A CONVERSATION WITH NATHANIEL ROSEN by TIM FINHOLT
Nathaniel Rosen, former Teaching Assistant for Gregor Piatigorsky
at the University of Southern California, is renowned for being the
only American cellist to ever win the Tchaikovsky Competition in
Russia. Mr. Rosen is in much demand as a soloist, recording artist,
and chamber musician. He teaches at the Manhattan School of Music and
the Thomas Moore College in New Hampshire.
Sonata Op. 65, Largo from Rosen's Reverie CD (RealAudio
courtesy of JMR Music (888) JMR-1919
TF: Eleonore Schoenfeld, Professor of Cello at USC, was your first
teacher. What was she like?
NR: I studied cello with her from the beginning, starting with open
strings. She was well organized and patient, but still very
demanding. Because of this, she has become one of the best in the
business. The finest young talents from all over the world seek her
She stressed the fundamentals of cello playing at all times, i.e.
intonation, good tone production, a well-organized approach, and a
progressive approach to technical advancement. All the things that
exemplified her playing were passed on to her students, which is what
all good teachers do.
When I was 12 years old she encouraged me to change teachers. She
thought it was time I had some new input, which is a remarkable thing
for a teacher to do.
TF: Was this when you went to study with Piatigorsky?
NR: Not quite. Miss Schoenfeld intended that I study with Gabor
Rejto. At that time, the formation of what was to be called the
Institute for Special Musical Studies at USC, whose teachers were to
be Heifetz, Primrose, and Piatigorsky, had not yet been announced.
But before I made the switch to Gabor Rejto, the Piatigorsky
appointment to the USC faculty was announced. My father thought that
I had a good chance of being accepted, since Piatigorsky had heard me
in a trio when he was a judge of the Coleman Chamber Music
Competition the previous year. Incidentally, the trio, which was
coached by Miss Schoenfeld, included myself, Glenn Dicterow, now the
concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, and Hans Boepple, now
professor at Santa Rosa State College in California. My father was
hoping that Piatigorsky would be willing to take on a 13 year old
student in his master class, which he did.
And so I began my new life as a member of the Piatigorsky class,
going down to USC all day twice a week, missing school. From that
time on, I was busy slithering through junior high and high school,
while my real life and my real challenge was in the Piatigorsky
class. The class was a very difficult environment for me because I
was expected to do things that I didn't understand, let alone how to
do them. But Piatigorsky was very patient.
He kept me on the same two pieces for the entire first year -- the
Goltermann Concerto No. 1 in A minor and the Piatti Caprice No. 8. He
wanted me to learn how to play the cello, not just learn repertoire,
which is the right thing for a 13-year-old. I also had plenty of
musical inspiration elsewhere. I played chamber music every Friday
night with my father and his friends.
TF: How did you feel about playing the same two pieces for a
NR: I just was hoping that I would get them learned so that I could
move on to something else.
Piatigorsky told me the greatest thing that any teacher has ever told
me. "If you don't get bored, I don't get bored." And he was as good
as his word.
He wanted me to play heroic music like a hero, and he wanted me to
play the virtuoso music like a great juggler. He always said that
learning to play the cello is like learning to drive a car (this is
coming from a man that learned to drive a car when he was over 50).
If you learn how to do it properly, you can go anywhere. And with a
cello, it's the same. If you learn to play it properly, you can play
anything. The people that have the most difficulty are those that
have to re-learn how to play every time they learn a new piece. The
corollary to this is that, if you learn to play the cello really
well, you will tend to make the teacher superfluous, which was his
goal, that his students would become their own teachers.
TF: Did he demonstrate in lessons?
NR: Yes. He would seize someone's cello and purely express himself
with it. It came out richly and fully without any apparent concern
for whether or not everything came out technically perfect or not. It
just sounded like that was how the music was supposed to sound and
mean. He was oblivious to whether or not there would be a scratch or
a scrape, or whether the fingerboard was a little different or a
little bigger or smaller. Every cello seemed to fit his idea of how
the music was supposed to go. Whereas so many others try and fit
their musical ideas to the cello, he just fit the cello to his
TF: That must have been amazing! Did he dictate interpretations to
NR: No. That was another thing that set him apart from other
teachers. He wanted us to find our own bowings and fingerings first,
and then he would show us what was good about them or not so good.
The purpose being that merely prescribing in advance the proper
bowings and fingerings would never teach his students to deal with
these matters on their own. They would always be looking for somebody
to tell them what bowing and fingering to use. They would never learn
how to find them for themselves, so that they could best express
their own musical ideas.
TF: You mentioned that Heifetz and Primrose were also at the
Institute for Special Musical Studies. I presume you were in chamber
classes with Heifetz and Primrose. Did you enjoy working with
NR: Heifetz was an inspiring chamber music coach. It was just
wonderful. In chamber music, even more than in his violin teaching,
he taught by demonstration. He was also very involved with how to do
things in chamber music. For instance, he discussed the proper role
of each instrument, and he always wanted the first violinist to take
on the leadership role.
NR: I remember there was one Chinese student, now in the Chicago
Symphony, who had recently come over to study with him from Beijing.
She didn't know any English at the time. It was very difficult
linguistically and culturally for her to do what Mr. Heifetz wanted
her to do, which was to lead the group. She was playing first violin
and he wanted her to lead in many ways, not only musically and
gesturally, but he also wanted her to be able to say, "Let's start at
letter B," or something like that. He tried to explain to her that
she had to say, "Let's start at letter B." But he could never get her
to do anything more than nod and agree. It became very funny and
finally he gave up, laughed, and we went on to something else.
TF: Was he as imperious as is often portrayed.
NR: Not in the way you imply. Of course he was imperious in the sense
that he was an emperor, which he truly was. He was "Heifetz," after
all. But I wouldn't say "imperious," because it has negative
connotations. I would say "imperial." He behaved as an emperor should
and the people around him behaved as imperial subjects. He was a
great chamber music coach and it was thrilling to play with him.
Chamber music sessions with him were some of the greatest moments of
my life, of which they number many, not only in class but at parties
and in public.
TF: How about William Primrose, the legendary violist?
NR: My coaching with him was more limited because he stayed in Los
Angeles only for one year before he accepted a job at Indiana
University. I think Heifetz was angry with him for breaking up a good
thing. But people have to do what they have to do.
TF: Let's talk about the Tchaikovsky Competition. When you won it,
the United States and the Soviet Union were still in the throes of
the Cold War. You were thrust into the role of an American hero.
NR: And a Jewish one too, which was very important at that time
because there was a wave of anti-Jewish persecution in Russia. The
reporters from the television networks were very eager for me to talk
about such matters. I didn't really have my act together and I
thought it would be a distinct betrayal to criticize my hosts for
their politics. In the following years, I got my act a little more
together, but it was too late to do any good because it was no longer
news. If I had been a little more busy with politics, I might not
have been as busy with the cello and I might not have won that gold
TF: When you were practicing for the competition and when you won,
were you thinking that you were carrying a banner for America?
NR: I definitely carried the banner for America. I'm the only
American cellist ever to win the Tchaikovsky Competition. I was very
proud of that. It was a great victory and I did it against all odds.
I feel very fortunate to have done it. I also feel proud that I
surmounted the odds, and I also surmounted all the negative advice
that I was getting from just about everybody. And if the reporters
had asked me the same question they asked me then, regarding how I
feel about Jewish persecution, I know what I'd say now. I would say
it's not to the corrupt and evil political system of the Soviet Union
that I appeal when I play there, it's to the great Russian musical
tradition. I didn't quite have it together in my head at the time,
but I gave it a lot of thought later, and that's still how I
TF: Casals often harped on the notion of "expressive intonation,"
that each note has a unique function within a given key and that each
note must be slightly adjusted up or down to perform this function,
i.e. leading tones must be raised slightly higher. What do you think
of the concept of "expressive intonation?"
NR: I don't believe in it. I think it's a false concept. I think the
whole idea that there are different ideas of intonation is a
minefield. Casals dominated every chamber music situation that he was
in. What would he have done if somebody had said, "I don't agree with
you. I don't hear it that high?" And then what if another musician
says, "I hear it lower." Who's going to decide who's right? The fact
is that, if people practice their scales in an orderly manner, they
will all come to the same idea of where the note is supposed to go.
That decision is predicated not only on practicing the scales, but on
practicing arpeggios, thirds, etc. You can't do all those things and
have a different ideal of intonation. All the tones, if they're based
on a harmonic framework, will gradually come to their center, to
their proper place, and everyone will play together. I never have
trouble playing in tune with my colleagues who deal with the
fundamentals such as scale practice, arpeggio practice, and double
stops, particularly thirds. I only have difficulty playing in tune
with people that make an ideology out of expressive intonation.
Piatigorsky didn't talk about that stuff. He wanted things to be in
TF: When you say you don't believe in expressive intonation, are you
saying that, for instance, there is only one F# on the D-string, the
first F# above the open D string, no matter what key you're in?
NR: Yes, I am. I think that F# is the note you play with the third
finger in first position on the D string that forms a perfect minor
third with the open A string.
TF: You do not believe that, in the key of G Major, the F#, because
it is the leading tone in the key of G, is a little higher than the
F# in the key of F# Major?
NR: I don't even think you have to deal with that. For instance,
let's say, in the key of G Major, you play a dominant chord and then
a tonic chord in the following way: first finger on the C string on
D, first finger on the G string on A, third finger on the D string on
F#, and open A, and it sounds right. Then you play just G with open
string, and G with your fourth finger on the D string in unison to
form an octave as the next chord. Your F# will be part of the
dominant-tonic progression. It will also be a leading tone. The
relationship with the open A string dictates where the F# must be,
there is no choice.
Now let's play in a different key, in the key of f# minor: the fourth
finger on the C string on F#, the fourth finger also splatted across
the G string on C#, second finger on the F# on the D string, and once
again the open A string. Because of the open A string again, the F#
on the D string is dictated to be in the same place as it was in the
key of G. This also dictates how you play F# with the fourth finger
on the C string in order to sound in tune, with the F# an octave
With these two examples, you will have just played the F# in two
different keys, and they will sound in tune, even though the F#
hasn't changed. I simply do not believe that it's a different note.
It's the same note.
TF: The expressive intonation crowd might respond by saying that the
open A string can actually be considered as "out of tune" in some
keys, and that you must alter your intonation to make an allowance
for the open A string, which cannot be changed.
Let me put another twist in this issue. There are some cellists who
tune their strings to what is known as "tight fifths," where, for
instance, the C string is tuned slightly high. This is done because,
if they don't, the C string will not be in tune with the violinist's
E string. Though the cello may be in tune with itself, it won't be in
tune with the violin. Doesn't this suggest that perhaps there is some
truth to the idea of expressive intonation?
NR: I generally tune my C string a touch high so that I am in tune
with the violinist. You may have something here. I have my own
ideology about what playing in tune means. I believe in daily scale
practice, because that's what keeps your ear "clear," keeping your
ear going in the same direction as everybody else who does it. There
is very little disagreement about such things as a scale in thirds,
where you'll often find yourself playing a G or a D or something that
compares with an open string. Most disagreements about intonation, in
my opinion, have less to do with expressive intonation than just
failure to practice the fundamentals.
I also think that too often talking about expressive intonation or
differences of opinion is just a way to indulge in what I call power
politics, which is all around us in the chamber music field. It's not
around us in the orchestral field because the conductor is the boss;
there is an established hierarchy in orchestras. But in the chamber
music field I tend to avoid playing in groups where I know the first
violinist expects to be the big boss, and I cleave toward chamber
music groups where I'm happy to be merely guided by the first
TF: Let's talk about Bach. I want to start with a statement made in
an article by Richard Taruskin in the January 1995 issue of "Strings"
magazine. He said the following: Pablo Casals "did for Bach's Cello
Suites what Chaliapin did for the role of Boris Godunov in
Mussorgsky's opera: revived them from the dead, made them a classic,
created their performance practice, and, as interpretations of
consummate authority inevitably will, ruined them for generations to
Do you agree with this statement?
NR: Not at all. That's like saying anything that's good ruins it for
somebody else. That's like saying that Henry Aaron spoiled the home
run for everybody else. Stupid! And Casals is not responsible for
abuses of Bach that occur because of untalented imitations of his
playing. You can't blame Heifetz for abuses of the violin literature
that are untalented imitations of his way either. We are all richer
for great art and great artists, we're not poorer because they did
something wonderfully. What I hear from that quote is that "Casals
spoiled Bach." How can he say that? Some lesser musicians may have
spoiled it because they were so enamored with Casals' way of playing
and rightly so. I can't help but be enamored with his Bach Suite
recordings. Some of his Suites I prefer over others, but there has
been nothing that is so full of character and personality and beauty.
They're still my favorite records of these works. I don't think you
can blame somebody for doing something beautiful. That's putting the
wrong spin on it. You can certainly blame people for doing something
ugly that is a rather poor imitation of an influential artist.
TF: I have your recently released recordings of the Bach Suites. I
compared yours with those of Casals, Lynn Harrell, Rostropovich,
Tortelier, Fournier, Bylsma, Yo-Yo Ma, and Starker. I compared the
amount of time each movement takes in each set of recordings. I
noticed that all of your preludes, for instance, except for one are
slower than everybody else's. In fact, you were slowest or second
slowest a majority of the time. Was this a conscious decision on your
part, or did they just come out that way?
NR: No, it's not a conscious decision! I play the music the way I
think it should go and hope it sounds good. I haven't heard anybody
complain that they're too slow. It's not how slow or how fast, it's
how you make it fast, or how you make it slow. There can be two
artists that play a piece with the same exact basic tempo. One of
them can sound too fast and the other can sound too slow, but neither
of them may sound just right. Then a third person can do the same
tempo and sound perfect. It's a matter of how the time is filled with
events. I certainly think that there is a tempo that's too fast and a
tempo that's too slow. But, within a certain framework, there are
only performances that sound too fast or too slow.
TF: What I find interesting is that we often point to Casals as the
icon of Romanticism, and therefore assume that he must play with very
slow, emotionally self-indulgent tempos. It turns out that this is
not true at all. In fact, he uses some of the fastest tempos of all
the Bach Suite recordings.
NR: Yes, because he bounces right along most of the time. You also
hear the same thing said about Heifetz, that he represents a Romantic
approach toward Baroque music. But the fact is, if you listen to his
recording of the Bach concertos, you'll find that he plays with a
brightness, lilt, and rhythmic bounce that so many of the performance
practice folks are busy promoting today. I think that, rather than
being a throwback to the late 19th century, you'll often find that
Heifetz is a precursor of the future. People are so busy listening to
Heifetz with these preconceptions that they can't even hear this.
TF: I have a couple more granular questions about your recordings of
the Bach Suites. In the Sixth Suite, I notice that you chose not to
take some of the repeats. Why?
NR: That's true. In the early Bach suites I took more repeats, while
in the late suites I generally took fewer. They were starting to feel
a little long with all repeats. For instance, when I listen to other
cellists play the Allemande in D major, I generally don't know what
it's all about, though I know what it's about for myself. I think the
Allemande is like Bach's Air on the G String without the
accompaniment. The absence of the accompaniment makes it a little bit
long if you take all the repeats. But I think it's a beautiful melody
and it does imply a certain harmonic motion underneath it, as if it
were actually there. I often hear people playing the Allemande very
jerky as if they've read some faulty treatise on Baroque music, that
it's all ornamental, which always sounds wrong to me.
TF: You don't believe that the 32nd notes are actually written out
NR: No, I don't. Do you think that the Air on the G String is written
out ornaments too?
TF: No, the Air is more melodic..
NR: Yes, that's what I think too. This also applies to the Allemande
in D Major. There are ornamental aspects, of course, but you have to
think of it rhythmically and melodically. You're in much better shape
than if you think of it ornamentally. If you think of it
ornamentally, you're more likely to ruin the rhythm, and nobody will
feel like it's an Air melody.
Let me digress for a moment. People often talk about the notion that
these pieces are dance movements. They're not dance movements! They
are works for unaccompanied cello which have, with the exception of
the Preludes, titles of dance movements.
TF: But they do retain the dance form implied in the titles.
NR: Yes, they have the titles of Renaissance dances that had not been
danced for hundreds of years before Bach! People weren't dancing
allemandes in Bach's time. They were just convenient musical forms
whose French titles he borrowed.
TF: Perhaps. But they do retain the general characteristics of each
dance form, particularly in the earlier Suites. For instance, the
Sarabandes are always in 3 with the emphasis on the second beat,
which is in line with the definition of a sarabande.
NR: Yes, except in the 5th Suite. But sarabandes weren't danced in
Bach's time either. Granted, some of the movements are more
dance-like. Some of the gigues are quite dance-like, and other
movements are more or less dance-like. But I often read reviews of
recordings where the critic says, "This is dance music, it has to
sound like dance music." It isn't dance music! It is music which uses
titles of dance forms which were obsolete even in Bach's day.
People are looking for rules that they can spread, even if they're
false rules. My feeling is you must always look for the melody,
particularly in the more complex later suites, where there are more
chordal accompanying figures. With few exceptions, you mustn't
sacrifice the melody for anything. You have to keep the melody going.
In order to do that, you have to have a firm rhythmic underpinning.
You have to play with a tone quality and connection that is
appropriate to melodic playing. In other words, you have to think
vocally, and not so much ornamentally. I don't feel that the presence
or absence of ornaments has much influence upon the musical and
spiritual worth of what somebody is playing. As a matter of fact,
sometimes I can tell when a performer is thinking about what ornament
they're supposed to be playing, which generally detracts from the
performance more than just about anything for me. When I hear people
trying to be politically correct with their ornaments, I want to
leave the hall.
TF: One last question on your Bach Suite recordings. I noticed that
often you don't start your trills on the upper note of the trill, as
is often done.
NR: Ah, yes! I don't like to spout rules, but let me give you one of
mine. I hate being made aware of which note I'm starting the trill
on. I don't like to hear somebody pushing out that upper note of the
trill so that they can claim immunity from prosecution. It doesn't
always fit the music. For instance, if the written note before the
trill is the same as the basic note of the trill, then it's nice to
start with the upper note, but not in such a way that you're ramming
it down people's throats. But if the note before the trill is the
upper note of the trill, it's inadvisable to start on that note
again! The only reason for playing the upper note first is to start
the trill without repeating a note. I don't see any reason to start
with the upper note, unless the preceding note is identical to the
fundamental note of the trill.
Another reason to start with an upper note trill is, not because
somebody wrote it in a book with which one may either agree or
disagree, but because the upper note of trills is frequently out of
tune. Paul Rosenthal's idea is that if you play the upper note first,
you are more likely to play a true whole step or a true half step, as
the case may be. And so that's a good reason. But I would prefer not
to be made aware of it by hearing a long, on the beat, appoggiatura,
the way so many people do. It's very tiresome, very irritating, and I
don't like it.
TF: Many readers will find this conversation to be very
NR: I should hope so! Listen, I believe in God and God didn't tell me
to do that. In fact, I'm certain he told me NOT to start on the upper
TF: It's difficult to refute that kind of "footnote." Let's move to
another topic. Do you think Pablo Casals could succeed today?
NR: Definitely. But we must not forget that artists are the sum total
of what they are and what they have heard. In a sense, you can't ask
that question any more than you can ask what would have happened if
somebody had killed both Hitler and Stalin in 1930? Would we be happy
people and all be successful cellists today? You're playing with time
by asking that question. If Casals was a young man now, he would hear
all the recordings of Heifetz, instead of just hearing the young
Heifetz when he was an old man. The influences upon him would be
Fritz Kreisler would succeed now, too. People like that walk a
different earth than the rest of us. They are more musical. People
like Yehudi Menuhin, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Pablo Casals,
Gregor Piatigorsky, and Serge Rachmaninoff are more musical than
everybody else. That's why the world is drawn to them, even to this
day. I think that, whenever somebody has a unique voice on a string
instrument, and if a great personality emerges, he or she will be
TF: One often hears complaints about the lack of individuality in
today's musicians. Do you agree with this?
NR: I have heard that so often, not only from my fellow judges in
competitions, but even in my role as member of an orchestral audition
committee, when I was principal cellist of the Pittsburgh Symphony.
If you can believe it, I have heard complaints from orchestral
audition committee colleagues that an applicant for a section string
position was lacking in personality. It made me very angry to hear
them complaining that a section string player was lacking in
personality in his audition. The only thing you can conceivably
complain about in an orchestral audition is that there's too much
personality! In contest juries it's quite different, of course. The
judges complain about a lack of personality in the playing until
somebody actually does play with a great deal of individuality, and
then they don't like it. In my opinion, they're often not complaining
about the lack of personality and individuality. They're really
complaining about people who are not playing the way they think it
should go, because it's not the individuality they like.
Great personalities, unique voices, are always in short supply. I
dare say that the reason why Pavarotti and Frank Sinatra are at the
top of their professions is because you can always recognize their
voices. The same thing occurs when you hear Fritz Kreisler or Jascha
Heifetz; they have that special tone that identifies them. I don't
think this is necessarily a thing of the past, it's just rare.
TF: Is there such thing as a wrong interpretation?
NR: Sure. Maybe it's just wrong for me, though. When I hear it, if I
think it sounds too fast or too slow, or if it sounds too heavy or
too light, then it is a wrong interpretation for me.
Interestingly, I have a Rachmaninoff and Kreisler recording of the
Beethoven Sonata No. 8 in G major that sounds very, very right to me.
But when I follow the score as they play, I notice that they do
almost all the dynamics opposite to what Beethoven wrote. They seem
to be doing a crescendo when it says diminuendo. They seem to be
playing loud when it says soft, soft when it says loud, and so on.
And yet truly recreative artists like those two, in addition to being
great composers, are more musical than other people and that's really
the bottom line. They make things sound right, and they make the
Other people who slavishly follow everything that's on the printed
page, without even knowing what they're doing, may make it sound like
a wrong interpretation because they don't have the right feeling of
rhythm, the right feeling of melody, or the appropriate tone quality.
It's hard to tell what makes it right or wrong. I fall back on my
perhaps inadequate ideal that musical people play musically, while
unmusical people play unmusically.
TF: Rank the following items in order of importance to you as a
soloist: musicality, personality, technique, "taste," being faithful
to the composer, authenticity, and audience pleasure.
NR: Musicality and personality are things inside you. If you're
playing music, you are musical to a greater or lesser extent.
Musicality and personality are the most important. Otherwise, the
audience won't enjoy it. In order to make the music sound right, it
has to be filtered through a strong personality. You must have a tone
quality that is representative of your character, your voice.
Look at the really successful opera singers. It's the ones that have
a unique voice that are successful. Why has Maria Callas dominated
the charts in the last few years with the release of so many of her
recordings and live performances on CD? Why does the Callas industry
seem to be continuing without any letdown? It's because the sound
itself is so compelling and unique and individual. You always know
when Callas is singing. Just like you can tell when Pavarotti is
singing, or when Kreisler is playing. That's what it is, the unique
voice. Callas remains popular even though on most of her recordings
she'll wobble on some of the high notes, whereas more consistently
"excellent" artists will be forgotten.
I'm not sure if technique even belongs on the list since technique is
necessary for everybody that plays an instrument; it's assumed that
you can play your instrument if you are a professional musician. You
have to know how to put your fingers and bow on the string, whether
or not you are a soloist, playing in an orchestra, or playing chamber
music. I would also put audience pleasure rather low on the list,
because you must have the other items before you can please the
TF: I can guess what you think about authenticity.
NR: Authenticity is a horrible word. It's just like saying some
people are authentic while others are not. It's actually a disgusting
word to me because it sounds very much like certain modern racist
sentiments. For instance, is this an authentic black man or isn't he?
I hate that stuff. And I don't like to see it in music either, as if
somebody with a certain ideal about how a certain era of music should
be performed, is somehow more authentic than somebody with a
different one. I don't find that the predominant late 20th century
style of playing baroque music to be more compelling than the early
20th century style.
TF: In other words, you don't like musical bigotry.
TF: I imagine being faithful to the composer isn't too high on the
NR: I don't have to worry about that. You know why?
NR: Because I trust myself. I trust that if I've studied the score
and know my part and have prepared my part faithfully, that I will
not do what is unfaithful to the score or unmusical or tasteless. I
have to trust myself, and I have every right to. And so I don't worry
about those things. What I concern myself mostly with is physical
Musicians spend their practice time working on physical things after
a certain point. I dare say that, when Nathan Milstein was preparing
his recitals and concerto appearances as an old man and a great
virtuoso, he wasn't busy thinking, "Now, how is the Beethoven
concerto supposed to go?" He was busy making sure that all of his
intelligence and passion went into making sure that it sounded the
way he meant it to sound. I don't think he was doubting about how he
meant it to sound. The doubts came only as, "Can I, at my age, make
it sound the way I want it?" And he could, because he was great and
he maintained his enthusiasm for his violin. He knew how to work at
it in a way that maximized his diminishing physical resources. So
that's what we do. I think people practice not only for their
technique, but to maximize their physical resources when they play,
so that they have a little cushion of security. That's what
practicing is most of the time. I think you have to get the music
into your blood, and that either takes a short time or it might take
a long time. Then you have to make sure that your fingers and your
bow are operating properly, and that also might take a long time or a
Heifetz said that, in order to have 100 percent in the performance,
you must have 130 percent in your practice. You lose at least thirty
percent from all sorts of things like nerves, travel, acoustical
insecurities, changes in your instrument due to the climate, etc. So
people that are hopefully getting up to about 80 percent in their
practice room and excusing themselves the other 20 percent are
actually going to wind up with about 50 percent. The other thing he
said is that, if you only have 30 minutes to practice before a
concert when you're on tour, do 20 minutes on scales, exercises and
etudes, and then do 10 minutes on the hard passages of the piece
you're going to play.
Oh darn, where did the time go for worrying about the composer's