4 Trombones


Paris, 2014 Arnold Schoenberg gave Rudolf Serkin an assignment. (This story is hearsay; worthy of attention, in my opinion.) Consider the opening of Mozart's A-Minor piano sonata, Schoenberg asked Serkin. What is the right instrumentation for this music, if it were to be scored for orchestral instruments? Mozart: Sonata in A Minor, KV 310 (300d) Serkin's answer included an oboe playing the upper melody line, and strings taking the … [Read more...]



The story told by Robert Levin involved snickering Italian waiters. Bob asked quite a few Italian speakers, "What does sfogato mean?" (An Italian-English dictionary will say something like “letting loose.”) The motivation for Levin's particular curiosity was the use of the term in the score of Chopin's Barcarolle (m. 78). It's a word that doesn't appear in (earlier) piano music. Frédéric Chopin: Barcarolle In this written music, "sfogato" … [Read more...]

What if?


What if our classical music is really much more varied, confusing, and more disorderly than we make it sound in playing today? What if the wordless instrumental music of Mozart and Beethoven encodes and encloses so many references to the specifics and generalities of living Italian comic opera that we're in the dark without it? What if in the great regularizing of the bow, the beat, subdivisions, fingerings, registers high and low, we … [Read more...]