column

Salzedo’s own technique

Home Forums Teaching the Harp Salzedo’s own technique

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 34 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #82469
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    I just learned something very recently that I thought might be of interest to

    many people who read these posts.

    #82470

    Are there by chance films of him playing in Curtis archives or elsewhere?

    #82471
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Anita- Your question is a good one.

    #82472
    unknown-user
    Participant

    FYI.

    #82473
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Don- Thank you so much for telling me about that film.

    #82474
    Evangeline Williams
    Participant

    Carl,

    the story of the girl coming to a school and the teacher saying her technique had to change, it reminds me of going off to college.

    #82475
    unknown-user
    Participant

    There has already been discussion of this within the Salzedo community, and I feel you are unlikely to be able to come up with a comprehensive or definite answer to this question at this point in time, due to the passing of so many of his students, and as an observer. It was of course, Lucile Lawrence, who wrote the Method for the Harp based on Salzedo’s teaching at that time, with his input and compositions. Without the input of the people who were part of the creation of the method, your conclusions are not going to be able to be complete.

    Our right arms do touch the sounding board (lightly) in the first octave. We were taught not to rest it on the board. Please bear in mind that Salzedo was a bit short, playing on the largest harps. That has an effect on one’s positioning The “Rigidity” you speak of is a result of individual teachers attitudes and practices.

    . The film that was shown at the conference I believe also contained passages from “Flight”. “Whirlwind” would certainly show his technique as well.

    But what is your purpose in this? What are you trying to show or accomplish?

    As a vital, dynamic artist, Salzedo did some things differently perhaps, at different times in his life, and taught differently to some people and at different times. For instance, with Margarita Czonka, one of his latest pupils, he developed an opening outward gesture instead of the raising. It suits her personality uniquely.

    The elbow position question usually seems to be the main sticking point. Both Lucile Lawrence and Salzedo himself, according to her and photographs, had a position that was elegantly tapered, at times high, and at times low, depending on the passage being played. Perhaps Miss Lawrence didn’t use the best possible wording in the method about the arm position. If you look at the top of the arm as parallel to the floor, the lower part is angled downward, on my arm at least. There are passages needing extra leverage for pressure in which I will raise it a bit more. I lower my arm to play a series of octaves or harmonics. I lower it if I am very tired. Beginners will tend to drop their arms, throwing off their hand position, because their muscles aren’t developed sufficiently, hence the repeated instruction “elbows up!” If they don’t continue their studies long enough they may never move beyond that command, or the teacher may not out of habit or other reasons.

    The essence of the Salzedo method is in the results: tone quality, projection, facility, fingering/phrasing/articulation, interpretive style.

    I know you didn’t want my response on this string, but I want to respond to the other responses.

    Why do some “Grandjany” harpists play with bent inward knuckles and some with rounded knuckles? How does his notation symbol system work? Why do French harpists reject Salzedo as part of their tradition but not Grandjany, when they both emigrated from home? How does the Attl technique function? How do Russian harpists circle their thumbs instead of closing them? Life is full of variations, I guess.

    #82476
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Saul- I can’t answer all of the questions you posed, but here is what I know

    about some of them.

    #82477
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I was reminded by Don Hilsberg that Lucile Lawrence told him that Salzedo was always exploring and evolving as an artist. The National Association of Harpists which presented most of the mass harp concerts you refer to certainly included harpists other than his protegees. As for pulling strings to get his students jobs, I wonder if he even had to, considering that they were coming from the Curtis Institute and turned out to be generally wonderful. As for atmosphere, it was other musicians and critics who took Salzedo most seriously and had the greatest respect for him as an artist. That’s all his fault, all right. He was a great artist. Virgil Thomson ranked him as highly as Wanda Landowska, whom he considered the greatest musician alive. Sure that’s going to make some people uncomfortable. It’s not easy to be an innovator. Dare we waste any time being resentful of such people? Maybe he wasn’t a generous person to colleagues, or sensitive or something. His personality is beyond reproach, because he’s gone. There’s no way to really know it now.

    As far as his editions go, he did redo transcriptions by Renie and Hasselmans to suit his interpretation and style. So have lots of other harpists. He also created public school harp instruction programs in Philadelphia. A lot of harpists have benefitted from that. I know Grandjany students who were excluding of harpists from other schools. What goes around goes around. Of course Salzedo would not have destroyed the harp society, Grandjany himself nominated Lucile Lawrence to be the first president. But then, they were friends, all of them. It was the students who could be so vicious to each other. Lucile Lawrence always spoke generously of her colleagues and treated them graciously, whether they received it that way or not was up to them. At least that’s how I know it.

    It’s the idea “French” harpists have that he completely “rejected” the tradition that is interesting and the crux of many issues. Why do they see any change as rejection? Isn’t that incredibly traditionalist, conservative, and hidebound resistant? Or it perhaps because he wasn’t Catholic? What were they expecting him to do or be? Then what would Tournier have been, had Salzedo not changed or left France? Or is it Beaux Arts against Art Nouvea/Deco/Moderne? Reactionary against Liberal? Women against Man?

    #82478
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Like I said, it depends on which side of the fence one stands….

    #82479
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I received this response from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being:

    Thank you for a beautiful response to Carl’s remarks.

    #82480
    unknown-user
    Participant

    What I am thinking currently about elbows is that I don’t want to be aware of them, I don’t want to feel anything but my finger touching the string and that it is connected to my shoulder and upper back. So it’s a bit flexible and moves. I don’t let my inner arm rest on the sounding-board, the pressure isn’t good. It brushes against it in the first octave. My left elbow might touch if I’m playing harmonics or octave passages. I keep finding new levels of relaxation and greater awareness.

    #82481
    carl-swanson
    Participant

    Well congratulations Saul!

    #82482
    unknown-user
    Participant

    I didn’t say becoming. Always was. And I’m sure it’ll work that if I lean my arms on the sounding board I’ll get tendonitis.

    #82483
    unknown-user
    Participant

    My accumulated impression of this tedious dialogue is that Carl is curious about Salzedo technique, but isn’t sure exactly what it is anymore.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 34 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Recent Replies