Salieri

Among the entries in the death register of Vienna’s St. Stephen’s cathedral there are to be found two Italian names of some significance in musical history. One – Antonio Vivaldi – is justly famous; the other – Antonio Salieri –  unjustly infamous. Vivaldi had come to Vienna late in life, lured (possibly) by hopes of imperial patronage. The move […]

Rott

Vienna’s long musical history has encompassed a number of fascinating what-ifs. What if Mozart hadn’t died at only 35? Or Schubert at 31? Or Hans Rott at the even more tragically early age of 25? Hans Rott?? You can read his (perforce) short biography here. Together with Schubert and Schönberg, he was one of the few […]

Getting (and keeping) it together

You’ve studied the score, understood the ‘topography’ of the piece, decided on the ‘correct’ tempo for each movement, and so on. Now it’s time to put the whole thing together and, working with the orchestra, sort out details of articulation, dynamic, ensemble and balance, and how to negotiate any difficult corners that the work presents. Here, […]

HIPsters

HIPsters? No, not what you’re thinking, but a word – I’m rather proud(?) of it – that I’ve coined myself. HIPsters are people who favour Historically Informed Performance (aka ‘authentic’ performance or period performance). Notice the inverted commas around the word ‘authentic’. They’re there because, as critics of the term point out, before the invention of the wax cylinder, […]

What’s the score?

Of course it’s pretty vital that a conductor has an overall sense of a work. A composer’s (sometimes!) carefully constructed opus – a climax here, rest points there – can easily be wrecked by maladroit stick waving and/or misplaced peaks or troughs. So, if there’s no handy composer around to ask (they’re pretty often dead); and, while […]