Artistic Vision

Exiles in Paradise: on the “Hollywood Renaissance” and Finding New Repertoire for the Cello: Part 2

This article is the second installment in a two-part series   As we discussed in part 1,  war and persecution in Europe created an unprecedented gathering of émigré musical talent in Los Angeles in the mid-20th century,  including Jascha Heifetz, William Primrose, Artur Rubinstein, Otto Klemperer, Bruno Walter, and Lotte Lehmann. Of particular interest to cellists, Los Angeles in this era was also home to top cellists including Gregor Piatigorsky, Emanuel Feuermann (for the last several summers of his life), Kurt Reher, Eleanor Aller (Slatkin), Gabor Rejto, Edgar Lustgarten and Ray Kramer, to name just a few, and the hometown of future stars such as Paul Katz, Laurence Lesser and Nathaniel Rosen.   But perhaps most remarkably, Los Angeles was the home of arguably the greatest collection of composers to [...]

By |2020-03-25T20:51:52+00:00March 24th, 2020|Categories: Featured, Artistic Vision, In the Practice Room, Repertoire|Tags: , , |

The “Instead” List

While the list of pieces that appear in cello-piano recitals is incredibly short - same 10 pieces keep circulating in different order - we cellists actually have very large repertoire. Orchestras don't program much more than 10 Concertos and apart the Bach Suites there are maybe 5 pieces that make their way to concert programs. There are always multiple reasons for great music falling out of general attention. It may have to do with style, gender, origin, problems of notation, lack of publisher, wrong publisher, fashion, lack of social skill, too keen self promotion or any combination of these. Often the reasons have nothing to do with the quality of the music. And the quality itself is totally dependent on who is the messenger, in the wrong hands most music [...]

Exiles in Paradise: on the “Hollywood Renaissance” and Finding New Repertoire for the Cello: Part 1

This article is the first installment in a two-part series As cellists, we tend to think of much of the repertoire that we play as European cultural traditions that we have assimilated. We generally associate American musical tradition with Copland, Ives, Gershwin and perhaps a few brief years in the life of Antonin Dvorak. Many musicians are unaware, however, that in the first half of the 20th century, an influx of European refugees, fleeing war and persecution, rapidly formed, within a few square miles near Hollywood, one of the most talented and prolific communities in music history. As they attempted to rebuild their lives in this exotic paradise, they indelibly altered the course of American culture.   Performers living in Los Angeles during this era included Jascha Heifetz, William Primrose, [...]

Conversation with Eleonore Schoenfeld (August, 1999)

Interview by Tim Janof Eleonore Schoenfeld earned her Artist Diploma at the famed Hochschule fur Musik in Berlin, Germany. An internationally known cellist, she has concertized in four continents as soloist with leading Philharmonic and Radio Orchestras, in recitals, and in a violin-cello duo with her sister, Alice Schoenfeld, known as the "Schoenfeld Duo." She has made numerous recordings of the solo and chamber literature for major TV and radio stations in Europe and the USA. Among them are works specifically written for the Schoenfeld Duo, which has recorded for Everest and Orion Master Recordings. She has been the Director of the international Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar for Cellists in Los Angeles since 1979. A renowned pedagogue, she is Professor at the University of Southern California (USC), where she has been [...]

Conversation with Truls Mørk (April, 1999)

Interview by Tim Janof Norwegian cellist Truls Mørk was the first Scandinavian to be a finalist and prize winner in the Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition in 1982. He was a prize winner in the Naumberg Competition in New York in 1986 and the Cassado Cello Competition in Florence in 1983, and received the UNESCO Prize at the European Radio-Union competition in Bratislava. Since 1989, he has worked with the major orchestras of Europe, including the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the London Symphony, and the City of Birmingham Symphony. In 1994 he was the featured soloist on a nationwide tour with the Oslo Philharmonic under Mariss Jansons, with appearances in Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Boston's Symphony Hall, and Chicago's Orchestra Hall, among others. He is also a dedicated [...]

Finding Purpose and Growth as an Adult Amateur Cellist

Growing up, I never really wanted to be a cellist.  I liked to play the cello and I could hold my own, but I just didn’t have the passion to see it through past college.  Instead, I became an elementary teacher and now a district administrator.   From that time, I played in several chamber and community symphonies; just cruising along with an incorrect mindset, a secret envy of my music major friends, and not really bettering my skills. I was busy with a teaching job, a young family, and cello was a bittersweet diversion...Time marched on.   Several years ago, I had an incident in my life that very abruptly indicated to me that I needed the cello in my life and that I needed to start improving my [...]

By |2020-02-09T18:32:06+00:00January 3rd, 2020|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery, Teaching|Tags: , , , , |

Conversation with Marston Smith (March, 2003)

Interview by Tim Janof Marston Smith has introduced audiences of all ages to the infinite possibilities of cello repertoire, venturing into Rock & Roll and Trance Celtic, to High Fashion Euro Funk. His performances are renowned for his creative costuming bordering between Cirque du Soleil, Lord of the Rings, and Road Warrior. He received his Master of Music degree from the renowned cellist Bernard Greenhouse and since has appeared on national television (QVC), and has been a soloist with symphony orchestras, and played in recordings for motion picture soundtracks, record albums, and performances in Las Vegas. He currently lives on a mountain top just outside of Los Angeles with his wife and three children. As a professional cellist working in the recording industry he has recorded with Barbara Streisand, Michael [...]

Conversation with Shauna Rolston (January, 2006)

Interview by Tim Janof Having been named "Young Artist to Watch" by Musical America and the youngest recipient of the Pro Musicis International Award, celebrated cellist Shauna Rolston is considered to be one of the most compelling musicians of her generation. She has been praised for the ease and naturalness of her technique, her pure intonation, sheer fearlessness, and her ability to produce a huge tone and to play with great delicacy. According to Classic CD Magazine "…her recording of Elgar's cello concerto is worthy to stand alongside Jacqueline du Pré's classic account. This could be the most remarkable performance of the last 20 years." Following her formative studies at the renowned Banff Centre, Shauna earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Yale University and a Master [...]

Master Class Report: János Starker 2/29/01

Benaroya Hall, Seattle, USA, 2/29/01 The following are my notes from the master class Janos Starker gave in Seattle. 10 minutes before the class was to start, Seattle experienced a 6.8 earthquake. Apparently, Janos Starker was calm as can be backstage when it happened. The class ended up starting only 1/2 hour late. —by Tim Janoff   Left Hand Anticipated Shift -- Slide before the bow change and land on the note at the bow change. Delayed Shift -- Slide after the bow change. Thumb Placement in Thumb Position -- A hitchhiking thumb allows more overtones, but it is harder to play in tune. Placing the thumb on the neighboring string is more solid, but it allows fewer overtones. The technique of the future is to place the thumb beneath the [...]

The Bach Suites, A Deep Mirror — by Lluís Claret

I am posting today some thoughts regarding my upcoming performance of all the cello suites of Bach, in Barcelona, next October 6th. A "3 hour conversation with Bach," by which I mean playing all the 6 Suites in one evening, is a rare privilege, and at the same time, an opportunity to devote months of work gazing, probing, until their is transparency in this greatest of all music given to us by the Kantor of Leipzig. In this period of reflection, the performer's goal and intention should be to imbue his own spirit into the depths of the pieces, and become inspired and elevated by this music of such extraordinary dimensions. After a concert a few years ago, somebody who had never heard my playing said,  "I can feel the [...]

The Bach Suites as You Have Never Seen Them Before — by Antonio Lysy

Hundreds of scholars have studied and written about the Bach Suites, yet we can only speculate about how or when they were first performed. The original manuscript is lost, leaving us with various facsimiles to decipher, and there are no written accounts by Bach’s contemporaries. The one advantage of this predicament is the wide spectrum of artistic decisions on which a cellist is compelled to ruminate, in order to make them “their own.” Apparently the suites were not intended to be performed as a cycle, although this approach has become increasingly common in the last couple of decades. My current perspective, developed over many years of performing and teaching the suites, is that each of the six tells a distinctive story. And, like a series of books or films, each [...]

Sing. Paint. Dance. (Part 2)

Sing. Paint. Dance. (Part 2) Yes, we can place the bow one inch above the bridge and play various phrases for the purposes of mapping and sensory awareness. We can also take one step back and go about it from a different angle. As we listen to repertoire we can place a brush to canvas or a pencil to paper and emulate phrase length with our hands. We can isolate passages in the score and literally paint them. Feel the duration of notes, their inner lives, through your brush. See the color sustain or fade. Watch the brush as it moves up and down according to contour. For me, although away from the cello, this type of association is the most direct connection to gesture. Let’s be clear, this does [...]

Sing. Paint. Dance. (Part 1)

Sing. Paint. Dance. (Part 1) Sing. Paint. Dance. I am often reminded of a statement made by Tabea Zimmerman that alluded to the idea that all instrumental problems have non instrumental solutions. With that in mind I often advocate a number of non instrumental solutions to any issues that may arise in the course of music making. Each can be connected to one of three wings : Singing. Painting. Dancing. On the occasions that I played with the LA opera, I was around Placido Domingo as both conductor and singer. The latter is clearly his identity in spades. But to hear him sing every vocal line in a rehearsal always echoed quartet life for me. Listening with a sense of integration -each voice existing within the context of the whole. [...]

Emanuel Feuermann and the Art of Phrasing — by Brinton Averil Smith

There has been a long-running debate in the string-playing world regarding the 'Golden Age' of string playing, generally considered to span the 1920s to the 1960s. While many today are happy to listen to and model their playing on more contemporary players, there has been a persistent argument made that the players of that era—Heifetz, Feuermann, Kreisler, Oistrach, Casals, and numerous others—played in a different way than more recent players. It is easy to dismiss this argument as the eternal 'nothing is as good as it used to be' meme and, when painted with too broad a brush, such generalizations quickly fall apart. The string players of that era were, after all, a group of vividly different players with different approaches—as are today's players. Yet when one begins to examine [...]

By |2018-12-19T17:55:07+00:00May 18th, 2018|Categories: Artistic Vision, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Amit Peled Peabody Cello Gang: Closing the Circle — by Amit Peled

Originally posted on Violinist.com. As a student, I was fortunate enough to experience the magic of performing music on stage with my great mentors Bernard Greenhouse, Boris Pergamenschikow, and Laurence Lesser, as well as see how each of them balanced their performing and teaching careers. The difference between listening to them explain how to create a phrase and actually forming that phrase with them on stage was huge and significant. Performing with my teachers was a vastly more effective lesson than a one-on-one in a studio, teaching me “on-the-spot” artistic decision-making, amending each performance to fit the energy of the hall. Ever since those transformative and magical moments, I knew that I would become a teacher and pass on the tradition of sharing music with my own students on stage. [...]