On Conducting

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W. Reeves, 1887 - Conducting - 122 pages
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Page 26 - Reissiger, of Dresden, once conducted this symphony there, and I happened to be present at the performance, together with Mendelssohn. We talked about the dilemma just described and its proper solution, concerning which I told Mendelssohn that I believed I had convinced Reissiger, who had promised that he would take the tempo slower than usual. Mendelssohn perfectly agreed with me. We listened. The third movement began, and I was terrified on hearing precisely the old Landler tempo, but, before I...
Page 32 - Daruberhinweggehens) suggested a happy expedient; conductors gladly adopted the maxim, and turned it into a veritable dogma; so that, nowadays, attempts to perform classical music correctly are openly denounced as heretical! I am persistently returning to the question of tempo because, as I said above, this is the point at which it becomes evident whether a conductor understands his business or not. Obviously the proper pace of a piece of music is determined by the particular character of the rendering...
Page 18 - The whole duty of a conductor is comprised in his ability always to indicate the right TEMPO. His choice of tempi will show whether he understands the piece or not. With good players again the true tempo induces correct phrasing and expression, and conversely, with a conductor, the idea of appropriate phrasing and expression will induce the conception of the true tempo.
Page 20 - I have, myself, only once been present at a rehearsal of one of Beethoven's Symphonies, when Mendelssohn conducted; the rehearsal took place at Berlin, and the Symphony was No. 8 (in F major). I noticed that he chose a detail here and there — almost at random — and worked at it with a certain obstinacy, until it stood forth clearly. This was so manifestly to the advantage of the detail that I could not but wonder why he did not take similar pains with other nuances. For the rest, this incomparably...
Page 29 - Hierfür setze ich Fermaten, dh plötzlich eintretende lang auszuhaltende Noten in meine Allegro's. Und nun beachte du, welche ganz bestimmte thematische Absicht ich mit diesem ausgehaltenen Es nach drei stürmisch kurzen Noten hatte, und was ich mit allen den im Folgenden gleich auszuhaltenden Noten gesagt haben will.
Page 41 - ... judge the music of the day. It will have been noticed that I have approached this point with some circumspection. I was anxious to expose the dilemma, and to make everyone see and feel that since Beethoven there has been a very considerable change in the treatment and the execution of instrumental music. Things which formerly existed in separate and opposite forms, each complete in itself, are now placed in juxtaposition, and further developed, one from the other, so as to form a whole. It is...
Page 23 - ... saying that latterly he had not been in the habit of reckoning upon this sort of orchestral playing. In the evening, after the andante, he joyfully pressed my hand. I have often been astonished at the singularly slight sense for tempo and execution evinced by leading musicians. I found it impossible, for instance, to communicate to Mendelssohn what I felt to be a perverse piece of negligence with regard to the tempo of the third movement in Beethoven's Symphony in F major, No. 8. This is one...
Page 24 - NOT as a Menuetto: but as a Tempo di Menuetto. This novel and unconventional characterization of the two middle movements of a symphony was almost entirely overlooked: the Allegretto scherzando was taken to represent the usual Andante, the Tempo di Menuetto, the familiar "Scherzo" and, as the two movements thus interpreted seemed rather paltry, and none of the usual effects could be got...
Page 32 - Bewegung). The sustained tone regulates the Tempo Adagio: here the rhythm is as it were dissolved in pure tone, the tone per se suffices for the musical expression. In a certain delicate sense it may be said of the pure Adagio that it cannot be taken too slow. A rapt confidence in the sufficiency of pure musical speech should reign here; the languor of feeling grows to ecstasy; that which in the Allegro was expressed by changes of figuration, is now conveyed by means of variously inflected tone....

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