This week the solstice marked the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, and summer can hold various possibilities. What does it mean for you?
You may be using the summer for a "violin vacation." Perhaps you are finishing a grueling season of performing or studying. You may be looking to the summer for break, in order to rest yourself physically and mentally, to explore other aspects of your life. You may be seeking to rejuvenate, so that you can resume your activities in the fall.
Or, perhaps you opted for quite the opposite: "violin boot camp." Summer can be the perfect time to get intense about musical projects and progress. You may be using the longer hours of daytime to practice more, to take on a new project, to teach more hours. You may have signed yourself up for an intensive festival or camp, for extra lessons or other performing opportunities.
Then again, it's quite possible that summer marches along much like the rest of the year. The regular season ends, but the summer season continues. You keep about the same amount of musical activities going as always.
What will you be doing this summer?
First, let me say Happy Fathers' Day to all you dads out there!
And now, I wanted to make this week's vote about father figures in the violin world. Some of them are actual fathers, some of them are not, but each of them has played a rather parental or fatherly role in the development of the art of violin playing. I'll describe why I have nominated each one, then you vote. Undoubtedly I will leave someone out, so if you have another candidate, please let us know, and feel free to add your thoughts!
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750): He was prolific both as a musician, and as a father. As a composer, he wrote more than a thousand works, including cantatas, choral works, sacred songs, organ works, other keyboard works, lute music, chamber music, orchestral music, canons and fugues, and of course our solo violin works. As a dad, he had 22 children with two wives (no, he was no polygamist, his first wife died, then he married again).
Antonio Stradivari (1644 - 1737): The father of modern lutherie, Stradivari made the violin the instrument that it is today. He made more than 1,200 violins, violas, cellos and other stringed instruments during his long life, and his craftsmanship and artistry remain unsurpassed and a source of inspiration for violinmakers everywhere.
Leopold Mozart (1719 – 1787): What would Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have been without his pushy, overbearing stage-Dad? Seriously, Leopold was the force that gave young Wolfgang his early start and assured him the finest possible music education, and he sacrificed much to do so. Leopold also contributed greatly to violin technique in his own right, with his Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing, an exhaustive work outlining violin performance practice and technique that is still used (and sold) today. He also wrote many compositions for the violin; they are charming and clever works.
Shin'ichi Suzuki (1898 – 1998): He had no children himself, but he is the father of the Suzuki Method. Shin'ichi Suzuki literally taught thousands of violinists himself, and his Method spread around the globe like wildfire. How many people play the violin today, as a direct result of the Suzuki Method? It boggles the mind. He also revolutionized the way we think about talent, with his fundamental belief that all people are talented, given a loving learning environment and good instruction.
Ivan Galamian (1903 - 1981): His name appears on many of the editions of concertos and other music that students use today, because he edited so very many of them. He also wrote Principles of Violin Playing & Teaching, which is necessary reading for any teacher of the violin. Galamian taught at the Curtis Institute and was known for his ability to impart a high level of technique on all students, not just a special few. Juilliard superstar teacher Dorothy DeLay was his assistant, and many of today's finest violin teachers were trained by Ivan Galamian, or by proteges of Ivan Galamian.
A quote from this article jumped out at me:
“Hasn’t John Cage already proved the point that all sound is music?”
Former Kronos cellist Joan Jeanrenaud said this in reaction to a melee that occurred last Sunday night at The Royce Gallery in San Francisco, when an audience member disrupted the performance by John Eichenseer of his own work for viola and electronics, called "Untitled."
Jeanrenaud was a member of the audience, who witnessed the hissing and clapping from audience member Bernard M. Zaslav, a disruption that ultimately led to the performer throwing down his instrument (which broke) and storming off the stage, according to the New York Times.
What a scene! Apparently Zaslav, a violist himself who supports modern music -- was in physical pain as a result of the music. Zaslov, 85, later apologized, explaining that he uses hearing aids, which were affected by the high volume of the music and, unable to escape the room, he reacted.
Still, should "music" cause pain? I'm still stuck on this question: is all sound "music"? For me, a lot of this depends on my mood, and the context. If I'm in a good mood, I can hear music in the birds outside, the buses going by, the espresso maker at the coffee shop, the neighbor's noisy argument. A modern music concert, something that explores unexpected elements of sound, can open my ears in new ways.
But I have to admit this: If I'm feeling less than charitable: noise is noise, Bach is music, those are different things!
But let's put it to a vote, and please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments below:
More entries: May 2011
The Weekend Vote is from Pasadena, California. Biography
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