<< -- 2 -- Jennifer Paull REMINISCENT RETROSPECTIVES
The symphonic repertoire calls for the basic 2 oboes and cor anglais,
just as it does two flutes and piccolo, two clarinets and bass clarinet,
two bassoons and contrabassoon, meat and two veg. Music schools did not
have proportionally fewer students hoping to refurbish these small sections,
however. You could easily find more clarinet than viola players, for example.
Some musicians were inevitably going to be left outside the symphonic cocoon.
They would become teachers and teach others to follow the same path, who
would teach others to follow suit ...
I discovered the existence of an in-built instrumental pecking order
which I could never fathom, and still can't. The idea that a violinist
was more important to Music than a bassoonist was rather like telling van
Gogh that green was more vital than blue. All of our instrumental hues are
necessary to our Art. There were far more colours to discover than I ever
knew existed within our very own western culture. Voices from the past with
mysterious names such as 'viola da gamba' or 'oboe d'amore' were so
rare, they were practically queuing up to join the dodo, the 'serpent' and
Ethnomusicology was an unheard of discipline. Other cultures were simply
left on their respective shelves and excluded from 'general studies' which
were sadly, very limited. The curriculum revolved around the Great Orchestral
Repertoire being everything to which a wind player could ever aspire! I
recall a unique lecture about Indian music given by a visiting American
professor. Wonderfully interesting, I was left longing for much more.
Musical imbalance continues in academia today. Although the barrier against
women is much reduced, it is still present. Recently, the Vienna Philharmonic
were obliged to engage a replacement lady harpist. No man was available
on the necessary dates. The answer ? They placed her behind a screen with
a potted palm in front -- molto burkhoso?
Copyright © 4 January 2002
Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland
JENNIFER PAULL'S AMORIS INTERNATIONAL
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