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Emily Grossman


August 17, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Saturday: morning sectionals at Kenai Christian, followed by a full-orchestra run-through after lunch. It would be a threesome, if I could convince Susie to come. "We really need to figure out some bowings," I explained, "and I know I need the extra time on my part. But I'm not going if you're not going. And I don't get up to an alarm, so excuse me if I'm a little late."

"Oh, you'd better not be late!"

Ten o'clock, we all showed up, not really sure where violists should assemble. Arbitrarily claiming a Sunday school room as our own, we arranged the stands and unpacked. This time, I sat my coffee cup on the table behind me, out of harm's way. "I'm not a morning person," I warned Michael. To ease into things, we warmed up with the Mozart.

The Divertimento in D Major seemed harmless enough. Instead of long, intricate sixteenth note passages typical to first violin repertoire, long rows of identical eighth notes took up a majority of the first page. Still, the part came riddled with interesting sections that needed bowings. We played it through, stopping to discuss areas in question. Michael answered with his own ideas: down-bow for emphasis, then up-up to even it out. Let's get rid of this backward bowing here... And this, we could take it up-up like it's written, or we could accentuate the unique bass note here, play it down for emphasis--but it depends on whether you want that or not.

Intrigued, I nodded in agreement. Here was someone who gave me permission--no, orders!--to ignore the uncomfortable bowings prescribed by the editor in pursuit of something more musically aesthetic. I liked his style! One by one, we took out the hiccups and proceeded to the next movement. By the time we reached lunch break, I felt like we had our repertoire running more like a well-oiled machine.

Susie had to go home. After lunch, I'd be taking the stand with Michael for the full orchestra run-through.

From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM
I think it is inherent in our roles as musicians to discard whatever an editor prescribes that does not work for us, be it bowings, fingerings, or whatever. Just tell yourself that you are a good musician and are able to make the determination of how the music can best be played. In fact, even editors have been known to reconsider. When I studied Mozart #3 with Rene Benedetti in Paris, we used the music he edited. My copy has a number of changes he wrote in, in effect, M. Benedetti's edits of his edits. I will send you a copy for your amusement. Of course, if the concertmaster tells you to use certain bowings, . . . .
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM
The worst part about orchestral playing is having to submit yourself to someone else's bowings when they don't make sense. At home, I do what I want.
From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 3:01 PM
You clearly have the soul of a jazz musician.
From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 4:41 PM
Sometimes the bowings fit the fashion at the time, so it doesn't surprise me that as one's ideas about Mozart evolve, for instance, bowing preferences would change, too. Thanks for the Benedetti Mozart!
From Tom Holzman
Posted on August 17, 2012 at 6:15 PM
You are welcome. Seeing it always makes me nostalgic for the wonderful man who was the best teacher I ever had and amuses me because of the number of further edits of bowings and fingerings he put in by hand.

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