VIOLINIST | VIOLIST | MUSICOLOGIST
RESEARCH SEMINARS

On this page are given outlines of some of my recent presentations and seminars, and which I have given at a number of Universities and Conservatoires, including Birmingham Conservatoire, The British Library, the University of Bristol, Cambridge University, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

 

PowerPoint presentations of extracts from each seminar will shortly be available.

 

 

SECTION LINKS

 

PRACTISING FOR PERFORMANCE

This seminar sets out a structured method which takes the practical musician from first viewing of a new, unknown work to its performance in the critical and public arena. It takes as its starting-point the premise that an ideal performance communicates to a listener the composer’s intentions and the performer’s interpretation without boundaries or hindrances; and the closer a performer can come to that ideal, the more effective the performance. All practice should, therefore, be a preparation for that result.

 

The session is divided into five parts:

The planning of practice time
Practice procedures: including a discussion of pure technique, applied technique, and the practise of performance
Beginning a new piece
Building a work
Preparing for performance

 

The content is complemented by PowerPoint slides, which serve to summarise the salient points and to provide a visual focus for their verbal expansion and explanation.

 

DURATION | 90 minutes

 

The duration of the seminar allows it either to stand alone or to be followed by masterclasses in which the techniques described (particularly those relating to practice methods and procedures) can be elucidated in practical terms.

 

 

 

‘IT SEEMED THAT OUT OF BATTLE I ESCAPED’:
FREDERICK KELLY’S ‘GALLIPOLI’ SONATA

Frederick Septimus Kelly was born in 1881 in Australia and first came to the United Kingdom when he began his schooling at Eton College.  Although a notable rower – he won a Gold Medal for Britain in the 1908 London Olympic Games – he was also a highly gifted composer, mostly active in the genres of song, solo piano music and chamber music.  His Violin Sonata in G minor was written for Jelly d’Aranyi, a violinist of Hungarian descent who also inspired such composers as Elgar and Vaughan Williams, and was composed in 1915 in Kelly’s tent at Gallipoli, hence the work’s appellation.  Kelly wrote the Sonata not to express the horrors of war but rather to articulate his memories of the country in which he had spent his formative years and which had fostered his intellectual and creative development.  Whilst his recollections may have been influenced by his privileged upbringing and the environments and social circles in which he moved, it is nevertheless a powerful reminder of the means by which some of those on the front lines retained a sense of balance, enabling them to survive the psychological traumas inherent in warfare, if not to elude them completely.

 

This paper describes the history surrounding the ‘Gallipoli’ Sonata, from the circumstances that led to its composition and its dedication to the recent rediscovery of the manuscript in Florence and its housing in the National Library of Australia; and will explore some of the compositional techniques used by Kelly to express his idyllic remembrances and which enable listeners to the Sonata to engage with the imagery the composer sought to create.  The discussion is illustrated with recorded performances of extracts from the score.

 

DURATION | 30 minutes

 

 

 

FROM EYES TO EARS: USING EDITIONS
IN PERFORMANCE

The seminar falls into two parts.

 

The first part considers the way in which an edition is constructed: the rigorousness with which sources must be sought and the thoroughness with which their authenticity and relevance must be checked; and questions which must be asked of those sources by the editor.

 

The consideration of the editor’s stance, by way of analogy to the stance which must be adopted by a performer, leads into the second part, which considers how an edition is actually used in the context of musical performance.  No edition can convey the composer’s intentions with completeness or with total accuracy: even those that are highly prescriptive leave some elements undescribed; Such considerations as historical context (contemporary notational methods; the view the composer may have had of his own work in a wider musical and social-historical context; the contemporary physical characteristics of the instruments for which the work was composed) as well as an awareness of the composer’s working methods (the musical environment in which the composer was working; the individual notational idiosyncrasies of the composer) must therefore be brought to bear by the performer upon the edition in order to prepare an interpretation of integrity.

 

The seminar is illustrated with visual examples and audio extracts; and the audience discussion during the course of the seminar is encouraged.

 

DURATION | 1 hour

 

The seminar can be succeeded by a practical workshop in which some of the issues explored in the course of the talk are placed into the context of performance preparation.

 

 

 

PERILS AND PRIVILEGES

When preparing a scholarly-critical edition for performing purposes, there exists a fine dividing-line between rectifying omissions made inadvertently by a composer in the act of writing fluently a work in which his intentions are evident to him; and in smoothing out discrepancies between otherwise parallel passages which may be deliberately intended in order to provide musical variety and vitality.  This seminar examines the issues that are raised by this question and seeks to highlight some of the methods of thinking whereby a satisfactory solution may be reached.

 

The seminar is in three parts:

A discussion of standard editorial conventions, and the method of preparing an Editorial Commentary that explains editorial changes in a clear, concise and relevant manner.
An examination of the types of issue that may be encountered and the lines of questioning that should be adopted when attempting to determine, as far as is possible, the composer’s true intention.
A description of the care that must be exercised when preparing a performance from printed material in which inconsistencies are present, and an exploration of the methods by which, in the absence of primary sources, a solution to the discrepancies may be reached.

 

The discussion is enhanced by examples of the issues in question taken from the works of C. Hubert H. Parry, Edward Elgar, Ivor Gurney, Arthur Bliss and Henry Walford Davies: both manuscript and edited sources are used for this purpose.  Topics suitable for class discussion are also incorporated.

 

DURATION | 90 minutes

 

 

 

EXPLORING THE SONATA FOR PIANO AND VIOLIN OF
ARTHUR BLISS

The Sonata for Piano and Violin by Arthur Bliss has languished in Cambridge University Library for almost one hundred years.  This lecture-recital is an account of the process of editing the manuscript for performance and the issues surrounding its practical realisation; the discussion is lavishly illustrated with musical examples.

 

The lecture-recital may be divided into nine sections:

A description of the manuscript’s appearance; its possible private performance and the resulting apparent dissatisfaction on the part of the composer, resulting in the deletion of extended passages and the substitution of revisions.
A complete performance of the original version of the Violin Sonata.
The appearance of the revisions in manuscript; the lack of precise delineation and of any form of labelling; the process of determining this delineation and of thereby constructing the revised version from the two extant manuscripts; the problem of the movement’s ending and the speculative original version.
The methods used by the editor of indicating editorial changes; an explanation of the Editorial Policy; the extent and nature of the editor’s intervention when rectifying errors and correcting apparent discrepancies between parallel passages.
Additional alterations made by the composer: their appearance in the manuscript; and the reasons for their non-inclusion given.
A description of the Sonata’s form; the six themes played in isolation; the analogy with ‘conventional’ sonata-form elucidated.
The process of continuous development inherent in the Sonata; its similarity in this respect with the Theme and Cadenza, op.47; short but pertinent extracts from the latter played by way of illustration; examples of motivic (cellular) development in the Sonata’s thematic construction.
The rhythmic juxtaposition of three- and four-unit cells; the manifestation of this juxtaposition at a micro- and macro-rhythmic level; the resulting unifying role of this characteristic.
A complete performance of the revised version of the Violin Sonata.

 

DURATION | 1 hour