Kreutzer #1

Edited: June 24, 2018, 3:37 PM · My teacher has just assigned Kreutzer #1 - our goals are to further develop vibrato, and bow distribution. I’d be interested in suggestions for any tips, tricks or pitfalls in studying this etude. Specifically, how to achieve the right dynamics, and any fingerings that may be less than obvious but helpful to you.. I’m using the Galamian/IMC edition.

Replies (14)

June 25, 2018, 1:56 AM · Kreutzer 1 is my least favorite in the book.
June 25, 2018, 4:13 AM · With that and with the slow intros to some Rode caprices, try sometimes to play the whole thing with no vibrato at all and try to make it as interesting as you can - every nuance, every 'hairpin', etc.
June 25, 2018, 5:48 AM · Kreutzer 1 is a real test - some might say severe - of bow control.

I have a hand-written list (can't remember where I got it) of a recommended progressive order in which the Kreuzters may be studied:

2 5 3 6 9 7 4 8 10 15
11 12 14 17 13 18 12 22 29 27
19 24 21 25 20 1 23 26 28 30
31 34 35 36 33 38 39 32 42 40 41

Note where "1" comes in the list!

Obviously, this list isn't inscribed in stone and there is plenty of room for variation in the order to suit individual circumstances, but as a general rule I'd suggest getting perhaps the first dozen starting with #2 well under the belt before progressing further.

In one of the Heifetz TV masterclasses I remember him telling one of his star students to go home and work on Kreutzer 4. Heifetz evidently wasn't happy with the bowed staccato he was hearing.

June 25, 2018, 8:56 AM · Kreutzer #1 is about bow control and developing right arm stabilizer muscles first and foremost.

Did you ever play Mazas op. 36 #1? It's easier (and more pleasant imo) but the concepts are the same.

Heck - you could go all the way back to Wohlfahrt Op. 45 #8 to find the earliest examples of this kind of practice. I think my students begin to hate me during that etude but I eventually win them back lol.

June 25, 2018, 9:18 AM · I tackled this one in halves so that I didn't get burned out on it. Once the first half was set, I worked on the second, then finally brought the two together. Hope that helps?
June 25, 2018, 11:32 AM · Kreutzer #1 is about slow bow control, with increased weight or leverage. It is also an example of the absolute end of the Baroque bowing style, which was short, light, fast, with a distinct difference in tone of the down and up strokes. The long Tourte model of bow is necessary for this etude. I read somewhere (not sure if it is true) that when the young Wagner first heard the Paris orchestras he was encouraged to pursue his long-line, sostenuto melodic style, to break "the tyranny of the bar-line" For fingering variation; you can do some of those P5 leaps as 1-4 extensions on the same string, which will also help improve vibrato on the 1st and 4th fingers.
June 25, 2018, 1:08 PM · Nathan Cole has a YouTube video on this etude, highly recommended.
June 26, 2018, 7:01 PM · Thanks very much for all of your replies. I have been working on this for bow control and vibrato as a next step beyond Wohlfahrt 8 at slow tempo, and following Wohlfahrt etudes in the teens, with a destination note that I can vibrate, but have trouble with sustained vibrato over quarter notes and especially before and after shifts. I will definitely try Mazas #1 (especially if it's more melodic), and I frequently go back to Kreutzer #2, mostly for the bowing variations. The point about a Tourte bow is interesting - Just for fun I tried the above with my replica Wilhelm Cramer bow - it would need to be a few CM longer!...Thanks, all for your helpful input.
Edited: June 26, 2018, 11:22 PM · In addition to studies there is the Ave Maria in Book 3 of Barbara Barber's "Solos for Young Violinists." Very good for bow control, tone, and vibrato. Look for nice YouTube video with Anne Akiko Meyers. There's more than one by her actually but here's one:

None of these suggestions of other pieces really help though -- you're kind of stuck because your teacher assigned K1.

June 27, 2018, 3:48 AM · Lots of good advice here. I would echo Raphael: your first aim should be to play it expressively and with musical interest sustained through the long notes. Don't aim to do it too slowly at first - play it at a speed where you remain comfortable with tone production and expression. Then as you become comfortable with it, *then* slow it down further and challenge yourself to keep it all going with progressively longer, slower bowing.

By the way - @ Joel - you can actually make a better go at this study with a Baroque bow than one might think. Leopold Mozart recommends long, slow bowing exercises throughout the bow to develop tone, I imagine he would have relished this one as well :)

July 19, 2018, 11:07 AM · I've always wondered why Kreutzer placed his most difficult etude at the very front. Could it be that he is telling us, with a wink and an impish smile, that violin mastery is really about the bow and the sound and not about left hand gymnastics? I would suggest being aware of your breathing, as well as eliminating any tension in your body, while practicing this uncomfortable, but extremely beneficial etude. It's the closest thing to yoga for the violin!
July 19, 2018, 3:48 PM · Alexander - when I was a teenager I was told it was because Kreutzer no. 2, which is logically the first study as everyone knows, looked "too easy". So he picked one of the middle studies and put it at the start of his book, so people would go "wow this looks like an interesting book of studies"....
Edited: July 20, 2018, 3:05 PM · It's possible that Kreutzer was implying that students should warm up with sustained bow exercises before moving on to other technical endeavors.
July 20, 2018, 7:37 PM · Second the suggestion on Ava Maria. I play It everyday.

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