To The Film Industry In Crisis
Saturday, August 09, 2014
|Frank O'Hara by Harry Redl 1958|
To the Film Industry in Crisis
Frank O’Hara, 1926 - 1966
Not you, lean quarterlies and swarthy
with your studious incursions toward the
pomposity of ants,
nor you, experimental theatre in which
is wedding Poetic Insight perpetually, nor
promenading Grand Opera, obvious as an ear
are close to my heart), but you, Motion
it’s you I love!
In times of crisis, we must all decide
again and again whom we
And give credit where it’s due: not to my
starched nurse, who
how to be bad and not bad rather than good
(and has lately
herself of this information), not to the
which is at best an oversolemn introduction
not to the American Legion, which hates
everybody, but to you,
glorious Silver Screen, tragic Technicolor,
stretching Vistavision and startling
Stereophonic Sound, with all
your heavenly dimensions and reverberations
Richard Barthelmess as the “tol’able” boy
barefoot and in pants,
Jeanette MacDonald of the flaming hair and
lips and long, long
Sue Carroll as she sits for eternity on the
damaged fender of a car
and smiles, Ginger Rogers with her pageboy
bob like a sausage
on her shuffling shoulders,
peach-melba-voiced Fred Astaire of
Eric von Stroheim, the seducer of
the Tarzans, each and every one of you (I
cannot bring myself to
Johnny Weissmuller to Lex Barker, I
cannot!), Mae West in a
her bordello radiance and bland remarks,
Rudolph Valentino of the moon,
its crushing passions, and moonlike, too,
the gentle Norma
Miriam Hopkins dropping her champagne glass
and crying into the dappled sea, Clark
Gable rescuing Gene
from Russia and Allan Jones rescuing
Kitty Carlisle from Harpo
Cornel Wilde coughing blood on the piano
keys while Merle
Marilyn Monroe in her little spike heels
reeling through Niagara Falls,
Joseph Cotten puzzling and Orson Welles puzzled
eating orchids for lunch and breaking
mirrors, Gloria Swanson
and Jean Harlow reclining and wiggling, and
Alice Faye reclining
and wiggling and singing, Myrna Loy being
calm and wise,
in his stunning urbanity, Elizabeth Taylor
blossoming, yes, to
and to all you others, the great, the
near-great, the featured, the
who pass quickly and return in dreams
saying your one or two
Long may you illumine space with your
and enunciations, and may the money of the
as you rest after a long day under the
kleig lights with your faces
in packs for our edification, the way the
clouds come often at
but the heavens operate on the star system.
It is a divine
you perpetuate! Roll on, reels of
celluloid, as the great earth
From Meditations in an Emergency by Frank
O’Hara. Copyright © 1957 by Frank O’Hara.
Frank O'Hara by Harry Redl
|Johnny Weissmuller by George Hurrell|
Time, Beauty, Pleasure, Disappointment & Spats
Friday, August 08, 2014
|Alexander Weimann & Matthew White|
Of last night’s Early Music Vancouver extravaganza performance of Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo (1707) I could write of the superb
sound of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and its director (and stand-up organist)
Alexander Weimann. Or I could salivate about the two sopranos Amanda Forsythe (to my
disappointment she covered up her beauty mark on the right hand side of her
mouth) and that passionate Magyar Krisztina Szabó. Or (and I will) write about
tenor Colin Balzer with his diction and “I am here” presence and of
countertenor Reginald L. Mobley of whom I can one describe his male’s voice as
exquisite without any reservation.
Sitting dead centre on
the front row I saw everything except what was blocked by what I call José
Verstappen’s baroque organ (the former Artistic Director of Early Music
Vancouver fought long and hard to have it made and I have not forgotten).
|Which one? Time, Beauty, Truth or Pleasure.|
It didn’t take long
before my following of Benedetto Pamphili’s libretto transported me away from
the Chan. I was suddenly in a spacious room in which two women and two men
(most unlikely had it been in ancient Greece) were reclined on divans and
drank Massalian wine. They were served by Illyrian slaves. The four were
discussing life through their individual lives as Platonic Essences of Beauty, Pleasure,
Time and Truth (an essence close to our idea of the disappointment that reality
and experience bring to our dreams).
The libretto, in spite
of a slight flowery (and why not it's baroque) structure sounded purely existential and very modern.
|Reginald L. Mobley, Colin Balzer, Kristina Szabó & Amanda Forsythe|
Our crafty Cardinal
did not bring his religion and God until the very end of the libretto in a “this
is my reality now” aria confession by Amanda Forsythe:
You, high minister of
Shall no longer see
Faithless will or vain
And as I lived
ungrateful to God
you, custodian of my
will offer him a heart
This sudden mention of
God brought back to me Pierre Teilhards de Chardin (a crafty
French Jesuit) who does not mention the Creator until the end of his monumental The Phenomenon of Man.
Up front I was able to
see how the happy-go-lucky and beautiful Beauty (Amanda Forsythe) slowly but
surely aged before my eyes as the initial image of herself in front of a mirror
begins to deteriorate in spite of false indications to the contrary by a dishonest
Pleasure (Kristina Szabó). I expected at any moment towards the end that the
two would indulge in a huge cat fight. I was wonderful to not on Beauty’s face
her transformation from the despair of knowing her youth would fade to finally
realizing there is more to life than skin.
She realizes this
through the doubts that come her way via Time (Colin Balzer) and Truth
(Dissingano or disappointment is a better word). The back and forth banter between
the women and the men of Handel’s oratorio seemed to me to be a magical
representation, a sort of precursor, of the philosophy of another George Frideric,
that of Georg (Wilhelm) Friedrich Hegel’s dialectics.
|Colin Balzer & Reginald L. Mobley|
By being close to the
singers I could see how the music influenced their emotion and how this emotion
was manifested in their faces. These singers, in spite of being in an oratorio
and not a full blown opera are good actors in their own right. I watched how
Time would get up from is seat and look back on Beauty with the disdain of
experience. Disinganno was softer in his resolve to make her see the truth. In
fact I thought, when the performance ended, that the truth of the oratorio is
really a combination of time and disillusion.
That experience is
Feeling sober, in spite of all that Massalian wine, about that existentialist angst I decided that I might have a short chat with the
two men (who in spite of all the wonderful arias sung by the sopranos) were in
my opinion the cornerstone of the evening's performance.
|Verstappen's baroque organ & Sylvain Bergeron's lute|
In their dressing room
I had little time to ask too many questions. In fact I only asked one, a deeply
philosophical one. To Reginald Mobley I asked, “Why spats?” His answer (and I
must report that indeed he is a charming and sweet man) was a direct, “And why
not?” He then explained that spats is the short word for the correct name a
male’s apparel, spatterdash. And he further commanded me (so gently) to mention
that he purchases his spats in San
Francisco at Spatterdash.
One last comment that
I cannot force myself not to make. I watched concertmaster Chloe Meyers play
her violin with a passionate and sweet virtuosity as she accompanied Beauty in
her last aria Tu del ciel. I thought of what I had learned from the pre-concert
talk with Matthew White and Alexander Weimann. I had heard the same the day
before with Ellen Hargis in her talk at the UBC School of Music, Handel in Italy. The
magical fact is that in that first performance of Il Trionfo del Tempo in 1707
in Rome the
concertmaster was no less than Arcangelo Corelli.
Just imagine that!
|The dashing lutenist Sylvain Bergeron|
Thursday, August 07, 2014
When my remontant
roses wane in August the flowers in our garden are the hydrangeas. One of my favourites
is an extremely slow growing and almost dwarf Hydrangea paniculata ‘Brussels
Lace’. Not written in books about hydrangeas is that the paniculatas and Hydrangea
quercifolia all have a delightful honey scent at this time of the year. In the
evening the scent wafts through the whole garden. Some gardeners ignore
hydrangeas as they are easy to grow. Some will survive even in deep shade. And
in my garden they have no pests or diseases. What more can I ask for?
My Mother's Baroque Pearls & Il Trionfo Del Tempo
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
As a little boy I
often watched my mother take out her metal jewel box to fish for the jewels she
might wear that evening for a concert or cocktail party. One of her favourites
was this string of pearls she called “my baroque pearls.” She made baroque
rhyme with rock. She did explain that they were so called because of their
It has only been in
the recent years that I have come to understand their significance. In fact
baroque comes from Spanish and Portuguese and the word is used to describe
irregular shaped pearls.
In trying to explain
why someone in the 19th century (so violinist Marc Destrubé told me)
would have called that musical period beginning in the 17th century
and roughly ending with the death of Bach in 1750 as the baroque period I have had some internal questions. I have grasped at the idea
that baroque meaning not smooth or predictably shaped might describe the church
altars of the age and in particular those of the Catalan architect José de
Churriguera whose churches were sometimes given the name of Spanish Rococo. I
saw many churches in this style in Mexico not knowing of their
connection to the baroque period.
It was in such a
church in Mexico City that I first heard the music of Girolamo Frescobaldi back in 1962.
I grieve and at the
same time I am in delight at being able to listen to tomorrow Handel’s early
(1707) oratorio Il Trionfo del Tempo tomorrow at the Chan. The performance is
part of Early Music Vancouver’s 2014 Vancouver Early Music Festival and features our very own Pacific Baroque Orchestra. I grieve
because my mother never go to listen to all the performances of music that she
only saw as sheet music.
One of the vovalists
of tomorrow’s performance male alto Reginald L. Mobley, in this age where Bach
is God, says in a recent interview this about Handel:
science and technology has given us the ability to look on something as complex as the human
body and other forms of life, and view its basic components to better
understand how it works. We can now see cells, molecules, and even atoms. From
those basic "building blocks" we can see how we are put together.
Yet, with that, we still don't know how life truly begins. We have no idea how
these vessels contain a soul. To me, Bach has put the mystery of life behind
him. Years ahead of his time, he has translated cells and sequenced DNA into a
score, and in every performance once can sense a soul. In his pursuit to
glorify God and his invention, Bach has reproduced life.
Despite my devotion to what Bach has achieved, I
feel Handel points out the folly in this. Why marvel over the achievement of an
opposable thumb if you never use it to pick a flower? In Handel's music, there
is a focus on using our God-given senses to experience and enjoy the rest of
his creation. There's no pressure to explore anything other than the wonder and
beauty that is around us. His music is extroverted and profound in its
simplicity. I can vibe with that. It forces me to not focus on the journey, but
instead just to enjoy a moment. I guess what I'm trying to say is, whereas Bach
shows humanity in design, Handel shows humanity in execution."
I am looking
forward to tomorrow’s concert to get some more of that exquisite humanity. My
mother will be with me in spirit and both of us will smile.
Snakes, Syringes & Alice Cooper
Tuesday, August 05, 2014
It was around 1964
that I had a friend with whom I attended philosophy classes at the University
of the Americas in Mexico City. His name has
slipped from my memory but I remember that he was a real fan of Ella
Fitzgerald. One day he asked me, “Have you heard Carmina Burana?” My answer was
an embarrassing, “No, who is she?”
In 1973 while teaching
9th graders at a Mexico City
school for wealthy Americans and foreigners I was asked, “Mr. Hayward, have you
heard Alice Cooper?” My guess is that if you have gotten this far you can predict what my answer was!
Of late I have been
suffering the random effects of an accelerated heart and my cardiologist it
would seem is attempting to have my heart accelerate on demand. They put me on
a treadmill a couple of times and they have strapped both a heart beat and
blood pressure monitor box on me. But to no avail my heart has been happily
They did get my blood
pressure to go up suddenly in one of the tests. They left the room and came
back with a hypodermic needle. They say my pressure jumped. I had told them
that I had a phobia for needles.
This phobia had begun
in my extreme youth in Buenos Aires
when every year we were subjected to a diphtheria vaccine at school. This
vaccine was administered on the spinal column. When I knew of the date for this
I tried to tell my mother that I was sick. She knew and sent me to school. I
have had a pathological fear of injections since and when I have the option of
an injection or less effective pills I always opt for the pills.
My psoriatic arthritis
medicine is something called Humira which I must administer myself every two
weeks. It is an injection capsule that looks like Doctor McCoy’s but it still
hurts. Every week I must also inject myself with Methotrexate. For this I use a
conventional syringe and I am in panic for days in a terrible anticipation. This
coming week I am going back to the less effective pills.
I also have a phobia
of snakes but not of spiders except tarantulas with their singularly
independent 8 hairy legs.
It was not too long
ago that my phobia for snakes met up with my ignorance on things Alice Cooper.
I remember that she lived in Burnaby
and that’s about it.
Bull pythons, bugs & golfers
Vanitas Vanitatum Omnia Vanitas
Monday, August 04, 2014
Monday I gave a
talk at Gessler Hall in the UBC School of Music called The Most Transitory of
Things. With the projection of some rose scans I attempted to somehow connect the
baroque music being showcased in this year’s 2014 Vancouver Early Music
Festival. The last concert of the festival is this August 9 and the title is Vanitas Vanitatum.
A few weeks ago that
double Latin would have left me flummoxed. But that is not the case now.
|Vanitas Naturaleza Muerta - August 1, 2014|
Adriaen van Utrecht (Antwerp, 1599–1652) c. 1642
I was further impelled
to write this today Tuesday as in today’s NY Times Science Times (every
Tuesday) I read the following introduction and two first paragraphs:
Books – Jascha Hoffman
Working in the Medium
How Cutting- Edge
Science is Redefining Contemporary Art
By Arthur I. Miller
An argument that the
passion of artists is little different from the quest for data and logic.
logical, making observations and running experiments, then building theories
that explain the data. Artists are emotional, working in solitude and by
intuition. Or so we are told.
In Colliding Worlds,
the historian and philosopher Arthur I. Miller argues that artists and
scientists have always had the same mission to “fathom the reality beyond
appearances, the world invisible to our eyes.” And he argues that after
drifting apart during the Enlightenment, the twin branches of understanding
have been coming back together over the last century, a reunification that is
accelerating in the digital age.
At one time that last
paragraph might have confused me or left me cold. That was not the case.
In trying to find a
connection between my rose scans which are mostly of complex multi-petalled old
or ancient roses and baroque music I thought of the Age of Enlightenment.
This period of history
that began somewhere in the middle of the 17th century and saw the
light (el siglo de las luces) in the 18th century was brought on by
Copernicus, Newton, Leibnitz, Descartes, Voltaire, Hume and a volley of
explorers. They believed that reason (the period is sometimes called the Age of
Reason) would make a better world.
I found that at odds
with the complex baroque music. Some of it was mathematical but a lot of it,
particularly the French Baroque was emotional. I thought of Mexican Baroque
churches in the Churrigueresque style (named so because Catalan architect José
de Churriguera had pioneered this overly elaborate baroque sometimes called Spanish
How could the elaborate and serpentine (particularly
Bach’s canons) live side by side with the logical, mathematical and direct?
I found my answer in two quarters. One was
to note that the so-called 30 Year’s War (1618-1648) with about 8 million
deaths had left what was then what we would call Germany
today in shambles along with most of the rest of Europe.
The Dutch saw this as a kind of hopelessness. Religion had failed and earthly pursuits were useless. It was almost as
these Dutch (many were artists) prefigured Søren Kierkegaard’s proto existentialism
by almost 200 years. This movement was called Vanitas. This Latin word means "vanity"
and loosely translated corresponds to the meaninglessness of earthly life and
the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.
Vanitas art showed
still lifes in which death was always present in some sort of decay. It could
be a plant and flower or a skull. All put there to remind us of the
impermanence of life.
A few days ago I
decided to make my own Vanitas using my Fuji
b+w Instant film. I threw in some roses, past their prime to represent that
I look forward to being wonderfully depressed and marvelously inspired by the music of the August 9 concert Vanitas Vanitatum.
The composers will be for me new kids on the block:
Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674)
Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (1580-1651)
Girolamo Frescobaldi (1538-1643) him I know!
Marco Marazzoli (1605-1622)
Luigi Rossi (1597- 1653)
Domenico Mazzocchi (1592-1665)
Biagio Marini (1594-1663) him I know!
Haydn French Style & The Violone Player Got Extra Pay
Sunday, August 03, 2014
|Curtis Daily, Vancouver, August 2, 2014|
Three men made our
Sunday, August 3d evening and enlightening one. My Rosemary and I sat front row, centre at the UBC
School of Music’s Roy Barnett Hall for Early Music Vancouver’s “Matin, Midi,
Soir”: Early Haydn Symphonies (6,7 &8) and (very important) Haydn’s
Concerto for Harpsichord in D-Major Hob XV111:11.
Before I explain let
me diverge. In 1973, when I was living in Mexico I was an opinionated younger
man (I have softened a tad with old age.) and I had a blanket taste for baroque music and a distaste for 20th
century compositions. I did not like the romantics and for me the only difference
between Haydn and Mozart was that Haydn seemed to be keen on the kettle drum.
Rosemary and I had
some friends from New York City, Milton and Jean Glasser.
He was a retired dentist who often told me, “I still tickle the ivories,” by accompanying his
wife who was the first violinist for the University of Mexico
Symphony Orchestra. Milton told me that one day I would change my
mind and my tastes for music (then only jazz and baroque) would expand. He
played some piano music by Darius Milhaud that was inspired by visits to Brazil. And of
course I knew that Milhaud had influenced Brubeck. The walls containing my
minute musical tastes began to crumble. The couple played Fritz Kreisler's "found" compositions by imaginary composers. I was charmed.
Since being in Vancouver (1975) my
tastes have expanded lots. Thanks to the Vancouver Opera I began to love
Mozart. The Turning Point Ensemble pointed me into the direction of another
Frenchie, Olivier Messiaen, particularly to his exquisite Quartet For the End of Time.
Important, the violinist of that performance was Marc Destrubé.
I slid into liking Haydn
by Marc Destrubé’s collaboration with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra of three
Haydn concertos for violin and strings. Here was intimate and sweet music
played with period instruments (more subtle, less loud) and as far as I could
tell there was not kettle drum to be heard. The other man singly responsible for making me
like Haydn was listening to Pinchas Zukerman and the National Arts Centre
Orchestra play Haydn's Symphony No. 22. Its very long and deceptive repetition of a
theme in its first movement adagio reminded me of Steve Reich.
I believe that the
Early Music Vancouver Mentorship Orchestra (smallish and not full bore) made up
of UBC faculty members and students (not quite as most are professionals who
want to supplement what they know with period instruments) headed by
concertmaster Marc Destrubé rendered Haydn in a way that surprised me and
For one, from Destrubé
down they were all in smiles, obviously having fun playing together. After
having heard baroque music in previous concerts, part of this year’s 2014
Vancouver Early Music Festival, I could discern the baroque influence in the
first movement Adagio of Haydn’s Symphony no. 6 “Le Matin”.
|Matthew White & Marc Destrubé|
We were on the front
row but the decibel levels were comfortable. I felt like I was Prince Paul
Anton Esterházy himself listening to my orchestra. I had a sudden urge for strong coffee with sweet whipped cream.
Destrubé brings what
seems to be a kinder, gentler, French influence into Haydn. I like that lots.
|Haydn - French Style|
Now for the second man
I mentioned in the introductory paragraph. This is the quiet, almost
self-effacing violone (a baroque gut string double bass) player, Curtis Daily,
who is a member of the Portland Baroque Orchestra. You must thus suspect that he
has to be especially good as his boss is no other than Monica Huggett the
reigning queen of the baroque violin.
I asked EMV Artistic
Director Matthew White why it was that he had brought Daily to our city for
this special concert. It seems that that these three symphonies (ordered by
Esterházy to mimic the idea of a theme as the Prince had returned from a
diplomatic trip to Italy and had brought back Vivaldi’s score of the Four
Seasons) have three Menuetto e Trio (third movements) that feature a double
bass solo. White told me, “It had to be a bass with gut strings for the sound.”
This amateur listener
must now report that White’s description of those three bass solos was not exaggerated. The third one in Symphony no. 8 “Le Soir” had Rosemary and me
whispering to each other that it sounded like her big cat Casi-Casi sauntering on
the lawn. It was beautiful but somehow it made us smile, too.
Rosemary has yet to
catch up to the fact that her husband, thanks to Alex Weimann, Richard Eggar, Michael
Jarvis, Byron Shenkman, Christopher Bagan and a few more have finally helped me appreciate the
instrument. But faculty member and Dutch virtuoso harpsichordist, Jacques Ogg
(the pronunciation of his name you will have to ask him as I did!) who played
his harpsichord up front, about five feet away from us, might just have eased
Rosemary into liking it. I must here reveal a little known fact of perhaps not
much importance. Ogg was born in Maastricht.
Important to me, Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan died in
a siege to that city. He, Ogg, was our third man of the evening.
|Jacques Ogg - The Third Man|
There is another
reason why I enjoyed that harpsichord concerto. I imagined Haydn himself
playing it as he accompanied Lady Hamilton. My mother (who was a piano player)
told me many years ago of this. Lady Hamilton, her husband William and Admiral
Horatio Nelson were traveling together back from Italy. In every town they stopped
they created a scandal as everybody knew that William had horns. When they
stopped in Vienna
they were invited by Esterházy to visit him in Eisenstadt.
Esterházy provided a partridge shoot, fireworks and a ball. Lady Hamilton was
invited to sing. This she did. She sang the alto part to Arianna. The prince
was a diplomat and it seems he clapped and so did everybody else. Sometime
later Haydn gave Nelson a pen (a quill pen?) with which he said he had written
his Missa in Angustiis (now called the
Nelson Mass). Nelson then gave Haydn the watch he had used in the famous battle
of Aboukir Bay. It is interesting to note that
Nelson did not look too good. He had bad teeth and had lost an arm. Lady
Hamilton was chubby as she was pregnant (Nelson’s soon to be born son).
At this point in this too long an account I
cede the space to Curtis Daily.
The Viennese violone,
and why I'm not playing one tonight.
The term violone is
Italian, and simply means 'large viol'. In the 16th to mid 17th century in Italy, where
the viol and violin families originated, this term was used to describe any
large stringed bass instrument, including what we now call the violoncello
(cello). Only in the 3rd quarter of the 17th century was the cello first
referred to by its current name. Also around that time in Italy the term
violone fell into disuse, being replaced by the term contrabbasso for the
instrument that we know now as the double bass, contrabass, upright bass, bass
fiddle, bull fiddle, or dog house. At this time the instrument began shedding
strings, with most Italian contrabbassos having four strings, and the larger
models usually having three. This was all about sonic volume. A three string
bass is far louder than a six string bass, because the strings can be farther
apart, allowing more room to attack with the bow, and there is less pressure on
the table of the instrument. A three string bass is very, very loud, and clearly,
even back then they liked the bass to be loud.
The term violone,
though, had made its way north into the lands now known as Germany and Austria, along with the instruments
themselves, and in those places the term stuck. In those regions violone eventually
came to describe a very particular instrument; in Germany this was the six string
instrument which is the largest member of what we now call the viol family.
There are two sizes of violone; large, and larger, one tuned in G and the other
tuned lower in D. These are very characteristic instruments, strung in the same
fashion as the rest of the members of the viol family, having the same general
shape, and have 7 frets.
In the regions around Vienna, sometime in the
early to mid 18th century, a variant emerged, which is called the Viennese
violone. This instrument is unique to the region and has 5 strings and 7 frets.
To the average viewer it would not look much different than what we now know as
a double bass, and other than having frets, it isn't all that much
different….except for the tuning. The Viennese violone is tuned F'', A'', D',
F#', A'. Those who are musically oriented will notice that the bottom three
strings are a D minor triad in first inversion, and the top three strings are a
D major triad. How this tuning came to be is not known, but I'll take a guess.
The Viennese violone bears a remarkable physical resemblance to the Venetian
six string violone of the mid 17th century with tuning of D", G", C',
F', A', D, and because of the relatively easy passage from Venice to Vienna,
one could speculate that the Venetian instrument eventually made it's way to
Vienna and became the model for the violones that were made in and around
Vienna in the mid 18th century.
Much to do with
tunings back then had to do with string technology and availability, so a basic
reason for the tuning could be as simple as players not being able to find
strings in Vienna that would tune down to the more common D" or E"
for the low string, so the low string was tuned up until it had good tension,
Why the upper three
are tuned in a major triad can be partially explained also by the idea that the
instrument started out as a six string violone with a high D, but the top
string became unneeded due to the more specialized nature of the bass line in
the mid 18th century, which was more about having louder low notes than easily
accessible high notes. Removing the top string would make the instrument louder
and would allow for more space between the strings so that more pressure could
be applied to the string, just as the Italians had decided about 75 years
earlier. These hypotheses don't explain everything, but are a reasonable guess
at some of it.
What we do know is
that having a major triad in the top three strings created the opportunity for
composers in that area at that time to write some very flashy sounding, but
easily played, triad oriented passages for the Viennese violone across those
three strings, but are very difficult to play on the double bass tuned in the
more standard E", A", D', G'.
Haydn obviously had a
first class bass player in his new orchestra because he wrote bass solos in the
trios of each of the symphonies 6, 7, and 8. It's also been noted somewhere
that players in the Esterhazy orchestra got extra pay for solos, so he could
have also been giving a little bonus to the bass player for some reason. Also,
as far as I know, these are the first specifically dedicated bass solos in an
orchestral work. In the trio sections of each of the three symphonies is stated
Two of the three solos
play very well in the conventional tuning that I use, but in the
"Midi", Haydn exploits the triad tuning of the upper strings and
writes a little passage that his bass player would have had to merely hold down
his index finger across the top three strings while crossing the strings back
and forth with the bow, while I have to do some serious shifting on my top
string to even have a chance at playing them well. If I get lucky, no one will
notice anything, and almost no one will question why I'm not using the Viennese
But why am I not using
a Viennese violone? Simply because I don't have one, and to re-string my bass,
put frets on it, and learn the tuning for one passage of one movement was more
than I could accomplish in the midst of a busy schedule.
My instrument is
Italian and is tuned in a common tuning for contrabass in Italy and other
regions in that era, so maybe it's best to think of me, historically speaking,
as an Italian tourist contrabbassista passing through Vienna back then with my
bass, and getting an opportunity to play these amazing symphonies with a
Back to me.
|Centre, Marina Hasselberg, right Rainer Zipperling|
Three men might have made my evening at the Haydn concert. That was not all. I also noted two enthusiastic players who had prominent parts in the evening. One was faculty cellist Rainer Zipperling and violist Peter Lekx who had juicy parts. I wonder if Haydn had extra money for this pair in the original performance of the three symphonies. And hidden by many chairs and instruments I noticed cellist Marina Hasselberg's interesting shoes and her divine little black dress with a plunging lacework back. And finally my mother also told me that when Haydn was 14 he was a very good member of a boy's choir. The choir master persuaded the young boy that the only way to conserve his fine voice was to sever the little bag between his legs. An hour before the operation, Haydn's father found out and stopped it. Had that not happened Mozart might not have then called him Papa Haydn.
Next EMV event
G.F. Handel: “Il Trionfo del Tempo” (1707)