Live From Austin

Jonathan Bellman

It is my third evening in Austin.  I have had several rehearsals with Kiyoshi Tamagawa, a superb pianist who is the other soloist in the Mendelssohn/Moscheles work that we will premiere this Saturday night.  Several runs-through at the dress rehearsal tonight; the orchestra very excited and motivated.  The event has been extremely well publicized; it was featured in two area newspapers, we were interviewed by Julie Moody of KUT (the NPR affiliate at the University of Texas at Austin; a feature on the project was on this morning (Friday) at 7:33 AM central time, and there are rumors of a sellout crowd.  The rehearsals have been really enjoyable.

Here is a weblink to the KUT feature.  I’d forgotten that the mike was on when I was talking about sacralization, so I sound a bit like a psychopath, but I suppose that’s what I’m like in class. In the photo, that’s yours-decrepitly-truly on the right—click on it for a better view.

For the rest, it’s hours of catching up with my friend Michael Cooper, someone who generates brilliant research projects (including this Mendelssohn/Moscheles) the way the rest of us generate carbon dioxide, talking to his sharp-as-a-tack students here at Southwestern University, and striving to maintain sanity.  There is something about an impending performance that makes every act, every intake of breath, feel like nothing more than an upbeat preparation.  Shall I get a drink?  How will that affect the performance?  Which tie should I choose today?  Will it affect the performance?  And so on.  Which came first: the performance or the performance neurosis?  A timeless question.

In addition to today’s two rehearsals I had a lecture and short master class, a long lunch interview with a large group of students, and plenty of chat all around.  The students here are very bright and motivated—very much the traditional small liberal arts school, with lots of faculty attention and independent, motivated students.  It’s a lot of fun: invigorating music-making, great conversations and conviviality (and a shout-out to the San Gabriel Bed and Breakfast, my hospitable home-away-from-home, here).  I know I’m not going to feel much like teaching, or even getting out of bed, this coming week, but why worry about that now?

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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2 Responses to Live From Austin

  1. Jonathan says:

    Friend Eric sends a link from the *Austin American-Statesman*, and I found another from the Southwestern University News Service:
    Other links:
    The Austin American-Statesman:
    http://www.austin360.com/search/content/arts/stories/2009/02/0216mendelssohn.html
    Southwestern University:
    http://www.southwestern.edu/newsroom/story.php?id=619

  2. Ralph Locke says:

    Thanks for sharing this radio feature about an important revival of a forgotten piece by two major composers of the early 19th c.! The soundbites are exciting and persuasive (virtuosic two-piano performances, plus the apt and insightful scholarly commentary by Cooper and Bellman).
    I hope the score will be published soon, and that performances will materialize in various other venues. This “double concerto” (in two senses) clearly deserves to be seen as well as heard….
    I love the idea of having the audience vote on which composer’s ending of the piece works better. A neat way of enlivening the (nowadays sometimes too-predictable) format of the classical-music concert.
    Could a video of the Southwestern University performance perhaps eventually be posted online, so the whole world can see, hear, learn the results of the audience vote, and, in turn, offer many other reactions to the work’s two endings?

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