“Did you know that John Philip Sousa was a violinist?” said Bruce Dukov, LA's pre-eminent studio violinist, on Saturday.
If this is so, then Sousa is surely smiling down on Dukov for rearranging his “Stars and Stripes Forever,” which in its original form, is a great chore for the violin section to play, as I will no doubt attest to once again after having to play it for a July 4th concert.
Dukov, by contrast, is serving it up as violin virtuoso music, all Paganini and flash: check it out: Stars and Stripes Forever
This is just the latest of Dukov's clever brain children. I wrote about him a few years back, after stumbling upon his Wieniawski-style “Happy Birthday” variations ,and also a great number of fun riffs on our favorite violin tunes, my favorite being “For Kreisler's Sake!”
Just a few weeks ago I took a CD of Dukov's arrangements to a teacher party at the Colorado Suzuki Institute in Snowmass, and people there kept stopping mid-sentence as their ears put together the familiar with the unexpected, “Is that a cat meowing to Wieniawski?”
“I think it's a great piece of music,” Dukov said of the Stars and Stripes, and he will be playing his own arrangement of it with cellist Lynn Harrell at a concert at 8 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood.
Dukov whipped up this delicacy in a matter of two days, then made revisions, including arranging it nine different ways. Among them: for 2 violins; for violin & cello; solo violin & string orchestra; violin & piano (virtuoso & intermediate) and string quartet. The intermediate arrangements should work for the advanced violin student, one who can play in fifth position. All the arrangements are available for purchase on his website, except for the one for solo violin and string orchestra, which can be rented.
Bruce is a Juilliard-trained studio musician in LA, whose fiddle you have heard in many John Williams scores and countless others.
“Actually, I've worked on about 1,200 films since moving to LA,” Dukov estimated. Some of the latest include: “War of the Worlds,” “Legend of Zorro,” “Fantastic Four,” “Mr. And Mrs. Smith,” “Bewitched” and “Rumor Has It.”
On of his favorites is “Wrongfully Accused,” a spoof on “The Fugitive” in which Leslie Nielsen plays a violinist. “I'm playing this really hard solo,” Dukov said, laughing, “and of course it's supposed to be him playing it.”
Dukov also will be playing a solo arrangement of Cinema Paradiso Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 at a Hollywood Bowl concert.
Dukov is not finished making his tongue-in-cheek, virtuoso arrangements: among those he has not yet published are the “William Tell Overture” for two violins (just the “Lone Ranger” part, of course), and the “Tritsch-Tratsch” polka by Strauss for two violins.
“I'm not a professional composer,” Dukov said, but his arrangements are certainly a lot of fun. Check it out!
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