and a brass instrument is inappropriate here. and the orchestration is relatively heavy and loud. and the first ophicleide part in the Symphonie fantastique (the second part lies better on the F tuba). Finally. 30
performance may be far removed from the present. the euphonium is the best substitute. ENDNOTES highly recommended books on the subject are Robin Gregory’s The Trombone (New York: Praeger. for example. the euphonium is best. The perceptive conductor therefore must not trust the publisher’s labels on these parts and must rely upon his own knowledge of style and history to make the right choice. It serves as the bass to the woodwind section. the conical bore of the modern baritone horn and euphonium produces the dark. There are only two feasible modern instruments to use for these parts: the F tuba and the small B-flat tuba (Euphonium). Theater and Dance at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. 1978) by Clifford Bevan. in Musicology at the Eastman School of Music. and flicorni bassi parts on euphoniums. *** A conductor’s responsibilities are many. As in the discussion of the flugelhorn. and often rise high above middle C. round tone quality that characterizes saxhorns and flicorni. evoke the sound of an ancient Roman band – exactly the composer’s intent – contrasting nicely with the cylindrical bore of the trumpets and trombones in the orchestra. in Respighi’s Pines of Rome. not the least of which is to attempt to recreate the musical expressions of those who’s aesthetic and means of 37 JCG Vol. Mendelssohn’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage. The key to determining which instrument is appropriate lies in considering the tessitura of the part and its accompanying orchestration. But for the many parts that ascend very high in exposed. CO. 1973) and The Tuba Family (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. All that is needed is an open mind to new solutions and a willingness to experiment with them. as well – possess F tubas and may successfully use this instrument to play serpent and ophicleide parts that have important low notes.
.The Rationalization of Symphony Orchestra Conductors’ Interpretive Styles
(JCG Volume 11.e. 2) the rise of technical excellence as an end in itself. No. 1-2. b) enlargement of the division of labor in music to include nonartistic technical positions. as the numbering indicates. to the neoclassic or objective approach. the more difficult becomes the problem of deciphering a composer’s intentions.g. i. Kamerman
Introduction This article deals with one aspect (increasing rationalization) of the career of an occupation. sound recordings. 1990) By Jack B. to the areas of rationalization mentioned above: 1) a) technical improvements in the manufacture of instruments. radio. which came into ascendancy in the 1930s and 1940s and continues as the dominant mode even today. writing of the reputed king of twentieth-century literalists.. As the musicologist Frederick Dorian has written:
Obviously one cannot expect to see an inflexible.. the older the score. the interpreter’s knowledge is likewise subjective. it is not always possible to determine whether what is contained in the score was put there by the composer. d) changes in the training of conductors. related. This theme will focus on the shift in interpretive style among conductors from the romantic or subjective approach.” i. and 3) the conceptualization of the conductor as technician and historian and the increasing importance of “objectivity. It will further be argued that this process of rationalization has been influenced by the following factors.6 Also. and that this rationalization and its roots underlie the shift in interpretive style from romantic to neoclassic. mathematical standard in art. evidenced a paucity of tempo indications. This rationalization has manifested itself in: 1) the standardization of interpretations. and 3) a) the change in repertory from a preponderance of contemporary music (in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) to music of the past (in the twentieth century). in one setting.1 the symphony orchestra conductor. for one thing.e. e. to some extent performing any score relies on an interpretation of the composer’s intentions. and therefore his way of performance is subjective too. emphasis on the “objective” document (the printed score) rather than the subjective intuition and emotions of the interpreter. Arturo Toscanini. b) the history of the technical advances in the sound reproduction of music.”4 Although composers have increasingly elaborated and refined the system of musical notation. Charles O’Connell. Early scores. and television. from its emergence in the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. which dominated conducting in the last half of the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century. c) professionalization of musicians. their reduction to “formulas”. if ideas of composers are subjective and their directions relative (in spite of such mechanical aids as the metronome).3 The Two Styles of Interpretation Defined It is obvious that all interpretation of musical scores is in a sense “subjective.2 I will argue that the career of conductor. has undergone an increasing rationalization.5
In addition. 30 38
. the United States. succinctly made this point: JCG Vol.
In fact he tried to preserve a certain improvisatory quality which was impossible to notate. Dorian has neatly posed the questions:
Richard Wagner’s poetic and powerful interpretation of the opening of the Fifth [Beethoven’s Symphony in C minor.
Mendelssohn. 2. In any case. 9. which . . it must be classified as subjective. Indeed. Again.
39 JCG Vol. that have declined during the twentieth century. “Those who heard Chopin agree that he rarely played the same piece in the same way. then. 30
. Rubato and other earmarks of romanticism were being developed. The Standardization of Interpretation The traditional romantic interpretation was highly personalized. by musical clues provided in Beethoven’s score. it was made possible by the availability of long rehearsals (an innovation of the latter half of the nineteenth century). 67] cannot be tested by objective standards. Varying his playing with his mood. The score contained several variants never included in the performances of current “literal” interpreters of Chopin. adhering to the composer’s intentions held as a desideratum rather than as an accomplished fact.9
Finally. . as it brings to the fore Wagner’s views on Beethoven rather than the actual interpretive criteria for the music as we understand them from reading of the script. The orchestral personnel was becoming more numerous. In opposition to such a subjective reading stands the objective treatment.. the objective interpreter of the Fifth will perform the opening measures according to the metronomic and other objective determinations. But conditions were ripening for such an eventuality. but also in the delineation of the composition as a whole. and tonal balance more difficult to maintain. Bülow. no. are the two interpretive traditions towards which all conductors have gravitated in varying degrees of polarity: the objectivist/neoclassic and the subjective/romantic.He [Toscanini] worships a Beethoven score as if it had come with the ink still wet from the hand of the great man: ignoring the fact that there is probably no Beethoven score published that hasn’t been tampered with. . there exists a recording of one of Chopin’s nocturnes (op. in E-flat major) which was played from a score that had been modified by Chopin himself. . Is the distinction between objective and subjective interpretation spurious? Not if the terms are taken as statements of position vis-à-vis a score.10
In addition to adequate rehearsals. prerequisites to the production of highly individualized performances. Yet. it is precisely these two elements. several Anton Bruckner’s symphonies underwent one or more revisions as he was persuaded by one “friend” after another to streamline his scores. as indicated by the score and not by his personal feelings. Romantic performances had to be carefully worked out with the personnel of even the finest orchestra. . entrance cues less routine.e. i.7
where the interpreter’s principal attitude is that of unconditional loyalty to the script. To impose upon the orchestra or chorus one’s private interpretation by means of a grueling series of rehearsals would have seemed impudent to all but a few aggressive musical authoritarians. . he gave full scope to his imagination and fantasy.
These. the objective interpreter has but one goal in mind: to interpret the music in the way the author conceived it. op. Setting aside his personal opinion and detaching himself from his individual feelings. Logically. For example. that is to say. To a large extent.”8 Also. he often played pieces with variants from his published text. the subjective approach reflects the interpreter’s individuality more than it does the world of the masterwork – not only in details like those that have just been demonstrated. made coordination more and more difficult. composers often altered their own scores several times. . a conductor tenure of sufficient duration was necessary to impose such personalized interpretations on an orchestra. . Wagner and Liszt soon made another advance in that they succeeded in compelling adequate rehearsal in advance of public performance. No matter how fascinating we find his explanation. in which dynamic and metronomic marks haven’t been inserted by some obscure hack in the employ of Breitkopf & Hartel or other publishers.
000 miles apart.[Y]ou can buy the most adept orchestral players in the world. That is because Ormandy stays put. and gradually molding a sound that comes to represent the uniqueness of that orchestra. Maazel in Cleveland. but a tiny. It is also. . conductors with a given orchestra has also decreased during this century. as in Viennese waltzes. You begin to suspect this after a few weeks at Carnegie Hall’s excellent Visiting Orchestra series. For musicians of this tradition every
JCG Vol. The music critic Alan Rich called attention to the growing similarity in the “sounds” of many orchestras and attributed this phenomenon to the lack of a “permanent” conductor.11 Unions eventually succeeded in limiting the importation of foreign musicians. the Philadelphia under Ormandy.12
Harold Schonberg made much the same point where he predicted the decline of national schools of conducting:
. tiny. . In Table I. The figures in Table I (p. This mechanical purring both gives to his readings a great rhythmic clarity and assures the listener that all is under control. Theirs was a personal projection. One gets hypnotized by the smooth-working mechanics of the execution and forgets to listen to the music as a human communication. and you still won’t have a symphony orchestra – not. consequently.Unionization of musicians began in the United States with the formation and charter of a musicians’ union in New York in 1864. I don’t much like the sound of the orchestra. but there’s one thing. . At its best this supposed a marriage of historical and literary with musical culture. please note that conductors presently holding orchestra positions (1983) were not included. . studying the strengths and weaknesses of the individual players. for damn sure: you know it’s the Philadelphia Orchestra. Excitement is of the essence in Toscanini’s concept of musical performance. put them together on a stage in a house with the most beautiful acoustical conditions in all the world. Jet travel has made globe hopping possible.S. or the uses to which it is often put. . . a transformation through each conductor’s own mind of what the conductor considered to be the composer’s meaning. . there is developing a world-wide all-purpose tone. One of the things that has disturbed
me a great deal lately is the impression that most of the world’s symphony orchestras are beginning to sound alike. even though every conductor carries his own ideas about orchestral sound and balance. Also. .” he wrote:
When his new contract becomes effective. and – most important for present purposes – limiting rehearsal hours. . . nevertheless. The same situation obtains for a great many other conductors today: Boulez in New York and with the BBC in London. the establishment of categories of conductors by pre. .and post-1900 birthdates is somewhat arbitrary. just as it is getting harder and harder to distinguish national styles in piano playing or composition. that is. Solti in Chicago and Paris. conductors can now simultaneously hold the music directorship of several orchestras. Ozawa will be in effect the principal conductor of two major American orchestras 3. 30 40
. no matter where their point of origin. However. In a piece entitled “Bigamy on the Orchestral Front. the period of the neoclassic revival. conductors born in 1900 would have assumed their major posts in the 1930s and 1940s. like the click of a well-running machine. dry accent.13
Another aspect of the standardization of interpretation is the attempt to reduce performance to calculable rules or formulas. London. . the Boston and San Francisco.14 Toscanini represented the epitome of this movement toward calculability:
He [Toscanini] marks the meter so clearly that every downbeat takes on a slight stress – not a pulsation or lilt. The only orchestra I have heard lately of which this isn’t true is. [It] is hard to tell the difference between a young American and a young English or Hungarian conductor. improving wages. until a single dominant personality is put on the podium. a little bit lulling. and Berlin. since their present tenure remains ongoing. to work with the musicians week after week. . Zubi-bubi [Zubin Mehta] in Los Angeles and Israel. in fact. even with your eyes shut. Added to the effects of unionization was the steady increase in the number of concerts that symphony musicians were required to play each season. . Even symphony orchestras are beginning to sound alike. etc. 45) clearly demonstrate that the tenure of U. But his is not the kind of excitement that has been the specialty of the more emotional conductors of the past fifty years.
in a larger sense. Must “ff” always and inevitably signify the limit of one’s capacity to generate tone or “pp” the limit of one’s ability to suppress it? I do not think so. . . . He [Toscanini] quite shamelessly whips up the tempo . American Federation of Musicians). The radical simplification of interpretive problems that all this entails has changed orchestral conducting from a matter of culture and its personal projection into something more like engineering. it became the sine qua non of the neoclassic conductors. A fortissimo is always “all out” and a pianissimo is always at the threshold of hearing. 30
. . and I do not think that it is this concept of dynamic contrast that makes Toscanini’s music so sharply black and white. Toscanini. lies in biographical details). to the circumstances outlined above. . Even this kind of playing has its uses. accuracy. the greatest needs felt by a conductor and composer like Berlioz were discipline.e. like his baton. and determination to “stick to the notes. which created the 41 JCG Vol. when first chairs were gained by seniority. counting on each man’s skill and everybody’s instinctive musicianship to take care of these eventually.g. and if I were in a position to do so I should recommend to all conductors that they study Toscanini’s records as virtually perfect representations of music that sounds precisely as written.”18
The technical improvement of instruments themselves. concentrate in rehearsals on the essentials of its rhetoric.
The Pianist-Conductor Syndrome is caused by a combination of things. Young conductors don’t bother much anymore to feel music or to make their musicians feel it. Szell. every author and epoch another case for stylistic differentiation and for special understanding. . e. though. Where the script becomes central. .g. I think. they are pianist conductors.16
climate in which a Toscanini and all the little “Toscanini’s” could flourish and prevail. emphasis on precision in performance (the antithesis of Pablo Casal’s caution to “play the music not the notes”) seems inevitable. ability. and violists were recruited from superannuated and decrepit violinists. and let the expressive details fall where they may. .. While the technical excellence of musicians continued to develop during the romantic era..
At a time when the tempo of a Beethoven scherzo depended on the technical competency of the lackadaisical habits or an underpaid musician. also allowed for more accurate playing. He argued that many conductors demand an unrealistic level of technical excellence from orchestral players because they themselves have never played an orchestral instrument. and Weingartner – are clarity and precision. Orchestral playing until the mid-nineteenth century was poor by present-day standards. It’s easy to produce a
That a Toscanini should have arisen is a tribute to his peculiar genius (i. Rather. One hypothesis to explain this focus on technique was offered by the late Lester Salomon in an editorial column in Allegro (the official publication of New York’s Local 802. It is likewise wrong.15 (emphases added) Charles O’Connell also notes Toscanini’s attempt to reduce matters of dynamics to simple general rules: His dynamics.. that he should have become the symbol of the wave of the future is attributable both to public-relations men at RCA and. . He himself has said that one should play an “ff” so strongly that he can’t hear his partner and a “pp” so softly that his partner can’t hear him. if he finds his audience’s attention tending to waver. go round and round. Here is a masterpiece of clear and practical definition. . The qualities that are admired in these conductors – e.17 The Rise of Technical Excellence as an End in Itself Along with the standardization of interpretation. They analyze it. and I should further recommend that they should go on from there and interject some element of humanity and warmth.piece is a different piece. are absolute and untempered. the invention of a new key system for woodwinds early in the nineteenth century. . just making the music. No piece has to mean anything specific. the rise of technique also marked the rationalization of conducting in this century.
Again Toscanini offers a particularly pointed example. He had got it. by personal
. the conductor. Such an attitude abrogates the composer’s right to alter and make improvements in a score. So crucial does the objective document become that in performances composers’ tamperings with their own scores are disregarded as though the “truth” contained in the original score transcended even the wishes of the composer.”20 That scores (as was pointed out earlier) do not in fact ever have this essential quality is not as important as the fact that they are perceived as having it. it is a rendition of the letter of the score. To a listener. Master tapes can be spliced and respliced. The score is seen as an “objective” account of the composer’s intentions. Bah! I told him I got it straight from Beethoven himself. A pianist doesn’t have to concern himself with intonation: either the piano is in tune – more or less – or it isn’t. “specialists”) have been called upon to research. Treating the score as the definitive source of limitless information and insights is further evidence of the rationalization of conducting. not personal and affective statements of the conductor. huge audiences are exposed to the best orchestral playing in the world. His interpretations are less and less informed by conversations with composers. The pianist doesn’t have to face the problem of creating a pitch on each and every note. subsequent “live” performances may be something of a letdown. Of course. Second. Consequently.. deleting single wrong notes until a technically “perfect” performance is achieved. from the score. the work of the conductor during recording sessions or broadcasts is encroached upon by audio and video engineers and technicians. he said.21 The conductor is no longer the singular definitive authority he was in the romantic era. . or by sharing a common world. JCG Vol. Another causative is that the piano is obviously a percussion instrument and the ordinary pianist-conductor usually can’t get it through his skull that an orchestra doesn’t respond with percussive attacks all the time. The Conductor as Historian and Technician: the Score as Document As the repertoire of orchestras is removed further and further from the present. Consequently. creating a sophistication through exposure such as few people could claim before. however. five. The recording and broadcast industries have contributed to raising the expectations of audiences for technical excellence in two ways. consequently. “Once he came to me and told me at great length the proper German way to conduct the Coriolanus Overture. technical adulteration of performances can create in Virgil Thomson’s phrase. the contemporary performance is no longer viewed as an expression of his personality. percussion and harp players. string. His lineage as a student is now four.e. or more generations removed from the composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries whose works comprise the bulk of the current orchestral repertory. as a partial explanation for the focus on technique (see Table 2). the interpretive continuity may be sacrificed in return for this artificial level of technical perfection. of necessity. “process music. becomes a kind of interpretive historian. 30 42
The fact that fewer and fewer conductors come from the ranks of the orchestra or from careers as instrumental soloists (other than pianists) becomes important.pitch on the piano – anyone with or without talent or ability can do it – compared to the complexities faced by woodwind.19
experiences as a concertgoer to performances led by composers.” a perfection where none existed in the original performance. Willem Mengelberg. annotate. to some extent. performances are renditions of some “objective” truth.22 In addition to the mediation of the musicologist. For most of this century musicologist (i. from a conductor who supposedly had got it straight from Beethoven. by experiences as a player in orchestra led by composers. such a flawless facade will be perceived as the level of technical perfection of which an artist should be capable. Toscanini said. First. rather. so that. . and publish authentic scores. . brass. In discussing the romantic conductor.
a style leader such as Toscanini had an unparalleled exposure because of the advent of the radio concert and mass-media hard sell. Understanding Toscanini: How He Became a Culture-God and Helped Create a New Audience for Old Music [New York: Alfred A. 195. in Schiller’s oft-quoted phrase.. “. 2 There were signs of a romantic revival in the 1970s. . Once learned. It simply never reaches its intended climax. 1958).24
Given the above. 1987]. which briefly was hailed as the final step in replicating the concert-hall listening experience. 1922-36 (Vol. wrote:
If your crescendo threatens to upset the equilibrium of that needle [on the control panel] – well. as the name indicates. the way one of those occupations or that system of occupations is related to society in general. 3 & 4). Kamerman last wrote for the JCG on the artistic and financial goals of the New York Philharmonic. a collection of studies in the sociology of the arts.performances are modified on purely technical considerations. 9. “he burns incense at a mystic shrine. Anthropology and Social Work at Kean College (Union. brings them under greater control. or alternatively. however. Conclusion In this article I have examined some of the determinants of conductors’ interpretive styles. .)
And on the role of the program director:
You need to have confidence in the director. On the other hand. that makes work and other activities subject to rules or formulas which make them predictable and. rationalized the production of the automobile by breaking down the production process into smaller tasks. Commenting on the role of the radio engineer. a conductor associated with radio station WNBC. consequently. Mr. Knopf. the career of an occupation consists in changes of its internal organization and its place in the division of labor of which society itself consists. the engineer can achieve a “fake” crescendo from his control panel that would make Rossini green with envy. e.g. he controls what goes on the air.” and which make less and less comprehensible a critic’s characterization of a Furtwangler performance of the Franck Symphony in D. 3 These factors overlap to some extent. “the disenchantment of the world. but the director (with the help of the engineer at the controls) interprets your interpretation of Beethoven. ENDNOTES
1 Rationalization is the trend. the conductor must to some extent become a recording technician. Yes. which embody.”
43 JCG Vol. the way all of the occupations connected with the staging of an opera are related to one another. quickly degenerated into sophisticated gimmickry when its primary use became the creation of effects specific to quadraphonic record listening. e.23
***** Jack Kamerman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. The highly touted phenomenon of quadraphonic sound.. p. 30
. Henry Ford. I have attempted to point to developments in conducting that are confluent with rationalization in other areas of society. IL: Free Press. He is Co-editor of Performers & Performances: The Social Organization of Artistic Work(1983). This action allowed him to predict with greater accuracy how many automobiles his factories would produce in a given period of time and to standardize the quality of the automobiles produced.g. experimenting with different seatings to produce effects. Your ear tells you what goes on in the studio. Nos. it’s too bad for your crescendo. NJ). but presently the romantic approach is more the exception than the rule. (See Joseph Horowitz. Division of labor is the way occupations in a particular field are organized into a system. especially for recordings.” Everett Cherrington Hughes. Frank Black. he is a very important person. epitomized by bureaucracies. for example. but the director’s ear is also at work in the control booth and. You may interpret Beethoven. Men and Their Work (Glencoe. the skills can be misused.
effective instruments. Knopf. The Rational and Social Foundations of Music. an objectivist. Another clear statement of the distinction is contained in the essay. xxii. . a subjective vs. pp. 1951). towards himself. . 11 For the source of much of this information and a history of the American musicians’ unions in general. Weingartner on Music and Conducting [New York: Dover. 13 Harold Schonberg. pp. He must not think.” (Max Weber. p. see Robert D. ‘What has the composer wanted to say in it?’ ” (Weingartner. the recorded
JCG Vol. Gerth and C.4This was not as salient a problem before the nineteenth century because much music was written for specific occasions with little thought given to posterity. p. From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. 16 O’Connell. The American Symphony Orchestra: A Social History of Musical Taste (Bloomington. W. 1947).” by the eminent conductor Felix Weingartner.” Reprinted on the jacket of the recording “The Great Chopin Interpreters. xii. Electronic music may solve this problem by eliminating the interpreter altogether. consequently. Conductors
14 See also footnote 1. it was in the end regrettable that by the behavior. 134-35.” (p. And the performances of that music were often supervised by the composer. the Other Side of the Record (New York: Alfred A. and towards the public. 358.e. 0-62. pp. IN: Indiana
University Press. “The conductor must before all things be sincere towards the work he is to produce. 17 Another source of standardization may be the availability of “canned” interpretations for imitation.” (Max Weber. “his” Brahms. an objective approach to the score. The Great (New York: Simon & Schuster. 1960]. 1967). Constantly running counter to this is the drive for expressive flexibility. Wright Mills [New York: Oxford University Press. 12 Alan Rich. irrational. develops the more perfectly the bureaucracy is ‘dehumanized. Leiter. artistic and personal. 8 Edward Blickstein. 30. 133. 54-55. “The Lost Art of Chopin Interpretation. p. and all purely personal. The Musical Scene (1945) (New York: Greenwood Press. 56. of some “new-modish Bülows” so much attention was directed to the person of the conductor that the audience even came to regard the composers as the creatures. hatred. . “The ‘objective’ discharge of business primarily means a discharge of business according to calculable rules and ‘without regard for persons’. p.e. trans. “About Conducting. The value of musical rationalization is the transformation of the process of musical production into a calculable affair operating with known means. 215-16.’ the more completely it succeeds in eliminating from the official business love. 1968). or “his” Wagner. ed. New York.) From the same introduction: “In the dynamics of Western musical development lie many tensions between rational and affective motives.H. Inc.) Or later in the same essay. 116. i. 1967)..) 10 John H. 1958]. . 1942). 110. H. of their interpreters. 316-17. 9 Dorian. when he takes the score in hand. . pp. Don Martindale and Johannes Riedel [Carbondale.” VM-115 (New York: Veritas Records. p.. pp. Bigamy on the Orchestral Front. (Felix Weingartner. i. The History of Music in Performance: The Art of Musical Interpretation from the Renaissance to Our Day (New York: W. p. and emotional elements which escape calculation. 26-27. Norton. Its [bureaucracy’s] specific nature. p. as it were. 5 Frederick Dorian. Mueller. He criticized the followers of Hans von Bülow (the major subjectivist or romantic conductor of the last half of the nineteenth century: . and understandable rules. 30 44
. the matter of interpretation. p. 28 February 1972. 1953). rarely arose. 6 Dorian. 28. .) “This drive to reduce artistic activity to the form of a calculable procedure based on comprehensible principles appears above all in music. IL: Southern Illinois University Press.. 7 Charles O’Connell. 1958]. ‘What can I make out of this work?’ but. The Musicians and Petrillo (New York: Bookman Associates.) 15 Virgil Thomson. and in conjunction with the name of a conductor people spoke of “his” Beethoven.
Sources for Tables 1 & 2: Bloom. and one’s aspirations were much more important than any such vague thing as scholarship or fidelity to the printed note. Indeed there is some evidence that Beethoven. To illustrate his point he played a rehearsal recording made during the same period as one of the commercial recordings I had heard. October 1973. has been conditioning all performers and critics to a greater or lesser degree since World War II. 1954. Stanley (ed. This view was supported by an officer of the Arturo Toscanini Society in a conversation I had with him a few years ago. In a review of the conducting prodigy Ferruccio Furco. I commented on the dry thin sound Toscanini’s orchestra had in the recordings I had heard. . or. New York: St. the performer on the level of the creator. with ample artistic gas and technical oil to expend. more importantly. Although the orchestral sound was not exactly opulent. 20 Schonberg. pp. Did any of this make Burco a conductor? Does driving a car make one a mechanic? His performance suggested a new kind of musical phenomenon – a backseat driver. 9th Edition. he thought about self-expression. but rather indulged in exaggerated extremes of emotional expression and rubato style while performing before the Viennese nobility. Sabin. Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras. 34243. Knopf. Groves’ Dictionary of Music and Musicians. pp. (Dorian. p. 3.” (Schonberg. Mead.).” (Mueller. Should it stall. but with a different engineer. It cannot be a mere coincidence that such prodigies have emerged in a time when mechanical reproduction of orchestral music has been accessible as never before. He said that this was attributable to the acoustics of the recording studio RCA used and. 24 Black. 5th Edition. p. 173. Nobody in the nineteenth century thought about ‘fidelity’. musicologists have been attempting to codify musical thought
and performance practice of the past [emphasis added] and in the last twenty years a tremendous amount of material has been published. 1964. 365. 1946). New York: Dodd. stop functioning altogether. Washington. himself. Black.” in Music in Radio Broadcasting. . it was considerably richer than the sound accorded by the other engineer. ed. New York Philharmonic. 68-69. 68-69.) I find his metaphor interesting in itself. Martin’s Press.performances of famous conductors that short-cut the knowledge previously acquired through studying the score extensively or playing the score on a piano. “In romanticism the ego was all-important. As Schonberg also commented. he wrote: It is far simpler and more direct to hear the music so often from a recording that its sound becomes a mere device for recalling the arrangement of symbols involved [emphasis added]. 30
. p. International Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians. rather than a leader or conductor. 254. perhaps even sense when the speed limits were being exceeded and call for a little caution.) 22 Mueller has called the score “at best an awkward and incomplete symbolization of the creator’s intention. was not a calm interpreter. .” (Schonberg. Eric (ed. Note: Statistics in Table 1 (pg.) 21 “Musicology.). 1958] pp.) Also. 53-55. . New Groves’ Dictionary of Music and Musicians. . The Musical Life [New York: Alfred A. he would no more be able to get it going than you or I on the highway.). Robert (ed. 19 Lester Salomon. Gilbert Chase (New York: McGraw-Hill. DC: Groves’
45 JCG Vol. Sadie. Given an orchestra in good order. Minnesota Orchestra (formerly the Minneapolis Symphony). pp. one of the newest of the scholarly disciplines.” Allegro. recall the case of the Chopin Nocturne cited earlier. 325. (Irving Kolodin. p. . to the engineer who happened to be on duty. “Conducting for Radio. For the past fifty years. what is more to the point. p. “The Pianist-Conductor Syndrome. however. 324. 23 Frank J. 11. he could drive along with it comfortably.) Irving Kolodin coined the phrase “the phonographic memory” to describe the same situation. pp. 46) are given for six orchestras: Boston and Chicago Symphonies. 18 Mueller.
*Includes conductors trained as conductors only and conductors for whom no information was available. Wooldridge. 30 46
. (Statistics for both tables current through 1983. New York: Praeger. 1980.Dictionaries of Music. David. Conductor’s World.)
JCG Vol. 1970.
American Music. particularly if the composer is young and the piece new. through hundreds of examples from the tape-recorded and videotaped oral histories included in the archive. When I visited Ives’ insurance partner. By now. While the archive contains interviews with performers and others in the world of music. orchestra players are likely to be more open and audiences less hostile to new ideas with the composer in attendance. You could get to “know” the composer by listening him tell his life story or by reading the transcript. even more useful 47 JCG Vol. to receive some materials for the Library. American Music. But what can be done about the many performances in which the composer cannot be directly involved? The conductor may search in vain for biographical information and recordings. the urgency of searching out others who had known and worked closely with Ives
. hearing the composer talk about his own conducting of the piece might stimulate fresh insight. In the late sixties. 3-4. I am frequently asked how and why a concert harpist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra turned to a new career of oral historian. The composer’s voice on tape or his person on video tape can serve as an introduction and may convey a sense of immediacy and spontaneity similar to his actual presence.” and when Myrick died soon after our interviews. Is this project of use to conductors? If the conductor is interested in American contemporary music and composers. the answer is an emphatic “Yes!” Perhaps you plan to conduct an unusual score by a contemporary composer such as John Harbison. Are you programming a complex orchestral work by Charles Ives? It might be enlightening to hear what the great Ives scholar and performer John Kirkpatrick has to say about Ives’s characteristic multi-layering or how Nicolas Slonimsky handled the conducting of polyrhythms in his early presentations of Ives’s music.Oral History. the main focus has been on composers. Steve Reich. into its twenty-first year. Furthermore. or John Adams. If the late Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring is scheduled for next season. I became intrigued with the Charles Ives Collection of music manuscripts and correspondence at the Yale Music Library where I worked as part-time reference librarian. You are playing a complicated jazz-inspired piece by Anthony Davis and the composer is coming to your town for the premiere? You could prepare yourself in advance by reading the transcript of his interviews in which he discusses his innovative music and ideas. Little did I know that the act I was about to commit was called oral history! Mr. 30 would be that segment of the interview dealing specifically with the music you are about to conduct. And so on. Oral History. the collection includes over 700 tape-recorded and videotaped interviews with major figures in American music. Myrick told some unique stories about “Charlie. This unusual project. No. I brought along a tape-recorder. American Music
(JCG Volume 11. is part of the Yale School of Music and Library. But all is not lost! Consider making use of the tape-recorded interviews that comprise a unique and valuable collection called Oral History. 1990) By Vivian Perlis
The composer’s presence and advice can be of great help to a conductor during the preparation and rehearsal of a new piece. Julian Myrick.
and the traditional musicologists were also reluctant to take oral history methodology seriously. American Music. friends.became apparent. The result was a nucleus of valuable materials derived from conversations with such composers as Arthur Berger. The Ellington Project (eighty-eight interviews) was initiated because of the composer’s status as one of the major creative artists of twentieth-century America and for his wide-ranging influence on many major figures in the jazz world. Billy Strayhorn. Times change. American Music became a well-known and highly praised archive. In the early 70s. I am told that the publication has been effective in making the iconoclastic and controversial Charles Ives more accessible to potential listeners and performers. This kind of Multi-level view was particularly appropriate for the complex and paradoxical personality of Charles Ives. We now have a commitment from the Yale Library. The project is divided into various units of research. After the Ives project was completed (its final total was fifty-four interviews). is not about a composer: it is an oral history of the Steinway piano company. as well as about Charles Ives. and historians. with a central core unit of about 250 interviews dealing with living subjects. it seemed simple and logical to establish such a project. with the
understanding that funding had to come from outside the University. and although fund-raising continues (and becomes increasingly difficult). earning the respect of librarians. offered a home for Oral History. It is possible to give only a brief description of Oral History. with award-winning publications and productions deriving from its holdings. the Yale librarian. however. and Nicolas Slonimsky. and so do university librarians. a descriptive brochure is available on request. Despite an oral history “boom” following the invention of the tape recorder. neighbors. each composer was interviewed on his own life and music. The School of Music. Two other units include oral histories that are similar to the Ives Project. primarily composers. in practice. and since it is never wise to approach one talented composer solely about another’s work. 1974). During the Ives Project. with projects proliferating in many and varied fields. Hindemith’s Yale connection and the many people still surviving from his Yale years in the New Haven area. the interesting (and much neglected) documentation of an émigré composer who came to the United states as a result of World War II (the Hindemith Project functions as a prototype for future studies with émigré musicians). second. it proved to be rather involved and challenging. Use of this jazz project exceeds any single unit in Oral History. American Music. the collection is assured of preservation and accessibility in the future. What was this newfangled machine doing at Yale! Sponsorship was refused by the library. 30 48
. Elliott Carter. Family. The former (seventy-five interviews) was undertaken for two major reasons: first.) An unusual oral history unit. musicians. music. was suspicious of the tape recorder as a library tool. Bernard Herrmann. several significant composers had been interviewed. a conservative gentleman who came from a time when library materials were literary and nothing else. and insurance colleagues contributed to the first documentary oral history on an American composer. had done little to collect and preserve source materials from creative musicians by means of tape-recording. also with many interviews about a single subject. but for those interested in more detail. Darius Milhaud. I was aware of a project in the visual arts called “The Archives of American Art” that systematically collected oral history from major figures in the art world: Why not an archive of American music along similar lines? In theory. Oral History. Added to my “new” career of oral historian was a less welcome one of fund-raiser. Undertaken at the time when the great piano manufacturer ceased being a family-owned JCG Vol. musicologists. the art of sound. These are the Paul Hindemith and the Duke Ellington units. (An adjunct series is concerned with Ellington’s associate. in that they contain interviews with many people about one subject. American Music in this space. Lou Harrison. a book of reminiscences edited from the interviews followed (Yale University Press.
Gary Graffman. and saying. business people. is national in scope and wide-ranging in styles. and Copland. American Music are transcribed. and performers has been of interest not only to musicians. A young composers series has also been initiated. While interviewing is the most exciting phase of oral history – the time when the performer’s arts of timing and projecting come into play – what makes the difference between surface interviewing and a systematic scholarly approach is the depth and detail involved. far too many changes are usually made by the interviewee. Murray Perahia. The first targets were necessarily the oldest and most highly recognized composers. Lili Kraus. William Schuman. Several major publications and productions have derived from these collections. Harry Partch. and many others. John Cage. technicians. as well as the updating of all interviews with active composers every four or five years. The processing turns the raw materials into an archive that insures accessibility to users. Since most people do not like the way their spoken style translates into the written word. factory workers. One example of use from the video archive will demonstrate the kind of value these materials can have to the conductor: Leonard Slatkin chose excerpts from the Copland collection to project on large screens at an outdoor festival in the summer of 1990 in connection with performances of Copland’s music by the Pittsburgh Symphony. and sent to the interviewee. but we hope to add to the fifteen accomplished to date. The core unit. A question has probably entered the minds of several readers: What oral history interviews have been done with conductors and why not more? Oral History. and ready for use. and Leo Ornstein. 30
addition of video-tapes has moved ahead slowly due to costs. Transcripts are duplicated. The 49 JCG Vol. Lorin Hollander. we decided to use oral history methodology to document an “institution” that had enormous impact on the world of music over a long period. including scholars of New York history and of immigration demography. American Music in 1975 and ’76. co-authored by the composer and Vivian Perlis (Copland: 1900 Through 1942. The transcript is finally labeled. These include video biographies of Eubie Blake. To name a few: Claudio Arrau. such as Virgil Thompson. William Masselos. Moura Lympany. Otto Luening. After securing extensive interviews with the older generation of composers. “Now. The Steinway Project (120 interviews) with family. such as Ned Rorem. checked for errors. All tapes in Oral History. Oral History is not simply the act of placing a microphone. and many
. tell me about yourself. Copland’s text is drawn from the interviews made for Oral History. In addition to the importance of pre-interviewing preparation are post-interviewing procedures. Arthur Balsam. and the successful result can be achieved only by careful advance research and study.” Readers of this journal (who are frequently interviewed themselves) are aware that the level of response depends on what the interviewer knows about the subject – no professional will talk for long on a professional level to an amateur. Several television documentaries deriving from the material in the archive have been broadcast on PBS and are available as educational aides. 1984 and 1989). catalogued. but conductors have also been tantalized by the opportunity to hear the great “Steinway artists” discuss their relationships to Steinway & Sons and to piano technology. but to a wide range of people. and Artur Rubenstein. American Music turned to those in mid-career. which then must be incorporated. Martin’s. St. Oral History. the most ambitious being the two volume autobiography of Copland. American Music includes an extensive series on conductor Maurice Abravanel.enterprise. interviews with living figures in the world of music. Ellen Zwilich. and Copland: Since 1943. Alfred Brendel. filed. reviewed again in order to prepare tables of content. Pianists compose the largest number of musicians who use the materials. George Perle. Aaron Copland. except for acquired materials. pushing a button.
The qualities of immediacy and spontaneity that characterize oral history interviews will be attractive to any conductor interested in carrying the composer’s message to his audience. specializing in the music of twentieth-century American composers. It is a method of relaying the sounds and sights of history. Eubie Blake and John Cage.edu
JCG Vol. it is sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania Music Library. we will offer assistance and expertise. She is founding director of Oral History. She is known for her writings and productions. and orchestra players who worked with Eugene Ormandy. However. among them books on Charles Ives and Aaron Copland and film biographies of Copland.of our interviews contain segments about composer-conductors. these efforts do not constitute a systematic oral history project based on interviews with conductors. * Inquiries about the oral history project may be addressed to: Oral History of American Music Yale University PO Box 208307 New Haven. and orchestral premieres and other performances. Brief interviews with several famous conductors are included in a collection of 400 tapes of the “Great Artists Series” that were recently acquired from radio station WQXR. American Music. 30 50
. interpretation. She was recently named Educator of the Year by Musical America. New York City. friends. If you are interested in pursuing the matter. as well as its content. There should be such a project! For oral history is a particular way of preserving history – one that retains the intimacy of those who have made our musical history. CT 06520-8307 (203) 432-1988 oham@yale. One extensive project in progress (for which I am the consultant) is with colleagues.
Vivian Perlis is a historian in American music.
82% reported experiencing a medical problem (physical or psychological). Kella
That unfortunate occupational injuries can intrude into the lives and careers of conductors is no more clearly demonstrated than by a recent headline which appeared in The New York Times on July 7. Medical Problems of Performing Artists. instrumental musicians suffer from a wide range of 51 JCG Vol. Survey respondents reported problems such as musculoskeletal pain syndromes in the following percentages: shoulders (20% of those surveyed). the relative mortality rate was lower for each age group. depressions (17%). the orchestra announced that its music director. neck (22%).”1 Of course. is medical director of the Medical Program for Performing Artists at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. The survey results were reported in the periodical. and none more than the medical specialists who are assisting in his recovery. it was found that the mortality rate of conductors was 38% below that of their contemporaries in the general population. Seiji Ozawa. Oestreich reported. since conductors are seen as the embodiment of the highest level of artistic achievement. 1992: “Tanglewood Festival Opens Despite Weather and Illness. Alice Branfonbrener. they may seem to fall into an altogether different category. Of the 2. In fact.Medicine in the Service of Music. one study related occupational success among conductors to life expectancy. and 76% indicated at least one problem that was sufficiently severe to affect their performance.212 musicians in the forty-seven United States and Canadian orchestras that responded to the 1987 survey. A few days before the first concert on Friday evening.3 In addition. but rather through soundless gestures transformed by ensembles into audible form during rehearsals. MA]. M. In a twenty-year follow-up study 437 active and former conductors of major.D. Unquestionably. ear aches and other ear disorders (20%). lower back (22%) and fingers (16%). Non-musculoskeletal problems included eye strain (24%). 1991) By John J. performances or recordings. 1-2.
.2 But what about conductors? To some. and suggested that conductors have a much better chance of living to an advanced age than do other musicians. “Dismal weather was only one of the wet blankets thrown over the opening weekend of Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts at the Tanglewood Festival here [in Lenox. whose editor. Psychological stresses were manifested in stage fright (24%). since conductors have the unique task of recreating musical masterpieces – not through physical effort applied to the wood and metal of musical instruments or the vocal folds of the human voice. 30 medical ills.. this may seem an immensely rewarding and satisfying profession. regional. community and opera orchestras in the United States. Just how pervasive is the problem of occupational injury in the field of music? A general overview can be found in a recent survey sponsored by the International Conference of Symphony and Opera Musicians (ICSOM). To many audiences. from age 40 to age 80 and over. would be unable to conduct because of tendinitis. Health and Injury on the Podium
(JCG Volume 12. all who love music wish Maestro Ozawa a timely return to the podium. sleep disturbances (14%) and acute anxiety (13%).” As James R. No.
Though no public was present at the rehearsal.” This process includes – but is not limited to – changing ones role from inspiring music leader to critical orchestra rehearser. or being an athlete.9
Some conductors have gone so far as to study the physical effects of their craft somewhat scientifically. were found to be comparable to top corporate executives. to proficient recording specialist. Interviews with great conductors. for example. and productive leaders in the world music. conductors seem to turn the stresses of their profession to productive use. to compelling social activist for the arts. The professional activities of such men are vast and varied. they found and organize orchestras in cities and communities throughout the country. conductors must cope effectively with the physical and psychological demands of “wearing many hats.. reveal many behind-theproscenium demands – some self-imposed – that can impart mental and physical tolls on those who wield batons. To be successful. von Karajan reported that:
Now you would think if there is no public you cannot be nervous. The exceptional longevity enjoyed by symphony conductors lends further support to the theory that work fulfillment and world-wide recognition of professional accomplishments are important determinants of health and longevity. in which the mortality of “musicians. energetic. The work that a conductor does is a tremendous strain on the nervous system. Why should you? The piece begins very softly and there is no risk at all... Herbert von Karajan established the Karajan Foundation. 30 52
. Just as the corporate executive seems to be able to cope with and even thrive on stressful situations. the quality of life and health is an issue for such high achievers. when and why we pass from “this mortal coil” – attribute longevity to the idea that symphony conductors are generally:
. In addition to their work on the podium during a musical performance. relates:
What I think people are not aware of is. They also train apprentice conductors and help to launch the careers of composers.4 This was corroborated by another study. The Metropolitan Life Insurance Company found that in a study of prominent women. conductor and artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. on the muscles. all performed with unflagging energy during nonstop schedules. though their life expectancy may be long. Von Karajan himself became a subject for some of the research by measuring his own brain activity. [that being a conductor] is a little bit like being a dancer. the mortality rate of “performers and entertainers” was 43% above that of their contemporaries in the United States’s general population of women. as well as in the administration of music centers. on your body physically and on your psyche.you know that my heartbeat. one mission of which was to explore the complicated process of how music influences the mind and body. and level of static electricity while conducting the last section of the third act of Siegfried during a closed dress rehearsal.7 What are the factors accounting for the longevity of male conductors? The people at Met Life – who make detailed studies on how. why should conductors be concerned about occupational problems? Because.. to convincing fund raiser. went up from – I have a
JCG Vol. done in England and Wales. heartbeat.gifted. And in order to stay in the kind of shape to do it properly.. [But]. whose mortality rate was much more favorable than that of business executives at all levels of accomplishment. actors [and] entertainers” was 25% above that of all working men in that region. however.6 Male conductors. one has to do it rather continuously. initiate special types of concerts. and are active in musical education. A study across different occupational groups revealed that the mortality rate of male “musicians and music teachers” is actually 62% higher than that of all men in the United States’s general working population.. stage managers.5 Women are also affected. from the moment before I started. with their significantly longer life expectancies. James Levine.8
Given the good news of increased longevity.Of particular interest was the finding that musicians as a group generally have a distinctly higher mortality rate that the population in general. to knowledgeable music analyst and historian. to supportive psychologist.
In other situations. and will not sing it well in the premiere. I start to breathe very freely [in order to relax].C. woodwind and brass players. to understand stress-related physical problems. All of these syndromes refer to painful or functionally
Jonathan Sternberg. 30
. spoke knowledgeably of both the physical problems and the psychological stresses that conductors experience.” It went wonderfully. conductors. Maestro Sternberg experiences a mutual bond of respect with these exceptional players.000 injured patients in over 3. Contemporary names for the cumulative physical effects of stress on muscles. percussionists.” Once this test of wills has been passed.000 rehabilitation sessions. the author has personally seen over 1. One of the largest performing arts medicine centers is the Miller Health Care Institute for Performing Artists. Today I can tell young conductors. and I didn’t do this before. if I develop tension suddenly. but my heartbeat went up to a very high level anyway. sometimes. Chicago. Hamilton (Ontario.very low heartbeat – 67 or 68 to 170 for three seconds. pianists. The most difficult things are very slow with intermittent pauses.000 rehabilitation sessions. Several medical centers dedicated to the treatment of performers have been established in such major cities as New York. If a conductor is new to an orchestra. treating a wide range of medical and psychological problems. Treated musicians have included string players. who frequently conducts the Vienna State Orchestra. Sternberg says. makes you do this. Boston. There.” The primary goal of this new field is to prevent the occurrence and reduce the severity of occupational problems in instrumental musicians. This is especially true if a lead player is a wonderful musician. harpists – and. being in the later part of my life. “If I know that a musician is going through a difficult time I feel concerned for his welfare – and concerned about his ability to get through a performance. because I said to myself. This is why. D. for instance. I was just dead. Pascarelli. Washington. where you always have to wait.12
53 JCG Vol.. “Don’t forget to breathe. she will have nervousness. vocalists. The tension which is in yourself. which you don’t feel. San Francisco. And we found that what we called “energetic phases” – where you wave your arms and so forth – is not tiring at all for your body. the orchestra players may “test” his or her knowledge of the score by “playing notes other than those in the musical score. I know for myself. ligaments. Canada). nerves and other soft tissues of the body are: Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD). which opened in 1985 and is located “within limping distance” of New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. I was emotionally involved. Under the leadership of medical director Dr. dancers. the forty-three health practitioners at the Miller Institute have seen over 7. it is necessary to define a few important medical terms. “If she doesn’t sing it well.”11 Von Karajan would agree:
There was a part [in an opera dress rehearsal] where the leading singer had a very delicate note to attack. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) and Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI).” or playing at times in a manner “not authorized by the composer. conductors. but has an unfortunate drinking problem. Philadelphia. joint surfaces or cartilage. If you stop breathing.”10
Performing Arts Medicine To understand the many stresses and strains involved in the performing arts. among others. guitarists. Cleveland. after a performance. and other arts performers. knowing details about the lives and careers of the orchestra musicians may provide valuable insights that can improve their performance. tendons and tendon sheaths. We can see where there is a danger if it remains. and Victoria (Australia). Then it went down. of course. Waiting is an enormous strain on your brain and on your body. However. As coordinator of the Music Rehabilitation Program at the Miller Institute. Emil F.000 performers in over 20. the center’s professionals have identified specific problems that afflict musicians and conductors. Cincinnati. Detroit. From such extensive experience. a new medical subspecialty has been created called “performing arts medicine.
particularly of the shoulder. The affected areas include: shoulder and upper back muscles such as the upper trapezius (which elevates the shoulder). and the intrinsic muscles of the hand involved in gripping and moving the baton. fibrin can organize into a matrix. ranging from mild pain in only one localized body area while performing a particular occupational activity (grade 1) to severe and continuous pain. It should be emphasized that the location and pattern of overuse syndrome is frequently unique to each style of conducting. Overuse Syndrome Overuse syndrome in conductors is frequently characterized by pain. typically at the wrist. relative rest also includes the reduction of conducting activities to reduce the risk of reinjury. elbow and wrist to absorb the kinetic energy of conducting. arm. 30 54
. ganglion cysts. Each is described below. organization and adhesion. (2) slight modification of conducting style to avoid extremes of movements or positionings that aggravate the condition. elbow. in weight-supportive postures and movements (such as conducting adagio passages. and to strengthen and increase the endurance of the unaffected muscles. a plastic surgeon and pioneer in research on the occupational injuries of musicians. so that a marching band director using extensive elbow and shoulder movements to conduct vigorous forte passages is likely to experience a completely different location of pain syndromes than would a choral conductor whose technique features wrist and finger motions.” In time. the rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus. the forearm extensor and flexors. resulting in acute micro-tears in the muscle fibers. resulting in tissue damage. causing adhesions of the muscular fibers and elastic tissue. Chronic overuse may also result in deposits in the muscle tissues of a fibrous protein called “fibrin. with total loss of functional muscle use (grade 5). and teres major/minor). identified five grades of severity in overuse syndrome. This in turn can lead to tissue edema (swelling) and hemorrhage.limiting problems that result from repeated or continuous physical stress over time. leading in some cases to loss of fine motor control. Through this process of fibrin deposition. Dr. including increased length of rest periods. or a modification in technique which almost invariably places an additional load on new. and a subsequent inflammatory response. Hunter Fry. especially the use of excessively large or effortful conducting gestures during strongly accented musical phrases. The incidence of overuse syndrome is generally associated with increases in the duration and intensity of repetitive motions (such as conducting brisk marcato or other strongly accentuated passages of music).13 Rehabilitation of musicians suffering from overuse syndrome varies according to the severity and location of the injury. generated through their own vigorous and repeated contractions. These may include a reduction in the intensity of whip-like movements that force the soft tissues of the shoulder. nerve entrapment syndromes. (3) body stretches and conditioning exercises to stretch habitually contracted muscles. such as carpal tunnel syndrome and thoracic outlet syndrome. The treatment of mild to moderate grades of overuse injury (grades 1-3) may require: (1) “relative rest” or a significant reduction of rehearsal and performance duration and intensity. but with weight and tension in the movement). especially those of the upper body. and loss of function in muscles and tendons of the upper extremities. and focal dystonia.
unprepared muscles and other body structures. weakness. JCG Vol. and the deltoids (which extend the upper arm outward). infraspinatus. Specific types of CTDs that conductors experience are: overuse syndrome. It is hypothesized that overuse syndrome results from direct self-injury of muscles. sprains or strains. muscle mass can become fibrotic. and wrist. tendinitis or tenosynovitis.
iontophoresis or phonophoresis (non-invasive electrical methods to induce corticosteroid medication into the affected area) for tendinitis. Treatment for severe sprains or strains may require surgical intervention. Tendinitis and Tenosynovitis Tendinitis. according to Dr. and include such strategies as: (1) “complete rest” from even the non-conducting activities of daily living that aggravate the condition. Mild injuries. In these cases cryotherapy is often supplemented by rest and support of limbs to reduce the risk of complete tears. which connect muscle to bone. require the attention of a skilled performing arts medical practitioner. (5) psychological support from family. as well as use of appropriate modalities such as cryotherapy (application of cooling agents to the inflamed area). can be treated with cryotherapy (cold compresses).
. can produce grating or clicking sounds (crepitation). even if these are executed for musical expression. like all other physical ailments described here. (3) re-evaluation of the conducting style to modify exaggerated joint flexion or extension. then clearly a change in one’s physical conducting style may greatly increase career longevity and reduce the chances of chronic problems. continued physical conditioning exercises. producing joint or limb instability and loss of function. (4) supervised physical and occupational therapy to reduce inflammation and increase range of motion. to increase muscular endurance and avoid reinjury due to lack of proper muscle tone and strength. In “grade 3” sprains a complete tear may result. friends and colleagues to avoid reactive depression associated with cessation of professional activities. to reduce overly forceful or intense postures and gestures. moderate (grade 2) or severe (grade 3).14 55 JCG Vol. Sprains or strains can be mild (grade 1). which frequently result in tenderness or swelling. medical director of the Medical Center for Performing Artists at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. turning or lifting movements. while tenosynovitis involves the synovial or lubricating sheath surrounding the tendon. (7) following full recovery.For more severe levels of injury (levels 3-5). accompanied by pain or swelling but no loss of function. especially in upper body and back. or other traumatic occurrences which.16 Both tendinitis and tenosynovitis are generally related to a direct trauma to or the excessive use of the affected musculotendinous units. If over time serious injury occurs or reoccurs while conducting. such as twisting. or connect one muscle to another. strength and endurance of unaffected musculature around the injury. deep tissue massage and stretching. ultrasound.15 A “grade 1” sprain is caused by microscopic tearing of the ligament. in severe cases. the rehabilitation will most probably be longer and more involved. In moderate levels of sprains or strains (grade 2) a partial disruption or stretching may result in increased laxity or mobility of a joint or limb. (2) a regimen of monitored conducting exercises of graduated difficulty – performed over an extended period of time – undertaken in order to avoid too rapid a return to full professional responsibilities. while a strain is an injury or tear to muscle fibers or tendons. refers to inflammation of the tendon itself. or. In time the synovial surface can become dry and fibrotic. (6) gradual return to professional activities with regular alternation of work and rest cycles to avoid over-stressing rehabilitated body areas. Sprains and strains in conductors are usually associated with back-stage or podium falls. followed by closely monitored post-operative physical or occupational therapy. Subsequent motion of the tendon through its non-lubricated sheath causes irritation. Richard Lederman. 30
Sprains and Strains The diagnosis of sprain refers to damage or tears of ligaments (fibrous tissue that link bones).
shoulder and clavicle. 30 56
. The unfortunate trigger action occurs when the afflicted performer attempts to flex or extend the finger. Understandably. occasionally accompanied by an audible snap. In cases of carpal tunnel syndrome. cubital tunnel syndrome and “Guyon’s Tunnel Syndrome” (involving the ulnar nerve). numbness. Mild or moderate levels of tendinitis can be relieved with rest of the afflicted area. frequently where they pass between relatively unyielding body structures such as ligaments or bones. sensory hot or cold. Enlarged tendons may no longer be able to pass through the sheath. sometimes called “golfer’s elbow. They are thought to be caused by a compromise of the tendon sheath. or even local injection of corticosteroids around the affected areas. or hormonal factors in the case of pregnancy or the menstrual cycle in women. elbow. or weakness. frequently resulting in discomfort in the front part of the shoulder when trying to lift the arm against resistance.” Shoulder pain can be the result of inflammation of the tendon of the biceps.” or at the medial epicondyle (inner point of the elbow). Severe forms of tendinitis include “de Quervain’s Disease. wrist. resulting in finger-locking in some cases. Severe cases may require temporary splinting and rest until acute symptoms have subsided. and “trigger finger. Surgical excision is a course of last resort. Indications of tendinitis are pain. burning. One or more of these symptoms will be experienced at the site of the nerve compression. radial nerve syndrome at the “Arcade of Frohse” in the forearm. often referred to as “tennis elbow. The compression may be due to medical situations. Another set of tendon-related problems are ganglion cysts. In many cases the swelling is tender. Typical sites of nerve compression for musicians include the hand. forearm. tense to the touch. “pins and needles” sensation.” which refers to the formation of a nodule or swelling on the tendon of a finger as it passes through a thickened or constricted synovial sheath. Deep tissue massage and gentle or passive movements of the afflicted areas may also be necessary to avoid adhesion formation and to avoid muscle de-conditioning or even atrophy. Carpal tunnel syndrome JCG Vol. Treatment consists of compressions (which externally causes the cyst to rupture) or aspiration of the cyst’s fluid. swelling. with so many sites of possible compression. hypothyroidism. the symptoms are caused by compression of the median nerve within its tunnel of transit between the bones of the wrist and the relatively rigid volar carpal ligament or flexor retinaculum along the underside of the wrist. avoidance of irritating movements. tingling. The site of elbow pain may beat the lateral epicondyle (outer point of the elbow). which are small. There are several symptoms common to virtually all nerve compression syndromes: aching.” caused by inflammation of the thumb’s extensor tendons. or close to body surfaces where the nerves are susceptible to external compression.Common sites for tendinitis among conductors are the elbow. such as polymyalgia rheumatica. and application of cold compresses to reduce inflammation. ganglion cysts are frequently occupation-related. causing the nodule to suddenly escape from its restricted canal. Ganglions are fluid-filled and frequently found on the wrist. and fixed to deep tissue rather than surface skin. and thoracic outlet syndrome which includes compression of not only nerves but also veins and arteries as they pass through the narrow space between the upper ribs and clavicle. weakness. diffuse or poorly localized pain. As with tendinitis. They include carpal tunnel syndrome (involving the median nerve). which permits protrusion of
synovial tissue. creating the cystic swelling. many examples of nerve compression syndromes exist. cystic or sac-like swellings overlying a joint or tendon sheath. or redness about the affected area. and are associated with extreme wrist positioning and effortful finger gripping or extension. Nerve Entrapment Syndromes (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) Nerve entrapment syndromes are associated with compression of nerves. shoulder and wrist.
e. Lederman reports that “a substantial percentage of patients with symptomatic TOS have a characteristic neck and upper trunk appearance which has been called the ‘droopy shoulder’ configuration. Musicians with focal dystonia report experiencing feelings of loss of coordination. It is however strongly advised that conductors and other musicians who suspect the presence of TOS symptoms seek the diagnosis and advice of an experienced performing arts medical professional.. etc. as a generally painless localized disturbance of fine motor control. clumsiness or slowness of response. while chronic cases may require surgical release of the transverse carpal ligament to relieve severe pain. Focal Dystonia or Occupational Cramp Perhaps the most severe occupational illness that could afflict any musician is focal dystonia. i. This nerve compression syndrome refers to the compression or irritation of the brachial plexus (the large nerve that branches out from the neck to innervate the shoulder. Mark Hallett. In severe situations local injections of steroidal anti-inflammatories may relieve the symptoms. Treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome begins with rest and avoidance of extreme. paresthesia (usually along the ulnar aspect of the forearm and hand) and motor dysfunction of the arm. stiffness. but it does seem to be a predisposing trait. all designed to strengthen the shoulder elevators and reduce sloping. arms. Treatment is similarly controversial. one of the clinical directors in the National Institutes of Health. such as octave playing in pianists. In the unlikely situation that conservative treatment is unsuccessful. not all who have this posture have TOS symptoms. hand or fingers. wrists. particularly at night when the sleeper may not be aware of pressure on the hand or extreme wrist angling while in fetal sleep positions. 57 JCG Vol. a forward positioning of the shoulders. relatively thin neck and shoulders which slope downward and forward at rest. flexing or extending movements caused by muscle spasming or cramping. TOS symptoms can be similar in some ways to the symptoms of other injuries and illnesses. This is particularly true if the wrist is held in a non-neutral position. In this case the reduction of tendinitis-related swelling may lessen the compression in the nerve.”17 indicating that the lowered clavicle can compress the brachial plexus within the narrow space of the thoracic outlet. Focal dystonia is defined by Dr. Of course. stressful occupational activities. Other causes of carpal tunnel syndrome are stressful occupational positions and movements. In moderate cases treatment can consist of immobilizing and splinting of the wrist. wind embouchure or other body area that
.may also be related to swelling of the flexor tendons in the wrist due to tenosynovitis. Of interest to conductors is the concept that aberrant arm positioning and posture directly affect the occurrence and severity of the symptoms. Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) among musicians is a somewhat controversial diagnosis. thus secondarily causing medial nerve compression. Symptoms of thoracic outlet syndrome include arm pain.18 The unfortunate aspect of focal dystonia among musicians is that it is generally “task-specific:” it occurs only when attempting to do a frequently employed movement or posture. Dr. which is frequently accompanied by involuntary twisting. For musicians. and hands) and the subclavian artery as they pass over the top of the lung through the costoclavicular space and the thoracic outlet (between the clavicle or collarbone and the top of the ribcage). it is probably advisable to begin with conservative treatment consisting primarily of posture reeducation and exercise by physical therapists. such as when the wrist is strongly elevated or depressed (hyperflexion or dorsiflexion). thereby relieving the painful and limiting symptoms. making an accurate diagnosis a matter of considerable importance. 30
This consists of long. and involuntary curling or extending of the fingers. left finger placement in violinists. also referred to as occupational cramp. or when the wrist is laterally angled to one side or the other (ulnar or radial deviation). surgical interventions are available.
continue to find yourself “doing the forward lean” while conducting.becomes active while playing their instruments or conducting. If you. along with the responsiveness of the orchestra players or chorus singers. neck. Frank Wilson. Various forms of treatment may be useful. or to observe the score more closely. The goal of postural retraining in this case is to maintain upright alignment of head. 30 58
. in which the shoulders are held at a higher position than necessary.
Problem 1: Forward Lean of the Back and Shoulders. or play without appropriate attention to your musical directives? Or. (2) drug treatment centering on the use of clonazepam. One of the ways to reduce the incidence of occupational problems is to examine the postures and movements of conductors. without effecting a reduction in musical effectiveness and expressivity. Tilting of the pelvis in the forward lean is also frequently associated with the forward head. neck and back tension. They include: (1) retraining the musician’s postures and movements to alter abnormal patterns and avoid the use of the dysfunctional muscles. has reported examples of musicians with focal dystonia who have regained some degree of motion control through careful postural and movement retraining. Some researchers believe it is primarily of neurological origin. either to emphasize their musical intentions to the orchestra or chorus. thoracic (middle) back. lower back and pelvis. Some conductors frequently lean forward from the waist. the forward lean of the body – with the upper torso and head cantilevered over the hips and legs – places considerable strain on the back. University of California at San Francisco. Some of the most common problems of conductors – including voice overuse – are described next. The origin of focal dystonia is not known precisely. it is very useful to perform:
JCG Vol. you may then feel less inclined to break the alignment of the back during performances. and lumbar (lower) back. or some of the above-mentioned musculoskeletal or neurological problems – as the possible cause or “trigger” for the onset of focal dystonia. with Forward Head. To reduce shoulder. For example. particularly among conductors. are you leaning forward to compensate for the ensemble’s frequent tendency to play behind the beat. Dr. specifically as a brain lesion in the basal ganglia or brain stem. Others identify peripheral injury – such as physical trauma.19 Postures and Movements of Conductors The preceding description of the etiology and treatment of the physical occupational problems affecting musicians may be seen as a prelude to the more important aspect of this article: how to prevent these problems from occurring in the first place. so as to place one’s center of gravity in a straight line over the lower extremities. you must consider possible musical reasons for this over-involvement of the back. the reader. Once resolved. are you leaning forward in an effort to conduct excessively large beat patterns for musical effect? In such cases the solution may require addressing these musical issues. leading over time to severe upper-body muscle spasming and pain. and to suggest – where called for – more biomechanically efficient and non-injurious movements. which in many instances is forward to compensate for increased thoracic kyphosis or rounded shoulders and forward-set head can lead to strain in the neck. lorazepam and others. neck and shoulders is unfortunately created. a “triangle of tension” of the head. and (3) the injection of a muscle relaxant (botullin toxin or botox) into the affected muscle fibers to reduce the severity of the undesired spasming. upper back. Unfortunately. A prime target during retraining is the problem of shoulder tension. during rehearsals. medical director of the Health Program for Performing Artists. With shoulder elevation.
then by all means turn with the whole body. (2) head and neck stretches. directs his students to make body turns only after initiating the turn with a gesture of the arm. and avoid a rotational twist. Instead. and become aware the instant the shoulders are excessively elevated. which in turn can cause asymmetry in the lumbar spine. Ed. try sitting comfortably on top of the stool. the other wrapped around the stool legs.(1) full shoulder circles. Through a natural hierarchy of movement. In sequence. with the hands touching the waist. However. Another postural problem of conductors relates to shoulder positioning. In this case. This slight backward rotation of the lower back and pelvis helps reduce lower back strain due to swayback positioning or spinal lordosis. Problem 2: Side Twist. neck and shoulder strain. a reactive pelvic rotation would occur. 30
knees while standing. both individually and simultaneously. including head turns to each side. If you tend to be double jointed. it is important to release tension in the legs and knees by periodically placing your feet shoulderwidth apart. try to experience your lower back elongating and your pelvis rotating to a more backward position. a lower area of the body releases and joins the rotation process. such as when you are conducting the first act of Parsifal. In this manner each level of the body would avoid muscular strain. or if the hands are continually held higher than shoulder level. Problem 4: Stool Tilt. head tilts to the right and left. The resulting spinal alignment will not only help the back. and (3) slow forward back-bends. upright. then slightly bending knees two or three times. If the elbows are placed at an excessive distance from the body. The conductor’s stool is generally a useful support and can help relieve the stress of standing for long rehearsals. to place the elbows at a lesser angle in relation to the body. This may result in pelvic obliquity or lateral tilt of the pelvis. with both legs slightly flexed and placed on a supporting rung. and head nods to stretch the upper back. This can lead to considerable back. with resultant sagittal disc nuclei protrusion of the lumbar vertebrae. since at the point when strain might become a factor. and finally the feet or floor. In this case. but also help avoid shoulder and neck pain due to side leaning. Another back-related problem of conductors is turning to face one side of the orchestra (first violins) or the other (cellos). one should avoid long periods of time spent with one leg on the floor. If the hands are held high in an endeavor to command performers’ attention. it is important. High hand positions may require a change in podium height to accommodate a more comfortable hand and arm position. and back strain. If it is necessary to turn the entire upper body towards a section of the orchestra. but leaving the lower body in a forward-facing position. then you may be at risk for tension in the legs. and depending on the distance traveled by the rotating shoulders. a rotation of the upper torso (shoulders/chest) would then follow and function as a reaction to the initiating arm movement. recipient of the CG’s 1990 Theodore Thomas Award and renowned conducting pedagogue. followed by a knee rotation of the leading leg and a knee flexation and raised heel of the trailing leg. the knees. thus protecting the immediate higher area that had reached its individual point of maximum stress-free rotation.” leading to upper back and shoulder strain. thus placing your back into a more straight. then the shoulders are frequently elevated beyond their “comfort zone. and helps release knee and leg strain due to locked knees. At the moment of maximum upper-torso rotation most of the body’s weight will be carried by the leading leg. [Leon Barzin.] Problem 3: Knee Locking. or experience “back-curving” of your 59 JCG Vol. and for purposes of balance and grace the ball of the trailing foot should remain in contact with the floor. when possible. balanced and aligned position. then it may also be necessary to train the
. Problem 5: Elevated Shoulders. As you do so. thighs and lower back. which can result in upper back and thoracic spine stress.
ensemble to respond more quickly or effectively to your beat patterns and expressive gestures. Also to be avoided is one-sided shoulder elevation, which can lead to left-or right-sided upper trapezius (muscle which elevates the shoulder) spasming with the resulting upward directional displacement of one scapula over its neighbor. This most frequently happens when: (1) the amplitude or vertical stroke of the baton arm is particularly expansive or too large, possibly due to using a table (lowest horizontal plane of the beat pattern) level that is too high; and (2) the conductor is using the right and left arms independently but with excess tension while cuing, changing dynamics, or conducting two different beat patterns simultaneously. Problem 6: Excessive Elbow Extension, Flexion or Rotation. As with the wrist, the elbow serves both as an arm joint and as a conduit through which pass many important soft tissues of the body, including the ulnar, medial and radial nerves, and the venous and arterial systems. The elbow also serves as an anchor for the origin and insertion of muscles that move the forearm, hand and fingers. Movements that particularly cause elbow distress are those that forcefully carry the elbow into extremes of positioning, either in rotation, flexion or extension. Typically, these involve vigorous movements of the hand and forearm that are abruptly stopped during staccato or strongly accentuated passages, thus causing whip-like snapping of the elbow at the extremes of extension, flexion, or rotation. Forceful gestures and staccato articulations are obviously an important part of the conductor’s repertoire. It should be kept in mind, however, that the enormous kinetic energy built up in fast, strong upper-extremity movements can cause self-injury if, in order to absorb the shock, the movements are suddenly frozen by a stiffly held shoulder, elbow or wrist. Instead – and regardless of the size of the
beat’s rebound – one should learn to quickly loosen the joints immediately following the ictus of each forceful beat. The rebound movement itself – no matter how small or quick – then becomes a momentary release of joint tension or muscle cocontraction, even if one is only doing a light “click” beat for staccato phrases. [To minimize muscular damage that can occur when marcato conducting is undertaken, Leon Barzin recommends that the muscles surrounding the operational joint in question (usually the elbow) be called into use just prior to the acute change of forearm direction needed to create the marcato effect, in order to soften or reduce somewhat the shock of kinetic energy to the affected joint. As to the kinetic energy that is produced, he feels that the wrist, upper arm, shoulder, clavicle and spine must act as transducers of the energy, thus diffusing the impact via radiation to the adjoining joints and limbs. In order for this practice to be successful, all muscles and joints involved in the transduction process must be free of tension, or the damage avoided at one relaxed point will simply transfer to the next point of tension. The most frequent and obvious example of this phenomenon is the creation of shoulder tension inherited from actions of the wrist and elbow. Ed.] Problem 7: Non-Neutral Wrist Angles. Some of the most common but injurious malpositionings among conductors occur in the wrist, where either hyperflexion or dorsiflexion (wrist elevated or lowered excessively), or ulnar or radial deviation (twisted toward the fifth finger or thumb, respectively) may occur. Excessive or repeated bending of the wrist can lead to frictional strain of the tendons whenever they attempt to move back and forth through the break in the wrist. These malpositionings can also cause excess strain on the muscles in the forearm since those muscles must work harder to drag the tendons through the angled tendon sheaths. In addition, excessive wrist angling has been associated with nerve compression syndromes. Common locations include the medial nerve where it passes through the carpal tunnel, and the ulnar nerve where it traverses the “Tunnel of Guyon” on the lateral side of the wrist. Choral conductors, who frequently do JCG Vol. 30 60
not use a baton, are particularly susceptible to the strains of wrist hyper-angling and finger extension/flexion, especially if the hand, wrist and finger movements are executed with force, such as in “cut-offs” which employ repeated forceful closures of the hand and fingers. The least injurious wrist position is termed “position of function” or neutral positioning. Neutral position can be simulated in a very easy drop: drop your hand at your side; the straight, flat position that your wrist assumes as it hangs loosely at your side should be the position you emulate with the hands raised. This does not suggest that the wrist be held stiffly or tensed to maintain straightness. Instead, the wrist is meant to be an extension of the forearm, so that movements involving the fingers and hand need to include a slight degree of forearm “follow-through” to avoid repetitive, whip-like or stressful bendings, or continuous twistings of the wrist. Problem 8: Excess Muscle Tension During “Travel” of the Conductor’s Beat. The control of travel, or the movement from ictus to ictus, is particularly important for communicating the desired style of articulation, tone color, and other aspects of the musical phrase.20 However, in long, sustained forte passages, some conductors – in an effort to create a powerful legato sound – retain such a high degree of upper back, shoulder, upper arm, forearm, wrist and hand/finger tension that muscle strain and spasming occur. To create the “long sustained line” in music, it is indeed helpful if a conductor’s quality of movement mirrors the quality and intensity of sound desired from the ensemble. However, it may be useful for the conductor to avoid internalizing the music’s intensity to such a degree that the body becomes overly tense and rigid, even if this is a strong aspect of the music’s expressive power. The slowness and smoothness of the travel may indeed be enough to communicate the musical message, and one may not literally have to emulate “the stretching of a strong elastic band, or pulling strongly through a viscous medium.” As with all postural and movement suggestions, this one is not meant to deprive the music 61 JCG Vol. 30
of its expressive potential, but rather to look towards efficiency and effectiveness of motion as an element in occupational health and career longevity. Problem 9: Excess Baton Gripping and Twisting. This may be too obvious a problem to bring to the attention of professional conductors. However, in our work with younger musicians (and some more experienced as well), we find that the use of the baton is frequently associated with some pain syndromes. The first concern may be the baton itself. Too long or heavy a baton or handle should be avoided; it can lead to excess hand and shoulder tension, particularly among students. The baton grip is a very personal aspect of conducting, and the comparison of one style over another is beyond the scope of this article. But, by way of general advice, these suggestions may be useful: (1) avoid excess arm pronation, with the palm of the hand continuously facing downwards and outwards, particularly in strongly articulated passages, or while firmly gripping the baton. Excessive pronation of the arm can lead in time to bicipital tendinitis or to pain syndromes of the rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder; (2) avoid stiffness or tension in the elbow, wrist and fingers while holding the baton during strongly accented passages. Allow some degree of flexibility in each joint of the arm to avoid excessive co-contraction of the agonist and antagonist muscles on either side of the joint in question. This will help reduce general arm and hand tension and increase endurance during rehearsals and performances. (3) Fingers that are not used to hold the baton should be gently flexed and not held out in extension for long periods of time. The continuous stretching out of the fingers can lead to excessive hand and finger strain. (4) Avoid effortful wrist flexion and extension, or excessive lateral wrist twisting. When conducting primarily with the wrist, try to allow a slight degree of forearm or arm follow-through during the rebound of the beat, even when conducting smaller
beat patterns. This should help reduce wrist tendon strain which can arise when the wrist is used exclusively. Problem 10: Vocal Overuse of Conductors. Though this problem is not related to the back, arms or hands, it is a problem that plagues many conductors, particularly those involved in teaching young people. Vocal problems can occur for many reasons. [For an article dealing at length with the diagnosis and treatment of vocal problems in musicians, see: “Medical Care of the Professional Voice: The Conductor’s Responsibility (Part 1)” written by Dr. Robert Sataloff, a leading otolaryngologist, which appears on pp. 30-44 in the present JCG issue.] Frequently a conductor forces his voice to be heard during rehearsals over the sound of talking, singing or playing musicians. Excessive background noise invites the Lombard Effect, the tendency to increase the intensity of one’s voice in response to increased background noise; over time this usually leads to voice strain. Effortful, forceful speaking and singing may also lead to misuse of the voice, often manifested by excessive tension of the tongue, neck or larynx, or inadequate abdominal support.21 Conducting may also require both singing and speaking during rehearsals, with the conductor trying to assist each musical line by singing it, even if it means singing beyond one’s vocal range and above the level of the ensemble. Other environmental problems may also lead to difficulties, especially when the rehearsal environment is dusty, dry and noisy. Humidity is a particular problem during the winter months in some locations, since home, school, and concert hall heating systems tend to become quite dry without adequate humidification. Symptoms of vocal overuse include: a change in vocal quality, such as hoarseness or breathiness; a change in vocal range, typically with loss of the upper tessitura, indicating edema of the vocal folds; pain in the various areas of the neck or the throat; or, in severe cases, vocal nodules, hemorrhage, or contact ulcers or granulomas. Treatment frequently involves “relative rest” for the voice. Those who suffer from chronic vocal overuse might consider
Punt’s advice: “Don’t say a single word for which you are not paid.”22 This is particularly important for the gregarious conductor, who may engage in prolonged pre-rehearsal and post-concert discussions in noisy, smoky “green rooms” adjacent to concert halls. Steam inhalators can deliver moisture and heat to vocal cords, and are frequently helpful. If resistant respiratory tract infections occur, your physician may prescribe erythromycin or tetracycline for a full course of seven to ten days.23 Conductors with chronic vocal problems are strongly urged to see an otolaryngologist, and to seek the help of a speech and language pathologist familiar with the problems of musicians. In summary, what is clearly apparent to those in performing arts medicine is that many of the occupational problems of conductors are to a large extent preventable, if one can make appropriate changes in behavior. Also apparent is the fact that performing arts medicine has indeed begun to make significant contributions to “the lively arts” by understanding how to diagnose, treat and prevent occupational problems in arts performers. But perhaps the most positive contribution that medicine could make to the arts is a more affirmative concept: that using one’s body efficiently in the service of music can not only avoid overstraining psyche and soma, but can also enhance artistic performance and creativity. ***** Dr. John J. Kella is Music Professor at St. George’s College and Ergonomics Specialist in Occupational Health at The New York Times. He was Coordinator of the Music Rehabilitation Program at the Miller Health Care Institute for Performing Artists in New York City and President of Performing Arts Health Information Services, Inc., also based in New York.
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2-4.” in Sataloff. July... “Treatment of musician’s cramp with botulinum toxin. Vol. Vol. p. C. “Tanglewood Festival Opens Despite Weather and Illness.” in Medical Problems of Performing Artists.. 1988. 149. 59. 18 Cole.G. 1986. 5 Registrar General’s Decennial Supplement. pp. (London: HMSO. Limelight Edition. Occupational Mortality. Vol. England and Wales. R. 61. R. 1991). Vol. L. A. 2..H. S.L... R. 1988. United States. 4 Guralnick. 4.. “Mortality by occupation and industry among men 20 to 64 years of age. The Rehabilitation Specialist’s Handbook (Philadelphia: F. July 7. Textbook of Performing Arts Medicine (New York: Raven Press. pp. 1991). 27 13 Fry.” in The New York Times. Conductors in Conversation (New York: Proscenium Publishers.J..A.R. 7 “Longevity of corporate executives. p. p.. 16 Lederman.M.. 2-4. S. 7-11. 63-66. and Hallett.. 1962. Roy. 17 Lederman. 1979. S. 14 Kella. 1992) p.. L. Vol. J. 1974. Middlestadt. 1-8. pp.” in Statistical Bulletin. 1970-72. 1992.” in Medical Problems of
63 JCG Vol.. and dermal ailments of musicians. pp. M. and Lederman.. 30
. V. S. pp. p..J. 10 Chesterman. 187.” in Statistical Bulletin. 3 “Longevity of symphony conductors.J.. Brandfonbrener. 7. 1950. A.” In Statistical Bulletin.H. J. “Medical Problems among ICSOM musicians: Overview of a national survey. 87. 26 11 Private communication with Jonathan Sternberg. Davis Co. 1992. 1978). 2-9. 55. p.G. Vol.T. Strauss. 18-19..E. No. pp. 51-92. 1986. Sec. March. and Ellis. “A musician’s guide to performing arts medicine: Musculoskeletal. 1980. “Neurological problems of performing artists.. and Wolf. Feb. Vol. R. 1.” in International Journal of Music Education. pp. H. R. 3. 53.. M.ENDNOTES
1 Oestreich. neurological.H. 2 Fishbein. L.” in Vital Statistics – Special Reports.. 11. Oct-Dec.. 9 Chesterman. Jan-Mar. Calabrese. 60.” p. “Occupational maladies of musicians: Their cause and prevention.” in International Musician. Cohen. Vol. pp.” in Medical Problems of Performing Artists. 15 Rothstein. 12 Chesterman. J.J.J. R.. Ottati. “Overuse syndrome in instrumentalists. National Vital Statistics Division. 6 “Longevity of prominent women... 8 “Longevity of symphony conductors.
21 Bailey. D. N. pp. Vol. 66-68.R. 1152-56 23 Sataloff..com)
JCG Vol. Ernst. “Acquisition and loss of skilled movement in musicians.cmpub. Vol..” in Medical Problems of Performing Artists.. The Art of Conducting (New York: Alfred A. “Acute vocal cord hemorrhage in singers. L.T.J.. 1989. et al. Knopf. “Applied laryngology – singers and actors.” in Sataloff.. 1983). R. 20 Hunsberger.. Textbook. R.
This is a story about a very old cello. 30 64
.. N. 9. 3. Bailey.A. 229-86. a young boy named Richard.. 1968. pp. pp.” in Seminars in Neurology.19 Wilson. pp. and his Uncle Sal
Dedicated to Salvatore Silipigni
Uncle Sal’s Cello
(for Orchestra & Narrator)
Richard Chiarappa (listen and purchase at www. 146-51. “Care of the Professional Voice.” in Proc R Soc Med. Vol. 22 Punt. 61. 1988.L. F.
The conducting class(es) within an undergraduate music curriculum could well function as the capstone to the music major. “Okay. and then to provide them with the necessary tools and resources to grasp and assimilate it all. nor should one consider metronome markings in the music of Pierre Boulez as careless suggestions. 2. Although one accepted role for a director of ensembles is as guarantor of the composer’s intentions. No. Developing musical literacy and instilling artistic values should serve as the foundation of undergraduate conducting classes. No other course within traditional music curricula so thoroughly combines the apparently diverse (to the student musician) fields of music history. each approach is valid. Better ways to coordinate eye. more mysteriously. Unfortunately. My own undergraduate conducting classes were taught as a segment of the music theory program. yet numerous rudimentary conducting classes slight or entirely neglect this aspect of the craft. either leading rehearsals or. His motto was. but rather to enumerate the skills 65 JCG Vol. given the myriad contexts available to modern music-making: surely Josquin did not expect his music to be performed without dynamic variety. For conducting pedagogues it is imperative not only to inform students of the entire spectrum of conductor responsibilities. many college and university teachers do not avail themselves of this opportunity. but also to instill in them a sense of musical priorities as they prepare to lead their own ensembles. Perhaps an even greater task is convincing conducting students that the fundamental duties and rewards of the conductor are outside of the concert hall. in private study. The rationale for this arrangement was offered by the chairman of the theory department. 30 and knowledge that they must learn. Between such black-andwhite examples lies a vast spectrum of gray compromises and artistic decisions. ear and viscera are certainly not legion.e. A fluency in reading scores is absolutely necessary for the competent execution of the conductor’s duties. i.From Classroom to Podium: Teaching All of the Craft
(JCG Volume 13. Green
Introduction Leading an ensemble through a successful concert performance is a conductor’s highest profile responsibility. 1992)
By Jonathan D. Teachers of conducting should remember that their primary goal is not to endow students with a marketable skill. the perennial issue of whether such fidelity implies a strict adherence to the printed page or permits some personal. Within many curricula. Clearly it could serve as an ideal arena for the logical integration of musical analysis and performance. Choices must emanate from an informed blend of stylistic knowledge and score-reading acuity. you say
. conducting was the ultimate stage of ear-training study. In his opinion. Surely no one would argue this point. the conducting class may be the only academic forum for the study of performance practice.. Of course. interpretive reading between the lines has become a well-worn argument. theory and ear-training.
is sufficient exposure to all aspects of the conductor’s art so they may successfully grow in the early years of their first teaching position. however. music schools that presently require only one semester of conducting are performing a serious disservice to their students.” Admittedly. unfortunately. All JCG Vol. score analysis and performance practice play a significant role in study and discussion. The old adage. and we had the luxury of four to six semesters of study. and with the day-to-day administration of his/her ensemble’s activities. the plan could easily be expanded and enriched commensurate with the available time. The bulk of a conductor’s time is—or should be—spent studying scores. as discussed earlier. the introduction/instruction of which are also the fundamental responsibility of the conductor/ educator. Nevertheless. my conducting sequence began in the fall of the freshman year. few of our efforts deviated from making effective physical gestures. apart from a few single-note transposition tests and an occasional discussion of ensemble deportment. Please understand that my criticism is not sour grapes: the quality of instruction was excellent. This format is representative of conducting courses in many fine educational institutions. that they clearly understand the processes and procedures (and hard work) that got the director to that point. especially the prospective music educators whose success will depend on the effective administration of their ensembles. now prove it.” possibly constitutes an exaggerated estimate. What is needed in their undergraduate training. or in conjunction with form-andanalysis and orchestration courses. We all had substantial podium time conducting good repertoire with complete ensembles. The benefit of applying practical gestural skills before a live ensemble is invaluable. Do conducting teachers prepare students for this inescapable condition by demonstrating how to compensate for rehearsal short-fall with proper and thorough preparation? Within a school’s ensembles. 30 66
. Their most conspicuous duty will be leading student ensembles. Since many music schools currently require a two-semester conducting sequence. most of these young conductor/teachers will not have had the benefit of such advanced training opportunities before entering their own classrooms and auditoriums. Like so many others. however. “only ten percent of a conductor’s time is actually spent conducting. this curriculum never merged the learning that occurred in other studies with related activities on the podium. Normally.you can hear. Possible arrangements that could expand conducting instruction time might include conducting in the final semester of theory. perhaps students do recognize in general terms the level and scope of a
faculty director’s preparedness. One must not assume. marking parts. For programs that require more than two semesters. This proposed curriculum would best serve the students if vocalists and instrumentalists were not separated. but at that point I was somewhat at a loss to apply terminology to what I was hearing. then. In the opinion of this writer. it must be understood that the majority of undergraduate students who study conducting are preparing to become music teachers. students either play under or attend concerts directed by faculty conductors. doing research. Each should have the opportunity to study and conduct music for a variety of ensembles. Nevertheless. the following two-semester plan of undergraduate study is offered for consideration. especially if conducting is viewed philosophically as a capstone course. it was a wonderful concept. When one advances to graduate conducting programs and professional workshops. all-too-often the celebration of this activity unintentionally eclipses other equally critical skills. Such one-semester programs must allot more time to conducting and related skills. Perhaps I could hear. How many of these processes are ever introduced into the conducting classroom? Active conductors often bemoan the lack of sufficient rehearsal time.
since choral singers are accustomed to reading and performing from a full or condensed score. Schött’s Sohne. 1935. Charles. the rise in the importance of the conductor and his changing role in music clarifies many issues surrounding the changing role of music in society. Piston. Carl. as well as a survey of the outstanding practitioners of the craft. Schoenberg. New York: Taplinger Books. Stuyvesant. a number of them are out of print but remain readily available within academic libraries. New York: Macmillan. and isolating choral music deprives instrumental students of a rich ensemble repertoire. 1988. Unfortunately. First Semester (Introduction Of Concepts) History Of The Art The course begins with an introduction to the history of conducting that includes major treatises and historical developments. Heffernan. Norman. 1982. Instruments The students proceed to a survey of instruments and voices. London: Augener. traps. vocalists. New York: B. The History of Orchestration. Peinkofer. New York: W. In a seminar format. a make-up exam should be administered until the crucial facts of this component are mastered. Orchestration. The Conductor’s Art. 1969. Here. Elliott. Galkin.1935. Norton. A History of Orchestral Conducting in Theory and Practice. 1967. Harold. Students can be tested traditionally on this information. The proposed two-semester course detailed below presents the course content in an organized sequence. Cecil: Orchestration (2nd ed. especially those who wish to teach. 1964. New York: Dover. Carse. the history of gestures can be presented and the current repertoire of hand signals introduced. These texts were judged and selected on the basis of their content and relevance to the teaching model. Anatomy of the Orchestra. This need not be a dry and lengthy musicological pursuit. 1985. Moreover. Adam. 1955. Likewise.W. Englewood Cliffs.
67 JCG Vol. Walter. each student can be asked to research one conductor and one significant document on conducting that could be distilled for presentation to the class. New York: Simon and Schuster. 30
. Karl and Fritz Tannigel (Kurt and Else Stone. exploring nomenclature. Forsyth.).musicians must sing. New York: McGraw Hill. Handbook of Percussion Instruments. Del Mar.). Choral Music: Technique and Artistry. Vocal students should also be challenged with the reading of transposed or C clef material and large open scores. Following most of the topic discussions is a list of representative texts that should provide appropriate source materials for that specific area of study. NY: Pendragon Press. notational practices and transpositions. If a student scores poorly on such a test.
Sources of relevant material Bamberger. Sources of relevant material Carse. Orchestral Conducting. the coordination of an ensemble that reads extracted individual parts will enhance their understanding of the conductor’s role in such ensemble integration. Adam. The Great Conductors. NJ: Prentice Hall. should not be deprived of an opportunity to become aware of performance styles and techniques indigenous to instrumental music. 1965.
Here too. Group Vocal Technique. Conscience of a Profession. Choral Director’s Rehearsal and Performance Guide. Sheil.
JCG Vol.). NY: Edacra Press. Lewis. Stuyvesant. since ideally orchestral bowings are chosen first for sound and second for ease of execution. As an assignment. 1940. Englewood Cliffs. Sources of relevant material Boyd. pitch and vowel production. Teaching Choral Sight Reading. Bowing Such a component should be a revelation for all music students. OK: American Choral Directors Association Monograph Series. Sight reading is a valid concern for all ensembles.d. West Nyack. Ann Arbor: American String Teachers Association. 1989. Rabin. 1951. Fredonia. Modern Languages for Musicians. who have no external physical reference for pitch and often have less training in reading music than their instrumentalist classmates. Curt.). Chapel Hill. Singing in English. Frauke and James M. Richard F. 1991. Yarbrough. 1987. NC: Hinshaw Music. Chapel Hill. Sachs. NC: Hinshaw Music. Cox. Department of Continuing Education in the Arts. Haasemann. Swan. 1984. Reston. Howard (Charles Fowler. NY: Pendragon Press. Orchestral Bowings and Routines (11th ed. The History of Musical Instruments. It also can be informative for string players. NJ: Prentice-Hall. 30 68
. Richard. Julie. Thesaurus of Orchestral Devices. Jordan. Elizabeth. Choral Technique As unified string bowings help create a cohesive sound within an orchestra. 1987. NY: Parker Publishing. Jack.). Lawton. comparisons may provide productive discussion. VA: Music Educators National Conference.Read. W. ed. 1993. 1975. 1990. must develop musical literacy on a day-to-day basis. but singers. Michael and Priscilla Smith. London: Piman and Sons. May. General concepts regarding standard diction practices can conveniently be presented here. Pronunciation Guide for Choral Literature. Sources of relevant material Green. Guide to Orchestral Bowings through Musical Styles. those students who expect to be leading performances of works in languages with which they are unfamiliar should be encouraged to enroll in a separate diction
class for singers. however. unified breathing and diction do likewise within a choir. exercises for developing healthy vocal production and consistent pronunciation should be collected by the students. Good choral tone is the result of synchronized breathing. Video tape produced by the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Gordon. New York: W. The students should also be made aware of the need to build sight-reading skills in the choirs they will be directing. Since there will be some differences among the student versions. General vocal technique and issues peculiar to vocal music should be demonstrated and reinforced by class participation. A Manual of Foreign Language Dictions for Singers (3rd ed. Gardner. 1990. and Craig Tolin. Norton. a student may be given string excerpts to which he would apply bowings. William V. A Manual of English Diction for Singers and Choral Directors. n.
Score Reading. Paul. London: Oxford University Press. Warch. the instructor must be aware that. Charles Sanford. New York: W. it must be taught and drilled. and the Wind Ensemble. By refusing to allow the ‘relative’ approach to take hold. 1924. beginning with alto. left to their own devices. the Band. Gordon. London: Oxford University Press. The Orchestra. Vienna: Wiener Philharmonic Verlag.
[Rarely does one encounter an undergraduate student with much––if any––fluency in C clef reading. 1931. etc. Englewood Cliffs. Rood. Georges. 1936. reprint 1991.] History Of Ensembles The history of large ensembles (choir. the instructor should be able to nurture steady growth in clef and score reading. The Orchestra. and through solfeggio. Morris. New York:
Bekker. tenor. Ed. London: Oxford University Press. 1944. Percy. Paris: Editions Max Eschig. PA). 1964. Sources of relevant material Carse. Chanticleer Press. Directions for Score Reading. Melcher. Written assignments include transposing excerpts of full scores to all sounding pitches (C scores) and then to completely transcribe full-score excerpts to closed score. New York: M. Gal. Young. 1928 (available through Theodore Presser Co. Work in clef and score reading can and should continue throughout the remainder of the course. during the teaching process. Robert A. Adam. orchestra. students invariably will choose to identify a pitch on a newly introduced C clef by relating it to the already familiar treble or bass clef.Score Reading At this point in the course. Score Reading.W. How to Read a Score. New York: W. London: Boosey and Hawkes. Norton. How to Read a Score. Dandelot. fa et ut. Terry. 1948. O. students should be ready to undertake exercises in score reading. Bach’s Orchestra. Manuel Practique pour l’etude des clés de sol. 1958.. Witmark and Sons. 1932. New York: Edwin Kalmus. 1971. Time and Winds: A Short History of the Use of Wind Instruments in the Orchestra. Music for Score Reading. Preparatory Exercises in Score Reading. Louise. R. Fennell. 1947. Fiske. However. Norton. Sources of relevant material Bernstein. and Howard Ferguson. By integrating instrumental and vocal music. 4 vols. Martin. Roger. musical style can effectively be studied from the Middle Ages to the present. These could be followed by simple transpositions exercises.W. NJ: Prentice-Hall. and band) is often slighted in many academic music programs but would certainly pertain to this class and contribute to the development of an understanding of style. 1971. The instructor can counter this inclination by starting a student’s clef study with Georges Dandelot’s clef exercises. 1949. Haas. to be presented at the keyboard. and Willard F. WI: Leblanc Publications. Bryn Mawr. The Choral Tradition. Kenosha. Jacob. They could begin with basic two-part and three-part exercises at the keyboard that introduce a variety of clef combinations. For this reason the study of performance practice should now be emphasized. Frederick.
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JCG Vol. Form in Tonal Music: an Introduction to Analysis. using hand gestures to lead the ensemble (playing a unison pitch) to an accurate execution of the rhythm. The selections should be drawn from all historic periods and include instrumental and vocal music. Philadelphia: Theodore Presser. Englewood Cliffs.). known only to them and the instructor. 1992. Musical Form and Musical Performance. and ultimately each student will have to draw his or her conclusions and develop a personal practice. texture or form. Douglass. Such a process helps a student develop the ability to convey to the ensemble what is in his mind. 1968. Edward T. for many.Second Semester (Introduction Of Skills) Gestures Students practice basic gestures such as conducting patterns. The Grammar of Conducting: A Practical Guide to Baton and Orchestral Interpretation (3rd ed. with a brief consultation between student and instructor scheduled on an as-needed basis.W. Sources of relevant material Cone. Additionally. 1934. or the characteristics of a combination of these elements. demarcation of phrases.). students submit a prescribed analysis for each work which examines the characteristics of melody. Conducting Technique for Beginners and Professionals (rev. Goetschius. bowings and the placement of final consonants and breaths should be preplanned and consistent. The impact of the activity becomes greater than the value of the product. cut-offs. or labels for specific musical events within scores are more an issue of musical taste.1965. a number of approaches should be introduced to conducting students. however. New York: W. Max. 1991. abstract exercises without a specific musical context. For decades this subject has been a controversial one among leading conductors and pedagogues. because it requires the development of informed conclusions. students could be asked to conduct a short phrase. Score Marking When students develop a richer sense of the components of each studied score the methods of marking a score should be addressed. Rinehart and Winston. For the student conductor. At the very least. Throughout the term. exercises in ‘psychological conducting’ may be explored. the process may border on gimmicky or intellectual indigence. Such exercises may be introduced. NJ: Prentice-Hall. Rudolf. making those decisions and entering them into the score is a crucial process. 1989. Analysis Throughout the semester students should be assigned for analysis a number of pieces of diverse styles. For example. For others. Additional assignments may include essays that analyze performance concerns and offer methods for addressing them in rehearsal. Indications for cues and cut-offs. Percy. Brock. dynamics and articulation. McElherhan. Green. The Structure of Music. clarified and reflected as empirical. London: Oxford University Press. New York: Holt.). ed. harmony. The goal of such exercises in analysis is the development of memory skills (useful for all musical pursuits) and the demonstration of an
intellectual understanding of the score. Sources of relevant material Green Elizabeth. the process of entering markings into the score constitutes an effective part of the learning process. cues. Most analysis work can be done outside of class. etc. 30 70
. It also helps improve the ensemble skills of those who are interpreting these gestures in sound. In any case. The Modern Conductor (5th ed. New York: Schirmer Books. ultimately they will draw their own conclusions. Norton.
New York: W. NJ: Prentice-Hall. Prausnitz.W.
71 JCG Vol. By focusing on the production of quality rehearsals. Donington. Champaign. Robert. 1951. If this course is indeed to be considered a capstone for musicianship studies. When students understand the underlying reasons that solve a musical quandary. Issues of rehearsal techniques and performance practice can be effectively discussed within the context of live rehearsals. they should be rehearsed by the students on the podium.Sources of relevant material Green. Thurston. The practical value of such sessions. Norton.. Simons. NY: Parker Publishing. learned and. Sources of relevant material Holmes. Daniel. the aspect of the program would create a healthy forum through which a faculty may share pedagogical concepts with each other as well as with the students. Together with providing the students a broader spectrum of musical perspectives.W. 1983. Baroque Music: Style and Performance. 1992. Elements of style and solutions to performance problems can be successfully presented within the framework of actual execution. and Nikolai Malko.’ when showing ‘how’ is so much easier and quicker. can be greatly enhanced if the repertoire is scheduled by genre or historic period. rehearsal procedures may be culled from the entire conducting faculty. At every stage of the program students should maintain a portfolio of teaching and learning tools with which to experiment. Clear and effective gestures are certainly a valuable and important tool. 30
. they become better equipped to address similar problems on their own. 1963. The use of a Socratic approach to the issue of problem-solving within the ensemble will help to strengthen the students’ musical independence and wisdom. but a profound musical understanding and efficient coordination of the ensemble are the touchstones of good musical leadership. Joseph. as is the case in most traditional conducting courses. as works are studied. W. 1975. Harriet. Norton. the true test of the conductor’s art. Choral Conducting: A Leadership Through Teaching Approach. Instrumental Music Pedagogy. Norton. Cambridge.). Score and Podium: A Complete Guide to Conducting. Englewood Cliffs. or both. Rehearsal Procedures And Teaching Techniques Each meeting in the second term could begin by addressing a few specific rehearsal techniques which may or may not apply to the works rehearsed that day. Teaching Music in High School Band. NJ: Prentice-Hall. I find it easy to neglect exploring ‘why. MA: Harvard University Press. 1972. 1973. Frederik. Englewood Cliffs. where possible. Kohut. A Handbook. In the teaching of conducting. 1982. West Nyack. IL: Mark Foster Music Co. Rehearsal Throughout the term. Malcolm Haughton. Teaching Techniques for School Band and Orchestra. ____________The Interpretation of Early Music (rev. New York: Harper and Rose. Labuta. New York: W. memorized. The Conductor and His Score. ed. effective rehearsal techniques-and not merely elegant cheironomybecome the key to podium success. The Interpretation of Music. Elizabeth A. New York: W. which should absorb the bulk of available class time in this semester. 1978. Conducting an Amateur Orchestra.
Sources of relevant material Dart.
Hawkins. David and Eugene Corporon. Margaret. Norman. Conducting Choral Music (7th ed. Secular Choral Music in Print. Lee and James McCray.P. An Annotated Inventory of Distinctive Choral Literature for Performance at the High School Level. mark and distribute parts. CO: University of Colorado School of Music.).). Farish. White. 1985. Eslinger. Mark Daugherty. OK: American Choral Directors Association monograph series. Needless to say. Daugherty. He has held the position of Dean of the College and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Sweet Briar College (VA). MA: Harvard University Press.) Metuchen. Mark and Susan H. 1973. Wind Ensemble/Band Repertoire. Greeley. Neidig. Jonathan D.1987. Garretson. Simons. They should include: hiring musicians. eds. print programs. 2 vols. because it prioritizes aspects of the conductor’s work in a manner reflective of the actual task. Philadelphia: Musicdata. Englewood Cliffs. et cetera. 1976. Sacred Choral Music in Print. 1984. Englewood Cliffs. acquire the music. NJ: Scarecrow Press. A Handbook (2nd ed. NJ: Prentice-Hall. The premise of this teaching approach is to build a foundation of musical independence and literacy for life-long learning. Grosbayne. ***** Dr. methods of purchasing and renting performance materials. Wallace. Green is Provost of Illinois Wesleyan University (IL). 1982. Kjelson.Organization And Repertoire Selection During the final term of conducting study (which ideally could be beyond the second semester). Benjamin. writing contracts. Kenneth. 1979. printing programs. As collegiate curricula increasingly insist on courses that unify elements drawn from the entire spectrum of study. 1973. practical aspects of administration are discussed. 1964. 2 vols. Robert L. so that students will be able to continue professional growth while fulfilling the conducting component of their job description. JCG Vol. Gary S. and compiling sources that list repertoire. and F. Perhaps most importantly. 30 72
. it would allow students to gain a realistic understanding of all elements of the craft of conducting as it is or should be practiced.. Orchestra Music in Print. some or most of them will. NY: Belwin Music Corp. 1993. Students should be given––or helped to compile––a phone and address list of music publishers and distributors. understanding copyright laws. eds. Philadelphia: Musicdata. selecting repertoire. Twentieth-Century Choral Music. Sources of relevant material Daniels. creating a rehearsal schedule (long-term and daily). The Band Director’s Guide. J. Summary The course outlined above could significantly improve the relevance of the conducting offerings in colleges and conservatories across the country. Techniques of Modern Orchestral Conducting (2nd ed. Orchestral Music. NJ: Prentice-Hall. Perhaps the most important skill is to develop a time-line detailing how far in advance of a concert one should secure the performance space. Cambridge. Margaret. Philadelphia: Musicdata. He is also an active composer and author. David. Metuchen. F. the importance of good organization is pervasive in all professional undertakings. 1984. contract the performers. NJ: Scarecrow Press. Although not all of these issues will apply to all of the students’ real-life encounters. The Conductor’s Manual of Choral Music Literature. the course proposed here would do exactly that by integrating historical and theoretical studies with the practical element of performance. Melville.
Dimitri Mitropoulos: The Forgotten Giant
(JCG Volume 15, No. 1, 1994)
By William R. Trotter
When Dimitri Mitropoulos died, on November 2, 1960, there were more than one hundred Mitropoulos-led performances in the American record catalogues; a decade later, only a dozen remained. At the time of his death, Mitropoulos was regarded, both in America and Europe, as one of the most important and influential interpretive musicians ever to work in the United States. Yet seven years later, when critic Harold C. Schonberg published his book entitled The Great Conductors, Mitropoulos rated two lukewarm paragraphs, no more. And when the New York Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated its 150th birthday in 1992, and every newspaper and magazine in New York devoted lots of ink to describing that orchestra’s long and distinguished line of music directors, Mitropoulos was mentioned – if indeed he was mentioned at all – only as “Leonard Bernstein’s mentor.” None of the many articles I read in 1992 mentioned that in the early 1950’s Mitropoulos was regarded as the savior of the Philharmonic, the perfect choice to modernize its repertory and energize it from the doldrums into which the orchestra had sunk during the years following Toscanini’s departure. Yet in 1957, tormented by chronic misbehavior on the part of many Philharmonic musicians, excoriated by an endless barrage of attacks by the critics, he resigned, almost in a state of disgrace, and was replaced by Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein had idolized Mitropoulos in his youth, yet for several years worked behind the scenes to get Mitropoulos fired and himself instated as head of the 73 JCG Vol. 30 Philharmonic. With his heart broken, his health ruined, Mitropoulos shifted the main focus of his activities to Europe, where he died three years later while rehearsing Mahler’s Third in Milan. Thus it has come about, on the eve of the centennial of Dimitri Mitropoulos’s birth, that he has been almost totally forgotten, relegated to the status of a footnote in the very land where he scored his greatest triumphs, and whose musical life he enriched beyond measure. That is certainly not the case in Europe, where he is remembered with the same awe as Toscanini and Furtwängler, and where his memory has been honored by the release of many splendid live performances on compact disc. To measure this fall from grace – a process that has caused not only the man’s reputation but the very record of his achievements to become only the dimmest wisp of cultural memory – and to understand how a man once spoken of as the “next Toscanini” could suffer such a fate, it might be best to briefly outline his American career. He became music director of the Minneapolis Symphony in 1937, following two sensational guest appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and remained in that post until 1949. He tranformed a decent provincial orchestra into an ensemble that ranked just below the first tier of American symphonic organizations; and in the process – often to the bewilderment of his good-natured but basically conservative mid-western audiences – he made Minneapolis an internationally recognized center for contemporary music. John Sherman, the
Twin Cities’ best music critic and author of a very fine history of the Minneapolis Symphony, summarized the Mitropoulos era in these words:
More than any other conductor before him, he regarded a concert performance as an act of faith and a spiritual necessity, a high and holy rite whereby the public was not so much entertained as led to the mountain top. And while some of the public, as time went on, did not always want to climb the peak, being of shorter wind than Mitropoulos and much less eager for the heights he had charted, they were acutely aware of musical experiences the like of which they had never undergone. There was a compulsion in this conductor’s music that could be accepted or resisted, as the case might be, but never, ever, ignored.1
music director, but maneuvers by Ormandy in Philadelphia and Koussevitzsky and others in Boston prevented any such appointment. And so it was his fate to finish his American career in New York, where the very qualities that made him such a unique and radiant spirit – his stubborn refusal to play the publicity games both management and the public seemed to want the Philharmonic’s conductor to play, his naïve belief in his “mission” to champion difficult and neglected music, no matter what the box office consequences might be, his inability to secure disciplined behavior and eventually even disciplined playing from the long-suffering, truculent, unruly members of his orchestra – were the very qualities that finally caused his downfall. Yet those who plotted against him, when interviewed about the matter many years later, often admitted that, in the words of Isaac Stern, “there was an immense scope to him that even his enemies recognized.”2 Very well, then: what sort of a conductor was Dimitri Mitropoulos? An intensely kinetic and physical one, to begin with. Music historian Roland Gellatt described him this way: “...he conducts with his entire body. When the music soars, he is a bird in flight; when it droops, he huddles as though broken in spirit.”3 This mirroring of the music score and its changes by means of constantly shifting physical analogies was, for Mitropolous, spontaneous and natural, an irrepressible function of the tremendous internal dynamism that possessed him when he conducted. On a strictly analytical level, though, Mitropoulos candidly admitted that while “I wouldn’t recommend that a conductor deliberately make his gestures with an audience in mind, nevertheless it is easier for the audience to understand the meaning of the music if the conductor is a bit of an actor.”4 Until his doctor urged him to start using a baton, after his first heart attack in 1954, as a means of conserving energy, Mitropoulos always conducted bare-handed. “The baton can achieve ensemble,” he would say when interviewers questioned him about the matter, “but it cannot be as expressive as the hands and body.”5 JCG Vol. 30 74
From his very first season in Minneapolis, Mitropoulos supported, not only morally but in many cases, financially, dozens of musicians who have since become major figures in their profession. They included composer David Diamond and conductor Leonard Bernstein, whose subsequent professional efforts profoundly changed and immeasurably enriched American musical culture. For a decade, beginning in 1949, he was either music director or principal conductor of the New York Philharmonic, and was also, for several seasons, the most important conductor to appear at the Metropolitan Opera. He gave either the world or the United States premieres of more than one hundred works, some of them now regarded as among the most significant of the century: Mahler’s Sixth, Shostakovich’s Tenth, Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, the symphony of Anton Webern; the list is both long and distinguished. Against monolithic inertia and occasional outright hostility, he modernized the repertory of the New York Philharmonic and made it, for the first time in decades, an institution of immediate and powerful relevance. And when he guest conducted in Boston and Philadelphia, he not only electrified audiences but also won the passionate devotion of the hard-toimpress musicians in both orchestras. Indeed, for a time the personnel of both the Philadelphia and Boston orchestras wanted Mitropoulos for their next
Reviewer after reviewer commented on his podium forming an intensely personal physical response to style as being “odd,” “highly unorthodox,” the information contained in the score. “Watch me 6 “disturbingly individual” or simply “strange.” closely,” he said to the Boston Symphony players, What made it so was the involvement of when he first rehearsed them in 1936, “and I will Mitropoulos’s entire body. Whereas the conductor give you everything.”8 most like him in style, Leopold Stokowski, made it After observing Mitropoulos during that rehearsal, a rule never to move from the waist down, focusing Boston Globe critic Rudolph Elie wrote: all his powers through his hands, He will live every part, arms, and face, personally direct the entrance of every voice, Mitropoulos used shape and focus every his head, eyes, phrase, build up every shoulders, fists, climax, underscore legs, waist, every every rhythm and blend part of himself, all elements of music together in unanimity to contribute and concord, using something to the every part of his body visual analogy he from his head to his was creating. For feet, and everybody listeners unused to who sees him knows precisely what he such an athletic means.9 style, their first sight of Mitropoulos On the night of in action was his debut with an occasion for the Minneapolis amazement. Many Symphony, January 29, of the verbal 1937, the usually descriptions tend phlegmatic Twin Cities toward the comic audience turned into (“like a Greek what one eyewitness bartender frantically described as “an excited shaking cocktails,” mob.” wrote Winthrop Sargent in The New Here’s what critic John Dimitri Mitropoulos rehearsing Krenek's Third Piano Concerto in Yorker7), or lapse Sherman wrote in his Minneapolis, c. 1943 into caricature, (photo from the collection of Oliver Daniel) morning-after review: as though a Mitropoulos appeared to be a fanatic who Mitropoulos performance were some sort of gran had sold his soul to music and conducted the mal seizure. Nevertheless, when one was sitting in the orchestra, or even today, watching Mitropoulos on archival video footage, one could see the music passing through his body as if by some process of superconductivity; you could see his conception of the music come into being, dynamic, organic, recreative, flowing powerfully from his intellect and 75 JCG Vol. 30
orchestra like a man possessed. Bald, lithe, and rawboned, he exploded from the wings, walked to the rostrum with the loose-limbed lope of a professional hiker, spread his long arms and tapering fingers in a mesmeric gesture.
With the first downbeat he started punching the air barehanded, unleashing a weird repertoire of frenzied gestures and scowls and grimaces that registered every emotion from terror to ecstasy.
Seldom was a piece of music. He scratched his head for a moment. But then. there were times when Mitropoulos over-conducted. and bearing unmistakable overtones of great thought and abiding spirit. In a Minneapolis rehearsal of one especially tricky and rhythmically complex modern score. This was music so full of blood. Everything was focused through the lens of the conductor’s personality – in Mitropoulos’s case. After observing Mitropoulos for twelve years. they did. It must be admitted that for all the excitement of his best concerts. and nerves as to seem alive and sentient. but Mitropoulos virtues were much.” “a spiritual triumph. one encounters in Mitropoulos a deep current of self-abnegation. a quirky. as payment for being gifted. a simple act of achievement. but before the first rehearsal – whether it was the 200. it’s my fault. and you shouldn’t worry about it. the musical world is and always has been full of sporadically interesting Brahms conductors. he never spoke of the accomplishment by saying simply. “a duty the gifted must assume. and as an example to the world around them. the greater the sacrifice required to do justice to the music. It was as if the music were an electric current that passed through his body to make it jerk and vibrate.” Considering the staggering amount of time and mental energy required to memorize a score such as Wozzeck. simply allowed to speak for itself.His quivering frame and flailing fists gave the picture of a man quaking with a peculiarly vital and rhythmic form of palsy. however modest its scope or uncomplicated its historical style. It seemed to those who knew him well that the more difficult and demanding the score. even by the most willing of orchestral musicians. critic John Sherman concluded that this entire memorization ritual constituted a kind of willing self-immolation. not only before he led the performance.10
Needless to say. he would move beyond an especially troublesome passage by saying: “Never mind – we’ll understand each other when this time comes during the performance. and if that telepathy doesn’t work.000 notes in a Mozart symphony or the more than one million notes of a Mahler symphony.”13 and more often than not. Mitropoulos had a glib answer as to why he did this: “You don’t expect an actor to come on stage to play Hamlet while still carrying the script. the more satisfaction Dimitri derived from the purging rite of actual performance. 30 76
. But for him.”14 Maybe so. that was a good performance. one of the players raised his hand and said: “Maestro.”12 Sometimes. It was not fun to memorize those scores. but no one would have thought twice about it when it came to works of the length and complexity of Wozzeck or Elektra. To casual interviewers. the more sleepless hours of study demanded of him to master it. at this point do we come in on the fourth beat – is that an upbeat sign you’re giving us or is it a sideways motion of your head?”11 Mitropoulos honestly couldn’t answer the question. muscle. much rarer and more precious.” or even “a gift from God. this vibratory. then responded: “Look. This self-imposed discipline required enormous extra effort and time. it was “a great moral victory. the act of performing music was not just a symbolic mountain climb. and the cumulative strain of forcing himself to do this undoubtedly contributed to his declining health during his New York tenure. tell me. eccentric and often inadequate conductor of Mozart and Brahms. This was what made him a superb conductor of modern and late-Romantic music. “Yes. If you don’t come in. both personally and professionally.”15 JCG Vol. sometimes wild style took some getting used to. The reason for this compulsion to memorize even the most difficult scores came from some place deep in the conductor’s psyche: when he led a successful performance.
There was one additional attribute that distinguished Mitropoulos from other conductors: he memorized every score.” Instead. It could also be an act of expiation. then it’s the sender’s fault. never mind how my beat is. The conductor has to do it by telepathy. through his very soul – and that could at times result in performances that were so violently personal as to prevent the original intention of the music from coming through on its own terms. not the receiver’s. perhaps even of masochism.
Surely the Church would not mind if he pursued music on his own. the conductor knew the score better than they did. The Church allows no musical instruments on sacred ground. Part of what made a monk’s life so appealing to him was. Not even a harmonium. to whom he would give impromptu sermons. He slept on stone floors.Dimitri did not. This person was not one of his uncles. in his free time. ate course black bread with the monks and hermits. by the time Mitropoulos began the first rehearsal of one of their compositions. he even became the “pastor” of a group of neighboring children. replied the priest. when it manifested itself in later decades. and talked incessantly about spiritual matters. he spent much time in retreat among the monastic communities on Mt. it is necessary to refer to a spiritual crisis that occurred during his adolescence. But for the adolescent pilgrim seeking a purer existence and feeling himself inexorably drawn toward a very personal vision of God. which fulfilled him as no other human activity could. said his advisor. as was sometimes said. said the priest. but he may have well been a trusted spiritual advisor to whom the uncles directed this young pilgrim. over decades of struggle. he pared down his lifestyle to the severe and essential. “that I just could not do it. Although the Greek Orthodox Church has a heritage of vocal music that is vast and glorious. He brought to the podium a sense of religious dedication. it permits no musical instruments in its services. Mitropoulos gave identical accounts of the event in dozens of interviews:
He opened the dialogue by describing his love for music and his belief in its spiritual power. So before wholly committing himself once more to the Athens 77 JCG Vol. Over and over again. that the Church might steer him to a religious career that could accommodate both of his passions. In one direction lay music. as he strove to fulfill this mission.”16
But he did find a way to combine these seemingly contradictory choices. Athos. Mitropoulos countered. the composers interviewed for my book remarked on the fact that. a medieval proposition that one’s spiritual strength grows greater in direct proportion to one’s denial of the flesh. so isolated from the outside world that it might as well have been in an alternative universe. yet he also confessed that he was drawn. To understand how Mitropoulos viewed the conducting profession and his role as a successful conductor. He sought some assurance that this might not be an either/or choice. “I knew then. the way an athlete would train his body. in the other direction lay either the priesthood or the life of a monk.” the conductor later recalled in numerous interviews. 30
Conservatory. At the climax of this internal crisis. too. toward the ideal of monastic life. he sought out hermits and mystics. seldom partaking of the
. he attempted to find out if there were not some way to combine the two callings. Mitropoulos responded that he would be content if he could just have a little harmonium in his cell. or at least was never identified by Mitropoulos as such. with equal force. these denials of creature comforts. in fact. and over the years. Mitropoulos had what must have been a truly Dostoyevskian dialogue with a member of the Greek Orthodox hierarchy. As a youth. the ideal of monastic life was quite romantic in its appeal – especially in the setting of Athos. have “a photographic memory” – it was simply a matter of training his mind. would not be possible. a fierce and uncompromising zeal on behalf of music he deemed unjustly neglected or that others deemed too difficult. No. Mitropoulos was intensely – mystically – drawn toward an early Christian ideal of self-sacrifice that tended to embrace even the extremes of self-denial and discomfort. There is no question but that this same impulse. sometimes verged on outright masochism. The Mitropoulos family was intensely religious – two of his uncles were respected prelates in the Greek Orthodox hierarchy – and the young Dimitri was the most devout pilgrim of the lot. That. So the young Mitropoulos was at a crossroads.
This tension became the dynamo that fueled Dimitri’s accomplishments: for most of his adult life. however. Francis taught me that to cajole or threaten is never as effective as to set an example yourself. really. by acting as I would have others act. his answer was often not to their liking: by all means study conducting. This conductor’s manner of working with an orchestra also derived from his study of St. During a trip to Rome in the summer of 1912. but patiently and kindly counsel him and help him. which both suppressed. Francis preaching to the birds. especially from the hard-bitten and frequently ill-used men of the New York Philharmonic. For better or worse. Dimitri discovered his ideal and lifelong aspiration: St. but only because it will make you a more complete musician. he channeled everything into his music-making. For Mitropoulos. as he would wish to be treated if he were in their place. you are embarked on a quest for power.” and entitled: “How Those Who Command Should be Humble. If you are consumed by ambition to become a famous conductor. the same ideal of a dedicated and therefore necessarily austere lifestyle. Nor should he rage against a brother who sins. Francis. in much the same way as Francis gave himself to Christ. 30 78
. on the other hand. It was easier to be God’s fool in twelfth-century Umbria than in twentieth-century Manhattan. are always needed. Dimitri gave himself to music. Francis of Assissi – perhaps the one man in the history of Christianity who came close. a party-goer and a rake before he got religion. rather than a quest for musical excellence. and that.” “Not many conductors are needed. in a tyrannical manner. Both men had a strong streak of carnality.” he did not mind in the least. particularly the eighth Franciscan precept set down in 1215 in a “letter to the faithful. even as Francis learned to subordinate everything to faith. Dimitri recognized the same tension between flesh and spirit that tormented himself.
Neither Mitropoulos nor Francis was an especially practical man. in part:
Anyone who has the right to give orders should remember that “the greater should be as the lesser. who was a minstrel.” It reads. he was trapped within his own philosophical principles no less than JCG Vol. that the conductor must have envied St. he said. When young musicians asked Mitropoulos for advice about how to become a conductor. for a time. the conductor expounded on his Franciscan creed:
I have always found peace of mind and soul – to whatever extent we can achieve this state – by likewise striving at all times as I would have others strive. And if commentators or colleagues chose to refer to him as “monkish. his very deepest principles. In the stories about the young Francis.comforts and perquisites his status and salary entitled him to.”19 The philosophical foundation from which the Greek conductor operated. Dimitri. precluded treating any orchestra. Already.” he should be a servant to his brothers and deal with them mercifully. who tended to take gross advantage of any conductor who did not tyrannically threaten and cajole them. reached maturity in an era in which true humility and open spiritual commitment made some orchestral personnel uneasy and drew from them scorn and ridicule.” he admonished one young supplicant. but Francis at least lived in an age when such impracticality could be valued on its own medieval terms. he would say. such a posture would be patiently hypocritical. unsustainable. when he was fired with zeal to communicate the essence of some new and difficult composition. could be “a devastating thing. by mid-adolescence. “but good musicians. Mitropoulos had acquired a bedrock Franciscan belief in the value of sacrifice and the comparative worthlessness of worldly goods. And there would be many occasions.17
In a 1956 interview. allowed himself to become possessed by it. and eventually would be recognized as such by his musicians. to turning the Christian ideal into a reality. even the Philharmonic at its surliest and most intractable.
total devotion. St.” in the form of the musical performance How this philosophy itself. the orchestra was addressed Dimitri Mitropoulos backstage prior to a New York conductor attempts to by Mitropoulos in an Philharmonic concert. to understand startlingly explicit rather than to be references to the understood. Only when the conductor makes an obeisance full of love to every musician. the response was often grudging and tainted with tough-guy contempt. as well as metaphysics.20
When Mitropoulos spoke of “an obeisance full Indeed. In the history of music. of conducting a major like a skillful lover. For the most part in Minneapolis. In New York. He took it as a given that intelligent.” conductor’s relationship The other was from with an orchestra – that Socrates: “If I must the leader and the choose between doing an musicians engaged in a injustice and being form of intercourse. From the procreative heat of – he can move his listeners only if he has this exchange springs a great interpretation. and in no case does it move from the conductor’s baton to a pack of subjugated slaves. and the players respond he moved to New York in 1949: with music-making that surpasses their ordinary A conductor does not stand alone on the podium level of commitment. throughout of love to every his professional life.” he was Mitropoulos carried two venturing into metaphor quotations in his wallet. at the same time he leads the orchestra as an entity. I believe he can do this only if he steps down from the podium and communicates to his musicians the feeling that he is not a dictator but an apostle.” a “child. A great interpretation represents a communal effort. I choose to be the second type. Dimitri believed he was not only being true to his own nature but also that he was furnishing an example of total commitment. only when he shows an open hearted interest in each musician’s psychological and personal situation. musician.
79 JCG Vol. previously comprehended each musician as an
individual human being. there
By working with his orchestra from these moral and philosophical bases.within the innate gentleness of his character. Francis: “God grant Dimitri revealed the that I may seek rather to repressed sensual side of comfort than to be his nature in his often comforted. Only in this manner can he hope to carry the audience along with him and establish communication. That his beliefs and personality could leave him terribly vulnerable was something he understood early in his career and accepted without reservation. One of course was from In numerous interviews. even among the many Philharmonic players who understood full well what Mitropoulos was trying to do and why. 1956 (photo by Aram Avakian) draw forth the innermost interview given soon after responses of the ensemble. can he make the orchestra the true medium for the composer’s message. they did. I will which in effect produced choose the latter. 30
. and to love sublimated sexuality of a rather than be loved. he would say. For myself. Each must give to related to the daily routine the other.
are only two types of conductor: they tyrant and the colleague. c. unjustly treated. sensitive musicians would understand this and respond in kind.
but also from having someone else to express them for you. taken out of themselves for two hours. there were times when Mitropoulos spoke of his profession in the most down-to-earth manner. The audience generally came to terms with the fact that
. If the piece were more than ten minutes long.” he often said. But friction occurred on different nights for different people. Except for the truly calcified reactionaries. not an entertainer. When asked to begin. the Philharmonic’s cantankerous harpist picked up his part. Op. it is the easier way out to be a conductor. even if the price for that stimulation was occasional bafflement or irritation.”22 Given the conductor’s philosophical stance.” but there were nights when even the most tolerant of listeners simply did not feel like following him to the mountaintop. or how recalcitrant the Philharmonic could be. 30 80
Interestingly enough. most of them turned away. To assess just how fickle and hard-to-please the Carnegie Hall audience truly was. 21. In the icy silence that followed. By the mid-1950s matters reached such a point that patrons would approach the Carnegie Hall box office and inquire about the length of the new or novel composition on the program that evening. attended the open rehearsals as well as the performance. the Minneapolis audience learned to accept the experience of hearing new and challenging music. In spite of everything that you may muster as an argument. I always realized this fact. In New York.Mitropoulos was never. Everything went well until Mitropoulos started working on the Webern piece. and some minutes into the score. According to Milton Babbitt. a hypocrite. it follows that many Mitropoulos concerts were sometimes challenging for his listeners. They took pride in their city’s international reputation for being culturally progressive. Mitropoulos turned to the dark auditorium. ever. walked forward to the podium. That is why I never denied my embarrassment at being promoted by the fates or destiny to follow this profession. and most were agreeable to the situation because of the high drama Mitropoulos brought to whatever he conducted. In a profession noted for the inflated egos of its practitioners. in January of 1950. there will always remain this one thing: that with a little personality and salesmanship. then stalked off the stage. consider the tale of Mitropoulos’s performance of Webern’s Symphony. the friction between the conductor’s compulsion to be a missionary on behalf of neglected music ran head-on into the realities of the box office and the impossible-to-please attitude of an audience more spoiled and fickle than any on earth. given during the late 1940s. the conductor’s job is not really that much different from a prostitute’s. he remarked: “Well.”23 In Minneapolis. . Mitropoulos was always “on. no matter how you feel yourself. flung the music angrily at the conductor’s feet. when even listeners with broad taste and high intelligence just wanted to sit there and be diverted. “A concert is not a place to relax. a large number of composers and academics. not only from using someone else’s emotions. “a good audience listens hard. his shoulders slumped and an JCG Vol. John Cage included. however. the intense relationship between the community and the conductor was so strong that Mitropoulos was able to program numerous challenging works in spite of opposition from some members of the board and management.and then passing the hat. When word got out in the music community that Mitropoulos was going to have the Philharmonic learn the Webern piece. In one interview. One cannot be humble enough before such a privilege of getting glory and acclaim. It consists of performing to make other people happy. many of the players made faces and rude noises. nearly half the orchestra section of Carnegie Hall was full of listeners at the start of the first rehearsal. . . Mitropoulos was capable of writing these words to composer Leon Kirchner:
I wish you good luck in your new conducting assignments and that you also get the delight of that unusual and cowardly profession – to lead other people to play for you and perform compositions that are written by others. That is why most people prefer to be conductors rather than composers or instrumentalists.21
their conductor was a missionary.
which would have been perfectly proportionate if Mitropoulos had just stopped with the Schoenberg composition. “They don’t even like that s—!”25 There can be no doubt that. and he offered programs that amounted to ill-judged pot-pourris rather than coherent concepts. 1953. he chose to preface a performance of Mahler’s Sixth with Morton Gould’s flashy and colorful Showpiece for Orchestra. Not only did Gould’s frothy diversion get perceptually crushed by the Mahler juggernaut. for the good of the orchestra. composer Milton Babbitt rushed backstage to congratulate the conductor on his Webern performance. When this demonstration calmed down. in the whole 180-year history of the Society. After the final tam-tam crash that ends the work. the author of the Philharmonic program notes warned the audience that it “probably has never been asked to listen to a more exacting composition. “You see?” he cried to Babbitt. Part of the problem was that Mitropoulos seemed to regard each composition as a discrete entity to be performed and digested by the audience as a “thing-unto-itself. But there was a missionary’s purpose in this scattergun approach. self-defeating emphasis on the tried and true – and he felt morally obligated to oppose the phenomenon. Mitropoulos came out and tried to clear everyone’s palate with the lush melodies and billowing climaxes of the Rachmaninoff Symphonic Dances.”24 Not surprisingly. 30
the help a conductor can give it. A case in point was a concert on October 29. At the end there were hisses and boos aplenty. He spread his hands imploringly and said: “What can I do?” The harpist was persuaded.” not necessarily related to what came before or after it. Mitropoulos unfairly made a well-crafted piece of light music seem incredibly tacky. which only caused the more progressive pockets of listeners to applaud more vigorously. to put up with the Webern piece – all ten minutes of it – and the performance went on as scheduled. On another occasion. for some unfathomable reason. so much the better. was rendered unbalanced and compromised. a single composer. Babbitt was startled to realize that the applause for the Rachmaninoff was scarcely fuller or more enthusiastic than that which had greeted the Webern – exactly. the opposite of the effect he would have predicted. and the critics blasted him for it. Mitropoulos was fighting against the “ghettoization” of the new and the unfamiliar. however. either on the same evening or within the context of a whole season. a single school. abysmal. one which perhaps today we can appreciate more than his contemporaries. Mitropoulos chose to segue into some tacked-on excerpts from de Falla’s La Vida Breve! The effect was to dilute utterly the impact of the Schoenberg by “throwing in” what thoughtful listeners might have regarded as a quick. cheap sop to the hoi polloi. bim-bam-boom. there was much fidgeting and grumbling in the audience during the performance – one man yelled “No!” so loudly that hundreds of heads turned in his direction. tumescent tone poem Pelleas und Melisande – a work that needs all 81 JCG Vol. In a monumental exercise in bad psychology. His programs could be didactic. even hectoring in their weight and juxtaposition. lopsided. but by juxtaposing it against the Austrian composer’s apocalyptic seriousness and lofty metaphysical content. the conductor’s internal compass lost its bearings. He instinctively saw where it could lead – where in fact it HAS led in today’s boring. drawing tight-lipped on his cigarette and gesturing furiously in the direction of the audience. Then. If not.
. he found Mitropoulos in a state of icy rage. If the majority of his listeners happened to be on the same wavelength as the conductor.expression of bewildered pain on his face. and perversely. Backstage. from time to time and increasingly in New York as the years of burdensome routine took their toll. He did not sit down and methodically plan a whole season around a single theme. too bad. If three obscure or neglected works happened to take his fancy on a given week. then the audience would hear all three. The program’s second half began with Schoenberg’s long. The entire program.
At that first rehearsal. I cannot cover more than a few aspects of this fascinating man’s tragic career. through dint of repetition. What a contrast Mitropoulos provides to the bland. Mitropoulos knew that inevitably some of the music he conducted would be marginal or ephemeral. ipso facto. Let me close. Malipiero. it must not. and a possible terminal decline. dwindling concert audiences.For all their eccentricity. To illustrate his missionary role at its finest. which will be published in October by Amadeus Press. Diamond. I hated it. but in the level of inspiration and vitality that characterized their interpretation. with its gradual effect of debasing both the masterpieces and the very act of concert-going itself? In the time allotted in this forum. For a full discussion of those matters. when you come right down to it. he also gave them new and unfamiliar works by Vaughan-Williams. Prokofiev. his soaring post-war reputation in Europe (ironically somewhat concomitant with the deterioration of his situation in New York). this attitude holds that if a piece of music is not already listed in the circumscribed canon. Can anyone today seriously maintain that Dimitri’s programming philosophy.
He astonished everyone by showing up for the first rehearsal with the whole thing memorized. The occasion was his triumphant 1951 concert performance of Wozzeck. Sessions and Boris Blacher. not only in the cultural importance of the overplayed masterpieces. A full discussion of Mitropoulos would have to expound on his incredible generosity to others. 30 82
. Gould. Too many conductors and orchestra managers had already adopted the circular. whether through intellectual laziness or capitulation to the know-nothingism of their local boards. What’s more. and the torment and vulnerability he endured because of his sexual orientation. his programs were driven by a coherent purpose: to present a cross-section of all the different musical styles of his time. Shostakovich. the arguments against Mitropoulos’ erratic but enthusiastically open-armed programming philosophy had triumphed. and lacking the arrogance that presumes one’s personal aesthetic taste will coincide with the verdicts of history and consensus. Lacking precognition as to which styles and individual works would make the historical cut. no more from an audience than the willingness to stretch one’s taste buds. the same spirit of adventure that makes Chinese restaurants so popular. here is violist Harry Zartzian’s description of how he compelled the Philharmonic to understand a work that virtually every player hated on first acquaintance. Milhaud and a host of
other eminently listenable composers. gained acceptance. if Dimitri Mitropoulos gave his audiences heavy doses of Krenek. seem to have infinitely less knowledge of accessible twentieth-century repertoire than does any moderately experienced record collector. music which requires. his numberless and always private acts of charity and support. as well as a season by season chronicle of his triumphs and failures. Schoenberg. for all its fretful asymmetry and restlessness. But at least it would have a hearing. An outgrowth of the “Masterpieces Only” syndrome of Toscanini. today’s music lovers can only feel great envy for the listeners in Minneapolis and New York. be any good. and the effects of the “Masterpieces Only” syndrome were clear for all to see: aging. I refer you to my book. What sort of piece was this? What was so great about it? How
JCG Vol. so therefore why waste time and energy performing it? By the mid-1980s. was not better for the institution of music as a whole than today’s suffocating emphasis on the same One Hundred Masterpieces. instead. Mahler. self-defeating attitude that the public wants to hear only the proven canon of masterpieces or the relatively small number of contemporary works that had. Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos. his strangely skewed and disappointing legacy of studio recordings. the venom and spite of many of the critics. Respighi. predictable programs that are today’s norm! What a contrast his zeal and advocacy pose to the music directors who. by offering three snapshots taken from the hundreds of hours of taped interviews that formed the foundation for the research. Ironically.
“What I Believe. 1995). tape-recorded interview by Oliver Daniel. 2 Isaac Stern. 1991) and Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos published in October. 6 Trotter. “you recognized me!” Turning to the room-at-large. His non-fiction works include Frozen Hell: The Story of the Russo-Finnish War of 1939-1940 (Algonquin Books. ENDNOTES
1 Sherman. 7 Sargent. May-June 1956. Dimitri. Music and Maestros. why do we have to learn this stuff? And then. Quotes excerpted from numerous reviews. 37. After a moment’s hesitation.” she said happily. Roland. p. July 7. 1944. 32. Oct. Dimitri’s ability to explicate and de-mystify these complex modern scores was just unbelievable. all of him. 13 Trotter. 237. she gestured expansively and announced: “I haven’t seen him since the days of the priests! You know that as a young man he went and lived on Mount Athos!” Turning back to the conductor. 277. 18 Mitropoulos. after a concert in Minneapolis. his aspect. it was as though he had been transformed. what each detail meant.”28 ***** 83 JCG Vol.He has published 4 critically acclaimed novels: Winter Fire (E. The New Yorker. 237. p.. By the third rehearsal. I thought Wozzeck was one of the greatest pieces ever composed. Dimitri began to explain how it was all put together. 17 Trotter. Alfred A. Dutton. here I am.27
And finally. 10 Sherman. His demeanor. John. 37. 16 Trotter. My God. 30
. a novel based on the life of Jean Sibelius. John. p. Priest of Music: the Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos (Portland: Amadeus Press. William R. p. editor and music critic. 11 Sherman. p. p. 78. January 8. Music and Maestros: The Story of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 29. his very soul. Music and Maestros. 112. p. 3 Gelatt. 8 Trotter.
Here is what soprano Frances Greer recalled about one concert she sang under his leadership:
The first time I actually looked at Mitropoulos during a performance. 1938. Sands of Pride (2002). just patiently untying the knots in the score. John. p. It transpired that this woman was from Greece and had been a longtime friend of the Mitropoulos family. 4 Gelatt. Rudolph. I was really starting to understand it – and I could tell the other players were going through the same process. And by the time we actually performed it. 71. “Dimitri. and it was so compelling and so personal that I could not continue to look at him. p. 70. August 25. 5 Trotter. 1993). 14 Trotter. it gradually began to happen. It seemed to me that he was exposing his spirit. P. Review. Review. 1953). during a passage in which I was not active. the conductor returned her embrace with a smile of recognition. Review. 277. 9 Elie. 15 Sherman. 1953). Winthrop. Boston Globe. He wasn’t the same man I knew socially or in rehearsals or backstage. 1985. Music and Maestros. Trotter is a writer. p. and there is my pulpit. 15. John. Fires of Pride (2003) and Warrener’s Beastie (2006). Knopf. 108.” Hi-Fi Music at Home. p. 12 Sherman.can you tell if you’re playing the right notes? I thought the score was crazy and I thought I was going to go crazy trying to play it. she wagged her finger remonstratively at him. p.26
William R. was transcendental. 1953. 1995 by Amadeus Press. an elderly woman came backstage and grasped Mitropoulos in a familiar hug as he was on his way to his dressing room. “Look at you now! And you were supposed to become a priest! What happened?” Mitropoulos smiled broadly and pointed to the podium: “Well. Minneapolis Journal. Music Makers (New York. John. It was like staring at the sun.
1946. 1954. Sargent. interview by Oliver Daniel. December 12. 1955. March 18. University of Vienna. Winthrop. October 15. interview by Oliver Daniel.
Mitropoulos. 171. p. 1983. Harry Zaratzian.” Life Magazine. Francis Greer. interview by Oliver Daniel. February 2. John. “Dimitri Mitropoulos.19
Mitropoulos. January. 293. p. Music and Maestros.
Dimitri Mitropoulos to Leon Kirchner. “The Making of a Conductor.
. thesis. quoted by Apostolios Kostios in “Der Dirigent Dimitri Mitropoulos. Trotter. Trotter. Dimitri. 1985. Dimitri. p. D. Sherman. October 31. Milton Babbitt. 1983. 1984.” Etude.” Ph. 281.
“The audience is respectfully but urgently requested not to interrupt the music with applause. as cited by H. an occurrence judged to be quite appropriate. the second movement of
. it will assist conductors in coping with those unexpected or unsolicited audience sounds and silences by expanding conductor knowledge of when at least some of the world’s great composers encouraged or discouraged manifestations of audience approval. The Post’s response to the letter.” Another letter accused the Post of promoting “lowbrow yahooism.[getting] almost instant gratification at the end of an aria while Perlman or Brendel have to wait and wait for applause. A pro-applause letter pointed out the unfairness of “Domingo or Pavarotti.”2 Even after the letters had stopped (or at least were no longer being published by the newspaper). the opening night audience of Der Rosenkavalier was congratulated for allowing the first-act curtain to close completely before “breaking the mood” with bravos. however. in order to shed some light on the history of the applause phenomenon. The Post’s rationale for this position derived from its apparent disdain of the tradition which obligated classical audiences to “sit with hands folded. No.. Therefore. C. rendering applause after each movement of a symphony was a common practice that has been copiously documented. In the Classical era. 2. Hopefully. the following article is tendered.” The editorial went so far as to suggest that Leonard Slatkin might consider extending to the Kennedy Center faithful a directorial dispensation from this antiquated tradition by turning to the audience before a particularly promising movement and announcing “If you like this part. in the Post’s “Great Moments in Music” segment of its annual Year in Review. In November of 1995. it seems.. echos of the debate continued in the Post’s reviews and articles.. the Post noted that the Lyric Opera’s program book contained the entreaty. a Post review noted that a performance of a violin concerto was “interrupted” by applause at the 85 JCG Vol. the Post was deluged with letters both praising and denouncing its position. given the excellence of the playing.Are Our Audiences “Skeered to Clap”?: A Brief Survey of Applause Practices
(JCG Volume 16.”3 Judging from the program book directive.listening to people cough. opera aria. Perhaps not so well-known is the fact that at Haydn’s London concerts. etc. symphony movements were not only applauded but even encored. in due course I will offer an opinion regarding its source. don’t sit on your hands. Later. reported that at the initial concert of the series. It is not the intent of this survey to offer a solution to the problem. which appeared on the editorial page. Nevertheless. In a subsequent article about the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ring cycle. 30 end of the first movement. Robbins Landon.”1 As might be expected. 1995) By Robert Ricks
About two years ago. The London Diary.. The letter’s content attacked the “boorish” practice of Washington audiences who. a letter to The Washington Post sparked a public controversy that raged for more than a year. had developed a habit of applauding at inappropriate times during the course of a concert or opera. it would appear that the propensity to interrupt music with applause is not unique to our nation’s capital. suggested that concertgoers inside the Beltway should be granted more freedom in deciding when to express their appreciation of a well-rendered symphony or concerto movement.
“presumably at the startling entry of the timpani at the ritmo di tre battute.
In the middle of the first allegro was a passage which I knew could not fail to please. applause was also being heard during the playing of a movement. however. Beethoven’s friend.. because the applause that followed the second movement was deemed insufficient. Mozart began piano and delayed the tutti for eight bars. . Strauss turned to me and muttered in his thick Bavarian dialect: “The so-and-so newspaper scribblers and commentators! This is their work—making people skeered to clap when I know they feel like doing it.”10 According to Louis Spohr. and Jan Kubelik.” where the listeners “could scarcely restrain themselves. In a performance of the Septet. 30 86
. as Mozart wrote his father. but the modesty of the composer prevailed too strongly to admit a repetition.13
As he had in the first movement.Haydn’s Symphony No. at which point the audience broke into delighted applause.”6 A decade earlier. before “music appreciation” reared its unlovely head and made purists and pedants out of too many music-lovers. for instance. with the same result. It should be noted that when writing the original version of the symphony. that great stroke of the bow on a unison figure that would clearly demonstrate the Parisian orchestra’s ability to produce a clean attack. but as I knew when I wrote it what an effect it would make.. Naturally we expected a similarly happy reaction from our audience and when we met with polite and stoney silence instead. Mozart’s “Paris” Symphony had received applause from the Parisians after each movement.. Demonstrating the impulsiveness for which he was well known.the Master and I exchanged happy glances at the conclusion of the serenely joyous first movement. the violinist Ignaz Schuppanzigh. I brought it round an extra time at the end of the movement. nevertheless.8 In the Vienna of Beethoven’s day. 97. Ysaye. 96 was encored.”9 Especially ardent applause occurred during the first performance of the Scherzo of the Ninth Symphony. Wolfgang decided to compose a new movement to appease Le Gros. slow movements to ensure applause. according to Joseph Szigeti.. was not so modest as to refrain from writing forte chords at the conclusion of some of his soft. All in the audience were charmed by it. In the third movement. who played in the premiere performance of the Seventh Symphony.11 Applause after movements of a symphony was still occurring in Brahms’s day. Conducting a performance of the Brahms First at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in 1882. and it seemed as if a repetition then and there would be insisted upon.12 Applause during the music was still common at the beginning of this century. and so got my applause da capo. and there was great applause. shouts of “encore! encore! encore! resounded from every seat: the Ladies themselves could not forebear. a practice evident in Symphony No. 100 (presumably the second). Hans von Bülow noticed that the third movement had received less applause than had the two previous movements.”4 Haydn. but. the concert manager. the end of the 32nd-note variation in Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata was invariably the signal for an outburst of applause. who witnessed it in performances by such players as Sarasate.”14
JCG Vol. Mozart was expected to begin the last movement with the famous grand coup d’archet. the third movement “was vehemently demanded a second time also. the second movement of that work had actually been encored after its first hearing.7
beautifully that he was often interrupted by general applause. Mozart had anticipated applause during the first and last movements and deliberately composed to allow for it.
I can testify from personal experience that in former days.5 After the “middle movement” of Symphony No. von Bülow promptly repeated the third movement. “played so
Szigeti also wrote about one of his performances with Richard Strauss:
At one playing of a Mozart concerto.
who had set up a guild of men to applaud his singing. however. Tovey was the founder of the Reid Orchestra in Edinburgh. 30
Mozart’s Figaro had been so well-received in Vienna that many arias and other segments had been “applauded and encored at the first three performances.” [Emperor:] “No indeed. I offer you a cash down-payment of twenty thousand francs and a royalty of ten thousand.” This “Bureau.17 Known as an orchestra builder.” and when he told his Edinburgh audience of Mozart’s ploy to seek his applause “da capo. you are at the head of a dramatic concern of which I know the weak and strong points. Tovey was no mere teacher of “music appreciation. What musical personality could have been powerful enough to challenge the long-established tradition of spontaneous applause? An examination of opera’s performance and response traditions. when Tovey labelled the impulsive applause during the Mendelssohn transition a “disaster.” compelling the Emperor to limit encores in subsequent performances to just the arias. some composers apparently preferred that the applause for their works be postponed until the end of the entire composition. He was the pianist for the Joachim quartet until Joachim’s death. As late as 1921. having performed with “Uncle Jo” since the age of eighteen. but audiences were not always cooperative.” of course.19 No such restrictions applied in 19th-century Paris.” [Manager:] “I want thirty thousand in cash” (the usual manager’s reply).. where singers.” In his Evenings With the Orchestra. 87 JCG Vol. training and erudition. Berlioz recounts a conversation between the self designated “Emperor” and the theater’s manager. Tovey’s piano concerto was first conducted by Hans Richter. were trained to
. The connected movements of Schumann and Mendelssohn are surely designed to eliminate post-movement applause.” one can almost hear the trumpets of Heldenleben gearing up for yet another battle between Strauss and his critics. just like seats on the stock exchange.. Sir Donald Francis Tovey wrote that “untimely” applause so frequently covered the transition between the first two movements of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto that he had never heard this remarkable passage without it being virtually obliterated by applause. [Emperor:] “Ten thousand shouldn’t spoil a bargain between us. the Emperor would go forth and recruit his claque from among students and the stage-struck. The difficult passages go well.16 He also frequently accompanied Casals. will be instructive.” to use Szigeti’s pejorative term. Accordingly. of which he wrote in jest to Sir George Henschel (first conductor of the Boston Symphony): “We are making good progress.” admonishing them not to follow the lead of the Parisians.20 (which informs us that bored orchestra players would talk freely amongst themselves during the performance of second-rate operas). those positions are bought..15 Although he is remembered for his model program notes. a practice which could trace its origins to the Emperor Nero. could receive instant gratification from the audience’s instant adulation. and even the easy ones are beginning to sound quite decent. where audiences were urged to applaud and encouraged to demand encores by members of what Berlioz called the “Success Bureau. via the encore. he was signalling that the days of uninhibited appreciation were almost over.In placing the blame for “skeered” audiences on “newspaper scribblers. You’ll have it by tomorrow. for whom he wrote a cello concerto. They would pay the Emperor a small fee for tickets and in return. Nevertheless. So far you have no one in charge of Success: allow me to take it on. It reads:
Once an agreement was reached.” [A Musician:] “What are you talking about? It’s the manager who is paid? I had always thought it was the other way round.”18 Given his musicianship. was a claque. Berlioz refers to the Parisian claque as “Romans” and to its leader as the “Emperor.
) It is not surprising to learn that Richard Wagner (whose Die Meistersinger concluded with Hans JCG Vol. no ensemble. but was subsequently convinced by an Emperor that its success had been less than it might have been.
Certainly. 30 88
[Emperor:] “Why the devil didn’t you let me know? We’d have gone in a body..and so on from the top to the bottom of the whole theatrical personnel. If the two hands remain in the air longer than usual.that the hand-clapping must be executed with great speed and accompanied by stamping. and the fear of not being “taken care of ” according to his merit and relative to the extraordinary care being lavished upon his inferior.
The performer who ranks above the one who has just let himself be bled. It is the order to “dent the lid.it is a signal.. scrape your feet. in such a scenario in Paris.” Caesar’s two hands.” [Berlioz:] “I didn’t know you were so fond of sacred music. then raised in the air for the space of a second. this is vintage Berlioz. just as we do for a fashionable preacher... shift your chair.” [Berlioz:] “How do you mean? You can’t applaud in church. We could have done a sweet job for you and given you a real success. on hearing it they are to melt. What I need tonight is men. they would make do with the applause of a set of dummies.” [Emperor:] “We don’t like it at all.” Who among us has not benefitted from the applause of our relatives? Nevertheless. for which they would not be above turning the crank themselves. and murmur their approbation. soon hears about this generous deed. the singers could not be certain whether the “applause” was prompted by admiration or ridicule. give the order for a sudden burst of laughter. You can now understand why and how the theatrical manager is paid by the chief of the claque and how easily an Emperor gets rich. (The only applause the performers might disdain was that coming from a string player tapping the back of his instrument with the wood of the bow: in such cases.”
If the reader has not already equated the claque’s inducement of applause to television’s use of “canned laughter. brought together in one vigorous slap..” [Emperor:] “I know.” even of a clapping machine. hum and lift your eyes to heaven—the whole bag of tricks.” Better to leave the clapping to him who can rouse his “Roman troops” with such signals as:
Brrrrr! ! when this sound comes from the lips of the Emperor.
Berlioz goes on to relate how he originally believed that his Mass of 1825 had been well received. He goes on to define the applause from families of the performers as “the claque which Nature supplies.” The hint was taken and the performer “would render unto Caesar” five hundred francs. and to get them I have to pay them..applaud on cue. “you see. an Emperor would convince us that amateur applause has a “poor attack.. But you can cough. I don’t need any. Hum! uttered in a particular way should stir tender emotion in Caesar’s soldiers. what an idea! But we would have warmed up your audience to the Queen’s taste. blow your nose. shed a few tears. don’t you know.” we might point out that Berlioz saw fit to confess that some performers sank “so low that if the living could not be hired to applaud them. induces him to offer the promoter of success an unquestioned thousand-franc note.. and hence no power. But how did the Emperor recover the money he paid to the concert manager? A performer who wanted to be “sustained” by the claque would offer free tickets to the Emperor who would respond. sometimes more. the laughter is to be prolonged and followed by a round of applause.
”25 One section of music flows without break into the 89 JCG Vol. that it was only during the performance itself that he objected to applause. who attended the first Ring as a correspondent for a Norwegian journal. When the house lights are lowered in our own halls. however. writing under the tongue-in-cheek nom de plume “Corno di Bassetto”) noted that prior to Wagner. Shaw (who in his young days was a professional music critic. created a new musical form. reported that applause had occurred during Das Rheingold. no performances were given at Bayreuth until the premiere of Parsifal in 1882. his wife. Angelo Neumann. however. he should have sent out his ‘rules for conduct in the theater’ well before it all started. and Sir George Grove (“dark theater”). he attempted to control the audience as thoroughly as he controlled the musicians. begged the public not to applaud again as they had during the course of the performance. that Wagner’s Bayreuth audience had to be carefully trained to withhold its applause. It appears. The force needed to stem the tide of audience spontaneity was now in place. patrons “sit in a glare and wear their showiest harness: they hum airs. said that to get her way. Edward Hanslick (“auditorium is completely darkened”). gradually but firmly assumed dictatorial powers at Bayreuth. at the next performances. the original Woglinde. Felix Weingartner (“impenetrable darkness”). self-standing pieces and replacing them with music that was constantly in the process of “becoming. So. This called for another speech from the Master.”23 Controlling the applause of the audience. Although a darkened house was not revolutionary at the time of the founding of Bayreuth. Cosima. However. not just for opera but for all classical music. Because it was Wagner and because it was Bayreuth. So the second performance passed with a calm and reverent silence. Wagner was faced with the task of training an entirely new audience. leaving no place for the audience to applaud or for encores to be inserted. One of Wagner’s first innovations to ensure the quiet attention of his audience was to have them sit in darkness. but the appreciation due to the singers at the fall of the curtain was quite a different matter. “You remember. becoming what Shaw called “the chief remembrancer” of Wagner’s staging and tempos. I am reasonably convinced that the manners imposed on the Bayreuth audiences eventually became the accepted behavior of all audiences.” Wagner.21 Mark Twain. wrote that in New York. before the next day’s Walküre. called the “Bayreuth hush. he said. 30
next. George Bernard Shaw. reported that after the first performance of Parsifal. they squeak fans.
. they titter. as he revealed to Matilde Wesendonk. who had returned to sing Brunnhilde in 1896.29 Lilli Lehman. the separate numbers in operas had been arranged to “catch the encores that were then fashionable. when he opened the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth. Once again. Grieg wrote that “if Wagner had wanted no applause during the performance.28
After Wagner’s death in 1883.”24 By abandoning the sequence of independent. the secret of which was his “art of transition. In 1876. the idea was so unusual that it was noted in newspaper accounts of the festival and by such figures as Tchaikovsky (“darkness reigns in the auditorium”). for he must have known that people would break in with their applause. He must explain.. an astute opera lover.Sachs’s resounding praise of “Holy German Art”) reacted to this Parisian excess.. we take for granted what that Perfect Wagnerite. Edvard Grieg.”22 Just so today.”27 After the 1876 Ring. and they gabble all the time. Wagner appeared on stage and
. was not as simple a matter as turning off the house lights. a director of the Leipzig Opera who had already taken the Ring on tour. Cosima would say.26 Because the restriction of applause was such a new concept. the people expressed their enthusiasm at the close of each of the acts.” Of the Bayreuth scene he wrote that the listeners dress casually and “sit in the dark and worship in silence. Wagner had “arranged for placards to be put up to tell the audience not to interrupt the performance with applause while it was still under way” because it interfered with the continuity of the work.
it should be remembered that. and it would be a relief to free their pent emotions in sobs or screams. You know that they are being stirred to their profoundest depth.beg his way round the globe to hear.”30 In addition to the Ring and Parsifal. except from the stage.” 32 It goes without saying that the darkened theater and deferred applause survived Wagner’s death. But was this set of conditions imported from Bayreuth? Were the productions at Bayreuth prestigious enough to influence the rest of the musical world? Apparently so. Bayreuth had become a major “destination” to be visited by anyone of cultural inclinations or pretensions. Although he is supposed to have joked that “Wagner’s music is better than it sounds. his favorite opera. and times when tears are running down their faces. who heard Tannhäuser.”36 Such people could have been relied upon to brag of their cultural achievements when they returned home and may well have shown what Shaw called “connoisseurship” in the display of their Bayreuth manners. music to make one.. writing that it was “music to make one drunk with pleasure.” Siegfried. Applause restrictions caused the emotions of the audience to build like the pressure within a pre-eruption volcano. to erupt only at the end of an act in a spectacular explosion of applause. yet. other works by Wagner were added to the Festival and performed in such a “mood of solemnity and quasi-religious sanctity”31 that Mark Twain called his trip to Bayreuth a “pilgrimage” to the “Shrine of St. but because the frequently encored intermezzo in Cavalleria Rusticana had “put it into its head that to recognize and encore an intermezzo showed connoisseurship. Festival tickets were being scalped at three or four times their face value. that it was done this way in 1876. 30 90
. Despite the obvious social prestige that derived from a Bayreuth visit. with substantial first-hand audience experience. would dutifully respond. They were derided as “Wagnerized Yankees” and were thought to be mere “philistine poseurs. Such a radical change in audience behavior could not have been sustained without a strong esthetic premise: the longer applause is delayed. To fully appreciate Twain’s assessment quoted below.
I have seen all sorts of audiences. you hear not one utterance till the curtain swings together and the closing strains have slowly faded out and died. not because the audience had particularly liked it. do you not.34 and the audience had become so international that. then the dead rise with one impulse and shake the building with their applause.” Mark Twain had been an admirer of Tannhäuser for many years. every note penned by the composer was heard without interruption. who had been just six years old at the time. A fine description of this effect is given by Mark Twain. the more intense it becomes when it is finally unleashed. that there are times when they want to rise and wave their handkerchiefs and shout their approbation. in addition to being a great writer.”38 The crowd had found a JCG Vol. hardly a word of German was to be heard there!35 In the words of today’s travel agents. You seem to sit with the dead in the gloom of a tomb. he became a great performer as well. Many Americans went to Bayreuth simply because it had become the summer “in” thing to do. “I believe you are right. We know from our own experience that Wagner’s darkened house and deferred applause were effective because they are the conditions under which we usually work.Siegfried.”37 In 1892 Shaw wrote that an intermezzo in an opera by Bantock had been encored. as a popular figure on the lecture circuit. Absolute attention and petrified retention to the end of an act of the attitude assumed at the beginning of it... You detect no movement in the solid mass of heads and shoulders. Wagner.but none which was the twin to the Wagner audience at Bayreuth for fixed and reverential attention.33
Twain’s description makes it amply clear that at Bayreuth. mamma. along with Tristan and Parsifal at Bayreuth in 1891.. By 1891. some people still came for musical reasons.
There are. our audiences remain confused.” this was “sacrilege. faint reverberations of the exchange of opinions concerning applause referred to at the beginning of this article may still be read in the Post. no intermezzi in the Ring or Parsifal. Hungary. Currently.44 Although our own conventions of proper audience comportment seem to have come from Bayreuth.46 Both the pro and con aspects of the applause at these two concerts can be defended. Henry (later Sir Henry) Wood attended the Festival many times and became friendly with Felix Mottl. he allowed no applause between movements. Last July a review of Yo Yo Ma’s performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto said that he received a “well-earned round of applause after the first movement. and Italy. where the “refreshing spontaneity” of the outdoor audience recalled “concerts of an earlier era. “Sacrilege? 91 JCG Vol. while an outburst of applause does shatter the serenity of the end of the Vaughan Williams “On the Beach at Night Alone.” But Seidl snorted in reply.safe place to interject its applause and. Austria. Switzerland. where he caused Wood to be named musical advisor for a series of Wagner concerts. of course. and despite Wagner’s “Rules for Conduct in the Theater” and his detailed directives to the audience. To Neumann. 30
Just you wait and watch the old man’s eyes light up when I tell him! Sacrilege indeed!”42 If this contradictory reaction between Neumann and Seidl. because of the darkened house.”45 In November. It was stated earlier that this article would not presume to
. called by Szigeti “an over-awed disciple of Wagner. Seidl was his conductor. Some consensus on the timing of applause seems necessary. Wagner had praised Seidl to Angelo Neumann. the Flower Maidens were received with clapping and bravos. to continue our speculation. continued to travel to Bayreuth. invariably applauded the Rhine Maidens. in doing so. they surely would have disseminated Wagner’s concert deportment. did not know that the Philistine was Wagner himself. This uncouth behavior was angrily suppressed by the faithful who. a review chided a Kennedy Center audience for “an awful lot of ill-timed and inappropriate applause” during a performance of the Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony.” Perhaps the most important thing to note in these reviews is the mere fact that applause was mentioned at all. on the other hand. given that Wagner was “accustomed” to showing his approval at that point in the opera. and when Neumann took the Ring on tour throughout Germany. Mottl eventually became a prominent Bayreuth conductor.40 And is it not possible that such a practice by a conductor of Wood’s stature could have caused Tovey (who himself attended the Festival in 1897) to call the spontaneous applause that occurred after the first movement of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto a breach of concert manners? Another assistant to Richter in 1876 was Anton Seidl who later conducted at the Met and who was to lead the New York Philharmonic in the premier of Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony. not yet attuned to the new etiquette. Robert Gutmann reports that during the original run of Parsifal.” This occurred at Wolf Trap Farm. After being assistant to Hans Richter for the first Ring.43 Felix Weingartner confirms this and writes that he had been warned of it. but lacking Mozart’s Emperor to decree it or Berlioz’s “Emperor” to prompt it. as reported in this journal. also conducting Wagner in London. Wagner’s personal concert practices are of little use when it comes to deciding when it is proper to applaud. but can we not imagine that those who had made the pilgrimage to Bayreuth and had learned the new rules of conduct might have shown off their erudition back home by stifling the applause of their churlish neighbors who dared to applaud at the “wrong” time? Wouldn’t the uninitiated have become “skeered to clap?” Professional musicians. of course. Belgium. both echt Wagnerians. and. Holland. a name familiar today from his notations in the Dover editions of some of Wagner’s operas.39 Wood began his famous Promenade Concerts in 1895 and. they had shown that they were connoisseurs of the new etiquette which allowed applause only at ‘appropriate’ places. is not confusing enough.41 From Szigeti we learn that the Italian audiences. The end of the first movement of the Dvorak is so exciting that applause seems almost necessary.
but when they last six hours at a stretch they are enough to send you mad. but since the second movement ends with such dynamic strength. ed. Evenings With the Orchestra. of course. With Strings Attached (New York: Alfred A. 5 Robbins Landon. Not everyone was ready to grant Wagner full attention.194. vol.
21 Robert Hartford. p. 2 “Music and Manners. writes. Knopf). 3 “Music. 444. vol. 3. p. pp. Donald Francis Tovey (London: Oxford University Press. 16 Mary Grierson.” The Music Review. 74. 27 Hartford. 15 Donald Francis Tovey. Hannah Bryant (New York: Da Capo Press. p. p. 22.186. 1969). 1969). trans. 19 Stanley Sadie. Music and Painting (New York: Harper and Row. 129. 9 Donald W. Elliot Forties (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 11 Louis Spohr.. p. Pierre-Auguste Renoir. which he conducted for over 2 decades in concerts at the Kennedy Center.” The Washington Post. I shall always remember the scandal I caused when. is a special case due to its religious aspect and the custom gradually grew at Bayreuth to allow applause only after the second and third acts. 23 April 1995. “The cries of the Valkyries are all right for a bit. p. “Opera of the Big Shoulders. 15 May 1995.” 7 Donald Francis Tovey. ***** Robert Ricks was Professor Emeritus at The Catholic University of America (DC) and Conductor Emeritus of the University Orchestra.195.B.” The Washington Post. pp.solve the problem. The reviewer’s “middle movement is. 23 Hartford.129. 26 (1965).)
JCG Vol.154. Bayreuth: The Early Years (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. s.. 30.187.178. Shaw on Music. I am not touchy!” 18 Grierson. confusing. 9.
22 Hartford. 68. p. 30 92
. Philadelphia’s Academy of Music and Carnegie Hall. and 95-98. p. vol. Richard Wagner (New York: Harcourt. 51. who painted Wagner’s portrait. 1959).” The Washington Post. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London: Macmillan. 1980).” [Edward Lockspeiser.’ ” (Gutmann. “Concertos” (London: Oxford University Press. p. 17 Grierson. p. Brace & World. Haydn Symphonies (Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. Inc. 31. 23. p.] 24 George Bernard Shaw. 6. It indeed has not. 67. Eric Bentley (Garden City: Doubleday & Co. 150. C. p. p. p. p. Life of Beethoven.” p. 1955). p. 1968).” 31 March 1996. “Mozart. 1973). Robbins Landon. 28 Hartford. 59. 12 Johannes Brahms. “Supplementary Essays. 6 Robbins Landon. 54. 1987). 381. 908. 14 Szigeti. “Classical. 108. “Music and Manners.: Quotes cited in the body of this article have been freely paraphrased. p. MacArdle. 17 November 1995. p. Parsifal. p. p.” 31 December 1995. 1980). my feeling is that it was at this point that the Ladies lost their ability to forebear.. trans. N. 10 Alexander Wheelock Thayer. “Beethoven and Schuppanzigh. “Supplementary Essays” (London: Oxford University Press.161. 1952) p. Knopf. I struck a match before I left the hall.v. at the end of my tether. 1969). 76-90. ed. Jacyues Barzun (New York: Alfred A. 20 Hector Berlioz. ed.162. Essays in Musical Analysis. Autobiography (New York: Da Capo Press. The Herzogenberg Correspondence. p. Gutmann. of course. ENDNOTES
1 “Close to Home. 25 Robert W.” by Stanley Sadie. 4 H. Essays in Musical Analysis. 8 Tovey.
13 Joseph Szigeti.1947). 26 Hartford.” 30 April 1995. 50. Robert Gutmann writes that “many who applaud a Bach Passion maintain an ecclesiastic silence throughout and after Parsifal out of a ‘naive sense of propriety. and 139. 1959). but hopefully it has demonstrated that most of the pre-twentiethCentury composers expected (can we say “endorsed”?) more uninhibited applause than is deemed proper today. Tovey liked to repeat to soloists at rehearsal Richter’s remark to him at rehearsal: “Have you a vish? Come on.
p. 149. “Wood. ed. 31 Spotts. Bayreuth. 1994). 99. 30
. Fraülein Unger. The audience’s desire to wave their hankerchiefs in appreciation is not something that Twain just imagined. (Marcello Conati & Mario Medici. p. Martin’s Press. 12 November 1996.” (Barry Millington. pianist Ossip Gabrilowich.113. p. 909. 42 Szigeti. p. 38 Shaw. 32 Hartford. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.” by H. p. vol. In addition to spontaneous applause. p. 1946). Twain’s daughter. “Books in Review.” The Washington Post.v. 2.) 34 Spotts. Knopf. but Frau Wagner may have had a different opinion regarding her husband’s breach of his own rules. A History of the Wagner Festival (New Haven: Yale University Press. The Life of Richard Wagner. no. Clara. p. Gutmann (p.” Journal of the Conductors Guild.29 Frederic Spotts. s. p. 44 Hartford. 6 (New York: Alfred A. 110. was a soprano who gave recitals with her husband. 33 Hartford. the announcement of a visit from her
appears to have provoked the furious row between Wagner and Cosima that led to his fatal heart attack. William Weaver. 46 “Oratorio Society’s Sea Symphony.131. we note that in Italy (so that the audience could follow the libretto) the house lights were left on until Toscanini. p. Colles. 36 Spotts. plucked him by the sleeve and directed his attention to the clapping hands and waving hats and handkerchiefs. 1994). vol. p. p. “either after the Scherzo or at the end of the Symphony. (Sir) Henry. 39 Eric Blom. 444. 41 Ernest Newman.) 45 “Slatkin in Control. 30 Spotts.116. 35 Spotts. 683. 25. 29 July 1996..
93 JCG Vol. C. 40 Henry Bloch.” The Washington Post. 154.153. 444) believes that Wagner wanted to treat Act II as Italian opera.106. “In any case. p. insisted otherwise. 15. p. 1992). whose happiness can be imagined. One of the Flower Maidens was the young Carne Pringle with whom Wagner may have been having an affair. traps. suggesting that it might have been Richter. p. At the first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth.” (Thayer. p. 43 Gutmann. Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians (New York: St. p.196. 1954). while Beethoven was still gazing at his score. 170.128. The Wagner Compendium (New York: Schirmer Books.106. p. p.121. Nineteenth-century audiences had apparently been used to doing just that. a Bayreuth conductor. conductor of the Detroit Symphony from 1919 to 1935. Szigeti had said that he wasn’t sure of the conductor. 37 Hartford.
however. Harp Cl. and Meredith Davies conducted the full orchestra. baritone and a separate chamber orchestra of 12 players. Having two conductors certainly makes life easier for each. which is less confusing than conducting 3 + 2 or 2 +3. One single conductor is less distracting. In the preface to the full orchestral score. The physical setting in the Cathedral must have made this arrangement feasible and practical. 1962. [Wilfred] Owen’s poetry is set for tenor. with an extra beat in the center (Ex. Benjamin Britten conducted the Chamber Orchestra and two male soloists. Vln II Timp. Michael in Coventry. more efficient and can work very well. the first to be built in England in many years. needing two conductors. 2002) By Paul Vermel
The War Requiem was commissioned for the consecration of the Cathedral of St. Vc.
JCG Vol. This gesture shows only one downbeat per measure. is given in the Appendix. chorus and orchestra. The Boys’ Chorus stands two bars before 3. The cathedral. particularly in the final movement. on a normal concert stage using two conductors is neither convenient nor visually or dramatically convincing.
Example 1 Perc. 2). with the tenor and bass soloists in front of the podium. Malcolm MacDonald says this about the work:
Inspired by the acoustical space in which the premiere was to take place. Fl. but the technical and gestural problems for a single conductor are considerable. soprano soloist and chorus. was on the site of (but not directly upon) the original medieval cathedral. given a certain number of measures before their entrances. which took place on May 30. The Latin text is set for soprano. Ob. and settled on a rectangular space to the left of the podium. Bass Horn Bsn. which accompanies the boys add a “C” (Ex. These warnings are given while conducting the large forces with the right hand/baton. published by Boosey & Hawkes in their Masterworks Series. Tenor
This placement permits the use of the left hand for warnings for the Chamber Orchestra to be ready. and it is helpful to have the harmonium or organ. Vla. Britten conceived the War Requiem for three spatially and instrumentally differentiated groups. Vln I Chamber Orchestra Barit. which had been nearly completely destroyed by bombs during World War II. 30 94
. The suggestion for dealing with problems connected with conducting the boys’ choir.Benjamin Britten’s WAR REQUIEM: Notes on Conducting
(JCG Volume 23.
In conducting this work I experimented with the placement of the Chamber Orchestra. REQUIEM AETERNAM (chorus seated) I suggest beating the 5/4 measures in a four pattern. 1. while a choir of boys’ voices sings Latin hymns with organ accompaniment. I hope that these notes that address the various conducting problems in the War Requiem are helpful. 3) to the chord
Examples 2 and 3
At the first performance of the War Requiem in the Coventry Cathedral.
The situation with the fermatas is similar at five before 21. as a transition to the 7/4. some half-quarter and some will be in one. (It’s easier to demonstrate than to describe!) A pause for latecomers to enter the hall could come at the end of the first movement. Conduct one before 21 in 2. for the same reason as given for one before 17. It requires small. which will enable you to stretch the final three quarter notes. then conduct 1 before 23 in 2. At the bar before 24 one may conduct as 2 + 2 + 3. It is not necessary to dictate each of the three quarter notes with equal emphasis. At two before 18 follow the text and beat 3 + 2 + 2. Cue the Chamber Orchestra on the last beat before 9. but here you cut the brass on 4 and stop your gesture on the downbeat of the 2/4 measure. but one bar before 19 in 2. Conduct two before 20 3 + 2 + 2 (same reason at two before 18). Cut the brass on the fourth beat (on the tied 8th note). 3 + 2 (as at 4 before rehearsal 7). and conduct the 5/4 measures in quarter notes. the 3/4 in 1 the 5/4 in two (with division of 3 + 2 or 2 + 3. but a smooth “tenuto” beat. as at the second part of the 5th bar after rehearsal 3. 2. and conduct quarter notes in the 3/4 measures. with an extra beat in the center (see Ex. The Boys’ Chorus director could sit nearby. The Chorale at rehearsal 16 requires a subtle beat. The tenor soloist stands on the downbeat of 9. at 7 after 20. The gestures should not be a clear two or four. Conduct the 3/2 measures in 3. Conduct the 4/4 in 4. two and one. being careful to maintain the 7/4 precisely and conducting 3 + 2 + 2. including the conductor. At four measures before rehearsal 9 warn the Chamber Orchestra with the left hand. At 21 the ensemble and precision are even more difficult because of the tutti and the fortissimo dynamic. The 3/4 bar before 16 should be conducted in quarter notes. 2). like a broken beat that simulates a subdivision of the half note which leads each chord change separately but with a connecting gesture. The tendency for the chorus and orchestra is to rush the three quarter notes (that usually fall at the end of the measure) – there may be a subconscious leftover feeling of a triplet. 30
in 2 to set up the “as three” pattern for the 7/4 (2 + 2 + 3). beat four through the diminuendo. and then hold the fermata. and then show the diminuendo. sharp beats and absolute metronomic precision. timpani. This meter is difficult for everyone. and cut off on the downbeat of the 2/4 bar. At 13 (always animated) conduct the 6/4 measures in 2. indicating the passing measures with four fingers. according to the needs of the music) and the 3/2 measures in 3. and bass drum on two. However. being sure to cue the 2nd trumpet at three after 22. In the 6/4 bars combine patterns to communicate the music accurately: dotted quarter in one gesture. The 7/4 bar before rehearsal 15 should be conducted in 3 (2 + 2 + 3). followed by quarter-half. At four measures after 20. Conduct the 4/4 measures in 2. and then resume the 2 + 2 + 3 pattern for one measure. DIES IRAE (Chorus stands) The fermata over a whole note equals approximately 6 beats. Cue the chimes. particularly later in the work. In this section conduct the 5/4 measures as before. then three. Be very clear and careful with this change! Conduct three bars before 19 in 4. for two measures. Conduct quarter notes to begin the boys’ music.before 3 to help the boys hear their entering pitch in the correct octave. cue the contrabassoon. with slightest stretch of tempo with the diminuendo. Beginning at three before 22. therefore your gesture must be especially rhythmic and clear. conduct 3 + 2 + 2. Conduct the bar before 17 95 JCG Vol. At four before 24 warn the Chamber Orchestra with the same count-down of measures (4-3-2-1 fingers of the left hand). whether the boys are placed on stage or off. and release the Chorus on beat two of rehearsal 9. The Chorus should sit and
. setting up the slower tempo at 24. in a four pattern. as this can become too busy. while conducting the Chamber Orchestra with the left hand. and warn them of upcoming entrances. Give a clear cut-off to the orchestra at the second bar after 9. Choose the most appropriate gesture to fit the music and the text (which are perfectly wedded)…some patterns will be quarter-half.
The soprano stands on the fermata before 54. quarter note = 160.the baritone soloist stand on the second measure of 24. At 43 move ahead a little bit. given by Britten at the beginning of the Dies irae. cue trumpet 2. 3. At four before 45 there should be a poco ritard. hold the tutti with the baton. The baritone and tenor soloists stand two or three measures after 33. which establishes the half note beat of the meter at 49 (Ex. Do warn the rest of the orchestra of this system. at five bars after 50 it may be necessary to conduct the trumpets (unless they can play together by themselves). 30 96
. 4). precise five (as before: a four pattern with an extra beat in the center). The chamber orchestra should maintain their slower tempo at 52 and therefore they should release after 8 beats of the conductor. return to 2 + 2 + 3. At two measures before 54. The tempo can move forward ever so slightly. At 30 the semi-chorus sings while seated. 4. At four before 28. The utmost clarity and precision in the 7/4 is required. The final beat of the 3 (last beat of the 7/4 measure) is the cue for the Tutti (full orchestra) and chorus at 3 after 52. clearly beat all the quarter notes of the 7/4. At 53. and the soprano soloist (sitting with the chorus) stands on the fermata– it is important dramatically that these two soloists do not move together. and return a tempo with the soprano’s return at 31. and repeated here. At four before 49 warn the chamber orchestra with the usual count-down with the left hand. The soprano soloist sits at 1 before 33. At four before 52 warn the four trumpets with the countdown gesture (4-3-2-1) with the left hand. clearly beat the last three quarter notes of the 7/4 to set up the brass. with the left hand. However. requiring 3 + 2 + 2. The baritone soloist sits at 1 before 28. timpani. Four measures before 33 warn the chamber orchestra with the same count-down with the left hand. I choose to conduct the first two measures 4.5). but at one bar before 49 beat a four pattern. The transition at rehearsal 52 is a tricky maneuver. except where the music and text change. relaxing the tempo at two bars before 44. If you do conduct the trumpets. In this slower passage. Before 28 the oboe solo (eight bars before) and flute solo (five before) should be slightly less lively than the previous solos (at 24 and 25). The soloists sit after 39. should be carefully adhered to. and the entire chorus stands on the fifth measure. as four measures of 2/4. as at the ninth and tenth bar after 52 and the three bars before 53. but don’t conduct. At 45 beat in a quick. as if it were three measures. and conduct the trumpets. At one before 51 cue the 1st trumpet but don’t conduct. At five after 51. At four before 39 warn the four trumpets in the large orchestra with the count-down gesture with the left hand (be sure to let them know that you are going to do this!). and piano. using a subdivided 3/2 pattern (Ex. Note that in the score the release of the chamber orchestra is not aligned with that beat! The tempo. so simply sustain and control the diminuendo. trumpet. indicating three quarter notes and a lengthened (half note) fourth beat. The basic division of the 7/4 is 2 + 2 + 3. warn the large orchestra with the count-down (4-3-2-1 with fingers of the left hand). The same tempo fluctuation can be employed when the chorus enters at 5 after 31. This is less confusing for the rest of the orchestra. For the horns. bass drum.
At five after 49 and one before 50 cue the trumpets but do not conduct them.
[For a complete discussion of the problems and the techniques I used in dealing with the boys’ choir. and the choir sits at 69. and it works well visually and dramatically. Before 63. see the Appendix. requires a subtle beat. one should take a brief pause before the Offertorium (this also could be a late seating spot). In the tenor recitative. with the first part of it beaten in 3/4. see the description at 16. If the choir is seated on stage their own director can be seated unobtrusively and help them. At four before 69. I can only suggest my solution to the problem and what I did in my performances. but the first orchestra measure should not be too slow. At one before 60 cue the chimes after the tenor soloist’s text “at all.
At two before 74. then holding each whole note with a downbeat.
. warn the 97 JCG Vol. 7).
74 is a slow recitative. There may be other ways. 9/8 in three). The tenor soloist stands on the downbeat of 56 (his fermata) – there is plenty of time for him to stand. 30
chamber orchestra with the count-down with the left hand.At four measures before 56. followed by a regular 4/4 (Ex. Rehearsal 77 begins a difficult section of ensemble with the boys’ chorus. holding the whole notes with a downbeat 1. OFFERTORIUM (boys’ chorus stands) I personally choose not to conduct the boys. Give a clear cue to the harp at 77. Standing earlier would spoil the drama inherent in the ritard and diminuendo of the previous few measures. The conductor must listen carefully to the organ. and cue the chamber orchestra on the last beat. both here. beat the 5/4 measure with four clear beats. The two soloists should not be conducted. as before. the half note in one beat followed by three quarters. where they must be coordinated with the soloists and orchestra.] I cue the organist to start on the 2nd beat of the second measure after 77 (as aligned in the score). warn the full orchestra and chorus (the count-down maneuver with the left hand). The baritone and tenor soloists stand at two before 69. conduct dotted quarter notes (6/8 in two. and most especially at 77. Since the work is without intermission. Better yet is placing the boys’ chorus in a balcony with a portative organ or harmonium.e. 3. For details. This must be very deliberate at first. The chorus should stand two measures before 63. warn the chamber orchestra with the count-down with the left hand. At rehearsal 64. the boys’ chorus sits on the downbeat of 63. and be sure to cue the harp at one before 57. where their director can lead them. and calando. if on stage and visible. The tempo change to half-note = 88 at 73 is subito.” The Chorale at 60. but at five bars after 72. single gesture. the measures are conducted in two and the quarter note in the orchestra gets the beat. relax the last quarter notes a bit. At three measures after 57. At three before 57 warn the full orchestra and chorus with three fingers of the left hand (the count-down). move the tempo ahead a bit. simply cue the chord changes on each downbeat. and you simply conduct the orchestra in the 3/4 part of each measure.6). and. At three before 58. as the first one at 16. i. Note the change of tempo at 72. The new section beginning at 69 is l’istesso tempo (Ex. alert the chorus and full orchestra visually with the right hand/baton.
especially the C#s in the left hand. There should be perhaps three or four C#s heard (over the empty, fermata measures in the orchestra) before cuing the chamber orchestra at 7 bars after 77 (I disregard the footnote, and I count the orchestra fermatas as one measure, for there is no bar line at the change of page). Listen carefully to the boys’ chorus line, and follow it for all successive entries of the chamber orchestra and soloists. Warn the full orchestra (bassoons, celli, basses) visually for their entrance at 79. The chorus stands at 79, and the soloists and boys sit after the orchestra begins. 4. SANCTUS (soprano solo stands, chorus remains standing) The measures are free at the beginning of the Sanctus. I had success with a slightly slower tempo at measure 5 (quarter note = 92 rather than 108), with which our soprano soloist was more comfortable. I suggest that all conductors experiment. Conduct rehearsal 85 in one. In this cleverly confused (confusing) passage, the conductor’s challenge is not to get lost! I decided to group the measures as follows: 3-2-3-4-3-86-4-4fermata. This aids in cuing the entrances of the sections of the chorus; however, they also can be counted in groups of four bars!
Score errata: in the parts, at six bars after 87 in horns 1 & 2, the second beat is an A; it should be a B. The score is correct.
At four bars before rehearsal 93 warn the chamber orchestra as before with the count-down with the left hand. At 93 Britten, in his excellent recording, waits about 10 beats (quarter note of preceding section = 69) on this fermata. The new tempo is very slow, eighth note = 69. At three after 93, conduct a subdivided four (8/8, with eighth note = 88-92) for the flute and clarinet, and use same tempo each time this passage occurs. At one before 94, conduct a subdivided 2/4. Follow Britten’s tempo indications exactly, so that the half note at 94 equals the preceding eighth note. At the end of the Sanctus, the baritone and chorus sit. 5. AGNUS DEI (tenor soloist stands, chorus sings seated) This section must be flowing, with each sixteenth note conducted, using the four pattern with an extra beat in the center (see Ex. 2). At four bars before rehearsal 99, move the tempo a bit, and return to tempo at 99. Calando near the end. The tenor’s last phrase, “Dona nobis pacem,” slows down and is quite flexible, and you should not conduct him. Coordinate with the soloist, and cut off together with the chorus. The tenor sits and the chorus stands at the end of the movement. 6. LIBERA ME (chorus stands) This movement, above all the others, requires of the conductor a very firm hand, an unimpeachable sense of pulse, and great rhythmic precision. From the beginning of the movement to rehearsal 116 there needs to be a carefully controlled, very gradual accelerando. The composer gives tempo indications (metronome markings) at the beginning of each major section, which aid in your planning and study. Begin at quarter note = 63. At four or three bars before 103, move slightly toward quarter note = 72, reaching that tempo at 103. At 104, begin to move the tempo again, reaching quarter note = 84 at rehearsal 105. This tempo is maintained until seven bars after 107, where the tempo pushes ahead slightly, reaching quarter note = 88 at 108. JCG Vol. 30 98
At three bars before 91 the phrase is very long for the soprano soloist. Should an extra breath be necessary, I suggest this (with an optional text addition, which may or may not be desired) (Ex. 8). At nine and eleven bars after 91 conduct the 5/4 as before – a four gesture with an extra beat in the center (Ex. 2). Beginning at three before 92 relax the tempo a bit. The soprano sits after 92.
The soprano soloist stands at the sixth bar after 107. Note, beginning at 105, the different meters for the orchestra and the soloist and chorus. Conduct the section beginning at 108 in four bar phrases (subtly, with one beat per 3/4 bar in the orchestra) unless the chorus needs to see these four beats per (their) measure. Should the soprano decide against singing the high C at 110, the following change to the melodic line could be made, which would involve a slight re-orchestration in the flute, oboe and clarinet (Ex. 9).
110 is marked “very lively” with a tempo of 92 per beat unit. The conductor continues to beat the clear four-bar phrases (actually four beat measures for the chorus and soprano), which helps the performers with accurate counting and also will help you in giving the right cues. Five and six bars after 111 is a two bar phrase—you could consider the first six measures of 111 as a phrase of 3 whole notes, subdivided. The three measures before 113 could be beaten as a large three pattern, to support the crescendo and to set up and clarify the tempo in the new and very challenging section, with its irregular meters. Do not slacken the gradual accelerando, so that you arrive at half note = 96 at 113. 99 JCG Vol. 30
The section beginning at rehearsal 113 is extremely difficult for the chorus and soprano. Conduct the 2/2 bars in 2, of course. The 3/4 measures require three small, clear precise beats—do not fall into the temptation of conducting these triple-meter measures in one! This section, between 113 and 115, consists of clearly defined phrases, each phrase beginning with the sopranos of the chorus. The first two phrases (“Dies illa” and “dies irae”) are each four measures long. The next phrase (“calamitatis”) is five measures long. At 114, the phrase (“et miseriae”) is six measures long, and the following phrase (“dies magna”) is four measures long. The ten measures of 115-116 are really two connected phrases, the first in 3/4 and the second beginning with three 2/2 bars and the huge climax of two 3/4 bars. At five before 116, I do not go back to conducting in 2, but continue to beat the quarter notes in four, to better control the stretch into (and within) the final 3/4 measures. 116 is the sonic climax of the piece, and also is very difficult for the chorus. The tempo is a broad 4/4 (in the orchestra) with quarter note = 63. This means that each measure of the chorus equals one beat in the orchestra. The chorus needs a very clear gesture to sing their entrances accurately. Because this section needs as much vocal volume as possible I suggest that you have all the women sing all soprano and alto entrances through four before 117, and have all men sing the first bass entrance (10 chorus measures after 116), with tenors jumping up to their entrance that follows in the next bar. Beginning at two before 117 the singers return to singing only their own parts. For the orchestra, give a very strong cue to the percussion and organ at 116. Bring out the horn color with the crescendo and decrescendo, with the maximum volume at four orchestral measures after 116, and again at six after 116. The trumpets peak at three and five bars after 116. Make a long diminuendo and calando down to 118. And at four (orchestra) measures before 118, warn the chamber orchestra with the left-hand countdown as before.
At this point there is a major decision to be made by the conductor and the chorus master: should the chorus remain standing through to the end or sit, and if they should sit, when? My personal feeling is that it is very taxing for the chorus to stand for such a long time. But more importantly, I feel it is totally contrary to the drama of the piece to have so many “witnesses” present during the unfolding of the story between the two soldiers. If the chorus sits at 118, even quietly and gracefully, it is visually very disturbing after the long quietening of the dynamics, the lightening of the texture, and the slowing of the tempo. The tenor and bass soloists should be left totally alone at 118! Because of this concern about the drama, I made the decision that the chorus should sit down by section, when they are finished singing their last part: sopranos sit at six chorus bars after 117, altos at fourteen chorus bars after 117, basses at seventeen chorus bars after 117 and tenors two chorus bars before 118. This can imply that the chorus will sing the Epilogue (“In Paradisum,” at 131) while seated, which, to me is perfectly acceptable musically and dramatically. At 118, there is a long-breathed, rhythmically flexible tenor recitative. Give one downbeat for each orchestral measure. Give the chord changes, being sure to connect with the tenor soloist precisely. At 119, the composer begins to show metrical subdivisions of the larger measures by the use of dotted bar lines for various instruments in the chamber orchestra. This is first apparent in the strings, where you should conduct the small crescendi with the left hand, using a 2/4 pattern, while holding the rest of the orchestra with the baton. The baritone soloist stands at rehearsal 120, and you conduct the three measures in a slow four, with quarter note = 60. At one before 121 and at 121, beat four with the baton for the entire chamber orchestra. Then return to marking each measure in one. Do not conduct the solos of the oboe, bassoon, or harp (unless they absolutely need it, then do it with small, subtle gestures of the left hand). It is best to spend JCG Vol. 30 100
so they play these passages unaided. beat four plus two. release the strings on the final eighth note. due to the faster tempo and the ensemble problems in the next bar. The preparatory beat for the winds and bass comes on the baritone’s word “from” (in this bar). The tenor soloist and the boys stand just after the orchestral music begins. ensemble. As you will have done with the brass players and their solo material in the Dies irae. At three and one before 124. However. stop on the downbeat. for they are vital to the piece. At one before 126. with the tenor and bass soloists. cueing the clarinet. the boys have sung through the text “Martyres. 10). a most incredible. From this position only a downbeat is necessary and sufficient.
At 127. and stop conducting at the orchestral fermata.” for the drama requires the long silence. holding on the fermata of the eighth bar. followed by a diminuendo and release on the eighth rest at the end of two after 130. the tempo should be quarter note = 80. while watching the conductor. starting on the syllable ”res. and double bass on the fifth beat. coordination. Follow the subtle changes of tempo carefully. Cue the organ at 128. their director starts counting eight beats (“li” = beat one). and their director visually with eyes or a raised finger. At 127 the Epilogue begins.” The director counts eight beats. and beat the seven bars. Their release should be on the tied quarter note. And it provides the conductor with one last challenge in terms of precision.”
. but continue to count five beats of the boys’ music.time coaching these players separately. Count five beats of the boys’ music. While this has been going on. then he/she can clearly lead the young singers throughout this passage. The chamber orchestra and soloists have a six-measure phrase that goes to 130. At six measures after 129. subtly warn the chorus. and mood! If the boys’ choir director is sitting in front of them (or leading them if they are in 101 JCG Vol. subdividing the 3/2 and conducting the 5/4 in the four pattern with an extra beat in the center (see Ex. the fermata should be very long before “I am the enemy you killed. When the boys’ choir reaches the final syllable of their first passage (“An-ge-li”). harp. cue the double basses. and deeply moving ending to this masterpiece. you should work out how these kinds of passages are to be played in a private session with your wind players well in advance of the first rehearsal. conduct in two (following the composer’s dotted lines). 3 + 4 + 3 (again as clearly indicated in by the dotted bar lines). At five after 126. with the left hand. At one before 123. This passage is quite metrically complicated. my friend. and one needs to pay strict attention to the composer’s use of the dotted bar lines. which is also the release for the strings and flute. boys’ choir. conduct in four with flexible rubato. emotional. is in two four-bar phrases. Conduct this large bar in 2/4 + 2/4 + 4/4 with a fermata on the final half note. Conduct quarter notes throughout the section that begins at 124. with diminuendo. count three beats. coordinating with the end of the boys’-choir passage. the third beat.2). do not conduct the clarinet and flute solos. but send the point of the baton up as if you were on the second beat (Ex. and on the third beat. And at four after 123. At two before 127. the orchestral music. At two before 123. At one before 127. On the eighth counted beat (five beats into 129) the director cues the boys. You will resume the beat on the downbeat (eighth note rest in chamber orchestra). It is otherwise impossible to coordinate the sections the boys sing that are in a different tempo than the other forces. 30
the balcony or off stage). At two after 123 conduct. at two before 123 one needs to conduct with the left hand. followed by two measures in three and the fermata.
Whether the boys are seated on stage or located in a balcony. ”). to prevent premature applause. . in case the acoustical resonance blurs their first note. Their final pitch should be held over the bar line. Give a preparatory beat on the fourteenth count for the organ and a downbeat for the boys’ next entrance (“Chorus Angelorum. At three measures before 131. which is the beat before rehearsal 132. Do not forget to cue the last entrance of the chimes. The organist will adopt the tempo quarter note = 60 (I suggest checking that with a pocket metronome. and especially second violins! From eight before 132. At three after 131. I suggest that the choir enter a little late. even at the performance). after the Tutti release. I shall refer to their conductor as “director” and to the conductor of the large forces as “conductor. the boys’ choir has reached the text “Jerusalem. to connect with the following chorus entrance. and the boys should stand on that chord.” releasing the choir on the third beat (tied quarter note). to release of the Tutti at one after five measures. APPENDIX In this discussion of the conducting problems associated with the boys’ choir. .” The following are suggestions for both conductors to help assure synchronization of the boys with the rest of the forces. . “suscipiat. to release of the Tutti at one after 135 The organ must be cued at one bar before 135. warn orchestra and chorus basses with the left hand countdown. either by a direct line of sight or use of video monitor. flute 2.releasing the boys on the third beat (which is the tied quarter note). it is imperative that the director should be able to follow the conductor’s beat. The conductor will cue the organ at 128. . cue the chorus altos.” and cues the organ and boys on the sixth beat. From the chamber orchestra entrance after 130 there are seven measures: a four-bar phrase and a three-bar phrase. Conduct the final Chorale with the same style of gesture as at 16 and 60. maintaining the tempo strictly. with a clear cue to the chimes on the second beat. 30 102
. Rehearsal 77: The conductor will cue the organ on the second beat of the second orchestral measure. The eighth beat is the preparatory beat for their next entrance. I suggest the following phrase structure: ▪ five measures ▪ six measures (the soprano soloist stands ad libitum) ▪ four measures (soprano soloist enters on the third measure of this phrase. to 134 ▪ five measures ▪ five measures. The director of the boys’ choir should have the opportunity to read this entire article.” The director starts counting fourteen beats at the syllable “lem. The final release of each ensemble must be exact: the chamber orchestra on the last eighth note and the full orchestra after they hear the final bells entrance. there are two four bar phrases. Give the final release of the “n” of “Amen” gently. starting on the measure following their release of. The boys’ choir director should conduct these final two measures (“Requiem aeternam dona eis
Domine”) in a subdivided 3/2. the boys’ chorus stands after the chamber orchestra begins. with the arms staying up. The boys’ choir director counts six beats. Rehearsal 127. If the organist cannot see the JCG Vol. at 133) ▪ four measures (with entrance of trombones) ▪ four measures ▪ five measures. During this. From 132. The boys sit at 79 (after the organ finishes and the orchestra begins). Let the bells vibrate. The director should count seven measures of the organ introduction and then cue the boys on the eighth measure. Let your arms down slowly. Give a clear cue one beat before 131. Clearly cue the chorus and orchestra after 135.
The boys’ entrance. cue the boys and the organ (If retaining pitch is a problem. then the director will give this cue and will conduct the boys in absolutely strict tempo. where she/he can clearly see the conductor.maestronotes.com. This “Requiem aeternam” can be conducted in a subdivided 3/2. Four orchestral bars before 130. release the boys on the third beat (tied quarter note).” start counting eight beats. 103 JCG Vol. I hope!).” the director begins counting six beats. The fourteenth beat is the preparatory beat for the organ. following the tempos established by the conductor (quarter note = 60. in an unobtrusive location. 11). with adjustable volume). Conductor Laureate of the Portland (ME) Symphony and also served as Director of the Conducting Program at the Aspen Music Festival. and cues the organ and the boys on the sixth beat (one beat before 132).
On the last syllable “lem” of “Jerusalem. the director can sit in front of them (at the back of the orchestra). should be similarly a little late. to connect with the following full chorus entrance. again conducted in a subdivided 3/2 with a slight stretch before the last note. “et lux perpetua. He is only the 7th recipient of this important honor. Should the boys’ choir have to be seated on the stage.” start counting fourteen beats. The final note of this passage should be held over the bar line. and significant service to the profession in the realms of scholarship and ensemble building.” one measure after 136.conductor. Emeritus. On the eighth beat (which is the fifth beat after 129). and a faculty member of the Conductors Institute at the University of South Carolina. releasing the boys and organ on the third beat (tied quarter note).” An ideal solution is to seat the choir in a balcony. which again should not be released before the full chorus enters. 30
. Placement of the boys’ chorus: The composer indicates that the sound of the boys choir should be “distant. I suggest that the boys’ choir entrance at one after 135 be a little late. the organist could play a C# on the beat before the entrance. visit his website at www. of the University of Illinois. in case acoustical resonance might blur the first note. ***** Paul Vermel is Music Director and Conductor of the Northwest Symphony in Illinois. On the last syllable “li” of “Angeli” the director starts counting eight beats (while watching the conductor). as in Ex. with a portative organ or harmonium with them (or even an electric keyboard that has an acceptable organ sound. For information on how to obtain his recent DVD entitled Conducting with Clarity and Musicality: The Teaching of Paul Vermel. the organ should be cued by the conductor. The director should be able to see both the organist and the conductor clearly. One measure before 135. on the last syllable “res” of “Martyres.” On the measure following the boys’ release of “suscipiat. release the boys and the organ on the third beat (tied quarter note). He is Professor of Music. The eighth beat that you are counting is the preparatory beat for the next boys’ choir entrance. He is the 2009 recipient of the Max Rudolf Award from the Conductors Guild. and the organ entrance is the preparatory beat for the boys’ “Chorus Angelorum. This award is given biennially in recognition of outstanding achievement as a conductor and pedagogue.
this has already been asserted by numerous critics.” Although the word does not appear at the critical point in the score. Toscanini had been troubled by a passage in which he felt that a rallentando was necessary. despite the lack of any overt indication in the score. 2003) By Linda B. explaining that if he had written the word rallentando over the phrase in question. and performers. Rather than refuting the legends that sprang up around him. for a segment of the music-loving public the name Arturo Toscanini continues to call to mind the lofty pursuit of textual fidelity. Verdi praised Toscanini’s musical insight. Arturo Toscanini. Instead. Nonetheless. an insensitive conductor might have overcompensated. Still. in and of itself. as well as the reminiscences of some of his colleagues. While studying the score of the Te Deum. Thanks to the existence of recorded performances. the harmonic progression. Toscanini seldom discussed his musical philosophy publicly. to a sensitive conductor versed in Verdian performance practice. scholars. Some fifty years later the critic Olin Downes reported that when Toscanini re-told this familiar story. the interpreter’s taste and intuition ultimately control the outcome of a performance. those notations that do appear – the melodic shape. he carried on his work seemingly oblivious to the spread of the textual-fidelity myth. preferring instead to rely on spokesmen of often-dubious credibility. And yet there was a time. Rather than correcting him. early in his career. Verdi relied on the instinct of the true musician to recognize the need for a subtle relaxation of tempo. Verdi’s unwritten rallentando might well have been part of “the letter of the music. In 1898 the thirty-one-year-old Arturo Toscanini conducted the first Italian performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Quattro pezzi sacri. Downes’s story represents a grudging admission that the printed score. when the question of exactly what was written in the score assumed great importance. Largely through the efforts of the press and the National Broadcasting Company. Downes’s revealing anecdote fails to account for the possibility that. Fairtile
Changes in the public perception of performing artists make for fascinating study. If true. When he performed the piece at the piano
for Verdi himself. And there once was a time when a conductor. There once was a time when the Three Tenors were considered mere mortals. may not have been Toscanini’s sole concern. based on both personal experience and the inexact JCG Vol. many people now realize that Toscanini’s reputation for absolutely literal fidelity to the printed score was largely a media creation. he acknowledged that his behavior had contradicted the gospel of textual fidelity. for Toscanini. Toscanini came to be known as the only musician with the integrity and modesty to perform a composition exactly as it was notated in the musical score. It is not news that Toscanini’s reputation for absolute fidelity to the printed score was little more than a public relations myth. the phrase structure – indicate a slowing down of tempo almost as surely as a verbal indication. 30 104
.Toscanini and the Myth of Textual Fidelity
(JCG Volume 24. was considered the living embodiment of the composers whose music he performed. Nonetheless. the conductor continued. slowing the passage unnecessarily. Toscanini added the rallentando at the appropriate point.
or its lack. relates directly to the topic of textual fidelity. Even as he arrived at the Metropolitan Opera in 1908. becoming a trademark by which he was known even to those who were unaware of the campaign that he had had to wage in earlier years. but to the spirit of the creating mind. Rather.evidence of recordings. An exceptional journalistic employment of the phrase “the composer’s intentions” appears in an 1899 review of Toscanini’s first performance of Verdi’s Falstaff. Smith saw textual fidelity as the principal feature that distinguished his idol from other conductors. who is] more capable than all others of expressing the composer’s intentions. that determines which of two fundamentally irreconcilable musical
105 JCG Vol. fought with every ounce of his considerable will against what he perceived to be low musical standards and arbitrary traditions. however. because the detail upon which I believe I must insist seems to me to be precisely
one. As both his artistry and his celebrity grew.
I know that performing at such accelerated tempos is approved by him [Toscanini.2
Implicit in Smith’s statement are both a condemnation of those performers who tamper with aspects of a musical composition and a corresponding endorsement of literal fidelity to the score. with the help of the press. it is textual fidelity.1
In other words. What had begun as a means to an end within a specific performing tradition eventually ossified. of course. their concern was preservation of the status quo. In the words of Alfredo Colombani. the thirty-one-year-old artistic head of Milan’s Teatro alla Scala. Significantly. To those who questioned his right to toss aside decades of accumulated performance customs he offered the musical score as the final authority. Toscanini’s reputation was established in the American press. who not only shapes his readings to suit his individual taste. Like many myths. the phrase is employed to argue against Toscanini’s interpretation. perhaps more importantly. His [Toscanini’s] all-absorbing ambition is to reproduce music in a way absolutely true not only to the letter. to come closer to understanding the musical philosophy that permits a performer to impose significant alterations on the works in his repertoire and still maintain that he is at the service of the composer. Regardless of what he actually did. no more and no less. Criticism of Toscanini’s earliest performances at La Scala tended to focus on his perceived inflexibility in matters of tempo as well as his opposition to both encores and traditional cuts. but it was apparently not the intention of Toscanini’s early critics to discuss that issue explicitly. 30
. the concept of musical literalism took on a life of its own. which reached its apex in the early 1950s. but actually presumes to change the orchestration set down by the composer. and. as exemplified by Nikisch. In the early years of Toscanini’s career his celebrated appeals to the letter of the score were a weapon against what he perceived to be sloppy and self-indulgent interpretation. Colombani believed that neither the composer nor the conscientious conductor was the final authority on certain matters of performance practice. The dissemination of the textual fidelity myth was first and foremost an American phenomenon. this one had roots in the reality of a distant place and time: the Italian opera scene at the turn of the twentieth century. Now that Toscanini’s annotated scores are available for study at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. But this assurance does not convince me. it is possible to investigate exactly which elements of which compositions he altered. writing that Toscanini:
has no sympathy with the trend of modern conducting. Each of these issues. Toscanini became known as the only conductor selfless enough to perform exactly what was written in the score. Typically. thanks in large measure to the journalist Max Smith. According to this journalistic simplification. as Arturo Toscanini. a tradition in which the performer’s authority often trumped the composer’s. into all-purpose dogma. which is less easily realized by the composer of an opera and by a collaborator who knows it well.
the fan reasoned. Other radio programs aimed at adult listeners pursued similar goals. broadcasters had been engaged in an ongoing debate over nothing less than the very purpose of radio programming. Toscanini received a great deal of mail from his admirers. 1987). Toscanini’s public image suited this purpose. a new radio orchestra assembled to rival CBS’s broadcast concerts by the New York Philharmonic. claiming that Toscanini “steeps himself in the composition – breathes the very air that Beethoven breathed. A fan from Delaware asked Toscanini about what he believed to be a misprint in his own score of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “correct” performance of each musical work. was one such effort.interpretations – the composer’s or the conductor’s – emerges in performance. Toscanini’s leadership of the NBC Symphony. Samuel Chotzinoff.” they nonetheless embodied RCA president David Sarnoff’s philosophy of radio as a vehicle for self-improvement. a controversy that pitted the interests of entertainment against those of mass education. praised Toscanini for being one of the few conductors to perform compositions exactly as they are written. By anointing a single. Many of these letters illustrate that listeners to the NBC Symphony broadcasts wholeheartedly identified him with the ideal of textual fidelity. 30 106
Once again. In Arturo Toscanini (New York. carrying out his every intention. since he was believed to be the only performer both willing and able to provide a literal translation of the composer’s notation into idealized sound. Toscanini is declared musically – and perhaps even morally – superior to his colleagues by virtue of his compulsion not simply to observe the composer’s written instructions. could there have been JCG Vol. and Toscanini’s genius for orchestral analysis and co-ordination. the “Music Appreciation Hour” sought to teach children about the composers and works that make up the musical canon. According to Joseph Horowitz. One result of this debate was the marriage of recreation and instruction in radio programs that provided guidance in the understanding of fine literature and music. chosen by virtue of its faithfulness to the printed score. biographer Tobia Nicotra pursued this concept to the point of absurdity. measuring his scale of the gradations of sound with a ruler on the score. in the next sentence. an accompanist turned music critic who would later become NBC’s Music Director. Although the NBC Symphony’s broadcast concerts were not as overtly pedagogical as the “Music Appreciation Hour. and his reputation for textual fidelity in particular. 1929). the champions of music appreciation transformed complex works of art into neatly packaged commodities that listeners could acquire for their intellectual trophy cases. described Toscanini’s faithfulness to the score in terms of both mathematical precision and almost supernatural personal affinity:
Mr. What other explanation.” hosted by conductor Walter Damrosch from 1927 through 1942. As Joseph Horowitz notes in Understanding Toscanini (New York. Like most celebrities. NBC’s “Music Appreciation
. What makes Toscanini the greatest conductor alive is that he follows the composer from the marks on the score back into the realm of ideas which gave them birth…The “Eroica” and the grandiose Fifth Symphony of Beethoven were subjected last night to a treatment which included a strict adherence to the printed scores. but to follow them back to the very moment of artistic creation. the textual fidelity issue was a useful tool in the service of music appreciation. a divination of the exact ideas in the composer’s mind represented by them.” In 1937 Toscanini assumed the direction of the NBC Symphony. were put to good use by the popular education movement. Complete with accompanying workbooks and written tests. clearly influenced by what he had heard and read.3
Hour. thinks the very thoughts that Beethoven thought. One young New Jersey fan. Toscanini is literally a slave to the composer. in the years prior to the NBC Symphony’s creation. this ardent fan admitted that he knew next to nothing about music. So strong was the public’s belief in Toscanini’s reputation for literalism that when confronted with evidence to the contrary some were inclined to doubt the musical text itself rather than the interpreter.
tempo. I have divided the annotations found in Toscanini’s scores into three categories of increasing musical significance. is not supported by the evidence. most were made during the final third of his sixty-eight-year career. Deletions from the score that affect its phrase structure or harmonic character also qualify as type-3 annotations. Type-2 annotations. in many cases. in the scores of Beethoven and Brahms. since his personal library of musical scores is available for study in the Toscanini Legacy. these categories are based on the four levels of modifications identified by Gabriele Dotto in his study “Opera Four Hands: Collaborative Alterations in Puccini’s Fanciulla. and bowing were the only changes necessary. nonetheless draw upon material that is already present in the score. More recent compositions that show a certain affinity with the Classical style. involve the introduction of foreign material into a composition.for a divergence between Toscanini’s performance and the printed music? In Reflections on Toscanini (New York. Passages in which the violas had originally been playing in unison with other string instruments. It is not uncommon to find an expanded viola part. Compositions from the 18th century —for example. Harvey Sachs notes that the conductor’s interpretations of individual compositions often changed over time. 1991). and tempo. For the purpose of this study. another means exists to examine Toscanini’s performing habits. many of the markings in Toscanini’s scores seem to reflect historical or stylistic considerations. Toscanini felt that slight adjustments of the printed dynamics. phrasing. but also a sign that his ideas about any given musical work were not fixed and absolute. made by a devoted admirer. Other markings. Type-2 annotations include orchestrational adjustments that either reinforce or thin existing instrumental textures. These changes. a collection in the Music Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (an inventory of these scores can be consulted online at http://www. Although dozens of Toscanini’s performances are available on disc. are most evident in works from the 19th century. In general.”4 In my analysis.500 orchestral scores in the Toscanini Legacy. articulation. These sorts of changes. In a 1926 concert review Olin Downes wrote that Toscanini’s scores contained no conductor’s markings.org/ead/2603#id2305926). Many are routine clarifications of the printed instructions or technical notes pertaining to the act of orchestral direction. often obvious in performance. Haydn’s 88th Symphony and Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E flat—tend to contain type-1 annotations only. which are the most radical changes. bowing. and their sound quality is sometimes compromised by the original recording technology. would probably pass unnoticed in performance for all but the most perceptive and informed listeners. an understandable circumstance considering the extraordinary length of his professional career. I identify 107 JCG Vol. only to drop out when the part’s technical demands
. over a third contain annotations in the conductor’s hand. for example. or transpose individual instrumental passages into a different octave. or by adding entire musical passages of the conductor’s own invention. however. 30
type-1 annotations as any modifications of dynamics. For those who never heard a live Toscanini concert. Of the approximately 1.nypl. suggesting that for works from the Classical period. Often Toscanini seems to have considered the gradual improvement in instrumental technique between that time and his own. also reveal annotations exclusively of the type-1 variety. but this statement. Type-3 modifications. directly contradict Toscanini’s reputation for strict adherence to the printed score. recordings are the chief means of acquaintance with his art. such as Mendelssohn’s Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. either by inserting a completely new instrumental figure into the orchestral fabric. by substantially rewriting an existing melody. and the textual fidelity question in particular. articulation. especially those that augment or reduce the existing orchestration. Fortunately.
Scores as diverse as Brahms’s Hungarian Dances. Again. but he also instructed the composer to make the change permanent. might have emboldened him to carry out musical JCG Vol. but they certainly contradict the way that Toscanini’s interpretations were typically represented in the press. a variety of compositions exhibit this type of modification. he also thickened the orchestration of certain passages by adding mid-range and lower-pitched instruments. In many cases he was personally acquainted with the composer. Other type-2 changes in Toscanini’s scores have more obscure motivations. piccolos. Beethoven assigns a variant of the movement’s primary theme to the woodwinds and brass. Liszt’s Les Preludes.increased. To him. as a guardian of Western musical tradition. Type-3 changes – extreme modifications of melody. For example. over a dominant pedal. Toscanini apparently disagreed. who was often young enough to have been his son. since he gave the piccolo numerous repeated and sustained high Bs over the next several measures. An ascending triplet motive in the piccolo complements this melody. can become in Toscanini’s scores duets for both instruments playing simultaneously. parts for trumpets and horns are greatly expanded in Toscanini’s annotated scores of early 19th-century compositions. but when they do appear their purpose is seldom clear. Brahms’s Third Symphony. harmony. seemed not only unnecessary. Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony. he appears to have brightened the overall orchestral sound by adding flutes. Toscanini seems to have brought a unique approach to 20th Century compositions. An interesting annotation almost completely erased from Toscanini’s score of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony sheds some light on this activity. and Respighi’s The Pines of Rome. One such instance occurs in the final movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Example 1). now contain Toscanini’s instructions to play continuously. It could be that as he passed into old age Toscanini felt a responsibility not only as a performer. and structure – are relatively uncommon in Toscanini’s annotated scores. suggesting a belief that these composers had been forced to compromise based on the insufficient ability of their performers. Solos that were originally divided between two different woodwind instruments. Finally. in a score of Bernard Wagenaar’s Second Symphony. Why? It is evident that Beethoven did not want it. In many instances. Technological advances in instrument construction also seem to have played a part in Toscanini’s artistic decisions. a piece that begins in C major and ends in D-flat major. At the other extreme. Toscanini not only inserted a transposition that forces a C-major conclusion on the work. Such an attitude. sometimes producing surprising timbral effects. reflecting improvements in valved brass instruments. At rehearsal letter C in the fourth movement’s development section Toscanini wrote in his score “Mengelberg makes the third trombone play with the contrabasses.” Toscanini himself rarely supplemented the bass instruments in Beethoven’s scores. 30 108
. but also contrary to the composer’s wishes. or other higher-pitched instruments to the existing texture. to an extent. coupled with a feeling that some modern composers were following the wrong path. Schubert’s “Great” C major Symphony. and Ravel’s second Daphnis et Chloe suite contain such annotations. ostensibly owing to one instrument’s weakness in certain registers. Mengelberg’s apparently unmotivated addition of
the trombone. These conditions seemed to foster a less than reverent attitude towards the composer’s intentions. Toscanini adds a third statement that ascends to a high B. of which there were more in his repertoire than some critics are willing to acknowledge. While the composer believed that the symmetry of two piccolo triplets was sufficient. As the development section moves to a close. but also. for example. or occasionally even his grandson. While Beethoven employs the piccolo triplet twice. an instrument whose construction remains basically unchanged since Beethoven’s time. None of these annotations is likely to shock a musician today. It is unlikely that practical concerns prevented Beethoven from adding this third triplet himself.
.109 JCG Vol.
he continued to acquire and annotate scores of compositions that he had already performed on numerous occasions. The overall effect is an intensified brass sound. On several occasions. All three of these scores contain numerous type-1 annotations. Beethoven’s N inth Symphony. Although the flute and oboe play a countermelody in octaves in measure 142. It is in the works of Beethoven. the cellos. At one point Toscanini redistributes the violin and viola material so that the melody is featured more prominently (Examples 2a and 2b). the well-known fact that he rehearsed and conducted from memory means that what was heard in performance may have sometimes depended less on the markings in a particular score than on his powers of recollection or on spontaneous decisions made in rehearsal. It is virtually impossible. is confined to the first movement. In general. Other significant type-2 annotations are found in the closing group in both of the full-sized scores. indicating that for Toscanini the act of studying and thinking about a musical work remained essential to the re-creative process. Over the course of his career. Given Toscanini’s notoriously poor eyesight. six months after his first performance of the work. and on one occasion in the exposition they reinforce an arpeggiated figure in the bassoons. one that was central to his repertoire. the miniature scores contain far fewer annotations than their full-sized counterparts. Further insight can be gained from a detailed look at Toscanini’s written modifications in the scores of two compositions. and in others. in some cases doubling the first violins. since the woodwinds and brass play almost continuously throughout the development section. he performed Beethoven’s music hundreds of times. In addition. often in concerts devoted exclusively to his works. and another that lay on the periphery. Beethoven was one of the composers with whom Toscanini identified most firmly. to match these scores of Beethoven’s N inth with the dozens of performances that Toscanini gave the work between 1902 and 1952. therefore. then. it is tempting to assume that he used the miniature scores in the earlier part of his career. identified in the Toscanini Legacy as items A41 and A42. Only a fraction of the Toscanini Legacy’s scores contain dates or other indications of when they might have been used.alterations more extreme than those that he had made as a younger man. three are full-sized and three are miniature scores. Toscanini fills gaps in the horn parts with material borrowed from the trumpets. with a reinforcement of the pitches typically assigned to these instruments. that we can readily observe Toscanini’s performance aesthetic in action. however. Still. Most of these appear in the movement’s exposition and recapitulation. which is not surprising. This statistic is misleading. Beethoven is briefly forced to disrupt the symmetry out of concern for the flute’s limited range. and in two of the full-sized annotated scores. indeed. George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. My assessment of Toscanini’s approach to Beethoven’s N inth Symphony. leaving little opportunity for Toscanini’s orchestrational additions. and then fills gaps in the trumpets with material from the horns. since it is
harder to write anything of substance on the miniature scores’ tiny musical staves. 30 110
. The score identified as A42 is by far the most heavily marked. The cellos twice venture into viola territory. This score also exhibits an expanded viola part. so that the melodic fragment in the oboes
JCG Vol. 1902. Of the Toscanini Legacy’s six annotated scores of Beethoven’s N inth Symphony. Forty-two Beethoven compositions are represented in the Toscanini Legacy by over one hundred individual scores. and the full-sized scores have quite a few type-2 changes as well. and the N inth Symphony alone exists in six different annotated copies. usually components of the tonic triad. one of these is dated October 11. as it appears in a single miniature score dated October 1902.
he gave the snare drum the task of strengthening an important rhythmic figure. articulation. The final 16 measures of An American in Paris have been completely reorchestrated. The most surprising and musically significant of Toscanini’s annotations occurs in the final six measures. and again two years later. he changed Gershwin’s expressive indication of grandioso to the more objective tempo indication Largo ma non troppo. the composer’s reputed inexperience as an orchestrator and the conductor’s relative unfamiliarity with a jazz-influenced musical idiom. Taken as a whole. Gershwin. Toscanini’s modifications in his score of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris reveal a different approach. Toscanini’s annotations in each of the full-sized scores offer a different solution. Perhaps to reinforce this transformation. namely. Many of the markings in Toscanini’s score of this composition probably reflect two specific conditions. A few octave doublings of the first trumpet part by the second trumpet are the only notable type-2 annotations in this score. In score A41 he rewrote the flute line so that once it drops down to the lower B-flat. where a series of orchestrational substitutions produces an alteration of the existing harmony. and the like.
numerous markings in Toscanini’s hand. also attracted Toscanini’s attention: more than once. a recording of the 1945 performance is available commercially. 30
. producing a dominant-seventh chord on F that resolves irregularly through E natural to F. The percussion section. in other words. a critical part of Gershwin’s orchestra. In addition to the usual type-1 modifications of dynamics. Toscanini’s modifications to the first movement of Beethoven’s N inth Symphony are largely concerned with supplying musical fragments that the composer himself might have demanded had his performers been capable of playing them. Over the concluding F-major triad is heard a final statement of one of the work’s most prominent melodic motives. type-2 changes. An American in Paris: original orchestration
The miniature score dated 1902 is comparatively free of markings. or to the fact that Toscanini apparently used it early in his career. it stays in that octave. The score contains 111 JCG Vol. In Gershwin’s own setting. continuing in unison with the oboe. both designed to avoid the flute’s awkward melodic skips. a countermelody played by the third alto saxophone and first trombone adds an E flat to the harmony – in essence.
Example 4a. perhaps owing to its size.in the flutes. by redistributing both melody and harmony Toscanini achieved a brighter instrumental sound than is manifest in the original ending. With the N BC Symphony Orchestra he performed this work in 1943.
In score A42 he simply gave the flute the high G and B-flat that it probably would have had if the instruments in Beethoven’s day had been capable of producing the latter pitch. The overall effect of Toscanini’s alterations to An American in Paris brightens and homogenizes Gershwin’s variegated orchestral sound. his annotations reflect numerous reinforcements of existing string and woodwind lines.
When he led his first performance in 1886. the suitability of technical solutions for the requested dynamic and timbral effects. clouded as it is by the textual fidelity issue.5
During a conference held in 1967 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Toscanini’s birth. In reality. meaning “direction. the idea of a baton-wielding conductor at the head of an
opera orchestra was a relatively recent innovation. while the word concertazione. It is tempting to imagine that Toscanini.” to the detailed explanation offered one hundred years later by the Ricordi-Rizzoli Enciclopedia della musica:
Concertazione is the work of gradual study during rehearsals for the purpose of preparing a performance. ever vigilant. some Italian ensembles still adhered to the time-honored tradition of divided direction. usually a keyboard player. While the conductor’s time-beating responsibilities are easy to comprehend. were well aware of the situation. whereby the first-chair violinist led the performance only after the maestro. their coordination or subordination in an agogic unity and. the preparation of a performance—the activity expressed by the Italian word concertazione—is somewhat enigmatic. the performing tradition from which Toscanini emerged had quite a different concept of the conductor’s responsibilities. the equilibrium between sounds or between the various parts or voices. Toscanini’s modifications
Toscanini’s reorchestration eliminates this colorful harmonic effect altogether: the third alto saxophone simply plays the main melody while the first trombone participates in the F-major triad. often conductors themselves. N o limits are placed on the methods and objectives employed in the pursuit of one of these optimum performance plans. the JCG Vol. the most valuable goal. The irregularly resolved seventh simply disappears from both Toscanini’s annotated score and his 1945 recording of the piece. An American in Paris. Contrary to his American reputation for literal adherence to the printed score. Can it be that he was really just as willful and ego-driven as those conductors to whom he was so often judged superior? How would Toscanini reconcile the evidence of his annotated scores with his identity as the humble servant of the composer? The answer to these questions may lie in a particular combination of Italian and German performance practice symptomatic of Toscanini’s aesthetic blend of these two cultures. much less required. N othing more is expected. 30 112
. which simply states that it is a synonym for “rehearsal. Gershwin. could not tolerate so blatant an appearance of an improperly resolved seventh chord. It essentially consists of controlling the precision of the textual reading. of that spontaneous understanding that is called harmony.Example 4b. conditions an audience to assume that an orchestral conductor simply translates the printed score into physical gestures that are “read” by the musicians under his or her control. Italian music dictionaries offer a variety of definitions for this term. Toscanini actually modified details both large and small in many of the compositions that he performed. And it must be remembered that composers.” was applied to the first violinist’s work. referred to the maestro’s responsibility. This clear separation of the two rolestime-beater versus interpreter—is reflected in the terms used to describe their respective duties: the Italian word direzione. making individuals aware… of the reciprocal functionality of their actions the attainment. that is. had made all the musical decisions in rehearsal. The popular conception of the performer’s task. a complicated term indicating the act of preparing a performance. When both roles were assumed by a single person—the conductor—these two functions became part of his job description. As late as the 1870s. from the Dizionario artistico-scientifico of 1872.
It has been remarked more than once in these columns that the Metropolitan Opera House does not and is not expected to furnish the ideal environment for an orchestral concert. The different choirs of instruments become clear-cut strands of sound in place of the fusion and shimmer that usually arise from the fortunate combination of instruments. The remarkable thing last night was the beauty and the body of tone that Mr. as he
It may be that Toscanini himself contributed by his example to the flexible. as others have conjectured. a colossus of German music. The possibility of such a practice is suggested by Olin Downes’s review of a Toscanini concert at the old Metropolitan Opera House:
Particularly grateful. It may seem unlikely that Wagner. On the Performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. something which has become such a part of tradition that even though that modification is not inserted into the performance materials. 30
are likely to lose in roundness and splendor. Toscanini correctly considered this moment [in its original orchestration] to be weak. particularly since that conductor had pursued his musical training at a time when his country was experiencing an anti-Wagnerian backlash. colloquial use of the term concertazione with regard to Toscanini’s subtle modification of a passage from Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera. modern definition of the term concertazione. while the four horns in unison lend a dramatic timbre that otherwise could not be obtained. at the onset of his career Toscanini endured years of frustrating on-the-job training. under the acoustical conditions. On Conducting. while the second.7
Later in life Toscanini’s acoustical ideals seem to have undergone a transformation. it remains to determine why he made the types of changes that he did. Climaxes
113 JCG Vol. site of most of the NBC Symphony’s concerts. The first. has written of a conversation that he had with the conductor in 1924. richness. Andrea della Corte. would have had such a strong influence on a fiercely patriotic Italian conductor. According to della Corte. His statement succinctly illustrates this second. today when one prepares [quando si concerta] the opera it is enough just to glance at the horns and they already understand that they are to play the bassoons’ and cellos’ figure in unison at the moment when the lots are drawn. The tone. after Wagner conducted that work to celebrate the laying of the cornerstone at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus. as well as his recollection of the influences on his early career. Wagner’s theories. they do not explain in a comprehensive way why a conductor who allegedly put the composer’s interests first would believe that he had the authority to overrule that same composer’s own notations. a music critic who knew Toscanini during his tenure at La Scala. Considering the types of annotations that he made. Toscanini achieved. His well-known preference for the notoriously dry NBC Studio 8H. was published in 1873. however. and perhaps even justification. provided Toscanini with answers to the artistic problems that had been plaguing his first efforts as a conductor. Certainly. While acoustical conditions may have convinced Toscanini that orchestrational modifications were needed in certain compositions. when the orchestra is on the stage.eminent conductor and scholar Gianandrea Gavazzeni gave an example of the modern. it seems likely that the theories of Richard Wagner were the basis of Toscanini’s interpretive practice. It may be that some of the orchestrational changes in Toscanini’s scores result from his association with this performing venue. Wagner wrote two treatises that are of special interest to conductors. the acoustics of the spaces in which he performed may have induced him to implement certain orchestrational changes. and glow. Given this historical context. loses a measure of its resonance. for Toscanini’s alteration of many of the scores in his library. has mystified many critics. often misunderstood responsibility of the conductor:
Consider the case of the four unison horns in [Act III of] Un ballo in maschera. was the Latin genius for clarity and beauty of tone and for exact sonorous proportions. appeared in 1869. Both essays systematically explain Wagner’s goals as a conductor and offer examples from the literature to illustrate how those goals might be attained.
in particular. He studied. On Conducting. certain passages. In his own work as a conductor. an advocate of metronomically rigid tempos. Wagner’s practical knowledge of “how to weigh and to measure out” shines through every page of this treatise. Toscanini adopted each of these suggestions. and rethought. On the Performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Wagner adopted a number of practices that enlivened his own interpretations.struggled to achieve in practice what he could only imagine while studying musical scores. He clearly admired the Italian approach to music. had found indispensable. focus precisely on their melodic character. Toscanini’s performances exhibit a concern for the melodic phrase as a whole—its shape. shape. and its
It is in Wagner’s essay.
This attempt made use of technical research that Wagner. he studied him. and pacing of a performance. . who put his recommendations to the test. sure. Again. The passion and vitality that he had found while studying orchestral scores seemed strangely absent from most of the performances that he attended. An overpowering desire for freedom. he could not find a viable alternative. Like Toscanini. for whom “playing an instrument well means making it sing. created their own reorchestrations of the Ninth Symphony. Wagner’s justification for the many changes that he imposed on Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony can be summed up in his rationale for ordering melodic doubling in the Scherzo:
JCG Vol. for relativity. Wagner’s experiences made an impression on the young Toscanini. Unlike the sometimesmeandering readings of Wilhelm Furtwängler. more supple. since in order to sing well one must first refine the sound. render it beautiful. for warmth disturbed him.
Toscanini listened to Martucci. One of the fundamental tenets of Wagner’s conducting philosophy was to allow the melos—the melody—to determine the tempo. 30 114
. but he did not succeed in feeling like him. While other conductors. Wagner’s praise of instrumentalists trained in the Italian tradition. Toscanini preferred to follow Wagner’s advice. Although the young Toscanini clearly recognized the failings of other conductors who vacillated among imprecise tempos. Wagner’s concern with the orchestral sound itself—its clarity. its direction. in the words of della Corte. Here. . and rewritten melodies that Beethoven seems to have been compelled to distort for reasons of limited instrumental range.8
place in larger units—an approach that sometimes led him to adopt unusually quick tempos. “cantare. that we find direct evidence of his influence on Toscanini. too. and elasticity—was intimately bound with his emphasis on the melody. such as Gustav Mahler and Felix Weingartner. Certain pages. more animated. instrumental reinforcements of certain inaudible melodies.
Della Corte goes on to report that it was Wagner’s essay. balance.” Critical assessments of Toscanini’s Wagner interpretations. too. Among his recommendations for the performance of this difficult symphony are specific restorations of trumpets and horns that had dropped out of the musical texture for apparently technical reasons. might be the mentor who could show him the way. that gave Toscanini consolation and the courage to pursue his ideals. cantare. for his own performances of the symphony. malleable. one must know how to weigh and to measure out . thought. Wagner had rebelled against routine musical interpretations. especially by Beethoven—these he would have wanted more intense. Indeed. perhaps his chief musical rival. and several more concerning the vocal parts in the final movement.
But it was not simply in matters of musical pacing that Wagner had an impact on Toscanini’s performance aesthetic.”9 later found its parallel in Toscanini’s own mantra. beating time with neither authority nor sensitivity. For a time he believed that the composer-conductor Giuseppe Martucci. he followed him. In the words of della Corte.
it makes sense to look at Toscanini’s annotations in light of their overall musical significance. Now that it has 115 JCG Vol. There seems little doubt that this assumption was behind the majority of Toscanini’s alterations to the works in his repertoire. while it lasted. “Concertazione. 1970). *****
In short. 2 February 1927. La lezione di Toscanini (Florence. but these types of changes are comparatively rare in Toscanini’s scores. Similarly. 4 Journal of the American Musicological Society 42/3 (Fall 1989). she processed the personal papers of Arturo Toscanini. Sacrificing the scrupulous observation of printed dynamic markings in order to make a particular passage “work” is hardly a major artistic distortion. the true and significantly more complex record of Toscanini’s achievements is free to emerge. March 1913. 2 February 1927. 3 New York World. 9 On Conducting. 12-13 March 1899. 1979).” Enciclopedia della musica (Milan. both internal and external. 1972). About wholesale additions or deletions of material we might be less forgiving. While working for The New York Public Library. 2 Century Magazine. and other noted musicians. The combination of his Italian musical heritage and Wagnerian aesthetic convinced him that the highest service that a conductor could render was to impose certain types of musical changes whenever he sensed that a composer’s artistic conception was threatened. How. The textual fidelity myth. 5 Franco Melotti. in Toscanini’s eyes. reinforcing the orchestration of an important melody so that it does not get lost in the overall texture is not necessarily a crime against the composer. breathing composition. there was neither egotism nor hypocrisy in his actions.In deciding such matters the point at issue is whether one is willing to put up with performances in which the composer’s intentions are temporarily obscured or prefers to take the steps most likely to do them justice. are we to judge Toscanini’s modifications of the musical text? As any performer can attest. She is the author of Giacomo Puccini: A Guide to Research. Music: Arturo Toscanini Conducts. 8Toscanini visto da un critico (Turin. translated by Robert L.
. helped to forestall questions about the fluid relationship between composer and interpreter.
1 Corriere della sera. 30
Linda B. Fairtile is the Music Librarian at the University of Richmond (Virginia).
been dispelled. and is unable to anticipate every condition under which a performance might take place. Perhaps what ultimately mattered was Toscanini’s motivation. The New York Times. absolutely literal fidelity to the printed score is impossible. Jacobs in Three Wagner Essays (London. to sanction the necessary alteration of other composer’s scores. 1958). Wagner felt that Beethoven was the victim of circumstances. Certainly. then. Jacob Druckman. 7 Olin Downes. Perhaps it was Wagner’s dual identity as a composer and a conductor that gave him the authority. eds. Ricordi-Rizzoli
6 Fedele D’Amico and Rosa Paumgartner. that prevented the ideal realization of his musical conception. simply because musical notation is inadequate to capture every nuance of a living. In his mind. as well as articles on various aspects of Italian opera.
3. The earth is flat. still
evolving. and is. and those conductors who produce such performances must be regarded as self-taught. 2006 A musically literate population. to reveal the shape of the earth’s place in the solar system. naturally intuitive performers. What sort of conducting is unteachable? What kind of conductor is under discussion? Maestri Jimbo and Sternberg. Richard Strauss and Erich Leinsdorf.) If unteachable conducting exists how do we acknowledge and recognize its results? Performance–as–proof remains the core of those who support the CCBT theory. counted in centuries. being taught.” “other-worldly” or. Achieving such extraordinary levels of conducting cannot be taught. Private tutors are ready and willing to initiate young hopefuls into a perilous profession.Conducting Cannot Be Taught (CCBT)
(JCG Volume 27. 1. The sun revolves around the earth. so perhaps it is not surprising that the idea of the conductor continues to be bathed in self-serving mystery. Examples of the prevalence of CCBT: “Conducting cannot be taught”-Michael Jimbo. The idea of conducting as an art and a business can. Can CCBT be taken at face value? There are numerous conducting programs in conservatories. 2007) By Harold Farberman
It’s time to redefine our conducting profession. “The Cambridge Companion to Conducting” a Cambridge University Press publication. 30 116
. a condition that promotes misrepresentation and misunderstanding. esteemed colleague. which has included Artruro Toscanini. will speak for themselves and I have already explored this same issue briefly albeit under another name: the born conductor (––footnote. It took time. 2. “a once in a lifetime musical experience. Director of the Monteaux School-Conductors Guild Conference Panel––New York 2002 “Conducting cannot be taught”––Jonathon Sternberg. to rid ourselves of a 19th century pattern hangover and to demand that conducting teachers address the need for a new kind of baton movement. The time for a clear-headed examination of the art of conducting is now. former Professor of Conducting.” “fantastic. Conducting as a profession is barely a few hundred years old. Summer programs specifically designed to teach conducting have proliferated. We are JCG Vol. universities and music schools throughout the world. Intelligent. dedicated scholars endorsed and actively propagated those views. Man will never fly. “incredibly moving. who teach.” Advocates are quick to point out that conservatories cannot teach music-making of such magnitude. Temple University––Conductor Guild Conference Panel––New York. continues to support the notion that conducting cannot be taught. nor can professors pass creative gifts to a student. They cite various performances as. The concept of manned flight and its validation took even longer.
There have been a number of truly gifted young musicians. It would be stretching credulity to believe any of the above necessities are organically intuitive. very different from mastering a single instrument. a probing intellect and one’s own innate musicality comes into play and form the beginnings of a conductor. CCBT is a specious and dangerous elitist argument. In contrast our unschooled conductor–beginner can produce a compact coordinated sonority. Conductors come in various shapes. conductors who undergo rigorous training are automatically relegated to a lesser performing level because they are devoid of the intuitive gifts that produce natural conductors. 117 JCG Vol. In contrast a violin cannot play itself. The magic is not the conductor. Many want to be. surgeons.to believe that they are recipients of extravagant genetic musical gifts and are pre-destined to become great conductors. generally because they expect success quickly. they generally receive some 300 applications. if they exist at all. conduct a performance of a Mozart symphony. Throughout musical history we have read about. a specially trained musician who. passionate students often fail. genders and talents. it is a view that promotes the notion that training conductors is unnecessary.
.8% of the original 300. beat patterns and as if by magic. opportunities for on-the-podium failures are essential ingredients for a career. painters. when fully considered. extra-musical knowledge. These very young violinists and pianists defy classification. the emergence of pre-teen instrumentalists whose accomplishments are extraordinary. generally for technical achievements rather than for probing musical reasons. Like steroids for athletes. instrumental skills. But because the act of conducting is a collective enterprise. a template specifically created for imaginary super-conductors. The difference in sound production is shocking. It is a living sensitive instrument that can produce sound without the guidance of a professional conductor. but the orchestra/computer. Let’s examine the real world. lawyers or potential astronauts. Less gifted musicians unexpectedly succeed as conductors because they understand the long journey to be undertaken. Six of the remaining 20 applicants will be chosen as guest conductors. I would guess that gifted conductors are no different percentage-wise than gifted pianists. The idea is also deeply disturbing because. Immensely gifted. In the oddly convoluted world of CCBT. orchestras often enhance a conductor’s performance and inadvertently help keep the CCBT proposition alive. Conversely pre-teen natural conductors are extremely rare. The process of becoming a conductor of quality is a diverse and complex long-term commitment. That is 1. many excellent ones. 30
Specific schooling. sizes. I have never yet met a natural conductor. At least 280 applicants will quickly be classified as not qualified. composition. violinists. it is entirely possible for a bright ten year old to stand in front of an orchestra. Are there natural musical performers? The answer must be yes. When orchestras advertise for a conductor. and witnessed in our own time. languages. an understanding of three centuries of past musical currents and most importantly. and a large number of dedicated but less talented musicians. will be uniquely qualified to bring a composer’s creation to life. few will be. after experience. They astonish. That is possible because orchestras are giant computers. about 93% of the applicant pool. Finally. There are a small number of highly gifted conductors and a much larger number of conductors whose gifts are less obvious. They retain performance history. It should be easy to predict who will be successful but in fact it is quite difficult. Press a key (beat a pattern) and basic musical information appears. It makes no sound until it is held and bowed and at that moment of first contact the sounds produced will not be fully formed. I can say without hesitation that after 30 years of teaching and observing a large number of hopeful conductors.
There is nothing mysterious about great orchestral performances. Richter and Levi designed a music school for Munich. Milan. natural hitter. or may not. 19th century composers were expected to conduct their new compositions. Describing the music verbally was the norm. Oberlin and the New England Conservatory were the first major conservatories. Schumann. 1820 in London. With those essentials in place an unexpected revelation may. Wagner. occur. natural intuition. forever. Peabody. there is an air of mystery firmly in place around extraordinary performances credited to natural conductors. 30 118
. Leipzig and London. or the same orchestra with different conductors might not be able to repeat an exceptional performance. When Wagner.Many non–musical professions that rely on statistics can easily identify individuals as natural. mentor to Bülow. performance is the heart of the CCBT belief. Dvorak or Liszt. the end game is a comprehensive knowledge of the music then who could possibly know the music better then the composer? As a result. and a public appearance by a composer as a time–keeper (conductor) was an on–the–job learning experience. he did not think it was necessary to include a conducting department. conducting was not a profession and conducting teachers did not exist. as Liszt indicated. Brahms. and with a great orchestra that features a signature sonority cultivated over decades. Depending on who is listening. no debate. His historic performance identifies him as a born. But if one rehearses and performs daily with the worlds’ leading conductors.
JCG Vol. however. I was gravely assured. The CCBT and natural conductor model was born. Why do we continue to discuss CCBT and natural conductors? The answer lies in the 19th century. The same conductor with different orchestras. the same performance may be perceived as a home run (“fantastic”). As has been noted. Now imagine 19th century orchestral performances featuring the music of Beethoven. conducting with a baton was not the normal 19th century procedure. An experienced observer of conductor/orchestra interaction would know better. For many. Seidl. A story often repeated tells of a young student who asked Liszt for piano lessons. he did not include a conducting department. Mendelssohn. a single (“OK”) or even an out (“not worth hearing. Liszt replied that when the student became technically proficient he would consider teaching him music. Conductors of substance are a complex composite of learned craft. No one else has done that. accumulated skills and deep emotional attachments to the music they bring to the public. Prague. When a conductor of quality produces an extraordinary musical experience it is a disservice to call his labor the result of some mythical. Vienna. Baseball’s Hank Aaron hit 744 home runs. If. the kind of conducting that cannot be taught. that without this support the musicians could not possibly keep in time. conducted by the composers. Berlioz describes a performance he attended at the San Carlo Opera in 1831:
The noise made by the conductor tapping his desk bothered me greatly. In the United States. They are a combination of multiple skills. Brussels. shared knowledge and hard work. but without technical training. performing music is an abstract art which defies categorization. Naples. He would presume that an excellent conductor brought a musical concept to the podium that gained the respect of an excellent orchestra. Berlioz. a home run in baseball is a home run for everyone. Music conservatories were well established in Paris. There is no mystery. the idea of performance as an event cloaked–in–mystery cannot be taken seriously. Despite the presence of a large number of musicians
who called themselves conductors. When Mendelssohn (reputedly a fine conductor) designed his Leipzig Conservatory in 1843. However unlike the game of baseball which produces concrete statistics based on performance.”) In contrast. What methods were used to conduct a group of players in the 19th century? Despite Louis Spohr’s disputed account of introducing the silent wooden baton for the first time on April 10.
Beethoven’s music is as familiar as our morning newspaper. Present day professional conductors stubbornly cling to yesterday’s beat patterns. and Berlioz with great skill. Can you imagine a group of musicians reading a Beethoven symphony in manuscript for the first time without some recognizable patterns from maestro Beethoven? It would have been an almost impossible task. Beat patterns were a fundamental and essential element in the early development of orchestral performance. It is simply a time keeping device. Is that conducting technique? That notion is insulting to all composers and every young conductor who realizes he cannot make an orchestra respond to his wishes. all the components that helped create those historic first performances in the 19th century had changed: • The new music of the 19th century is now 200 years old. But those new music conditions no longer exist for today’s podium occupants. Brahms. There is little or no information in the pattern because a pattern has no musical value. a physical art form that moves beyond patterns. One thing has not changed. Present day orchestras know the 19th century repertoire well enough to play entire symphonies without a single baton stroke from a conductor. However. Music can be learned from a variety of sources in many ways. Teachers tied to pattern–as–technique fail to realize that they rob young students of the ability to think creatively about the physical aspects of conducting. it was the right tool at the right time. especially in mixed meter music. He needed twenty plus rehearsals to instill a technical baton language based on irregular pattern combinations to be able to conduct the Rite of Spring. or teach technique. And because 19th century orchestras regularly performed new music. It would have taken a span of 24 years to attend the premieres of all of Beethoven’s nine symphonies. Learning 200–year–old formulas should take about fifteen minutes. The only technical tool available to 19th century time keepers were the 18th century two. But by the 21st century. conducting teachers are stuck in the 19th century. The silent baton was finally accepted by mid 19th century. Today. wind and percussion instruments have been improved. and the performance practices of their periods. The rationale for pattern use in the 19th century was necessary and acceptable. although pockets of resistance could be found throughout Europe. three and four beat pattern designs formalized by Thomas Janowka in 1701. Patterns continue to be useful. with enough time for lunch and a dinner. today’s gifted orchestra musicians perform Beethoven. must take hold and be taught. Think of Pierre Monteaux in Paris in 1911 rehearsing Stravinky’s Rite of Spring for the first time. A new kind of conducting technique. • Hard to read hand–written manuscript parts have been replaced by easy to read printed music.In 1832. and most young students I encounter have interesting and wonderful ideas about all kinds of music. Today his symphonies can be heard in nine hours. They continue to teach music first—an excellent idea that no one can object to—but neglect to put in place a physical delivery system to make the music they teach coherent. • Unlike 19th century musicians. After 200 years. professional conductors have replaced the composer/conductor model. the violin section leaders in a London orchestra objected to Mendelssohn using a baton. 30
Here is another then–and–now comparison. Music is everywhere. 119 JCG Vol. at home. insisting he conduct while sitting at the piano. but a teacher of conducting is the only source for conducting technique. • Brass. We now know a great deal about the lives of the composers. Bows and strings have changed.
” a video. or we can begin the process of replacing the old formula. The answer to the question of why change a working model. As a result the orchestra would become a willing partner in reproducing the musical/technical information supplied by the conductor. However. I recently revisited “The Art of Conducting: Volume 1. Shouting.
The second option would be called the new model conductor. I encourage every student conductor to do the same. All the conductors shared common traits: intense commitment to the music. but if we step beyond the histrionics. would be a unified presentation of the composer’s intent. As orchestra–driven performances fill our concert halls the conductor is in jeopardy of becoming a deified relic. The first choice is the old model.The lack of creative physical movement is a 19th century hangover. He rehearsed those several measures over and over and over again. the result. rehearsal periods have been reduced. The relationship between conductor and orchestra has been reconfigured. It shows very strong musicality. is that the conditions that created that formula have changed dramatically. He was not satisfied and still shouting at the players when the cassette ran out after some 20 minutes. and expecting the orchestra to reproduce all articulations not indicated by the conductor. At every abrupt interruption his anger and frustration seemed to grow. Performances without a unified musical point of view were. Such behavior is no longer tolerated. So the question must be asked and answered: If the performances were accepted as successful. Look for the amount of musical and technical information given to the orchestra by the conductor. orchestras supplied all the missing ingredients. Then turn the sound on and decide if the orchestra’s generally excellent performances reflect the conductor’s information. Natural conductors and CCBT theories are an attempt to hide the problem and it is a shameful indictment of our profession that intelligent musicians support those mystical notions. Why was Toscanini. I watched it silently with the volume turned off. Conductors can no longer act like lords of the manor. Conducting technique is extracted from the score. immense knowledge of the scores they were conducting and great orchestras to decipher limited physical directions. He or she would be very strong musically and equally strong technically. Depending on the knowledge and passion of the conductor. The Maestro was on his game. relying on formula time beating for orchestral togetherness. A score has all the information a gifted musical mind needs to construct a meaningful physical replica of the music. a serious question needs an answer. Our profession has undergone significant changes. very well represented in the video. and create a climate in which conductors often receive credit for performances largely created by the orchestra. for better or worse. a stage full of great musicians who JCG Vol. why change a formula that works? The answer to that important question cannot be given unless another question is asked: What kind of conductor do we want to become? There are two choices. changing as the music changes. and still are common. embracing creative baton movement not tied to rigid formula patterns. We can continue to dumb–down our profession while all others improve. I am reminded of a Toscanini cassette tape that was widely circulated in the 1950s. It is not a formula that is blindly imposed upon all music. In many cases the orchestra’s performances far surpass the information supplied. so angry and frustrated? The NBC Symphony was a handpicked orchestra. 30 120
. It was a recording of an NBC Symphony rehearsal of the cello–bass recitative in the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. regarded by many as the greatest conductor of the 20th century. Musicians unions have leveled the playing field. and in the process became self–sustaining entities. present but not fully in charge. singing and yelling his instructions he continued to rehearse the same passage yet again and again. and so we must change as well. As rehearsals have become more expensive. It worked because historically (19th century onwards).
the baton is nullified. It is no longer necessary to teach a good orchestra how to play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. but in his own inimitable manner. Music passes through our bodies as we breathe and create sonority. sfz’s. gifted musicians with no conducting skills succeed as conductors. 4. and the body acting as a conduit for movement to the tip of the baton. shoulder) and each unit has a different strength and function in creating and delivering a variety of baton strokes containing a variety of articulations. which is exactly what Toscanini was forced to do. rattles and rolls. Change is necessary because the impressive technical abilities of orchestras continued to grow throughout the 20th century while conductors have remained stagnant. It is the closest movable part of the conducting arm to the tip of the baton. circular and half circular strokes can be used forcefully or expressively in all dynamic ranges. but if the body shakes. The baton must always be the primary visual element for the orchestra. etc. Within the next few decades the physical image of the conductor and conducting will continue to change. flicks. certainly not my idea of a conductor. Orchestras have become better than conductors. it is important to realize that the body is not a baton. I would say that Strauss was a great musician and a modest time beating machine. horizontal. 3. clicks. but he couldn’t make his musical intentions clear with a baton. Many orchestras have reached impressive performing plateaus and most sound alike because conductors do not have the technical skills to make them sound better and different from one another. crouching. He resorted to what every 19th century conductor did: they verbalized the music.could play anything. Some progress has already been made. nor do players want to listen to lectures about the music and about how to play the music. Ultimately the old formula worked. The body certainly helps. He knew what he wanted. Articulations A: The conducting arm has three movable units (wrist. No longer should we expect it to be business–as–usual: orchestras helping well–meaning. legato. dancing. Change is necessary. B: A combination of wrist and forearm movement (never together) can cover every technical and expressive marking in a score with precision. 2. dedicated to learning and believe that physical movement can be dictated by the music.
interference from the conductor when or if desired. line and phrase. The message should be clear to all aspiring conductors. Vertical. A small number of teachers believe physical motions other than up–down. A new kind of baton technique will allow conductors the flexibility and freedom to control all elements of the music while allowing the orchestra to perform with little 121 JCG Vol. intelligent. If we had a video of the rehearsal. The orchestra will cease to be an expert note producing machine and become an equal partner to the conductor in producing a true reflection of the mind. forearm. Changing the speed of the movement of the tip of the baton will create color. Technique Prerequisites for the use of these twelve technical considerations are that the conducting student is musical. heart and will of the conductor. it would be easy to determine the cause. and its movement is capable of creating every dynamic and all articulations. but even in the absence of a video it was surely Toscanini who created the musical damage. but can the formula be improved or should it be replaced? Should Richard Strauss be considered a great conductor? Based on the video performance of his own Til Eulenspeigel. Is it possible they could not read the recitative correctly? The answer to that question is a definite no. staccato. Baton: Control of the tip of the baton is essential for carrying sound and creating orchestral weight. Body: Beyond a proper and comfortable stance. Wrist: The wrist is the most important part of the conducting arm. He is not alone. side–to–side can be considered tools for valid technical/musical use. 1.
divorced from patterns. 9. Topography: The placement of either hand in the conductors working space is a result of the composer’s topography. is essential for the fullest realization of the text. Identifying the need for specific strokes (articulations) in specific areas may mean breaking patterns. the strokes will change. Pages will differ from one another in density of notes. founding President of the Conductors Guild. the Conservatoire de Musique in Paris hired Vincent D’Indy. Baton Registration is learned by practicing scale movement (sing the scales): up. which must be an energy–driven physical replica of the composer’s mind and heart. is the Founder. He also serves on the Advisory Council and Mentoring Committee of the Conductors Guild. and emoting with the left hand (usually shaking it at the first violins) should be retired. but the score is the only roadmap to public performance. Conducting can be. Imagination and knowledge must influence decision–making. It will contain all the information a conductor needs to make reasoned baton movement decisions. Conducting has its own unique technique. Music: Music creates its own technique. Give up pulse when the composer suspends active motion. an art form. using all articulations. Director and Professor of Orchestral Conducting at the Conductors' Institute at Bard (NY). ENDNOTE Teachers of conducting finally appeared in the 20th century with the emergence of non-composer conductor professionals in the last quarter of the 19th century. 12. ***** Harold Farberman. 6. side–to–side. 7. In 1905. 10. The old idea of beating time with the right hand in one area. etc. the physical act of conducting cannot be a codified set of motions applied to every kind of music. Every bit of print on the page should impact the choice of stroke. based on the needs of the score. Score: Every component in the score dictates the conductor’s physical response. Hands: The use of both hands in various areas of the conductor’s space. Examine a page of music (visual score study). JCG Vol. Move from hand to hand if the orchestration allows it. 11. Conductor’s Space: The entire area around the podium to the furthest reaches of the conductor’s arms is the conductor’s working area.g. down. independent of each other. Visual score study identifies the areas in the conductors space for baton placement. London in 1919 (Sir Adrian Boult). Conducting through an entire work with the right hand beating every pulse is probably the least viable option in recreating a composer’s music. No composition can possibly be as dull as a repeated pattern. If conducting technique is created by the music. and no professional orchestra needs constant time keeping. and conductors will differ on the meaning of the music. 8.
left side to right side or winds to harp. 30 122
. As music changes. and the Royal College. orchestration and rhythmic ideas. using either hand as primary music–makers. Registration works best in slow to moderate moving music and is excellent for gaining p to pp sound structures but only with wrist movement.5. followed by the Vienna Hochschule in 1909 (Franz Schalk). This approach to baton movement (technique) is very different than simply repeating the same formula pattern measure after measure. and is. Score Study: Add visual score study for baton placement to traditional score study. e. Orchestration: Use the composer’s orchestration as a guide to orchestrate your hand movements. Registration: A technique in which the baton follows the flow of a line as it moves upwards or downwards and breaks pattern.
C h a m b e r O r c h e s t r a R e p .
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123 JCG Vol.Chamber Orchestra & Ensemble Repertoire A Catalog of Modern Music
This catalog. 30
. Foreword by David Daniels. The extensive appendix allows you to search the entries according to features like instrumentation and duration.000 compositions. c o m for more information. intelligent and incredibly well organized!” Vadim Gluzman
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Visit w w w . provides complete performance information on a variety of repertoire for smaller ensembles. of nearly 4. and is completed with a list of publishers and resources.