Blog Archives

An article from Janet Horvath

Not only is Janet Horvath the author of Playing (Less) Hurt, a guide to avoiding and healing injuries acquired whilst playing musical instruments, she also writes bright, contemporary and amusing articles about the world of classical music! Janet has kindly let us post some of her articles.  Read more from Janet here.

 

Reach Out, Freak Out?

by Janet Horvath

There’s a storm brewing in classical music. The quandary:
#1 how far are we willing to go to achieve reaching out? Can we pursue change without freaking out our musicians and loyal concert attendees?
#2 how do we remedy the erroneous expectations and misconceptions regarding attending a performance in a concert hall or opera house?
#3 how do we entice more people to classical music concerts when knowledge about, and interest in classical music might be dwindling due to cut backs in music education?

There are two camps— those who feel that we have to reach out at all costs to younger audiences and those who steadfastly want to keep the traditions unchanged.

There certainly have been some strange goings-on in the classical world of late in both camps! The Seattle Symphony was taken by surprise when a YouTube went viral on Twitter. They, like many symphony orchestras, have been dancing on a trapeze— attempting to keep patrons happy while trying to attract new audiences. Several women were asked to come onstage to dance during a song of Sir Mix-A-Lot with the Seattle Symphony. The short video features a 38-year-old audience member now known as “the lady in the black dress.” Needless to say, it was Ms. Shawn Bound’s first time at the hall leading to millions of views and considerable controversy. A gimmick? A spectacle? Would you see it as fun or shocking? I wonder what the musicians thought.

The San Francisco Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Pacific Symphony and the Dayton Opera have something in common— Tweet seats. Tweeting from a designated section of the concert hall during the performance is a strategy to lure young people to concerts in the hope that it will seem more interactive. (See link below for a conversation about this.) One camp certainly finds this a dastardly distraction.

Recently, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, Tom Morris, invited the audience to bring their drinks to the front of the stage during an ‘accessible and informal’ performance of Handel’s Messiah saying, “Clap or whoop when you like, and no shushing other people.” American chemist and Royal Society research fellow in London, Dr. David Glowacki, attended the concert but he took the go ahead a step too far by attempting to crowd-surf. I must admit I had to look up the term— crowd surfing, is the process in which a person is passed above everyone’s heads during a concert, with other members of the audience supporting the person’s weight.

Attendees were so irritated, that they physically ejected the academic from the performance. Morris claims it is the first such incident at a classical concert since the 18th century. What to do? He is reluctant to re-instate the oftentimes strict rules of concert etiquette, which he hoped to ditch.

A new use for duct tape in opera, the genre that can be dignified or outlandish makes me feel like we’ve now seen it all. Atthis by Georg Friedrich Haas, is an opera based on writings of the Greek poet Sappho, depicting a fraught relationship between the poet and a student. Ms. Greif, soprano, said in an interview after the end of the run of Atthis, “There could be numerous occasions to be nude in opera. But I thought this one was especially fine on so many different levels.”

“The soprano came to the front of the stage stepped out of her dress and began to tear off the metallic-looking strips of duct tape that girded her naked torso— a close-up of what must be one of the most searingly painful and revealing operatic performances in recent times,” wrote The New York Times. Sounds like it!

Several orchestras are experimenting with putting large screens onstage for projections. The Minnesota Orchestra recently performed a work by Kevin Puts, his Symphony No. 4,From Mission San Juan, a multimedia installation. Sensing devices and sonic inputs gather live data that triggers visual images specific to this music, which are projected on a backdrop behind the orchestra. A performance was free to the public— part of the Northern Sparks Arts Festival hosted by the University of Minnesota—an overnight of arts exhibits and presentations both inside and out in different venues all over the city. Even my son and his friends were talking about it!

There are several artists who are extending the boundaries of their playing, “crossing over” into world music like Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble and more popular music such as Maya Beiser, cellist. Singers Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, violinist David Garrett, and Stjepan Hauser and Luka Sulić of 2Cellos are the rage.

Still there are classical musicians and loyal audiences that feel degraded by the popularization of the art. Starting with the indignation of cell phones ringing in the concert hall and the ongoing subject of the dress code, behavior code, clapping code and maintaining silence code, feathers are ruffled at the slightest deviation from tradition.

There has always been a place for experimental music, which at times has caused riotous reactions as far back as Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring premier, but other genres have been able to evolve into contemporary arts. How does classical music shed the label of being stuck in tails in the distant past? This May there was proof that it is possible—even without the gimmicks, technologies and stunts. Washington D.C’s Kennedy Center Concert Hall was packed with all types—young and old, dressed up and dressed down, novices and aficionados. The audience roared with joy after the performance. Arvo Pärt’s music, performed by the superlative Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, and the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, is proof that contemporary music can be riveting and moving. So it is possible. The two opposing camps can unite.

How My Cello Found Me

Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath, author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is an excerpt from her blog on Interlude.

My Cello and Me — We Were Made for Each Other

I was smitten from the first moment. Finding an instrument is like finding your soul mate — you know it instantly.

I was twenty- two- years old and had just been accepted to Janos Starker’s elite class at Indiana University. My parents understood that I needed a better instrument. With trepidation they sent me to New York with a long list of dealers to see. (The only reason they even considered the idea was that my aunt lived in New York. I would stay with her.)

I decided to start at the top — why not? I happily traipsed to the famed dealership Jacques Français known to have the best selection of quality instruments. He was elegantly French — over six feet tall, impeccably dressed and haughty. A vast carpeted showroom appeared before me. The walls were lined with instruments and virtually all the small rooms to try them were filled to overflowing. Well that didn’t stop me. I introduced myself unabashedly to Mr. Français saying I wanted to try cellos — telling him a price-range that was higher than my parents intended.

Français brought me several cellos. I grabbed a chair, parked myself in the enormous anteroom and started to play. The place was packed — what else could I do? The first instrument I tried — Italian, honey colored, with a rich golden tone to match — was the one.

Keep reading on Interlude

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

Envy the Cellist

JanetHorvath_019Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath, author of Playing Less Hurt. Read more about cello envy on her blog at Interlude.

Why I Love the Cello

Because it is me. Because it is the closest sound to the human voice. Because I can engulf it with my body in an embrace. Because when I tell people that I play the cello they say, “ Oh! I love the cello. It makes me cry.”

The demeanor of the cello is complex and varied. The room resonates with the low baritone counterpoint notes; sears the soul with amorous melodies. The cello can dazzle with virtuosic flights of fancy in its uppermost range. The cello soothes and inspires; stirs and arouses.

Our playing position is quite natural. We don’t have to contort our bodies to play the cello — not like poor violinists who must unnaturally twist their left arms, and on top of that, hold the instrument under their chins.

Other performers have cello envy. They even steal our repertoire. It is not unusual to hear the Bach Solo Cello Suites on — heaven forbid — the trombone, or The Swan, from the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens on the double bass. (Shouldn’t they just stick to The Elephant?) The piccolo player must play shrill high passages; some people snicker at the bassoon players — leaving so bassoon?
If your electronic device goes off you will be forced to play the bassoon! 

The violists are typically relegated to play the oomm- pah-pah of a piece of music and other boring accompaniment figures. Rarely does a composer throw them a bone — a short melody once in a while. Viola players are the brunt of jokes too — How is lightning like a violist’s fingers? Neither one strikes in the same place twice.

And pity the pianist who has to learn a vast repertoire of music, performing entirely from memory.

Keep reading at Interlude!

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

Ravel’s Boléro

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Here is an excerpt from her blog on Interlude.

In touch with Ravel’s Boléro

by Janet Horvath

Music lovers and musicians adore the music of Frenchman Maurice Ravel. Whether it’s his moving Pavane for a Dead Princess or his more esoteric String Quartet, his colorful orchestral work La Valse or his dazzling piano concertos (one of which is for the left hand only), he was considered an innovative and inventive composer of the impressionist period along with his co-patriots Debussy and Fauré.

One of his most famous pieces is Boléro — a one-movement orchestral piece. Ravel originally composed the work as a ballet commissioned by the Russian ballerina Ida Rubinstein. Ravel decided to try something new and controversial with this piece —to use one insistent melody with a recurring incessant rhythm.

The première at the Paris Opéra in 1928 was a sensation. Choreographed by Nijinska, a gypsy dances on a table surrounded by men in an inn in Spain — a stunning and seductive theatrical experience. Choreographer Maurice Béjart’s “Bolero” is one of his most well-known and popular ballets. In 1979 he decided to have a man dance the central character surrounded by women. There is a third version consisting of all men. The impact of the work is quite different as the gender changes.

Boléro is frequently performed as an orchestral piece. Boléro’s hypnotic snare drum beat and inexorable climax never fails to bring the house down. How does Ravel achieve this with merely one melody and one continuous rhythm?

Keep reading on Interlude!

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

The Magic of Amateur Musicians

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is a post she did for her blog on Interlude.

We professionals rarely, if ever read through music for fun. We are too busy preparing music. I avoid sight-reading, if I can. I am a professional musician after all! I take pride in preparation, precision and perfection. I delve beyond the mere notes on the page to reach the heady heights of interpretation with the ultimate goal of a thoughtful, insightful performance. Besides, we judgmental professionals only play in front of others, especially other colleagues, when we are certain that our playing will be impeccable.

My colleagues and I go through mountains of music. Our concentration, our emotions and our physiological abilities are taxed to the limit and we push our bodies physically sometimes to the breaking point. We agonize over every note and every phrase. We analyze each nuance to attain the ultimate interpretation of the music at hand. I’ve always thought this was essential for music-making, that is until I had the privilege of experiencing the Magic of Amateurs.

Each year for the last sixty years, hundreds of avid chamber music aficionados from far and wide have gathered for intensive chamber music playing at the Chamber Music Conference and Composer’s Forum of the East in Bennington, Vermont. These are amateur musicians, many of whom are quite accomplished players, who ultimately chose other careers and whose great passion in life is to make music.

Not a moment is wasted. They eagerly race from building to building and room to room, instruments in hand, choosing from the vast library of chamber music on hand arranged alphabetically, in large Tupperware containers spread across a huge hallway organized by size and instrumentation of the group—virtually everything for two to 10 players. The musicians read music from morning until night with nary a breath taken.

As guest faculty and lecturer I was invited to present my injury prevention seminar—Playing (Less) Hurt, coaching individuals who may have technical issues or issues of discomfort. I also was to post my “dance card” allowing the attendees to sign up to play chamber music with me. “Sure,” I’d said, “I’d be happy to play a few things.…” after all I too am passionate about chamber music. Little did I know what was in store for me.

Keep reading this article on Interlude!

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

Page Turning Horror Stories

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is a post she did for her blog on Interlude.

I was sixteen years old when I was first asked to turn pages. A fabulous young violinist was making his Toronto recital debut. I was thrilled to be allowed to purchase my first long gown for the occasion— it was lime green. I was an accomplished pianist. I could follow the music –no problem, I thought! The violinist turned out to be Pinchas Zuckerman and little did I know when I was recruited, that every time there was a red star in the piano music, I would have to gracefully and quietly get up from the piano to turn Zuckerman’s violin page and hurry back to the piano to (hopefully) find my place in the fast moving piano part. It didn’t help that I am quite petite. I donned the highest heeled shoes that I could find. Each turn, I nervously stretched across, teetering to the far right of the page, trying hard not to end up in the pianist’s lap.

Christine Newland, a cellist friend of mine, has a similar story. Her first page- turning experience was for Daniel Barenboim at the request of his wife, the great cellist Jacqueline du Pré, for a recital. Christine was not confident that she could read the piano part well enough. She decided to follow the cello part, which is typically written above the piano score. Christine paid close attention to the instructions from Barenboim, to turn early, as most pianists read far ahead. Christine followed orders. Turn early…. As she flipped the first page, she was stunned when one of Barenboim’s hands flew forward. He noisily slapped the page back all the while playing multitudes of notes. After several more seconds Barenboim hastily turned the page himself. Much later Christine was told that Barenboim could be brutal with his page-turners.

Keep reading this article on Interlude!

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

Bronislaw Huberman and the formation of the Israeli Philharmonic

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is a blog post she did on her blog at Interlude.

The legendary violinist and peace activist Bronislaw Huberman was born in Poland December 19, 1882 of Jewish parents. His prodigious talent was manifest at a very early age and it soon became evident that he needed the best teacher in Europe. In 1892 his parents took him to Berlin to study with the pre-eminent and irascible violin teacher Joseph Joachim. Even though the ten-year-old child dazzled Joachim, the teacher and student didn’t get along. When Huberman turned fourteen he left his teacher to begin touring as a virtuoso, never returning to study.

Huberman’s extraordinary career took him all over Europe including in Palestine in 1929. The land mesmerized him and his hope was to establish culture and classical music there. As the dark days of the Nazi party loomed in the 1930’s Huberman presaged the horrific fate of the Jewish people. Hitler’s agenda made itself more and more evident between 1933 -1936. Huberman made extreme efforts to save Jewish musicians and get them out of Europe. He declined invitations to perform in Germany with the prominent conductor Wilhelm Furwängler and he dared speak out to the German intelligentsia in an open letter pleading for adherence to the essential values of empathy and humanity.

Foreseeing the immense tragedy unfolding before his eyes, Huberman attempted to raise funds and awareness for an orchestra in Palestine.

Huberman performed countless concerts all over the world and in October of 1934, he traveled to America to play an amazing forty-two concerts in sixty days. He performed with the New York Philharmonic, Bruno Walter conducting and chamber music with famed pianist Arthur Schnabel. After recording, one day, Huberman met John Royal from NBC for lunch. Huberman waxed eloquent about his dream for the Palestine Orchestra. When he asked Royal who he thought should conduct the first performance of the orchestra Royal replied, “Why not ask Toscanini to conduct for you?” Huberman had not expected an enthusiastic response from the great maestro. But Toscanini was a pre-eminent figure in the anti-fascist movement. Due to his firm beliefs he had refused to conduct at the Wagner festival in Bayreuth in 1933. Toscanini thought that the performance of an “orchestra of émigrés” would be a powerful anti-Nazi statement.

Keep reading this article on Interlude!

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

Follies of Music Fans

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is a blog post she write for Interlude.

Fans come in all shapes and sizes. They can be famous actors, artists themselves, and family members. We musicians tend to love our fans. Sometimes, their love of us can be requited.

My husband, a huge music devotee, has always fantasized about walking onstage and sitting in the midst of the orchestra, rubbing shoulders with the performers and engulfing himself in the sound. Hearing my stories was the closest he could come until the year that the Minnesota Orchestra’s annual Symphony Ball, a major fund-raising event, included an item in the silent auction, an opportunity to sit onstage during a performance. During the dinner the evening of the ball I excused myself time after time to run to the room where the bidding took place. My husband was confused by my frequent disappearances but he is always discrete so he politely kept silent. I was determined to win this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. What a memorable birthday gift it would be. By the end of the evening after upping the ante several times, I had out-bid the other people vying for this auction item.

My husband was giddy when he discovered that he would be able to choose the concert he would participate in. Of course it had to be Beethoven Symphony #9. He fantasized about humming along with the chorus! He proudly donned the requisite tails and white cummerbund. The orchestra was bemused, as he made his entrance head held high. My husband was seated onstage wedged in between the trumpet section and the chorus. He certainly looked the part. Lucky for us and for Beethoven, my husband had a sore throat that evening so he couldn’t regale us with his slightly off-key singing!

Alec Baldwin is a lover of the New York Philharmonic and like every other ordinary enthusiast he was a frequent ticket buyer. In a 2008 interview for New Yorker Magazine he confessed that he had a secret desire to appear on radio as a classical music host. Dreams sometimes come true. The New York Philharmonic now has Baldwin announce on the air and even at concerts. He is the one who reminds audience members to turn off their cell phones before a performance, in a friendly voice of course.

Keep reading this post on Interlude.

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

Golden Age of Violinists Part II

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less HurtBelow is a post she did on Interlude.

Milstein and Heifetz are but two violinists comprising the golden age of violinists. A discussion would not be complete without including David Oistrakh, Fritz Kreisler, Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern.

Heifetz and his teacher Leopold Auer were viewed as traitors by their home country for immigrating to the United States. David Oistrakh, on the other hand, who stayed in the Soviet Union, was seen as a patriot. Born in 1908, Oistrakh played with virtually every major orchestra in Europe, in Russia and in the U.S. Numerous works are dedicated to him including the two Shostakovich concertos, the Khachaturian concerto and he premiered Prokofiev’s two violin sonatas.

When the Nazi army invaded the Soviet Union during World War II, Oistrakh traveled to the front lines. Oistrakh courageously performed the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto during the battle of Stalingrad in 1942 while the city was brutally bombed.

Oistrakh’s rich tone is memorable to anyone who was lucky enough to hear him live as I was. Austrian violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler was born in 1875. He studied in Vienna and Paris and had the benefit of illustrious teachers such as composers Anton Bruckner, Léo Delibes, and Jules Massenet. After his American debut in New York in 1888, he made an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the Vienna Philharmonic. Overcome by disappointment, he decided to abandon his career in music to try his hand at medicine. Lucky for us, Kreisler returned to the violin in 1899, performing with the Berlin Philharmonic. His U.S. tours of 1901-1903 finally lead to acclaim as a virtuoso soloist. Sir Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto was commissioned and premiered by Kreisler.

Keep reading this article on Interlude.

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.

The Golden Age of Violinists

Janet Horvath_019#2 4x5Guest Blogger: Janet Horvath is the author of Playing Less Hurt. Below is a blog post she did for Interlude.

The turn of the 20th century was the golden age for violinists. Jascha Heifetz, Nathan Milstein, Mischa Elman, Fritz Kreisler, David Oistrach and Yehudi Menuhin, considered the greatest violinists of all time, graced us with their presence.

At least in part, in the cases of Heifetz, Elman and Milstein, this outstanding confluence can be attributed to the legendary teacher Leopold Auer. Auer, born in Hungary in 1845, was an outstanding violinist in his own right. Auer’s playing was transformed after studying with Joseph Joachim in Germany (the violinist to whom the Brahms Double Concerto is dedicated), and Joachim’s instruction formed the basis of his own teaching later in his life.

“Joachim was an inspiration for me and opened before my eyes horizons of that greater art of which until then I had lived in ignorance. With him I worked not only with my hands but with my head, studying the scores of the great masters and endeavoring to penetrate the very heart of their works”

Auer taught at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory for an astonishing forty-nine years. He also held positions at the Juilliard School and Curtis Institute in this country.

Auer is remembered as one of the most sought-after teachers for gifted pupils although he was feared for his grueling lessons. Auer demanded discipline and technical perfection. During lessons he would walk around scolding, observing, oftentimes harshly criticizing the poor young person playing for him. He was unrelenting, especially regarding lifeless playing, demanding more “krov.” (blood) in this case used to mean fire or passion. Many a student was poked in the ribs by Auer’s bow. Despite his exactitude, he was nonetheless devoted to his students. One of them was Nathan Milstein.

Keep reading this post on Interlude.

Playing Less Hurt

Making music at any level is a powerful gift. While musicians have endless resources for learning the basics of their instruments and the theory of music, few books have explored the other subtleties and complexities that musicians face in their quest to play with ease and skill. The demands of solitary practice, hectic rehearsal schedules, challenging repertoire, performance pressures, awkward postures, and other physical strains have left a trail of injured, hearing-impaired, and frustrated musicians who have had few resources to guide them.

Playing Less Hurt addresses this need with specific tools to avoid and alleviate injury. Impressively researched, the book is invaluable not only to musicians, but also to the coaches and medical professionals who work with them. Everyone from dentists to orthopedists, audiologists to neurologists, massage therapists and trainers will benefit from Janet Horvath’s coherent account of the physiology and psyche of a practicing musician. Writing with knowledge, sympathetic insight, humor, and aplomb, Horvath has created an essential resource for all musicians who want to play better and feel better.