The Musicians’ Voice is an open forum for discussion about the state of union affairs. The letters here do not necessarily express the views of Local 802. E-mail letters to Allegro@Local802afm.org or write to Allegro, Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036. Letters must be no more than 300 words.
WHAT STRAVINSKY WOULD HAVE WANTED
I was completely enthralled to read the various memories of our musicians performing Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” in the May issue of Allegro. It brought back many memories of my work with Mr. Stravinsky as contractor and bassoonist. I was so fortunate to have played and recorded many concerts with him in the 50s and 60s.
Several years ago, I published a memoir, “Maestro, Where’s the Beat?” which contains the following reminiscences of Stravinsky and “The Rite of Spring”:
“…We did a number of orchestral concerts and recordings with Mr. Stravinsky. For me, being a bassoonist, the most memorable was recording ‘The Rite of Spring’ with the famous high bassoon solo at the very beginning. Stravinsky wanted absolutely no romanticism, expression, or rubato in the interpretation of the solo. Sometimes, when I hear recording of this work with ‘warm’ interpretations of that opening solo, I feel like crying out, ‘No, no, that’s not the way Stravinsky wanted it played!’”
I just finished the March issue of Allegro. The Bach stuff was great – especially about his second wife – and the research that was done. Thanks!
The May issue of Allegro was packed with stimulating information, designed to capture reader interest; even Local 802’s financial reports were interesting. I appreciated the article “Reflections on ‘The Rite of Spring’ at 100” written by the NYC Ballet’s principal bassist Ron Wasserman, trombonist Tom Olcott, the New York Philharmonic’s principal trombonist Joseph Alessi, the Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist Stephen Williamson and clarinetist Karen Fisher.
Their stories were both analytical and funny and led me to read more about Stravinsky’s monumental piece. Thanks to Ron Wasserman, I can better appreciate the many “Bams!” in the “Rite.” It’s a percussionist’s dream piece! Now I realize that Stravinsky was experimenting with rhythm, tonality, multiple time signatures, stress and dissonance – which may have provoked the probably conservative audience at its first performance to a near-riot. Music critic Paul Rosenfeld described the “Rite” as a pounding “…with the rhythm of engines, whirls and spirals like screws and fly-wheels, grinds and shrieks like laboring metal…” And is it true that Stravinsky invented the tritone, or “devil’s interval,” which is an augmented fourth, believed to be capable of invoking the devil?
Bill Crow’s “Band Room” column – now in its 30th year – is always what I read first. I hope Local 802 will give his column a rousing birthday party. Toasters are quite likely to reminisce, which will be more material for Bill.
Happy 80th birthday to Danny Holgate on July 9! During his long career, Danny has been an arranger, musical director, vocal coach and pianist. He first joined Local 802 in 1958 and now he is an honor member.
Danny was Cab Calloway’s conductor and arranger for many years and wrote arrangements for so many singers and dancers. He worked on many shows, including “Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope,” “Bubbling Brown Sugar,” “Eubie,” “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” “Cookin’ at the Cookery,” “Ella and Storyville,” and the revues “Sweet and Hot,” “This Joint is Jumping” and “Putting on the Ritz.”
He also worked in cabarets, clubs and on concert stages, with symphony orchestras and bands, both big and small. These are just a few of his accomplishments.
Danny: from all in the music business, who have known you, worked with you and shared the music with you through these years, I join them and salute you on your special birthday with a wish for many more!
Your loving wife and music partner,