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Karen Allendoerfer


January 9, 2010 at 12:43 PM

January has historically been my least favorite month, as the warmth of the holidays fades, the sun still wan and attenuated, and the snow settles into icy chunks, immune to the charms of our little snow blower.

But I'm starting to make my peace with it.  Vacation was long enough, and orchestra, lessons, and chamber groups are starting again.  This is the second time we have done a rousing overture in orchestra for the February concert.  Two years ago, waiting for the bus in the morning, I would listen to the William Tell Overture on my ear buds and think, "Hi Ho, Silver!"  This year it's the Light Cavalry Overture, not so different--ricochet bowing, cartoon references and all.

Orchestra concerts are starting to fit into a larger seasonal pattern:  a big choral piece right before the holidays, a suite of short, energetic pieces for the Family Concert in February.  It's what we need this time of year.

We are also playing Smetana's The Moldau, a piece that is probably familiar to many on this site.  The melody is familiar to me, but not the specifics of the 1st violin part.  In particular, there is an 8va section that is getting me down.  It's worse than the Schubert 8th note "forest" from last concert.  And it's a lot worse than those bouncy exposed 16th notes in the William Tell.  Despite some tentative woodshedding in the practice room, I am still not sure where and how to shift, and I don't have the intervals in my ear.  

But I have to remember, I always feel this way at the beginning of a concert cycle.  It's winter, and the landscape is barren and icy.  It takes time for understanding to take root, and grow.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM

That spot in The Moldau is the "white water rafting" section.  Good luck.  (Insert smiley face here)

I don't mind January when we have one of those nice warm snaps, where it gets up to 75 degrees.  But this has not been one of those weeks.  It was 25 yesterday.  Brrr!

From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on January 9, 2010 at 5:46 PM

You'll figure it out and be fine with it..  Be glad you're playing the 1st violin part.  The seconds and violas have page after page after page of running, watery arpeggios, the sort of part that puts you in mind of the observation that musicians are the marathoners of the fine-motor world!

Posted on January 9, 2010 at 11:22 PM

Well Karen, why not "dig out" Vivaldi's Four have only 70 days to prepare Spring for Spring

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on January 10, 2010 at 1:05 AM

 Sam, actually, I *love* Winter from the Four Seasons.  I've played the Largo from Winter in church--maybe I should get that out again.  


From Tom Holzman
Posted on January 10, 2010 at 1:27 AM

Karen - to continue Anne's metaphor, if I recall correcly, the rapids at the 8va section are Class IV.  Hang on tight (keeping your fingers loose, of course)!  Good luck.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 10, 2010 at 3:11 AM

be very happy you are playing the 1st violin part.  8 pages of running 16th note arrpegios are exhausing.

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on January 10, 2010 at 4:39 PM

I agree with Mendy, I am playing the viola part, its absolutely out of this world, esp to me as a newbie to viola playing...



From Ray Randall
Posted on January 10, 2010 at 4:56 PM

I played the 1st violin part last season. There is a trick to playing that 8va, but I forgot what it was. I'll go dig out the music and maybe it will come back to me. I do sort of remember something about playing those in 7th position and just staying there for awhile. It's slowly coming back. Also keep your fingers down whenever you can way up there when you're not using them as you'll be playing those same notes shortly. I'll go look.

From James Patterson
Posted on January 11, 2010 at 6:23 AM

The  librarian of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra has a fascinating blog about her job which has really enlightened me about the complexities of the tasks facing the librarian for a major orchestra: guest conductors and multiple series of concerts: subscription classical, pops, single event classical and pops, plus specials like the Christmas special with dozens of pieces.

I had no idea that just reconciling all the various editions of a piece to make sure everyone is using the same one  can be a difficult problem, especially with a guest conductor.

The most recent posting is about Ma Vlast, from which The Moldau is the most familiar movement. I think you will find the posting very interesting.  Here is the link:

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on January 11, 2010 at 4:32 PM

 Ray, thanks, that would be useful.  I am doing some of it in 7th position, I think--but I tend to lose count of the positions :(

And if you just stay in one position, you have to do extensions up and back . . . 

And another question to the Ma Vlast veterans out there:  how do you bow the St. Johann section (letter H in my edition)?  The one that has slurred ascending scales followed by a triplet-16th-plus-8th note pattern?  

I've been starting each ascending scale on an up-bow, in order to do the crescendo as written, but then the triplet-plus-8th ends you on an up bow again, and it is hard to just keep recovering and doing repetitive up-bows.  I'm concerned it will lead to being late on the next figure/dragging.


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