Review of Tetzlaff

December 20, 2007 at 10:07 PM · Greetings,

interesting review of a violinist who deserves to be better known.

Cheers,

Buri

Replies (100)

December 21, 2007 at 12:01 AM · I attended that concert, and remember it as one of the best I have ever seen. The performances were excellent throughout, and the Grosse Fugue was positively transfigured in my mind by the two intervening concertos. Tetzlaff is a profound musician-- whatever that means, but it's true-- and is as imaginative as anyone without ever being obtrusive or annoying. The BSO really responded to him and to the project of the program, too.

The program had all of our minds in the audience working double-time, which made for an interesting side show in itself. I should add that some people left before the second performance of the Fugue, and others during the Schoenberg.

Their loss. Besides, in how many cities could a concert like that have inspired a huge ovation from a nearly-full house?

December 21, 2007 at 12:13 AM · I hadn't seen that review. It is true that the first performance of the fugue wasn't so great; I think a lack of focus was to blame.

Pity the reviewer (who I think might have been an interim critic between Richard Dyer and the current one, Jeremy Eichler) missed out on the opportunity to comment on the correspondences between the pieces, which obviously was half the point of the evening!

But I'll concede to her that Tetzlaff's motions are excessive and probably interfere with his playing.

December 21, 2007 at 01:45 AM · I think he is fabulous but he does move around alot.

December 21, 2007 at 02:15 AM · I think Tetzlaff's performance of Solo Bach is some of the best on a modern instrument on CD. It is historically informed and very effective. I recommend it highly.

December 21, 2007 at 02:39 AM · Didn't he have a famous sister or something. I thought I heard really interesting stories along those lines..

December 21, 2007 at 02:46 AM · "Interesting"

December 21, 2007 at 03:05 AM · Agreed, Bruce. Do you have a preference between his two recordings of solo Bach?

December 30, 2007 at 05:05 PM · Another example of a really fine violinist respected by his peers/colleagues, but not considered "commercially marketable" enough by the biz executives.

December 30, 2007 at 06:10 PM · I was also at this performance and honestly it was my favorite Beethoven concerto I have ever heard. I couldn't believe his sincerity and originality in communicating this piece to the audience. To be frank, (for me)his playing was much more interesting in almost every way than the Grosse Fugue's I heard that night, which in my opinion were quite straightforward and, while they were quite well played, to me they were just not as interesting and communicative. Tetzlaff became my favorite living violinist that night with his performances of the Beethoven and Schoenberg concertos.

As to the review, I just can't take people who denigrate Schoenberg for having no melodic content in his music seriously. I wonder if the reviewer has ever heard Verklarte Nacht. To be fair, the concerto is highly dissonant, but this is what music came to be and is now in the twentieth century. Constantly carping on the fact that it isn't "beautiful" is not going to drive composers back to tonality. Also the reviewer says that Schoenberg's works are rarely performed, which is completely preposterous. She also failed to realize that the entire intention(or a large part of it at least) of Levine's Beethoven/Schoenberg cycle was to highlight how similar these composers could actually be if you look beneath the surface, rather than to contrast tem.

December 30, 2007 at 06:20 PM · Josh: I agree with you. I totally recognize Tetzlaff's greatness as a violinst. But his lack of PR ability and skills seems to be a hinderance to take his career to the NEXT level. Maybe he's perfectly happy with his career right now, as he is still performing with the top orchestras and conductors.

As a great violinist once told me, you have to choose between (1) commercialism/fame/$ or (2) artistic integrity and hope for the best. It comes down to the individual's ideals and preferences.

December 30, 2007 at 06:22 PM · Josh, as far as I can tell composers are ooching back to tonality anyway, critics or no critics. ;-)

Christian Tetzlaff is my mom's favorite violinist of all time, so I've heard a lot of him--I must say his Mozart can't be beat.

December 30, 2007 at 06:53 PM · Didn't he have a famous sister or something. I thought I heard really interesting stories along those lines..

Yes, his sister is a cellist, Tanja, both are playing together in the Tetzlaff-Quartett (together with Elisabeth Kufferath) - should it happen that you can see them, do it.

It's a sad reviewer, "Tetzlaff’s cadenza was a very nice interlude, although I am not entirely sure what most of it had to do with the Beethoven Violin Concerto", correct me if I'm wrong, but Christian Tetzlaff uses to play his transcription of Beethoven's own original piano-version cadence of the concerto, doesn't he? Was it the one with the duo between violin and timbals?

A propos Verklärte Nacht & Tetzlaff - here is a nice video of the young Tetzlaff playing Verklärte Nacht.

December 30, 2007 at 07:37 PM · Sung...

Tetzlaff has a great career. Exactly what more do you want to see him do? Releasing a CD of show tunes? He gets very respectable fees and he has now played with most of the major orchestras in the world, to great critical acclaim.

December 30, 2007 at 08:10 PM · Pieter:

A definition of a top career from a musician's perspective and from a music business executive's perspective I think are entirely different.

From a musician's perspective, Tetzlaff has a great career.

From a music business exec's perspective, Tetzlaff has still yet to be better known to the masses like Lang Lang, Josh Bell, Hilary Hahn, Itzhak Perlman, etc.

So I'm not denying the fact that Tetzlaff doesn't have a great career. It's dependent on who you ask and what your definition of a great career is. He's a great artist and a great musician, just hasn't reached the level of a Hahn or Perlman in terms of a commercialized brand name career. I'm not criticizing him. If he's happy the way it is, then that's the most important thing. But if he wants to get more well recognized by the masses, he needs to do something different (including perhaps changing his current US manager).

Plus, I think this the type of thing that Stephen might be referring to has "Tetzlaff deserves to be better known".

December 30, 2007 at 08:19 PM · Sorry but any exec you ask would be well advised by marketing that Tetzlaff isn't even remotely like the artists you've mentioned and doesn't really have the potential for the type of career that Hahn or Bell has. I think a healthy recording schedual, low mid five figure fees, and engagements several years in advance with the world's best orchestras and a distinction as one of three or four of europe's "go to guys" as far as violinist engagements is about as good as it will get, and that's pretty good.

I know you weren't knocking him at all as a violinist, because really he is one of the greatest. I understand what you mean from a corporate point of view.

December 30, 2007 at 08:14 PM · Pieter: From your specified definition of a good career, I think Tetzlaff fits the bill quite well.

December 30, 2007 at 08:27 PM · Mara,

Good point as usual...I was just lashing out :). I think its funny though that the most tonal music that has been written in a while is minimalist, which in a way has had an even bigger backlash against it. Mention Steve Reich or John Adams to someone who doesn't like their music and they might have an aneurysm.

Mischa, thanks for that video!! Do you know the other musicians by any chance?

December 30, 2007 at 08:29 PM · Bleagh...I don't know what's worse, the deliberate incomprehensibility of atonal postmodernism, or the brain-numbing simplicity of minimalism. Remember you're talking to a card-carrying arch-Romantic here... :)

December 30, 2007 at 08:35 PM · I've got nothing against romanticism, hell, Mahler is just about the pinnacle for me, but I love the experimentalism of people like Kurtag and Ligeti. How many sounds can be created on an instrument? Mara have you heard Kurtag's Stele? I heard the Berlin Phil play it a few weeks ago and people were gasping in the audience at the sounds that were created. I'm not a fan of all of it, to say the least, but I admire the concept I have to say. I personally think a lot of this kind of music can be emotional in its own way. I'm rambling. I'm partly with you on minimalism, though I have to admit playing Century Rolls(Adams) with David Robertson certainly made me like Adams, but as much as I'd like too, I can't enjoy Steve Reich anymore because he's an ass, and Philip Glass is completely incomprehensible to me. Oh well.

December 30, 2007 at 08:45 PM · Ah, don't worry, I'm a huge fan of Ligeti. Kurtag is still taking a bit of getting used to but I've heard some works of his (like "Virág az Ember") that grabbed me from the first note and wouldn't let go.

December 30, 2007 at 08:48 PM · The best thing for me about Ligeti is the sense I get from his works that he's just playing, experimenting for the fun of it, exploring, goofing around on a rainy day. Not to say it sounds slapdash or sloppy--quite the opposite--but I hear a sense of wonder and enthusiasm and a sort of wide-eyed glee in the sounds he creates. Some modernist composers just take themselves WAY too seriously, Ligeti in contrast always seems to be winking at himself and his listeners.

Now who's rambling? I better re-think my Schumannesque ambitions to be at once performer, composer, and critic... :)

December 30, 2007 at 08:59 PM · Hi Josh,

II. Violin: Daniel Sepec (Konzertmeister Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen)

Violists: Siegfried Rivinius (Konzertmeister Duisburg) & Wilken Ranck (Konzertmeister Darmstadt)

Celli: Gustav Rivinius (Prof. in Saarbrücken) & II. Cello: Reinhard Latzko (Prof. in Vienna)

December 30, 2007 at 09:14 PM · tetzlaff, he scratches on the instrument way to much for me. i never found his sound particularly beautiful

December 30, 2007 at 09:40 PM · I have to disagree, I think Tetzlaff has a great sound and that he really is among the best there is. I have a short list of 5 current players which I am more in awe of than all the rest, and he is one of them (as is D. Jenson, Perlman, Chang, Reppin).

Honestly, I could not disagree more Mr. Kurganov!

December 30, 2007 at 10:12 PM ·

January 2, 2008 at 04:51 PM · Does anyone else have a problem with Tetzlaff's solo Bach recordings (there are two of them now). Some of the fast movements (e.g. the Double of the B minor Corrente) are taken much too fast for my taste. The technique is impressive and, granted, the movements in question are marked "presto," but for me the playing is so fast as to be insensitive and downright unmusical. I'm puzzled because the rest of the movements are played beautifully and his solo Bach recordings seem to be highly praised. Does anyone else share my reaction or am I completely out to lunch?

January 2, 2008 at 06:26 PM · Different individuals have different tastes... this can be a problem for some. Don't let it worry you.

January 2, 2008 at 08:52 PM · Mr. Song, about your comment "I totally recognize Tetzlaff's greatness as a violinst. But his lack of PR ability and skills seems to be a hinderance to take his career to the NEXT level": could you elaborate on the PR ability and skills you are referring to? What have the Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang...etc. group done to create themselves better careers?

January 2, 2008 at 08:58 PM · They make "music videos", go on television, do a lot of interviews, sign CDs after concerts/intermission. Hillary Hahn is now doing a lot of crossover stuff. She has a blog. Don't know about Lang Lang, but he has and will be playing at many large public events (including 2008 Beijing Olympics).

January 2, 2008 at 09:21 PM · Mariechristine, Pieter's posting gives you an idea what they do. Of course, building a top career requires more than just "pr activities". There are also some really nasty and at times unpleasant, behind-the-scenes industry politics that are not discussed on a public forum.

January 2, 2008 at 09:28 PM · Thank you both of you, I understand now.

January 2, 2008 at 10:04 PM · interesting comments between pieter and mr song. i think along pieter's line that the marketing has to fit the artist (so on one extreme, some artists are not really marketable material for mass appeal). if an artist is introverted and shy, it is tough to package the person as engaging and open. dunno enough about hilary to make a fair comment, but lang lang is born, raised, packaged and handpicked to be a star. there are many factors involved and none, unfortunately, has anything to do with piano skills. many play better but has no audience.

over the holidays i bumped into an executive from a record label in a gathering. the conversation drifted toward the reality facing many highly skilled musicians from asia, attending the best music schools in the US on scholarship but having problem finding direction after graduation. what to do if there is no more space for solo players on the top? he quipped that it is difficult to market someone without much of a personality/trait, something that is drastically different. he went on to say that among asian players, it is easier to promote female players, which, on some level, probably ties in with the thread "what to wear"...

January 2, 2008 at 10:26 PM · Al: I think there are way too many talented asian female violinists and it's becoming harder and harder to market them. With that, I do feel there is some room in the market for male asian violinists. The timing for Ryu Goto (Midori's younger brother) was perfect. He got the Deutsche Grammophone recording contract and is doing extremely well. Although he did slow down his concert schedule to focus a bit more intensively on his studies at Harvard University. When I introduced Ryu Goto to some of my presenter/symphony orchestra colleagues, they immediately saw his special uniqueness and he got an immediate engagement. I know they have plans to reinvite him when his schedule allows.

Also, from my observations, the asian students tend to work really hard, are very disciplined and play extremely well. But when they graduate from conservatories, they seem to be lost and unable to navigate the political system very well.

Although, I feel the japanese musicians are an exception. They have enormous support from their country, their governments, their corporations. They play the international political game in the music biz very well. They are savvy with relationship building.

I am also in the midst of helping one of the best concert pianists organize another new european music festival (from a strategic operations role). Along with great european artists, this pianist is contemplating on only inviting the japanese artists from the asian territory because of the outstanding professional relationships that the pianist built with the japanese audiences, musicians, and the music biz people.

If you have trouble understanding this, just check out http://www.kajimotomusic.com/html_e/artist_jap/renaud_capucon.html

It's amazing how the japanese create outstanding opportunities for the top artists in their country. When artists perform in Japan, they get mobbed like rockstars from the public/press and get treated like royalty from the presenters.

January 2, 2008 at 10:14 PM · "There are also some really nasty and at times unpleasant, behind-the-scenes industry politics that are not discussed on a public forum."

Is that where music managements come in? I wonder whether this partially explains the disconnect between musicians and the audience. Since the classical music is run by big money, both private and public, it probably matters less what the audience think. That in turn may trivialize good playing. If true, a vicious cycle.

Ihnsouk

January 2, 2008 at 10:28 PM · Insouk: Unfortunately, at the very top echelon of classical music, it is all money and politics. The classical music business is very elitist. Sometimes having a big artist such as Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern, or Martha Argerich push a younger artist behind the scenes doesn't hurt. Other times, presenters are forced by corporate or big individual donors to "present their preferred artist". There are alot more things that goes on behind the scenes that really should not be discussed in a public forum, but this hopefully gives you some idea.

January 2, 2008 at 11:14 PM · Maybe it should be discussed in a public forum to dismantle the unfair practice if that is really what is going on. Innocent listeners get robbed of oppotunities to listen to better playing and hard working musicians have to "prostitute". It sounds like an economy where good products are not reaching right consumers, a bit like communism. We know what happens then.

Ihnsouk

January 2, 2008 at 11:52 PM · It is sad when I see all the naive Korean stage parents at Juilliard expect their pre-college or college kids will "make it" when they graduate from the school, win a major international competition, and especially if they are a product of a top teacher with alot of political pull such as Delay or Perlman.

Then when reality hits, there is alot of disappointment. As a former presenter and artist manager, I have had to break alot of hearts when many auditioned for me. I have heard many many outstanding young musicians including a top Juilliard graduate with a DMA, where in a perfect world, I would have been able to help. Unfortunately, this person was not well liked among colleagues and people in general. In addition, many of the talented kids didn't have the political or $ connections, the stage presence, or marketing/pr skills that would have allowed my colleagues and I to help them more.

There were many many times I have lost sleep over delivering disappointing news to a major talent, but I had to make management decisions based on potential profitablity than just talent. It's a hard and delicate topic for many to comprehend.

There were times when I have invited & presented a special talent (just totally on the basis of talent). Although the performance would be spectacular and receive thunderous standing ovations from the audience, sometimes I was forced by other factors such as the fellow board members or donors to NEVER REINVITE this individual because apparently the individual would piss off donors! (There was one young artist who I invited that was an amazing pianist with lots of promising potential. During a dinner with a major major donor, the pianist told the father that he wanted sleep with his daughter and was making inappropriate sexual jokes at the dinner table. Of course, this pissed of the donor and it hurt the organization's bottom line!!).

When I did encounter a rare talent with all the supplementary goods such as $ and political connections, ablility to build strong relationships with people, etc then it made my job so easy and rewarding to help out such rare individuals.

Sometimes, nationality or race is a factor in a decision whether or not to invite a particular soloist. I know of a canadian presenter who gave preference to jewish, asian and canadian artists. I also knew other american presenters who would not invite french artists. I managed many outstanding french artists and myself found it difficult to sell even the top french artists to the US presenters.

Thus, this is one big reason I decided to leave the music business. I hate having to disappoint people with bad news. I felt at times like Simon from American Idol, although I don't think I was as nasty as him.

January 2, 2008 at 11:40 PM · Mr. Sung-Duk Song

This is very interesting to me. I have a good friend who was identified as having career potential as a pianist while in high school. He is much older now and for a variety of reasons never got the career but he was close to some "career-builders" early on and he has described to me essentially what you are saying. I was never sure how seriously to take him but I think more seriously now.

On reflection it doesn't take so much imagination to recognize that there are only so many engagements available. An artist needs to take as many as he can get to get traction and a promoter needs to only invest in the number of artists he can reasonably promote.

It also makes sense that one has to be inherently promotable.

My problem lately is that I can't connect with the promotion. I have listened to quite a few recordings of folks like Hilary Hahn and Gil Schaham but I haven't heard a violinist younger that 35 in concert for over 10 years. They're all very good players but I must be sated or something. Nothing happens when I hear them. Perhaps people like me are why careers can be so short. Boring... Next!

January 3, 2008 at 01:02 AM · Although I have honestly reviewed all promotional materials sent to me by artists and their managers in the past, I had a pattern when selecting younger, less-established artists. Of course this is one presenter's point of view, but I hope the readers will find it a learning experience to get into the head of a presenter when he/she selects the artists to invite rather than be offended by the methodology of artist selection.

The young artists that I was able to fortunately help launch their careers atleast in the USA/Canada include:

* pianist Piotr Anderszweski

* violinist Ryu Goto

* violinist Lisa Batishiavili

* violinist Arabella Steinbacher

* pianist Claire-Marie Le Guay

* pianist Gabriela Montero

The three pianists come from the prestigious International Piano Foundation in Cadennabia, Italy and/or are protege's of Martha Argerich. One of the pianist is also a graduate of the CNSM Paris under Jacques Rouvier. I heavily favored the pianists trained at CNSM Paris under Rouvier, Imola Piano Academy under Lazar Berman, or IPF under Martha Argerich & Alicia de Larrocha. Not that I have anything against Juilliard's piano department, but I myself find it an interesting phenomenon that I have never had an opportunity to help a young pianist who graduated from Juilliard or Curtis.

The two female violinists come out of Ana Chumachenco's studio (the teacher of Julia Fischer). I have a special admiration for Ana Chumachenco and consider her to be one of the top teachers of this generation. The male violinist comes out of Cho-Liang Lin's studio at Juilliard.

Many of the presenters/orchestra managers have a tight network and we all call each other for referrals of new up and coming artists. So, if an artist performed on my series and was spectacular then word would get out about the young artist. Other times, even if I didn't have an opportunity to present a particular young artist, colleagues would seek my recommendations and would invite the artists I recommended. This is why artists who "burn bridges" with one presenter cannot effectively network with other presenters. (There was one very extremely difficult young violinist from Curtis who I was so fedup by her unprofessional behavior that I sent out a broadcast email to all my close colleagues. Her behavior was worse than Kathleen Battle! This killed her career and she got NO INVITATIONS from any of the major presenters/orchestras. Now I hear she's working on a grad degree from Donald Weilerstein's studio at NEC).

Like in the business world where corporations specifically have strong ties to certain universities and put alot of recruiting efforts at those schools, us presenters/orchestra managers have special relationships with certain teachers and conservatories for inviting soloists, especially for the younger artists.

January 3, 2008 at 02:49 AM · I think Ryu's career was launched before he was a zygote.

I was trying to say that Tetzlaff, I do not think, has the type of persona that would lend itself to the type of marketing that Lang Lang benefits from. He still has an A level career, and well deserved at that. But no, he doesn't have the bigger market exposure that some others do.

The future of classical music as far as the rock star soloist is in Argentina/Venezuela and of course, east Asia. Already I know of several friends playing in Japan, South Korea, Shang Hai and Bangkok (no idea they liked classical music so much), with a lot of success and the royal treatment.

January 3, 2008 at 03:12 AM · Pieter: I agree with you about Ryu. But even without the connection with Midori, I would have helped him. It was surprising though that none of my network of presenter colleagues atleast on the west coast heard of this guy before.

Also, Ryu's PR company is very careful not to "flaunt" in his bio that Ryu is the younger bro of Midori. I think they want to try to build his career based on his own merits, than piggy backing on his sister's coattails.

I find something very unique and refreshing about his playing.

January 3, 2008 at 10:00 AM · Sibling or father/son association has not always been effective in establishing artists, and I doubt they'd even consider it in the first place, because it would just look tacky. I think they recognize that his playing can speak for itself.

January 3, 2008 at 01:18 PM · Sung Duk, Do you suppose that some events are staged such as the "last minute substitute" gambit to heighten the drama of a debut? I.e. the last minute substitute knew all along that they were going to have the gig but another performer was scheduled and then withdrawn at the last minute.

January 3, 2008 at 02:10 PM · Corwin: Of course! Not all "substitutes" but I've witnessed a few even as a presenter. :)

In addition -- Believe it or not, an artist's name can be a major issue why presenters don't want to invite a certain artist. Once, I had an artist management client who had the last 7 letters of the last name ending in "sh*tsky" and although presenters loved the playing they even insisted that I get permission to temporarily change the name to "shinsky". The artist didn't agree to such an insult and never got invited anywhere of significance.

January 3, 2008 at 02:45 PM · mr song, thanks for the glimpses of the dark, underworld:) be scared,,,,be very scared! :):)_

for those julliard stage moms and pops, what do you tell them in terms of constructive advice? and for that matter, what do you tell your students?

how do you help them separate fantasy from conviction to excel?

January 3, 2008 at 02:59 PM · I am sure there are plenty who know how to play this game. My guess would be that if you know the game, you benefit greatly for not having to face fair competitions. Maybe much in the same way communism rewarded incompetents at the cost of general degradation of the overall economy? Another wild guess of mine; If the playing field is level, I doubt that big names would be as big as they are. There would be more players sharing the spot offering us, audiences, variety. Although we decry for the lack of federal funding, it may be poisoning the music business. It makes a few indivisuals who knows how to tap into too powerful catering to their ego negleting the need of expanding the audience base. Shrinking audience number makes musicians more dependent on those few. Pretty arcane. After the collapse of communism, I thought only the UN and North Korea practised that way.

Ihnsouk

January 3, 2008 at 04:06 PM · Al: Most of the kids at the Juilliard pre-college or college levels are very outstanding to begin with. Here are some random thoughts/advice I sometimes give to the parents. Most "stage" parents don't understand or want to understand and end up learning the reality of the biz through the school of hard knocks.

1. Don't lock the kid in a practice room and have them practice 6-10 hrs/day thinking they'll be the next Sarah Chang, Midori, Heifetz, etc. Kids need to be kids and try to live as much a "normal" life as possible. Of course the hard work ethic, drive, determination must be there to succeed. But a more healthy lifestyle will allow the "soft skills" such as relationship building with people which can be an enormous benefit.

2. Don't think that competitions will build your career. It "could" (not always a "will") open some doors, but then when opportunities are given it is the responsibility of the young artist to learn how to play the game.

3. A secondary major (i.e. Business/Marketing) at another college will definitely "add value" both to the young artist and to the music business executives. Understanding the business and marketing aspects and having those skills will actually allow one to be more employable. Plus, when meeting donors if a very talented young artist is well versed on the financial stock markets, etc and can hold an intelligent conversation with corporate donors, it will win them alot of points.

4. The stage presence/charisma/artistry is something that cannot really be taught. Although working with a top artist or teacher can certainly facilitate and bring this out or develop it, it really has to come from within.

5. Having a personal association with a top artist (as a student, mentee, friend) and/or music business executives/presenters, and conductors, and corporate sponsors will certainly make the life of the young artist much easier. Yes, the top school and any major prizes at competitions certainly could help but is not the be all, end all. I gave you a perspective where I recruited the young artists from and not to be discriminatory to other top schools, but I just had a preference. Every presenter will have a different preference and criteria.

6. Find a top management company/manager that truly understands you as an artist. Just any "manager" doesn't guarantee a career. Like a real estate agent, a good artist manager has very solid and wonderful working relationships with presenters/orchestras. This person also would have the ability to package a younger artist & a more established artist as a "packaged deal". (i.e. A top manager like at IMG could say to the presenter, "If you want to invite Perlman for $XXX,XXX then you need to also invite this up and coming artist".) Be careful to not associate yourself with managers who have a bad industry reputation. There were many artists that I wanted to invite that I didn't due to their agents. Many of the agents were unethical in the business deals and I would never accept their phone calls and throw away the artist press kits.

7. Once the young artist gets a career started, to maintain it you have to invest lots and lots of $$ into public relations. I've witnessed lots of promising artists off to a good start then all of sudden, the careers disappear. All the major major artists that are commercial -- i.e. Hahn, Bell, Perlman, Midori, etc have a major pr firm backing them up. For example, Josh Bell's PR firm is Jag PR in Beverly Hills. They've managed some very well known hollywood actors/actresses over the years. They are one of the top PR firms in the movie industry. Thus, it is most likely that Bell got roles in the movie Red Violin through connections with his PR firm.

Of course there is no "exact" formula for launching, growing, and maintaining a top career. But ultimately, it comes down to $, politics, and relationship building.

The subject of career management for artists is a passion of mine. Although I enjoy sharing my thoughts, experiences, etc to try to help people, I also find it uncomfortable at times because I tend to be brutally honest. Sometimes the honest realities are difficult for people to understand or deal with. So anyone reading this -- please take it with a grain of salt. I hope these perspectives give aspiring young artists hope and education as opposed to discouragement.

January 3, 2008 at 03:43 PM · thank you mr song for that insight. very good stuff that i am sure many lucking the dark:) will find educational. it is really basic common sense, but often we ignore it because we think we know better. we don't. thank you again for your time.

January 3, 2008 at 04:38 PM · Pieter: In response to your posting in regards to many of your friends having success performing in South Korea. This was interesting to me.... I don't know the level of career of your friends but a reoccuring complaint that I heard among the very top echelon artists is that Korean audiences/presenters treat the artists awful. The korean audiences seem to be extremely critical with high standards and expect near flawless playing COMBINED with great artistry. They expect an "artistic machine" rather than try to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the artist. The programs that seem to sell out consists of fast, exciting music and not what they refer to as the "boring, slow and easy stuff". There are great artists like Maria-Joao Pires who never perform in South Korea. Her type of programming (Schubert & Mozart Sonatas with Chopin Nocturnes) were never appreciated in Korea (although the Japanese audiences appreciate the individuality of the artist from programming to personality). In addition, my presenter contacts at the major concerthalls in S.Korea all complained that hardly any audiences purchase tickets and attend concerts (sometimes worse than the USA).

For example, there were many great artists such as Barbara Hendricks, Gidon Kremer, etc that all had performances that had less than 5% of hall capacity and received very negative audience and press reviews. The artists have found this type of behavior an insult. I even managed other top artists (whose names will not be disclosed for their PR protection) complain that me that they will never go to Korea or help young korean artists.

On the other hand, the Japanese have a tendancy to really take great care of the artists. They music business structure in Japan is very outstanding. If you look at the website of Kajimoto Artists Management, they work with some of the best artists in the world and ALL OF THEM get treated like royalty. Not only are performances sold out, but are also standing room only. Artists like Argerich, Gitlis, Dutoit, Ashkenasy, etc are looked upon by the Japanese audiences as like "Gods and Goddesses of Music". The artists get paid great fees (i.e. Nigel Kennedy gets paid over $100K a concert in Japan). Thus, many of the top artists who enjoy performing in Japan have greatly assisted with the career launching of the many japanese artists including Akiko Suwanai, Mayuko Kamio, Ryu Goto, Ayako Uehara, etc. One needs to be aware that the "quantity" of successful Japanese artists seems to outnumber the artists from any other asian country.

Although I do find it very interesting that most of Itzhak Perlman's asian students are South Korean. Most other top teachers give preference to the Japanese. Notice how most of Gary Graffman's top students are Chinese (including Lang Lang, Yuja Wang, and many other chinese nationals).

Once, I had lunch with the former president of one of the best orchcestras in the world who told me that he is fed up with the South Korean mentality towards artists and vowed never to help south korean artists, regardless how great they are. I found it funny when this person introduced me to Mayuko Kamio and even claimed that she plays 100 times better than Itzhak Perlman at the same age. He even kept pressuring me to invite Mayko and "spread the word how great she is." :)

January 3, 2008 at 04:19 PM · We frequently read things here as famous artist X killed the career of not so famous artist Y. It seems clear from what you have posted that this may be possible but a more likely scenario is that famous artist X is trying to develop his own network so that he can have a longer lasting career based on a network of younger performers who will help him extend his/her career. He is placing some bets on who will succeed and he has to make the appropriate "relationship investments" in protoges that may help him do that. He may also have to cut losses from time to time.

Looking back to the past Heifetz seems to have been terribly naive on this score and Isaac Stern was a genius. The Stern legacy lives on and Heifetz students, good as they may be are hardly identifiable.

January 3, 2008 at 04:37 PM · Corwin: Your observations and instincts are so correct. Dorothy Delay was part of the "Isaac Stern Mafia". Hence, hope this gives you an idea of how she rised to power! ICM's President Lee Lamont was Stern's personal assistant. Most of the artists in ICM were mentored or endorsed by Stern. Yo YO Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jaime Laredo, Cho Liang Lin, Midori, etc were all part of the Stern team.

I know of a top artist (who I will not identify) who saw a younger colleague as a threat. This person got a top record company to not renew the record contract and placed one of his protege's into the record company instead.

January 3, 2008 at 05:15 PM · I would like to know to what extent that critics are tied up in creating careers. Are they willful "co-conspirators" or are they dupes who uncritically take what they are offered? If the former then what is the quid pro quo?

I'm guessing that it is probably some of both and a lot of in between.

January 3, 2008 at 05:30 PM · Corwin:

That's somewhat of a different area than my expertise so I don't want to comment too much, since I could be wrong. But this is where having a top Public Relations firm can really help build a career. Top public relations firms have great relationships with the media, especially the music critics and radio stations. To give you an example, the most powerful PR firm in the classical music biz is Mary Lou Falcone PR. Her clients include Gustavo Dudamel, Jean Yves Thibaudet, Renee Fleming, Nadja Salerno-Sonneneberg, etc. When Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg first was starting out in the early 1980s, her reviews were very very bad. Notice how the "tunes changed" when she hired Mary Lou Falcone to be her publicist. Although I felt she played alot better back in the 1980s, she is getting better reviews now than back then.

Why do you think some artists get their recordings played more often on the radio stations than others?

Also, presenters are "VERY SENSITIVE" to press reviews. Many times, a bad press review is definitely a factor for not re-inviting the artist.

January 3, 2008 at 05:40 PM · Sung-Duk, how does one become famous in classical music? It seems to me that there's a vast oversupply of people who'd fit the bill. In my own field I was successful by staying a little later, saving peoples' neck ocassionally, and having fun doing it all. If I had anything like "star quality" it was the occassional insight that was uniquely mine which saved a lot of money or a lot of necks (in spite of the occassional unique oversight which did just the opposite). That formula kept me from ever having to take the political route, basically. And one time I saw a motivational banner which read "Exceed Expectations", something that's very easy to do, which stuck in my head as a bit of a magic formula.

The one or two few very successful classical artists I'm acquainted with are successful not because they're greater than everybody else, how could anybody be in that field, but because they're uniquely useful by for example being able to learn something really fast, and play a concert of something difficult at a moment's notice on the way between two previously scheduled concerts. Maybe more "exceeding expectations" :) So how does it work in classical music? How do you distinguish yourself?

January 3, 2008 at 05:41 PM · Jim: Good question. If I had the magical answer, I'd be a millionaire doing consulting work for thousands of artists. Again, there is no "formula". What I explained in my posts are a compilation of many vast and complex factors from personal experiences and observations of working with many of the top and rising star artists. What works for one individual, will probably not work for another individual.

January 3, 2008 at 05:43 PM · It looks like what goes on in the classical music scene is just as bad as, or even worse than, what goes on in the pop/rock scene.

Anyway, I think these days, with technology, one can somehow bypass the "establishment" to make a name for oneself. For instance, YouTube is a great place to get heard. Whether or not one's success on YouTube will translate to $$$$ or concert engagements depends on the fans.

January 3, 2008 at 05:54 PM · "What works for one individual, will probably not work for another individual."

Sung-Duk, that's unnerving. How does one know what to do then? Not that the same things would ever work for everyone. But there has to be some identifiable strategies, otherwise...what to do? :|

January 3, 2008 at 05:49 PM · Jim: Anything investment in life is a gamble, which includes the education/training, etc. Provided that one has the top training and the credentials, then I think if an individual is good at building and maintaining relationships with important people it will open doors. Then when the doors do get opened, to have it remain open additional investments must be made like PR, etc etc.

No one can definitely predict the outcomes of anyone's career (even in other professions). Generally the most successful people are the ones that have the minimum level of proficiency, have lots of people on their side as support and other political benefits.

January 3, 2008 at 05:54 PM · Kevin: Even if the fans send letters to the management of a presenter or orchestra requesting soloist x or soloist y to be presented, not all requests are able to be honored. For one thing, many of the top presenters have planned their seasons 2-4 years out in advance so they already have contracts and commitments they need to honor. Most often, it's the politics of $ that dictate which soloists are presented. If the requested soloist by many audiences is ALSO requested by corporate donors, then it's a no brainer for presenters to invite that artist.

Artists and conductors are expected to do alot more fundraising for the organizations these days. So for young artists, if he/she is a great fundraising and has an ability to charm the donors and raise money for the presenter, then this is a great advantage and skill to have. In addition to being great artists, like Yo Yo Ma and Perlman are very savvy fundraisers. They have lots of friends who are heads of major corporations. When they are invited, their corporate sponsors/friends usually also donate a big check to the presenter. So it's an "investment" for the presenter to invite these artists at a big fee because it ultimatley affects the bottom line.

January 3, 2008 at 06:02 PM · Sung-Duk:

Thanks for your stories...I bet there are many more of them.

One thing you mention that I have heard before is the business about names. I think many eastern European artists with names that do not roll easily off our tongues in America are doomed from the start. Maybe some Asian artists, too. On the other hand, even my young children know who Yo-Yo Ma is. I think that Lang Lang's name has helped him, because it is easy for Americans to remember and also novel to us.

The pianist Earl Wild once remarked that he seemed to do much better in South America becuase his name was unusual there. Then he remarked about the trouble American pianists seem to have in establishing careers. I believe he said that, "Once it was fashionable to be a Polish pianaist, nowadays, a Russian name dazzles us." There's a lot of truth in that.

Out of curiosity, what do you do now that you are out of the music business?

Kevin

January 3, 2008 at 06:15 PM · KG: Yes, names are a big issue. For example, audiences always could never pronounce or seem to remember Kyung-Wha Chung (although she was a great artist and did relatively well in the commercial side of the music biz).

I think psychologically, some names lend itself to building brand names more easily than others. Like IBM, McDonalds and Disney, "Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, etc" are what I called branded names. When any ordinary person off the street is asked about classical music, even if they don't know the music by Mozart, they could probably rattle off Yo Yo Ma.

Although I am not in the music business as a professional executive, I still remain involved more on a "macro level" by doing organizational management consulting on boards of directors, etc. I am helping one of the greatest pianists of this century start a new music festival in Europe (I cannot disclose any details at this time because it's too early in the stages). I also do private consulting work for established artists and rising star artists on a case by case basis. Presenters and orchestras still contact me for the latest and greatest young artists so I advise them and help place the young artists that I am truly passionate about. Finally, I'm doing my graduate studies in Finance at the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania with plans to switch into corporate finance/investment banking. It's nice not having to work late nights anymore wining and dining the donors after concerts. So I manage to keep myself still busy. :)

January 3, 2008 at 06:15 PM · Sung-Duk:

Good for you. I went to Wharton myself!

Kevin

January 3, 2008 at 06:24 PM · "I think many eastern European artists with names that do not roll easily off our tongues in America are doomed from the start."

How true. My most single memorable violin concert was a some guy with a Polish name with a shortage of vowels, with a touring orchestra. He played Mozart #5 like nothing you ever heard. No idea who he was now. Tkrkwbsar Pltqrwkmwkrtz or somebody. There was no saving the program and Googling the names in those days either. Even American names need to have a certain ring. Yo-Yo Ma is a great name in this regard, even though it was funny when we first heard it.

January 3, 2008 at 06:23 PM · "Even American names need to have a certain ring.

Jim: Do you think this is why Josh Bell's name rings well commercially? :)

January 3, 2008 at 06:26 PM · Another very good name, I think.

January 3, 2008 at 06:35 PM · Jim:

There's an American pianist named Tzimon Barto (not sure if that's how to spell the first name). I've not heard him, but he has a decent career. Maybe he's great.

The interesting thing is his real name: Johnny Smith. Barto is his middle name.

Kevin

January 3, 2008 at 06:36 PM · mr song, did you ever complain to your parents for giving YOU a name (translation of course) that may be a challenge for some?:):):) too bad my kid is not going for music like the rest of the world, or i may have to rename her... Ping Pong.

what is the definition of a "presenter"? is it the same as a "promoter"?

January 3, 2008 at 06:40 PM · Al: It's funny that you ask that question. It really didn't matter to me that much, because my career goals were never to be a concert violinist. One of my friends, an executive at Universal Records suggested that if I ever wanted to build a performing career, I should just use "Sung-Duk".

A "promoter" is a term usually used in the rock/pop world and "presenter" is used more in the classical world. They're essentially the same thing. In europe, "impressario" still gets used sometime.

January 3, 2008 at 06:57 PM · Sung, are the 24 caprices, wienawski #1 and Carmen fast and flashy enough for korean audiences?

Apparently quite so.

I think there's some good advice here. It's a very political game, but with few exceptions, quality usually rises to the top. It's a matter of how long that quality stays visible and available, however. Perlman always says that it isn't about getting the 1st big engagement, it's the 2nd and the 3rd. There's a lot of people who have their NY Phil debut at Avery Fischer and don't play on that scale much after that, often times it is sad because they're quite capable.

There are certain artists like Gidon Kremer who I feel are almost immune to the industry, and that's because of his very unique and rather incredible insight. A certain type of audience is very attracted to that kind of artistry, and I don't think that in particular is in over supply.

January 3, 2008 at 07:27 PM · Pieter: It's that type of repertoire that seems to interest the S.Korean audiences to the point of obsession and not understanding great artistry. Even if a great artist gave the most moving performance of Massanet's Meditation from Thais as an example, it would not be appreciated by many as it would be looked down as "that's an easy piece". (Although I believe to do that piece well requires lots of imagination and top level bow control).

I remember Gitlis had one of the most horrifying experiences in S. Korea. He was literally "booed" by the audiences and heavily criticized for poor intonation, quirky interpretations, etc. Couple young korean artists met him and asked "What is your secret for the Bartok Solo Violin Sonata?" He replied "Use your damn brain!" LOL (Whereas in Japan, he is extremely generous and holds master classes, gives private lessons and masterful tips, introduces the the young artists to top record executives, etc).

January 3, 2008 at 08:09 PM · I don't think quality always rises to the top. It is indisputable that players with careers are certainly adequate to the ears of most of the audience. But there are many quality players who never get a chance to be stars.

January 3, 2008 at 08:33 PM · Well I was just telling you what rep they were engaged to play.

Corwin, if you will re-read what I posted, I said that quality often rises to the top, it's just a question of how long they can stay there. Competition wins, a recital or concerto performance at a big festival, a big market debut etc... is not so uncommon for great violinists. It's the same thing that got the now famous ones their great careers. There's just a lot of people who only get their 35 minutes of fame, then it tapers off substantially.

January 3, 2008 at 10:07 PM · There may not be much one can do if the industry runs that way. I guess one will have to go along and do what one has to to survive. Just for an intellectual curiosity, is there any evidence that this approach brings more classical music listeners in the long run? I can't imagine people who listen for subtle shades of music pay much attention to how easy or difficult a name is to pronounce in making their listening choices.

Ihnsouk

January 3, 2008 at 10:32 PM · The unfortunate thing is that there are colleagues of mine on the business end of music who are compelled/forced to play this game so they can survive the music management careers. There is a small select group of music biz professionals who are educated and experienced enough to try to do the right thing, but ultimately they end up choosing the correct means for survival of their own careers.

I would not be surprised if during Mozart's time, there were similar things like this that happened. It's been around way too long and I think it's going to take more than a few contientious individuals to fix the whole environment. Thus, I am fed up with the environment and decided to leave. I am so much happier now not being directly involved in the industry anymore.

If you want additional insights about this topic, I'd suggest reading Norman Lebrecht's book called "Who Killed Classical Music?" I felt it was quite an accurate depiction of this industry.

January 3, 2008 at 10:50 PM · Also, perhaps Laurie should interview violinist Ida Haendel regarding her thoughts on this topic. She definitely has a mouthful to say about the music biz. Whenever she opens her mouth, she's so not "pc" that I find myself laughing the whole time she talks. She's been known to criticize Itzhak Perlman and her more commercialized colleagues out in public. There's drama in her playing and drama in her speaking. If you are interested Laurie, let me know as I can get you in touch with her. She lives in Miami, Florida. :)

January 3, 2008 at 10:59 PM · Potentially the Internet could turn into a force to launch careers. Today any member of v.com can upload performances right here. Perhaps some efforts to solicit performances from up and comers and some effort on the part of performers to increase their on-line network would be a step towards an alternate route to a career. You-tube could have this function as well.

I'll admit that it is hard today to see how that will happen but who knows. Perhaps buzz created on the Internet will reach presenters.

There is no doubt that anyone in the world can put a performance within the reach of almost anyone else in the world. Turning that into a career... that's the next problem.

January 3, 2008 at 11:20 PM · Corwin: I agree with you.

To all of the professional violinists on v.com:

I really do wish all the violinists in the world and on v.com the best with the career goals. I encourage people to post their videos/audio clips on v.com, myspace.com, etc. Occasionally, I do keep an eye out for interesting and new talent. (With that being said, I do not wish to be inundated with emails in my inbox asking me for help. If I truly think I can help someone, I will contact them directly through v.com). If I run into your performances, I will do my best to help but cannot make any promises. In fact, there is a v.com member that I recently discovered that I was extremely impressed. I will be contacting one of you soon when I have a chance.

The least I can do is make some formal introductions to agents, presenters, and conductors for exceptional violinists that I think have the "total package" for a career. So please don't be discouraged with the previous postings. Do keep up the hard work and again, best wishes.

January 3, 2008 at 11:34 PM · "Whenever she opens her mouth, she's so not "pc" that I find myself laughing the whole time she talks."

Yes, along with a great deal of interesting interpretations of the truth.

January 4, 2008 at 03:49 AM · Hah!

Bets thraed I ever strated. Thanks everyone. Fantastic.

Cheers,

Buri

January 4, 2008 at 07:17 AM · Happy New Year Buri! Did you get my email?

January 4, 2008 at 04:53 PM · Sung-Duk:

I agree with you about YOuTube, etc. There are some musicians (pianist Valentina Lisitsa, who accompanies Hilary Hahn sometimes, is a good example) who have done a great job of posting some of their performances. If one is curious, he can browse through these and decide what he thinks. It's a great way to become aware of artists that maybe do not have a lot of exposure for no cost!

Kevin

January 4, 2008 at 05:48 PM · Is the classical music industry so eager to find new talent to take the trouble of going through many YouTube postings? From what I read so far, they may be more interested in referring each other and maintaining the old boys network. There may not be a tagible reward in discovering new talent unlike poplar music. Steve Vai hired the violinist Alex De Pue that way for their European tour last year, Alex De Pue is an older brother of Jason De Pue in the Philadelphia Orchestra and Zachary De Pue of Time for Three.

It sounds like classical presenters are interested in big money and someone who will attract it. New talent will have tough time competing the old in that. Savvy listeners and some old money will go for new talents. There may even be enough savvy listners to make profit but the presenters are more likely interested in mixing with money bags and bypass the hard work of producing new talent for profit. I am not an econimist but it looks to me classical music industry has every element of sick economy; products and consumers are secondary to the interest of middlemen who would have not existed without them.

Ihnsouk

January 4, 2008 at 07:15 PM · If we assume its a business then they will be trying to find product that will satisfy their audience.

Of course this is a somehat naive view of marketing. Presenters, just like Apple, Proctor and Gamble and every other company, also try to create demand by teaching us to need things we didn't know we needed.

The Internet won't do this but it can be exploited by smart people todo things like this.

What would it take to make the tag-line " as heard on violinist.com" etc. something buzzworthy?

January 4, 2008 at 07:23 PM · Hi,

Thanks Buri and Mr. Sung!!! This is definitely one of the most interesting and informative thread I have seen on this site in a long long long long time.

Cheers and Happy New Year to all with all the best for 2008!

January 5, 2008 at 06:35 AM · Sung-Duk,

If you get a chance please watch the Japanese TV drama Nodame Cantabile. It was originally written as a manga (comic book) a few years ago about the classical music scene and it became a best seller. Last year Fuji tv made a series out of it and the show became even more successful. I was surprised how the drama fits exactly what you're talking about in this thread.

Craig

January 5, 2008 at 04:54 PM · Corwin, I don't know if we are talking about the same thing. I was trying to say that as it stands, presenters seem to seek donors not audiences. I don't know how many donors make good music consumers. Would most donors seek fame or genuine musicality that savvy listeners crave? Wachovia Bank funding the exquisite playing of an unknown gem? Or woud they rather fund Yo Yo Ma playing Dvorak for the 5000th time?

Ihnsouk

January 5, 2008 at 04:21 PM · Craig, do you know where I could get Nodame Cantabile? I've heard rave reviews about it. I think my kids would love it. Thks!

January 5, 2008 at 08:09 PM ·

January 7, 2008 at 03:28 PM · There is a v.com member that I have decided to help with his career. Check out my blog section to learn who the artist is, the reasons why I chose this artist and the evaluation criteria that I have used. I think it could be a learning experience for those interested in the topic of career building and management. We have a real life case study within v.com.

January 7, 2008 at 09:54 PM · If you want an example of a poorly written program bio for a young artist along with a "make over" to increase the % of more attention among presenters, I'd suggest checking out my recent blog section for samples. This is free advice from a former artist manager.

December 3, 2010 at 02:18 AM ·

Just heard a spectacular rendition of the tchaikovsky violin concerto by Tetzlaff here with the Toronto symphony - and found the perfect topic to post it on. Only real critisism was of the volume which seemed a bit subdued - but I think that was the venue, not the player. It did make wonder what instrument he plays. [Your live report on my BBRY :). ee

I just read that he plays (or at least played) a modern instrument by Peter Greiner - see his web page:

http://www.christiantetzlaff.com/pages_en/01_bio.html

December 3, 2010 at 08:40 AM ·

Tetzlaff is one of my favorite violinists nowadays - next to Hahn and Shaham, and certainly my favorite german violinist. His interpretations show his deeply musicality and intellect, what I could not find in other violinists like A.S.Mutter (after Karajan died), Bell, Rapin or almost all other celebrated virtuosos.

 

December 3, 2010 at 02:04 PM ·

Saw Tetzlaff in a masterclass in Boston not too long ago.  He was using a Peter Greiner which sounded fantastic in a small hall.

December 3, 2010 at 06:08 PM ·

I certainly agree with you Hung - deeply intellectual and also sensitive.  But what comes accross to me also is an 'otherworldliness' to him when he plays, its as if he is not there.  OTOH maybe all virtuosos look like that.  Although the output is very different he reminded me of Yeudi Menuim with the way he blended into his instrument. 

Would love to hear him play on 'the canon' in that hall :D

December 3, 2010 at 07:05 PM ·

Personally I find his performances 100% rubbish.

December 3, 2010 at 08:57 PM ·

wow, well at least there is no equivocation...

Would you expand a bit Peter?

December 4, 2010 at 09:18 AM ·

maybe i don't get why the "music industry" (already a different name) has to be like the "sports industry" or for that matter why they all have to be this way. my question is not only why should Tetzlaff be as well known as Hahn but also why is Hahn not as lesser glamourized as Tetzlaff? In Pieter post where he says that his career has been really more than decent, which i  agree with, i find in that a contrast to this sentiment that everything good or excellent should be hyped into the superlative. i as a very naive beginner  violinist read different reviews of a recording/artist, try to listen, to find a way to understand what is meant by a personal style of playing,  idiosynchratic interpretation, intelligent musical playing...etc. which of course i don't succeed in doing because its too much for a person who barely knows how to play Bach's bouree' the one in the suzuki book. and most people are like me if not possessing of less abilities (since most people de facto do not play the violin at all). of course, i can glimpse some things but not the overall picture or most of it as once.

so most people who buy into the hype are people are exactly those who really are not that qualified to tell why there is a hype to begin with and whether it is that qualified for.  what sets him aside. what sets Hahn aside? she has a very beautiful sound and plays beautifully, like a line of silver she spins...but this in itself is not superlative, it is very good to excellent (i listened to her mozart/korngold cd and found her korngold more compelling, it gves her a space to be warmer). Tetzlaff i have his chaconne. not so heady and full of gravitas, lighter and slightly piquante. i bet his mozart would be v nice.

maybe i didnt make much sense up there, i tried though

December 4, 2010 at 10:21 AM ·

tammuz:  I'm not sure I know much more than you do - but your post makes a lot of sense to me.  Violin playing, unlike just about any other instrument (used to be true of pianos, trumpets and guitars too but it seems less so now), has a both a mystique and history about it that feeds hype.  One key factor is that for all of these instruments it is relatively easy for a listener with only a modicum of knowledge to tell if one person is technically more able than another.  What I saw Christian do the other night was almost unuman (another issue all together) by generating all those notes in that sequence without any perceptable error. 

That said once you get into the elite group that have mastered the instrument to the point of facility with the hardest pieces - then (IMO) what you wrote is totally right and the hype overcomes ration because it then becomes a matter both of material and of taste.  The fact that an educated interested audience of a couple of thousand people gave Christian a standing ovation speaks for itself - in their ears (and eyes) his perfomance was outstanding (and that in itself surely negates Peter's damnation).  

Personally, I find competitions applied to arts a bit distastful - in a perfect world we would not have them - they reduce the art to a sport (and thats from someone who is an avid ballroom dance competitor) and once a sport the emphasis shifts to the measurable - speed, height, timing - from the art itself (which is subjective).  But such is the way of the music industry....

December 4, 2010 at 01:22 PM ·

I'm pleased people like Tetzlaff, and hope it will continue.

As far as I'm concerned I've yet to hear anything worthwhile. Small sound, shaky technique amd musically boring - often to my ears very unmusical.

Maybe one day I'll hear something to change my mind.

December 4, 2010 at 01:32 PM ·

Sorry to take the last word - we could start a new topic - but have you heard him live?  Maybe thats a different experience than on CD. 

I heard just a snippet of his sibelius and thought it heavenly.  Perhaps we just have to agree to disagree - which is what I was commenting on somewhere else: when it comes to a real art form you simply can not state definitively that one thing is better than another (excepting in retrospect perhaps)...

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

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