“Dynamism and drama... evidently born to be a conductor.” Peter Bloch/La Razón (NYC)
Welcome to Musical Reflections. I appreciate the opportunity to share
thoughts with you that have been particularly insightful in readings I've done.
Please contact me below with your thoughts - it would be most interesting to hear them...
H. L. MENCKEN "A Mencken Chrestomathy [Choice Writings]"
(Vintage Books, a Division of Random House)
“Schubert paid the price that all artists pay for trying to improve upon the world made by the gods. 'My compositions,' he once wrote in his diary, 'spring from my sorrow.'" Pg. 528
"The life of an artist is a life of frustrations and disasters. Storms rage endlessly within his own soul. His quest is for the perfect beauty that is always elusive, always just beyond the sky-rim.
"He tries to contrive what the gods themselves have failed to contrive... often he falls short, and in his falling short there is agony almost beyond endurance." Pg. 528-29
(W.W. Norton & Company)
“Style and performance in baroque music present certain problems due not only to neglect but also to misguided enthusiasms at various periods on the way down. Romantic exaggerations have tended to be over-compensated by austere understatements no nearer to the spirit of the originals and considerably more inhibiting to our musicianly enjoyment." Pg. 1
"We need not only an awareness of history and geography but a keen sense of musical appropriateness in applying any musicological evidence to any music. If it does not end up sounding musicianly it is not acceptable musicologically, and we must think again." Pg. 3
"It is valuable to be reminded in this manner that personality and temperament are legitimate variables. We should never assume that there can only be one right and authentic way: that never was and is not now the case. Flexibility is of the essence of good baroque interpretation." Pg. 4
ROBERT DONINGTON "Baroque Music: Style and Performance - A Handbook"
(W.W. Norton & Company; Selected and Translated by Robert Donington )
THOMAS MACE (London, 1676) “...I was so transported, and wrapt up in High Contemplations, that there was no room left in my whole Man, viz. Body, Soul and Spirit, for any thing below Divine and Heavenly Raptures. For in Musick, may any Humour, Conceit, or Passions (never so various) be Exprest." Pg. 2
FRANCESCO GEMINIANI (London, 1749) "...the performer will do justice to the composer if while his Imagination is warm and glowing he pours the same exalted Spirit into his own Performance." Pg. 2
FRIEDRICH WILHELM MARPURG (Berlin, 1749) "All musical expression has an affect or emotion for its foundation, demanding the utmost sensibility and the most felicitous powers of intuition." Pg. 3
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART "Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life"
(W.W. Norton & Company; Selected and translated by Robert Spaethling)
(From Vienna, dated October 13, 1781, to his father in Salzburg)
“The Poets seem to me almost like trumpeters with their professional tricks! ‒ if we composers always just follow our rules...we would come up with a kind of music that is just as useless as their librettos.” Pg. 289
(Broadway Books of Random House, Inc.)
“Beethoven remained the world’s foremost ‘subjective’ composer, someone who had made [his] music an instrument of self-expression in a way that would have been disastrous, even dangerous, without his purity of heart, his dramatic powers, his unique creative genius." Pg. 199
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART "Mozart's Letters, Mozart's Life"
(From Vienna, dated April 11, 1791, to his father in Salzburg)
“I forgot to tell you the other day that the Sinfonie was Magnifique, it was a complete Success—we had 40 violins—the wind instruments had been doubled—10 violas— 10 contrabasses, 8 violoncellos, and 6 bassoons." Pg. 243
RICHARD WAGNER "Wagner on Conducting"
"Flat and empty pseudo-culture confronts us with a grin, and if we are not inclined to grin in return, as superficial observers of our civilization are wont to do, we may indeed grow seriously indignant.
"...it is a characteristic trait of pseudo-culture not to insist too much, not to enter deeply into a subject or, as the phrase goes, not to make much fuss about anything. Thus whatever is high, great and deep, is treated as a matter of course, a commonplace, naturally at everybody's beck and call; something that can be readily acquired, and, if need be, imitated. Again, that which is sublime, god-like, demonic, must not be dwelt upon, simply because it is impossible or difficult to copy." Pg. 74
“For nine months I studied the role of Mélisande with the composer. Debussy was a man of very few words, and thank goodness he didn’t find much to criticize. This was probably due to my Mozartian upbringing, for I have always approached the interpretation of Debussy as though he were a modern Mozart.” Pg. 88
JOHANN JOACHIM QUANTZ "On Playing the Flute" (c. 1752)
"In an Adagio the notes that provide motion beneath the concertante [solo] part may be considered as half staccato, even if no little strokes stand above them, and hence a little pause may be observed after each note." Pg. 232
DENNIS SHROCK "Performance Practices in the Baroque Era as related by primary sources"
SEVERO BONINI "Discourses and Rules on Music" (c. 1650)
"Signor Giovanbattista [Jacomelli] del Violino flourished as a violinist in Florence. He was called 'del Violino' on account of the excellence of his smooth and long bowings, which in truth delighted the hearing supremely." Pg. 238
THOMAS MACE "Musick's Monument" (1676) (Part 3, Ch. 6 "Concerning the Viol and Musick in General")
"...attempt the Striking of your Strings but before you do That, Arm your self with Preparative Resolution to gain a Handsom-Smooth-Sweet-art Clear-Stroak or else Play not at all..." Pg. 238
JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU viola da gamba treatise (1687)
"The playing of accompaniment must be linked with long strokes of the Bow which follow one another without interruption of sound..." Pg. 239
GEORG MUFFAT "Florilegium Secundum" (1698)
"The majority of German violinists and other players of upper string instruments hold the bow as the French do... pressing the hair with the thumb... The Italians, among others, differ in playing these upper instruments in that they never touch the hair... all the finest masters, regardless of their nationality, agree with each other that the longer, steadier, sweeter, and more even the bow-stroke is, the finer it is considered..." Pg. 239
AMY BEACH "Music's Ten Commandments as Given for Young Composers"
"Remember that technic is valuable only as a means to an end. You must first have something to say - something which demands expression from the depths of your soul."
EVGENY KISSIN "Evgeny Kissin, Memoirs & Reflections"
"... a few weeks later, when a week before the death of Claudio Arrau I played for him, he praised Anna Pavlovna, who was present, for teaching me to play forte in the same way that his teacher Martin Krause, a pupil of Liszt, had done: using the weight of all of the arm from the shoulder, so that it would sound noble and beautiful." Pg. 55
JOHANN JOACHIM QUANTZ "On Playing the Flute"
"To excite the different passions the dissonances must be struck more strongly than the consonances. Consonances make the spirit peaceful and tranquil; dissonances, on the other hand, disturb it. Just as an uninterrupted pleasure, of whatever kind it might be, would weaken and exhaust our capacities for remaining sensitive to it... so a long series of pure consonances would eventually cause the ear distaste and displeasure, if they were not mingled now and then with disagreeable sounds such as those produced by dissonances. The more, then, that a dissonance is distinguished and set off from the other notes in playing, the more it affects the ear. But the more displeasing the disturbance of our pleasure, the more agreeable the ensuing pleasure seems to us. Thus the harsher the dissonance, the more pleasing is its resolution. Without this mixture, of agreeable and disagreeable sounds, music would no longer be able now to arouse the different passions instantly, now to still them again." Pg. 254