Orchestral Music Letter to the Editor
On "War Horses"
February 23, 2004 - Durham, NC:
Thank you for the Duke Symphony review
and for your discussion about programming "war horse" repertory. As an instructor, I can tell you that you really hit the nail on the head. Assigning that rep is crucial to student development. With the diminishing musical education in our country, many of these kids haven't heard the great works of Western music to start with and, as you pointed out, it's somebody's first time hearing (or playing) the tunes. What a thrill and motivator that rep is!
I remember being in a master class with Barry Douglas, the famous American pianist, when he was discussing teaching the Chopin g minor Ballade for the umpteenth time. A teacher in the audience was looking for rep to steer a student to when the student wanted to work on the Ballade. The teacher was saying, basically, I can't teach it one more time.... Douglas said there is no substitution, that the reason the kid wanted to tackle it was that it is one of the greatest works ever written for the piano, and that teachers should remember what it's like to encounter such a jewel as a newcomer. Perhaps this story doesn't translate electronically, but your review brought it to mind.