August 9, 2008 at 10:06 PMThe brilliant opening ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics got me thinking about over-the-top, gargantuan feats, for some reason.
I wondered, what would the events be in the Violin Games?
I'm thinking that the Violin Games (V.G.) would take place over the course of a week, so all events would have to take place in that time. The time element is part of the challenge, I'd say, with the V.G.
One event would certainly have to involve playing all 24 Paganini Caprices, as in having them in hand and performing them all for an audience. And then, there's playing the Bach Sonatas and Partitas, but I thought it would actually be harder to record those then to play them live. Why? Because in recording them, you'd be casting them for the record; your decisions would have to have a certain non-spontaneous finality. Making final decisions regarding Bach (deciding how to play it "right") to me is every bit as hard as just physically doing it.
Then I thought I'd throw in a teacher event: leading a group of students through all 10 Suzuki violin books. But the teacher has to play every bit of it by memory, no cheating! Recall the Handel Sonatas, the Bach concerto, weird arrangements of other pieces, two Mozart concerti and a whole lot of little short pieces that need to follow certain bowings.
Then, for the orchestral musician, how about a little Richard Strauss: playing Don Juan, Tod und Verklärung, Till Eulenspiegel, Zarathustra, Don Quixote, and Ein Heldenleben all in one marathon concert? (I actually played in a concert where the orchestra did three of those works. It was ridiculous. Insane!) And if, instead, you'd prefer the opera pit, I threw in a complete performance of The Ring cycle.
But what if you are a historian? How about reading all 20 volumes of the Grove's Encyclopedia of Music and Musicans? And for you theory buffs, your task is to pore over the score of Lulu and find every tone row or inversion thereof. (It's not in strict serial form, so bring your eyeglasses.)
So which event will you be participating in, or following? And if you have more ideas for Olympian violinistic feats (or just hellish torture), please describe below. And of course, if you have actually completed one of these tasks (as mortals occasionally do), please do share!
I think I read Groves, or maybe it was the Cliff Notes, one or the other.
Let's have a competition of Études Polyphoniques, though! All six of them, of course, to be played on six successive days. I'll be spectator.
And for the opening ceremony: it would not be too difficult to find 2008 little fiddlers to play Beethoven's Ode an die Freude.
We need a sprint event too, so get these Flights of the Bumblebee up to world record speed.
Have the contestants swap fiddles or, better yet, give everybody an Ebay VSO, a $25 "student" bow and no shoulder rest but chamois. See how well they play on that kind of even ground;>)
As for proclaiming a winner in the shoulder rest debate; I don't think anyone's ever going to get the gold there. There will ever be two sides!
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