Klarinet Archive - Posting 000080.txt from 2000/09
Subj: [kl] An interesting story about Schoenberg
Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000 12:47:38 -0400
Regarding the anecdote that Schoenberg, conducting his own score, couldn't
tell when a clarinetist used a clarinet in the wrong key, Dan Leeson wrote,
>The story is not hearsay. Haggin is stating what Burghauser told him
>and in Burhauser's words. Burghauser was there when the incident
>The comments were given late in Burghauser's life....
But that *is* the legal definition of hearsay, at least in the USA.
Repeating what *someone else* has said -- even if it is allegedly an exact
quotation, in quotation marks -- is not admissable evidence in a court of law
in the USA, on grounds of hearsay. Naturally I don't expect courtroom
standards from a book such as Haggin's, but I still find the provenance of
this information troubling.
Hugo Burghauser, who was principal bassoonist of the Vienna Philharmonic from
1933-1938 or from 1918-1938 (the dates are different in two messages from Dan
Leeson), gave his previously unpublished "collection of reminiscences" to
music critic B. H. Haggin in 1966. What exactly were these memoirs? A
diary, written at the time the events happened? No, or at least not
entirely, because as Dan Leeson points out, one of the recollections involves
Daniel Barenboim. Did Burghauser use any old, written documents to refresh
his memory? Notebooks? Old letters? Did he "give" these recollections in
the form of an oral interview with Haggin in 1966? I don't have Haggin's
book and I would like very much to know exactly the bibliographical citation
for that anecdote before I can guess how reliable Burghauser's recollections
might have been.
Memory plays terrible tricks. Former actor Ronald Reagan, for instance,
famously "remembered" certain wartime events that really happened to
characters he played in the movies. This particular memory of Burghauser's
seems suspect to me because it makes two different musicians look bad: the
clarinetist, for making the mistake, and the conductor, for failing to hear
it. And what did Burghauser do? According to Haggin, it was
>"...Burghauser's suggestion that the musicians play wrong
>notes to see if Schoenberg would hear them...."
In other words, Burghauser promptly set out to "get" Schoenberg. The
bassoonist disrupted the rehearsal in order to undermine the credibility of
the conductor and composer, while (not incidentally) calling general
attention to his colleague's mistake in confusing two clarinets. For that
matter, by repeating this story, Haggin runs the risk of looking malicious
because he chooses to makes Berghauser look malicious.
Assuming the facts of the story are 100% correct, how does Burghauser know
what Schoenberg could hear? All he knows is that Schoenberg didn't *react*
-- which is a very different thing. Again, I'm speculating, but "testing"
conductors' pitch and otherwise trying to trip up the conductor is an old,
old game. If Schoenberg thought he was dealing with a group of potentially
hostile musicians, or if he thought Burghauser and some of the others were
troublemakers, he might have decided it was better to ignore them than to
rise to their bait. Haggin had met Burghauser and was in a better position
than I'm in to speculate about Burghauser's motives, but having read quite a
bit of Haggin's criticism, including his book about Toscanini and an article
he wrote making fun of Glenn Gould's interpretation of Schoenberg, I'm not
willing to credit Haggin with lofty objectivity or benign intent. That's not
to say he's necessarily wrong. Maybe he's not wrong. But, under the
circumstances, I'm not willing to take the implication of this story as
Nixon's Rule: If two wrongs don't make a right, try three.
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