This website is designed to work with Chrome. Everything else is a bad idea. (Click anywhere to proceed anyway.)
 
 
 
MARK JOHNSTON
Violin
Piano
Conducting
Composition
Viola
© Mark Johnston 2018
CONCERT SCHEDULE
Date Time Location
January 12, 2018 7:30pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
January 16, 2018 7:30pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
January 21, 2018 6:00pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
January 28, 2018 6:00pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
February 2, 2018 7:30pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau L'Orfeo ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Oliver Opara, Set/Costume
  • La musica: Marija Mitić
  • Orfeo: John Pumphrey
  • Euridice/Eco: Nataliia Ulasevych
  • Messaggera/Proserpina: Johanna Brault
  • Speranza: Manja Ilgen
  • Caronte: Karsten Schröter
  • Plutone: Shin Taniguchi
  • Apollo: tbd
February 3, 2018 7:30pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau L'Orfeo ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Oliver Opara, Set/Costume
  • La musica: Marija Mitić
  • Orfeo: John Pumphrey
  • Euridice/Eco: Nataliia Ulasevych
  • Messaggera/Proserpina: Johanna Brault
  • Speranza: Manja Ilgen
  • Caronte: Karsten Schröter
  • Plutone: Shin Taniguchi
  • Apollo: tbd
March 3, 2018 7:30pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau L'Orfeo ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Oliver Opara, Set/Costume
  • La musica: Marija Mitić
  • Orfeo: John Pumphrey
  • Euridice/Eco: Nataliia Ulasevych
  • Messaggera/Proserpina: Johanna Brault
  • Speranza: Manja Ilgen
  • Caronte: Karsten Schröter
  • Plutone: Shin Taniguchi
  • Apollo: tbd
March 18, 2018 6:00pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau L'Orfeo ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Oliver Opara, Set/Costume
  • La musica: Marija Mitić
  • Orfeo: John Pumphrey
  • Euridice/Eco: Nataliia Ulasevych
  • Messaggera/Proserpina: Johanna Brault
  • Speranza: Manja Ilgen
  • Caronte: Karsten Schröter
  • Plutone: Shin Taniguchi
  • Apollo: tbd
March 20, 2018 7:30pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
April 12, 2018 7:30pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
April 12, 2018 8:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Gabriel Venzago, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
April 14, 2018 8:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Mark Johnston, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
April 15, 2018 7:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Mark Johnston, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
April 20, 2018 8:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Gabriel Venzago, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
May 4, 2018 8:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg
The Raft ˅
World première of commissioned work
Akademie Musiktheater heute
Deutsche Bank Foundation
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 5, 2018 8:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Gabriel Venzago, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
May 5, 2018 8:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg The Raft ˅
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 6, 2018 3:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Mark Johnston, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
May 8, 2018 8:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg The Raft ˅
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 10, 2018 7:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Gabriel Venzago, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
May 10, 2018 8:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg The Raft ˅
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 11, 2018 8:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Mark Johnston, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
May 12, 2018 8:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg The Raft ˅
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 13, 2018 5:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg The Raft ˅
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 15, 2018 8:00pm Opera stabile, Hamburg The Raft ˅
  • Aleksi Barrière, Franziska Kronfoth, Stage Direction
  • Eunsung Yang, Set
  • Lea Søvsø, Costume
  • Alexander Chernyshkov, Andreas Eduardo Frank, Anastasija Kadiša, Composition
  • Julian Rohde
  • Soomin Lee
  • Jóhann Kristinsson
  • Karina Repova
  • Gina-Lisa Maiwald
  • Thorbjörn Björnsson
May 19, 2018 7:30pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen The Barber of Baghdad ˅
  • Jürgen Pöckel, Stage Direction
  • Sabine Pommerening, Set/Costume
  • Caliph: Sebastian Seitz
  • Kadi: John Pumphrey
  • Margiana: Christina Maria Heuel
  • Bostana: Johanna Brault
  • Nureddin: Jason Kim
  • Barber: Karsten Schröter
May 20, 2018 7:00pm Theater Baden-Baden La Finta Giardiniera (The Pretend Garden Girl) ˅
  • Mark Johnston, Arrangement
  • Mark Johnston, Musical Direction
  • Christian Carsten, Stage Direction
  • Sebastian Hannak, Set
  • Nora Lau, Costumes
  • Martin Mutschler, Dramaturgy
  • Sandrina: Victoria Kunze
  • Belfiore: Rubén Olivares Jofré
  • Arminda: Julie Erhart
  • Ramiro: Clara-Sophie Bertram
  • Roberto: Martin Peters
June 16, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
June 21, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 4, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 5, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 8, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 12, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 13, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 21, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 22, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 27, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 28, 2018 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
July 4, 2019 8:30pm Castle court, Heidelberg Castle Fiddler on the Roof ˅
  • Olivier Pols, Musical Direction
  • Dance Company Nanine Linning
  • Theater Heidelberg
December 28, 2017 5:00pm Magenheim Castle, Cleebronn
Recital
with Alexander Reitenbach, piano ˅
  • Biber: Sonata representativa
  • Mozart: Violin Sonata in B-flat major, K. 378
  • Granados: Violin Sonata
  • Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy, op. 25
December 8, 2017 7:30pm Small Stage, Theater Plauen
Song recital
with Shin Taniguchi, baritone ˅
  • Schubert: Der Musensohn, op. 92 D. 764
  • Schubert: Der Lindenbaum (Die Winterreise, op. 89 D. 911)
  • Schumann: Waldesgespräch (Liederkreis, op. 39)
  • Schubert: Wanderers Nachtlied, op. 96 D. 768
  • Wolf: Wanderers Nachtlied (6 Songs after Scheffel, Mörike and Goethe, W. 6/2)
  • Schubert: Der Rattenfänger, D. 255
  • Wolf: Der Rattenfänger (51 Poems from Goethe, W. 3)
  • Mahler: From The Youth's Magic Horn
    • Ablösung im Sommer
    • Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt
    • Das irdische Leben
    • Selbstgefühl
  • From Rückert-Lieder
    • Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder
    • Ich atmet einen linden Duft
    • Revelge
    • Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
December 3, 2017 4:00pm Clara-Schumann-Saal, Dr. Hoch's Konservatorium, Frankfurt
Bernstein: Serenade after Plato's "Symposium"
Main Kammerorchester, Jan Polivka
November 24, 2017 7:30pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau
Song recital
with Shin Taniguchi, baritone ˅
  • Schubert: Der Musensohn, op. 92 D. 764
  • Schubert: Der Lindenbaum (Die Winterreise, op. 89 D. 911)
  • Schumann: Waldesgespräch (Liederkreis, op. 39)
  • Schubert: Wanderers Nachtlied, op. 96 D. 768
  • Wolf: Wanderers Nachtlied (6 Songs after Scheffel, Mörike and Goethe, W. 6/2)
  • Schubert: Der Rattenfänger, D. 255
  • Wolf: Der Rattenfänger (51 Poems from Goethe, W. 3)
  • Mahler: From The Youth's Magic Horn
    • Ablösung im Sommer
    • Des Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt
    • Das irdische Leben
    • Selbstgefühl
  • From Rückert-Lieder
    • Blicke mir nicht in die Lieder
    • Ich atmet einen linden Duft
    • Revelge
    • Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen
November 18, 2017 7:30pm Summer Hall, Castle, Stetten im Remstal
Bach: Sonata no. 3 in C major, BWV 1005
Paganini: Caprices, op. 1, nos. 1-12
November 12, 2017 7:30pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau The Barber of Baghdad
November 11, 2017 7:00pm Emmaus Church, Stuttgart-Riedenberg Paganini: Caprices, op. 1, nos. 1-12
November 5, 2017 3:00pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau The Barber of Baghdad
October 29, 2017 6:30pm Hospitalhof, Stuttgart Days of Armenian Culture
October 28, 2017 7:30pm Stephanienbad, Paul Gerhardt Parish House, Karlsruhe
Hartmann: Concerto funebre
Akademisches Kammerorchester Karlsruhe, Michael Klubertanz
October 22, 2017 6:00pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau The Barber of Baghdad
October 21, 2017 7:30pm Neue Welt, Zwickau Industry Ball
October 7, 2017 7:30pm Malsaal, Theater Zwickau The Barber of Baghdad
September 3, 2017 7:00pm St. Bartholomew's Church, Görwihl
Görwihl Summer of Culture Festival
Alexander Reitenbach, piano
September 2, 2017 6:30pm
Seibold family barn
Vordere Str. 28
70734 Fellbach
Kappelberg Festival
Kappelberg Quartet
September 1, 2017 6:30pm
Seibold family barn
Vordere Str. 28
70734 Fellbach
Kappelberg Festival
Kappelberg Quartet
May 5, 2017 8:00pm Hohenzollern Castle
Benefit Concert for Harambee e.V.
with Carla Thullner, Julia Bernhart, Wilhelm Schwinghammer, Michaela Butz, Andy Thullner
April 25, 2017 7:00pm Musikhochschule, Stuttgart
Kurtág: Kafka Fragments, op. 24
Viktoriia Vitrenko, soprano
Bernd Schmitt, stage direction
February 7, 2017 7:30pm Theatre for Lower Saxony, Hildesheim Johann Strauss: The Gypsy Baron
January 25, 2017 7:30pm Theatre for Lower Saxony, Hildesheim Johann Strauss: The Gypsy Baron
December 14, 2016 8:00pm Stadthalle, Mülheim an der Ruhr Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim
December 3, 2016 8:00pm Musikhochschule, Stuttgart echtzeit: werk_statt_festival
December 2, 2016 8:00pm Musikhochschule, Stuttgart echtzeit: werk_statt_festival
October 22, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 21, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 21, 2016 10:00am Erich Kästner Elementary School, Mannheim Rhapsody in School
October 19, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 16, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 14, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 12, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 11, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
October 9, 2016 7:30pm Bockenheimer Depot, Frankfurt Britten: Paul Bunyan
July 1, 2016 7:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 29, 2016 6:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 27, 2016 11:00am Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 25, 2016 4:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 23, 2016 2:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 21, 2016 6:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 19, 2016 3:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 18, 2016 6:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 15, 2016 11:00am Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 13, 2016 11:00am Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 11, 2016 6:00pm House concert Paganini: Caprices, op. 1, nos. 1-12
June 10, 2016 7:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 8, 2016 11:00am Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 5, 2016 3:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 4, 2016 4:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
June 2, 2016 7:00pm Kammertheater, Stuttgart Harneit: Alice in Wonderland
March 12, 2016 7:30pm Off-Theater komplex, Chemnitz Asamblea Mediterranea - The Jewess of Toledo
March 7, 2016 6:30pm Musikhochschule, Stuttgart Kurtág: Kafka Fragments, op. 24
February 13, 2016 8:00pm Theodor-Rothschild-Haus, Esslingen Soroptimist International Club Esslingen Fundraiser
December 8, 2015 9:30am Heinrich-Steinhöwel-Schule, Weil der Stadt Rhapsody in School
November 24, 2015 2:30pm Eichholzschule, Sindelfingen Rhapsody in School
KAFKA FRAGMENTS

In September of 2014, Viktoriia Vitrenko and I conceived with the stage director Bernd Schmitt a project to create a staging of a subset of movements from György Kurtág's Kafka Fragments, op. 24. This work has been staged before, but typically as a one-man show for the soprano; distinctive in our approach was the decision for both soprano and violinist to be characters in the scene (and thus performing from memory). This project was realised and received four performances at the House of History Stuttgart and University of Arts Graz, in conjunction with the latter's International Week, in February and March of 2015. Thereupon we decided to learn and stage the rest of the work, keeping the selection of movements we had already performed as Part I and creating a separate Part II with the remainder. After two years of work, this was realised at the Conservatory for Music in Stuttgart in April of 2017.

Part I shows fifteen of the total forty Fragments from Franz Kafka. The soprano portrays in it a sort of alter ego of Kafka's, dressed in black and white in the style of Kafka's time, while the violinist represents, in a red dress, the position of the "bride". Kafka's extremely complex relationship to women is what is on display. Several floor spotlights cast the performers' enormous shadows onto a white screen background, so that the scene appears re-enacted, partially doubled as if with paper cutting. The performers' minimalistic and clear acting results, in this world of black/white, in the grotesque aura of Expressionism, suggesting above all how Kafka seems to have perceived his own environment in a sharp-edged hyperawareness.

Duo title image
Part I/4
Ruhelos
Restless
IV/6
In memoriam Johannis Pilinszky
Ich kann...nicht eigentlich erzählen, ja fast nicht einmal reden; wenn ich erzähle, habe ich meistens ein Gefühl, wie es kleine Kinder haben könnten, die die ersten Gehversuche machen.
In memoriam Johannis Pilinszky
I can...not actually recount, almost cannot even speak; when I recount, I mostly have the feeling small children might have when making their first attemps to walk.
III/9
Verstecke (Double)
Verstecke sind unzählige, Rettung nur eine, aber Möglichkeiten der Rettung wieder so viele wie Verstecke.
Hideouts (double)
Hideouts are countless, rescue only one, but the possibilities of rescue again as many as hideouts.
IV/1
Zu spät
(22. Oktober 1913)
Zu spät. Die Süßigkeit der Trauer und der Liebe. Von ihr angelächelt werden im Boot. Das ist das Allerschönste. Immer nur das Verlangen, zu sterben und das Sich-noch-Halten, das allein ist Liebe.
Too late
(October 22, 1913)
Too late. The sweetness of sorrow and love. To be smiled at by her in the boat. That is the most beautiful of all. Always only the yearning to die and the keeping oneself alive, that alone is love.
I/19
Nichts dergleichen
Nothing of the sort
III/1
Haben? Sein?
Es gibt kein Haben, nur ein Sein, nur ein nach letztem Atem, nach Ersticken verlangendes Sein.
To have? To be?
There is no having, only a being, only a being longing for the last breath, for suffocation.
I/10
Szene am Bahnhof
Die Zuschauer erstarren, wenn der Zug vorbeifährt.
Scene at the train station
The onlookers freeze once the train goes past.
IV/2
Eine lange Geschichte
Ich sehe einem Mädchen in die Augen und es war eine sehr lange Liebesgeschichte mit Donner und Küssen und Blitz. Ich lebe rasch.
A long story
I look a girl in the eye and it was a very long love story with thunder and kisses and lightning. I live rash.
I/18
Träumend hing die Blume
Träumend hing die Blume am hohen Stengel. Abenddämmerung umzog sie.
Dreamily the flower hung
Dreamily the flower hung on its tall stalk. Twilight enveloped it.
III/5
Elendes Leben (Double)
Geschlafen, aufgewacht, geschlafen, aufgewacht, aufgewacht, aufgewacht, aufgewacht, aufgewacht, elendes Leben!
Miserable Life (double)
Slept, awoken, slept, awoken, awoken, awoken, awoken, awoken, miserable life!
I/3
Verstecke
Verstecke sind unzählige, Rettung nur eine, aber Möglichkeiten der Rettung wieder so viele wie Verstecke
Hideouts
Hideouts are countless, rescue only one, but the possibilities of rescue again as many as hideouts.
III/4
Schmutzig bin ich, Milena...
Schmutzig bin ich, Milena, endlos schmutzig, darum mache ich ein solches Geschrei mit der Reinheit. Niemand singt so rein wie die, welche in der tiefsten Hölle sind; was wir für den Gesang der Engel halten, ist ihr Gesang.
I am dirty, Milena...
I am dirty, Milena, endlessly dirty, so I make such a fuss about cleanliness. None sing as purely as those in deepest Hell; what we take for the song of angels is their song.
I/6
Nimmermehr
(Exkommunicatio)
Nimmermehr, nimmermehr kehrst du wieder in die Städte, nimmermehr tönt die große Glocke über dir.
Nevermore
(Excommunicatio)
Nevermore, nevermore will you return to the cities; nevermore will the great bell resound above you.
IV/7
Wiederum, wiederum
Wiederum, wiederum, weit verbannt. Berge, Wüste, weites Land gilt es zu durchwandern.
Again, again
Again, again, exiled afar. Mountains, desert, vast country to be wandered through.
I/16
Keine Rückkehr
Von einem gewissen Punkt an gibt es keine Rückkehr mehr. Dieser Punkt ist zu erreichen.
No return
From a certain point on there is no return. This point is to be reached.

The second part of the staging, consisting of the remaining twenty-five fragments, brings the figure of Kafka radically into the here-and-now. The central point of the recounting is now the issue of total surveillance; more specifically, both a surveillance from without through a kind of "Big Brother", drawn out of Kafka's figures of judge and father, as well as self-observation in the sense of a continuous destructive self-analysis, a kind of vivisection, which is in turn a reflex to Kafka's fixation on the body. The clarity of the black/white first part has yielded to an overwhelming flood of colours and technical apparatus. On the screen pre-produced videos appear, alternating with and superimposed by images from a camera operated by the performers. The bride is in this part no longer to be seen and Kafka remains alone on the stage with his thoughts and his body.

II/1
Der wahre Weg
Der wahre Weg geht über ein Seil, das nicht in der Höhe gespannt ist, sondern knapp über den Boden. Es scheint mehr bestimmt, stolpern zu machen, als begangen zu werden.
The true path
The true path goes via a rope suspended not high but rather just above the ground. It seems meant more to make one stumble than to be walked on.
I/17
Stolz
(1910/15. November, zehn Uhr)
Ich werde mich nicht müde werden lassen. Ich werde in meine Novelle hineinspringen und wenn es mir das Gesicht zerschneiden sollte.
Pride
(November 15th, 1910, 10 o'clock)
I will not let myself become tired. I will dive into my story, also if it should carve up my face.
III/3
Meine Festung
Meine Gefängniszelle—meine Festung.
My fortress
My prison cell—my fortress.
I/14
Umpanzert
Einen Augenblick lang fühlte ich mich umpanzert.
Circumarmoured
For a moment I felt circumarmored.
IV/3
In memoriam Robert Klein
Noch spielen die Jagdhunde im Hof, aber das Wild entgeht ihnen nicht, so sehr es jetzt schon durch die Wälder jagt.
In memoriam Robert Klein
The hounds still play in the courtyard, but the game will not escape them, for all it so races already now through the woods.
I/5
Berceuse I
Schlage deinen Mantel, hoher Traum, um das Kind.
Berceuse I
Wrap your coat, O lofty dream, around the child.
I/1
Die Guten gehn im gleichen Schritt...
Die Guten gehn im gleichen Schritt. Ohne von ihnen zu wissen, tanzen die andern um sie die Tänze der Zeit.
The good walk in lockstep...
The good walk in lockstep. Without knowing of them, the others dance around them the dances of time.
Endlich habe ich das Wort „brandmarken“ und den dazugehörigen Satz, halte alles aber noch im Mund mit einem Ekel und Schamgefühl wie wenn es rohes Fleisch, aus mir geschnittenes Fleisch wäre. Endlich sage ich es, behalte aber den großen Schrecken, dass zu einer dichterischen Arbeit alles in mir bereit ist und eine solche Arbeit eine himmlische Auflösung und ein wirkliches Lebendigwerden für mich wäre, während ich hier im Bureau um eines so elenden Aktenstückes willen einen solchen Glückes fähigen Körper um ein Stück seines Fleisches berauben muss. Finally I have the word “branding” and the corresponding sentence, but I hold it all still in my mouth with a disgust and feeling of shame as if it were raw flesh, flesh cut out of me. Finally I say it, nevertheless holding the great dread that everything in me is ready for poetical work and that such work would be a heavenly release and a true becoming alive for me, while here in the office, for the sake of such a miserable document I must rob a body so capable of such bliss of a hunk of its flesh.
I/12
Meine Ohrmuschel...
Meine Ohrmuschel fühlte sich frisch, rau, kühl, saftig an wie ein Blatt.
My ear...
My ear felt fresh, rough, cool, juicy, like a leaf.
I/8
Es zupfte mich jemand am Kleid
Es zupfte mich jemand am Kleid, aber ich schüttelte ihn ab.
Someone tugged at my clothes
Someone tugged at my clothes, but I shook him off.
I/7
„Wenn er mich immer frägt.“
„Wenn er mich immer frägt.“ Das ä, losgelöst vom Satz, flog dahin wie ein Ball auf der Wiese.
“Whenever he queries me”
“Whenever he queries me.” That “ee,” decoupled from the sentence, flew away like a ball across the meadow.
III/10
Penetrant jüdisch
Im Kampf zwischen dir und der Welt—sekundiere der Welt.
Pushily Jewish
In the struggle between yourself and the world—side with the world.
III/7
Ziel, Weg, Zögern
Es gibt ein Ziel, aber keinen Weg; was wir Weg nennen, ist Zögern.
Goal, way, delay
There is a goal, but no path; what we call a path is delay.
I/9
Die Weißnäherinnen
Die Weißnäherinnen in den Regengüssen.
The seamstresses
The seamstresses in the downpours.
III/8
So fest
So fest wie die Hand den Stein hält. Sie hält ihn aber fest, nur um ihn desto weiter zu verwerfen. Aber auch in jene Weite führt der Weg.
As firm
As firm as the hand holding the stone. But it holds it so firmly only in order to cast it further. Yet to even that distance the path leads.
III/2
Der Coitus als Bestrafung
(Canticulum Mariæ Magdalanæ)
Der Coitus als Bestrafung des Glückes des Beisammenseins.
Coitus as punishment
(Canticulum Mariæ Magdalanæ)
Coitus as punishment of the happiness of being together.
I/2
Wie ein Weg im Herbst
Wie ein Weg im Herbst: Kaum ist er reingekehrt, bedeckt er sich wieder mit den trockenen Blättern.
Like a pathway in autumn
Like a pathway in autumn: hardly is it clean-swept before it is covered again with dry leaves.
III/6
Der begrenzte Kreis
Der begrenzte Kreis ist rein.
The confined circle
The confined circle is pure.
Ich bin jetzt so in der Laune, mich, ob Sie wollen oder nicht, vor Sie hinzuwerfen und Ihnen hinzugeben, dass keine Spur und kein Andenken für irgendjemand andern von mir bleibt.
Now I'm in the mood, whether you want or not, to throw myself before you and dedicate myself to you, so that no trace and no thought for anyone else remains of me.
I/13
Einmal brach ich mir das Bein
(Chassidischer Tanz)
Einmal brach ich mir das Bein, es war das schönste Erlebnis meines Lebens.
Once I broke my leg
(Hassidic Dance)
Once I broke my leg; it was the most beautiful experience of my life.
I/11
Sonntag, den 19. Juni 1910
(Berceuse II)
Geschlafen, aufgewacht, geschlafen, aufgewacht, geschlafen, geschlafen, aufgewacht, aufgewacht, aufgewacht, elendes Leben.
Sunday, July 19, 1910
(Berceuse II)
Slept, awoken, slept, awoken, slept, slept, awoken, awoken, awoken, miserable life.
IV/4
Aus einem alten Notizbuch
Jetzt Abend nachdem ich von sechs Uhr früh an gelernt habe, bemerkte ich wie meine linke Hand die rechte schon ein Weilchen lang aus Mitleid bei den Fingern umfasst hielt.
From an old notebook
Now, in the evening, having studied since six in the morning, I noticed how already for a while my left hand had been gripping the right by the enfolded fingers in commiseration.
III/12
Szene in der Elektrischen
(1910: „Ich bat im Traum die Tänzerin Eduardowa, sie möchte doch den Csárdás noch einmal tanzen...“)
Die Tänzerin Eduardowa, eine Liebhaberin der Musik, fährt wie überall, so auch in der Elektrischen in Begleitung zweier Violinisten, die sie häufig spielen lässt. Denn es besteht kein Verbot, warum in der Elektrischen nicht gespielt werden dürfte, wenn das Spiel gut, den Mitfahrenden angenehm ist und nichts kostet, das heißt, wenn nachher nicht eingesammelt wird. Es ist allerdings im Anfang ein wenig überraschend, und ein Weilchen lang findet jeder, es sei unpassend. Aber bei voller Fahrt, starkem Luftzug und stiller Gasse klingt es hübsch.
Scene on the tram
(1910: “In a dream I asked the dancer Eduardowa if she would kindly like to dance the csárdás once more...”)
The dancer Eduardowa, a music lover, travels everywhere—on the tram as well—in the company of two violinists whom she frequently lets play. For there is no ban in place, because of which it would not be allowed to play in the tram, provided the playing is good, pleasant to the other passengers, and costs nothing, that is to say, if no collection is taken up afterwards. It is admittedly a bit surprsing at first, and for a little while everyone finds it unseemly. But at full speed, with a strong draught and a quiet street, it sounds nice.
III/11
Staunend sahen wir das große Pferd.
Staunend sahen wir das große Pferd. Es durchbrach das Dach unserer Stube. Der bewölkte Himmel zog sich schwach entlang des gewaltigen Umrisses und rauschend flog die Mähne im Wind.
Astounded, we saw the great horse
Astounded, we saw the great horse. It broke through the ceiling of our room. The cloudy sky scudded weakly along its mighty silhouette and its mane streamed soughing in the wind.
IV/5
Leoparden
Leoparden brechen in den Tempel ein und saufen die Opferkrüge leer; das wiederholt sich immer wieder: schließlich kann man es voraus berechnen, und es wird ein Teil der Zeremonie.
Leopards
Leopards break into the temple and quaff the sacrificial jugs empty; this keeps recurring: in the end one can reckon with it in advance, and it becomes a part of the ceremony.
I/15
Zwei Spazierstöcke
(Authentisch-plagal)
Auf Balzacs Spazierstockgriff: Ich breche alle Hindernisse. Auf meinem: Mich brechen alle Hindernisse. Gemeinsam ist das „alle“.
Two walking-sticks
(Authentic-plagal)
On Balzac's walking-stick handle: “I surmount all obstacles.” On mine: “All obstacles surmount me.” In common is the “all”.
IV/8
Es blendete uns die Mondnacht
Es blendete uns die Mondnacht. Vögel schrien von Baum zu Baum. In den Feldern sauste es. Wir krochen durch den Staub, ein Schlangenpaar.
The moonlit night dazzled us
The moonlit night dazzled us. Birds shrieked from tree to tree. A rush in the fields. We crawled through the dust, a snake-pair.

We have brought parts of our staging of the Kafka Fragments to the stage six times. Its partial première was February 25, 2015 in the House of History, Stuttgart, where Part I received three performances. A further performance of Part I took place in Graz at the University of Arts as part of its International Week on March 25, 2015. On March 7, 2016 we performed a selection from Part I at the State University for Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart as part of the twentieth anniversary gala of the Stirling Building. And on April 25, 2017 we performed the complete work, in the process giving Part II its première, also at the University for Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart. Promotional booklet for concert presenters

MUSIQUE DU MIDI

In 1681 Louis XIV's crowning engineering achievement, the Canal du Midi, was completed and with it a shipping route, via the Garonne River, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean which bypassed Spain. "Midi" is the traditional French name for the South and thus southern France. This canal, arguably the engineering high point of its era, not only physically separated Spain from the rest of the continent but also reified the political processes, ongoing for centuries, which established out of a patchwork of demesnes two large and powerful nations which would define European politics for the next century and a half.

France's and Spain's respective cultures, iconic as they are, are not homogeneous but rather abstract conglomerates of a variety of concrete regional traditions. This regionalism is especially prominent in the area in question, spilling over as it does even into political separatism, all of which betrays the historical growth of France and Spain as both political and cultural hegemonies and the necessary erasure of their constituents' autonomy and uniqueness. Thus we show to what extent the things which we understand to be the culture of these two countries stem from actually not French and Spanish but rather Occitan, Basque, Catalan, Savoyard, and other cultures. Thereby the terms "Spain" and "France" are political constructions, and they suggest a legitimacy of those centralised powers which they have only earned through the conquest of smaller cultures.

Two hundred years after the Canal's construction, a sudden bloom of nationalism in the arts across Europe led to a series of Spanish musical figures attaining fame and thereby defining Spanish classical music: Falla, Albeniz, Granados, Sarasate, and others. Further, French composers, in the context of the arts' growing exoticism and xenophilia, became fascinated with Spanish music, culture, and life; French composers thus recreated a Spain seen from the other end of the telescope. Musique du Midi is thus not only a musical portrayal of this region but also an examination of these cultures' histories in the context of relationships: between Spain and France on the one hand; on the other, between these well-established national political powers and their constituent regions.

Musique du Midi, originally conceived together with Neus Estarellas Calderón, is a musical portrayal of the region and its major figures in classical music, and furthermore an attempt to recount the centuries of history that shaped the Midi, and with it France and Sapin. More recently I have also presented Musique du Midi with Alexander Reitenbach.

This is no typical "musical passport" concert but rather a specific portrayal of the cultural exchange between the two countries. The composers whose works we play hail predominantly from the border region between the two countries and the varied and rich mix of cultures there: Occitan, Catalan, Basque. This juxtaposes well with Neus Estarellas' Mallorcan background. Furthermore, the pieces chosen exist only in the context of a cultural exchange and of these countries' mutual fascination.

Duo title image

Maurice Ravel Sonata no. 2 for violin and piano (1923-7), 17'
b: 1875 Ciboure
d: 1937 Paris
  • Allegretto
  • Blues
  • Perpetuum mobile

Ravel, seen as the quintessential French post-impressionist composer, was half-Swiss, half-Basque. Born in the Basque part of France, he evoked both the Swiss precision and the Spanish flamboyance of his heritage despite spending his career in Paris. This violin sonata, following an early disavowed attempt, was one of his last major works, demanding four years' labour. Both Ravel's inborn cultures and the external influences of his Paris are to be heard.

Enrique Granados Sonata for violin and piano (1915), 12'
b: 1867 Lleida
d: 1916 English Channel

Granados lived at the forefront of a generation of composers in many countries making the transition from pan-European Romanticism to a sort of post-Romantic nationalism, and thereby defining the national musics of their homelands. This unfinished violin sonata lacks castanets, but such works were equally important to the character pieces of the Sarasatesque type (as seen below) in creating a Spanish music for Spain, something that could nourish a burgeoning artistic life. Indeed, while Sarasate represented Spain abroad and distilled it for a foreign public, Granados' efforts were Spanish: after studies in Paris he returned to Barcelona and established a conservatory. Granados counted himself as part of the pan-Spanish musical effort and established therewith the pattern whereby composers from the Iberian peninsula counted as Spanish, regardless of their region.

 
Pablo de Sarasate Two Spanish Dances, op. 23, for violin and piano (1880), 7'
b: 1844 Pamplona
d: 1908 Biarritz
  • 1. Playera
  • 2. Zapateado

Sarasate belongs with the composers, along with Albeniz, Falla, Granados, and to an extent Turina and Casals, who defined Spanish music for the world. Sarasate's Spanishness and inspiration were catholic and he wrote works inspired by the folk music of all regions of the country, despite coming himself from near Basque country. The Spanish Dances, six in total, are typical of his work, elegantly depicting various traditions without being complicated or formally especially original. A playera is a folk song of Andalusian origin with Moorish influence, part of flamenco and related to the word plañir, "weep" or "lament". Zapateado is also part of flamenco and relates to foot-stamping.

Francis Poulenc Sonata for violin and piano, op. 119 (1942/rev. 1949), 18'
b: 1899 Paris
d: 1963 Paris
  • Allegro con fuoco
  • Intermezzo: très lent et calme
  • Presto tragico

The only composer on the programme not from the Midi region, Poulenc was despite his Parisian birth fascinated lifelong by Spain. Early on he studied with and had as a mentor Ricardo Viñes, the Catalan dedicatee and creator of many of Ravel's piano works. When civil war in Spain broke out, Poulenc felt himself personally affected, and his reaction was this sonata, by his standards extraordinarily dark and painful. Its murderous third movement recapitulates literally, gun shot by gun shot, the absurd and arbitrary execution of Spain's then-leading poet, Federico García Lorca, from whom Poulenc also took the second movement's epigraph: "La guitare fait pleurer les songes." ("The guitar causes dreams to cry.")

Intermission
Sarasate Introduction et Tarantelle, op. 43, for violin and piano (1899), 5'

Sarasate promoted Spanish music not just by using Spanish folk melodies. The French title and Italian roots of his Introduction et Tarantelle show his pan-Europeanism; nevertheless, the work is steeped in Sarasate's style and relation to his home, despite that, in contrast to Granados, he had lived in Paris since he was twelve.

Ravel Ma mère l'Oye: Cinq pièces enfantines (Mother Goose: Five Childish Pieces) for piano four hands (1910), 15'
  • 1. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (Sleeping Beauty's Pavane)
  • 2. Petit poucet (Hop-o'-My-Thumb)
  • 3. Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes (Little Ugly Girl, Empress of Pagodas)
  • 4. Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête (Conversation between Beauty and the Beast)
  • 5. Le jardin féerique (The Fairy Garden)

Under Ravel's musical eye fell not only the influences of his parentage. Already in his violin sonata above is to be heard the jazz he gorged himself on in Paris cafés in the 1920s and '30s. Here his interest in children and "childlike" music is to be found, and above all his skill in turning the apparently simple into a vehicle of great and moving power.

Sarasate Carmen Fantasy, op. 25, for Violin and Piano (1882), 12'
  • Allegro moderato - Moderato
  • Lento assai
  • Allegro moderato
  • Moderato

As much a part of Sarasate's, and thereby Spain's, interaction with the musical world at large was responsive to impulses from without, and what could better bind the cultures of his native and adopted soil than a Spanish arrangement of a French opera set in Spain? Part of what makes Carmen both a product and an exponent of its place and time is that it is set elsewhere, reflecting France's (and above all Paris') curious not-too-close, not-too-far relationship to Spain, as it has been since the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. And so for the Spanish ambassador of culture, the world-class violinist living in Paris, to recapitulate whatever he felt to be quintessentially Spanish out of Carmen and re-present for the French—and world—public was an intertwining that almost seems fated.

PAGANINI CAPRICES
Paganini: Caprices, op. 1

Caprices nos. 1-12
Caprices nos. 13-24

Like most violinists, I tackled my first few Paganini caprices in high school and university, but my involvement with these works deepened with my decision during postgraduate studies at the Glenn Gould School in 2009 to challenge myself by learning them all in a schoolyear. I further had opportunities to perform several of them and to play various of them in masterclasses for two legends of the Paganini caprice world, Ruggiero Ricci and Midori.

After finishing my master's degree, during which I learned other repertoire, I came back to the Paganini caprices. Initially with the somewhat hare-brained idea to record them all, I started with the final twelve caprices, and while the recording came to nothing I found myself at some point in possession of the ability to play them all as a group, a different matter than calling up just one or two at a time.

Where I then went with these works depended on a friend who teaches music at a high school. I came to his classroom and played this set of twelve, which lasts about thirty-five minutes, for some of his teenaged pupils; I also took a selection of four of them into a class of fifth-graders. That was enough of a success that I've since taken this set of the last twelve caprices to a handful of other schools, as well as busking with it, playing it in "official" recitals, and indeed recording it, as seen to the left.

I consider offering this programme in schools to be particularly appropriate: the individual caprices are varied and of no great length and require no specialist knowledge to appreciate; the set of twelve, with moderation, can comfortably fit an hour or a school period; and they are highly entertaining without being musically lightweight. They offer perhaps the best entryway into classical violin music that one could wish for.

The next step, of course, was to prepare and serve up the other twelve. I played them first in June of 2016 in a private concert. Longer and more challenging, they are less apt for school concerts, but private and public recitals suit them well and I will continue to perform them as a set until I feel ready to play all twenty-four at a stretch.

BREAD AND CIRCUSES

Professional wrestling, not quite a sport nor quite an art form, high-flying and low-brow, is a topic uniquely ripe in 2017 for an operatic treatment. The multilayered realities of winning and losing in-ring, "kayfabe", and long-running soap operatic plot lines of love and redemption make for unmatched possibilities to explore emotional intensity and structural complexity. Undergirding this most extravagant form of theatre is a grinding social reality: wrestlers sacrifice their very bodies pursuing the glitz of the big time and fans identify with doomed heroes because their real lives, beset by poverty, offer no more in the way of escape than the prewritten dramaturgies. It's scripted, but that doesn't matter: just as in opera, the emotion is real. And with a US president uniquely exploiting the gaps between factual and emotional realities, high and low culture, bringing opera and wrestling together can build some badly-needed bridges—not to mention the absurdist incongruity of flaming props that make natural bedfellows of the two.

We are:
Liam Wade, composition
Julia Mintzer, stage direction
Charles Ogilvie, libretto
and myself. And Bread and Circuses is an opera about wrestling.

American Professional Wrestling is thoroughly operatic. The scripted shows use music, lighting, and special effects to showcase skilled professionals enacting complex melodramas of courage, ambition, love, and jealousy. Just as in opera the disguises, deceits, asides, and grand rhetoric keep the audience guessing the outcome while making clear who the heroes and villains are.

In 2007, the now-President of the United States appeared in Wrestlemania XXIII, a huge, televised, stadium-based wrestling event. Trump, or the 'character' he was playing, gets caught up in a dispute with a successful wrestling promoter in what was billed as the 'Battle of the Billionaires'. Trump gets out of his ringside seat, body-slams the promoter, and then pins him to a chair with the help of another wrestler. Then Trump proceeds to buzz cut and wet shave the character’s head in front of a stadium of over 80,000 screaming fans. Another 1.2 million watched via pay-per-view.

This would not have been remarkable for a self-promoting property mogul with a soft spot for publicity were it not for what has followed. The dominant demographic of professional wrestling's audience neatly overlaps with the voters who swept Trump to the White House. It is intriguing to consider that in this moment of scripted melodrama, and in seeing the crowd's ecstatic response, Trump may have begun to shape his electoral strategy.

Charles Ogilvie has received a fellowship from the Bogliasco Foundation to write the libretto in April of 2018 in Bogliasco, Italy.

KAPPELBERG FESTIVAL

In 2016, as part of my journey with the Paganini caprices (project page), I performed the first twelve caprices at a house concert of a former pupil. I had the luck that Martina Seibold, my former pupil, had on offer a barn. Her husband Werner is the cellarer of the Fellbacher Weingärtner. And their barn would be the venue for the concert. The evening was such a success that it was immediately clear to me, and I think to all present, that the opportunity to present more concerts there should not be wasted. Martina as presenter and Oxana Guskova as organising director thus set about founding a chamber music festival with me as artistic director.

The barn itself is no vague lip service to rusticality but a fully-functional workspace essential to the operation of the winery. In order to play, we have to move the tractor outside. Without fixed seating, we estimate it holds roughly sixty concert-goers with enough space for a quartet to perform, as well as a dozen seats in the gallery (accessible by ladder only).

The barn

The name of the festival was obvious, indeed built in: the nearest bus stop and roundabout are named Kappelberg (Google Maps), hence the Kappelberg Festival. The next step was founding the Kappelberg String Quartet, with myself and Celeste Williams on violin, Shasta Ellenbogen on viola, and Raphael Moraly on cello.

The inaugural festival took place on September 1-2, 2017 in the Seibold family barn, Vordere Str. 28, 70734 Fellbach. We presented two concerts played by the newborn Kappelberg Quartet, featuring Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Haydn, Ravel, and Webern as well as works by two quartet members.

I and the Kappelberg Festival would like to thank our sponsors, the Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, Fellbach Board of Culture, Fellbacher Weingärtner, Trauben-Apotheke Fellbach, Dr. Müller - Stirm und Kollegen, and Raumgestaltung Lorenz. Without their support and belief in what we are building, the Kappelberg Festival would not have been possible.

CONTACT
Mark Johnston
Äußere Plauensche Str. 26
08056 Zwickau
Tel: +49 162 3818508
mark@markjohnston.ca
YouTube icon Facebook icon Soundcloud icon
Affiliations:
MARK JOHNSTON - RESUME
Biographical Information
D.O.B. September 29, 1986
Citizenship Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland
Languages English (native)
German (near native)
French (fluent)
Italian (beginner)
Education Main teacher
2014 Winter State Conservatory for Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart
Master of Music Conducting Per Borin
2012 Summer State Conservatory for Music and the Performing Arts Stuttgart
Master of Music Violin Kolja Lessing
2010 Summer The Glenn Gould School of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto
Artist Diploma Violin Mayumi Seiler
2008 Summer University of Toronto
Bachelor of Music Violin Annalee Patipatanakoon
Scott St. John
with Minor in Composition Gary Kulesha
Alexander Rapoport
Christos Hatzis
2004 Summer Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM)
ARCT ("Associate of The RCM Toronto") Violin John Gomez
and Piano Jean Desmarais
Conducting
Professional
2017-2019 Pianist/conductor and Assistant to Music Director, Theatre Plauen Zwickau
2016-2017 Pianist/conductor and Assistant to Music Director, Theatre for Lower Saxony, Hildesheim
2015-2017 Member of Akademie Musiktheater heute (Deutsche Bank Foundation)
October 2016 Musical assistant/choir director, Frankfurt Opera - Britten: Paul Bunyan
2015-2016 Assistantships, Young Opera Stuttgart
October 2014 Asisstant, State Youth Ensemble (Baden-Württemberg) for New Music
July 2014 Assistant, Darmstadt Summer Course - Stockhausen: Carré
2012-2014 Conductor, Fellbach Chamber Orchestra (Baden-Württemberg)
Student
2013, 2014 Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
2013 Southwest German Philharmonic Constance
2013 Chamber Orchestra Mannheim of the Electoral Palatinate
2012 HochschulSinfonieOrchester of the Stuttgart Conservatory
2012 Württembergian Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn
2012 Stuttgart Philharmonic
2011 Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
2010 New Music Ensemble, Glenn Gould School
Repetition
2017-2019 Pianist, Theatre Plauen Zwickau
2016-2017 Pianist, Theatre for Lower Saxony, Hildesheim
June 2016 Harneit: Alice in Wonderland Young Opera Stuttgart
June 2015 Benjamin: Into the Little Hill Young Opera Stuttgart
March 2015 Wagner: Parsifal Oper Frankfurt
February 2015 Strauss (arr. Bello): Der kleine Rosenkavalier Easter Festival Baden-Baden
October 2014 Bock: Fiddler on the Roof Stadthalle Balingen
April 2014 Satie: Relâche/Socrate Theater Heilbronn
March 2014 Radziwiłł: Compositions to Goethe's "Faust" Konzertchor Darmstadt
May 2013 Verdi: Falstaff Opera School of the Stuttgart Conservatory
Selected performances
Solo violin
2017 Bernstein: Serenade after Plato's "Symposium" Main Kammerorchester Frankfurt, Jan Polivka
2017 Hartmann: Concerto funebre Akademisches Kammerorchester Karlsruhe, Michael Klubertanz
2017 Kurtág: Kafka Fragments House of History Stuttgart/University of Arts Graz
2016 Paganini: Caprices, op. 1, nos. 1-12 House concert, Fellbach
2015 Brahms: Violin Concerto arcademia sinfonica (Dietrich Schöller-Manno)
2014 Paganini: Caprices, op. 1, nos. 13-24 Summer Hall, Castle, Stetten im Remstal
2009 Leroux: (d')Aller Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble (Brian Current)
2008 Lalo: Symphonie Espagnole Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra (Roberto de Clara)
Orchestra
2012, 2013 Southwest German Chamber Orchestra Pforzheim (Douglas Bostock)
2010 National Ballet of Canada (David Briskin)
2008 New York String Orchestra Seminar (Jaime Laredo)
2003-5, 2010 National Youth Orchestra of Canada *as concertmaster
Chamber music, chamber orchestra
2017 Founding, Kappelberg Festival/Kappelberg Quartet
2015-2016 Young Opera Stuttgart *as concertmaster
2014 Composer Collider, Ensemble musikFabrik
2011-2014 Live Music Now Stuttgart
2010-2012 New music ensemble, Stuttgart Conservatory (Christof Löser)
2008-2010 New music ensemble, Glenn Gould School (Brian Current)
2008 New music ensemble, University of Toronto (Gary Kulesha)
2004-2008 Performer in student composer concerts, University of Toronto
Awards
October 2015 Promotion Prize Competition for the Interpretation of Contemporary Music Karlsruhe
May 2011 Emerging Composer competition Via Salzburg
June 2010 Leadership Award National Youth Orchestra of Canada
May 2006 NACOA Award National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary
Also available in PDF format: one-page and two-page versions.
MARK JOHNSTON - BIOGRAPHY

Mark Johnston, born 1986, is a versatile and widely experienced musician with accomplishments in a variety of musical settings. Beyond his skill as a violinist, he is versed as a collaborative pianist and repetiteur; as a conductor; as a violist; and as a composer.

In 2017-'18 Mark's engagements include solo performances of violin concerti by Hartmann and Bernstein in Karlsruhe and Frankfurt, the inauguration of the Kappelberg chamber music festival near Stuttgart, and the realisation of a multi-year project to perform the complete Kafka Fragments by György Kurtág staged. As a conductor he will create a world première at the Hamburg State Opera's Opera Stabile in co-operation with the Deutsche Bank Foundation.

After working from 2014-2016 as a freelance rehearsal pianist and conductor, with among others the Berlin Philharmonic, Baden-Baden Osterfestspiele, Young Opera Stuttgart, and Opera Frankfurt, Mark spent the 2016-'17 season on staff at the Theater für Niedersachsen (Theater for Lower Saxony) in Hildesheim, where he conducted performances of Strauss' Gypsy Baron. From 2017-'19 he is a staff pianist and conductor at the Theatre Zwickau Plauen in Saxony.

Recognition of Mark's accomplishments dates from 1996, when in the span of a year he won the first of two Royal Conservatory of Music silver medals and Espace Musique Ottawa's Young Composers Competition, Anagnoson and Kinton premièring his entry. He was third prize winner in Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra Bursary competition in 2006 and an inaugural leadership scholarship winner with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada in 2010. In May 2011, he won the Via Salzburg Emerging Composer Competition. In the summer of 2013 he was a Richard Wagner Society scholarship recipient, receiving an invitation to attend the Bayreuth Festspiel in Wagner's bicentenary year. From 2015-2017 he was a stipendiat of the Akademie Musiktheater heute (Academy for Music Theatre Today) of the Deutsche Bank Foundation.

From 2012 until 2014, Mark was the conductor of the Fellbach Chamber Orchestra, located near Stuttgart. As part of his conducting studies he has conducted most of the Stuttgart region's professional orchestras, including the Stuttgart Philharmonic, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and Southwest German Philharmonic Orchestra Constance. During that period he was also a member of Stuttgart-based band Asamblea Mediterranea, playing Sephardic music, and the British charity Live Music Now, performing concerts in retirement centres, hospices, and prisons.

Mark graduated with Master of Music degrees in violin in July 2012 and in conducting in February 2014 at the State Conservatory for Music and the Performing Arts in Stuttgart. He studied violin with Kolja Lessing and conducting with Per Borin. He graduated with an Artist Diploma from The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory in Toronto in June 2010, where he studied violin with Mayumi Seiler. At the University of Toronto, where in 2008 he earned his Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance with a minor in composition, he studied violin with Scott St. John and Annalee Patipatanakoon and composition with Christos Hatzis, Gary Kulesha, and Alexander Rapoport. He is also doubly an Associate of The Royal Conservatory of Music's Examination curriculum, earning this distinction in 2004 in violin and piano performance. He lives in Zwickau.

October 2017
Also available in PDF format.
REPERTOIRE LIST - OPERA
As rehearsal pianist
As violinist/violist
During studies
Also available in PDF format.
REPERTOIRE LIST - VIOLIN
Solo and chamber music
Concerti with orchestra
Concerti with piano
PUBLICITY PHOTOS - INDIVIDUAL
1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 7.jpg 8.jpg
Photographs © Olivia Johnston
PUBLICITY PHOTOS - INDIVIDUAL WITH VIOLIN
1.jpg 2.jpg 3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg
Photographs © Olivia Johnston
PUBLICITY PHOTOS - DUO WITH VIKTORIIA VITRENKO
1.jpg 2.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.jpg 8.jpg 9.jpg 10.jpg 11.jpg 12.jpg 13.jpg 14.jpg 15.jpg 16.jpg
Photographs © Oxana Guskova, O.G. photography
Click on photos for full size.
STRING HARMONICS
Introduction

Harmonics are a widely-used and little-understood phenomenon unique to string instrument playing. They offer a remarkable added dimension to the range of sound colour that can be produced by these instruments, and are no small part of that which string players study and practise. However, the explanation of them as a physical phenomenon, their correct and appropriate application, and accurate notation of them is often ignored in their study and use, leaving composers and performers alike without a systematic, rigorous approach to the writing and playing of harmonics.

Physical concepts

The physical principle behind the production of a natural or artificial harmonic on a string instrument is that which underlies all sound. Sound is a wave, propagating through air as a series of compressions and rarefactions; musical sound is a subset of this which is, generally speaking, based around some kind of regular repeating wave. This wave will have a frequency, measurable as both a distance between successive peaks or troughs or as a length of time, indicating how many copies of that wave pass a point in one second. In music, wavelength is interpreted as pitch and measured in time using Hertz (Hz). One Hertz is one cycle per second, so a wave of frequency 440 Hz oscillates 440 times each second.

Musical sound is more complicated than this, though: no instrument produces soundwaves which are composed of single, pure frequencies; instead each instrument combines different pitches into waves which are distinctive to that particular instrument. The allowable pitches that can be combined into what is perceived as a single sound are quite restricted, however: the frequency of the pitch we perceive, the fundamental, must be a factor of the frequency of every pitch in the wave, thus:

Harmonic series

This series of notes is the first twelve notes in what is called the harmonic series for the fundamental, the first note printed. Each pitch in the series is a partial or a harmonic and the factor by which it is a multiple of the fundamental determines which one it is, so, for instance, the ninth partial of this series is D. When a violin string is played, the combination of pitches stretches far up the harmonic series—up as high as the fortieth partial, or farther—and each one is present at a particular volume which creates the sound we associate with the violin string. In fact, computer analysis can even determine, given a sound, what the relative amplitudes of the different harmonics are, in a process called Fourier analysis.

Playing harmonics on the violin, or any other string instrument, is essentially just a way of manipulating the present harmonics in the sound to create particular effects. A vibrating string fixed at both ends, such as those on stringed instruments, can vibrate in many ways, each one corresponding to a particular harmonic. Let's suppose that the string, when not vibrating, looks like this:

String at rest

Its first mode of vibration, sounding at the pitch of the fundamental, will look like this:

String first vibratory mode

Note that the maximum amplitude of vibration occurs in the middle of the string, equidistant from its fixed ends. Maxima such as these are called antinodes; nodes are the points at which no vibration occurs. In the fundamental mode there are nodes only at the ends. A wavelength on a string such as this is the distance between two successive nodes or antinodes. The second mode of vibration would appear as here:

String second vibratory mode

One can now see an example of an node not at a fixed end: the very middle of the string does not vibrate at all in this mode. Wavelength has halved, and thus the pitch of this mode is one octave higher, corresponding with the second partial on the harmonic series above.

String third vibratory mode

This third harmonic will sound an octave and a fifth above the fundamental, in a frequency relationship with it of 3:1. Note the two nodes. This pattern continues ad infinitum, with each nth mode of vibration corresponding to nth partial, with n-1 nodes, and in a relationship of n:1 with the fundamental.

Application

When a violin string is played, as mentioned, as many as forty partials are present in its sound; consequently, the string vibrates in as many as forty different modes simultaneously, in varying amplitudes. In creating a harmonic on a stringed instrument, a player is doing no more than damping certain modes of vibration. By placing a finger lightly on the string without forcing to the fingerboard, he is causing all modes of vibration that do not have nodes where his finger is to cease to exist on the string. (If he were to push his finger to the fingerboard, that would create a new fixed end somewhere up the string, and it would vibrate in all modes with a shorter string length. This is stopping the string.)

The most important mode that is damped is of course the fundamental. Recall that it has no nodes except at its ends; therefore, playing a harmonic anywhere on the string automatically dampens the fundamental. This is why all harmonics have significantly higher pitches: the new fundamental is whatever lowest pitch is still being produced, which depends on which harmonic is being played.

Placing a finger at the node seen in the middle of the string in the second vibration mode will therefore make that the lowest partial left (since only the original fundamental is lower), creating a pitch one octave higher than the fundamental. Placing a finger at either of the two nodes seen in the third mode will create a pitch one octave and a fifth higher than the old fundamental. Each harmonic has a set of nodes the placing of a finger at any of which will sound that harmonic.

Not all nodes will work, since a harmonic that is not a prime multiple of the fundamental will include nodes that also appear in lower harmonics. For instance, the fourth harmonic, sounding two octaves above the fundamental, has three nodes, but its middle one is the same node as that in the second partial, and thus only the nodes one quarter and three quarters of the way along the string will produce the fourth harmonic.

Natural Harmonics

What requires rote memorisation at this point—by performers to produce these harmonics and by composers to understand how harmonics are played and which ones are possible and in what combinations—is the intervals that would be produced if the string were stopped at any of these nodes, since that distance is how these nodes are found. The most simple harmonic, other than the open string, is the second mode; it creates a sound one octave higher than the fundamental and the finger is also placed one octave above the open string. The next harmonic, sounding an octave and a fifth above the fundamental, can be found in two places, either a fifth above the open string or an octave and a fifth above it. Note that the node closest to the bridge in every harmonic coincides with the point at which the stopped string would produce the same pitch. The places the nodes of each of the first few harmonics occur on the G string of the violin or viola are summarised here:

Nodes for first few harmonics

The greyed note in the fourth harmonic is, as described, the same note as the single node in the second harmonic and cannot therefore be used to produce the fourth harmonic. The open string is included because, technically, it is a harmonic in exactly the same way as the others are.

Up to and including the fourth harmonic, any of the notes pictured is playable and useful in different situations. The lowest node is probably the one most often used, since all of the lowest nodes from the third harmonic on are playable in first position. The highest node, the only other one available in the third and fourth harmonics, is occasionally used in a passage ascending to that note, which may for colouristic or virtuosic reasons be performed on one string. The third movement of the String Serenade by Tchaikovsky ends in this fashion, and it is used very often in variations by Paganini and the like, in which a player is required to play an ascending arpeggio ending on one of these harmonics.

The fifth harmonic opens a few other possibilities. Suddenly it is playable in four places: the two that are possible in the previous harmonics are used and in the same circumstances, generally, but two middle harmonics make it more accessible in different situations. The second-to-lowest harmonic, located at the "E" on the G string as pictured, is in fact often used instead of the lowest; its distance from the nut of the violin means that it can be played more easily with the third or fourth finger, which generally produce better-sounding harmonics because the hand's weight is not concentrated above them, as it is for the first two fingers.

The final node, located three fifths of the way toward the bridge, is for all intents and purposes useless. It is awkward to find first because of its proximity to the octave node of the second harmonic, second because that part of the string is not often used, and finally because it is more effective to shift to the highest node if such an effect is desired. In all cases its use can be substituted by that of the other nodes to greater effect.

As mentioned earlier, the harmonic series extends indefinitely, so in theory any harmonic can be produced on the open string; however, harmonics beyond the fifth are difficult to find and speak weakly and it is extremely risky to call for their use. Part of the problem associated with their use is that their nodes are located at points on the string that, if stopped, would sound out of tune: the lowest node of the sixth harmonic, for instance, is a little more than a minor third above the open string. It is possible, and on the lower string instruments particularly effective, to indicate slides or even melodic notes using these harmonics, but they should only be played at their highest node, where they sound, and so great care must be exercised to ensure they fit comfortably in the hand. The following chart lists all the harmonics available up to and including the fifth partial, for the violin, including the string(s) on which each is available:

All harmonics available

For an ingenious example of how this group of notes has been used to melodic effect, consider the passage at number 14 of Ravel's Tzigane.

Artificial Harmonics

This has so far been a discussion exclusively of what are called natural harmonics, which refers to those in which the string length is unchanged. It is possible for a player to stop the string along its length and at the same time lightly touch a(nother) finger higher up than where it is stopped to create an artificial harmonic, allowing a much wider range of notes. The principles involved are identical: in fact, a natural harmonic can be thought of as an artificial harmonic with the stopped note the open string. Generally speaking, natural harmonics are easier to produce, sound clearer, and speak more quickly than artificial harmonics, but, as will now be elucidated, artificial harmonics are much more versatile.

Of course, because of the limitations of hand size, the playable partials and nodes are severely restricted: only the lowest node is ever used, and only the third, fourth, and fifth harmonics are at all possible. The third harmonic, the lowest node of which is a fifth above the end of the string (natural or stopped), is playable without great exertion on the violin, in extenuating circumstances on the viola, and not at all on the cello. (Artificial harmonics of any type are out of the question on the bass, the distances involved being too great.) The fourth harmonic is the most commonly used and the most comfortable, its node occurring a fourth above the string end, which on the violin and viola is naturally where the fourth finger hangs if the index finger is stopping the string, as is customary in the execution of artificial harmonics. Cellists can attain the stretch necessary by using thumb position, and are nearly as versatile as the upper strings with it. The fifth harmonic occurs occasionally in virtuosic repertoire for the violin, especially in double harmonics—two different harmonics played on two adjacent strings simultaneously. It is awkward to make speak and should only be used when a lower-partial harmonic is impractical. Because a stretch of a major sixth is out of range for most violinists, it is played exclusively using the lowest node, at the major third.

Range

A mention of harmonic range should be given here: with the exception of the second harmonic on the lowest string, the lowest harmonic that can be played on any string instrument is a twelfth above the lowest string; this note also defines the boundary for the continuum of pitches that can be produced with artificial harmonics. On the violin, the highest harmonics that can be played with any reliability are on the E string, stopping at about the C; the resultant pitch is about C8. Harmonics on the viola can be produced as far up the instrument, to the F on the A string (sounding F7), although the upper third of this range is more effectively covered by the violin. The cello can, because of its longer strings, reliably play harmonics as high as a twelfth above the open string, reaching E5 on the A-string (sounding E7), and is not infrequently expected to do so, as in the opening of Shostakovich's Piano Trio no. 2, op. 67.

Notation

The notation of harmonics in their various forms diverges wildly, between types of harmonic, schools of thought, and composers. This can be infuriatingly ambiguous for a player, especially when a composer is unaware of or rejects conventional notation in writing harmonics. Generally, string players expect the following:

When writing natural harmonics that are to be played where they sound—i.e. at the highest node—they should be written with regular noteheads, and with a small circle appearing above each, as an articulation. If a note can be played on either of two strings, the composer should specify which, if it is important to him. Harmonic double-stops can be notated and played this way, again with a single circle above.

Notating natural harmonics

These circles are often also used to indicate open strings, but this can be confusing as the most standard symbol is a zero; it is recommended that these two similar symbols be kept distinct.

Natural harmonics that are played elsewhere than they sound and artificial harmonics are notated in the same fashion. In the case of natural harmonics, it is customary simply to indicate, with a diamond-shaped notehead, where the harmonic is to be played. However, this does not clear up ambiguity when two different harmonics are playable on different strings that would happen to produce the same note if stopped. Note that they do not require circles.

Ambiguous natural harmonics

The first note could be played as a harmonic at the tenth on the G string, or at the sixth on the D string, producing B5 and F-sharp6, respectively. The second note could be played at the octave on the D string, sounding where written (and thus notated incorrectly), or at the fourth on the A string, sounding a twelfth higher. A simple addition of regular noteheads indicating which open string should be played would solve this, and it is the author's position that this practice should always be observed:

Unambiguous natural harmonics

This solution brings the notation of natural harmonics more in line with that of artificial harmonics, which are always notated as dyads, with the lower note a regular notehead indicating the stopped pitch and the upper note indicating the interval at which the string should be touched (and thus the partial):

Notating artificial harmonics

Double harmonics are notated in the same way, as combinations of natural and artificial harmonics. They necessarily appear as four-note chords. Note the prevalence of fifth-partial harmonics at the third; this is quite common in double harmonics, as noted earlier, and part of the reason they are so difficult.

Notating double harmonics
Conclusion

Systematising and formalising the way harmonics are understood is something that sorely lacks both among performers and composers. Too often, the basic physical principle that gives rise to the phenomenon is ignored, leading to a glossing over of the precise reasons for and specification of production of these sounds. Consequently, otherwise well-educated musicians are at a loss to determine how to play harmonics, when they deviate from conventional notation, or to find alternate ways of playing them, when what is written is impossible, or to even understand which ones sound better than others and why. It is a crucial part of string technique and should thus be treated with the same kind of rigour that is present in other parts of the discipline.

APPLICATION ESSAY to Akademie Musiktheater heute 2015 (German article)

„Theater machen bedeutet, die Routine des Alltäglichen zu durchbrechen, die Akzeptanz wirtschaftlicher, politischer und militärischer Gewalt als Normalität infrage zu stellen, die Gemeinschaft zu sensibilisieren für Fragen des menschlichen Daseins, die sich nicht durch Gesetze regeln lassen, und zu bekräftigen, dass die Welt besser sein kann, als sie ist.“ —Gerard Mortier

Die Gültigkeit dieses Satzes für mich fängt mit mir an. Ich sehe sofort das Wort „Alltägliche“ und muss abbrechen: Von wessen „Alltag“ reden wir? Ich als Kanadier bin in einer Gesellschaft aufgewachsen, in der klassische Musik im Großen und Ganzen in zwei Schubladen fällt: Entweder ist man Kurtisane oder Wegbereiter. Wenn man keine Lust hat, alleine gegen eine gleichgültige Gesellschaft zu kämpfen, versorgt man emporsteigenden Parvenüs ihr Kulturliebhaber-Häkchen. Deutschlands Opernhäuser sind Sehenswürdigkeiten und besitzen einen wichtigen Stellenwert sowohl in der geographischen als auch kulturellen Landschaft ihrer Städte. Kanadas einziges Opernhaus fällt dagegen unter den vielen Wolkenkratzern in Toronto keinem auf und spielt die Rolle eines „nicht zu verpassen“ Geheimtipps, den man vielleicht in einem Reiseführer fände. Auch in meinem Leben als Geiger hat Dirigieren erst im Erwachsenalter eine Rolle gespielt, geschweige denn Oper. Das Musiktheater an sich ist das Durchbrechen meiner Alltagsroutine.

Die erste professionell aufgeführte Oper, die ich im Leben gesehen habe war in 2011 Nixon in China von John Adams; aufgrund derer habe ich mich ins Musiktheater verknallt. Ich war also von Anfang an in einer Welt des politischen, zeitgenössischen Musiktheaters. Es spricht nicht nur durch seine Universalität das Allgemeine in meinem Leben an, sondern beschäftigt sich direkt mit dem Material, das politisch, sozial und kulturell eine konkrete Wirkung auf mein Leben hat. Trotz seiner Universalität war Die Hochzeit des Figaro ursprünglich eine politische Satire auf die großen Mächte der Zeit Mozarts: „Mein“ Musiktheater braucht also eine Hochzeit des Guido Westerwelle. Komponisten sollen nicht zwangsläufig und allein wegen der Brillianz ihrer Werke gespielt werden, sondern nur in Bezug auf deren Relevanz zum Heute. „Mein“ Musiktheater ist eines, das, durch seine Musik, Libretti, Inszenierungen, Bühnenbilder und sogar Kostüme, die Zuschauer darauf hinweist, warum ihr Leben so ist, wie es ist. Es ist deswegen keine Wirklichkeitsflucht, keine Schickimicki-Verwirklichung einer Sozialschicht, keine Bewunderung des Vergangenen, keine Nostalgie.

Was ist Musiktheater wenn es das alles nicht ist? Was bringt einem ein solcher Umgang mit Musiktheater wie der, den ich erlebte?

Erstens können wir damit Elemente und Aspekte der Gesellschaft hervorheben und problematisieren, die vielleicht sonst nie in Frage gestellt würden und dadurch sehen, wo und warum es noch zu arbeiten hat. Die Oper kann und soll als Wegbereiter dienen, um festzulegen, in welche Richtung die Gesellschaft weiterhin zu evolvieren hat: Wie können Wozzeck und Jakob Lenz dienen (oder hätten dienen können), um uns auf die Bedürfnisse der Geisteskranken zu sensibilisieren? Wie können Die Soldaten oder Doctor Atomic unsere Indifferenz gegen die Habgier des Militärs durchbrechen? Wie wären Frauenrechte anders gesewen, wenn, als Pagliacci noch neu war, man die Kraft dieser Oper erkannt hat, die gewalttätige Macht von Männern über Frauensexualität, darzustellen?

Zweitens gibt es innerhalb des Theaters eine Beziehung zwischen der a priori Indentifizierung der Charakter als „gut“ oder „böse“, den Taten dieser Charakter und den Konsequenzen daraus. Diese Beziehung gibt uns einen Rahmen, um über diese Dreierbeziehung in der Realität mit echten Menschen zu reden. Das ist also zu fragen: Was kann Peter Grimes uns darüber sagen, wie wir Grenzen zwischen Autoritätsfiguren und Schützlingen setzen müssen? Welche Verantwortungen hat ein Mann einer Frau gegenüber aufgrund des Potenzials einer Schwangerschaft, wegen Madama Butterfly? Was für eine Einsicht gibt uns Salome in die Scheinheiligkeit, und wie man moralische Richtlinien setzt?

Beide diese Arten scheinen mir unausgelastet, vor allem von Komponisten und Dirigenten aus. Die obengenannten Beispiele sind leider nur hypothetisch und es bleibt abzuwarten, ob die realisierbar sind. Hätte ich die Macht, wäre ich auf dieser Grenze. Es brauchen dringend Opern, die die großen Themen unserer heutigen Gesellschaft und Politik ansprechen: Klimawandel, illegale Migranten, Rassismus. Diese würde ich beauftragen, und zwar von Komponisten mit einem Interesse und einer Geschichte von Engagement mit politischen Sachen und von Librettisten—lieber Journalisten als Absolventen der Germanistik—die sich schon oder noch mit diesen Sachen beschäftigen: vielleicht eine Oper über Matthew Shepard, 1998 von Homophoben bis zum Tode gefoltert und durchprügelt, oder George Junius Stinney, ein Schwarzer, der wegen einer falschen Anschuldigung, dass er zwei weiße Mädchen getötet habe, mit vierzehn Jahren der jüngste Hingerichtete Amerikas im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert wurde.

Was könnte das alles heißen, wenn wir von Inszenierungen von Doctor Atomic, oder Wozzeck oder Salome reden? Wenn es darum geht, die Wahrheiten über den Menschen aus den Stücken herauszuholen und die Zuschauer damit zu konfrontieren, ist das deutsche Regietheater schon der Welt voraus: Keine Historiendramen oder Nostalgiebonbons hierzulande. Wird dieser Rahmen möglichst ausgenutzt? Ich befürchte, dass manche Regisseure und Dramaturgen, die zwangsläufig sich extrem auskennen mit der symbologischen Geschichte unserer Kultur, über die Köpfe des Publikums hinweg reden: Obwohl es erwünscht ist, dass mehr auf der Bühne zu sehen ist, als je ein Zuschauer sofort verstehen würde, ist es auch erwünscht, dass Inszenierungen eine Sprache sprechen, die Zuschauer sofort verstehen. Zu viele Inszenierungen sprechen nur ein ausgewähltes Genossenpublikum der Bühnenpersonal an. Vielleicht reicht es, „Schwarzen“ zu engagieren, deren Erfahrung mit der Symbologie unserer Gesellschaft weniger spezialisiert und mehr heutig ist—aber eigentlich ist Verblödung Richtung Massengeschmack auch keine Option. Also vielleicht wäre es lieber, dass wir unsere Schwarzen ins Rampenlicht zwingen und einen regeren Kontakt zwischen denen und dem Publikum auffordern. Oder dass wir erkennen, dass das Modell der „Education“-Programme für Kinder auch Erwachsenen gegenüber Wert haben könnte. Das heißt zu erkennen, dass wir Inhalt brauchen, dass Erwachsenen hilft, um zu verstehen, was Oper ihnen über die Welt sagen kann. Oder weitergehen mit diesen „Education“-Programmen und Grundschulkurrikula machen.

Das bringt uns zur Diskussion darüber, was wir für ein Publikum wollen. Es steht eine Krise den Opernbühnen Deutschlands mehr bevor, als ist oft gedacht, und zwar eine demographische. Das deutsche Volk wird durch ethnisch Nichtdeutsche aufgrund diskrepanter Geburtenziffern allmählig ersetzt, also wenn das deutsche Theaterbühne sich nur weiter durchsetzt mit dem Präsentieren deutscher Oper für Deutsche, wird es sich in eine Irrelevanz isolieren. Es leben in Deutschland drei Millionen Menschen türkischer Herkunft und eineinhalb Millionen polnischer Herkunft: Wo führen die deutschen Theater Werke lebendiger türkischer und polnischer Komponisten und Librettisten auf, um ihre Leben anzusprechen? Oder wollen wir unsere Theater reinrassig?

Zumal beschweren wir uns über die Seen der Grauköpfe. Der übliche Verdächtiger ist der Preis einer Eintrittskarte. Aber die Oper ist nicht teurer als die Karten, die man kauft, um Radiohead oder Bayern München zu sehen. Worüber geschwiegen wird, sind folgenden Tatsachen: Wir spielen in klotziger, pompöser, unzugänglicher Architektur; unsere Orchester tragen Mode aus dem neunzehnten Jahrhundert; und wir sind lausig drin, die Leute zu überreden, dass Musik von weißen Herren relevant ist, und warum, wenn die tot sind, seit es uns gibt.

Letztens gibt es noch eine Weise, auf die wir isoliert sind. Wenn ich zeitgenössische Kritiken von Opern des achtzehnten und neunzehnten Jahrhunderts lese, staune ich darüber, dass nicht nur die Musiker und Kritiker, sondern die ganze Intelligenzija sich mit neuen Werken beschäftigt und darüber kommentiert hat, die die indem in die Sphäre der Ideen und Trends reingebracht, die auf das Geistes- und Kulturleben der Ära wirksam waren. Die großen heutigen Medien haben irgendwas für Kunst, worin Kritiken für klassische Musik zu finden sind, das werden aber von Spezialisten geschrieben: berufliche Kritiker, die sonst wenig beitragen. Was haben die bedeutenden Romanautoren, die Musiker anderer Gattungen, die Schauspieler, die Intellektueller beizutragen? Abgesehen von dem Zusammenbringen verschiedener Publika, das uns allen etwas bringen könnte, können Künstler mit solcher Erfahrung nicht umhin uns zu bereichern. Was könnte uns Thomas Piketty sagen? Was könnte K.I.Z.?

COMMENTARY on the Toronto Maple Leafs
On the occasion, May 1, 2013, of their accession to the (NHL) playoffs for the first time since 2004

The Toronto Maple Leafs, having clinched a playoff birth for the first time since 2004, will tonight be playing their first NHL playoff game in three thousand, two hundred and eighty-four days. It is thus this time appropriate to reflect on the grandiosity of this enormous span of time, to marvel at the staggering ineptitude represented by such lengthy and consistent failure, and to put into the context of the events of the past decade this collectively epic pants-down abdication of corporate, sport, and personal responsibility.

Since May the fourth, 2004, we've seen everything from the global financial collapse and recession to Ted Haggard's dalliances with male prostitutes. Five sets of Olympics and two World Cups; the election of two popes; smoking bans across Canada and internationally; three American, three Canadian, and two British elections; the legalisation of gay marriage in Canada and eleven other countries; and the ends of the Iraq War and the Troubles.

We've seen the depositions and/or deaths of authoritarian figures Musharraf (2008), Hussein (2006), the Taliban, Arafat (2004), and through the Arab Spring (2011) Ben Ali, Mubarak, Qaddafi, and Saleh across north Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia. We've seen the establishment of Montenegro (2006), Kosovo (2008), arguably the Netherlands Antilles (2010), and South Sudan (2011) as new countries. Meanwhile, Monaco (2005), Saudi Arabia (2005), Cambodia (2012), and most recently the Netherlands (2013) will see new monarchs. Nepal (2008) abolished its monarchy entirely. Women including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2005), Cristina Kirchner (2007), Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir (2009), Julia Gillard (2010), Dilma Rousseff (2011), and Aung San Suu Kyi (2012) came to power across the world.

The world is bigger. One point two billion people have been born, and measured against seven hundred million deaths have brought the world's population past seven billion people. Our imagination is bigger, too: we've discovered more than seven hundred extrasolar planets since then, increasing the list sixfold. Let's not forget, within the scope of human discovery and advancement, the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (2008) and the landing of the Mars Curiosity rover (2011). (It is a true testament to the quality, longevity, and inspiring nature of NASA's other active Mars rover, Opportunity, that it was launched before the last playoff and is still working today.) In the home, we've moved from DSL to iPhones (2007) in order to look at Twitter (2006), YouTube (2005), and Facebook (2004; it was just getting started in the spring of that year).

The world has recovered from the Boxing Day (2004) and Tohoku (2011) earthquakes; Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Stan (all 2005), and Sandy (2012); the earthquakes of Kashmir (2005), Szechuan (2008), and Haiti (2010); and the attacks in the London Tube (2005), Delhi (2005), Norway (2011). We've seen the Kyoto Protocol, Copenhagen Summit, Occupy Wall Street, the colour revolutions, hundred-dollar oil, and H5N1, and we've mourned (or cheered) the deaths of Hunter Thompson, Gerald Ford, Marlon Brando, Margaret Thatcher, Steve Jobs, Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan, John Kenneth Galbraith, Aaron Swartz, and Anna Nicole Smith, in addition to those listed elsewhere.

Within Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, Royal Conservatory of Music, and Sony Centre have received major renovations and the Four Seasons Centre has opened, along with at least thirty-seven tall buildings (exceeding four hundred feet in height) within the city. The city, whose metropolitan area grew from 5.1 to 5.9 million people, saw the G-20 "riots", the garbage strike, Miller's re-election and Ford's election, the re-establishment of flights to the Island Airport with Porter Airlines' founding, and the CN Tower's loss of status as the world's tallest free-standing structure. Toronto's other sports teams have brought a measure of success to the city, the Marlies winning divisional championships in 2008, 2012, and 2013, with a Calder Cup finals loss in 2012. The Argonauts won it all in 2004 and again in 2012, with divisional wins in 2005 and (along with the Raptors winning theirs) 2007. Toronto FC was founded, a pretty good reason not to have accomplished anything yet. (The Blue Jays don't have that excuse.)

Within the Maple Leafs organisation, only three players were yet in the NHL in 2003-'04, one of them playing only a single game that year as a rookie. No current Maple Leaf was with the organisation in its last playoff. Between 2004 and 2013, no fewer than one hundred and thirty-one players, four general manangers, and four head coaches have contributed to the Leafs' failure to be in the playoffs—until now.

PROGRAMME NOTES to Rolf Martinsson's Kalliope (February 9, 2014) (German article)

Wenn man alle Legenden betrachtet, zählt man über hundert Kinder von Zeus, dem Vater der griechischen Götter, von welchen es ungefähr gleich viele Sterbliche wie Unsterbliche gibt. Zu den wichtigsten gehört gewiss Apollon, Gott der Sonne, der Heilung, der Wahrheit und vielerlei Künste sowie Leiter und Halbbruder der neun Musen, die die Verkörperungen der altgriechischen Künste und Töchter von Mnemosyne, der Verkörperung des Gedächtnisses, sind. Die Zahl der Musen scheint bis zu der Zeit von Hesiod und Homer, ca. siebenhundert Jahre vor Christus, zu variieren. Ihre allerdings nie festen Funktionen und Verbindungen mit den einzelnen Künsten stammen erst aus der römischen Zeit, etwa fünfhundert Jahre später. Allgemein können folgende Namen und Künste in der Form einander zugeordnet werden, in der sie von Künstlern späterer Epochen verstanden worden sind:

Kalliope epische Dichtung, Wissenschaft
Urania Astronomie
Terpsichore Tanz, Chorlyrik
Euterpe Lyrik, Flötenspiel
Polyhymnia Hymnen, geistliche Musik
Melpomene Tragödie
Klio Geschichte
Erato Liebeslyrik
Thalia Komödie

In der bildenden Kunst, dem Tanz, und der Musik gibt es nicht viele mythische Figuren, die öfter abgebildet worden sind als die Musen. Rolf Martinssons Kalliope folgt somit einer sehr reichen Tradition mit klaren Vorbildern unter anderem in Strawinski, der 1928 ein Ballett namens Apollon Musagète schrieb. Vielleicht ist der Einfluss Strawinskis am stärksten, die jeweils von Bartók, Schönberg und Berg sind aber auch nicht zu übersehen. Eine Strömung schwedischer Moderne, die über ein Jahrhundert von Ture Rangström und Hilding Rosenberg über Ingvar Lidholm bis hin zu Martinsson führt, ist durch die teilweise schwer verständlichen Harmonien und obskure Methodik ebenfalls parallel zu spüren, welche jedoch die grundlegend lyrische Musikalität nie verbergen. Das Stück besteht aus neun kurzen Sätzen, je einem pro Muse in der oben genannten Reihenfolge geordnet, um Vielfalt und Kontrast maximal auszubauen. Die Sätze haben einen improvisatorischen Charakter und daher eine relativ freie Form und werden durch die vom Konzertmeister dargestellten Zwischenspiele oft unterbrochen. Spieltechnisch ist das Stück sehr traditionell und lehnt die deutsche beziehungsweise lachenmann'sche Tradition der „Geräuschmusik“ ab, ohne einen eindeutig modernen Klang zu verlieren. Diese Aufführung ist die deutsche Erstaufführung.

PROGRAMME NOTE to Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov), National Youth Orchestra of Canada, 2010

Of the sudden proliferation of Russian composers to appear in the late nineteenth century, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), was almost undoubtedly the second most famous. He never achieved the prominence of his much more European-leaning contemporary Tchaikovsky, but among the circle of composers, of which he was a part, dedicated to the promotion of consciously Slavic art and, in particular, the realisation of Western Classical forms with Russian material Rimsky-Korsakov was and remains head and shoulders above his compatriots both in recognition and skill. While Rimsky-Korsakov's fame today rests on a tiny fraction of his output, unrepresentative of his greatest musical achievements or his grandest artistic goals, his influence on the Russian composers to follow him, and, therefore, on the major musical trends and ideas of the first half of the twentieth century cannot be overstated.

Scheherazade, composed in the summer of 1888 at an estate on Cheremenetskoye Lake, near St. Petersburg, has become one of those few works of Rimsky-Korsakov's to become firmly a standard part of the orchestral repertoire. While it is representative of neither Rimsky-Korsakov's intended artistic goals nor, due to its compositional conservatism, his oeuvre, its vivid programmatic imagery, inspired melodies, and textbook-perfect orchestration ensured its fame even during Rimsky-Korsakov's life, and permanently since. The work is centred around the story of the Thousand and One Arabian Nights, in which the introductory and connecting material—the ominous theme that opens the work, the beguiling violin solo, the peaceful material that concludes the whole work—represents the characters of that fable, Scheherazade herself; her husband, the Sultan; and her necessary work of telling him part of a story each night so he will not have her executed. The central sections of each movement are impressions of the stories Scheherazade told: the first movement depicts the sea and Sinbad's voyages; the second, the Kalendar prince; the third, the young prince and princess; and the fourth, a festival in Baghdad and a recapitulation of the first movement's sea, in which Sinbad's ship founders on a cliff. Rimsky-Korsakov was careful to avoid depicting individual scenes of the Thousand and One Nights, and to that end went so far as to retract the titles of the movements altogether, leaving the listener "the impression that [Scheherazade] is beyond a doubt an Oriental narrative of some numerous and varied fairy-tale wonders and not merely four pieces played one after the other and composed on the basis of themes common to all the four movements", in his own words.

Scheherazade must have represented something of a thorn in Rimsky-Korsakov's side, in that its enduring success far outstripped that of any of his operas despite its Orientalism and exoticism representing an almost categorical opposition to his own ideals of promoting Slavic history and culture through his art. Nevertheless, it is a tour de force of his considerable technical skill as a composer and orchestrator, and has captured imaginations since its première in St. Petersburg on October 29, 1888.

PROGRAMME NOTES to Via Salzburg chamber music concert, October 2011

Brahms: String Quartet no. 2 in A minor, op. 51 no. 2

Among the twenty-four major chamber works of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), the three string quartets are perhaps the least known, unusually for a genre which has commanded such worship and philosophising and the efforts of such an extraordinary number of composers, many of whom wrote no other chamber music. This anomaly is the more remarkable for the fact that every other of Brahms' works holds a cherished, pre-eminent position in the repertoire. Brahms himself evidently struggled with the form: the first two quartets, op. 51, were only published in 1873, despite Brahms having already written his publisher to explain that he would not rush a process he was several years into in 1869.

It is no wonder that a composer as rigorously steeped in tradition as Brahms had such famed difficulties with quartets. (Whether he did or did not write and destroy twenty quartets before these, as is often related today, remains a matter for the peanut gallery.) The influence of Beethoven on the genre, palpable even today, was in Brahms' day almost overwhelming. And indeed, op. 51 no. 2 owes a lot to Beethoven, in particular the second of his Razumovsky quartets, which those most dedicated of Via Salzburg patrons will recall from last May. Both quartets share a concision of material and an ominous mood, as well as an approach to form derived directly from the themes. In particular, the opening theme, heard in the first violin, is developed extensively: this "Frei aber einsam" ("Free but lonely") motif (its second through fourth notes are F, A, and E) pays homage to Brahms' great friend and champion of his music, Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim, whose personal motto this was, as does the quartet's finale, wrought through with Hungarian rhythmic motifs.

Brahms is said to have used the motif of falling thirds increasingly in his late life to represent mortality (as appears in his fourth symphony, for example); and while this quartet is solidly a middle-period work, one cannot help but wonder what conscious or subconscious connotations Brahms felt it had. Such a motif appears twice, prominently, in the first movement, almost a direct quote of his revised (1891) first piano trio, and this same interval features prominently in the tonal organisation of the whole work, a device borrowed imaginatively from the Classical era, in which the most important keys used as departures from the central A minor are a third away from it, rather than the traditional fifth. Did the unalleviated terse melancholy of the Beethoven quartet serve as inspiration or solace to Brahms at the time of the deaths of his mother (1865), and father (1872)?

Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, op. 10

Claude Debussy (1862-1918) has often been characterised as a musical revolutionary, and he certainly worked throughout his life to promote this conception of his oeuvre. Drawing his influences from Eastern musical traditions, the Renaissance, the sea, and multifarious mathematical manifestations, he broadened the horizons of classical music and introduced theretofore truly alien sounds to that world. But ultimately, as is inevitably the case, his efforts must be measured in evolutionary, not revolutionary, terms: Debussy's music was deeply beholden to the foregoing Germanic musical tradition that he so disavowed, and indeed, his innovations could never have been appreciated, would not have made sense, out of the context of their naissance. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his string quartet, in which all of the aforemention influences can be heard, nascent.

Debussy's string quartet is a bit of a peculiarity. His only work to receive an opus number and a key designation, it was written in 1893, intended the first of two. (Debussy never attempted a second quartet, so far as is known, so this one, titled "first" nonetheless, shares incongruously empty shelf space with the same composer's similarly titled "Première rhapsodie" for clarinet and orchestra and Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin, mysteriously subtitled "Libro Primo".) Perhaps Debussy intended to suggest that he was aware of his quartet's perceptibly Classical and Romantic roots by such a staid titling; in any case, the quartet draws from Brahms (in particular the two-against-three cross-rhythms also on evidence in tonight's Brahms), Wagner, Liszt, Schumann, Beethoven, Haydn: the whole constellation of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German music. The quartet's harmonies are individually unremarkable in that context; its structures are Classical—particularly that of the first movement, quite similar to that of the first movement of the Brahms quartet just heard; and contributions to rhythmic innovation are negligible.

Debussy in his contributions to classical music never seriously sought to replace, as may have the truly revolutionary approach of Schönberg. The new territory Debussy treads is reached step by step, and the barrier he crosses is one of degree, not kind. In fact, it is definable: no single harmony of Debussy's is intrinsically unanalysable and his "impressionism" is achieved by the aggregate mass of them exceeding the limits of perceptibility. Calling Debussy impressionistic does not mean he is wishy-washy, which it is often construed to mean; his music is as carefully constructed as any classicist. And, for all that Debussy hated to be tied to the past, some of the most sublime moments of Impressionism come from the moments at which Impressionists acknowledged their roots and evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, paths, building their magical atmospheres on the formidable edifices of the geniuses of their history.

PROGRAMME NOTES to Via Salzburg chamber music concert, February 2012

Brahms: Sextet for Strings no. 2 in G major, op. 36

About as close as Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) ever got to being married, depending on whether and how one counts his lifelong impassioned "friendship" with Clara Schumann, was an engagement in January of 1859 to Agathe Siebold, daughter of a university professor in Göttingen and student of a friend of Brahms'. As much of his subsequent life turned out to be defined alternately by his self-doubt and his missteps with women, predictably the relationship ended badly: Brahms at twenty-five was by no means assured of success as a composer nor so self-confident as to expect such, and the disastrous reception of his first piano concerto provoked his pride sufficiently to break off the relationship.

Five and a half years later, on vacation in Baden-Baden in the summer of 1864, Brahms was drawn back into his memories of this time, and after revisiting Göttingen wrote most of his second string sextet. The work is steeped in his evidently still powerful feelings for Agathe and that time, and addresses several of the major compositional concerns occupying Brahms in the early part of his career: the women in his life, his reconciliation of Classical form with Romantic sentiment, even his interest in hidden messages. The work contains a notational reference to Agathe in the form of the notes A-G-A-D-B-E, (D being Brahms' replacement for T and B being called H in German) which can be heard at the peak of the exposition of the first movement. (Those who attended Via Salzburg's October concert will remember the F-A-E motif of Brahms' first quartet of the late 1860s, a reference to his friend Joseph Joachim's "Frei aber einsam" ["Free but lonely"] personal motto. Brahms used this motto on at least one other occasion, in the famed F-A-E sonata he composed jointly with Schumann and Albert Dietrich in 1853.)

In this first part of his career, during which he wrote no symphonies, Brahms' major chamber works must be considered as the major large-format expressions of his musical drive and intellect: the first two piano quartets and the quintet, the horn trio, and in particular the two string sextets are cast with all the breadth and long-arched narrative impulsion that were later to drive his symphonies, Requiem, and concerti. It is a testament to Brahms' compositional skill and long-sightedness that he never allowed his romantic sentiments to interfere in any way with his commitment to a compelling structure in this sextet; indeed, this hierarchy betrays his lifelong goal to reconcile the most modern compositional language with his reverence for his progenitors. As such, the work's movements are traditional: the first (with one of those painfully exquisite second themes which Brahms seemed to churn out blithely, in the first movements of his second symphony, first violin sonata, and his first sextet, among others) and fourth in sonata form; the second a scherzo and trio, though in an unorthodox duple metre, drawn from an earlier unpublished piano piece; and the third a theme and variations. This third movement, in the related E minor, recalls both the remarkable chaconne slow movement of the first sextet and the large themes and variations often found in the sonatas of Mozart and Beethoven, and is itself recalled more than passingly in the final movement of Brahms' final symphony, a juggernaut of a passacaglia also in E minor. The Elysian coda to these variations finds itself reflected yet again in the similarly serene conclusion to the third symphony, and we are again reminded of Brahms' nostalgia for that uniquely enchanted time in his life when he was in love.

Dvořák: Sextet for Strings in A major, op. 48

Before the two sextets of Brahms, written in 1860 and 1864, there had been no string sextet music of any note since Boccherini in 1776; but in the equivalent period of time thereafter, contributions to the genre were made by Richard Strauss, Schoenberg, Korngold, and Tchaikovsky, among many other notable composers. Among the most important of these is that of Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904), composed fourteen years after Brahms' second. Another late bloomer with respect to international renown, Dvořák was nearly forty before achieving any degree of fame with his first set of Slavonic Dances, op. 46, written the same year as the sextet, and it was only with these works that the composer truly found his trademark musical language, drawn consciously and deliberately from the forms and sounds of his native Bohemia. The technique of the Sextet is thus distinctly simplistic—especially in contrast to the increasing complexity and innovation in form by which the Germanic school of composers, among them Brahms, Wagner, and Liszt, were making logic of their pronouncements—but this is not to say that it lacks in quality or style, even in comparison with what might in Brahms be the best exemplars of the genre.

The middle movements of this sunny work are what mark it as distinctly Czech. The second movement is a dumka (pluralised "dumky"), originally a Ukrainian epic ballad of melancholy character which Dvořák in particular appropriated, transmogrifying it into a classical form characterised by sudden changes between lamentation and ecstasy. As here, the dumka was often paired with the furiant, whose name already suggests the furious means of contrast; this dance is particular in its use of a duple stress pattern within a three-beat bar. Probably the most famous furiant is the final slavonic dance in Dvořák's aforementioned first set. The outer movements are cast in traditional sonata form and as theme and variations, respectively, and materially are entirely of a piece with the Bohemian character of the dances.

PROGRAMME NOTES to Fellbacher Kammerorchester 60th anniversary concert, January 27, 2013 (German article)

Vier junge Komponisten, vier phantasievolle und jugendliche Stücke, ein neuer Dirigent, eine Myriade neuer Richtungen. Jedes heute vorgestellte Stück ist ein neuer Weg und stellt einen neuen musikalischen roten Faden dar, persönlich für den Komponist aber auch in der musikalischen Welt, da diese Komponisten ihre eigenen musikalischen Zeitgeister waren.

Mozart: Misero! O sogno...Aura che intorno spiri, K. 431 (1783)

Mit fünfundzwanzig Jahren zog Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (*1756; †1791) nach Wien um, nachdem er vom Erzbischof Colloredo von Salzburg entlassen wurde, und in den nächsten zehn Jahren schuf er die erste Karriere als freiberuflicher klassischer Musiker. Natürlich war er gewöhnlich arm. Er hatte zwei hauptsächliche Einkommensquellen, Auftragsarbeit und Konzerte, deswegen musste er Stücke schreiben, die andere Musiker spielen wollte und die das Publikum hören wollte. (Wir sehen, dass das auch für andere Komponisten heute gilt.) Im Dezember 1783 schrieb Mozart, mit üblicher Geschwindigkeit, eine Konzertarie, Misero! O sogno, für den bekannten Tenor Valentin Adamberger. Schon im vorherigen Jahr uraufgeführte Adamberger Belmonte aus dem ersten operatischen Erfolg Mozarts in Wien, Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Der Einfluss Händels, mit wessen Musik Mozart damals sich viel beschäftigte, kann man besonders klar in dieser Konzertarie hören, ohne zu vergessen, das Mozart schon den fortschrittlichsten Komponisten des späten achtzehnten Jahrhunderts gehörte. Misero ist typisch als Konzertarie insofern als sie eine kurze operatische Szene vorstellt, hier einen gefangenen Held, der glaubt, er stirbt, der den Fängern ruft, befreit zu werden und der wünscht sich, dass der Wind seine Seufzer zur Frau trägt, die er liebt. Von drei Teilen ist der erste ein Rezitativ und die letzte zwei die Arie: Andante sostenuto und Allegro assai. Kurzum zeigt dieses Stück den revolutionäre Zeitraum Mozarts Lebens, während seine alltägliche Arbeit die Kunstgattung wieder erklärte, weil es damals geschrieben wurde und auch seine hochkreative und genreübergreifende Vorgehensweise repräsentiert, alle die Elementen der Musik zusammenzufassen, die ihm verfügbar waren.

Britten: Serenade für Tenor, Horn, und Streicher, op. 31 (1943)

Englischer Komponist Benjamin Britten (*1913; †1976) war nur ein wenig älter als Mozart wenn er seine Serenade schrieb. Schon in den Dreißigerjahren hatte er viel Erfolg als junger Komponist mit Aufträgen von der BBC unter anderem. Der zweite Weltkrieg unterbrach alles, und als Kriegsdienstverweigerer flog er nach Amerika. Hier war es, in Grand Rapids (Michigan), wo er seine Partnerschaft mit Peter Pears vollzog, mit dem er bis zum Tod blieb. Diese Partnerschaft wurde ihm schon in den frühen Vierzigerjahren sehr wichtig, und alle seine wichtigste Stücke wurde für Pears geschrieben. Das erste war seine erste Oper, der größte Erfolg seiner Karriere und vielleicht sein bekannteste und beste Stück; die Serenade wurde gleichzeitig geschrieben und gewann auch ihren Platz im Standardrepertoire, für den Tenor genauso wie für das Horn. Die vom Horn gespielte natürliche Flageoletttöne am Anfang und am Ende zeigen Brittens Kreativität mit neuen Klängen und seine Beherrschung, die zu integrieren in seine überwiegend melodische und neoromantische Klangwelt; das Arrangement der variierten Texte zeigt seine erstrangige Fähigkeit als Bearbeiter und Komponist, der in 2013 hundert Jahre alt wäre.

Villa-Lobos: Suite für Doppelstreichquartett oder Streichorchester (1912)

In 1912 war Heitor Villa-Lobos (*1887; †1959) fünfundzwanzig Jahre alt. Er war schon mit zwölf in Theaterorchestern in seine Heimatstadt Rio de Janeiro involviert, hauptsächlich als Cellist. Brasilien schaffte nur in 1888 die Sklaverei ab und in 1889 den König enthebte, also in Villa-Lobos' Kindheit entwickelte sich und änderte sich alles in der Kultur Brasiliens. Deswegen wurde Europäische Einflüsse überwiegend verlassen zugunsten einer musikalischen Sprache, auf dem außergewöhnlich reiche und variierte Erbe der hunderten Volksgruppen Brasiliens gegründet. Dies leistete Villa-Lobos, der in diesem Milieu aufwuchs, später in seiner Karriere gute Dienste. Ab 1905 wagte Villa-Lobos eine Reihe Expeditionen ins Hinterland Brasiliens, damals wie heute unerforscht und unverwestlicht, die seine Kompositionsmethode zeit seines Lebens durchdringte, besonders seine frühen, vor 1923 geschriebenen Stücke, bevor er nach Paris umzog und ihr kulturelle Leben aufnahm. 1912 war ihm grundlegend: er heiratete seine erste Frau, entschied sich für eine Karriere als ernster Musiker und schloß seine Reisen. Die Suite für Doppelstreichquartett oder Streichorchester wurde 1915 in Rio uraufgeführt und erschien von Max Eschig, sein französische Verleger. Sie hat drei Sätze: Timide, Mysterieuse und Inquiete („unruhig“), auch mit „Air de ballet“ bezeichnet.

Haydn: Symphonie Nr. 42 D-Dur, Hob. I/42 (1771)

Joseph Haydn (*1732; †1809) ist der heutige älteste Komponist: natürlich der erstgeboren, aber auch der älteste zu der Zeit, wann er das heute gespielte Stück geschrieben hat. Mit neunundzwanzig hatte er schon eine der beste Arbeitsstellen des Heiligen Römischen Reiches, als Vizekapellmeister der extrem reichen Familie Esterházy. Der Patron Paul Anton, der ihn anstellte, starb sofort in 1762 und so begann eine Blütezeit für Haydn und für die klassische Musik: der Erbe Nikolaus war Genießer der Musik und hatte auch ein Geschmack für große Oper und Theater, wovon Haydn unbeschränkten Spielraum hatte, mit allen Arten von Musik zu experimentieren. 1766 wurde Haydn zum Kapellmeister befördert, mit noch größerer Freiheit, und die ganze Familie Esterházy zog hauptsächlich nach Esterháza um, im ungarischen Hinterland. Hier konnte Haydn ohne Ablenkungen der Außenwelt, aber auch ohne Einflüsse, innovieren, und da seine Musik bis 1779 nicht verlegt werden durfte, kamen diese Innovationen in die Außenwelt wie ein Donnerschlag an. Zwischen 1766 und 1773 wurden zwei Opernhäuser und ein Marionettentheater erbaut, die Haydn auch viele Möglichkeiten für die Bühne boten. Kurz vor der berühmten „Abschiedssinfonie“, worin er die Unzufriedenheit der Musiker der Orchester zeigte, die den ganzen Sommer im isolierten Esterháza bleiben musste, wurde die Symphonie Nr. 42 geschrieben. Haydn war in dieser Zeit beschäftigt, die klassische Symphonie als Genre zu etablieren, ein Genre, die er fast allein erfand, und strukturelle Neuerungen—tatsächlich die neue Idee, dass die Struktur eines Stückes eine Beziehung mit dem Inhalt haben kann—waren nicht kommentarlos akzeptiert: bei einer änderung im zweiten Satz schrieb er „Dieses war vor gar zu gelehrte Ohren“. Natürlich war er endlich erfolgreich, und die Symphonie und das Streichquartett waren die Hauptexporte der Klassiker—sogar diese Symphonie ist als erstes Beispiel für das klassiche haydnmäßige Rondo erkannt.

PROGRAMME NOTES to Fellbacher Kammerorchester concert, June 30, 2013 (German article)

Das Konzert des Fellbacher Kammerorchesters steht diesmal unter dem Motto „An die Musik“. Es stellt eine Hommage an den musikalischen Genius der Komponisten Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss und Benjamin Britten dar. Diese vier Komponisten demonstrierten auf ganz verschiedene Arten und Weisen die Ehe zwischen robustes kompositorisches Geschick und schönes musikalisches Ergebnis. Mendelssohn und Britten mit frühen Streichersinfonien zeigen ihre Vorbilder und ihre Versuche, die Beziehung zwischen Form und Bedeutung zu klären; Bach und Strauss mit ihren hier aufgeführten großen, späten Werken lassen als einerseits pedagogische, andererseits ästhetische Erbe komplexe, verwickelte Symbologien hinter, in denen das musikalische Erlebnis gleich als Empfindung und Referent gilt.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750): Die Kunst der Fuge (1745), Ausschnitte in einer Bearbeitung von Mark Johnston (2013)

Johann Sebastian Bach wollte gegen Ende seines Lebens offenbar eine Kompositionslehre aufsetzen, die er späteren Generationen als Vermächtnis hinterlassen konnte. Mit seinem Alltagsgeschäft an der Thomaskirche in Leipzig war dieses ambitionierte Ziel jedoch schwer zu vereinen. Schon gegen 1740 schrieb Bach einige Contrapuncti, die ersten Fassungen erschienen allerdings erst 1745. Das Gesamtwerk umfasst vierzehn Fugen (Contrapuncti) und vier Kanons. Jedes Stück veranschaulicht eine andere Art der Fugentechnik, und das ganze Werk ist eine Demonstration jeglicher Arten, wie man eine Fuge schreibt, hat dann wie die Etüden Chopins oder die Capricci Paganinis den Charakter einer Lehre. Wie in diesen anderen Stücken zeigte Bach hierbei, dass auch kompositorische Demonstrationen schön sein dürfen, aber hier ist natürlich selbst die Komposition das Fach, anders als der instrumentalische Unterricht Chopins und Paganinis. Dadurch sind diese Contrapuncti gleichzeitig Demonstration und Bespiel für die Schönheit. In der Kunst der Fuge verzeichnet der Komponist nicht, auf welchen Instrumenten man die Stücke spielen soll—auch dies ist typisch für den methodischen und abstrakten Charakter des Werks. Bearbeitungen durch spätere Komponisten sind deshalb nicht verboten: Weil die Fugen und Kanons zugleich kompositorische übungen und Beispiele absoluter Schönheit sind, darf man nicht nur ihre Partituren studieren. Vielmehr muss man sie auch ganz sinnlich genießen dürfen.

Benjamin Britten (1913-1976): Simple Symphony (1934)

1934 schrieb Benjamin Britten eine „einfache“ Sinfonie als Auftragswerk für ein Schulorchester. Sie ist nur mit Streichern besetzt und offenbart ein stilistisches Hauptmerkmal Brittens: die Verwendung traditioneller musikalischer Gattungen. Die vier höfischen und volkstümlichen Tanzformen, die Britten in diesem Werk für junge Spieler und Hörer aneinander reiht, verändert und bereichert er allerdings im eigenen Sinne. Diese Symphony ist ein Kosmos en miniature der romantischen Symphonie, mit vier Sätzen: „Boisterous Bourrée“ (Ungestüme Bourrée), „Playful Pizzicato“ (Spielerisches Pizzicato), „Sentimental Saraband“ (Sentimentale Sarabande) und „Frolicsome Finale“ (Ausgelassenes Finale). Sie spielt auf die Jugendheit an, als Einführung der symphonischen Form und auch indem sie acht Themen Brittens Jugendwerke zitiert, zwei pro Satz. (Doch nicht war diese Jugendzeit Brittens lange vorbei: Mit nur zwanzig Jahren vervollständigte er die Symphony.) Mit der Sinfonie will Britten auch die Erinnerung an die Unschuld der Kindheit bewahren, ein lebenslanges Thema für ihn. In 2013 wäre Britten hundert Jahre alt gewesen.

Richard Strauss (1864-1949): Streichsextett aus der Oper Capriccio (1942)

Mit seiner Oper Capriccio wollte Richard Strauss einen neuen Opernstil erschaffen und zugleich einen Beitrag leisten zu der ästhetischen Diskussion über den Vorrang der Dichtkunst oder der Musik. Bereits der Untertitel „Ein Konversationsstück für Musik“ verdeutlicht, dass Strauss den Parlandostil in dieser Komposition zur höchsten Blüte entwickelt, zugleich aber klar in den Orchestersatz einfügt. Dem einleitenden Streichsextett kommt für die Dramaturgie der Oper eine besondere Bedeutung zu: Es stellt das Werk dar, das der junge Komponist aufsetzt, um der von ihm angebeteten Gräfin zu gefallen. Das anstelle einer Ouvertüre vorangestellte Werk steht damit symbolisch für die Schönheit der Musik.

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847): Sinfonie Nr. 9 in c-Moll „Schweizer Sinfonie“ (1823)

Der junge Felix Mendelssohn komponierte die Sinfonie Nr. 9 mit 14 Jahren im Jahr 1823. In den insgesamt zwölf Streichersinfonien, die er für die „Sonntagsmusiken“ in seinem Berliner Elternhaus verfasste, offenbart sich schon seine frühe Meisterschaft. Der Einfluss verschiedener kompositorischer Idole ist natürlich noch sehr stark: zu diesem Zeitpunkt hatte Mendelssohn seine individuelle Stimme noch nicht gefunden, zwar Elemente davon zeigen schon, was er in Reife schuf. In diesem Spiel zwischen nachahmend und original sieht man wie die große Komponisten selbst gelernt haben, musikalische Bedeutung in ihre Stücke einzubauen. Die „Schweizer Sinfonie“ heißt so wegen eines im dritten Satz zitierten Schweizer Volkslieds, das der Junge 1822 während des Sommerurlaubs der Familie Mendelssohn in der Schweiz gehört hatte.

COMMENTARY to various works

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937): Sonata for Violin and Piano

For a composer often (though inaccurately) identified with the Impressionist movement, Ravel composed in his violin sonata (1923-7) a work remarkably tightly structured, ordered, and austere, thoroughly out of character for the perceivedly wishy-washy meandering of Impressionism. By 1920, Ravel had largely abandoned the elements of his style that defined his work up to that point. He wrote no more solo piano music, despite its having been a mainstay of his work up to that point, and whereas his textures had previously been elaborate, lavish, and highly colouristic, from then on he wrote music marked more for its lack of thick textures, focussing more on counterpoint and equality of lines than ornamentation.

Ravel said of the violin and piano that they were "fundamentally incompatible", and in writing a violin and piano sonata his self-described aim was to reconcile them. As such, trading-off of material between the parts is integral to the piece, and in many places the two instruments swap lines every phrase. Ravel also used this juxtaposition to exploit the differences in the materials he chose, which forms another thread throughout the work. In particular, the third movement is full of material borrowed from earlier in the work, and draws it all together both to unify the piece cyclically and as a structural element of the movement. (While it is entitled Moto perpetuo, the movement functions something like a rondo, in which the main theme, or more accurately isorhythm—a quarter note, quarter rest, and two eighth notes—is alternated with episodic recollections of themes of the first two movements.)

Ravel's mental health at the end of his life has long been the subject of rumour and speculation. While he did not die of a brain tumour, as is often alleged, he was in a car accident in 1932 in which he suffered a serious brain injury, and his death occurred five years later during surgery to address the symptoms of that injury, including aphasia and an inability to write down the notes he heard. As might be expected, Ravel essentially wrote no music between 1932 and 1937: the seven-minute song cycle Don Quichotte à Dulcinée was his only effort, and even that was the only completed part of an abortive effort to score a film. But intriguingly, Ravel's compositional output had already diminished drastically by the time of the accident. As noted, the genres and style in which he worked changed dramatically around 1920; elements of that change are traceable to the beginning of the First World War. Ravel's output was never prolific, and during the War dropped off almost completely, as he served as a truck driver at Verdun, exhausted physically and spiritually by the war effort, life in France, and the death of his mother in 1917. Somehow he never entirely recovered, and would complete only ten significant pieces in the last two decades of his life, moving increasingly away from the dreamy inventiveness of his heyday.

It is interesting to compare the dedication of this sonata with that of Ravel's violin showpiece Tzigane, completed during the writing of the sonata. Ravel was interested in musical traditions from elsewhere his whole life, and turned often to Gypsy music for inspiration; his dedication of Tzigane (a rather fanciful spelling of the proto-European term for gypsies, originating from Middle Latin Ægyptanus "Egyptian") to the Hungarian Gypsy violinist Jelly d'Aranyi is no surprise. But the sonata was dedicated not to an exponent of the source music for the work, which draws heavily from Jazz. (The middle movement is even entitled "Blues".) Instead, Ravel honoured one of his closest friends in late life, the violinist Hélène Jourdan-Morhange, an accomplished player prevented by career-ending arthritis from premièring the work or the violin concerto Ravel promised her but never delivered. This touchingly personal intimacy reflects the elegance of the sonata perhaps better than Ravel realised.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791): Symphony no. 40 in G minor, K. 550

Mozart being one of the most-studied and most-documented composers makes his life generally a refreshingly open book to study, especially with respect to the interaction between his life and work. In particular, he was such a pragmatic and career-oriented composer that the majority of his pieces are dated and intended for particular concerts, to such a degree that musicologists can often say of any date in his life where he was, what he was writing, for what concert, and with whom he was interacting. The extensive correspondence he maintained, in particular with his father, further fleshes out his life and provides his thoughts on so much of his life, work, and circumstances. There remain a few great mysteries, however, made the more intriguing for their unsolvability in the face of all this information. Several concern Mozart's late life, most famously the circumstances of the composition of his Requiem and the aftermath of his death concerning that piece. But also obscure is the background to his last, and greatest, three symphonies, nos. 39; 40, the "Great G minor"; and 41, "Jupiter". Exact dates of completion of all three symphonies, in the summer of 1788, are noted, but their commission and première are uncertain, and Mozart took in no. 40 the effort, unusual for him, to revise the work and include clarinets, then a new instrument. Of this symphony no contemporaneous documented evidence exists, so its première may not have occurred within Mozart's lifetime, but subsequently it very quickly became one of the most important and influential of his symphonies, and has remained so.

Known often as the "Romantic" symphony, in addition to its "Great G minor" subtitle (distinguishing it from the only other minor key symphony Mozart wrote, no. 25), no. 40, K. 550, is among those seminal works one imagines might have induced writers such as E. T. A. Hoffman to describe Mozart as the great revolutionary romantic, which in light of modern hindsight and the customary compartmentalisation of Mozart and his ilk into an insuperably different bracket from the "real" Romantics sounds absurd. At the time Mozart's ultimately successful struggle in breaking from the aristocracy and church and establishing himself as an independent, self-made professional musician—the classical music world's first freelancer—set him up as an icon for other artists reshaping their conceptions of themselves in a turbulent social world, as epitomised by the banning of The Marriage of Figaro and the famous "Too many notes" story.

Mozart's musical language at this point was no stranger to what are now seen as the Romantic concepts of chromaticism, complex harmony, and experimentation with form. The symphony opens, in rather unusual fashion, with the unadulterated accompaniment pattern that will support the melody, a technique copied by Mendelssohn in his E minor violin concerto and Rachmaninoff in his third piano concerto. When the melody appears, it begins on the sixth degree of the scale and avoids the tonic until the fourth bar, two highly unusual techniques contributing to the great expressivity and indeed Romanticism of this symphony. Throughout the movement, this harmonically ambiguous melodic figure is reinterpreted constantly with shifting harmonies and in unusual keys, beginning just twenty measures in at the second statement of that theme, which begins over a dominant pedal rather than the tonic which accompanied the first statement. This kind of innovation is present right through the work, in highly chromatic passages in the developments of the first movement, which starts in F-sharp minor, far removed from G; second movement; and fourth movement, famous for a unison passage at the beginning of the development which contains all twelve notes of the scale except for G, the tonic, and is functionally atonal.

Being such an exalted fusion of classical solidity of construction and Romantic yearning has made this symphony extraordinarily popular—vying with only the last, no. 41 in C major, in numbers of performances—and has stood it through the vast shifts in musical aesthetics that have assailed the playing of Mozart since his day. The symphony continues to transcend cliché and its own popularity and remains one of those vital works demonstrating so clearly how music's future is always rooted in its past.

Béla Bartók (1881-1945): Sonata for Solo Violin

One of the great embarrassments of the music world is the late life of Béla Bartók, the twentieth century's greatest and most important composer. Bartók emigrated from his native Hungary, where he was that country's most lauded composer, to the United States in about 1940, mostly from pressure from the Nazis. While he was known in the US—he played a now legendary Library of Congress recital with violinist Joseph Szigeti just two days after arriving—his reputation was based mostly on his work as a pioneering ethnomusicologist and as a virtuoso pianist, and his compositions were not known. This put him in the position familiar to far too many immigrants today, that of being unable to earn money to continue the work which he made his life's passion. For the rest of his life, until 1945, he lived in precarious financial circumstances, mostly provided for by the generosity of friends, who obtained commissions for him or commissioned works themselves, and the ASCAP, who paid for his medical bills during his final illness. Bartók's compositional silence from 1940 to 1944 is particularly frustrating in the hindsight of knowing his death would come the following year, but despite the brevity of that final period of creativity he managed to complete the Concerto for Orchestra, commissioned by Koussevitzky for the Boston Symphony; the solo violin sonata, commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin; the third piano concerto, a birthday present for his pianist wife; and most of the viola concerto, scoring on which was incomplete at his death, commissioned by William Primrose.

Bartók's final works show a remarkable range of styles. His Concerto for Orchestra ranks among his most texturally complex works, but does not lack for lyricism and characteristic melody. The third piano concerto and viola concerto are both spacious, elegant works, a common enough feature of Bartók's late music but lacking the density and abstraction many other works of the period show. The solo violin sonata is much more a product of that kind of thinking. It ranks among the longest unaccompanied violin sonatas, rivalling Bach's monuments in the genre, and is thus necessarily an intellectually taxing, not easily unravelled piece. Bartók's intellectual and technical inexorability in this work—the sonata ranks among the hardest pieces in the standard violin repertoire—is astonishing in contrast to his reportedly diffident, accommodating personality and gentle naïveté.

As is inevitably the case in solo violin sonatas, Bach and the Baroque figure largely in Bartók's sonata. Much of the sonata is cast in forms not popular since that era from which the solo instrumental composition derived and which gave us the solo violin sonata's greatest exponents, in Bach, Biber, Corelli, and others. Bartók opened his sonata with a chaconne, a series of melodic variations over a repeating harmonic figure and bass line, with obvious acknowledgement of the famous and towering Chaconne that concludes Bach's second partita for solo violin. The sonata's second movement is a fugue, again a nod to Bach. Of Bach's six solo suites for the violin, three are designated as Sonata and three as Partita. Each of the Sonatas is a four-movement work, opening with a slow, declamatory chordal movement of great gravity, continuing with a fugue, and balancing the heavy opening half with a lyrical slow movement and a flashy finale to conclude. This is also Bartók's plan: his third movement, entitled Melodia, and fourth, marked simply Presto, are simpler structurally and texturally, tending to monadic writing in contrast to the necessarily chordal nature of the first two.

The appropriation of complex Baroque forms also provided the compelling formal underpinning Bartók's material required: while the first movement really is constructed as a Chaconne (the whole movement is in fact constructed around the four-bar pattern established at the beginning, and much of it even remains in three-quarter time with the accent appropriately on the second beat, as was done in the Baroque), what is interesting about the movement is how and when Bartók controls the flow and ebb of the emotional content, material, and tonality, none of which is predicated by the use of a chaconne form. Likewise, the second movement fugue opens with a proper fugal exposition, but as in Bach's greatest statements in the genre, something much more important than contrapuntal development and a pattern of modulation is happening. Bartók uses a certain amount of poetic license—as did Bach—in his accommodating the fugue form to an instrument not suited to it, and doing so allows for greater contrast between the "strict" fugal entries and those more coloured by the needs of the narrative he is constructing. Over its course, the fugue alternates these strict entries with episodic material only loosely drawn from the fugue's subject, and at the same time Bartók uses these fugal entries as a pretext to build to the movement's major climaxes, with emotional as well as structural relief interleaving. The third and fourth movements' structures and forms interact more traditionally, as they would have in a Baroque sonata: the third is a broadly ternary structure with textural variety in the central section, and the fourth parallels the traditional Baroque practise of constructing these movements in binary, with each of two major sections beginning in the same way, contrasting with the rest of the movement.

This sonata, Bartók's final completed work, shows the truth of Bartók's comment, made at the end of his life, that he had to go with so much left still to say. It has all the intellectual vigour and challenge of any of his great works, but presents itself colourfully, with charisma and vitality—traits soon sorely to be missed among the compositions of the middle century. It has become one of only a handful of twentieth-century works to become a central part of the violin repertoire, and that in spite of its notorious technical challenges. (The substantially easier version prepared by Yehudi Menuhin is only recently being superseded by Bartók's original.) It is a testament to violin, violinist, and composer.

Claude Debussy (1862-1918): Préludes, bk. I: La Cathédrale engloutie

One of the startlingly eye-opening experiences I had studying composition was in my second year in Toronto, with Alexander Rapoport. Being a thoroughly-educated analyst since high school had served me well in my dissections, formal and informal, of the music I heard, but I was soon to be awoken to the fact that composers put more in their pieces than I was capable of discerning. (In retrospect, I see now that this is what makes the great one great.) The piece that showed me this was the tenth of Debussy's Book I Préludes, La Cathédrale engloutie ("The Sunken Cathedral"). La Cathédrale is just long enough a piece that were it composed simply, with a single level and scale of material informing its form, it could be good, especially with the powerful and moving material and inspiration it has. But it would lack the brilliance that has made it worth its popularity. Like Ravel some years later, as discussed previously, Debussy's reputation as an Impressionist composer concerned more with the immediate effect of texture and colour should not be taken to imply that his music lacks formal rigour and structural interest. In fact, Debussy was deeply interested by the Golden Proportion, and much of his music makes subtle use of its properties. (The Golden Proportion, symbol φ, the ratio in which a length can be divided such that the smaller part is the same fraction of the larger as the larger is of the whole, is equal to 0.5 + √1.25. It can also be defined as the limit to which F(n) ÷ F(n – 1) tends, in which F is the Fibonacci series, where each term is the sum of the two previous.) While Debussy never constructed his music as wholly or ostentatiously around the Golden Proportion as Bartók, his music depends on its curious symmetry often and in unusual ways.

This would all obviously be irrelevant if La Cathédrale did not use the Golden Proportion, and awareness of its importance in the piece resolves one of the major interpretative questions concerning it since its composition. One of the few extant recordings made by Debussy is of this work, and in it one passage, from bars 7 through 13, is suddenly at double tempo, though nothing to that effect is written in the score. It was the worst kind of musical tradition, inexplicable but backed by the most authentic source on the issue, and only makes sense in light of the piece's use of the Golden Proportion, in which the timings of each section very closely approximate successively larger iterations of the Fibonacci sequence, all of course in a ratio to each other of φ.

My education at Debussy's hands did not end there. Another of the basic and largest-scale organising principles at work in La Cathédrale engloutie is what Prof. Rapoport described to me as its large-scale harmonic rhythm. The seeds of this idea in the piece's opening are obvious enough: even a casual listener will hear the descending bass line at the bottom of the piano in the first five bars; but here Debussy takes a hiatus to interpolate his double-tempo phrase, and the resumption of the slow-moving scale at the return to the opening material is easily missed. Only a careful study of the score will reveal its ultimate goal, the fortissimo C major plainchant that caps the first half of the work, which is made so much more powerful by the abrupt realisation that the piece's first two pages, continuously sustained by this basso profundo, serve as an extended and very complex dominant which only resolves at this point. It goes on: the whole second half of the piece is underlain by just two bass notes, a G-sharp which as almost the first black note to be heard in a page initiates the rapid transition to the contrasting middle section, and a concluding C for the restatement of the plainchant and coda.

This harmonic scheme, operating mostly beyond conscious perception at the largest scale possible given the piece's relative brevity, also explains the unequal division of the work's sections. Of five pages, three and a half are given to the opening section, and the contrasting middle and coda are squeezed in apparently without consideration to balance. But that division is only a part of the basic structure, which is bipartite: the tonally unstable first section leading up to the plainchant is predicated on an only vaguely apparent dominant, and the second half is a simple ternary form in which the contrasting middle section in the other analysis is balance by two plainchant sections of approximately equal length. The two sections are most clearly demarcated by the way Debussy treats this bass line: it moves through a sixth down and up through the first half, and is static through the second half as the pedal point to the plainchant.

One more level of analysis can yet be applied here. Debussy drew the title and conception for this work from an ancient French folk myth, that of Ys (pronounced "Eess"). This Breton interpretation of a myth common in many cultures tells of a city, and in particular its cathedral, that appears out of the waves in the North Atlantic once every hundred years. Suddenly it is clear why Debussy spent so long on a meandering, convoluted dominant to suddenly explode in C major plainchant, continued with a murky, tonally inchoate recalling of one phrase in the opening, and concluded with a "submerged" restatement of the plainchant almost overwhelmed by the rolling swells.

PERFORMANCES
˅ Paganini: Caprices, op. 1
Hartmann: Concerto funebre
Akademisches Kammerorchester Karlsruhe
Michael Klubertanz, conductor
˅ Bach: Partita no. 2 in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004
˅ Kurtág: Kafka Fragments, op. 24 - Project page
COMPOSITIONS
Soliton - score
Aurea Silva Trio
Brandy Hudelson, flute
Gareth Thomas, bassoon
David Gilliland, piano
PERFORMANCES
˅ Ravel: Violin Sonata
  • 1. Allegretto
  • 2. Blues
  • 3. Perpetuum mobile
with Alexander Reitenbach, piano
˅ Ravel: Ma mère l'Oye
  • 1. Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant
  • 2. Petit poucet
  • 3. Laideronette, Impératrice des Pagodes
  • 4. Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête
  • 5. Le jardin féerique
with Alexander Reitenbach, piano
˅ Poulenc: Violin Sonata
  • 1. Allegro con fuoco
  • 2. Intermezzo: très lent et calme
  • 3. Presto tragico
with Alexander Reitenbach, piano
˅ Bernstein: Serenade after Plato's "Symposium"
  • 4. Agathon
  • 5. Socrates: Alcibiades
with MainKammerOrchester, Jan Polívka, conductor
˅ Bach: Solo Violin Sonata no. 3 in C major, BWV 1005
  • 4. Allegro assai
COMPOSITIONS
˅ Palimpsest - score
  • 1. A le monde hongrois
  • 2. Grapelli's Parkourante
  • 3. One Gavotte
  • 4. Saltarello "à la Frank Sinatra" - "à la Dean Martin"
˅ Kunstkammer - score
  • 1. Orientale
  • 2. Contradanza arábiga
with Tamsin Johnston, oboe
˅ Incongruities - score
  • 1. March/Jazz
  • 2. Gavotte/Polka
  • 3. Waltz/Rumba
with Maia Broido, violin and Sarah Steeves, cello
˅ Headspaces - score
  • 1. Invention
  • 3. Kensington
Sae Hashimoto
Bryce Leafman
Austin Holm
Carley Yanuck
Lee Vinson, conductor
˅ Automata - score
  • 1. Molto misurato
  • 2. Ritmico
  • 3. Meccanico
  • 4. Presto agitato
Sol Winds
Sandra Wu, flute
Keith Bjorklund, oboe
Holly Kassel, clarinet
Gareth Thomas, bassoon
Josh Paulus, horn
˅ Cadenzas to Beethoven Violin Concerto, op. 61 - score
  • 1. Allegro ma non troppo
  • 2. Larghetto
  • 3. Rondo, allegro [Eingang]
  • 3. Rondo, allegro [Cadenza]
Idyll - score
with Tanya Charles, violin, Rory McLeod, viola, and Sebastian Ostertag, cello
ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS
TRANSCRIPTIONS AND ARRANGEMENTS
Soliton (2011), for flute, bassoon, and piano ˂Recording
Kunstkammer (2011), for oboe and piano ˂Recording
Headspaces (2007-10), for four percussionists ˂Recording
Palimpsest (2010), for solo violin ˂Recording
Convocation Hall (2015), for men's double choir
Idyll (2009), for string quartet ˂Recording
Cadenzas (2008-09) for Violin Concerto, op. 61, by Beethoven ˂Recording
Automata (2007), for wind quintet ˂Recording
Revival Variations (2006), for thirteen brass instruments
Sonata (2005-6), for solo violin
Incongruities (2005), for piano trio ˂Recording
Playera y Zapateado, op. 23, Spanish Dances nos. 5 and 6, by Sarasate, arranged (2014) for violin and guitar
Satumaa, tango by Unto Mononen, arranged (2014) for voice and orchestra
Säf, säf, susa, op. 36 no. 4 by Sibelius, arranged (2014) for voice and orchestra
String Trio, op. 133, second movement, by Erkki Melartin, arranged (2014) for string orchestra
Träumerei from Kinderszenen, op. 15 no. 7, by Schumann, arranged (2012) for violin and cello
Salut d'amour, by Elgar, arranged (2012) for two violins
Noctuelles, Oiseaux tristes, and La vallée des cloches from Miroirs, by Ravel, arranged (2011-2015) for orchestra
Ingening (2011), arrangement of I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General from The Pirates of Penzance, by Gibert and Sullivan
Two songs (2010), arrangements of The Crown of Roses from Songs for Children, op. 54, by Tchaikovsky, and Patapan, Burgundian carol, for children's choir and string orchestra
Cello Suite no. 6 in D major, by Bach, arranged (2009) for solo violin
Six Studies for Brass Groups (2006)
  • Bartók: 44 Duos for Two Violins
  • Dance from Máramaros, for four trumpets
  • Sorrow, for four horns
  • Ruthenian Kolomejka, for four trombones
  • Arabian Song, for trumpet, horn, and trombone
  • Shostakovich: Preludes and Fugues, op. 87
  • C major prelude, for pairs of trumpets, horns, and trombones
  • B minor prelude, for trios of trumpets, horns, and trombones
PRESS