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Written in Salzburg, it's an astonishing achievement of refined elegance. Zemlinsky was still a student when he wrote his first symphony. Completed in as he was finishing his studies at the Vienna Conservatoire, he conducted the premiere himself at the end of term concert. It immediately established the young composer as a master of orchestral colour with an assured sense of symphonic development - almost all of the musical material germinates from the seed of the first five notes.
Brahms was in the audience for that concert, and he immediately became a great champion of Zemlinsky's music. Twenty years earlier, his own Variations on the St. Anthony Chorale had a similar mastery, an impressive development of a simple theme into a joyous and inventive symphonic outburst. For Brahms it proved a vital stepping stone to the successful creation of his first symphony.
Debussy's score for the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian is considered one of his finest late works. The original play by the Romantic author Gabriele d'Annunzio, lasted over five hours at the first production, and Debussy's shimmering music is intensely dramatic, full of impressionist colours. He arranged four symphonic fragments for concert performance from this mammoth spectacle, lasting just 25 minutes.
Ravel's piano concerto in G requires spectacular agility. It's infused with jazz - Ravel had just returned from a concert tour in North America - but it's also inspired by Mozart, the composer claimed his model for the haunting tune in the slow movement was the Clarinet Quintet. Steven Osborne is highly regarded for his performances of Ravel, he's just released the complete works for solo piano on CD.
Mussorgsky's Night on the Bare Mountain is a terrifying musical picture of devilry, as a band of witches awaits the arrival of their master - Satan. In this concert we hear Rimsky Korsakov's fuill-blooded orchestration. Another Russian folk tale, Stravinsky's Firebird closes the concert. Blazing orchestral colour abounds in this dramatic concert suite. The exciting young German conductor Cornelius Meister makes his debut with the orchestra in two great celebratory works: the irresistible high-spirits of Dvorak's Carnival Overture and the spring-like fresheness and joyous mood of Brahms's Second Symphony, one of the most popuar of all Romantic symphonies.
Young British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor has been dazzling audiences worldwide since his appearance on BBC Young Musician in , when he was just eleven. Janacek's Quartet No. It is a depiction of suspicion, jealousy and psychological turmoil and recalls Beethoven's earlier work for violin and piano.
Shostakovich's Symphony for strings and winds is arranged from the composer's 3rd String Quartet, written during his neo-classical period and later reworked by his pupil Rudolf Barshai. A favourite symphony and a cinematic concerto from the New World, alongside a revolutionary Romantic from the Old. Two works written in America by European compsers with fond memories of home. Dvorak's New World symphony combines melodies infulenced by spirituals and 'plantation songs' with a yearning for his native Czech homeland.
Miklos Rozsa left Hungary to eventually become one of Hollywood's most successful and celebrated film score composers, with three Oscars to his credit. Alongside epic scores like Ben-Hur and El Cid, concert music remained an important part of Rozsa's musical life.
The Viola Concerto was his last orchestral work, dark and dramatic, a perfect blend of cinematic colour and sharp Hungarian accents. Soloist Lawrence Power is one of the foremost violists today, and as an alumnus of Radio 3's New Generation Artists scheme, he opens this new season from Swansea with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, each of which features past members from the last decade.
Liszt chose the Greek myth of Prometheus as the perfect subject for a Romantic composer. The story contains boldness, suffering, endurance and redemtion - exactly what he needed to bring out his best in this dramatic and innovative score. The intriguing young Estonian conductor Anu Tali makes her debut with the orchestra.
Aware that Beethoven, Schubert and Bruckner had never lived beyond their Ninth symphonies, Mahler approached his own Ninth with trepidation. Opening with the rhythm of an irregular heartbeat from within the orchestra, Mahler's Ninth Symphony embarks on a journey of super-human intensity through to its heart-rending conclusion ninety minutes later. Resident Composer Mark Bowden takes his inspiration from the latest scientific findings on the origin of the universe. Holst's powerful suite The Planets puts the Earth in the context of the other bodies in the solar system.
It's a first time collaboration between the composer and Welsh poet Owen Sheers. For this piece, Bowden and Sheers take inspiration from the latest scientific findings about the origins of the universe. Visiting the Large Hadron Collider at CERN on the Franco-Swiss border, Bowden and Sheers met particle physicists to discuss their latest research into the early universe, which provided the springboard for the piece. It's a journey between incredible extremes of scale; fusing the unimaginable vastness of the observable universe with the strange quantum world of quarks and gluons.
Owen's beautiful words invite us to imagine what might have happened in the very first moments of the creation of the universe, whilst contemplating the conditions of the early Earth that would lead to the emergence of life. Holst's powerful suite The Planets puts the Earth into context with its solar system neighbours.
The concert begins with a new work by Andrew Lewis, based on Thomas's Fern Hill, and incorporating the poet's distinctive voice. Daniel Jones wrote his Fourth Symphony in memory of his close friend the year after the poet's death. The orchestra's Associate Guest Conductor Francois-Xavier Roth brings two works composed in France at either end of the twentieth century.
Between them British violinist Daniel Hope performs one of Shostakovich's most enigmatic concertos. The title of Philippe Manoury's Sound and Fury references Shakespeare's Macbeth, by way of William Faulkner's novel, and the composer - a protege of Pierre Boulez - describes the work as studied violence. Shostakovich's First Violin Concerto was composed in the tense atmosphere of post-war Russia, and was kept under wraps until after Stalin's death.
Soloist Daniel Hope has recorded the work with the composer's son Maxim and his playing has been compared to that of David Oistrakh, who premiered the concerto in It is painted in the composer's unmistakable orchestral colours. Poulenc's Gloria is one of the most joyous and unihibited settings of this sacred text, so much so that the Catholic establishment frowned on the work for being too frivolous. Poulenc was born into an ardently catholic family, and returned to his faith in after a period of neglect, following the death of his friend and fellow composer Pierre Octave Ferroud in a tragic motor accident.
His faith permeated many of his works after, including motets, a mass and a setting of the Stabat Mater, alongside his opera Dialogues des Carmelites, but his music retained the simplicity and directness of his secular musical style. Poulenc has been described as part monk, part guttersnipe, but the composer felt no such contradition.
After all, he had seen both Benedictine monks enjoying a game of football, and fifteenth-century Italian frescos by Gozzoli, in which angels poke their tongues out in good-natured fun. He follows it at this concert with the the Eighth, written during the Second World War, during the summer of The Eighth is a symphony of immense drama and intensity, but it's not just a monument to appalling times, it's also a great work of absolute music, in which the notes look beyond the surroundings, a truly heroic work of art.
This final evening concert in the 70th Cheltenham Music Festival is a vivid orchestral voyage around our own planet and beyond. This five movement symphony combines live orchestra with Krause's recordings from around the world - including the Sumatran rainforest, American Pacific tree frogs, African elephants and gorillas, and a range of exotic, South American birds. Gustav Holst composed three movements of his Planets suite - Mars, Venus and Jupiter - in , so this performance marks the centenary of this masterpiece's inception.
From the menacing start of Mars, the Bringer of War to the bewitching fade-out of Neptune, the Mystic, it will be wonderful to hear one of the greatest pieces of orchestral music ever written in the Town Hall of Holst's home town. As the organ in the Town Hall is currently out of action, the part will be played in down the line from All Saints Church, where Holst's father was choirmaster and where the composer himself sang as a choirboy. The young Italian conductor Francesco Angelico makes his debut with the orchestra in a firecracker of a programme.
We also explore Italy as a tourist - through the music of German composer Mendelssohn who was inspired to write his fourth symphony whilst on holiday. It's an uplifting piece full of joyous melodies - as Mendelssohn himself described in a letter to his sister, it's the jolliest piece I have ever done. Ingrid Fliter is the soloist in Beethoven's 4th Piano Concerto. Two short symhonies make up the first half of Live in Concert.
Schubert's 8th was cut short after two movements simply because the composer lost interest in the project. Although he sketched a scherzo, he never returned to the work in later years. But its incomplete structure belies the intense drama and sublime lyricism of the two remaining movements.
Sibelius achieved brevity in his Seventh Symphony by distilling the essence of contrasting symphonic movements into a single, organic unity. A past Radio 3 New Generation Artist, she has established her reputation as an interpreter of both Chopin and Beethoven. The sublime lyricism of this concerto suits her wonderfully, and the fact that Beethoven opens with the soloist - rather than an orchestral exposition - thrusts her into the spotlight right from the first bar.
Join the orchestra for its annual visit to St. Davids Cathedral, an architectural jewel nestling in the Pembrokeshire hills. Principal Guest Conductor Jac van Steen directs the orchestra in two symphonies: Schubert's unfinished, tragic and dramatic; and Sibelius' final symphony, a monumental journey of great strength and intensity.
Soloist Isabelle Faust fills the cathedral nave with her sparkling sound in the noble and spacious violin concerto by Brahms, capped with a brilliant Hungarian gypsy finale. John Lill is one of our best known and most popular pianists, respected for his fierce passion and romantic temperament. John brings his considerable talents to bear in Schumann's concerto, long a favourite with audiences, that broke new ground in the s, entwining piano and orchestra together in a new way.
Elgar's first symphony was his first large-scale work, written in when he was already over It's full of his famous noble melodies, all fused togeether with a remarkable unity. As a violinist, Elgar wrote with an insider's knowledge which makes the orchestral parts every bit as enjoyable to play as the whole symphonic sound is to hear. Elgar considered the orchestra as a mighty engine the vehicle of the highest form of art known to the world.
There's no better work than his first symphony to demonstrate that belief to its full, powerful effect. Armenian composer Alexander Arutiunian took advantage of the trumpet to blaze through even the grandest symphonic textures in his concerto, whilst Haydn worked for the first time with the precursor of the valve trumpet, filling in some of the notes not available on the natural trumpet.
Bold brassiness takes us through the rest of the programme with Shostakovich's brilliant fanfare and Tchaikovsky's turbulent 4th Symphony, a mirror of his emotional strife at the time, with blood-curdling brass instruments ominously sounding the theme of Fate. For the composer it represents the force of destiny which ever prevents our pursuit of happiness from reaching its goal. The exciting young British conductor Ben Gernon himself an ex-tuba player directs the orchestra on the first leg of their spring trip around Wales.
St David's Day promises to be a remarkable occasion as the Orchestra and Chorus are joined in St David's Hall by acclaimed Welsh baritone Bryn Terfel, to celebrate the music of Wales through song. Bryn performs some of the music closest to his heart. He will be joined by some of the stars of the future, bringing a joyful hwyl to the festivities. A large-scale symphonic masterpiece by Richard Strauss coupled with solo vocal showpieces by Mozart and an early orchestral work by Webern.
Also sprach Zarathustra Thus Spake Zarathustra is one of Strauss's most audacious masterpieces - its opening a well-known musical depiction of sunrise over a black world, followed by music which journeys through the tempestuous joys and passions of life to culminate in serene fulfilment in its closing pages. Completing the programme, three beautiful concert arias and an ecstatic solo motet by Mozart, sung by the great Cardiff-born soprano Rosemary Joshua.
Jac van Steen returns to the orchestra where he was until recently Principal Guest Conductor, for two great works by Stravinsky in neo-classical style. The chamber concerto Dumbarton Oaks was named after the Washington estate where it was first performed in Commissioned to be in the style of a Bach Brandenburg Concerto, it's full of wit within the ever-changing combinations of instruments Stravinsky pulls out of the tightly-knit ensemble.
His one-act ballet Pulcinella was written for the famous impresario Serge Diaghilev nearly twenty years earlier. It's based on trio sonatas Stravinsky believed to be by Pergolesi some of which may actually have been written by Pergolesi. The Neapolitan tale comes from the Commedia dell'arte, full of the playfulness of romance, which despite its many trials and tribulations, ends happily ever after. In between comes a treasure of the Classical period - Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante.
It's an outstanding landmark in the composer's development, which imaginatively pits the solo violin and viola as equal partners, using all the musical skills and inventiveness Mozart had absorbed from his travels throughout Europe. Verdi's Requiem is one of the greatest choral masterpieces in the repertoire. Charged with electric passion, terrifying force, tenderness and tranquillity, it comes straight from Verdi's soul.
The rhythmic and extroverted music paints a picture of the scene, ending with, in the composer's words, a grotesque dance, wild and noisy. Haydn was one of Brahms' favourite composers and the freshness and vigour of his Symphony No 99 has endeared it to audiences for more than two centuries.
When I think of God I can only write joyful music said Joseph Haydn when he began to write what is generally accepted as his masterpiece. Taking collective inspiration from Genesis, the Psalms and John Milton's epic poem 'Paradise Lost', The Creation is a work of musical invention, a sensational biblical homage to our living planet. It also owes a debt to another great choral composer from the eighteenth century - Handel. Haydn first heard performances of Messiah and israel in Egypt in London in , with a massive chorus and orchestra numbering over people.
The impact was immense, and he immediately remarked to a friend that he should like to write something similar, but was stuck for a libretto. In return the friend thrust a Bible into Haydn's hand and said begin at the beginning! The final result gives a lasting impression of uncomplicated joy in the world, from the pen of a 66 year old composer. Five years since it moved into a new state-of-the-art studio, the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales celebrates the anniversary with music from Wales and beyond.
In his tercentenary year a chance to explore Emanuel Bach's revelatory keyboard music in performances on the clavichord, harpsichord, tangent and fortepianos as well as the modern concert grand piano. This anniversary concert opens with the work that opened the hall in January , a colourful overture, inspired musically by Berlioz, but based on a story from the Medieval Welsh manuscript, the Mabinogion.
As Composer in Association with the orchestra Simon Holt was commissioned for a short work when the hall opened. In the fourth century, St. Vitus miraculously jumped unscathed from a cauldron of boiling lead, whilst suffering at the hands of the Romans. By the middle ages, it had become traditional in Germany to dance at the saints statue on his feast day to ensure good health for the coming year.
In his short work, Simon Holt captures the fury and excitement of the demonical dancers. Cardiff-born soprano Rosemary Joshua returns to her home town to sing Mozart - as she did the week that the hall opened. Mozart's sparkling motet never fails to dazzle audiences.
By the middle ages, it had become traditional in Germany to dance at the saint's statue on his feast day to ensure good health for the coming year. The orchestra's former Principal Conductor Thierry Fischer brings the music of his Swiss compatriot Arthur Honegger, whose 'Liturgique' symphony was written immediately after the Second World War and, after an aggressive opening movement, culminates in a desire for peace.
Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin is the soloist in Rachmaninov's reworking of Paganini's most well-known theme. George Butterworth was one of many young composers whose careers were tragically cut short by the Great War. His rhapsody explores the world of A. It's regarded as a minature masterpiece, perfectly encapsulating the futility of war filtered through his love of English folksong.
When war broke out in , a million Belgians fled their country with some , coming to Britain. Among them was organist and composer Joseph Jongen, who made a new home in Bournemouth - though he took his summer holidays in North Wales. The Cello Concerto displays his melodic charm whilst embracing the eloquence of Wagner and the delicacy of Debussy. David van der Woestijne was born in , to refugee Belgian parents at the Lion Hotel in Llandinam, Powys, and went on to become a leading Belgian composer.
Like Butterworth, Morfydd Owen was also deeply influenced by folk music she found around her. Together they fought at Gallipoli, but Brooke didn't survive. Kelly was one of the party who buried him there in , and he was moved to write an elegy to his friend as a tender lasting memorial. Tragically, Kelly was killed in the last days of the Battle of the Somme, the following year. His time in the Royal Signals Corps took him to Egypt, and the experience there influenced his early compositions.
Whilst in Cairo he even found time to write a complete opera, The Sergeant-Major's Daughter, but it was his symphonic impression of the temple of Luxor, which earned him greatest success, winning first prize from the Royal Philharmonic Society in A few years later he went on to revive the Gregynog Festival, allowing him to follow his passion of Welsh musical life. Webern's subtle and engaging orchestration of Bach's 6-part Ricercare from The Musical Offering prepares the palate for Berg's group of Seven Early Songs, dedicated to his wife and sung by Swedish soprano Lisa Larsson.
Mahler's Fourth Symphony, culminating in a child's vision of heaven closes the programme. Bruckner's arresting Fourth Symphony with its wealth of moods and variety of orchestral textures, and ever-pervasive horn writing is performed after the interval.
They are joined by pianist Freddy Kempf. With music derived from Barber's first work for the theatre, the programme opens with Medea's Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, an unsettling journey from an uneasy tenderness to full-blown anguish. Copland's Third Symphony, which re-visits, in its affirmatory Finale, his Fanfare for the Common Man ends the programme. Between these two pieces Freddy Kempf joins the orchestra for a work full of American spirit, Gershwin's Piano Concerto. Alumnus of the BBC New Generation Artists scheme Francesco Piemontesi joins them for an early piano concerto and the concert ends with the ever-green 'Pastoral' symphony, celebrating the composer's love of the countryside.
A journey from the ambiguous and searching introduction to Beethoven's Fourth Symphony at the start of the evening leads to the blaze of reconciliation and joy that is the climax of his Ninth. Bernstein's sparkling Overture to Candide sets the scene for a programme of energetic and colourful American music.
We visit the Wild West in Copland's suite from Billy the Kid and in his Four Dance Episodes from Rodeo and spend time in a dance hall, the Salon Mexico where energetic Mexican folk dances bring different colours and rhythms to the evening. This life-affirming work was written during a period in Bruckner's life when he was deeply unhappy. His Fifth Symphony is the only one that bar a performance for two pianos! When he finished it in it was the most ambitious work he had written to date.
Of all his symphonies, this one perhaps most merits the description architectural but the intricate counterpoint, unity of themes between the movements and the fugue which leads to the majestic and uncompromisingly optimistic ending make it special. When Elgar's First Symphony was premiered in Manchester in , it was a new dawn for British music.
There's no better way to launch the BBC Philharmonic's year-long celebration of the Mancunian way of music-making than with this gloriously stirring masterpiece - although a performance of Brahms's tempestuous First Piano Concerto by the Manchester-trained Stephen Hough might just run it close.
It is preceded by two works inspired by by Beethoven's music; Schubert's sparkling Second Symphony, written whilst he was still in his teens, and Colin Matthews's Grand Barcarolle which takes as its starting point an imaginary slow movement to a Beethoven Symphony. Spinning wheels tend to herald trouble in fairy tales - just think of the princess condemned to sleep for years.
But that has nothing on the darkness of Erben's take on The Golden Spinning Wheel imagine Cinderella's wicked stepmother with the morals and surgical skill of Hannibal Lecter , though, errant body parts aside, it does have a happy ending.
Pity the poor 18th-century trumpeter: the limitations of the natural trumpet made it a nightmare for players. So when Anton Weidinger came up with a new keyed instrument, it was enough of a breakthrough to tempt Haydn to write his Trumpet Concerto, a work that revels in the new possibilities of the instrument, and ones that hold no fears for virtuoso Alison Balsom, making a very welcome return to the orchestra. Shostakovich is one of the greatest symphonists of recent times, and with his Fifth Symphony, it seems that audiences - and even Soviet officials - were in agreement, giving the piece a tumultuous ovation at its premiere.
It marked a distinct new direction, an apparent new straightforwardness after he'd faced the wrath of officialdom for his opera Lady Macbeth. But nothing is ever quite as it seems; what the authorities regarded as healthy plain-speaking can equally be heard as mockery. Is the grandiose end a great victory or a parody?
It's your chance to decide! In music that was of particularly strong significance to each of these composers we hear their clear personal voices. Elgar referred to his Serenade for Strings as his favourite work and he gave it to his wife on their wedding anniversary.
While writing his last large-scale orchestral piece, his full-blooded Cello Concerto, Dvorak had the illness and the death of his beloved sister-in-law, to whom he had been close before her marriage, in the forefront of his mind. In Tchaikovsky's final work his relationship with his own mortality inspires a work of extraordinary power and depth. Elgar's Cockaigne Overture, a jovial portrait of the English capital starts an evening which ends with Walton's multi-coloured depiction of the wine, women and song which ultimately lead to the downfall of King Belshazzar, sung by David Soar.
We stop off en-route in Denmark for a performance of Nielsen's engaging Violin Concerto played for us tonight by the superb Alina Pogostkina. Falla's warm-hearted and earthy tale of infatuation and seduction contrasts with the mythological lovers depicted in Ravel's sumptuous score. Stravinsky's famous depiction of the the rituals surrounding the arrival of Spring in pagan Russia is amongst his most powerful and visceral compositions - its premiere creating a notable scandal in modern music.
In music by one of Stravinsky's compatriots, the Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai joins the BBC Philharmonic before the interval in the dazzling concert showpiece that is Prokofiev's 2nd Violin Concerto. HK Gruber takes the BBC Philharmonic on an intriguing journey that encompasses a suite from his most recent opera - der herr nordwind - and his Viennese composing colleague Friedrich Cerha's romp through the city both have made their own, with humorous and irreverent bits of people-watching!
British enthusiasms also figure highly in Gruber's mind, and here he joins the great Britten interpreter Ian Bostridge for Britten's anti-hunting protest. Alexander Goehr spent formative years in Manchester and will celebrate his eightieth birthday in August. The concert begins with his own musical self-portrait. Tonight's programme takes as its starting point music written in England around the two World Wars. Delius wrote his Violin Concerto in after leaving France, unnerved by the encroaching German forces.
The music of Delius's close friend, Grieg, who he had met in Leipzig in his student years starts the programme. Spanning both World Wars the music of Vaughan Williams in the second part of tonight's concert could not be more contrasting; the transcendence and peace of 'The Lark Ascending' conceived in the period just before the First World War and revised and performed just after the War's end, and the grit and astringency of his Sixth Symphony written just after the Second World War are poles apart.
The programme begins and ends with Nordic music; Grieg's entrancing miniatures from Peer Gynt combines character, melody and atmosphere. The concert closes with Sibelius's First Symphony, his powerfully individual voice clearly heard even whilst the great Russian composers cast their shadow.
The second part of this evening's concert will feature Vaughan Williams' spiritual Fifth Symphony - a central work in his output, which embodied a return to the more romantic style of writing after his abrasively dissonant Fourth Symphony.
We meet two musical families: John Adams looks back to his imaginary musical father and fellow New Englander, Charles Ives, while HK Gruber salutes his teacher, Gottfried von Einem, in his most recent violin concerto. Inspired by William Blake's stylized engravings, Vaughan Williams responds to the metaphysical nature of the illustrations and paints movingly clear pictures of Heaven and Hell in 'Job', his Masque for Dancing though folk song and dance are never far away.
This colourful score explores the panorama of the Lake District in all weathers, from the viewpoint of running over the fells. Bruch's little-known double concerto, with clarinet and viola soloists, exploits the singing, lyrical nature of these two solo instruments. Finally, the dancing rhythms and melodic sweep of Dvorak's music reveal his love for his native Bohemia.
Stephen Hough joins them as soloist in Schumann's Piano Concerto. Nature in all its gentleness and wildness colours this programme of romantic music, from the gentle first notes of Mahler's Symphony, with its blossoming of Spring and birdcalls, to a depiction of turbulent seas off the West coast of Scotland as experienced by the twenty year old Mendelssohn on a visit there. Schumann's great outpouring of his love for Clara is epitomised in his effervescent Piano Concerto.
Today sees the opening concert of a six month festival shared between The Bridgewater Hall and the BBC Philharmonic, concentrating on the music of Debussy, born years ago. Also included is a serenade by Mozart, and Sibelius's noble 'Nightride and Sunrise'. The orchestra is joined by two pianists, Noriko Ogawa, Artistic Director of the festival, and her regular collaborator Kathryn Stott, for Takemitsu's 'Quotation of Dream'.
John Storgards, the orchestra's Principal Guest Conductor pays tribute to centenery composer Andrzej Panufnik in music that conjures up a boundless landscape which evokes melancholy while Sibelius's Second Symphony brings the concert to a positive and resolute end. He brings music from the sunny shores of Spain to the banks of the Manchester Ship Canal!
The Spanish side of this programme comes courtesy of Manuel de Falla and Ravel, whose Rhapsodie impressed Falla with its local colour, even though Ravel had not even visited Spain at this time. Falla's music is Spanish through and through, evoking the passion of flamenco and the heady atmosphere of the Alhambra gardens, although he acknowledges the musical trends of his French contemporaries.
The English side of this programme is from two composers born in the Greater Manchester area. The concert opens with an overture from William Walton, whose father was an Oldham organist and choirmaster. Peter Maxwell Davies, Salford's most famous musical son, wrote his tone poem as a memento of his Lancashire childhood. In the final concert of a series of three celebrating the th anniversary of the birth of Nielsen, the BBC Philharmonic and John Storgards open the evening with the most paradoxical of his symphonies.
Although he said he intended the work to be idyllic this extraordinary symphony contains tragedy, satire and anxiety with a series of heart attacks he'd recently suffered seeming to punctuate the climax of the first movement and, in his words, death knocking at the door in the Finale. In an interview at the time of the first performance he told an interviewer that, it's natural for us to long for what we don't have; perhaps the symphony's title is more a wish than description.
The first two concerts in this series were broadcast live on 9 and 13 June and are available on BBC iPlayer. The programme includes concert pieces, film music and a selection of his songs with Claire Martin. And that concert is followed by music for solo cello played by Matthew Barley at this year's Newbury Festival. They perform music by Schubert, Mozart and two of Haydn's irrepressibly witty symphonies.
This concert features two iconic symphonies: the First strikes a blow for Nationalism in a symphonic context, and the Fifth, written as the First World War raged on, is a powerful and poetic synthesis of Sibelius's symphonic style. Sabine Meyer joins them for Nielsen's Clarinet Concerto. Sibelius's tender and melancholy Rakastava at the start of the concert contrasts with Shostakovich's gripping eye-witness account of one of the most turbulent eras in modern history - his monumental Fourth Symphony.
The festival will feature all his orchestral songs. Tonight, the orchestra welcomes one of the leading Strauss interpreters of our time, the Finnish soprano, Soile Isokoski for the Three Hymns. Cellist Steven Isserlis brings Cervantes' colourful hero to life in Strauss's set of character variations while the concert starts with Strauss's most iconic moment, beginning his epic portrait of the philosopher Zarathustra.
The programme starts and ends with pieces which Tchaikovsky worked on side by side. His Fantasy Overture on Hamlet portrays the tragedy's characters and we hear them, interwoven with fate, in the music. Fate is never far away in the music of Tchaikovsky but in his Fifth Symphony, which closes the programme, luscious orchestral textures and the world of dance are to the fore.
Live from the comfortable Victorian splendour of Huddersfield Town Hall, the BBC Philharmonic, with conductor Andrew Gourlay, open and close this evening's concert with music that was being written in Russia and Austria at the same time as workers were building this beautiful and iconic Town Hall in the north of England.
Brahms's sunniest symphony, his second, brings the concert to an affirmative conclusion. In the second part of the concert the full power of Beethoven's heroic, and anti-heroic, Third Symphony is released. A central figure of German Romanticism, Max Bruch also spent a fair part of his life in Britain and his Scottish Fantasy makes great play with Celtic folk tunes and dances. Elgar's First Symphony was praised as 'the greatest symphony of modern times' by its first conductor, Hans Richter.
There's no denying its energy and epic sweep, but Elgar also finds time for some of his most delicate and poignant music. Andrew Davis - a long time champion of British music and particularly the music of Edward Elgar - will relish conducting a concert which explores some of the many faces of this most mercurial composer.
The second half of the concert breathes life into some of Elgar's family and friends through the musical portraits he sketched of them in his Enigma Variations - one of the most popular pieces of British orchestral music. Tonight, Juanjo Mena conducts both orchestras in four settings including two rarely heard works, his darkly haunting 'Notturno' and 'Nachtlicher Gang. Expect more than a hint of paprika! Today marks years since the birth of Carl Nielsen.
To celebrate this anniversary, the BBC Philharmonic presents the first in a series of three concerts which includes all of his symphonies. Tonight his First Symphony in the first performance of which he played in the second violin section is paired with the indomitable life-affirming power of the Fourth. Roderick Williams joins the orchestra in four of Mahler's colourful songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Celebrating the th anniversary of the birth of Nielsen, the BBC Philharmonic and John Storgards continue their cycle of his six symphonies.
Asked about his Fifth Symphony, Nielsen said he felt all his music expressed resting forces in contrast to active ones and in his Second Symphony, The Four Temperaments, which starts the programme, Nielsen explores these contrasts using the different human character types; choleric, phlegmatic, melancholic and sanguine. His Fifth Symphony conjures contrasts of a more elemental nature with unsettling calm, the destructive power of the side drum and a defiantly life-affirming conclusion.
Nielsen's Symphonies No. Another chance to hear conductor Edward Gardner lead the traditional festivities of the Last Night of the Proms Gardner, who was the youngest Last Night conductor since Sir Henry Wood himself on the first Last Night in , brings a youthful verve to the celebrations. He's joined by leading dramatic soprano Susan Bullock who performed Brunnhilde's famous 'Immolation Scene' which concludes Wagner's epic Ring cycle, as well as leading the customary communal singing after the Interval.
Super-star pianist Lang Lang - the man who's inspired millions of Chinese children to take up the piano - performs Liszt, a composer who he describes as a rock star but also a truly great musician - words that could equally describe Lang Lang himself.
Antonio Pappano came to the Proms in July with his Orchestra and Chorus of the Academy of Santa Cecilia, Rome, for a rare performance of Rossini's grandest of operas about the legendary founding fathers of Switzerland and the hero who shoots an apple from his son's head.
Michele Pertusi takes the title role and the character of Arnold, one of Rossini's most demanding tenor parts, complete with numerous high Cs , is sung by the American tenor John Osborn. It all adds up to a horrible history of classical music! Another chance to hear a Prom concert marking the th anniversary of the death of great Spanish Renaissance composer Victoria performed by one of the world's leading specialists in early music - the Tallis Scholars.
At the heart of their programme is Victoria's glorious Requiem - composed in for the funeral rites of the Dowager Empress Maria, sister of Philip II of Spain - a summation and a farewell to the music of Spain's Golden Age. Another chance to hear British organist Stephen Farr put the mighty Albert Hall instrument through its paces in a programme which celebrates two musical anniversaries.
The anniversary composers are Jehan Alain, the French organist born in and killed in World War II, and Franz Liszt, whose music for organ is the match, in virtuosity and sheer elan, of his more familiar works for piano. Concluding the programme, Stephen Farr gave the first performance of a characteristically imaginative new work for organ by the British composer Judith Bingham.
This suite of pieces depicts a lavish, but imaginary, ceremonial crown in which is framed seven fabulous gemstones of legend. Each movement of the suite takes one of these jewels to represents an aspect of royalty, good and bad - such as divinity and splendour, but also treachery and cruelty, representing the best and the worst of the human race.
Another chance to hear Nigel Kennedy bringing his unique musical style and his love of the works of Bach to a programme of solo violin works. Another chance to hear the music of Steve Reich which he brought to the Proms last year in celebration of his 75th birthday.
His hypnotic rhythms and elements taken from jazz and non-Western traditions produce some ravishing music. Clapping Music shows off the percussive abilities of two people who make music with nothing but their own bodies. In Electric Counterpoint a single electric guitarist builds up alluring layers of sound with a multiple guitar soundtrack. Music for 18 Musicians is a seminal piece from the s and one of Reich's best-known works. The exotic colours and percussive textures are very striking, as is the unusual ensemble, featuring multiple pianos, marimbas and xylophones.
It is a work Reich himself is still very satisfied with, and its enduring nature has led to many contemporary electronica artists sampling it today. Another chance to hear the BBC Concert Orchestra and principal conductor Keith Lockhart in this concert of music for the silver screen from both sides of the Atlantic.
Celebrating the centenary of his birth there's a tribute to the film composers' composer Bernard Herrmann, alongside music by today's greatest living exponent John Williams. Passages from Henry V accompany William Walton's iconic music, and there's a tribute to the late John Barry with two of his most famous themes. Back in August, maverick Australian comedian Tim Minchin brought his own inimitable style of musical fun to the Royal Albert Hall as he hosted this first ever Comedy Prom.
Another chance to hear Valery Gergiev and the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre at last year's Proms with music from their Russian homeland with a complete performance of Tchaikovsky's great ballet Swan Lake. She and her swan retinue are human beings under the spell of an evil sorcerer - swans by day, human beings by night. The story of how the terrible spell is eventually broken and Siegfried and Odette united for ever is one of the most romantic and passionate tales told in the world of ballet.
Tchaikovsky's score is both vivid and subtle, especially when, as this evening, it is heard complete, rather than in the more often heard suite. Another chance to hear the Chamber Orchestra of Europe celebrate its 30th anniversary with this Prom which focuses on the expressive musical world of Brahms. The Third Symphony is generally upbeat, but the energy of the final movement floats away to a quiet and elusive end. The First Piano Concerto is bound up with Brahms's intense friendship with Robert Schumann and his wife Clara, and his sense of loss at Schumann's tragic downward spiral into madness.
Emanuel Ax is the soloist, a pianist renowned for his sensitive interpretations, and he rejoins the orchestra for more Brahms tomorrow. Haitink, a distinguished interpreter of Brahms, admires the COE's ability to play together like chamber musicians. The concert opens with solo piano as Angela Hewitt performs the first two of Brahms's popular Op. As a young man Brahms met Robert Schumann who became his musical father figure while his wife Clara his muse. Schumann's Introduction and Allegro was written just before Brahms met the Schumanns and was premiered with Clara Schumann at the keyboard - it was later dedicated to Brahms.
Finally we observe the romantic composer Brahms viewed through the prism of the modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg in his piano quartet which Schoenberg arranged for orchestra in Another chance to hear the second of two concerts recorded in August in which Bernard Haitink conducts the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and pianist Emmanuel Ax in music by Brahms.
They open with a work long central to Emanuel Ax's repertoire. Brahms's Second Piano Concerto is on a grand Romantic scale and makes huge technical demands on the soloist. Following this, they perform the composer's astonishing final symphony, where the balance between expressiveness and structural control is most perfectly maintained.
Another chance to hear Sir Colin Davis conduct an orchestra of brilliant young musicians in a programme which ranges from Stravinsky's so-called 'war symphony' via the heady orientalism of Ravel to the dramatic Fate motif of Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. The leading American mezzo soprano, Susan Graham joins them for Ravel's vision of the Orient, which is by turns sensuous, voluptuous and erotic.
Another chance to hear a Late Night Prom celebrating the keyboard genius of anniversary composer, Franz Liszt. French pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin plays a selection of virtuosic works spanning the whole of the composer-pianist's imaginative and emotional world. Another chance to hear John Wilson and his Orchestra with starry soloists and the Maida Vale Singers celebrating the Golden Age of Hollywood film Musicals, from the earliest days through to the s.
Back in the mid 20th century the Hollywood studios attracted the best composers, lyricists and orchestrators to write for their stars. The results are what John Wilson calls miniature works of art which were played by orchestras composed of virtuoso players.
Matching that, the John Wilson Orchestra is made up of the cream of Britain's orchestral musicians who have wowed Proms audiences with the passion and sheer vivacity of their playing. They perform classics from the s onwards, from films staring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers including the title numbers from 'Shall We Dance' and 'Top Hat', through the 40s and 50s with numbers from 'Strike up the Band' and 'Guys and Dolls', through to hit musical films from the 60s including 'Gypsy' and 'West Side Story'.
Another chance to hear the first ever 'Audience Choice Prom'. Another chance to hear Parisian organist Thierry Escaich, one of today's most famed exponents of the art of improvisation, demonstrate his skills in a variety of styles on the mighty Albert Hall instrument as well as playing concert works by four great organist-composers from the 18th and 19th centuries. Another chance to hear one of the greatest pieces of chamber music in this Late Night Prom concert from last year.
A leading quartet of our time is joined by the distinguished cellist and founder member of the Berg Quartet, Valentin Erben. Barely thirty years old, but already near death, Schubert had his String Quintet rejected by his publisher and only performed and published many years after his death.
But its exploratory outer movements and the sublimely transcendent slow movement, continue to inspire musicians, poets, film makers and audiences to this day. Another chance to hear one of the world's great orchestras on their visit to last year's Proms with a programme of familiar classics including Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, written for the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Charles Dutoit conducts the ever-popular Tchaikovsky Concerto, with soloist Janine Janson, as well as Sibelius's nationalistic tone poem and Ravel's apotheosis of the waltz, a piece whose unstoppable whirling may have been intended as a metaphor for the fate of European civilisation. Another chance to hear a rare performance of Weber's opera Der Freischutz in the French version by Berlioz from last year's Proms.
One of the cornerstones of German Romantic opera the work was reimagined by Berlioz - a huge fan of Weber - for audiences in Paris in As originally composed, the work has spoken dialogue in German, but for the Paris production this was replaced with recitatives as well as adding the ballet expected by French audiences at the time. Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts, and tenor Andrew Kennedy as the forester-hero, Max, and the Belgian soprano Sophie Karthauser as his beloved Agathe lead the international cast in this dramatic tale of romance and magic.
After the interval: Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony. They called them Young Poland: the composers who, in the first decades of the 20th century, gave voice to a resurgent nation. Szymanowski went further in his Violin Concerto No. After the interval: a reminder of another turning point in Eastern European history: Prokofiev's Andrew Litton makes symphony of the greatness of the human spirit, premiered in wartime Moscow to the sound of gunfire. This evening's concert opens with a selection of Mahler's songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn sung by mezzo-soprano Alice Coote.
These orchestral lieder, inspired by rustic German poetry, are amongst Mahler's most enduring and popular vocal music. And the concert concludes with Bruckner's colourful Fourth Symphony, an orchestral work nicknamed 'The Romantic' for its epic lyricism and evocation of Austrian folkloristic endeavours. Martin Handley introduces 20th music for chorus and organ by English composers, in a programme that highlights striking a cappella works from Walton and Howells, interspersed with organ voluntaries performed by Richard Pearce at St Paul's Knightsbridge.
Celebration and commemoration are the themes that run through this concert with pieces written for coronations and festivals, including Howell's intensely moving Take him, earth, for cherishing written upon the death of President J. Kennedy who was assasinated 50 years ago in Britten's Festival Cantata sets lines by the 18th-century poet Christopher Smart - written largely while Smart was confined to a lunatic asylum.
His idiosyncratic but touching words reflect on his condition, but also describe how he sees the glory of God in all created things: mythical, abstract and real - even his own cat makes an appearance. Britten's wonderfully imaginative music was composed for St Matthew's Church, Northampton in Paul Mealor's music became known worldwide after his motet Ubi caritas was sung at last year's Royal Wedding. His new work turns to Celtic myth, and tells of the inhabitants of an Anglesey village, cast under a spell by a mysterious stranger.
The work has been commissioned by the John Armitage Memorial - a charity promoting new works for chorus - and tonight receives its first performance. The BBC Singers, conducted by Stephen Cleobury, perform a concert of choral music celebrating the glories of the natural world - from the Biblical account of the seven days of Creation, in Aaron Copland's masterly setting, to the premiere of a brand-new work which looks to Native American Mohawk traditions for inspiration and which its composer, Forrest Pierce, describes as a discourse on the generous beauties that sustain us on this voyage around the sun.
In between, music from the Renaissance and from our own day which praise the wonders of all that surrounds us - sun and stars, sea and sky, flora and fauna. Taverner's Western Wynde Mass is the centrepiece of this concert, a series of beautiful choral variations based on a secular tune.
Wylkynson's 'Salve Regina', a hymn to the Virgin Mary that fascinated European composers throughout the Renaissance era, closes this concert of early church music. This holds good in drumming. He may go to some drummer more or less known and throw himself on his mercy, give him money and follow his teachings minutely and still be found fault with.
Sooner or later he will become aware that no one drummer knows it all or has invented any new system that all bow to. Soon his reputation will precede him and he is the censor and not the censored. Both he and Moeller would certainly have endorsed the saying from Linji Yixuan at the beginning of this chapter. Percussion is the focal point for much contemporary music, and percussionists now have successful careers as soloists, chamber musicians, composers, and conductors.
This association that timpani playing has with the historical while residing in a progressive age makes it imperative that contemporary timpanists use 19 Timpani traditions and beyond their imaginations in interpretation of their parts. It is important to honor tradition, but equally important to embark on new adventures in music-making as long as you have an understanding of what makes music sound beautiful.
Ernst Pfundt used that approach in , and it is still an appropriate attitude today. Notes 1. Sasaki, The Record of Linji, T. Kirchner ed. So it is very likely that Schmidt played timpani in much the style of Ernst Pfundt. Greenleaves, email communication, November 12, Abel, personal interview Philadelphia, PA, October 16, Vic Firth was another timpanist who began his musical studies on instruments other than percussion and who generated his own school of timpani playing.
In addition to holding the principal timpani position in the Boston Symphony for forty-nine years and founding his own percussion products company, he has been on the faculty of the New England Conservatory since He then succeeded Saul Goodman as timpanist in the New York Philharmonic where he played from until his retirement in Reich, personal interview New York City, December 18, Personal communication Rochester, NY, May 4, Indiana University Press, , pp. It is truly wonderful to have the opportunity to engage on a regular basis with music created by some of the greatest minds of Western civilization and increasingly of Eastern civilization as well.
There are a number of attractive aspects to playing in an orchestra that are unique to percussionists. There is a certain directness and visceral clarity for audiences in connecting the physical motion of a percussionist striking an instrument with the immediacy of the sound produced. Except for the conductor, the percussionists are the most visually accessible performers seen by audiences due to their physical movement around instruments within the percussion section. In addition, percussionists, perhaps more so than other instrumentalists, have a considerable degree of freedom in the selection of sounds to be produced for any particular passage in the music.
Cahn accepted performance practices. The number of varieties will only continue to grow. At the same time, as the number of instrument options is increasing, there will also be regular innovations in design, construction, and materials used for the standard orchestral percussion instruments. This virtual explosion of instrument options and innovation has already had an impact. For example, until the late s, the only option available for timpani heads was calfskin.
But since then, as new materials have become available and as the skills of tanners gradually went the way of the blacksmiths — they were no longer needed — the generally accepted timpani sound quickly shifted to various types of synthetic plastic heads.
Of course, there will continue to be die-hard advocates for calfskin heads because of their distinctive sound characteristics. Most orchestras own a standard set of four timpani, but it is not unusual for timpanists, especially in the larger-budget orchestras, to own one or more personal sets.
Snare drums have also undergone an evolution. Percussionists are normally required to provide their own snare drums, and they have dozens of manufacturers and style options from which to choose. Along with this steady growth of options comes the need to remain informed and current.
For each piece in the orchestra repertoire, snare drummers have the freedom to determine which type of snare drum and sound they will use; among their options are shell depth, thickness and material of the shell, number and type of tension lugs, calfskin or plastic heads, amount of tension on the heads, completely open or partially muted, single snare type or multiple-material snares, and so on.
As with the timpanist, this responsibility regularly requires some extra time in advance of rehearsals and performances. Normally, bass drums are owned by the orchestra, but it is not unusual, especially in the case of designated bass drummers, for percussionists to have personal instruments.
The accepted standard for bass drums has also evolved from large-diameter, Turkish-style head diameter greater than shell depth drums with calfskin heads, to smaller diameter, Scottish-style shell depth equal to or greater than head diameter , ribbed-plastic bass drums.
Actually, that description is only half true. Both instruments, and in fact most percussion instruments, do have a fundamental pitch. In the case of cymbals and triangles, the fundamental pitch, which is mostly audible only after the overtones have faded away, is ignored in favor of the characteristic strike sound, which is rich in overtones that mask the fundamental pitch. As composers gradually become aware of the pitch aspect of percussion 24 William L. Most woodblocks, temple blocks, and even castanets are clearly pitched, although as with most writing for percussion instruments, the pitch of the instruments is not normally considered.
Innovations in design, materials, and production have made it possible for percussionists to select from a variety of available instruments, either traditionally wooden or newly synthetic, in order to meet the requirements of the music. Tam-tams do have a fundamental pitch, but as with cymbals, that aspect of their sound is generally irrelevant for most of the orchestra repertoire. The principal percussionist is usually responsible for locating any needed instruments, while the orchestra covers the rental charges.
Contrary to the relatively short passages for these instruments that exist in most of the repertoire composed prior to the s, it is not unusual for these instruments to have extended and highly technical parts in contemporary compositions. In addition, the standard ranges of both of these instruments have expanded from 3. While in most instances orchestras own these instruments, percussionists may also choose to use their personal instruments, especially if their instrument is a highly regarded vintage xylophone e.
Another consideration for the keyboard percussion instruments is the tuning of the bars. Some players prefer that only the upper octave of the instrument be tuned high, but when instruments need to be retuned, it is almost always the principal percussionist who determines the tuning. In recent years, there has been a rapid expansion of the technical requirements for performance on two other keyboard percussion instruments, the marimba and the vibraphone.
While the xylophone and glockenspiel have essentially been limited to orchestra repertoire that is playable with two-mallet techniques, the marimba and vibraphone have both had a renaissance due to the worldwide interest among percussionists and composers in four-mallet techniques, particularly the performance capabilities made possible using the mallet grip with two mallets in each hand developed by Leigh Howard Stevens in the s.
Gaining access to new generations of acoustic and electronic percussion instruments The expansion of orchestral repertoire, including not only symphonic music but also opera, pops, and other non-symphonic genres, increasingly requires 26 William L. Cahn that members of the percussion section perform on nontraditional instruments and produce novel or unusual sounds. Global communications, travel, and trade have made it possible for composers to write for instruments from non-Western cultures.
At the same time, percussionists and inventors are continually creating new kinds of percussion instruments and sounds. These companies are usually located in major metropolitan areas and they serve as a central resource, where percussion instruments can be obtained, transported, stored, and maintained in good playing condition.
These tasks, because of the expense and time involved with the ever-increasing array of percussion instruments, have become too costly for many percussionists to do on their own. Companies that rent percussion instruments can be located easily on the Internet. Another source of percussion instruments that has seen growth in recent years is catalog sales. Orchestras that are located near music schools and universities may have access to high-quality instruments on a loan basis.
Embracing new performance techniques, styles, and technologies Having obtained the required instruments, orchestra percussionists may on occasion need to develop their own individual techniques in order to obtain acceptable sounds on unfamiliar instruments. Digital technologies and the Internet will also continue to improve the ease with which percussionists can gain access to orchestra scores, printed parts, recordings and performance practices; the value of these resources to musicians is immeasurable.
The Internet also makes it possible for percussionists to obtain information easily through blogs, chat rooms, and direct contact with other percussionists worldwide. Preparation of percussion parts One of the biggest challenges facing percussionists in contemporary music, especially in contemporary music scored for a large percussion section, is dealing with page turns in parts that are frequently in score form, with all of the percussion parts lumped together.
In this scenario, a single page may contain only a few bars, requiring frequent and virtually impossible page turns. Sometimes cloned parts are required simply to avoid the need for a percussionist to pick up a part to carry it to another location within the percussion section, and occasionally it is necessary to enlarge a cloned part 28 William L. Cahn so that it can be read by a percussionist on a distant instrument. However, the individual players still have the ultimate responsibility to see that their own part is in order.
Generally, the principal percussionist will work with the orchestra librarian to address such problems. Another option, when appropriate, would be to make clone copies of parts that can then be cut-and-pasted for each individual player. In addition, the potential exists for the Internet ultimately to provide easy access to almost every audio recording that has ever been made and preserved.
Newer digital technologies are certain to be developed in the future that will enable continual improvements in the quality of sounds and images. For music students and professionals at all levels, this development will prove to be a valuable resource for the study of performance practices in the same way that early audio recordings were in the early twentieth century. At the same time, having easy access to an ever-higher quality of audio and video-recorded performances may very well prove to be an attractive alternative to attending live performances, luring listeners away from live concerts.
To some extent, the Metropolitan Opera has already demonstrated some success with its live broadcasts that are digitally streamed to local theaters throughout the world. Solving problems As in the past, percussionists, orchestral and otherwise, will continue to be problem solvers as they have always been, taking advantage of available resources.
They will surely continue to be challenged to invent the means necessary to satisfy the requirements of the music in varying performance scenarios, through creative substitutions of instruments, self-directed playing techniques, or creative ways of suspending, positioning, and striking percussion instruments. A serious problem exists today in rethinking what the job of an orchestra musician actually entails in an evolving digital environment with shifting social values. Among the basic skills 30 William L.
In an ideal world, such workshops would be structured as paid services for orchestra musicians. In an extreme scenario, the musicians themselves might have to take on the responsibility for these operations, too. Here again the orchestra percussionist may also have to occasionally take on the role of impresario, manager, educator, publicist, accountant, or more.
Cahn or administrators. In this scenario, it may not be as crucial for these musicians to have achieved the highest level of performance skills, though having such skills could certainly increase the satisfaction derived from performing. Orchestra musicians have traditionally generated supplemental income by teaching their instruments either in conjunction with music schools or in their own private studios. Presenting workshops, seminars, and guest residencies can also be a professionally satisfying way to generate supplemental income.
Another related source of supplemental income could be preparing and performing chamber music repertoire, or even forming and managing an ad hoc chamber ensemble with colleagues. The most important decision for anyone who wants to pursue a career as an orchestra musician is selecting, as soon as possible, the right teacher, the teacher who provides the necessary support and inspiration through the lengthy process of acquiring technical skills while remaining healthy emotionally.
It will obviously be most helpful if the teacher has a strong background in orchestral music, primarily as a performer, but also as an educator and advocate. However, it is important to bear in mind that a great performer is not necessarily a great teacher, so if a supportive and inspiring atmosphere is missing, the student should consider looking elsewhere for a teacher.
A conservatory that has faculty members who are closely connected with a professional orchestra would generally be the best choice. Other factors such as the city in which the institution is located and the availability of access to regular performances by high-level orchestras should be considered. For anyone really serious about playing professionally in an orchestra, attending graduate school may merely postpone the process of preparing for auditions and proactively spending the time necessary to seek an orchestra position.
By the time one graduates from a music school or conservatory, the technical skills needed to win an audition for a fulltime professional orchestra position should already be in place. If a deep familiarity with the standard orchestra repertoire is also in place, so much the better.
A more proactive alternative for the person who is disciplined enough to do so would be to use the resources of time and money that would otherwise have been spent on graduate school to instead prepare 34 William L. Time could also be devoted to arranging periodic personal coaching sessions with one or more actively performing orchestra musicians, preferably with ones in major orchestras. Additionally, it would be wise to attend as many concerts by orchestras as possible to observe the percussion performance practices and to deepen an understanding of the repertoire through active listening.
Ask if they know of any openings or opportunities, not just for full-time positions, but also for extra players, and be sure to leave a calling card. If travel costs are a concern, start close to home and gradually expand further. In this environment, it has become extremely challenging to stand out in an audition. Mistakes and missed notes, especially on the keyboard percussion instruments, and incorrect rhythms must be fully addressed early in the process of preparing for an audition.
But beyond these basics, in order to stand out in an audition, the preparation needs to be very deep. Having mini-goals for each day of preparation and having milemarkers to assess progress should be part of the plan. The primary goal in preparing for an orchestra audition is to know the required repertoire in depth. Really liking the music is even better. Excerpt books can be very helpful, but it is best to become familiar with the regular published editions that are actually used by orchestras.
As technical performance standards on all instruments continue to increase, orchestra auditions require that solo repertoire be performed, even by non-principal players. On keyboard percussion instruments, a secure technique in performing four-mallet solo marimba and vibraphone repertoire has become an expectation in orchestra auditions.
There are upfront costs in any business enterprise, and seeking a new position as a professional orchestra musician is no exception. It is critical for success to have a plan that takes into account the costs of traveling to and from auditions, researching potential openings, and communicating with orchestra administrations, not to mention the regular day-to-day living expenses while in the process of preparation for the next audition.
It is also wise to plan to take as many auditions as possible, including openings for 36 William L. Cahn part-time positions. Percussion auditions To the extent possible, it is helpful for percussionists to bring their own instruments to an audition, simply because auditionees will then be that much more familiar with obtaining desired sound qualities. Small instruments such as tambourines, triangles, cymbals, and even snare drums are relatively easy to bring along.
Any of these instruments that would be provided by the orchestra are likely to be unfamiliar, which will just add another layer of potential problems in a situation that is already stressful. It is wise to have thought about ways to ensure that there will be rapid accessibility to any personal instruments and sticks during an audition. One solution is to view the audition space in advance in order to determine where personal instruments and sticks can be placed in that area, taking into account ease of access as well as minimal disruption to other auditionees.
The second stick bag would be placed in the preselected spot within the audition area, and it would include one set each of harder and softer mallets for each instrument in the event that the audition committee or conductor requests a change of mallets or sound. As Asian economies continue to grow, symphony orchestras and Western classical music should fare very well there, with steadily increasing support not only from their national and local governments, but also from newly wealthy individuals and businesses.
Cahn public support for symphony orchestras. Music has become ubiquitous in the environment. The challenge for orchestras and their musicians is to preserve and share the sense of preciousness in their music, not only through their performances, but also through education and advocacy.
In fact, these trends are accelerating, and they will have to be taken into account by anyone considering a career as an orchestral musician, even for musicians in those orchestras fortunate enough to have some measure of insulation from global market forces. Valuing school and community educational programs In many places, especially in North America, it cannot be assumed that public education, and even the formal education of music teachers, will provide an in-depth appreciation of Western classical music or of orchestral music in particular.
It will become increasingly important for symphony orchestra musicians to recognize that virtually every time they perform, they are educators as well as performers. However, there is some encouraging news. The music presented to audiences by symphony orchestras has long been ranked among the most inspirational in the world with much of it being the product of some of the greatest minds of Western civilization, past and present.
The marimba evolved from Africa, through Central America, and into North America, introduced in modern form by early twentieth-century manufacturers in the United States, primarily J. Deagan and the Leedy Drum Company.
Glockenspiels were primarily used in orchestral music and changed little over the years. The marimba was primarily an ensemble instrument, whether in the marimba bands of Guatemala, with one or two instruments shared by several players, or in the marimba orchestras of Clair Omar Musser of the s, with many instruments in a variety of ranges, each played by a single player.
However, in the s, ranges began increasing. Vibraphones followed a similar path in development: Deagan introduced a four-octave instrument in , followed by Bergerault and, more recently, by Yamaha, three-and-a-half and four-octave models. Xylophones, glockenspiels, and chimes have all seen similar development in recent years in both range and quality, and the Aluphone, a keyboard composed of spun aluminum bowls, is the latest member of the mallet percussion family.
The mallets themselves have undergone as many changes. By the s, mallets were commonly unwound brass, plastic, wood or rubber, and yarnor cord-wound rubber, in two to four gradations of hardness and with rattan handles. In , Keiko Abe needed a new type of mallet for some of her repertoire: a single mallet that could be both soft and hard. Good Vibes Malletworks was quickly acquired by Ludwig Musser. Additional mallet-specialty companies soon followed, including Balter, Deschler, Hyer, Encore, Malletech, and Innovative, and each year now brings new signature mallet lines.
A closer examination of the evolution of concert repertoire for mallet percussion will help to illustrate this point. Many of these pieces feature single-line melodies or block chord chorales, although a few, for example, those of Milhaud, Kurka, Sarmientos, and Fissinger, include more contrapuntal writing.
The xylophone, after its heyday in the era of acoustic recording, ragtime, vaudeville, and radio, was in decline, having been replaced in popular favor by the mellower vibraphone and marimba and was largely still limited to playing transcriptions.
The s brought more international recognition to marimba. I: Music for Marimba, containing some of the music from her recitals. When the record came out in the United States, it had an immediate impact on many developing American marimbists. The following year, Abe see Figure 3. Abe also began her long and fruitful contribution as a composer with Michi Berio, with Linea for two pianos, marimba, and vibraphone; Peter Maxwell Davies, with Ave Maris Stella , written for his chamber sextet, The Fires of London, and featuring a prominent solo cadenza for marimba; and Charles Wuorinen, in Percussion Duo , for marimba, vibraphone, and piano, written for Steven Schick and James Avery.
The marimba gradually began to gain recognition in the classical music world. Prominent orchestras also began to recognize the marimba through commissions. Special mention should be made of Maestro Zeferino Nandayapa, the patriarch of 51 Marimba revolution Marimba Nandayapa.
Several of the previous examples are also indicative of increasing attention being given to mallet percussion pedagogy. However, the heralded rise of mallet specialists in the s and s appears to have resulted in a subsequent generation of more broadly skilled generalists, as many percussion students absorb once-innovative techniques and repertoire as a matter of course. The path of development from novelty to single-voiced melody to contrapuntal use is increasingly evidenced, perhaps none more so than by Cheung, from his performances and recording of the complete J.
In turn, the last two pieces were written to feature the six-mallet abilities of Pei-Ching Wu. Technological advances have also led to increased opportunities in electronic music, particularly for vibraphone and interactive live electronics. These include concertos with band, orchestra, or chamber ensemble, sonatas for mallet percussion and piano, unaccompanied solos, and works for solo mallet percussion in combination with other instruments, voice, or electronics.
The Fujii Database lists compositions for marimba, whether solo, chamber ensemble, or concerto. While there is some unavoidable degree of duplication between these various references, these numbers signify truly exponential development. I would like to see the dedication of Beethoven on behalf of marimba composition.
Takahashi, Interviewed by W. Moersch New York, October 30, Kite, Keiko Abe, p. Kite, Keiko Abe, pp. In a similar fashion, M. Stevens no relation , written for L. Stevens, and premiered by Moersch and Zeltsman, respectively. At Northern Illinois, I had more time to devote to making instruments and I decided I wanted to make a melodic percussion instrument.
Partch made many melodic percussion instruments; however, his book was really obscure and pedantic, and I was just beginning to understand his theories. I was curious to hear this scale, but of course there is no extant music from that long ago. In order to hear the scale, I would have to build a melodic percussion instrument that could realize it.
My situation at Northern Illinois was a fortuitous one. Right next to the music department was the art department with a great wood shop and metal shop. Then I discovered that one of the professors in the physics department was acoustician Thomas Rossing, author of Science of Percussion Instruments.
I also discovered that in order to hear the scale of Olympos, I would have to learn about the natural harmonic overtone series — the system on which this scale was constructed. Equal temperament — A method of tuning based on equal distances between each pitch of the scale. Just intonation — A method of tuning based on the natural harmonic overtone series.
Principle frequency — The strongest vibrational mode of a sound which is not always the fundamental tone that determines the musical pitch. Overtones — All the components of a given sound except the fundamental. Partials — All the components of a given sound including the fundamental. Harmonics — All the components of a given sound including the fundamental whose frequencies are related by whole real number integers.
Harmonic overtones — All the components of a given sound except the fundamental whose frequencies are related by whole real number integers. Node — Location on a vibrating body that has minimum vibration. Antinode — Location on a vibrating body that has maximum vibration. With an understanding of these basic terms, I was ready to tackle the acoustical world that was introduced to me by Rossing, including the natural harmonic overtone series and modes of vibrations.
Fundamental and overtones All sounds are the result of complex modes of vibration that include a fundamental tone and overtones. The relationship of the fundamental to its overtones determines the timbre of the sound. The purest sounds contain relationships that are related mathematically by low number integers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. This means that the fundamental tone f1 vibrates at a given frequency while its overtones vibrate twice as fast, three times as fast, four times as fast, and so on f2, f3, f4.
When these relationships exist, the overtones are considered to be harmonic and belong to the natural harmonic overtone series. Modes of vibration Modes of vibration can be most easily understood by examining the vibration of a string.
At the same time, the string is vibrating from various nodal points throughout the length of the string. These vibrations are in a mathematical relationship to each other as described above. A vibrating string creates all the harmonic overtones in the harmonic overtone series, thus giving string instruments a pure sound.
I am not a scientist, and I certainly am not a physicist. However, in my studies with Rossing, I was able to absorb the information I needed and not much more in order to create an instrument to replicate the ancient Greek scale of Olympos. I began my odyssey by cutting up aluminum tubes from old lawn chairs I found in the dump — they were a free source of material.
The Scalatron allowed me to tune the aluminum tubes precisely, and I created the scale of Olympos. These ratios form a pentatonic scale plus an octave, and since it has two minor seconds, it is called a minor pentatonic — a scale that is unusual in Western music. Partch had a tuning fork tuned to G If you multiply each of these ratios by In equal temperament, the distance of each of the twelve intervals in an octave is expressed by the twelfth root of two, an irrational number that equals approximately 1.
If you multiply the frequency of any musical pitch by that approximate number, you get the frequency of the next higher pitch. It was fantastic, and I knew other people would love to hear the sound. However, I realized that few people other than percussionists would play a metallophone, so I tried to think of a way the scale could be self-activated.
It occurred to me that I could tune a wind chime to the scale of Olympos and anyone could hear the sound. Wind chimes I constructed a wind chime just as basically as possible — a wooden top, a circle of tubes, a clapper, and a wind catcher.
I knew that in order to get the best sound from the fundamental pitch, I had to suspend the tubes and drill holes at the nodal points where there is the minimum amount of vibration. I also knew that I had to have the clapper hit somewhere around the middle of each tube. I determined that twenty-one inches of tubing for tubes of a one-inch outside diameter was the longest tube I could practically use, and that length tube created a D a ninth above middle C D5 , so I constructed my scale with the just equivalent of D5 as the lowest pitch.
Instead, I drilled each of them at its individual nodal point, which is I then put the clapper near the middle, but not exactly on the middle because that would bring out the third partial and would give the tube a zonky sound since the overtones of a tube are not harmonic.
So I positioned the clapper in a way that would maximize the fundamental sound and provide the longest ringtime it could possibly have with as little resistance as possible. I discovered that the wood for the clapper had to be the right density. If it was too hard, like teak, it would be clangy, and if it was too soft, like pine, it would not be heard.
I found that a wood like cherry or ash worked best for the clapper. I experimented with all that and came up with something that I liked: a musical instrument that was played randomly by wind. I decided to make wind chimes on a large scale, so in , I moved to Woodstock, NY, and started producing them.
My desire to hear an ancient Greek scale eventually led to a full-scale business enterprise called Woodstock Percussion, Inc. Percussion instruments have a full range of overtones from harmonic overtones on the marimba and xylophone to nonharmonic overtones on instruments like drums, cymbals, gongs, and tam-tams. Marimba and xylophone Marimba and xylophone bars vibrate in a similar way to strings; however, with marimbas and xylophones, the overtones are determined mostly by carving the underside of the bars.
In fact, the only harmonic overtones that exist in these bars are the ones carved into them by the tuner. Most of the early development of xylophones and marimbas was done by the J. Deagan company in Chicago. In early Deagan instruments, the fundamental was the only partial tuned — no overtones were tuned.
In , Deagan began tuning overtones on marimbas and xylophone bars, and today, most North American and Japanese manufacturers tune their xylophones and marimbas in the ways described below. These tuning systems, however, have not become a universal standard. Many marimba manufacturers tune the bars to include a few harmonics such as the fourth 61 Instrumental ingredients harmonic two octaves above or four times the fundamental frequency.
In addition to that, on the lower bars, a major third overtone above the fundamental is also tuned three octaves and a third above or ten times the fundamental frequency. Other harmonics are generally not tuned and currently do not exist on most marimba bars. This tuning gives the marimba its distinctive timbre; it also reinforces the tone so that the bars sound a lot clearer and the low octave can be heard more easily. Some of the most remarkable things about the sound of a marimba bar are the various modes of vibration — longitudinal, torsional, lateral, and transverse — all of which make up the timbre of the instrument.
This vibration creates a really high pitch that we are probably not hearing. With the torsional mode, the bar is actually twisting side to side, like wringing out a face cloth back and forth. The transverse mode is the main mode of vibration, and it determines the fundamental and harmonics that are tuned into the bars.
In a xylophone, the bars are carved in a method known as quint tuning. Ironically, while making the sound of both the marimba and the xylophone louder, the resonators shorten the ring-time of the bars a little as they steal energy from them through entropy. With some basic information about the acoustical properties of a marimba or xylophone, you can make adjustments in your playing technique to achieve a desired sound.
On the low bars of the marimba where the tenth harmonic partial is tuned, you play in the center for more harmonic content, but you have to play with a smaller mallet in order to bring out the partial that has the third of the scale in it. A bigger mallet mutes the overtones, and a harder mallet brings out less of the fundamental, emphasizing the overtones.
Glockenspiel and chimes The bars of glockenspiels produce such high frequencies that overtones are presently not tuned due to the fact that most of the overtones are out of the range of human hearing and do not play an important part in its timbre or sound quality. The pitch we hear on a chime is the principle tone. The fundamental of the chime is an octave lower than the principle tone and does not have enough energy to be heard.
Partials two, three, and four are close enough to being harmonic that they create the principle tone in our ear that is perceived by our brain as the musical pitch that we hear. I was convinced that this was the case in a laboratory experiment when a chime tube was struck and the spectrum was shown on an oscilloscope screen along with the sound of an electronic tone generator matching the same fundamental pitch of the chime tube.
The fundamental disappeared from the screen while the fundamental of the chime was still heard. Tam-tams, gongs, and cymbals Tam-tams and cymbals yield many nonharmonic overtones and are considered non-pitched due to the multitude of modes of vibration, many of which have similar amplitudes volume.
Gongs, with the raised boss in the middle, emit a strong fundamental pitch and are considered a tuned percussion instrument. Tam-tams, gongs, and cymbals vibrate similarly to a string, but the vibrations are like thousands of strings in a circle with the middle of the circle going back and forth while the edge of the instrument is pivoting.
In addition, the modes of vibration break up into pie shapes in which four segments vibrate alternately, then eight segments, sixteen segments, and so on. In tam-tams, gongs, cymbals, and even drums, there are also circular sections of vibration in which the instrument is vibrating back and forth as one big circle and simultaneously in concentric circles. Drums All kinds of drumheads, like tam-tams and cymbals, have multiple types of vibrations, both circular and radial.
The center of a drumhead is the antinode for the lowest frequency. It is a place we do not usually play because it creates a low thud causing the sound to die out quickly. On a timpani head, that low thud is actually the fundamental pitch, a sixth below the pitch that we hear as the true pitch of the drum.
When a timpani head is struck on the normal beating spot, the overtone that is heard is the principle tone, not the fundamental of the head. Rossing found that the bowl of the timpani helps diminish the fundamental; it kills that vibration so you hear mainly the principle tone. I have played this piece many times in 64 Garry Kvistad Figure 4. I built a stand for the bars and mounted PVC resonators tuned to the pitch of each bar. As with all percussion instruments, the beaters had to be softer than the bars to keep from chipping them.
The tubes are between 24 and 35 inches long, with 0. Again, I built a separate stand for the tubes with built-in PVC resonators tuned to the pitch of each bar, and the tubes were played on their ends with the wooden dowel sticks as well. My original idea for the third section of Piano Phase was to use slap tubes, pieces of PVC tubes tuned in just intonation and played with foam paddles on the top of each tube. I tuned these slap tubes to the required pitches for the last section: A, B, D, E, starting a sixth above middle C.
We sent a copy of the recording to Steve Reich who liked the piece, but felt the third section with the slap tubes was a much weaker sound than the amadinda bar and aluminum tube sections. Pulse to pitch The sonic phenomena in Mallet Phase are quite beautiful, and the rhythmic complexity of the music relates to my interest in acoustics in yet another way — the connections of pulse to pitch and polyrhythms to intervals.
When you play a steady pulse, you are actually playing a very low pitch. For example, if you play a pulse at m. Polyrhythms are slow intervals. In the natural overtone series, when you hear the fundamental f1 , you also hear the second partial f2 vibrating, and you also hear the third partial f3 vibrating. Every interval that we know has a ratio that goes with it, and they are identical to polyrhythms.
When I was studying acoustics, I understood this principle conceptually, but I actually wanted to hear a polyrhythm become an interval. This tape transference immediately doubled the speed and brought it up an octave, but it still sounded like a polyrhythm.
A few years later, I commissioned someone to write a computer program that allows me to tap a polyrhythm on the keyboard and speed it up many times until an interval is created. Conclusion My study of the science of sound has led me in directions I never imagined when I began my journey to hear an ancient Greek scale.
It has taken me from repurposed timpani sticks and salvaged pieces of aluminum to wind chimes and the creation of an instrument to reimagine a work by one of the great composers of percussion music. My basic knowledge of the acoustics of percussion instruments has given me insight into the sounds that I can produce on percussion instruments, and as a result has enhanced my entire approach to both listening and music-making.
Rossing, J. Yoo, and A. For additional information about just intonation, see: D. For a detailed description of the amadinda, see: G. University of Chicago Press, The result is a sizable percussion industry that ranges from large corporations that make a wide range of instruments to cottage industries that specialize in just a few products, or even a single product. While the manufacturers have often been the pioneers in terms of materials and workmanship, innovations in the instruments themselves and in the development of new instruments have largely been driven by the players.
Prior to the early twentieth century, bands typically had two drummers: a snare drummer and a bass drummer. When bands played inside in smaller areas, and as bands started playing in pits for vaudeville shows and silent movies, space became an issue and ways were sought to get by with fewer musicians.
Various drummers rigged up mechanical bass drum beaters that could be operated with a foot pedal. The most successful design was patented by William F. The brothers started the Ludwig and Ludwig company to market their pedal, and that business grew to encompass a full range of drums and percussion instruments.
That style became the basis of the drumming that drives popular music genres including jazz, blues, rock and roll, funk, and country music. Most of the innovations in the development of the modern drum set came from drummers. After the meeting we split up into two-man teams. He was also an avid jazz fan who frequented New York nightclubs and knew many of the drummers.
If you think it is right, go ahead and do it. While promoting the use of two bass drums would seem to have been a great marketing ploy for a drum manufacturer, several drum companies Bellson had previously approached were not interested. The use of two bass drums allowed drummers to play patterns that would have been impossible with one drum. But, as with the invention of the original bass drum pedal and the request from jazz drummers for smaller bass drums, space became the motivation for another invention: the double-bass drum pedal.
Finally, in the early s, the Zalmar company marketed a double pedal on which the beaters were side by side, but one pedal was in the normal position and the other pedal was a couple of feet to the left, where it could be placed next to the hi-hat pedal so a drummer could easily move his left foot from one to the other.
This was another example of drummers creating a demand for a product that previously did not exist. Soon, most major drum companies were marketing double pedals, and more drummers started playing patterns that would have been impossible with a single pedal.
Some drummers went as far as to drill holes in their cymbals and insert nails that would buzz when the cymbal was struck. Sizzle cymbals enabled drummers to get a more legato sound from ride cymbals and increase the sustain of a crash cymbal. Latin percussion instruments Martin Cohen, founder of Latin Percussion, was not a musician, but he loved Latin music and spent a lot of time at Cuban dance halls in New York.
I was getting a lot of satisfaction from serving the needs of the Latin percussionists. But CBS studio musician Specs Powell asked Cohen to make him a pair of bongos, and he wanted them mounted on a stand — which was unheard of in the Latin music community.
At the time, cabasas were typically made of gourds with shells or beads wrapped around them with wire. They were very fragile, and the wire often broke. The problem that the primary developers of the plastic head sought to solve was that calfskin heads constantly had to be tuned because humidity made them stretch and dry weather made them shrink and often split. As rock and roll got louder in the s, drummers found that they could hit plastic heads harder.
Pretty soon, though, they were even breaking plastic heads, so companies like Remo and Evans developed double-ply heads for added strength. After drum corps started tensioning heads as tightly as possible to get an extremely dry, high-pitched sound and breaking them , the drumhead companies began making heads from Kevlar — the material used in bulletproof vests. Those heads could be tensioned so tightly that drum shells and tension casings started breaking, so the drum companies built stronger drums to accommodate the new heads.
So it was a back-and-forth relationship between the companies and the musicians. Xylophones, marimbas Likewise, makers of xylophones and marimbas started experimenting with synthetic bars in the s. One reason was that the rosewood favored for those instruments was becoming harder to get and more expensive. Also, like calfskin drumheads, rosewood was relatively fragile and had to be protected from the weather. So around the same time in the s, the Musser and Deagan companies developed synthetic bars for xylophones and marimbas.
Vic Firth began by making his own timpani sticks to use with the Boston Symphony. When some of his students asked if they could buy some of his sticks, he made a few more, then added orchestral snare drum sticks. He bought some dowel rods and began making mallets in his college dorm room, with no desire whatsoever to go into business. But, as with Firth, a few people asked Stevens if they could buy some of his mallets, and he gradually built a mallet and stick business that today includes the manufacture of marimbas, xylophones, and vibes, as well as the publication of method books and music.
Percussion manufacturers The percussion industry has changed over the years, much like other industries. In the s, one could attend a music trade show and speak directly with some of the people whose names were on their products: Remo Belli at the Remo drumhead company; Armand Zildjian at the Zildjian cymbal company; Bob Zildjian at the Sabian cymbal company named after his children SA-lly, BI-lly, and AN-dy ; William F.
Ludwig Jr. So I put my name on the LP labels for the same reason — so that somebody would always know who to complain to if the product failed. Deagan; Bud Slingerland; Fred Gretsch. But in the s, products began emerging with names like Pearl, Yamaha, and Tama, which were brand names owned by companies that often made other instruments besides drum and percussion gear. In addition, some of the original owners are still involved with their companies as of to varying degrees, such as Remo Belli and Martin Cohen.
But more and more small companies are being absorbed into larger ones, larger companies are merging, and more decisions are being made by business people than by musicians. At one point, it was mostly drummers at the major drum and cymbal companies making the important decisions about products. These days there are more business people involved. But there have to be some players in the mix, because this is a very unique business.
A lot of companies today are being run by non-musicians, and things are heading in a corporate direction. Rogers was started in by an Irish immigrant named Joseph Rogers. In , after he died, the company was sold to Henry Grossman, who, with designer Joe Thompson and marketing manager Ben Strauss, elevated Rogers to one of the major drum companies by the mids by virtue of innovative products like the Dyna-Sonic snare drum and Swiv-o- 74 Rick Mattingly Matic pedals and hardware.
Drummer Roy Burns was involved with the company as an endorser, clinician, and employee. Today, Burns heads Aquarian Accessories, which manufactures drumheads and other percussion products. Well, after CBS bought Rogers, they decided to replace the needle bearings in the bass drum pedal with nylon bearings. Non-endorsed musicians can play whatever they want — total freedom!
But freedom comes at a price — in this case, the cost of purchasing that instrument. There are no free lunches in this world. Artists looking for credibility will often seek deals with the manufacturers whose artist rosters include some of the biggest names in drumming and percussion, but some prefer to sign with smaller companies who will give them more attention.
That label can also be applied to once-prominent musicians whose playing 76 Rick Mattingly careers have faded but who are more prominent than ever in equipment ads, often with smaller companies. Musicians can also be criticized for switching endorsements. What is one to think if a player sings the praises of a particular instrument company for several years and then suddenly so it seems switches to another brand?
By , I was a Yamaha artist. Eleven years after that I changed to Tama. Endorsement relationships involve more than just free gear, clinic support, advertising, logistical assistance, and the like. The quality of communication and personal relationships between artists and their companies are often the most vital and important components of successful endorsement relationships.
And these relationships often falter, more often than not due to a lack of good communication between the artist and the company. Artists are, by their very nature, thoroughbreds, vain stallions, pains-in-the-neck, and invaluable resources to any company. The artist-relations manager at any company has a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem between the artists and the company. Easier said than done in many cases, as my jumps from one drum company to another may attest.
Even if the company will only provide a certain amount of free gear per year, endorsers can typically purchase additional items from the company at less cost than the price they would pay at a music store. So they typically sign with companies that can provide equipment in a wide variety of locations. It has been rumored for years that in addition to providing gear and clinic support, some artists have been paid to endorse a particular brand of 77 The percussion industry instrument.
Mel Lewis insisted that during the s and s, no one was ever paid by Gretsch. Gretsch never even paid anyone to play their drums. Fred [Gretsch] wanted to know that you played the drums because you liked them. The only contract you had with Gretsch was that, in return for a set of drums, they were allowed to use your name and picture in their advertising. And, so, most decisions regarding instrument endorsement deals are driven by that youthful, innocent passion and excitement that a great instrument generates.
During such clinics, the endorsee is generally expected to sing the praises of the equipment manufactured by whoever is sponsoring the tour. After the American Avedis Zildjian cymbal company see Figure 5. The way the K Constantinoples came about was that Armand Zildjian wanted to improve the orchestral cymbals and made it a top priority. At the same time [Boston Symphony Orchestra percussionist] Frank Epstein was looking for a sound like the old Turkish K hand cymbals, and was involved in testing prototypes.
Since then, Paul Francis has evolved into one of the great cymbal makers and has taken the K Constantinoples to a whole new level. It seemed that the majority of prominent players had their name on a 79 The percussion industry Figure 5. Signature products have expanded into almost all areas of the percussion industry and the music industry in general , and now there are signature snare drums, cymbals, marimbas, conga drums, stick bags, and so on.
It is common for companies to charge extra for signature products, and for the artists to receive royalties. Judging by the increasing number of signature items, customers must be willing to pay extra for them. And, despite the fact that many of the companies are competitors, there can be a surprising level of cooperation between all of them when it comes to supporting PAS and promoting the drum and percussion community at large.
Mattingly and A. Phone interview with J. DeChristopher October 22, Phone interview with R. Burns September 12, Email correspondence with P. Erskine December 8, Email correspondence with K. Kerns August 3, Erskine DeChristopher Email correspondence with J. Hartsough January 11, Rhythm boxes, drum machines, percussion controllers, and software shifted drumming away from acoustic instruments, inspired techniques that shaped the sound of popular music, and foregrounded the aesthetics of groove.
This essay traces a social history of electronic percussion instruments from the s to the present by examining their designs, reception, and musical applications. The second section explores the perceptual and creative changes brought about by these instruments to suggest that the mechanical, quantized sound of drum machines led to a discourse about human versus machine timing. The section also argues that programming techniques enabled musicians to make rhythmic textures unencumbered by the limitations of the drumming body.
Finally, the last section considers the legacies of electronic percussion, from performance practices and recent hardware design to the rise of digital percussion apps. A history of electronic percussion  The story of electronic percussion begins in the early s, when the American composer Henry Cowell sought a machine that could generate complex polyrhythms.
Theremin created the Rhythmicon see Figure 6. When pressed, each key produced a pitched tone that repeated in a steady pulsation. Designed to accompany organ players, this stand-alone instrument used tape loop recordings of acoustic drums playing various rhythms that could be sounded individually or blended together and played back through a built-in speaker. Released in , the Side Man used tube circuitry and a rotating metal disc rather than tape loops to simulate percussion sounds including snare drum, temple blocks, and claves, while its twelve preset rhythm patterns included the beguine, tango, and rumba.
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