May 8, 2013 at 8:47 PMOne of the many wonderful things about teaching young students is the fact that I get to be the first to tell them certain fascinating, even awe-inspiring things about the violin, its history and its heros.
That is, if I remember.
It's pretty easy to forget, actually, while tending to other important details:
"What does that sharp mean in this key signature?"
"The frog is getting lonely, please visit the frog more often!"
"Your thumb, your thumb…!"
"Nice vibrato, keep doing it!"
Yesterday, I raised the topic of Paganini, almost as an after-thought: "You are playing Witches Dance! You must hear the original!"
I fished out our V.com friend Emil Chudnovsky's recording of "Le Streghe" from my tower of CDs and let it roll.
Here is another favorite, with Eugene Fodor (Skip to 3:20 if you want to go right to the part excerpted in the Suzuki book. Then of course you'd best go back and listen to it all!):
That's right, in the middle of Suzuki Book 2 is an arrangement of Paganini's "Le Streghe," translated as "Witches Dance." One might not be thinking of Paganini quite yet, when working with a Book 2 student. But why not? There it is!
"Have you ever heard of this gentleman, Niccolò Paganini?" I asked.
(By the way, Eugene Fodor himself corrected me, when I kept saying "Paganini" like "magazini" while interviewing him -- "It's POG-anini! Not PAAAG-anini! Say it right!")
She had not heard of Paganini -- I had not expected that she would have. So as we listened to "Le Streghe," I told her about this wonder of the early 19th century, who amazed people so thoroughly that they were convinced he had sold his soul to Satan in return for that wicked technique. (Another explanation for his amazing technique could possibly be: a great deal of practicing, combined with an unusually wide hand-span, which many believe was actually due to Marfan syndrome, a genetic condition which causes unusually long limbs and fingers.) I also told her that Paganini wrote "some of the hardest music for the violin," which she had no trouble believing, while listening to "Le Streghe"!
Such things are worth the occasional five- to ten-minute tangent, yes?
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