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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000467.txt from 2001/07

From: stewart kiritz <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Marcellus Followup
Date: Mon, 16 Jul 2001 22:01:11 -0400

I, for one, certainly appreciate your Marcellus anecdotes, and would welcome
any more tidbits about his approach and what he recommended for students.

Stewart Kiritz

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
Subject: [kl] Marcellus Followup

> Here are some thoughts I have had since I wrote what I wrote yesterday.
> Don't link long tones in any way to what I wrote about Baermann. Marcellus
> didn't practice long tones and didn't encourage anyone I know to do so. I
> asked him specifically why he didn't believe in them and he told me
> the same thing that Stanley Hasty once said in a masterclass about long
> tones. Again, I paraphrase:
> The clarinet sound is based on intervals more than on sustained single
> Anyone can sound good sustaining one note, but once a few intervals are
> one can judge a clarinetist very quickly. On a single tone, it is
> possible to confuse a very fine player with a young student.
> Marcellus other reason for not practicing long tones are very practical.
> First, they are boring and once you start playing with your intellect and
> emotions detatched from your playing, it can become a very bad habit.
> require far more brain activity, no matter HOW fanatical your long tone
> routine is. Second, they are time consuming and when you're in the middle
> a symphony season, there isn't any spare time for extra practice
> if you have a family). Practice when you only get an hour or less a day to
> it has to be fanatically concentrated.
> It's hard to describe how great a player Marcellus was. There are lots of
> things you have to do in an orchestra that can't really be taken home and
> practiced at night. You just have to be good at them. Marcellus was so
> this way. The other professional orchestral players will correct me if
> disagree with something I say here. Hopefully, they will add their 2
> This occured to me when I was listening to the Szell Dvorak 7 earlier
> Anyone who says the clarinet part to this symphony isn't really hard
> played it (in fact it is a really difficult symphony period. Definately
> most difficult Dvorak symphony, and it isn't close).
> Most students hear Marcellus and they hear the sound, which is amazing.
> if you really appreciate everything Marcellus does in this performance
> literally hundreds like it), it's even more impressive. Even when you
> hear him it is is impressive, because it means he adjusted his dynamics to
> either blend with another instrument or to get out of the way of a more
> important musical line. There are the kind of things that good chamber
> musicians (and good 2nd clarinet players too) do automatically, but as
> principal in the orchestra, this requires knowledge of the full score.
> made sure the musicians were very aware of what was going on at all times
> all parts. They had to listen to each other.
> His intonation is outstanding. The solo at the beginning of the 2nd
> is hell. First of all, you have to start with a cold b flat instrument
> (presumably not a problem in a recording session), then you have to cross
> break both ways with perfect legato about 10 million times very softly and
> tune. Some of the slurs he pulls off are actually unbelievable (at least I
> don't believe them).
> Now what makes orchestral playing really hard isn't what I just wrote;
> makes it hard is the fact that you have to do these things on command,
> and over and over again in concerts and it has to be nearly perfect every
> time. We all have memories of going to concerts and hearing some famous
> musician squeak or something. We remember that forever, but in reality, it
> was probably the only time the guy squeeked in the 200 times he has
> it.
> These types of things are among the reasons that certain great retired
> orchestral players: Marcellus, Wright, Leister, Brody, etc. are still so
> revered. They didn't just do it for 2 or 3 concerts a year at a
> they did it every night for decades.
> -David Hattner, NYC
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