Since we all probably need a little cheering up right now....here is a neat series of videos about Maxim Vengerov I found on YouTube. The film is already about ten years old but it's still quite interesting, amusing, enlightening, entertaining and inspiring. The Finnish subtitles (why??) can be sort of annoying, but I'm not complaining.
part one (includes a hilariously hammed-up Khachaturian "Sabre Dance")
part two (with a unique and very funny take on "Tambourine Chinois")
part three (with some great film of him as child prodigy back in Russia)
part four (Brahms sonata #3!)
part eight ("Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" as Spanish melodrama)
It's long, but worth it, IMHO. :)
I've just seen on the news that Mstislav Rostropovich died last night. I have absolutely no idea what else to say.
In which I return from Oberlin, happy and excited but too dead tired to do anything but stare at the computer and blog.
My friends, I think it is all but safe to say it is a done deal: "ich bin ein Oberliner!" I have not officially sent in my deposit yet, but I can't imagine I will have any last-minute change of heart.
So as for yesterday's events: I met that Hungarian musicologist, Peter Laki, who is a total genius and also a really nice guy. I sat in on his class in Renaissance music and it was quite interesting--I never thought 16th-century melodic ornamentation could be so much fun. :)
Then I observed Professor Milan Vitek's studio class and was VERY impressed! It was probably the most musical group of students I've encountered anywhere--a lot of places I've been, I'm sorry to say, way too many of the students have great technique but nothing to say. Here, they had very good technique but they were all individual musicians. They had things in common of course, so I could tell they were all Mr. Vitek's students, but it seemed to me that the one thing that most held that studio together, and what was the clearest indication that they all study with him, was their individuality and musicality. (Does that make sense??)
Later I heard the orchestra rehearse Mahler 1, 3rd movement. Basically all I have to say here is that this was their first read-through, and they sounded better than my previous orchestras usually sounded at dress rehearsal. I like the conductor too--very demanding, but in a good way.
Finally I had a short lesson with Mr. Vitek. He is a really excellent teacher. He is a very warm and friendly person, and his general philosophy of teaching is very appealing to me. I've had some teachers who are complete insane micro-managers, who tell you exactly what to do with every millimeter of bow, every slightest hand movement, how to strictly plan and calculate every flight of fancy. Some of that is healthy, of course, but for me I find that that approach gets overwhelming and a bit stifling very quickly. Mr. Vitek, on the other hand, is more of a big-picture type. He does talk about technique (lest anyone think I'm saying he's lassez-faire), but generally he trusts his students to be mature and professional enough to figure out a lot of the details on their own--the teacher is there to refine, keep them honest, and coach musical expression. At least that's the impression I got.
So anyway, I'm psyched. Off to practice now. :)
Greetings, comrades and compatriots! As I type this, I am sitting in the library at Oberlin Conservatory, which I am 99% certain I will be attending this fall! Last night I heard a really quite good concert by the Oberlin Chamber Orchestra which included Ginastera's Suite from "Estancia", a rather odd (IMHO) piece by a student composer, and Sibelius Symphony #3, which is GORGEOUS. I can't believe I'd never even heard it before!
Today I'm going to meet the famous (Hungarian!) musicologist Peter Laki, who is a visiting professor here, sit in on Milan Vitek's violin studio class and have a lesson with him, and try to talk to some students about what life is really like here...you know, beyond the glossy photos in the viewbook. :)
I'll update later. Viszontlatasra!
In which I nearly declare open revolt on the climate of Planet Earth.
My friends, just what in blazes has been going on with the weather this winter/spring? First it refuses to snow on the ski slopes of Austria. Then it refuses to snow in RUSSIA. Then, normally mild Oklahoma gets buried under several feet of ice, and Cleveland gets hit with the coldest blast of arctic air imaginable. Meanwhile, perplexed Hungarians are jogging through the parks on Margitsziget in shorts! Four days ago I too was wearing shorts, but this morning, it was snowing!
I would apologize for the lack of anything music-related here, but it DOES have a musical angle--it's driving my violin crazy, he refuses to stay in tune. Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, he was lying calmly in his case, which was open on my desk. Then, right as I turned off the light and started to get comfy under the covers, I heard this low sproinnnnnnnnng from across the room. Groan. Turn the light back on, walk across the creaky floor (probably waking up my parents, whose room is directly below mine), put the string back in tune so nothing goes awry....
Now the sun is coming out. I don't know if this is El Nino, global warming, global indigestion or WHAT, but I want it to STOP and things to go back to bloody well NORMAL!
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