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Odds and sods.

February 26, 2009 at 1:27 AM

Odds and sods time again although what everything has in common is being a learning experience. May life continue to be so!
One of the biggest things I have learnt this year is how much useful music of a specific type there is that can be a huge teaching aid:   violin duets.   I have been using the Wolfarht duets with beginners for years and of course the Bartok are part of standard repertoire as far as I am concerned. But, after browsing through IMSLP I have come up with so many off the beaten track duets I still have a boggled mind.   While Spohr are great to play with my advanced students the Dancla ones do well for students around the Accolay level. In the meantime my beginners are working on those by Kreutzer which are absolutely terrific music/pedagogic material.  It really is a powerful addition to the teachers arsenal to play duets. Indeed, as I write this I recall that in her `The Way They Play ` interview the Israeli teacher Fehler said she played many with her students.
Which brings me nicely onto the subject of the person I consider to be in may ways the best of her students and that even includes comparisons with the immortal deities Zuckerman and Perlman. I refer to Schlomo Mintz.   He is an example of a supreme artist who never quite became first choice of player or public alike through no particular reason I am aware of. It really does all boil down to luck I guess. I have recently been listening to his recording of the Franck and have to say I find more in it than I would have thought possible after all these years. He is incredibly key conscious and really bends the pitch to highlight the harmony with incredible acuity and sensitivity.  He also takes the trouble to delineate musical shapes even within the most non obvious places such as the last page of Franck. Light years from the usual impressive but unsubtle crash bang wallop one often hears. The ravel sonata is the personification of sexiness. I cannot recommend this particular CD too highly.
Finally I was kind of struck by a recent experience/conversation I had with a cellist who plays a couple of concertos a year and always comes over for a coaching of some kind before the performance. Hadn’t seen her for about six months.   As she was leaving she said `You know Buri, you are a much better teacher than when I saw you last.`   It seemed like she was surprised and that made me wonder about if there is something implicit in the word teacher that implies one is now a fixed entity in time and space?  Why would I not be a better teacher (not necessarily a good one).  Is it not the responsibility of anyone claiming to offer a teaching  service to constantly strive to improve themselves as much as a wannabe Heifetz preparing to do their first round of college interviews?
A teacher who has ceased to struggle with their own playing and work is not worthy of the name.

From janet griffiths
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 7:48 AM

I'd realy like to get hold of copies of the Wohlfahrt and Kreutzer  duets any chance of furnishing more information such as publisher and opus number.Thanks

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 8:09 AM

First of all, Buri, I can’t stop thinking how great a teacher you must be in person, given how well you’ve taught us by writing.  Things you said keeps coming back to me in various occasions and really helps each time! One recent example is what you said about the problem we have when play in tempo could have been avoided if we had played it perfectly at a slower tempo. This is so profound and has fundamentally changed my practice, and I love the result. 

This change also made me thinking that what separates a good teacher from a not-so-good one is more than reputation or how many good students he/she can produce.  A good teacher teaches me how to get each note right and how to put them together musically, regardless how many mistakes I’m making in front of him/her.  This is what my current teacher does. I had teachers in the past would tell me, “now play it again and this time without mistakes.” Well, the result is not hard to imagine.

Also, I like Mintz a great deal and I buy his CDs any time I get a chance. I like his Dvorák the best.  As for Zuckerman, I went to his masterclass last fall and got one bit of advice, that is, every concerto is an etude. And this advice reportedly came from his teacher Galamian.  Well, I foolishly applied this advice to my scale practice and used the 2nd mvt of Beethoven’s violin concerto instead of Flesch.  My teacher wanted to have none of that and pointed out that I was being disrespectful to Beethoven. I was embarrassed of course but completely appreciate her sentiment, which probably is not unlike how irritated I would feel when I hear people quoting Kant casually without ever carefully worked through his work even once.  I adore my teacher.  She is intense, curious, teaches the technique with surgical precision, and being a good concert violinist, she has tremendous sense how to shape the music.  Most of all, she gives, gives and gives.  To me, this separates a great teacher from a merely good one.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 1:14 PM

Yes yes, she's right!  You really seem like a good teacher and I'm sure your students appreciate it! Congratulations for always trying to improve! This is a sign of intelligence... 

I always say to my relatives that I am happy to not have a 20 years old (about my age, oh god I'm getting old!) teacher. I love young teachers or accompagnist for their friendliness.  It's great to talk with someone of your generation and that lives in your reality but generally speaking, older teachers that can by the way be very friendly too, have more experience and are more competent.  Selfishly I could say, they had a bunch of cobays before you!  It is invaluable to have a teacher that spend many of his/her years in a symphony, who lived in many countries with different pedagogies who went towards many systems, styles of playing etc and can point out the best of all those.  Of course, you can also fall on the type of old person who have stoped to aim for excellence and gives poor lessons and a young with already many experience too.   I was speaking generally! 

Long life to you and your students Buri!


From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 2:51 PM

I have the same question as Janet--publisher info and opus number?   I'd love to purchase some beginner-level duets that I can play with my daughter.  

And  I join in the chorus of praise for your teaching skills and all you share with us on this site!

From Drew Lecher
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 6:24 PM

Wonderful thoughts.

I must go purchase some recordings of Shlomo. I first heard him when he was around 13-14 and doing a US tour. Wonderful playing.

Along the line of duets, I will often play portions—not enough fingers and strings—on the violin of the piano parts for concertos and sonatas, etc., with my students. Great fun and they pick up so many ensemble and musical ideas.

One never stops learning. That is what makes it.


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 26, 2009 at 10:33 PM


Janet et al,

the Kreutzer duets are on IMSLP.  Just down load them and hope your eyesight is good enough to read them ;)  The Wolfarht I refer to is merely his first book of etudes which is very duet oriented.  Its freely available. I forget the opus number.  Can check later. There are Rode duets as well.

Incidentally, if you want to give a n intermediate level studnet a tough work out on accidentals try the Honneger Sonatina for two violins.  Very fine work.




From janet griffiths
Posted on February 27, 2009 at 7:20 AM

Buri, the only Wohlfahrt available over her are the op 45 and 54 which have been condensed into a single volume in the states I believe. As neither of these volumes contain duets I assume there must be another volume. Is there a publisher of this duet volume?I've read quite a few comments on Wohlfahrt duets and all of them have been very positive.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on February 27, 2009 at 9:12 AM


oh, sorry Janet. Its opus 38,  Easiest Elementary Studies.



From janet griffiths
Posted on February 28, 2009 at 6:50 AM


From Bart Meijer
Posted on February 28, 2009 at 8:54 PM


Even your typos are brilliant. Fehler (for Fehér) indeed! rotflol.


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on March 1, 2009 at 10:21 PM


look at the way you just spelt rottweiler!



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