Bach

Conversation with Dimitry Markevitch (February, 1999)

  Cellist Dimitry Markevitch's interests cover a variety of areas, including musicology, research into stylistic traditions, and teaching. He is a member of the American Musicological Society and the Société Française de Musicologie. He founded the Institut de Hautes Etudes Musicales (IHEM) in Switzerland. He discovered the Westphal and Kellner manuscripts of the Bach Suites, which had eluded musicologists for decades. He published his own edition of the Bach Suites (in its 3rd edition), which incorporates these manuscripts as well as the Magdalena. In 1964 he presented his edition in recital in Carnegie Hall in New York, playing all six suites in a single concert. He discovered two unknown works by Ludwig van Beethoven: the Sonata for Violoncello and Piano, Opus 64, and the Kreutzer Sonata, transcribed for cello by [...]

By |2019-11-10T18:07:37+00:00October 27th, 2019|Categories: Internet Cello Society Archive, Performance|Tags: , , , , |

Conversation with Anner Bylsma (September, 1998)

          Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma received his first lessons from his father and concluded his instruction with Carel van Leeuwen Boonkamp at The Hague Conservatory, when he was awarded the Prix d’excellence. In 1959 he won a prestigious first prize from the Pablo Casals Concours in Mexico. He was solo cellist with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1962 to 1968. He performs regularly around the world as a soloist and recitalist, and has recorded for Das Alte Werk, Telefunken, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Seon, RCA, Phillips, and EMI. Anner Bylsma is perhaps most famous for his interpretations of the music of Baroque and Early Classical periods. He recently published a book on the Bach Solo Cello Suites, entitled “Bach, The Fencing Master - Reading aloud from [...]

Conversation with Gary Hoffman (September, 1999)

American cellist Gary Hoffman was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1956. At 15 he made his London recital debut in Wigmore Hall; his New York recital debut occurred in 1979. At the age of 22 he became the youngest faculty appointee in the history of Indiana University School of Music, where he remained for eight years. Mr. Hoffman, who is frequently invited to hold master classes, has coached cellists at numerous institutions and festivals, including Aspen, the Gregor Piatigorsky Seminar at the University of Southern California, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, the Casals Festival in Prades, the Eastman School of Music, Schleswig-Holstein, Verbier, Ravinia, etc. He achieved international renown following his victory at the Rostropovich International Competition in Paris in 1986. He has appeared as soloist with some of the [...]

Conversation with Hans Jorgen Jensen (April, 2006)

Hans Jørgen Jensen is currently Professor of Cello at Northwestern University and a faculty member of both Meadowmount School of Music and The National Arts Center's Young Artist Program. Mr. Jensen received a Soloist Diploma from the Royal Academy of Music in Denmark as a student of Asger Lund Christiansen and studied with Leonard Rose and Channing Robbins at the Juilliard School. In addition, he studied with Pierre Fournier in Geneva, Switzerland. At Juilliard he studied chamber music with Robert Mann and Earl Carlyss. From 1979 to 1987 he was Professor of Cello at the School of Music at the University of Houston. He has been a guest professor at the School of Music at the University of Southern California, the Tokyo College of Music, and the Musashino Academy of [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

If it Ain’t Baroque, Don’t Break It? Thoughts About Playing Bach Today…. — by Inbal Segev

When I decided to record the Bach cello suites a couple of years ago, I started not by playing but by reading. I read Bach's biography, and then a few Baroque practice books (extremely dense and quite boring) and then I became inspired to change almost everything about the way I played Bach. I eventually came back to doing things the way that had been a part of my DNA after years of playing Bach the "modern" way (but improved), and I'd like to share some of my experiments with you. I never played from a manuscript copy before. The notes are difficult to decipher and so the work is slow and cumbersome. Worth it! Playing from copies of the surviving manuscripts by Anna Magdalena and Kellner taught me so much. There is really no way of [...]

By |2018-12-19T18:39:12+00:00February 13th, 2017|Categories: Artistic Vision, Baroque, In the Practice Room, Performance|Tags: , , , , |

The Bach Suites Dilemma – by Laurence Lesser

For longer than any of us may care to remember, we know that violinists are blessed with a beautiful manuscript of Bach’s 6 solo works they have, carefully written out by the composer; but sometime after he wrote the 6 suites for solo cello (finished by 1721) his manuscript disappeared, probably after his death, and has to date never been found.  We are very lucky to have 2 sources, each important in different ways, that have saved these works from oblivion: copies by his wife, Anna Magdalena and by his Leipzig fellow musician, Johann Peter Kellner.  While each has its share of problems, we have more than enough from them to be able to perform these great works.  But still, no MS from the composer . . .  In this [...]

By |2019-11-18T15:02:31+00:00January 22nd, 2017|Categories: Performance, Repertoire|Tags: , , |

The Buddha, the Brain, & Bach: One Cellist’s Inner Exploration of Practice — by Barbara Bogatin

My bare toes feel cold on the smooth cement. The scent of rosemary is hinted in a gentle breeze, as a bee glances my ear and wild turkeys caw raucously in the distance. I take a slow breath—in ... pause, out ... pause—and become aware of the arising of the intention to take a step. As the weight shifts to the left side of my body, my right knee bends slightly, lifting the heel off the ground, and then the ball and the toe glide airborne over the stone till the tip of my toe reaches its destination. Balance shifts as the right foot bears the full body weight and I stand suspended, legs apart, caught in a slow-motion reenactment of a child learning to walk. Try as I might [...]

On How to Play the Baroque Cello: the Baroque Bow, or What Your Ear Imagines Your Bow Should Do (Part 2) — by Guy Fishman

For the continuation of my brief discussion of the baroque bow, I’d like to begin by listing several descriptions that I believe only faintly hide a prejudice towards it as a primitive tool. “The baroque bow is for speaking, while the modern bow is for singing.” “The baroque bow articulates while the modern bow sustains.” “The baroque bow makes a lean, silvery tone, while the modern bow creates a round, lush sound.” And my favorite, “the baroque bow naturally weakens as it is pulled towards the tip.” Before I continue, a quick reminder of two things I mentioned in my previous post: first, what your ear imagines, your bow should be able to do. That last description is usually left where it ends because in this case, the comparison to [...]

By |2017-10-30T05:06:33+00:00October 20th, 2014|Categories: Artistic Vision, Baroque, Technology|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

On “What Makes a Baroque Cellist”: Foreign Languages (Part 2) — by Guy Fishman

In the previous segment of this blog post I began providing an attempt at an answer to “What Makes a Baroque Cellist.”  I ended with the assertion that what unites many of my favorite early-music practitioners—who in fact often enjoy active careers playing music from all eras, including our own—is a love for language.  I promised that this love is what helps define a “baroque” player, at least of the sort that I admire.  I’d like to illustrate how this is in the following. There are volumes upon volumes written by brilliant women and men on the causes for the dawn of late-nineteenth century isms: Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism, then Neoclassicism, Minimalism, etc.  When tonality had outlived its usefulness to some composers, they created new languages.  Their favorite performers had the [...]

By |2017-10-30T05:05:17+00:00September 15th, 2014|Categories: Artistic Vision, Baroque, Self Discovery|Tags: , , , , , |

Phrasing and Meter — by Robert Battey

Today’s ruminations have to do with musical phrasing.  As a music critic for the Washington Post, I'm regularly attending concerts of all kinds.  That, plus a lot of chamber music coaching, leads me to ruminate on this subject often.  The ability to produce clear phrasing is just as important as having good rhythm or intonation, but a lot of folks don’t do it well, or as well as they think.  Remember, in grade school, when we had to take turns reading aloud from the book?  And how some kids were flat, with little inflection and the same pause between every word, while with others it came out sounding like natural speech?  To a certain extent it’s the same with music, sometimes even at the professional level. It’s often been remarked that the [...]

The Britten Cello Suites (Part 4): An Interview with Colin Carr — by Aron Zelkowicz

  Two of my favorite recordings of the Third Britten Suite are both by Colin Carr, with whom I studied during a summer in high school and then years later as a doctoral student.  On both occasions I brought the Third Suite to my lessons.   You first recorded the Third Suite on an album for GM Records, “Unaccompanied Cello”, with solo works by Kodaly, Crumb, and Schuller.  Was this your solo debut album? I had a recording made as part of the Naumburg competition prize, Franck and Debussy sonatas and a few little Faure pieces, but this was my first commercial recording. Why did you choose to include the Britten with these other works? I wanted it to be all unaccompanied and didn't want to play Bach. That meant a [...]

Bach Suites and You – by Robert Battey

“In a work of art the intellect asks questions; it does not answer them” -Friedrich Hebbel Few tasks are more daunting than attempting to discern and convey J.S. Bach’s precise intentions for his Cello Suites.  Just playing them is hard enough, but a true and meaningful interpretation of the Suites requires an entirely different heuristic model than that of our other repertoire.  This is because the autograph of the Suites has been lost, and we are left only with several flawed and inconsistent copies.  Since there is no original source, everything, from notes to rhythms to phrasings, must be questioned. With many pieces, one can rely on the fidelity and accuracy of a high-quality edition, prepared either from autographs or composer-supervised prints.  There, you have the simple choice of either [...]