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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000059.txt from 2000/09

Subj: [kl] An interesting story about Schoenberg
Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000 16:58:28 -0400

Dan Leeson wrote, quoting from B. H. Haggin
> "At one point the clarinetist Polatschek leaned over to whisper to
> Burghauser that he had just discovered he had by mistake been playing
> a clarinet in B-flat instead of the one in A specified in the score,
> and Schoenberg hadn't noticed it -- which led to Burghauser's
> suggestion that the musicians play wrong notes to see if Schoenberg
> would hear them, and their discovery that he did not hear them."

B. H. Haggin didn't witness this incident. It's hearsay and obviously not a
complete story, since such a large part of it is innuendo between the lines.
One possible explanation (this is guesswork) is that Schoenberg heard the
mistake perfectly well, but before he was ready to say anything about it, he
also saw the clarinetist do an embarrassed double-take of realization and
switch clarinets. Not wanting to humiliate or annoy a good musician
unnecessarily, maybe Schoenberg simply overlooked what had happened, since
the clarinetist had already perceived and corrected the error on his own.
When other musicians began their testing games, perhaps Schoenberg stayed
above this goading as well. Maybe he spoke to the ringleaders privately
later, but that less-than- titillating bit of information got dropped from
the story somewhere in the re-telling. It's a common practice even among
high school conductors not to single people out for public criticism when
they're clearly aware of what they've done wrong, or when it's obvious
they're doing it on purpose, maliciously, to provoke a reaction.


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