I stumbled across an excellent book in the University’s music library the other day called “Making Music” and was written by sports-writer John T. Partington. He interviewed principal players in a leading Canadian orchestra about their performance processes and gave them all (mostly) anonymous names. I highly recommend the book if you’re at all into this side of the classical music business.
A few excerpts that struck me:
Bass The whole thing about musical performance is communication. You have to be willing to take a risk, be willing to open yourself up.
Timpani A If you are going to be a performer, it must be the passion of your life. If you do something in life, it has to be a passion for you. Just to work is silly. When you choose something, you live with the consequences. I have always treated my work that way.
In orchestras you have musicians, and then there are those I call “workers” of music. Musicians have a great talent and they love music. The workers also have a lot of talent, and function at a high professional level, but they don’t like music and they don’t like conductors. Music doesn’t enrich them in a personal way. Fortunately, most orchestras have 30% of the other kind, the musicians.
Violin B The moment that one said to oneself, “I don’t have to do this. I’m going to see what I can do…”, turned things right around. It was the sense of not being obligated to yourself, or to your past. You could actually look at the next note that you would play as something that is not in any way predetermined by any of the five million notes you have played before. That was a very freeing kind of thing. That got rid of the tension one gets from the sense of having to deliver something, which is actually at the bottom of one’s feeling of nervousness and the butterflies in the stomach.
Freelance bassoonist and carpenter of the reedy persuasion in Tucson, AZ.
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