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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000173.txt from 1994/01

From: "Dan Leeson: LEESON@-----.EDU>
Subj: Jay Heiser's comments on performance practice
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 1994 06:10:28 -0500

Jay brought up a number of points with respect to my comments on
performance practice.

Specifically, he inquired why I felt that the Sousa concert presented
a performance practice problem and exactly what was wrong with it?

The marches did not work because (1) the required accents were mostly
omitted and (2) the percussion section had inadequate training for this
type of music. The Sousa marches have two editions. One is the standard
thing that one buys. The other is what the members of the Sousa band
put in their parts (which are now the property of the Library of Congress)
at the direction of Sousa who died in 1932. I have played the Sousa
marches from the Sousa band encore book and there are extraordinary
differences in rhthmic content. The notes are the same, to be sure, but
the accents are different and there are frequently changes in the
instrumentation. For example, there should be a harp in Stars and Stripes
but the part is not published in the standard band version, only in the
orchestral version. Result: to whatever degree a harp contributes, the
march's performance is negatively impacted when it is not present.

Same thing is true with something like the Radetzky March. It has all
kinds of Hungarian influences that only get played by the Budapest
Phil because they know how that march is supposed to go and the place
accents all over the place that we do not. Also true in Strauss waltzes.
One has to literally alter the French horn parts to get a Viennes flavor.
Americans don't know what that flavor is unless the horn parts are
changed, but no one has to tell the Viennese what to do. And none of this
is written in the music.

As for Jay's other points, I have to backpedal. I don't know what is going
to happen in 1,000 years and I really don't want to get into a discussion
of such interplanetary nature. As for what is art, I am not qualified
to make any contributions to such a question.

I am simply trying to understand a small area of music that particularly
pleases me; namely how to perform things in a way that makes them
consistent with what the composer had in mind.

Dan Leeson, Los Altos, California

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