More Lost Sounds

Jonathan Bellman

Friend Eric (eba) forwards several links to youtube clips of forgotten instruments: the Ondes Martenot (for which Messiaen among others composed), the Toy Piano (a favorite of mine; I’ve played such and (once or twice) really moved the parents of the kid-owners of such instruments), Trautonium, and even the Mellotron. Those who remember it from late-1960s Rock albums may be surprised to find how it’s used here.
To these I will add a clip of my old friend Roland Hutchinson introducing the Baryton, a mostly bowed instrument for which Haydn wrote many works, and a more modern version of the Arpeggione, which here—in a more modern version (but I believe essentially the same instrument)—is called a Bowed Guitar. What I continue to await is a serious performance of Schubert’s Argeggione Sonata actually ON one of these instruments—even a newer one. I’ve been the collaborating pianist on this piece, and it is a masterwork, but is only performed in transcription: double-bass, cello, viola, alto saxophone, what-have-you. It is a probably unique situation for a superb piece like this to have been written for an instrument that really never caught on at all, so all questions of performance practices, idiomatic writing for the instrument and so on are…utterly irrelevant until we see how the instrument really worked.
I’ll keep waiting. I’m used to waiting.

About jonathanbellman

Professor of Music History and Literature and Head of Academic Studies in Music at the University of Northern Colorado. Author, *The _Style Hongrois_ in the Music of Western Europe* (Northeastern University Press, 1993), *A Short Guide to Writing About Music* (2e, Longman, 2008), *Chopin's Polish Ballade: Op. 38 as Narrative of National Martyrdom* (Oxford University Press, 2010), Editor, *The Exotic in Western Music* (Northeastern University Press, 1998), author of bunches of articles and reviews and so on. Likes to play the piano, the mandolin, and even guitar sometimes. A. M. and Jo Winchester Distinguished Scholar at UNC, 2011.
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8 Responses to More Lost Sounds

  1. David Cavlovic says:

    Hello : Former musicologist here, enjoying your blog.
    There was a recording many years ago on ARCHIV of the Arpeggione Sonata played on an authentic arpeggione. The work on the flip side was the “Trockne Blumen” variations played on an ivory flute.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Oh, MAN. I’ve got to try to find this. Thanks for the tip.
    BTW: you can’t be a former musicologist any more than you can be a former musician. It changes your DNA. You can’t lose us just like that!

  3. David Cavlovic says:

    Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata ; Trockne Blumen.
    Klaus Storck, Hans-Martin Linde, Alfons Kontarsky. ARCHIV 2533 175.
    I graduated from O of T Factory of Music in 1985. Worked on my MA Musicology and did it all, EXCEPT my language exams. Felt jaded about academia. Worked as a CBC Producer for ten years, had my own label for five, and then re-trained as a Library Technician, because I needed to get out of the music world in order not to hate music anymore (as you know, the music world can be overwhelming when you are dealing with people who are insecure about their own abilities and think of nothing about smiling to their “competition” at one moment, and stabbing them in the back the next. Not that I was a victim of it, that i know of….).
    I miss that LP. It was one of my tragic losses when I decided to rid myself of my 30,000+ LP collection (find me an apartment floor that can hold that weight! And I was tired of packing, and unpacking upwards of 200 big boxes). I still have 1000’s of CD’s so, I have nothing to complain about!
    The performance of the Schubert, BTW, is outstanding!

  4. Jonathan says:

    Many thanks. My librarian is already trying to find us a copy. I’m sorry I don’t know what O of T is. As for the the various types you refer to, I wish I didn’t know what you were talking about, but of course I do.

  5. David Cavlovic says:

    Sorry : typo (should be working, you know).
    That’s U of T.

  6. Sara Heimbecker says:

    Greg has a nice toy piano in the studio that I found for him at a thrift store. If you ever have a minute, stick your head in there and ask him if you can play it.
    You never know when someone might ask you to play for an evening of John Cage!

  7. Stan Scott says:

    I’d beg to differ about the Ondes Martenot — won’t this instrument last as long as Messiaen’s music does? For a wonderful use of it, I recommend “Trois Petite Liturgies”, for female chorus, piano and Ondes Martenot.

  8. Kyle RL says:

    I really liked this post. I keep on forgetting that there is really good, educating stuff out on YouTube.

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