About Life in Flow:Flow in Life

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Searching for Schubert

I wrote about playing at the 2010 Schubertiade in an earlier post titled Auf dem Strom, which is what we performed. It was an exciting, fun experience. So naturally when I received an invitation to submit a repertoire proposal for the 2011 Schubertiade, I wanted to apply. However, Schubert didn't write all that much for horn. He is, of course, best known for his songs, and he also wrote quite a lot of piano music.There are two octets that have horn parts, but I didn't feel that I had enough time to gather seven other musicians and rehearse before January 29, this year's Schuberiade.

I had pretty much given up the idea for this year, thinking that maybe for 2012 I would start earlier and get an octet together. I spurred to action by pianist Helen Raymaker who generously offered to play something with me, if I could find something. And so I went to imslp.org, the International Music Score Library Project and Petrucci Music Library. This is a wonderful resource, where you can find and print music that is in the public domain. I was able to search Schubert's works with horn and find ten pieces, excluding the symphonies, which have wonderful horn parts. As expected, Auf dem Strom and the two octets were on the list. The Octet, D. 72 is for the standard wind octet: two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, two horns. It is apparently incomplete, having a Menuetto and Finale. (D. 72a is an incomplete Allegro movement.) The other Octet, D. 803, is for clarinet, bassoon, horn, two violins, viola, cello and bass.

Then there is Eine Kleine Trauermusik, D. 79, for two clarinets, two bassoons, contrabassoon, two horns, and two trombones. Trauermusik is funeral music, so the mournful trombones and contrabassoon are logical instrumentation choices, though the combination of these nine instruments is unusual. There is also Nachtgesang im Walde, (Night Singing in the Forest), D. 913, for men's choir and four horns. Interesting music to investigate for the future.

Then there were five songs, D. 199, 202, 203, 204, and 205. These all have the indication "Fur zwei Singstimmen oder zwei Waldhorner." (for two voices or two horns) The first two are titled Mailied (May Song), and the others are Der Morgenstern (the Morning Star), Jagerlied (Hunting Song) and Lutzow's wilde Jagd (Lutzow's wild hunt). They are all quite short, but if sung, have a number of verses. My daughter and I tried them out and both of us and my husband thought they were charming and well worth playing, though technically they are not difficult.

So that is what I submitted as my proposal: 10 minutes of Schubert songs for horn duet that I hope to play with a friend. We will see if it makes it onto the program. There is a lot of competition and limited time. In any case, I look forward to attending the Schubertiade sponsored by Pianoforte Chicago, on January 29 at the Fine Arts Building in Chicago as an audience member. I have also decided that I don't know nearly enough about Franz Schubert, so it's time to start reading and learning.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Speaking of Carnegie Hall...

Carnegie Hall

This is the view from approximately where I was sitting in Carnegie Hall the last time I heard a concert there. That was about 30 years ago; the Cleveland Orchestra with George Szell. I did not take this photo. Interestingly, I auditioned for Eastman at Carnegie Hall, but not on stage. The auditions were in the office part of the building. It was pretty cool to tell people that I auditioned at Carnegie Hall, though.

Here is a photo a passerby took of my family in front of Carnegie Hall more recently:

Carnegie is a beautiful building to look at and listen in. We are so lucky that Isaac Stern campaigned to save it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

How DO you get to Carnegie Hall?

Photo credit
This time of year always seem to be full of concerts. Today we played the second of three band Christmas concerts, all in local churches. I will be helping out at a Christmas pageant at a friend's church next weekend. And I played my two Auf dem Strom concerts a couple weeks ago. I really love playing and I am grateful for the opportunities that I have. A colleague at work recently asked me how much time playing in the various music groups takes. I realized that she was thinking only about the rehearsals and concerts. I said, "In order to play the music I want to play, with the people I want to play with, I need to practice pretty much every day, in addition to the rehearsals with the groups." She was surprised. I think many people who don't play an instrument would be surprised at the time it takes.

I have a demanding job in the daytime (I teach 4th grade) so I have a limited amount of time to practice, but I try to put in 45 to 60 minutes a day, more if I have a lot of music to learn or need to build up strength for a performance. I know other nonprofessional musicians who practice much more than that. We do have people in our community band who do not practice. That is the choice they have made and they can still have a lot of enjoyment of playing with the group and socializing.

The exciting part of practicing is setting goals and seeing improvement! Every year since I started playing again has been full of returning ability and improvement. I have worked on technical things that I didn't have a lot of success with when I was younger, like intonation, lip trills, and Kopprasch. It was a revelation to me how much working with a tuner could improve my sense of pitch. If portable tuners had been invented when I was in college, my life would have been different.

I'm looking forward to more chamber music, orchestra concerts, and band concerts. I could not do this if I didn't practice as much as I do.  Though it takes discipline to practice after a full day at work, it is rewarding, just as working out at the gym is rewarding. So, though I'm not headed for Carnegie Hall, I'll keep on practicing.