[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

RE: Metronomes (was Re: No, Gould's so fast)

"Sort of like that case where he decided to play that Beethoven concerto by
following the timing of his favorite Schnabel recording. The teacher tried
to fight that by taking the Schnabel record away. But with Glenn Gould's
memory, that was like closing the barn door after the horse had run away..."

Anne -- do you remember which concerto this is? I just purchased the GG set,
and would be curious to know.

-----Original Message-----
From: Anne M. Marble [mailto:amarble@abs.net]
Sent: Monday, March 20, 2000 9:38 AM
To: f minor mailing list
Subject: GG: Metronomes (was Re: No, Gould's so fast)

> Bong wrote:
> >Hasn't Bach put any tempo marks in his manuscripts
> The metronome was invented around 1812, long after Bach was dead.  He
> sometimes put an Italian tempo mark on his manuscripts.  Often he did
> What many people forget is the fact that the Baroque composers did not
> expect performers to play their music exactly as written.  It was assumed
> that the player would interpret the music to suit his/ her style of
> or the mood he/she was in.

In the "Selected Letters" book, a fan had sent a letter asking Glenn Gould
about metronome markings for some of his pieces. And GG replied that he
couldn't help as he had never owned a metronome and wasn't familiar with
the markings.

Is this common for pianists today? Or do most pianists and other musicians
use metronomes, at least when they're learning music? It's worth noting
that his mother was a piano teacher. Is it customary for a piano teacher to
avoid the use of a metronome?

> We now have conservatories that presume to tell us the proper speeds for
> Bach's music.  Unfortunately, if teachers want their students to pass
> examinations or do well in contests they need to give them an exact
> metronome marking for each piece.  <snip>

This is sad! It's like going to art school and being given a "paint by
number" kit.

It reminds me of teachers who are forced to teach their students how to
pass the college admission tests, or rather than actually *teaching* them.
A few years back, I read that English teachers in Maryland who were no
longer teaching their students what they should be learning. Instead, they
were teaching them how to pass a notorious state-wide essay test.

> If you listen to ten people play this fuque they will probably all have a
> different tempo.  This is the way it should be.  I have often wondered if
> one of the reasons Glenn Gould chose some rather strange tempos was
> he suffered from the regimentation at the R.C.M.T. Many of us have!!

Good theory. I imagine that if a teacher forced GG to play a piece a
certain way, that was a sure way to ensure that he would find a different
way to play it.