Last year I visited a community orchestra (performed a concert with them). I overheard one of the first-violin players informing another violinist that she was a pro musician. I'm not exactly sure what she meant except that she was payed for her playing, but I think she wanted to impress the other player. Anyway, the same woman saw a picture in my case of me and four other violinists playing Paganini's Moto Perpetuo. She asked what we were playing in the picture and I told her it was a performance of the Moto Perpetuo. She asked for clarification, and when I confirmed that it was in fact Moto Perpetuo by Paganini, she informed me that she had never heard a recording or even heard of such a work, and then said that she avoids playing Paganini. (I even said Perpetuum Mobile because that's what some people call it.)
Now, you can perhaps imagine my shock at a professional saying this (I thought she'd have at least heard it on a CD or somehting), but at the same time it got me thinking. Later my teacher told me that this peice is considered very difficult and many violinists don't play it. My response was: WHY???
I've been thinking about Paganini in general. He's extremely difficult to play (His first concerto was a killer for me even though I learned a lot) but isn't there something to gain by playing challenging and difficult music? Is it professional to avoid a composer like Paganin? Or do some people just think it's not necessary to go through the pain? I've heard other 'professionals' say the same kind of thing, only about other composers. I'd welcome any thoughts you have on the matter. Maybe my view of a what a well-rounded musician, professional or not, ought to be isn't accurate? I confess I'm still relatively inexperienced compared to some of you. So fire away =)
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