Auditions in 1948

Discussion in 'Orchestra / Solo / Chamber Music' started by abbedd, Oct 20, 2005.

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  1. abbedd

    abbedd Pianissimo User

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    I was reading an online interview with Johnny Ware. He said that the auditions for Assistant/Third for the NY Phil in 1948 was Music Director Bruno Walter telling Vacchiano (The Principal) to get anybody he wanted.


    I just wonder if this is a more effective way of filling a section chair, thinking musically not politically, than today's behing the curtain method


    Abbedd
     
  2. uatrmpt

    uatrmpt Piano User

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    I wonder if that might not result in more politically movtivated hiring. Talk about a chance for the "Good 'ole boy" network to operate!
     
  3. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

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    The method you describe is essentially why we have screened auditions now, (i.e. it's completely unfair).

    Do you feel the current method is ineffective? Are you dissatisfied with those musicians that have attained their positions through blind auditions?
     
  4. abbedd

    abbedd Pianissimo User

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    yes and no. I think that some musicians just can't play auditions well. Some do and then can't cut it in the orchestra. The curtain does not eliminate politics.

    Listen to Lenny's 1966 recording of Mahler's First. Compare it to what was on TV last month. There is something seriously wrong. What it is, is anybody's guess.

    Abbedd
     
  5. tpter1

    tpter1 Forte User

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    I heard that performance last month, too, and was also a bit let down, but came at that from a bit of a different perspective: that the conductor was doing things with tempi and fermati that just didn't sit well.

    One performance, however, does not in my opinion make a statement about the fairness or unfairness of the current audition process. They were having an off night; simple as that.

    Up here, the local professional ensembles are chosen pretty much in the manner you recommend. It does not always work to the benefit of the ensemble. The audition process, although imperfect, creates a better sense of anonymity so that favoritism is harder to employ as a hiring process. Also, if a really good player moves into the area, nobody knows, and the player does not get the gigs. Or, as in my case, if you need to have a sub so you can do your school concert, you never get called by the orchestra to play again. (The MD is kind of, well, akin to certain anatomical aspects that are uniquely male).

    p.s.: In private, casual conversation, I also refer to Maestro Bernstein as Lenny, as most of us probably do. But in a forum such as this, where there are pros who have worked with him, I would try to be a bit more respectful in my address unless informed otherwise.
     
  6. abbedd

    abbedd Pianissimo User

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    The pros who worked with Maestro Bernstein called him Lenny. That was the type of guy he was. I don't think he would mind.

    Abbedd
     
  7. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

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    Your point is well taken - certainly auditioning requires its own set of skills, and they are in some ways quite different from playing in the orchestra itself.

    However, the instances of people winning an audition and then not keeping their spot are actually pretty rare - it usually seems to happen (when it does) to principal players. This is to some degree understandable, as the requirements of a solo wind player are very wide-ranging and difficult to fully ascertain from an audition.

    Your point about the screen not eliminating politics is confusing. What are you saying, that the antiquated method you referred to earlier is still actually happening? If that were the case, then wouldn't that nullify your argument?

    As to your review of the NYP telecast, I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts in more detail - not having been able to see it myself. What do you think, really, is "seriously wrong"?
     
  8. abbedd

    abbedd Pianissimo User

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    Sep 21, 2005
    Re today's NY Phil They are a second rate orchestra. None of the wind sections are homogeneous from principal to section members. The sections play different styles from section to section.

    This is what happens when the wrong type of technique is adjudicted in auditions. The orchestral parts are not that hard. What is hard is to have the technique to match your principal or the other principals

    And forgive me for my opinions but you asked:

    Phil Smith is the coldest player I have ever heard. There is more to Music than notes. Bring back the Vach or Schwarz or better yet Johnny Ware

    Phil Meyers sounds like a refugee from the Paris Con from the 50s when he plays piano and he blasts without any character of sound while playing forte. Especailly since he switched to a yellow brass horn. Do any of the other wind principals play with a very wide vibrato. He sticks out like a sore thumb

    Don Harwood is Mr. Splatt and always was. His teacher, John Clark was a brass giant

    My apologies to Mr Allesi if Maazel made him do it, but his attacks on the televised New World was that of a rank amatuer. Listen to Neil DiBiase on Toscanini's recording or Eddie Herman's on Lenny's

    Abbedd
     
  9. robertwhite

    robertwhite Mezzo Piano User

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    Abbedd, you are certainly entitled to your opinions. I might only add that I think a few people on this forum may, just may, disagree with your assertions. But thanks for sharing! :lol:
     
  10. CGUM

    CGUM Pianissimo User

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    Just out of curiousity, What current orchestra's do YOU consider to be first tier? Or do you only look at the past?
    And if you could offer why you make your choices would also be great. I'm not looking to start a flame war but since Abbedd has offered his honest opinon on a recent NYP broadcast I would like to know what he thinks.

    CG
     
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