Sunday, December 31, 2023

The pears (and white butterflies and moths) of immortality

. . . But somehow they're there, the essence is there. We just don't understand it, our evolution hasn't taken us far enough yet to glimpse what the word that we stupidly use, soul, can mean.

I think you're right.

You know I'm right. I don't talk like this to everybody, but I talk like this to you because you know what I know.

Are you suggesting that death is unreal?

Oh, it's real, but something goes on--not your name, not your nose, but the you-ness goes on. I will swear that Felicia is with me a lot . . . though not in her shape.

I am frequently visited by a white moth or a white butterfly. Quite amazingly frequently. And I know it's Felicia. I remember that when she died, her coffin was in our living room in East Hampton. . . and just a few of us where there--the family and a rabbi and a priest, because she'd been brought up in a convent in Chile. We were playing the Mozart Requiem on the phonograph. Everyone was absolutely silent. And then this white butterfly flew in from God knows where--it just appeared from under the coffin and flew around, alighting on everybody in the room--on each of the children, on the rabbi, on the priest, on her brother-in-law and two of her sisters, on me . . . and then it was gone . . . though there was nothing open. And this has also happened to me here, sitting outside in my garden . . . White.

[After a long silence, L.B. refills our wine glasses, and his assistant returns to bring us dessert, which turns out to be two baked pears.]

Have a pear, Mr. Goldstone!

The pears of immortality. And these I "should" and will eat! They look delicious.

This is one of my favorite passages from Jonathan Cott's Dinner with Lenny, which I can't recommend highly enough for anyone interesting in knowing Leonard Bernstein. And I will certainly think differently about seeing white moths and white butterflies.

Friday, December 29, 2023


I loved everything about this move. All the music (with the exception of an excerpt from William Walton's Facade) was either written by Leonard Bernstein or performed by him. And Bradley Cooper captured Leonard Bernstein's Gestalt totally. Watching Cooper conduct Mahler's Second Symphony was like watching Leonard Bernstein conduct it. Watching Bradley Cooper's Bernstein teaching a conducting lesson at Tanglewood was like watching Leonard Bernstein teach.

I only have three teeny tiny criticisms. In the script I question the use of the phrase "read the room," which I believe is more of a twenty-first-century phrase than a twentieth-century phrase. (I never heard it until a few years ago, but I do lead a sheltered life). I also noticed that the European orchestra Bernstein performed the Mahler with had a healthy number of women in it, and many of those women were on the first stands of the string sections, and in the wind sections. Unless it was a freelance orchestra in London, I can't imagine that kind of gender equity coming into play in the 1970s. The decision the casting people made (and I believe they must have had good reasons for making it) didn't detract in any way from my enjoyment of the film.

I was pleased with the acting in the scene at Tanglewood with Serge and Olga Koussevitzky, but the actors who played them did not look in any way like the real people. I used to talk to Olga Koussevitzky at Tanglewood. My mother told me that she was a real princess, but I later learned that it wasn't true. In her French/Russian accent she would always ask me about my "bro-THEER." She had the most remarkable cheekbones.

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Richard Kogan lecture "The Mind and Music of Leonard Bernstein"

I'll be seening Maestro tomorrow night (with friends who have Netflix). I have heard a great deal (both positive and negative) about the movie, including the fact that it doesn't contain much about Leonard Bernstein the composer, so I'm getting myself ready for the experience by reminding myself of who he was as a musician. If you have arrived here for the same reasons, Richard Kogan's lecture is a great place to start:

I'm also re-reading Jonathan Cott's Dinner with Lenny (here's a post I wrote about it in 2013), and an exerpt from The Infinite Variety of Music that I wrote about in 2005. In 2010 I wrote a post to mark the twentieth anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's death, with a link to a special edition of Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs filled with reminiscences of him by members of his family.

I overheard the movie trailer, and can report that Bradley Cooper captures the nasal quality that came into Leonard Bernstein's voice as he aged, but the pitch is just a semitone or so higher, and the timbre is a little less gravelly. I imagine it was enough for Cooper to fill Leonard Bernstein's shoes, body, and personality during the filming of this movie, but I can't imagine he would have inhaled enough tobacco to capture the gravel in Bernstein's voice. But I recall Bernstein's voice as an older man, and Cooper is portraying him as a younger man.

By the way, the one thing that Leonard Bernstein couldn't do musically was sing. Stephen Sondheim said that he had a voice like a frog.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Somebody, somewhere?

The shepherds of the internets, the people who write the software that gets unsuspecting humans to feel that they have connections with others through this or that social media platform, have really outdone themselves with “threads.” And in outdoing themselves they have gotten people like me (if there are any people really like me) to become totally uninterested with “connecting” by way of "threads."

The account, which I am about to remove from my phone, is full of posts from people offering lists of people they are interested in having “follow” them: musicians, artists, people who own dogs, people who like rice, photographers, film producers, foodies, etc., and they trust the trusty threads algorithm to do the work of connecting for them. They even address their posts, “Dear Algorithm.” But in reality these lists give a lot of easy information to Meta so that they can target threaders and their followers for ads in other Meta platforms. By making these lists, innocent people interested in finding people who share their interests are simply feeding the hungry algorithm. 

I admit that I have found some interesting people who post on threads, but I have other ways of reading what they have to say. And their work, which has nothing to do with my potential interactions with them, can go on without me.

The promise of finding people just like me is really not for me. In the decades of my life before using the internet, I managed to find people who shared my interests, concerns, and struggles. The common ground I found had a lot to do with circumstances: living in a particular place, working in a particular place (or field), being an outsider in a country or a culture, being single, being part of a couple, having small children, having not-so-small children, having aging parents, participating in particular activities, and not participating in particular activies.

I have learned over the years that I prefer to engage in activities and friendships with people who do not share ALL of my interests. One or two shared interests is enough. By interacting with people who are different from me I gain perspective about life and about the world.

I do appreciate the  “power” of social media mainly because I can use it to share, and I love the ease that the internet offers for me to answer zillions of questions and access music by way of the IMSLP. I also really appreciate the ability to connect with groups of people who need music to play by way of Facebook. And my blogs add a huge amount of value to my life.

I have nothing to sell (work I have done that is sold is the property of one or another publisher), so I view my (non-commercial) corners of the internets as a way of offering something to somebody somewhere who might need it in order to make their life easier, more interesting, or more enjoyable.

It's too bad that most of the messages that I find in my email inbox are put there by people I do not know who want to sell me something. I know that there are people online (like me) who are not selling something. I guess that selling is the main reason for the internets, and without that “marketplace,” blogs like this one wouldn't exist. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Hodie Cookies (Holiday Oatmeal Cookies)

I made these cookies on a whim this morning before playing a consort concert that was organized around several settings of the Hodie, so I'm calling them "Hodie Cookies." Hodie (pronouced ho-dee-ay) is Latin for "today." I really wasn't sure how they would come out (I was in full improvisation mode--but I did manage to measure and to write things down). I REALLY liked the result. They have a holiday "look" to them, and a taste that suggests gingerbread, but only very quietly.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit

Cream together:

1 stick softened unsalted butter and
1 cup granulated cane sugar


1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground (powdered) ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet, and then add

1.5 cups lightly-sweetened whole cranberry sauce (lightly sweetened if you make it yourself, out of the can without extra sugar if you use canned cranberry sauce).
1/2 cup raisins
3 cups quick-cooking oats

Mix together, and then drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper or silicone mats. Top each cookie with a little bit of cane sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool and eat.

This recipe made around 50 small cookies.

I imagine that you could use fresh ginger. If you do make sure to grate it finely, and mix it in with the wet ingredients so that the flavor distributes.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

In Praise of the Day

I wish I knew who made this little gem:

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Three Christmas pieces arranged for flute, viola (violin), and cello

'Tis the season for Christmas parties, so for your (and my) Christmas party pleasure I'm sharing a set of three transcriptions of ever-popular pieces that I made for a party that I am playing next week.

The viola parts do not extend beyond the violin range, so there is a treble clef part in the set for people who play violin and are not used to reading the alto clef. The flute parts can also be played on the violin.

For wind trios the cello parts can work on the bassoon, and the treble clef violin part could be transposed and played on the clarinet.

Here's the link.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Rejoice, violists!

Every so often I get the pleasure of playing the viola part in Mozart's 1789 orchestration of Handel's Messiah. It is a pleasure because Mozart gave the violists a really challenging and interesting part to play, particularly in the numbers where Handel had us tacet (like "Rejoice geatly"). It is unfortunate that this year's Messiah program does not include all of the movements that have the great viola parts, but I can still rejoice and marvel at the Mozart viola parts in the movements we are playing.

"Rejoice greatly," for example, was originally written for soprano, a single violin line played by two violinists (sometimes played by only one), and continuo. Here are the final few measures (after the singer is finished):
Look at the great counterpoint that Mozart gave the violas in his final measures of "Rejoice greatly":
You can read some fun facts about Mozart's transcription here, but Teri Noel Towe, the writer of the entry at Classical Net, didn't seem to notice the vast improvements that Mozart made in the viola part of the Messiah. When I play this part I feel a deep and personal connection to Mozart. He loved us because he was one of us. One of us, one of us, one of us!

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Little Frogs in the Yakety-yak

Just in case you miss the frog songs that we hear in the warmer weather! (Actually there are no actual frog sounds included, but there are lots of songs about frogs.)

You can find the music on this page of the IMSLP.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Welcome Clara to the IMSLP

Clara is a new way to navigate through the IMSLP. Give it a spin!

You can sort and filter, search for works, and even listen to a sample (eventually this feature will work). It is both interesting and not interesting to see what the most popular pieces in the catalog are. No spoilers from me (and no surprises from the list).

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Scores and Maps

I have always loved maps. My love of maps began with this Ciacoma Cantelli da Vignola map of the Turkish Empire from 1679 that used to hang in the entryway of my childhood home. It has (somehow) followed me through my life. And now its image can "hang" on this page of this blog. (You can see a zoomable digital version of this map here.)

When I was a child I used to make detailed maps of my neighborhood, showing the route that I would walk to school. My father had a map of Paris on the wall of his basement practice studio. I had absolutely no understanding of Paris (or the Turkish Empire of 1679, for that matter), but I used to "walk" along those streets. One of the things that attracted me to Henry Miller (the writer) is that while he was living in Brooklyn he had a map of Paris, and he used to follow all the streets and imagine that he was there. Once he got to Paris he knew his way around.

Our son inherited my love of maps (the above map "lived" on the wall of his room throughout his childhood). And I'm rather thrilled that all three of our granddaughters love maps.

But I digress.

This early morning, while I was rehearsing some Haydn (Opus 77 #2) for a concert in the later morning, I had the sudden sensation that playing chamber music is a little like following a map. It is particularly map-like when you are playing an inner part because you can see and hear all the inner connections.

There is just so much to see and hear in Haydn, and there are all sorts of "side streets" and changes in "landscape."

But if the goal of a chamber music experience is a performance, the "points of interest" should really be found during score study and rehearsal so that we don't get distracted by new insights during performance and cause our trusting listeners to be dragged off onto unfamiliar roads or back alleys.

During orchestral performances I have the leisure to observe the music, because my main job is to play together with my section and to follow a conductor who, like a tour guide, has the paths s/he wants the music to take mapped out.

But chamber music is different, particularly when it is by Haydn, because there is just so much to observe.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Salomé's Dance for Violin, Viola, and Cello

You can hear this music accompanying some of the final scenes of the 1922/23 silent film (one hundred years ago!) of Salomé that was produced, directed, choreographed, acted, and danced by Alla Nazimova through this link. You can find the score and parts on this page of the IMSLP.

The piece, which is ten minutes long, can be played with or without the film.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Face in the Mirror

The other day I glanced in the mirror and, for the first time in my adult life, recognized the third-grade girl in this photo.

The photo record for me is scarce. There might be half a dozen photos taken of me as a child, and most of them were school photos. I was told that my father "didn't believe in" taking photos, and my mother, who was photographed by her shutterbug father a great deal when she was a child, didn't object to my father's lack of interest. I like to imagine that my mother thought that she was sparing us some agony by only having baby portraits taken twice.

It must have been important to me because my earliest memory was being photographed at four in my balloon dress at Clowntown Studios in Lakewood, Ohio. (I don't remember the photo that was taken when I was around one.) I do remember at the age of five being heartbroken when my balloon dress no longer fit.

Individual school photos stopped in sixth grade, and the one or two that appeared in my high school yearbook showed a teenager who did not have the bright eyes of the musical violin-playing child above.

I'm so happy that I have been able to get the essence of this child back.

Life has its crooked paths. I feel tremendously grateful to have somehow found a path that has allowed me to reconnect with the person I was at eight or nine.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Advanced Viola Scale Studies

I'm delighted to announce that the viola transcription of my Advanced Violin Scale Studies is finally available from Mel Bay.

I'm also totally thrilled that they have used a portrait of my 1952 Carl Becker viola for the cover. My father bought the instrument in Chicago while he was a graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He told me that when he bought it they "wheeled out the old man," so that my father could meet the maker. It was the instrument that my father used to win the audition for principal viola of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, though the powers that were (then) immediately went searching for a higher-prestige instrument for him.

My father always kept the Becker on hand, though. He brought it to Tanglewood with him and loaned it to students from time to time. The only student I recall connected with it was the composer Paul Chihara. Then around thirty years ago he gave the instrument to my brother Marshall. Out of a sense of fairness, he gave me one of his instruments as well: a pretty-looking Italian viola that never sounded as good as it looked. My brother Richard, who doesn't play, got a bunch of bows that my father never used.

I always thought that the Becker was kind of plain and ugly, and Marshall thought that I had gotten the better instrument. We were both wrong. The Becker is quite beautiful, and because of the way it plays and responds, it is far superior to the pretty Italian viola I had been using.

My brother didn't like playing the Becker, so he had an instrument made that satisfied his needs. The Becker sat abandoned in his closet, unplayed.

After my brother died the official ownership of the instrument went back to my parents, but the physical instrument moved to my closet. After my mother's death the instrument became mine. I had a luthier fix some open seams and straighten the bridge. After playing the Becker for a minute or so, I put away the Italian instrument and haven't touched it since. The sound of the Becker was the viola sound that I had in my ear since I was a tiny baby. It brings me joy every day.

And now its face is on the cover of this book of scale pieces.

You can find the music (both for a print edition and an electronic edition) on this page of the Mel Bay website.

Nathan Groot is making video recordings of all the pieces in the book. You can watch and listen here.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Verdi Three Pieces for Two Cellos

I spent a great deal of time collaborating with Daniel Morganstern, the former principal cellist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the American Ballet Theatre, on these two-cello transcriptions of music from three of Verdi's operas.

The first piece in this new publication from International Music Company is a wordless aria that serves as the prelude to the opera I masandieri. It is bel canto cello writing at its finest.

In the second act of Rigoletto, the first  cello "sings" the part of the court jester, the title character of Verdi's opera, while the second cello accompanies him with extensive arpeggios. This aria, which incorporates the original solo cello part from the opera, works perfectly as a cello duet.

In her third-act aria from Un ballo in maschera, Amelia pleads with her husband (who is preparing to kill her because he believes she has cheated on him) to let her hold her son for the last time. This highly emotional aria is extremely satisfying to hear played by two cellos.

The music is available now from IMC and from Theodore Front, and it will be available from other music retailers in the near future.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Lili Boulanger's Nocturne and Cortege transcribed for viola and piano

Published by International Music Company and available through this link.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Mela Tenenbaum update

I noticed that people have been visiting a post that I made about the violinist/violist Mela Tenenbaum in February of 2021, and a quick google search found that she died very, very recently. She was buried this morning at the Beth Moses Cemetary in West Babylon, New York.
Mela was a great musician and a great and generous human being. I feel so honored to have been phone friends with her during my days at the radio station. We suddenly lost touch in the early 2000s, and I was unable to find anything about her again until February of 2021. And now today I find out that she is no longer alive.

Her memory will always be a blessing for me.

Here she is playing the Drigo Serenade:

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Thoughts about acting and music inspired by a Patrick Stewart interview

I saw a great interview with Patrick Stewart last week. I believe it was part of a news broadcast, perhaps PBS, but I distinctly remember that he talked about feeling comfortable when he acted because he didn't have to be himself. He could be somebody else.

As much as I love watching acting on stage and in movies, acting has never been something I was good enough at to feel truly comfortable doing.

Standing on a stage wearing a costume has never shielded me from feeling like a person (me) standing on a stage wearing a costume, and trying to remember where on that stage I was supposed to be at any given time.

I spent two years as a drama major at a fine arts camp, and, as such, had roles in a few plays. But all my roles had songs, and I never felt like I was "acting" when I was singing. In Junior High School I was part of a circle of friends who were really good at acting, but despite my great love for all things having to do with the musical stage and my two summers of experience, I never managed to get an acting part in anything. I loved being a policeman in Pirates of Penzance and loved being part of the chorus of flower girls in Marriage of Figaro, and I knew every single word of every song in Anything Goes from my perch in the offstage chorus, but by the time I entered High School, I knew that my future in the theatre would be in the orchestra pit.

I am perfectly comfortable being heard but not seen. One of the best parts about playing in the viola section in orchestra is that nobody sees me, and when I am being heard it is always in combination with other violists (making up a “super viola”).

But I am also oddly comfortable playing violin, viola, or recorder on a stage alone or with other musicians. One reason is because I don't care if I am seen or not, and the bigger reason is that I become the music I am playing, and in the music I feel safe. It really doesn't matter what my personal personality is. All that matters is making the music come alive, do what it needs to do with the most integrity possible, and safely come to a close. If all goes well I have taken my colleagues and the people listening on my journey through the piece at hand. I can, for a brief time, leave the personality-laden part of myself on the ground, and use my physical body (including my brain and heart) to move the music I am playing through the air, to be experienced by anyone in the room.

I think about the act of writing music in this Stewart-inspired context, and realize that I want nothing than to more to write music that will free people like me from themselves. I want the physical part of playing the music to be as pleasing to the musician at hand as the aural part.

Sometimes hearing a midi rendering of something I have written reminds me of looking at a mirror and seeing a familiar face (oh you again), but when I hear a human being play something I have written (either live or in a recording) the same piece of music can sound completely new to me. That lets me know that I have done my job as a composer.

The very idea that someone (or some group of people) could "use" a piece of music that I wrote as a vehicle for expression of something that goes beyond "personality" (individual or collective, theirs or mine) is very exciting to me.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Salomé Dance Scene

I wrote a new piece for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano that is part of a UK-based film and dance project where composers write new music for old films, and then live dancers perform the sequences accompanied by live musicians. This five-minute-long sequence is set to a section of the 1918 Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton film The Cook. It is a parody of a dance scene from the (now lost) Theda Bara film Salomé.

You can watch the film clip from The Cook with this music here, and you can find the score and parts on this on this page of the IMSLP.

Elbow under reminder for violin and viola students

I always use a golden colored pencil in addition to a graphite pencil when I teach. When I find something I need to highlight, like a finger number or a dynamic, I draw a circle around it with the graphite pencil, and color the circle in with the golden one.

A few weeks ago I came up with the idea of drawing a piece of elbow macaroni to remind a student to keep her elbow under the instrument, and coloring it in with the golden pencil gave us both the impression of macaroni and cheese. Needless to say, my student responded really well.

So I thought I'd share this idea here.

NB I made the above demonstration picture with an ink pen, and, because I could, I added some yellow to the gold to give the piece of elbow macaroni more of a "cheesy" sheen.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Deception in Deception

If you haven't seen the 1946 Warner Brother's movie Deception staring Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains, you might find a way to see it before reading this post. You will certainly want to see it after reading this post. (It is unfortunately not on YouTube, but there are several trailers and teasers there.) I will try to avoid saying anything that gives away too much of the plot.

Deception is a movie primarily about music, but it is also about the fragility of love and ego. 

Because of the gentle and unreliable mixture of insecurity, need for connection, ego, the blurring of passionate personal love and passionate musical love, musicians (in real life and in movies) sometimes make choices that might not make sense to "lay people." 

In this case we have a successful and rich composer named Alexander Hollenius, his student (and kept mistress) Christine Radcliffe, and her refugee-from-Europe cellist boyfriend (from Christine's days in Vienna before the War) Karel Novak. Hollenius, being rich and influential, helped Karel leave Europe for New York without knowing that Christine had been in love with him. Christine doesn't want to let Karel know, because she believes that he is too emotionally fragile to take it.

(That's only one of the deceptions in the plot)

Another grand deception is the one where Paul Henreid, who plays the role of the cellist, appears to play the cello. This feat was accomplished by Henreid taking six months of lessons with Eleanor Aller's cello-teaching father, having a piece written by Eric Wolfgang Korngold for the movie with some passages where a non-cellist could be posed to play and look good (even if the sound wasn't good), and employing one right arm and one left arm of two hidden cellists occupying the sleeves of Paul Henreid's (probably over-sized) jacket to play the difficult close-up passagework.

Eleanor Aller played the concertos by "Hollenius" (really Korngold) and the uncredited Haydn for the movie's soundtrack. The cellists playing the cello held between Paul Henreid's legs didn't need to play in tune or make a decent sound because Aller was working her magic through the power of great musicianship and exquisite cello playing.  According to Aller's son (and my recently deceased friend) Fred Zlotkin, Gregor Piatagorsky was considered for the soundtrack, and when that proved not possible, Aller stepped in and did a remarkable job. Fred was also present during the recordings, albeit in utero.

Christine, identified in the movie's first exchanges of dialogue as a pianist and a composer, doesn't seem to have a means of support aside from what Hollenius has given her. As a leading woman in a 1946 film noir, she doesn't have many choices; the only actual power she has at her command (besides playing the piano very well in one scene) is the power to love, withhold love, deceive, or destroy.

My (no longer living) friend Seymour Barab once told me, while we were talking about the role of a composer, "First of all, they should be dead."

The ultimate bit of magic that dead composers can achieve is the way their personalities appear to be somehow present while their music is being played no matter who (or whom) it is doing the playing. They can also appear to be present when a recording is played by human beings that are no longer living. 

The composer's desire to connect with a person or people while writing a piece of music is generally fulfilled in the process of writing (with the object or subject usually not in the room). After the piece is written it then becomes a vehicle for a particular performing musician's self expression, and then a vehicle for any performing musician's self expression. In Deception Hollenius uses his concerto as an instrument of revenge against Christine and her husband.

The cellist Karel Novak declares that after the first performance of the Hollenius Concerto has been played the piece will be his ticket to a great career. Musicians need music to play, for whatever reason. As long as composers are willing and able to provide new music, and audiences have interest in hearing something they haven't heard before, musical culture moves forward, and occasionally careers are made. 

When all is said and done, we have to accept that the emotional substance that fuels a composition (friendship, love, jollity, seasonal zeal, revenge, religious devotion, experimentation, money, response to a text, or a response to a moving or still image) may never really be understood.

And ultimately it doesn't matter.

You can watch a remarkable BBC documentary about Korngold and the Slatkin family hosted by Aller's sons Leonard and Fred that includes a demonstration of the visual cello playing deception right here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Hiking poles and bow arms

Michael and I went on a hike the other day using our brand-new hiking poles. They are nifty light-weight contraptions that collapse, so you can put them in your backpack when you don't need them. We each used only only one.

I held mine in my right hand when there was a steep drop to the right, and in my left hand when there was a steep drop to the left. Because of the nifty wrist strap that I could rest my hand on, I didn't need to "hold" much at all in order to feel secure.

It was as if I were gently resting my arm on a portable banister.

Later while practicing I noticed that I could use the same kind of weight that I used on my "portable banister" to securely feel the bow through the string throughout the bow stroke.

And when playing long passages of repeating sets of sixteenth notes or long tremolo passages (like the ones you find in music by Sibelius), an awareness of only the lightest touch on the "banister" can allow the arm to relax so that it doesn't get too tired too soon.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Meadowmount film from the early 1960s

Back in 2015 I made a post about a U.S. State Department film about Meadowmount that was shot in the early 1960s. I was able to identify a couple of the musicians in the film, and hoped that there might be musicians around who could identify more.

I was thrilled to wake up today to an email message from Sydney Manowitz, the retired concertmaster of the former Southern Sinfonia (of New Zealand) that has since been renamed the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, providing a great deal of further identification.

By the way, and speaking of things New Zealand, Michael and I have been reading stories by the fantastic New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield, who I just learned was a cellist.

If you happened to be around Meadowmount (or Curtis or Juilliard) during the first decades of the 1960s, please have a look at the film (by way the link above), and see if you recognize yourself or some old friends. And if you do, please do leave a comment.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Standing Desk

Michael introduced me to a new study suggesting that sitting for ten hours a day could increase the risk of dementia. After a little hemming and hawing, I thought it might be interesting to explore the idea of using a standing desk.

Fortunately for me a standing desk doesn't need much in the way of height, so I used a modular shelf (that I already had), and propped my computer onto a nifty Glenmorangie box (too nifty a box to ever throw away, in my opinion, and happens to add exactly the right amout of height).

The light is better up here by the window, and I can use a music stand to prop up whatever I happen to be working on.

I also have better head and neck posture, and seem to have an improved attention span. And if I am working on music, I can allow my body to move (what a novel idea).

When I'm finished with my work, I can sit down to take a break.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Enough Is

My resolution for 5784 (this Jewish new year) is simply to remind myself every day (and every once in a while during every day) that enough is.

And that is enough. Happy new year.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Musical Assumptions Posts from Years Past as PDF Files

Now that I have close to twenty years of blog posts here, and with an eye on what the next twenty years might bring (to both the blog format and to me), I have started making yearly digests in PDF form so that everything I have written here doesn't simply disappear into a puff of air.

I toyed with the idea of organizing things into book form and presenting it to a publisher, but I decided not to. I'm not interested in making money (for myself or for a publishing company) from the things I have written in my blog, and I'm certainly not interested in taking it down (which I would probably have to do) after signing a contract that would give all the rights to what I have written in it to a publisher.

In order to keep things in "digestable" chunks, I have left the comments out of the digests. I have also eliminated recipes, posts that have to do with things fully non-musical, and almost all of the pictures. I have not included posts that only reference other posts and websites (many that no longer exist), and have cleaned things up so that everything looks uniform. The posts that I have left off the PDF digest are still accessible by way of the sidebar. Once I finish the digests I will get around to improving the labels (in case you really want to find a recipe or something).

The digest for every year reads from January to December, pretty much in order (in contrast to the way blogs read backwards, with the most recent posts at the top). The files are between 200K and 1000K. I have removed the individual dates of each post, but the pages are all numbered.

Posts from 2005
Posts from 2006
Posts from 2007
Posts from 2008
Posts from 2009
Posts from 2010
Posts from 2011
Posts from 2012
Posts from 2013
Posts from 2014
Posts from 2015
Posts from 2106
Posts from 2017
Posts from 2018
Posts from 2019
Posts from 2020
Posts from 2021
Posts from 2022

Friday, September 15, 2023

Fanfare for Orchestra for Fall

I wrote a piece for four trombones around twenty years ago, and one of the projects I took on in 2020 was to orchestrate it. Seesaw published the trombone piece in 2003, and Subito (which acquired the Seesaw catalog) put my expanded and orchestrated version in their catalog.

The video images are from that beautiful fall of 2020 when all was quiet, and many of us took to walking in the woods to find some sanity.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Internet, the Cafeteria, the Street, and Me

I remember so very clearly when access to the Internet was something that people connected with academic institutions could use. I remember exchanging emails with my mother from my portal at a university radio station and her portal at Mass Art. I remember the first real-time "chat" that I had from three different computers on campus (with Michael and with our friend Norman who now lives in Norway). I remember user groups where I found that there were thousands of people who shared my interests.

I enjoyed lively conversations with people about music and viola playing, and I found a great many people I would otherwise have no access to at "play." I had meaningful email correspondences with many people I met through those user groups.

Once we were able to connect to the internet at home, I started participating in the newly-created blogosphere. The blogosphere was really lively, and it allowed for a very special and meaningful kind of connection. Writing in the blogosphere remained available to anyone to read, just like a website. The way blogs were set up allowed me to post an organized catalog of music I had written, and provide links to the email address of the publisher I worked with (Subito), the WorldCat (where pieces of mine in libraries could be borrowed via interlibrary loan) and the Werner Icking Music Archive, where I shared my arrangements. I was early to the musical blogosphere, and the title "Thematic Catalog" hadn't been taken yet.

I hoped that people interested in music might search for my (accessible in the WIMA for free) arrangement of the Pachelbel Canon and stay to explore the rest of the music.
People certainly love the Pachelbel Canon. I don't know how many people "stayed" to explore some of my own (non-transcription) music, and I guess I never will. I have, however, made friends with musicians everywhere through this catalog.

I was an avid user of the Werner Icking Music Archive, and I contributed many transcriptions in those early years. The recorder player who ran the archive asked me if I would like to make my own music available in the WIMA, and I jumped at the chance. At that point I had around eighty pieces of music published. After my publisher's death (it was Seesaw) its inventory was sold to Subito, and my music, along with the other music in the acquisition was not made available for purchase for what seemed like a very long time.

Eventually the WIMA became too big for one person to maintain, and it was absorbed into a public domain library for choral music. These two public domain libraries became the IMSLP, which has grown into an absolutely indispensable international resource for musicians, scholars, librarians, students, and performing organizations. I still keep most of the music I write there. Here's the IMSLP page for my music.

I mostly use Facebook to let people know about the music that I have posted in the IMSLP, and I do my best in Facebook instrumental groups to respond to queries for music for a specific combination of instruments. I appreciate having the ability to do this. Sometimes I post links to these blog posts there.

My early experiences with Facebook reminded me of going to the cafeteria at Juilliard when taking a break from practicing. Everybody I knew (from school and from elsewhere in my past) seemed to be on Facebook.  Practicing musicians who emerge from the captivity of a practice room seem to have great social needs when they are let out. We work for hours and hours on the art of communicating musical phrases, and sometimes we achieve the joy of having them flow successfully. but that success falls only on our ears, and then it disappears into the ether.

Even the most introverted musicians need, at some point, other people to play for or with or to talk with. 

Why do we do this thing anyway? Isn't it for making connections with our fellow humans? When I was at Juilliard I was starved for people to play with. It was in the cafeteria that those connections were made.

There used to be a separation between what we call "real life" and what we used to think of as "virtual life" (or, as a friend put it "sidebar life"). But in recent years the "real" and the "virtual" have mixed together. During the year or so of isolation from live music that we experienced due to the pandemic, the "virtual" became the "real." For me the time between March of 2020 and March of 2022 was an incredibly creative time. I wrote a lot of music, really learned to play the violin like a violinist rather than like a violist, and found that I did have real connections with people through the internet. My virtual life became mixed with my real life too.

And then we were let out into the world, and "real life" was presented to us again.

Using Facebook is now (at least for me) like walking along a city street filled with billboards and flashing signs advertizing everything that I didn't know I might need. (Who knew that a nail clipper could work as a wire stripper, or that the little hole in it could bend a piece of metal wire into any shape you desire? And what is wrong with the way I eat and the way I dress?) To further distract from the social experience I crave when I take a break from practicing or working, I see photographs and videos of people I do and don’t know in beautiful places, cooking beautiful food, and having great success in their lives. I also see photographs from my "real life" friends that I enjoy. My emotions are all over the place: overstimulation, happiness for my friends, and a sense that that life I lead in "real life" is rather dull (which it really isn't: I have a great life).

Because I have this blog as a place to express myself, I do not post very much on Facebook. And more and more I restrict my participation to commenting and occasionally linking to blog posts that I have written.

I'm so grateful to have this "place" to play.

Saturday, September 09, 2023

Guitarist Yamandu Costa

Yamandu Costa is a household name in Brazil, and he is very well known in Europe, but the concert Michael and I heard him play today was one of only two performances this year for him in the United States.

We feel extremely fortunate to have heard him play at the Ellnora Festival, a guitar festival held every other September at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, which is an hour's drive from our house.

Hearing Yamandu Costa was like a trip to another world: a world of musical expression that stretches the imagination. His instrument is the guitar, but in his hands the guitar is enormous. It holds the whole world of emotion, of energy, of generosity, of virtuosity, of lyricism, and of an expression of love for everything that is Brazil. And everything that is human.

If you get the opportunity to hear him play a concert, go to the concert. I'm so glad we did. I'm also glad that I was able to take this nice portrait of him afterwards.

Friday, September 08, 2023

Nicolas Slonimsky on Johnny Carson in 1986

Make sure to watch him play at the end . . .

Sunday, September 03, 2023

New York City Ballet Orchestra petition for fair wages

I normally don't share petitions here, but this one from NYC Local 802 that demands fair wages and benefits for the people who play night after night in the New York City Ballet Orchestra is really important. This article in Allegro, the magazine of Local 802, explains the situation:
We’re outraged to report that the musicians of the New York City Ballet Orchestra, whose contract expired August 31, are not being offered the wages and healthcare they deserve and are instead being asked to make financial concessions once again.

These musicians bring the magic of live music to the most celebrated dancers, night after night. They are cultural ambassadors who help make New York City the artistic capital of the world.

During the pandemic, ballet management didn’t pay its musicians for over a year, from June 2020 to September 2021. Then, management imposed a 15 percent wage cut on the orchestra, at the musicians’ most vulnerable moment. During this same time period, the NYC Ballet had an endowment that was worth $263 million.

The ballet’s fundraising efforts have been robust and ticket sales have now exceeded 100 percent of pre-pandemic levels. The ballet even received more than $10 million in government support during the pandemic. A fair proposal to musicians would cost only a fraction of the ballet’s operating budget. Yet ballet management refuses to be transparent with financial information to justify its insulting offer to musicians.

To put it bluntly: ballet orchestra musicians are already being paid 9.3 percent less than in 2019. With more than 15 percent inflation, their purchasing power is 23 percent less than in 2019. Musicians and their families have suffered tremendous hardship as a result of this double hit of staggering inflation and the substantial pay cut that management imposed.

We urge the ballet to do the right thing and offer a fair proposal to its musicians that makes up for the sacrifices they were forced to endure during the pandemic — as well as inflation. We’ll do everything in our power to assist the musicians in their fight for the dignity and respect they deserve.
(Don't forget to uncheck the box if you don't want to get follow-up email messages.)

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Discipline and Intuition

I was struck by an idea that Alan Alda presented during one of his "Clear + Vivid" podcast interviews. He was talking with his guest about stand-up comedy, and his guest mentioned a very strict kind of form for improvisation that he learned back in the early days of stand-up comedy. It involved using a phrase suggested by the audience, and that phrase had to occur at a specific time in the improvisation.

Alda added the notion that when you need to use discipline to organize something it stimulates the part of the brain associated with intuition.

This struck many nerves for me, both as a practicing and performing musician and as a composer.

I find that when I record myself practicing something while paying attention mainly to musical flights of fancy (like dynamics, expression, vibrato, sound), it never sounds as musically interesting as it does when I focus mainly on rhythm, maintaining an efficient bow stroke, and concentrating on the physical aspects of the left hand.

When writing a piece of music or making an arrangement I always get my best ideas when I am forced to stay within certain guidelines. Sometimes those guidelines involve avoiding instrumental difficulty, and sometimes those guidelines involve an external organizing force like a piece of film or a particular time frame. Sometimes those guidelines involve making my way from one tonality to another, and sometimes they involve staying within a given form (sometimes of my own creation, and sometimes not).

Twelve-tone music may not be great to listen to (at least the twelve-tone music written by mere mortals), but it is really stimulating to write. All that structure releases a lot of whatever chemical is associated with intuition. But writing scale-based pieces, working out species counterpoint problems, and writing fugues seems to do the same thing for me.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Violist's Shirt Syndrome

Yesterday I repaired my favorite linen shirt. It had gone threadbare in the strangest places: figures 1 and 2 show the patches I put on the back part of the left shoulder (shown from the inside and from the outside of the shirt), and figures 3 and 4 show the patches I put under the right arm (again from the inside and from the outside of the shirt). I made my patches from material that I cut from the length of the shirt (which was really too long for me anyway).

Today, after I donned the shirt and saw myself practicing in the mirror, I finally figured out why these areas were worn so badly. The shoulder is where my viola sits, and the stress under the right arm is from the motion of bowing, which pulls ever so slightly at the fabric, but does so constantly.

Monteverdi's Zefiro

One of the first recordings I pilfered from the tiny collection (maybe twenty) of records that my parents had was Noah Greenberg's 1954 recording of vocal music of Monteverdi with the New York Pro Musica. I was fourteen, and had just gotten a record player for my room (a KLH reconditioned from summer use in the Tanglewood music library--maybe a model 19 because it had a 16 r.p.m. speed). It was, as I recall, the first year that we had a working record player in the house (my father got one too--his was an AR). My love affair with Monteverdi has been going strong for half a century. "Zefiro" was the first piece on that record.
Ten years ago I posted a video of a wonderful performance of this piece by L'arpeggiata Ensemble, and this week I made an arrangement of it for strings.
[August 28, 2023]

You can find the music on this page of the IMSLP.

Monday, August 28, 2023

Nobody in the orchestra is looking at Lennie!

I guess that he is doing his "thing" for the people singing in the chorus, but I find it amusing that nobody in the orchestra is looking at Leonard Bernstein. The presence of two harps and the two female soloists tells me that this is Mahler's Second Symphony, the sky and the white orchestral attire tell me that this was a Sunday afternoon concert at Tanglewood, and a quick search of the Boston Symphony Archives tells me that the year was 1970. I can name every one of the musicians playing, even from behind.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Oy! I have been AI'd

I just found out that some non-living entity created a profile of me that has nothing to do with reality. I'm not putting the link here, because I don't want it to register any page views. But I can't resist sharing the fact that in its most generic spewing of gobbledygook this "entity" didn't get anywhere remotely close to whatever it is that I do or have done. And the pieces this bot randomly picked up off the beaches of the internets that it claims are my "notable works" are not the names of pieces that I have written.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Alla Nazimova

I just finished writing music for Salomé's dance in Alla Nazimova's 1922 or 1923 silent movie Salome that is based on Oscar Wilde's 1891 play. My setting of the dance is for a collaborative project that will be finished in March, so I can't share my work now, but I will share it here eventually.

As is my custom, I tend to jump feet first into a project like this, going for the emotional substance of the film without doing any research. So now, unable to really let go of the music (which still runs through my head), I'm learning something about Alla Nazimova, who made the film (she was the producer and co-director as well as the star).

Fortunately there is an Alla Nazimova Society website that is full of information about her.
I love the article I found there concerning one of the wigs she wore in the film.

Nazimova seems to be an inspiration for Norma Desmond's character in Sunset Boulevard (made by Billy Wilder in 1950) since Desmond refers to portraying Salomé on film (you can watch that clip here). I don't think that Theda Bara's portrayal would have come to mind since her 1918 film was lost (except for a two-minute highlight reel that only came to light recently).

Alla Nazimova was born in Yalta (in Crimea) in 1879 as Adelaida Yakovlevna Leventon, and died in 1945 in Los Angeles. Once billed as the world's greatest actress, she is also (posthumously) considered the "founding mother of Sapphic Hollywood." She was also a violinist.

Alla's father hid the fact that the family was Jewish, and would not let his daughter perform as a violinist under her family name (her father was a merchant, and having his daughter perform as a musician would damage his reputation), so she took the performing name of Nazimova after a character in a popular novel (Children of the Streets). She went to Moscow when she was seventeen to study acting with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, who was associated with Konstantin Stanislavski.

Nazimova left Russia for New York in 1905, met an agent, and became a star on Broadway (and a customer of Caswell-Massey, which has a beautiful tribute to her). She made her first silent film in 1916, and then headed off to Los Angeles to make more.

Salomé is extremely rich in visual and dramatic content. The (slightly edited from the original) dance section that I set starts about forty-one minutes in, and lasts for about ten minutes. I find (for obvious reasons) the music that goes with the version of the film that I linked to above distracting, so I prefer watching it with the sound turned off. Maybe some day I will set the whole film.

The Wikipedia article about the film mentions that it was the last film that Nazimova produced, and may have been the first "art" film made in the United States. It was not associated with any studio and was considered a failure at the time. The benefit of that kind of "failure" means that it can have a life as one of the treasures that remain in the public domain. You might enjoy following the links in the Wikipedia entry to learn about the film's cast (I certainly did).

Unlike Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Nazimova had a vibrant career in sound films and in the theater after her life as a silent film actress and producer.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Orchestral Island

The experience of a single-day orchestral concert with a rehearsal in the morning and a performance at night is, for me, kind of like being on an orchestral island. It is like an island in time, and can be a remarkable experience, particularly when it involves music that is both great and challenging to play well.

This past Saturday I had the chance to play a concerto concert that was part of a piano festival at the University of Illinois. The orchestra was full of friends, some I hadn't seen for many months, and some I hadn't seen for a year, and the music we played (the first movements of the Mozart Piano Concerto #17, the Schumann Piano Concerto, the first Rachmaninoff Concerto, and all of the Gershwin Concerto) was terrific. Three of the soloists were students at the festival, and the pianist who played the Gershwin was on the festival faculty.

My "normal" orchestral playing mindset (when there are rehearsals over a number of days) is to have the music running in my head in the "background" while I am doing other things, and in the "foreground" when I am practicing for the concert. It often runs through my head when I am trying to sleep. But after the concert is over there is kind of a "dump" that happens, and other things take over, like music I am writing, or non-concert music that I am practicing.

But in this case I haven't had the chance for the music to run its course in my mind (partially because for three of the pieces we only played the first movements), so I have an extended medley of the exposition of the Mozart followed by various passages from the opening, middle, and ending of the Schumann, the hard enharmonic passages and nice viola melodies from the Rachmaninoff, and one exciting passage after another from the Gershwin.

It is nearly midnight, and I'm writing this post now so that when it is finished I can stop thinking about both the music from the concert and about writing a post about it.

So here we are.

But the experience on Orchestral Island also involves the tremendous kind of interpersonal communication that goes on when forty or fifty musicians spend their rehearsal time in fully-focused concentration. The like-mindedness and connection that happens during the four or five hours of playing together is like nothing else in the world. And when you mix in really great soloists, and a conductor who really understands the music and is capable of communicating that understanding, it is really difficult to return to the "normal" life of a solitary musician.

Maybe that is why the music keeps running through my head. It was such a positive experience for me that in spite of the mental and physical stress connected with learning my part quickly, and the really hard work and concentration that is involved with playing a concerto program on such a small amount of rehearsal time, I really didn't want it to end.

But now this blog post has come to an end. Maybe I'll be able to get some sleep.

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Forest Near Ingolstadt for Soprano, Cello, and Piano

The text of this piece is adapted from chapter eleven of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the only passage in the novel that I find appropriate for a musical setting.

It takes place in the moment that the monster becomes aware of his senses. He experiences pleasure when seeing the moon, and can contrast that pleasure with his feelings of hunger and thirst. He notices that over time day turns into night and back into day. He also notices the sounds of birds. He tries to imitate them, but can't.
[March 11, 2023]

The music and a computer-generated recording are available on this page of the IMSLP. You can also listen here. The piece is in three movements, and lasts around thirteen minutes.

The New Grown-Ups Treehopper

Our son Ben Leddy and his Boston-based band have just released a recording, and I think it is fantastic. Make sure to listen to "Goodbye," which Ben wrote when he was a teenager, and sings with the perspective of an adult (and with such a beautiful voice). The instrumental playing is really remarkable too. All of it.

I'm so proud to be the mother of one of the New Grown-Ups.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Meditation on the best-known musical Méditation

I think that the best known musical meditation is the one from Jules Massenet's 1894 Opera Thaïs. The action that accompanies this piece happens offstage, when Thäis leaves her life as a pleasure-seeking courtesan, and enters religious life. After the Méditation, the monk Athanaël, who had persuaded Thäis to convert, realizes that he is in love with her.

The Méditation is set for solo violin, two harps, winds, and a chorus of closed-mouth singers. For my transcription for viola and piano I transposed the piece into G major (a fifth lower), and rewrote the piano part to better reflect the colors, pitches, and motion of the original score.

Martin Pierre Marsik's piano reduction of the Méditation was published by Heugel in 1894, and I imagine it was approved by Massenet. But Marsik's piano reduction doesn't sound very good transposed a fifth lower, and a need for a setting of the piece for viola and piano wasn't on anybody's radar during Massenet's lifetime.

Just for a lark, after making my viola and piano edition, I made a personal copy transposed back into the original key, and when I played it on the violin with a pianist friend, it felt better to play with than the Marsik piano reduction. But I guess I am a bit biased.

My edition is now available from the International Music Company (and will be among the new issues on this page soon), and I am very grateful that they respected my choice to rewrite the piano part.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023


In the ten years since I wrote a post about Bartolomeo Campagnoli's Opus 22 Caprices for Viola and their relationship to the solo violin music of Johann Sebastian Bach, more of Campagnoli's work has been uploaded to the IMSLP. I was thrilled to find his five-volume Opus 21 Violin Method, which has, to my surprise and delight, violin versions of a handful of his viola caprices in the more advanced volumes.

Dedicated to the Duke of Cambridge, this lavish book has 132 progressive duets, and 118 solo violin etudes.

I like the above engraving of Campagnoli so much more than this wigged portrait:
While playing through the viola caprices this week (informed with my new knowledge about the differences between my bow arm when playing the violin and the viola), I observed that these caprices are not pieces to teach students how to play the viola. They are pieces written for violinists with advanced technique to help them learn what they have to do in order to play the viola well.

I'm excited about exploring all of the Campagnoli in the IMSLP:
Most interesting to me is the piece L'Illusion de la viole d'amour, Op.16 that is under the "compositions" tab. Unfortunately there is only one of the two parts available there. Maybe in another ten years the other part will come to light.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Long Tones and Summer Band Camp

It is band camp season in my university town. Summer after summer we hear hours of long tones played in unison on the fields adjacent to our neighborhood. And the percussionists work with an ultra-loud metronome.

I wonder if the improvement that band camp students experience in their playing during the week of camp is because of sustained (ha! what a pun) long tone practice.

During the school year, when a band rehearsal might last for a fifty-minute-long class period, there is simply not enough time for an extensive and leisurely long tone warm-up. At camp it becomes a community meditation, where you can turn off your brain, open up your breathing mechanism, and open your ears.

I imagine that during the school year most middle school and high school band students don't spend a hour of their after-school time practicing long tones, particularly when they have scales and etudes to practice and pieces to learn.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

DIY Roku Streaming Stick Extender Supporter

We have a "dumb" TV, and all access to the world via said "dumb" TV comes to us through a fiber optic network.

We use a Roku stick and an extender (which I believe we got for free), because the plain stick gets very hot very quickly when connected.

The problem with the stick and the extender is that things get heavy on the back end, and instead of providing an aesthetically preferable right angle, we have at least the look of instability distracting us from our viewing experiences.

My solution? Three black hair ties and one Command brand adhesive hook.

Thursday, July 06, 2023

Of plumb bobs and bow arms

I believe that my violin playing has improved significantly since my attention to my right arm while practicing has been "in the toilet."

[See this post for reference]

But upon returning to serious viola practice (my mother, or perhaps father tongue), I noticed that keeping the bow stick lower than the arm simply doesn't work if I want to make the sound that is in my ear. With my eyes glued to the mirror, I notice that the bow stick feels and sounds best when I have it either at an equal level to my arm, or in some cases a little bit higher. Instead of feeling that my right hand is like a weightless ball floating in a toilet tank, it feels (staying with plumbing water metaphors) more like there is a gently weighted plumb bob hanging somewhere between my forearm and my elbow, and my hand, while not being tense, responds slightly to that weight.
Except for the fact that moving around on a smaller instrument is easier, my left hand feels pretty much the same on both the violin and the viola (I have large hands for my height, broad fingers, and a square palm). I have always known that I had to do things differently with the right hand in order to sound natural on the violin, but until yesterday I never knew exactly what.

Practicing the Campagnoli Opus 22 Caprices with a viola-specific (perhaps my viola-specific) stick-to-arm relationship provides mind-expanding bow-arm-height awareness.

[N.B. The violist Paul Silverthorne gently pointed out to me that plumb bobs are not used in plumbing, although both come from plumbum which is Latin for lead.]