Discussion:
"Who ever talked about Stokowski's tempi?"
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aesthete8
2012-03-22 08:16:30 UTC
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When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Gerard
2012-03-22 09:36:41 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Probably M forever. If not so: Mark S.
herman
2012-03-22 09:48:35 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
In reality the quote was this:

"if you're worried about metronome markings, you may as well not
bother
with Stokowski."

And the author was Kimba Lion.
Kimba W Lion
2012-03-22 13:01:34 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Your question reminds me of my "favorite" oft-repeated question in English Lit
class: "Why did the author write this?" My answer, "Because he had to pay the
rent", was not appreciated.

If the composer's marks on paper could completely convey his intentions, then
he would best be served by a synthesizer that could read sheet music and
meticulously translate it into sound. (Patrick Gleeson tried this with Holst's
"The Planets"--the result was horrible. The makers of Sominex feared for the
future of their business and succeeded in getting the recording pulled from
the market. [It says so on Wikipedia--or, rather, it will in a minute.])

If the intent is to make MUSIC, that only happens in performance, and
performance should be driven by emotion. Emotion doesn't live on paper.
Whatever the composer's intent, it's only the beginning of process of making
MUSIC.
William Sommerwerck
2012-03-22 13:40:41 UTC
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Post by Kimba W Lion
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder -- how
can correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Your question reminds me of my "favorite" oft-repeated question
in English Lit class: "Why did the author write this?" My answer,
"Because he had to pay the rent", was not appreciated.
Along similar -- but not identical -- lines, an 18C British writer said that
you should never write unless you're being paid for it.

It's a stupid/meaningless question, anyway, because one cannot read the
author's mind. Larry McMurtry explained what the title "Lonesome Dove"
refers to, and you would never guess it, "not in a million years".
Post by Kimba W Lion
If the composer's marks on paper could completely convey his intentions,
then he would best be served by a synthesizer that could read sheet music
and meticulously translate it into sound. Patrick Gleeson tried this with
Holst's "The Planets" -- the result was horrible. The makers of Sominex
feared for the future of their business and succeeded in getting the
recording
Post by Kimba W Lion
pulled from the market. (It says so on Wikipedia--or, rather, it will in a
minute.)
Post by Kimba W Lion
If the intent is to make MUSIC, that only happens in performance, and
performance should be driven by emotion. Emotion doesn't live on paper.
Whatever the composer's intent, it's only the beginning of process of
making MUSIC.
Thank you for saying that. If I'd said it, I'd be immediately attacked as an
idiot.

I would add, however, that one can enjoy a piece of music on other than an
emotional level.
Dumbarton Oaks
2012-03-22 13:55:42 UTC
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Post by Kimba W Lion
If the intent is to make MUSIC, that only happens in performance, and
Post by Kimba W Lion
performance should be driven by emotion. Emotion doesn't live on paper.
Whatever the composer's intent, it's only the beginning of process of
making MUSIC.
First must be driven by knowledge and respect for the score, then
there is a place for emotion, but first the score.
Terry
2012-03-22 14:51:27 UTC
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Post by William Sommerwerck
Post by Kimba W Lion
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder -- how
can correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Your question reminds me of my "favorite" oft-repeated question
in English Lit class: "Why did the author write this?" My answer,
"Because he had to pay the rent", was not appreciated.
Along similar -- but not identical -- lines, an 18C British writer said that
you should never write unless you're being paid for it.
It's a stupid/meaningless question, anyway, because one cannot read the
author's mind. Larry McMurtry explained what the title "Lonesome Dove"
refers to, and you would never guess it, "not in a million years".
Post by Kimba W Lion
If the composer's marks on paper could completely convey his intentions,
then he would best be served by a synthesizer that could read sheet music
and meticulously translate it into sound. Patrick Gleeson tried this with
Holst's "The Planets" -- the result was horrible. The makers of Sominex
feared for the future of their business and succeeded in getting the
recording
Post by Kimba W Lion
pulled from the market. (It says so on Wikipedia--or, rather, it will in a
minute.)
Post by Kimba W Lion
If the intent is to make MUSIC, that only happens in performance, and
performance should be driven by emotion. Emotion doesn't live on paper.
Whatever the composer's intent, it's only the beginning of process of
making MUSIC.
Thank you for saying that. If I'd said it, I'd be immediately attacked as an
idiot.
I would add, however, that one can enjoy a piece of music on other than an
emotional level.
Was it Lerner and Loewe, or Rodgers and Hammerstein, who, when asked the
question "Which comes first, the words or the music?", replied "The
Contract".
--
Cheers!

Terry
herman
2012-03-22 20:14:58 UTC
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Post by William Sommerwerck
Along similar -- but not identical -- lines, an 18C British writer said that
you should never write unless you're being paid for it.
Your usual vagueness.

"Only a blockhead writes except for money" is the famous Samuel
Johnson quote.
Doug McDonald
2012-03-23 13:45:59 UTC
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Post by Kimba W Lion
If the intent is to make MUSIC, that only happens in performance, and
performance should be driven by emotion. Emotion doesn't live on paper.
Whatever the composer's intent, it's only the beginning of process of making
MUSIC.
Sometimes it not so simple. Consider humor in music. I don't
mean a funny opera or ballet ... I mean the instrumental
notes make you laugh.

For example, listen to any performance of Hamelin's "Circus
Galop". There is one on a CD and lots on Youtube. None
(including the one with pictured duo pianists) are performed
by live people. And they are hilarious. Why ... because, in part,
they are totally devoid of emotion. Its clearly music.
Its clearly very far from great music. But it is great performance
art. Its a great idea, like lily pads in Biscayne Bay (which
really was great art ... I saw it.)


Doug McDonald
Matthew B. Tepper
2012-03-22 14:31:27 UTC
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aesthete8 <***@gmail.com> appears to have caused the following letters to
be typed in news:e03f8904-d3d1-4250-a9a4-
Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
The only discussion I can recall about Stokowski's tempi was an interview
with Glenn Gould in which he said that he had two conceptions of the
"Emperor" Concerto, one swift, one stately, and he asked the conductor to
just pick one for their recording together.
--
Matthew B. Tepper: WWW, science fiction, classical music, ducks!!
Read about "Proty" here: http://home.earthlink.net/~oy/proty.html
To write to me, do for my address what Androcles did for the lion
Opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of my employers.
jrsnfld
2012-03-22 17:06:09 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
I made a comment very much like that in response to some post that, if
I recall, based Stokowski's fame and notoriety on his reputation for
tempi. He did do some weird things with tempo transitions, he was
somewhat free with his rubato, and yes, occasionally (like almost
everybody) Stokowski would pick a strange tempo (witness his Beethoven
8, which I mentioned a long time ago onrmcr). But the bottom line is,
any eccentricities of tempo were dwarfed by his fame as a magician of
sound. It was the "Stokowski Sound" that people loved to talk about,
not his treatment of tempi.

So, if you're responding to what I said (and your title is pretty much
what I said), then you're taking it out of context and asking a whole
different, needless question in return. That people didn't really make
much of Stokowski's tempi does not mean that "correct" tempi do not
matter.

--Jeff
r***@gmail.com
2012-03-22 20:05:34 UTC
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Post by jrsnfld
Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
I made a comment very much like that in response to some post that, if
I recall, based Stokowski's fame and notoriety on his reputation for
tempi. He did do some weird things with tempo transitions, he was
somewhat free with his rubato, and yes, occasionally (like almost
everybody) Stokowski would pick a strange tempo (witness his Beethoven
8, which I mentioned a long time ago onrmcr). But the bottom line is,
any eccentricities of tempo were dwarfed by his fame as a magician of
sound. It was the "Stokowski Sound" that people loved to talk about,
not his treatment of tempi.
So, if you're responding to what I said (and your title is pretty much
what I said), then you're taking it out of context and asking a whole
different, needless question in return. That people didn't really make
much of Stokowski's tempi does not mean that "correct" tempi do not
matter.
--Jeff
I'll use an illustration of this that I've used before. Beethoven's
7th symphony has three classic performances on 78 (or at least 3
famous enough to be referred to by Dennis Matthews in a 1970 interval
talk on performance practice in the light of Beethoven's sketchbooks,
scores and contemporary account. James Loughran + BBCScSO gave
performances of the 7th symphony with all repeats, fairly swift, very
pleasant. Matthews discussed the slow movement- played excerpts from
Toscanini NYPSO- and judged that the flowing motion was consistent
with Beethoven's intent. I had this on HMV 78s and on an RCA Camden
LP. The 78s had a much greater dynamic range than the LP, but there
were thus no surprises for me in the Toscanini excerpts. Then he
played an excerpt from Stokowski Philadelphia 1927. In this case the
tempo was slow indeed, but it didn't drag. Dismissed as inconsistent
with composer's intent. Then Mengelberg- in this case the tempo was
slow but there was also a rhythmic alteration/distortion- a limping
effect. I was fascinated, because it also seemed to work.

Eventually I was able to get both Stokowski and Mengelberg, and they
do not disappoint. If Beethoven's intentions were fully described by
the notes on the page both fail to fulfill them. If, on the other
hand, Beethoven wrote with the ultimate intent of affecting the
audiences who heard the symphony, then both succeed brilliantly.
I have heard many other successful recordings or performances of
dubious faithfulness to the letter of the score, and some deadly (but
apparently accurate) performances and recordings too.
It appears to me that there is something other than accuracy at work
here and I lack the vocabulary to explain it well. I'll take a stab at
it though. Each spoken language can be spoken accurately by machine-
we are all familiar with the robocall or the Voice Response Unit. We
all understand what they mean, so to that extent they are successful.
However, few of us would choose to hear such a voice with its usual
program speaking, for example, a Shakespeare sonnet or reading aloud
the Beatitudes. The difference is in emphasis, both rhythmic and
intonational. Something similar makes Mengelberg and Stokowski
successful in much of their recorded legacy, and tempo alone really
doesn't have much to do with it. Both also recorded the Schubert
Unfinished symphony, successfully, but almost certainly way too slowly
for authenticity.

However, as Harnoncourt said about Casals conducting, after a great
deal of study on H's part he reached the performance style that Casals
had years before. Perhaps Mengelberg's day in the academic sunshine
will come too.
Richard
g***@gmail.com
2015-02-03 23:31:46 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Concerning Stokowski's recordings of Holst's NEPTUNE, am I the only one who finds it interesting that his live recording from the forties is one of the longest recordings of that work at over 9 minutes whereas the studio recording he made a little over a decade later is one of the shortest recordings of that work at under 7 minutes?
Herman
2015-02-04 08:54:54 UTC
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Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Concerning Stokowski's recordings of Holst's NEPTUNE, am I the only one who finds it interesting
Yes.
g***@gmail.com
2018-05-01 07:37:14 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
According to this review:

- The conductor usually chooses any tempo but the customary one...

http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/e/evc09016a.php
Ed Presson
2018-05-01 16:05:33 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
According to this review:

- The conductor usually chooses any tempo but the customary one...
Post by aesthete8
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/e/evc09016a.php
Very old news. Reviews at the time in High Fidelity and Stereo Review
regularly commented about Stokowski's
unusual choice of tempi.

Ed Presson
Kerrison
2018-05-02 06:44:21 UTC
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wrote in message
- The conductor usually chooses any tempo but the customary one...
Post by g***@gmail.com
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/reviews/e/evc09016a.php
Very old news. Reviews at the time in High Fidelity and Stereo Review
regularly commented about Stokowski's
unusual choice of tempi.
Ed Presson
These kind of statements are of course complete nonsense. For example, at the age of 92 in 1974, in his last public concert in the UK, Stokowski and the New Philharmonia gave a performance of the Brahms 4th which had the critics reaching for their superlatives. Luckily the BBC broadcast it and if anyone thinks his tempos are "unusual" simply because they're not as slow as Klemperer's then so much for that. The comments under the YouTube upload sum up the general feeling ... "an amazing and beautiful performance" etc. ...



Listening to this again makes me wonder why this isn't held up as one of the great Brahms 4ths on disc (the whole concert was issued by BBC Legends).
Kerrison
2018-05-05 14:14:36 UTC
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Post by Kerrison
These kind of statements are of course complete nonsense. For example, at the age of 92 in 1974, in his last public concert in the UK, Stokowski and the New Philharmonia gave a performance of the Brahms 4th which had the critics reaching for their superlatives. Luckily the BBC broadcast it and if anyone thinks his tempos are "unusual" simply because they're not as slow as Klemperer's then so much for that. The comments under the YouTube upload sum up the general feeling ... "an amazing and beautiful performance" etc. ...
http://youtu.be/0l_Go4pYc8A
Listening to this again makes me wonder why this isn't held up as one of the great Brahms 4ths on disc (the whole concert was issued by BBC Legends).
And what, pray, is wrong with the 85-year-old Maestro's tempo for the Beethoven's 7th finale? ...


gggg gggg
2021-11-18 07:16:46 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
https://groups.google.com/g/rec.music.classical/c/5WTf-kj6kP8
gggg gggg
2021-11-29 20:50:59 UTC
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Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
(Recent Y. upload):

Preview: Stokowski's Demented Tchaikovsky Fourth and His 10 Best Recordings
Kerrison
2021-11-29 22:17:40 UTC
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Post by gggg gggg
Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Preview: Stokowski's Demented Tchaikovsky Fourth and His 10 Best Recordings
The reference to the composer's "correct tempi" reminds me of a BBC radio broadcast many years ago when the critic Edward Greenfield compared Stravinsky's three commercial recordings of 'The Rite of Spring' (1929, 1940 and 1960). His illustrations from each recording not only showed considerable differences in various passages from each of them, they also varied from the metronome marks printed in the score. So much for the composer's "intent." One should also not forget a famous Beecham story. When he was rehearsing a Delius work with the composer sitting in the hall behind him, Beecham turned round and asked "Was that alright, Frederick?" and Delius replied: "Do whatever you like with it." Beecham added to the story by saying that he did what he liked with it, adding "and I've applied that same principle to every other composer since."
Kerrison
2021-11-30 22:01:18 UTC
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Post by Kerrison
Post by gggg gggg
Post by aesthete8
When someone recently posted that, I could only wonder--how can
correct tempi NOT matter if the composer's intent MATTERS?
Preview: Stokowski's Demented Tchaikovsky Fourth and His 10 Best Recordings
The reference to the composer's "correct tempi" reminds me of a BBC radio broadcast many years ago when the critic Edward Greenfield compared Stravinsky's three commercial recordings of 'The Rite of Spring' (1929, 1940 and 1960). His illustrations from each recording not only showed considerable differences in various passages from each of them, they also varied from the metronome marks printed in the score. So much for the composer's "intent." One should also not forget a famous Beecham story. When he was rehearsing a Delius work with the composer sitting in the hall behind him, Beecham turned round and asked "Was that alright, Frederick?" and Delius replied: "Do whatever you like with it." Beecham added to the story by saying that he did what he liked with it, adding "and I've applied that same principle to every other composer since."
This begs the question about a case where the composer DOES care about interpretation of his music. Should a conductor feel bound in that case?
Actually, any composer will tell you he's far more concerned about getting his music performed than worrying about how it will be interpreted. I don't know how many composers are still around who had their music played by Stokowski but Jose Serebrier is one of them. His 1st Symphony was premiered in 1957 by the Houston Symphony while he was still a 19-year-old student. I remember in a radio interview he was asked about Stokowski's performance of his music and two words from that interview come to mind: "fantastic" and "incredible."

On his 90th Birthday in 1972, Stokowski received greetings, praise and heartfelt thanks in letters from the likes of Shostakovich, Khachaturian, Menotti, Milhaud, Orff, Panufnik, Tippett and numerous American composers, including Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson and many others whose works Stokowski had performed to their great delight. In fact, you can read them for yourself! ...



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