November 7, 2008 at 9:49 PM
Well, The Four Seasons have never really interested me enough to take the time to listen to them. Until today. A few days ago I downloaded Janine Jansen's Vivaldi album... I wasn't having the best day, and so I found a place away from everything and everyone at lunch, and sat down and listened.
I now think Vivaldi was a genius. If I close my eyes, the notes take me away. They have just enough things going on in them as not to drive me crazy like Bach tends to do. I now love these pieces. They have many qualities that I like; on some movements, I can't differentiate the solo violinist from the orchestra. On others, the music paints a picture to me. Well, after I had listened to much of The Four Seasons, I was set into a different mood that I still haven't lost. I can't decide if I wan't to be sad, or happy.... As you can tell, this blog is kind of all over the place.
It just kind of re-affirms what is always told to you as a child "Give everything a chance, even if it's only once". If I wasn't having such a bad day, I probably wouldn't have been sat down and listened to them. I'm thinking I'll have to start doing this with other things. For instance, I have Hilary Hahn's Schoenberg and Sibelius album, and have only listened to the Sibelius. I listened to less than a minute of the first movement of the Schoenberg and couldn't stand anymore. Even if it drives me nuts, I'm determined to give it a chance.
So this was just an experience that happened to me today, and how music changed me more, yet again.
Your blog is very reflective and insighful. It is a good thing for a young person, as well as an older person, to give things they might not understand at first, a chance. This applies to music, other academics and researches, as well. It can even apply to people and relationships. I am happy that you are open minded enough to consider all things as they come to you, interested or not. You will sift through those things that interest and those things that don't and it will determine your concrete interests for yur later life. You are currently in an early stage of discovery and it is a wonderful time of life. All phases of life are discovery, but as one gains experiences, the rewarding aspects of discovery become less. When you find a piece of music that you enjoy, does much research as you can about the composer and their times. More availability of all composers, from all periods, has been improved today. In my day, I either had to hear it on the radio, or buy the LP or cassette tape, which were expensive at that day. No computers, so I spent a large amount of time at the downtown library, where I could hear works and check them out. Accessibility to information has come a long way in a short time. I am still discovering, and it is a great thing.
Understanding history opens up a great deal of understanding of the music itself, and educates you in the process. You may notice your history classes will be more interesting and your GPA go up. Just a note: Vivaldi's 4 Seasons cycle is just the beginning and I encourage you to listen to his other works as well, if you really like his style. When I was about your age, first Vivaldi discovery was his Mandolin Concerto, and from then I was hooked! It led me to other works of his, and introduced me to other composers before his time and beyond.
Look into other composers of the Baroque period, and those will lead you into the Classical period and those into the Romantic. When you understand where the modern composer is coming from, you will gain some appreciation for their music that you didn,t know you may have had before. I agree with you that some works, of any period, are difficult to listen to. Some of Bach's works (especially the organ works) were considered in the same vein during his time, and I bet you notice the "noisy" and busy qualities of his work. As a young man, he would often be asked not to play the organ, as the officials thought his improvisations were too harsh for religious services. Not all held this opinion. I notice this myself, but not all of his works are overly complicated. He was the father of modern western music and many of his work are really experiments in music theory that were progressive for that day. The way music was being played and the notation of it was changing. He established the "well-tempered" scale as we know it today. Modern composers are into deconstruction of this scale system. Listen to some good Jazz and you will notice the same quality. Knowing this information has placed me above many of my peers in my professional career, as I have literally 500 years of "experience" at my command. It mke my interpretations of any style music, unique to those who do not understand music history. G
Give old Bach a chance, for his works are considered the model of all others, in some way or another. I love opera, but not the late romantic works, as I find them "too busy" for my taste. From Monterverdi to about Rossini, is it for me. Baroque opera is my favorite, and is more available now than ever.
As you get older you will amaze youself as to what you will find tasteful and distasteful, and will look back and say: Why did I not like this or that piece of music then? You will hopefully realize that it is because you gained wisdom and experience and have solidly established a fine understanding of various kinds of music. Keep practicing hard, and listen to all you can!
Jerald Franklin Archer
I probably should have made my statement a little more clear:) ... I love the Sonatas and Partitas and I think the technical aspects of them are so unique, and they are in my opinion some of the greatest works ever written for the violin; They top the Paganini Caprices and everything like that. I think that Bach's works are from the heart and soul, and yet Paganini's are to showcase virtuosity, and show off, not neccesarily make beautiful music.
You are very wise and it makes me very happy that you leave a very wise and informative comment on almost all my blogs:)
So thank you for that!
Thank you for that kind word. As a teacher of music, I find that very few of my students have some of the thoughts and considerations as you do. Your blog posts and your thoughts deserve attention, as do all person's thoughts and feelings. I am always happy to help you in sharing my knowledge in hopes that it may open other avenues of discovery for you for the future. Writing, and writing well, is more essential today as it ever has been. Keep up the blog posts, as this is good for you to do, both for youself as a young artist and developing good communicative writing skills.
And you are correct in saying the Bach Sonates and Partitas are very good. I consider them the "bible" of violin literature and study. Paganini is good, and I enjoy and study all of his works, but playing a lot of notes in a precise manner is not the hallmark of a real artist. It usually only serves to impress, and I learned this in my professional career that it is a truth. A real artist does not seek to impress the listener, but to convey unique personal emotions to the audience.
I actually prefer Paganini's simple violin and guitar sonates over his super-virtuoso works, and the middle movements of the violin concerti are breathtaking. Paganini himself was aware of the effects his pyro-techniques produced, but prefered a lyrical air and style over a virtuosic one. The "virtuosity" is really simple scales played very quickly. It is noted that his cantabile playing, which made some women faint, made up his recognized artistry and his real reputation. His virtuosity was simply a necessity for selling tickets, and he knew he was the only one capable of the feats he produced at the time. Believe it or not, but contempories of his time thought he (and some of his compositions) were over the top, and that he played consistantly out of tune! No two concerts he gave ever sounded the same, which makes sense, as he never completly wrote the solo part out for fear that I would be stolen and copied by a rival violinist. He most likely improvised most of it on the spot. .... He truly was the beginning of what we consider today as the modern rock star type.
With all my respect,
Jerald Franklin Archer
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