Up or down bow for the opening of the Mozart G major

October 1, 2007 at 01:40 AM · I'm doing a survey with some of my students as to whether an up bow or a down bow should be used for the opening of the Mozart G major violin concerto.When I was a student I learnt it with a down bow.At a masterclass given by Franco Gulli he advocated an up bow.There are very subtle difference,although the up bow is more elegant it changes the emphasis of the notes in the chord.Then what about all the orchestral parts,some orchestras start down whilst the soloist enters with an up.I'd be really intetested to hear v.commies thoughts on this issue.

Replies (23)

October 1, 2007 at 01:17 PM · V.

October 1, 2007 at 03:12 PM · _


October 1, 2007 at 03:20 PM · What's your artistic concept and vision of the piece? This is the question I always try to answer when choosing fingerings and bowings.

I know that Isaac Stern and Ivry Gitlis both start on an upbow. However, Gitlis pointed out to me that for "my interpretation goals" starting on down bow seemed to make more sense for me. When I taught a student this concerto recently, I noticed starting on up bow seems better for her.

So do what you feel more comfortable. Within certain limits, there are no concrete rules in violin playing.

October 2, 2007 at 12:14 AM · Greetings,

I have another question concerning this deceptively difficult cocnerto for those who have had a lot of experience with the orchestral part. I am particularly interested in the fingerings and bowings use dfrom bar 28of the 1st movement onwards?

do you stay in first psoition or use the a string. For me the the lower position sounds better but then there are all those shrill modern e strings to contend .

I would be grateful for answers primarily from those who have experienced playing this orchestral part rather than just speculaiton.;)



October 3, 2007 at 03:38 AM · Do you mean, for example playing first position , open e's and all in meas. 29? No...third position there.. fourth at the end of bar 30, etc. So, yeah, I try to consitently stay on one string through there were possible so as to avoid a big color change in places like the end of bar 30 to the beg of bar 31. Um.. I'm looking at a piano score, so I hope you have the same meas. numbers!

I don't like the weird up-bow start to this- it seems backwards and deliberately contrary. I mean, it's a Forte downbeat, on a chord no less! I can't imagine anybody in Mozart's day doing it up bow, but then, what do I know... Put me in the Down Down camp!

October 3, 2007 at 04:44 AM · Greetings,

thanks Howard. Yes, I have always stayed on one string but these days I am beginning to feel that if the sound of the open e can be kept in check the passage does benifit in many ways form being played in the lower psoition.

It would much simpler if a gut e string wa sused...



October 3, 2007 at 05:08 AM · We could ask Gilles Apap if he were here. RW

October 3, 2007 at 05:33 AM · Same reason Isaac Stern starts the Spring Sonata up bow. It's continuational. The idea is carried over by the soloist, it doesn't really originate there like concerto no. 5 or Brahms concerto. The violinist sort of picks it up gently.

October 3, 2007 at 05:37 AM · good call, pieter...i agree...upbow doesn't intrude upon the line as much.

October 3, 2007 at 05:49 AM · So instead of having the orchestra state the exposition followed by a restatement made by the soloist which is the classical concerto form you feel that there is only one exposition and the soloist should enter less aggresively?

October 3, 2007 at 08:32 AM · I picked V.

It was most likely in avoidance of heavy, stiff crunching sounds that resulted from my two downbows back to back, but what the hell; it's about the sound of the music in the end, isn't it? Upbow gave me a more illuminated sound. That's just me.

October 3, 2007 at 01:41 PM · When my daughter learned this piece, her teacher had her start up-bow. But we noticed that another girl in the same studio was told to start down-bow. Her teacher was very precise and careful-- he must have chosen the different beginnings for a good reason and I've always wondered what that was. We began to notice that some players start up-bow and some down-. Thanks everyone for the discussion-- very intersting, particularly the point Pieter makes about the exposition.

October 3, 2007 at 01:47 PM · Emily,

"heavy, stiff crunching sounds"??? Hah... maybe you should stop using that cello bow... :)

Seriously though, I like how Janet put it in her question and I think the up bow beginning goes against the grain, so to speak, of the form of the piece. Also, if you didn't have the double down bow, would you still start the piece up bow? I mean, if it were just that chord followed by something else say, a rest, would that make a difference?

October 3, 2007 at 01:56 PM · i like down bow because it allows the performer to draw a circle in the air before the next down bow note. depending on the performer's "taste" on how to play the second note, the in-air circle can be adjusted smoothly.

up and down is more like a, eh, up and down linear motion. kinda boring and stiff. actually bad taste in music interpretation. hehe.

October 3, 2007 at 02:10 PM · Hmm. I never thought about starting it up bow before. When I was learning that piece, my teacher told me to do it down bow, he did it that way, and it made sense to me. I agree with Howard's point that it is a forte entrance and down bow just feels right for a forte entrance. That chord is used a lot in violin music, to the point that the chord and bowing almost feel unified to me. I also like the circling motion with the bow that Al mentioned.

Starting it up-bow feels weird, but it does make you think about the entrance differently, and that's probably good to try regardless of how you end up performing it.

October 3, 2007 at 10:15 PM · Another possible interpretation- involving imagery- start down bow to deliberately make a bold entrance( and do a second down bow on the single "G"),not connecting to the winds falling scale pattern before the solo entrance, like an actor or character in an opera jumping into the spotlight on stage, and as the notes work their way down in the arpeggio, with the appogiaturas highlighted, you create a mild terraced dynamic effect before the end of the phrase, denoting the audience's getting used to the presence of the performer, as the initial excitement at seeing them burst forth onto the stage passes and calms down.

October 3, 2007 at 10:31 PM · Wow, interesting discussion. I never would have thought of starting it up bow either. If I think of the solo entrance as a continuation of the tutti passage, though, it still feels like a climax that I'd want to emphasize with a down bow. An up bow makes sense to me only if the phrase ends after that initial chord, which it doesn't in my interpretation.

October 4, 2007 at 07:08 AM · Thanks everybody for you input.Here are a few of my students comments when I asked them to try it out

1)With a down bow the inpetus of gravity pulls the bow towards the floor making the top g the most important note in an up bow the thrust of the bow makes the bottom note of the chord the most important.Did Mozart want to start his theme with a d?

2)Using an up bow gives it a more Baroque flavour (Italian Baroque school loves up bows)

3)I like the up bow because its more elegant and more in the classical style.

4)I like the down bow because it makes my entry more important and more obvious.

It seems to me to be very personal.Incidently Gilles starts on an up bow!!

October 4, 2007 at 07:22 AM · Ronald, the imagery of leaping onto the stage describes the upbow entrance; it's the leap before the landing.

October 4, 2007 at 11:27 AM · I've always started it up-bow. Much more of a splash, much less of a crash, than the downbow. An elegant start, in other words.

Oops. I forgot. Elegance is a bad idea and part of the Europhallocentric Hegemony.

I grovel and apologize.

October 4, 2007 at 11:41 AM · I think it's up bow but then I get in trouble...

Can you follow that with another upbow and then with a down bow?

then up up and THEN


This is the orchestral part though.......oops

October 4, 2007 at 11:45 AM · "It really must be upbow."

October 8, 2007 at 12:51 PM · In fiddling circles, there are people who say there are down-bow fiddlers and up-bow fiddlers, meaning that some typically put the strong beat on downs most of the time, etc. An interesting thought for classical players, though, who maybe think that downs are clearer/stronger than ups? But it is really in how we use the bow. Sue

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