Who Is My Teacher?

Continued from My Jacobs Theory

Story 2:

Who is my teacher?

Dale Clevenger said when he threw me out of his circle; “You are not enough aggressive.” For years, I was sick of the situations around me and tried to change myself into the aggressive human being. It made me more tired. Finally, I decided to be what I am.

Dale Clevenger also said, “Sound comes from mind, not your brain.” Don’t you think Clevenger should analyze his sound first before bragging about this universal wisdom, especially when he is manipulating music as a king of politics?

 

I adored Gail Williams from the first moment. Lots of happenings since my first meeting with her… One day, I got an information that she wanted to teach me as her doctor student at the Northwestern. I refused her name. I know… my whatsoever excuse will receive no one’s approval, including Ms. Williams. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I can never close this chapter without writing my real reason on that moment.

Saying “NO!” was never in my list until I was 29 and my life was miserable. It was in America that I was able to say anything my opinion, and now, I can say “No!” to whoever, except Ms. Williams. Still…

By then, I already knew that her teaching wouldn’t work for me and that her mouthpiece wouldn’t please me. And I am still the one who can not say “No!” to Ms. Williams’ smiling face. So I preferred to finish my American study with other male teacher at Northwestern. As everybody knows, I was rejected…

I still wish Ms. Williams be a great teacher who is able to teach all her American students the function of her sound. I write this because I know how much American students adore Ms. Williams as their teacher and their forerunner.

To be continued…

Sincerely yours,

P.S.: No time to listen to the radio. No time to read your articles. I only check my mail box.

 

(Originally written on Feb. 27, 2006)

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

As for Nancy Cochran Bloch

Weird that her name no more appears in UM-KC’s faculty list. How old is she? Dale Clevenger is still working in the orchestra despite his old age.

Since so many younger, never-qualified female horn professors were waiting for her name being abused, it took a long time for me to mention her name in public.

I started anyway.

But when did I want any performers to lose their professor job because of me? I never did. I only wished Ms. Bloch’s daughter be given the exactly same treatment from her teacher wherever she goes.

I just didn’t mind UM-KC’s musicologist being fired. And she is still there. Is her name Olga Dolskaya-Ackerly?

By the time I arrived at the UM-KC, this music school looked like an Amazon Kingdom, which was owned by Russians. And professor Olga Dolskaya-Ackerly looked like a Russian owner’s only daughter. Furthermore, the performance and the academic department were weirdly opposed to each other. Please imagine her notorious fame among the students in the performance department.

I still remember her hilariously greedy, burning eyes. I didn’t know what a greedy pig a human being could be transformed into until I saw her walking toward me in the library. Her greedy eyes wanted to prove that the academic department was far superior to the performance area, and therefore, not the horn professor but she was the one whom I should follow first. This pig never gave up her academic plan even after she received a special instruction from Someone-Above-Pig. She suddenly changed her attitude when she figured out that there was another music school to which I could be transferred.

Well… I’ve never experienced the terrible lecture like hers: funnily unorganized bla-bla-bla… I’m still wondering… Are all her students still required to listen to all the Wagner operas in one night? What kind of language is this Russian immigrant speaking in an American music school, by the way?

Throughout my UM-KC days, this Russian musicologist was busy analyzing me. Don’t you think she should analyze herself first before making whatsoever analysis of fucking others?

First of all, this musicologist should at least understand all the detailed information about how to play the instruments and be able to pick up academically valuable music making, if she really wants all the instrumentalists to memorize all the detailed, profound indeed, knowledge written about music. Shouldn’t she?

This is the right attitude of the musicologist, I believe.

Well… the musicologist know nothing about music. They just read many things and write many things that give me no clue how to imagine what music should sound like. Just like all the musicologists I’ve met during my American residency, except one.

Am I writing my story?

I’m merely writing the practical relationship between the performers and the musicologists.

Theory is to Practice as the Musicologist is to the Performer.

Now here is my story.

I know I gave up. I resumed reading the Psalm and I will refuse to go to Heaven. I will stab this Russian pig’s greedy eyes to death. If I fail in this life, I will do this in my next life. Please wait for me.

Without this Russian bitch, my relationship with professor Bloch could have been different.

But still, she didn’t know how to teach me. Her only concern was to make certain her name as my teacher and to make me enroll her school ensemble which was hopelessly untrained. And it was after I promised to do my best to follow her that she started manipulating my student life.

What did she do?

She was eager to try to teach me something: All about American style.

The fact that she was given a special instruction from Clevenger’s Chicago Rival at the Northwestern was even another story.

Among them, I still remember that horrible moment, in which she tried to teach me what kind of full, loud sound I should make to fill the room.

You wrote:

“The most distinctive aspect of Mr. Zukerman’s playing, something that struck the ear right away, was his remarkable tone production. He is a tonal hedonist at heart, and without pressing or forcing his instrument he generated a warm, liquid sound that effortlessly filled the hall and even, at a few thrilling moments… with his trademark full-throated sound. For all of the beauty of tone, however, this listener also wished for a bit more of a commitment to exploring the deep recesses behind the notes. Mr. Zukerman’s playing brought to mind a principle of his former mentor, Isaac Stern. A performer’s task, Stern always said, was to convince a listener not only how this music should be played, but why. (February 10, 2004)”

Interesting writing.

Well… If Zukerman starts to ponder on “a bit more of a commitment to exploring the deep recesses behind the notes,” there would be a huge, fundamental change in his remarkable tone production, and then, his trademark full-throated sound will be gone.

So, it’s the end of the story.

And the less talented his musicians are, the more it will be easy and effective for them to follow his impeccable techniques, either on the violin or on the viola. Then you will say: warm, liquid, full, beautiful, bla-bla-bla…

This Zukerman’s trademark full-throated sound is another answer that led Du Pre’s cello sound and her physical strength finally to death, by the way. Isn’t it? Listen to their Trio, please. Am I wrong?

Still… if I am forced to accept this Barenboim’s dearest friend and their real-or-fake-or-political friendship, Here is my only answer: “Fuck you!”

Barenboim still proudly insists: “There is no compromise in making music. It is a favorite word of the politicians.”

Perfect.

Then the critics’ agreement amidst musical cheers.

More than perfect.

If…

If I were in Ms. Bloch’s shoes, I would have consulted with Clevenger about how to teach his former student who wanted to study with me. This has been a philosophy of my own teaching theory.

Perhaps… Ms. Bloch didn’t accept Clevenger’s music, but only believed in his fame as a king of the politics. All Americans, including her students, used to say: “The CSO was the CSO during the 70s only. They are gone now.”

Then what about Professor Kazimierz Machala at the UI-UC?

Please ask Zubin Mehta about his favorite sound. Sic!

This Polish guy even confessed that he was once in trouble to find something his favorite. Most of all, he had to survive in his professional situation. He is now content with what he’s achieved in his professional life. His mouthpiece in particular. Well… I never want to listen to his sound again.

Whatever I say, however, he has no word to dispute-or-rebut, for I actually saved his professorship. His school ensembles were so bad, so unorganized that no one used to appreciate his students’ playing. And the story goes on…

Funny that all Americans, including Zubin Mehta, considered Mehta’s LA as the heyday of Maestro Mehta. It was my longtime mystery until I actually heard their performance from the radio.

You Stupid Folks…

Who was Mehta’s predecessor? Zubin Mehta was destroying everything that his predecessor had achieved… It has been years that I read articles and forumites. Still no American who picked it up.

Well… You wrote.

“The Boston Symphony now has a brass section as gleaming and polished as the Chicago Symphony’s during Sir Georg Solti’s tenure, and its playing in this perilously brass-heavy work was spectacular. (July 11, 2005)”

I seriously recommend you to listen to their individual sound, for the function of each sound is exactly opposite. From the BSO to the CSO, from the CSO to the BSO.

To be continued…

Sincerely yours,

P.S.: No time to listen to the radio. No time to read your articles. I only check my mail box.

(Originally written on March 5, 2006)

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

How many years have passed since the late principal of the KBS Symphony Orchestra left his ensemble where his son is also working? And besides, what is the ex-principal of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra doing now? I’ve hesitated to mention these Korean names, for their next generation also wanted to finish their life as a horn player. Now, I don’t think this writing would hurt anything their professional career. (As a matter of fact… The less I appreciate their native talent, the more everybody will protect their professional future, as all the happenings used to be. So… I care nothing.)

How many musicians showed sensitive response to my playing when I returned to Korea?

Two musicians. (A DMA holder from the Eastman School of Music is surely not the one… I’m still wondering why, for he used to have keener ears than I do. But he seemed to be chained to the situations around him by then. And now it seems that he lost it forever. Anyways…)

One of them, however, should not be an answer, for he who used to undervalue my talent was surprised at my ability to make highnotes. Perhaps, he may have been hooked by the quality of my highnotes, but his present performance tells me that he is not the one.

The ex-principal of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra was the one. That night, I didn’t know he was in the audience. As usual, the whole concert was horrible, thanks to you-know-who, but there was a moment, at which I could prove something about the orchestra sound and he picked it up. How can I forget his blissful face running toward me after the concert? That moment he seemed to forget all the politics that used to exist between us, and think about music only. The next day, he called me to invite me into something musical event, and I refused his invitation.

I still remember his beautiful sound floating over the string section. Some said his playing was too weak, compared to my late Korean teacher. He was the one who continued to regard my behaviors as a political gesture when I visited his orchestra during my vacation. Now, his name is nowhere to be found and his retirement was even before the reorganization of the SPO.

I am still thinking… What would happen to my Korean life if I accepted his phone call that morning?

I couldn’t accept his invitation. When I returned to Korea, everything was different. My late Korean teacher was gone. But then, how can I explain that weird situation in which the irreconcilable rivalry between those two principals also disappeared? He was giving up his lifelong stubborn sound, and therefore, his performance was totally different. Then I saw his son studying the same instrument as his and this boy was showing the best schooling of my late Korean teacher, who was in fact his lifelong rival. Surely, his orchestra, the former SPO, was dying in those days, but I still don’t think his abandoning his trademark-sound was due to survive in his ensemble situation.

I am still thinking… What would have happened to my Korean life if I accepted his phone call that morning? Who should I blame? Him or his son or myself? I’m still wondering… What’s happened to his son’s playing since then? And what is now a favorite music of the SPO’s ex-principal? His son’s whatever playing or something that is still preserved at the bottom of his heart?

If my late Korean teacher is still alive, he would be perhaps late in his sixties. I was a teenager student when he was in his forties. I am now entering my forties and keep thinking about his behaviors as a teacher. If I were in his shoes, If I had my own kids, would that have affected my teaching?

I don’t know… Perhaps, I would prefer to quit teaching other’s children who may block my kids’ professional future.

He was a sonnovabich, of course. However, there is still no doubt in my mind that he was among the most conscientious musicians in this Korean music society, which is the epitome of corruption. For some reason, I was called his adopted daughter. As a matter of fact, his teaching was filled with fatherly concern until his son picked up the same instrument as his. So many happenings since then… Finally, he opened his mouth after confirming that I knew everything.

His word was simple: “Put her (his future daughter-in-law) in your situation/job during your absence? Fuck you! She’s not a slave. You want to study abroad? I am also the one who wants to study abroad. I want to study NOW. You will never return to this place again, anyway.”

He never said good-bye to me. He passed away during my American residency. And whatever his wish was, I learned what he wanted to learn throughout all his professional years. And years have passed again, then I am thinking again…

To those who would lament that the dead has no mouth to defend himself, I can explain ALL about US in public, because, even after all the happenings between US, I was the only one who quietly called him to inform him of the emergent situation he faced when his no-less-than-trashy juniors planned a specific happening to find a good opportunity for him to be dismissed. Still, my opinion is no different that if fifty-something-year-old solo horn should be sacked for whatever reason, all those thirty-or-forty-something-year-old woodwinds should be fired, too, because not the old accompaniment horn part but those young melody wind parts used to be out-of-tuned. I can say that they were never in-tuned, because I used to check their performance with the electronic-tuner whenever they never followed nor blend with the strings, who were sitting right behind them and boasting their foreign diploma with their impeccable melody brilliantly shining OVER the string sound, which section sound always flew into the specific pitch toward the end of their concert no matter what pitch they started from; 440 or 442 or 444 or and so on.

But then, it took less than a month for him to turn his back on me. Time has passed, then I am thinking again…

Who is now a leading figure in this Korean music society, which is now proudly having several professional ensembles? Several professional ensembles mean several principals, all of whom are eager to stand right in the center of politics. The horn professor of the Seoul National University will also be the one.

I promise. If they read this writing, all of them will laugh at my nostalgic way of thinking. So… I may have to write more about the present musical happenings in my town. Months ago, I met one business man, whose kid was studying music, and here is our conversation:

A: 아니, 말 들어보니까 그 성악선생 레벨 B, C급도 안 되는데 시간당 10만원씩 받아요?

B: 이 동네는 원래 다 그렇대요. 그나저나 이번 여름부터는 레슨을 매일 오라고 하는데… 예전 같으면 한 달에 300만원이라도 어떻게든 해보겠는데 지금 같아서는 엄두가 안나요. 그렇다고 음악을 하지 말라고 할 수도 없고… (한숨만 내쉬고 있음)

A: 근데 왜 꼭 음악을 해야 해요? 그 돈이면 저축했다가 대학 아무데나 졸업하고 지참금으로 주는 것이 더 나을 텐데요. 어차피 음대 나오면 돌대가리취급밖에 더 받아요? 그리고 머릿속에 든 것이 없어서 자식교육도 못 시켜요.

B: 음악하면 수능공부를 안 해도 된대요.

A: 거참… 아니 공부를 얼마나 못하길래 그런가요?

B: 4등급이래요.

I can write more. I also happen to meet one student, whose playing lacks fundamental concept of building the sound on her instrument. I was so speechless that I had to ask her mom about her teachers. Who taught her? The professor/lecturer of the Korean National University of Arts!

How many music schools are running their business in this country? Funny that none of my family members, who are in fact a member of Korean elite and their monthly salary is above the average, can afford this amount of money for the music education. Funnier that so many Koreans are enough rich…

To be continued…

Sincerely yours,

Jiwon

(Originally written on March 15, 2006)

Dear New York Folks,

This is Jiwon.

Anyways, Both of ex-principals of the Korean professional ensembles are gone. Whatever his wish was, I learned what my late Korean teacher wanted to learn throughout all his professional years.

Years have passed again, then I am thinking again…

Weird that I’ve never listened to the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, which was reorganized months ago. No matter what… I was curious… and tried to… but always failed to remember turning on the radio… weird! Perhaps, it is now an impossible job for me to remember this 8 o’clock program on the radio.

Since I missed their recent performance again, I turned on the computer… At least, I need to check their up-to-date performance to confirm my theory: “이거 오디션 한거 맞어??? 헐… 단원이 갈리긴 갈렸군. 근데 도대체 무슨 근거로 이런 Schubert 연주가 가슴에 와 닿는다는 거야. 하긴, 이렇게 박력에 넘치는 고급음악만 듣던 사람들이 김수희의 ‘애모’를 즐긴다는 것 자체가 무리겠지. 어차피 현파트는 그 소리가 그 소린데, 악장이 한국물 먹을 때쯤 되면 젊은 놈으로 갈아치우고 단원들은 매년 재오디션 한다고 겁주고 달달 볶으면, 매번 이정도 소리는 나겠군^^”

By the way, this new SPO’s wind section is nothing but the youth ensemble of the KBS Symphony Orchestra. (True that couple of members are better than the KBS’s. But their basic is already there.) They announce that each wind section’s new principals will start their job sometime soon. They also believe that those new guys will proudly boast their charming personality to rehabilitate themselves after a yearlong painstaking ensemble performance. I know all the musicians here are workaholics, then when are they going to sound like a professional orchestra? How can they become something professional without playing oompha, oompha, oompha-pha?

Now, please listen carefully and imagine their professional future. You suddenly hear that my late Korean teacher is right there, don’t you? Or they will never be able to play the classical version of Mozart, Beethoven, or Brahms after boasting their oompha-pha performance. I mean… the classical version, which should sound neither authentic nor Mehta’s Mahlerian Wagnerian version…

The new SPO is not the only one. This Korean music society annually celebrate the Orchestra Festival and how many participants join this event? (I wonder. How many members actually get their monthly salary and how much?) Furthermore, below are what I found from the Youth Orchestra’s repertoire in this area. It will be also interesting to compare it with Barenboim’s East-West Divan Youth Orchestra.

Youth Orchestra A

1. Debussy, Prelude a “L’Apres-midi d’un Faune”

2. Ravel, Pavane pour une infante defunte

3. Shostakovich, Cello Concerto No.1 Op.107

4. Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachmusik

5. Prokofiev, Symphony No,1 Op,25 (Classical Symphony)

Youth Orchestra B

1. Wagner, Die Meistersinger Prelude

2. Beethoven, Symphony No.9 op.125

Youth Orchestra C

1. Something Contemporary Music

2. Tchaikovsky, Violin Concerto in D major op.35

3. Beethoven, Symphony No.5 in c minor “Schicksal”

Youth Orchestra D

1. Rossini, Overture La gazza ladra 

2. Gliere, Horn Concerto in B-flat Major op. 91

3. Mahler, Symphony No.1 in D Major “Titan”

Youth Orchestra E-Z

… not enough time to search…

I wonder.

How many horn students get their professional job after this impeccable performance? And why… why those same professionals in this orchestra festival sound so funny? I mean, unprofessionally funny or professionally uninteresting. Even after the foreign players joined them.

My late Korean teacher told me. His voice was real. “You want to study abroad? I am also the one who wants to study abroad. I want to study NOW.”

There was nothing for him to learn more. He was just fine. What he should have learned more… from Dale Clevenger, the principal of American top orchestra, was that

He should have learned more about how to manipulate his music business not as a mere principal of one section but as a leader of one orchestra.

Simply, he was too diligent.

He studied so hard, remembered so many of his previous performances that his classical repertoire always approached him as something new and he always wanted to make better sound in his next concert.

He never made it. Why do you think so?

He was too busy at following his ensemble: from too many different maestros to too many different sounds around him.

His sound was a natural result of his diligent life.

Therefore, it is still hard for me to understand why so many juniors are denying their forerunner and wasting their valuable time to study something another, because my late Korean teacher has already proved the most effective horn sound as an orchestra player in Korean music society.

One thing interest about his performance. He was originally a Korean national (traditional) wind musician before picking up this western bugle. Despite the fact that he was perhaps the most diligent musician I’ve ever experienced, his unique way of music making was always there: rhythm, melody, etc. Therefore, the audience didn’t approve some of his interpretation and used to say,

“His Romantic music is weird while his Mozart is OK.” (His orchestra music, I mean.)

None of them mentioned about his sound. However, my problem with him, unlike the usual audience and most musicians, was his sound, which I could neither make nor follow.

Now… don’t you think I should analyze myself first, before writing about you?

To be continued… (too tired now…)

Sincerely yours,

Jiwon

P.S.: I know each of you has your own e-mail address. However… Since the reason of this writing is not to build more friendship with Your New York Critics, I want to ignore it. You are welcome to ignore mine, of course. Thanks.

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