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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001056.txt from 2001/02

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Landler of Mozart
Date: Tue, 27 Feb 2001 08:41:00 -0500

Something is getting out of focus here. Bill Wright (whose note is
below for reference) has brought up several points which I intend to

First, the fact that Shifrin's recording choses to describe the
composition's minuet in the way that he notes does not consitute
anything except the fanciful imagination of whoever wrote that
description. Now if THAT person feels that the second trio of the
minuet is a Landler for "string quartet and rustic clarinet," that's
fine with me but such an opinion has no authority. It is nothing more
than a record jacket note and I would hope that our opinions on what
that movement is all about derives from a better source than that.

Second, I think I began this discussion because I was relating the dance
form of the minuet to the symphonic form. And with that in mind, I
object very much to the suggestion that the symphonic form of the minuet
may have different tempi for the different structural sections, not
unless some evidence is issued to sustain that view.

If people are dancing the minuet, there is no evidence that any
particular structural section (such as the trios, for example) would be
executed at a different tempo from each other or from the minuet itself.
Thus, when Bill argues about a piece of music containing both "an adagio
and an allegro," his analogy to the performance of K. 581 becomes

We have a piece of music that is a direct descendant of the dance form
of the 18th century minuet. To suggest that the rules of the dance form
do no apply to the symphonic form is not an argument I am prepared to
accept, at least not now. Bill's point is that the three sections of
the minuet of K. 581 may be approached as if there is no tempo
relationship between them, and I suggest exactly the opposite.

In the case of a set of variations on a theme (as per the final movement
of 581), it is, of course, quite possible to assert that each variation
may have its own tempo, but I don't see evidence that this approach
applies to the a minuet with two trios.

In Bill's defense, if he is saying that, by this time in Mozart's
compositional life, there is no relationship between the dance form of
the minuet and the symphonic form, then what he says is certainly
tolerable. But this entire discussion began because I attened a four
hour session on the minuet as a dance and this caused me to make
inquiries into the relationship between the dance and the orchestral
minuet. And I am not prepared to agree that liberties such as Bill
suggests are a valid part of the historical package that we are trying
to preserve when we play this music.

So far we have had notes on this subject suggesting that a Landler is a
slow dance, a fast dance, a dance that can be seen at an Oktoberfest, a
dance in which the male picks up the female and twirls her around, etc.

In sum and substance, we are presuming that 20th century experience is
sufficient to understand how to play an 18th century piece. I would
offer that such an approach is valueless in teaching anything about the
minuet movement of K. 581. The only way we will learn anything about
this movement of the work is to examine it in the context of an 18th
century experience. What was the Landler THEN? What did they do THEN?
What was the relationship between the dance and symphonic forms THEN?

NOW has almost no value in understanding any of these issues. That is
exactly where we clarinetists go wrong every single time. We presume
that how we do things today is useful in understanding what our
predecessors did two centuries ago. But if we are going to learn how to
play this (or any other movement of an 18th century composition)
correctly, we have to understand how things worked at a musical level in
the 1780s.

Dan Leeson

William Wright wrote:
> The liner for Shifrin's recording describes the minuet (Mvt. 3) as
> being divided into two parts: (a) Trio for string quartet [sic], and (b)
> Landler for string quartet + "rustic" clarinet.
> My point is: If you agree that this particular minuet is, in
> fact, a concatenation of two different items, then no matter what you
> decide about the Landler part, why does it need to apply to the "trio
> for string quartet" part as well?
> If a piece of music contained both a largo and an allegro, how much
> of the structure of one would transfer to the other?
> I'm not sure how the subject line changed from "Minuet" to "Mvt. 4"
> ??
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** Dan Leeson **
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