Skinning A Cat, Beethoven Style

Conductor Bill Eddins posted a terrific blog on 2/22/2012 that lambasts the concept of right and wrong interpretations via recordings. Coincidentally, regular Adaptistration guest author, Chris Blair, sent me an email on the same day with a link to a YouTube video that provides a chronological survey of the opening chords of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3; from 1924 through 2011.

So, just in case you find yourself getting sucked into the fixed artistic interpretation bear trap Eddins’ describes just pull up that YouTube vid to remember there’s more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to artistic interpretation.

Update

Here’s another great chronological survey but this time it’s all about Siegmund’s Valse cry from Walkure (thanks for sending along the link Bill!):

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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0 thoughts on “Skinning A Cat, Beethoven Style

  1. The historic trend is ever-higher A’s. Concert A-440 was not actually “standardized” until a London Conference in 1939. A previous attempt to standardize pitch was in Paris in 1859 when A-435 was chosen. Period bands these days might be heard as low as A-426 which I think (not sure) is the frequency ascribed to Handel’s tuning fork.

    I think BostonSymphony has floated up to around A-442 in the past few decades.

    (It was a lot easier to sing Handel’s high notes back then…Beethoven’s too)

  2. I think Boston was A-444. When Met Opera clarinetist Gino Cioffi went to Boston during the Munch era, he refused to put shorter barrels on his clarinets. Good as he was, he always sounded a little flat.

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