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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000184.txt from 2005/12

From: "dnleeson" <>
Subj: RE: [kl] Nutcracker
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 14:02:15 -0500

Let me share with you what may have been on Forest's mind when he
wrote "Why?" in response to an inquiry about how many pages there
were int he first clarinet part of the Nutcracker ballet.

I speak only for myself here so please don't think that I'm
giving universal truth. But the Nutcracker is music that I
learned to hate. I don't think it is pretty, only superficial.
It's not music that one can play over and over and over and still
find substance in it.

Here in the Bay area of San Francisco, I would play some 30
performances of Nutcrackers every Xmas season, 10 here, 12 there,
a sub or two for another bass clarinetist who was going crazy,
etc. Often there were two a day which made the effort to keep
one's musicianship at a high standard to be a Herculean task.
Once, to occupy my mind, I played the entire ballet without music
in front of me.

I'm not sure that I could play any work 30-40 consecutive times a
season for 25 years and find any substance to it, but
particularly the Nutcracker which I, personally, find to be
cheap, vulgar music. And playing it over and over is somewhat
akin to eating baskets and baskets of cotton candy that one gets
at circuses. It's just too sweet.

And it is physically difficult to play the work. We had one
ballet master who did not think it was long enough, so he
enlarged it to three acts by inserting things from other
Tchaikovsky ballets. I would play it and go home to bed because
it just made me sick. And there are stage effects that cause
things (like dry ice smells) to flow into the pit. And after each
performance they put some kind of liquid substance on the stage
that also used to kill criminals in some societies.

And one HAS TO play it, either because one is contractually
required to do so as part of the season of a larger series of
programs that one is anxious to play, or else a realization that
if you keep turning down jobs, it is unlikely that you will be
called again. Contracters don't want to hear "No" when they

All in all, playing Nutcrackers is a contract with the devil.
Last year my granddaughter asked me to take her to a performance.
I had never seen the piece, only played it. So I took her and
gritted my teeth at the tawdry music. I'll punch her out if she
asks again.

Dan Leeson

-----Original Message-----
From: Patton Hunnicutt []
Sent: Sunday, December 25, 2005 5:09 AM
Subject: RE: [kl] Nutcracker

Because one wants to know? I'd tell you but I
honestly have no idea.

--- Forest Aten <> wrote:

> ??? Why ???
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Gary Truesdail []
> > Sent: Saturday, December 24, 2005 11:54 PM
> > To:
> > Subject: [kl] Nutcracker
> >
> > How many pages in the 1st clarinet part for
> Nutcracker?
> >
> > Garyt
> >
> >
> > if you
> get the digest.
> > Klarinet is a service of Woodwind.Org, Inc.
> if you get
> the digest.
> Klarinet is a service of Woodwind.Org, Inc.

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