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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000055.txt from 2001/04

From: Daniel Leeson <>
Subj: [kl] Thanks Annie!!
Date: Wed, 4 Apr 2001 13:19:48 -0400

Lovely note, Annie, for which I thank you. My surgery is all over, my
back still aches but it's getting better. After the surgery they had me
on morphine and for several days I was flying. You have no idea how a
Mozart work run through your head when you are on morhpine comes out, or
I should say I hope you have not. I was thinking about Figaro and all I
could hear was Lutislovsky's concerto for orchestra (a great piece, to
be sure, but not when one expects Figaro).

Did we not discuss the fact that I also studied with David Weber in the
late 1940s and 1950s? You asked if Kell is still alive and the answer
is, sadly, no. He died a number of years ago, an embittered man who
would not even speak about the clarinet or clarinet playing for his
final few years. I met him in Monterey, CA when he was living there and
tried to ask him some questions on the subject. He simply turned me
off. Later I was advised not to discuss that matter with him. He was
heavily involved in painting at that time and I wasn't interested in
that so we never got together again.

Kell's lack of success (very much unearned, in my opinion) was not due
to his use of vibrato. That was the thing that everyone yelled about,
often in the same way that Stewart spoke; i.e., "We don't do that here."

I think it was another matter entirely. It was his incredible sense of
rubato that made his playing so remarkably novel. The fact is that the
way he played the clarinet scared the hell out of many fine American
clarinetists, so they dumped a vibrato plague on him and we still live
under that umbrella that says that it is a bad thing. I'm still trying
to find out why.

Interestingly, I'm not really very interested when people say that they
like to use a vibrato because it is very much a laissez-faire situation.
Live and let live. But for those who give the impression that
clarinetistry is diminished by its use, I will often inquire about the
source of their belief. Maybe I can learn something about why the
technique has earned such a poor reputation.

I'll wait for Stewart to say something on the matter and not jump to any

Thanks for the note. For $3.75 I'll send you a picture of my incision,
but that's only because I can't afford to pay you any more than that.

Do you remember in Tom Sawyer how he got everyone to whitewash the fence
by showing them his sore toe?? Well it is the same with my spinal
surgery. Now when I play, I'll sit straight up because the surgeon
shoved a broomstick in there somewhere.


Dan Leeson
** Dan Leeson **
** **

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