Monday, October 15, 2012

Cello Lineage and Heritage

Here are a few of my cello lines, with thanks to (Leaving out some of the multiple teachers.)

Romberg - Dotzauer - Shuberth & Dreschler:
Shuberth - Davidov- Klengel & vonGlenn - Piatigorsky
Dreschler - Grutzmacher - Klengel - Piatigorsky - Barton Frank - Me

Also: Merighi - Piatti - Whitehouse - Salmond - Barton Frank - Me

Others have traced Dotzauer's line back to Bach, and Romberg's line back to Corelli - not as cello lines necessarily, but other instruments or composition. Dotzauer's line also goes back to gambist Kozecz.

That's pretty impressive, I think... why don't I play better?? :-)

Truly, though, I AM attempting to pass on some of what I got from Barton to my own students, like the importance of TONE. Perhaps he got this from Felix Salmond? Here's an excerpt from an interview with cellist Bernhard Greenhouse (also a student of Salmond):
BG: Felix Salmond was enormously gifted when it came to &34;sound.&34; Frank Miller, Victor Gotlieb, Leonard Rose -- some of the best talents in America at the time -- came away from him with a beautiful sound. Unfortunately, Salmond was not a truly great cellist himself. He was a wonderful musician and a fine artist, but his technique was very limited. Consequently, his repertoire was very limited too.

TJ: If he wasn't a great cellist, then how did he teach so many first rate cellists?

BG: You don't have to be a first class cellist to be an effective teacher. He kept us in line by insisting that we use all of his fingerings and bowings. You could not come into his room and make changes because you thought you had a better idea. I now think this approach was wrong because it prevented us from learning how to think for ourselves. As a result, many of his students never went beyond using his editions, and weren't terribly creative artists.
Well, the first sentence of that last paragraph is reassuring to me for my teaching career! :-)

I don't recall every being "kept in line" by Barton in regards to fingerings and bowings... though he re-wrote the odd bowing in whatever edition I was using, and didn't encourage me to figure out fingerings and bowings for myself. I encourage my students, after a point, to think for themselves where there are fingering and bowing options.

Here is part of an online Salmond Biography. I didn't realize the modern bow hold originated with him. And you can check my lesson notes - Barton urged me to SING with my cello, also, comparing it to a voice:
Salmond developed a different bowing technique. Instead of spreading the fingers over the bow, with a rigid thumb, Salmond bent the thumb and placed the middle fingers together, more like a violinist. He stressed use of the arm rather than the wrist in crossing strings, again, a violin-like technique. He used the thumb, not pressure from the arm, as the source of power in the bow-stroke. This resulted in a less nasal, much more beautiful tone, and he consistently urged the student to strive for a beautiful tone. His recordings do show a lovely, singing tone. Not surprisingly, as the son of a professional baritone, he used reference to singing as his ideal. He called the cello the "singer par excellence of the [piano] trio, more able to sing than the violin or piano, and unequaled by them in its range of tone color. The violoncello can sing soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass, and it is capable of equal beauty of tone in all of these registers."

We'll look at Piatigorsky another time!

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