©Ars Nova Software 2023
Notes on the Blomstedt Conducting Institutes, 1975-79
Jeff Evans

In 1975 I was singing in the Berkeley Bach Society and decided to begin conducting a rehearsal one day when the music director was late. The director, the great Ted Flath, now gone from us, suggested that if I was interested in conducting I might want to attend the conducting institute led by Herbert Blomstedt, which was held for 2 weeks each summer at Loma Linda University. Plainly he felt I needed it. I hitchhiked to Loma Linda and for the next five years attended these sessions, which became the most important educational experience of my life. Conducting students lived in a dorm for those two weeks each summer and spent all of each day either in the rehearsal room with an orchestra made up of instrumental masterclass students, or in lecture without the orchestra. In the evening we studied scores if there was no evening session scheduled, and at the end of the institute the works studied were presented in concert by chosen students. During that time I started a small orchestra in Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, and did my best to apply the lessons, but I have never written about them. Recently I found my notes from those sessions, and would like to pass some of them on as they could be helpful to other students. Though the institutes are no more, Blomstedt, at this writing, is still working: the world's oldest active conductor and a very inspiring man. In the following I will paraphrase his remarks as remembered in my notes from that time. They are accurate only to the limits of my note taking ability and are not to be trusted as direct quotes - but they're pretty close. The sketch at left is a doodle from the notebook I kept in that first session. It is not what one would call a realistic image of Blomstedt, but to me it seems to capture something of him. - J.E., 2023


Blomstedt's school can be summarized as deep score preparation combined with certain basic technical skills that give the conductor control over rhythmic, dynamic, and tonal detail.

First is score preparation, which means ultimately knowing every note of the music, plus the background of the work, the performance history of the work - everything. Of course students like myself never met that ideal, but the attempt to get even partway there was illuminating.

Then there is the technique, which begins with a clear pendular beat. The tempo - and any adjustment to tempo - is communicated to the orchestra through the upbeat. Modifications to the upbeat and to the shape of the downbeat offer control over all timing and even many expressive aspects once the conductor knows exactly what is wanted.

Beyond that are details: stance, for example, and the elimination of all that is not necessary. Blomstedt recommended a quiet stance without extreme gestures except at extraordinary moments; I was reminded not to rise onto my toes. My right wrist was found to be too 'floppy' - the baton is an extension of the forearm. He recommended hand independence - rather than mirroring the conducting hand, the other hand finds uses in cuing and helping with dynamics. Speaking is kept to a minimum and should be specific: rather than suggesting that a passage should sound "like a sunrise," for example, strings would want to know: on the string, off the string, tip of the bow...? Most of all, each conductor was advised to always know in advance exactly what was wanted. By the time we reach rehearsal the work should be fixed in our mind.

Attaining a good beat

Blomstedt taught us a simple exercise: Allow your conducting arm to hang freely at your side. Then start your arm swinging forward and back, freely, like a pendulum. Do not force it down; let it swing naturally. A pendulum accelerates downward, deaccelerates upward. Once that arm is swinging naturally, gradually bend the elbow and rotate the swing until you are swinging left-right in front of your body. Now you are beating in two. Keeping that same natural movement, transfer that swing to the patterns of 4/4 and 3/4, etc. This will take long practice if you have previous experience of doing it another way, but it has the advantage of clearly indicating the time of the coming downbeat. For example, digging deeper before coming up tells the orchestra that the beat is coming later; a "fishing" gesture quickening the upbeat suggests the opposite. Smaller movements allow a faster tempo; broadening the gestures will suggest a slowing. These gestures are understood without conscious effort and do not need explaining to the musicians.

A common error is "placing the beat." You are placing the beat if you push to the bottom in an effort to get there in time. If you feel the need to do that it's because you are now following the orchestra, not leading it. The usual result is a slowing of tempo and a loss of control.

Daily Notes, 1975 session

Week one, day one. Monday, July 14, 1975.

Blomstedt on the conductor's stance:

• Lack of restfulness conveys to the orchestra ambiguity of purpose. Seek stability with flexibility. Legs and torso are firm but relaxed.

• Don't turn your body - turn your attention!

• Keep your mouth shut! It means nothing.

• But keep your eyes open.

• Let your elbows be down, your forearm extended.

The baton:

• The baton should carry out the line of your forearm - that's what the baton is for - to extend the range of the forearm. The baton should be visible to everyone in the orchestra always [Blomstedt in later life has stopped using a baton, but if you are using one it makes no sense for it not to follow the line of your forearm].

Use of the hands:

• Keep your two hands independent, used for separate functions. Most of the time don't mirror with the left hand what you're doing with the right, unless perhaps there's a special circumstance like an important unison.

• Stay within a sort of expressive boundary, an invisible square. When you go outside that it's a sign that something is extraordinary.

• Conducting technique must be as polished as any instrumental technique.


• If it's staccato, conduct staccato!

• If it's legato you should see it in your hand - loosen the beat - no points or corners in legato. And the downbeats are not so important in legato.

• Recall the orchestra member who was asked: what did Mr. X conduct last night? "I don't know, but we played Beethoven's Fifth."

On accompaniment:

• If the texture is expressive melody with accompaniment it's most important to keep the accompaniment down and let the soloist sing on his own. You don't conduct the soloist! If you do it will seem that everyone else is to be expressive too.

On dynamics:

• The arms are like the bellows in an organ - when you open up the arms you are preparing a bigger sound.

On verbal instructions:

• Verbal instructions are rarely necessary. You should be able to show most things in your conducting.

Reading: Bruno Walter's book.

Sessions with the orchestra

Week 1, day 1, evening session.

[When the orchestra is present students take turns at the podium; some remarks are directed to that student in particular and others to the class as a whole.]

Prokofieff: Romeo and Juliet, Suite No. 2

Moderato Tranquillo:

Re the flute: She's playing with charm - play with her. Don't keep her in a straitjacket...All the players want to know you expect something from them. Pay attention to them.

Where there are long notes in the Adagio, don't beat them. There is no rhythm going on. Keep the forte with your left hand and just mark where the beat is with your right.

At rehearsal letter 34. "Try to have a singing quality in your arm here... isn't that beautiful? It sounds like wrong notes, but really it's -- almost right."

To a student: "Make your beat clear. Your beat is too decorated; it has too many flowers and edges. Make it simple.

[Later] "You are conveying with your head movements that should be in your hand."

Brahms I, finale:

"The one is reserved for me."

Beginning: "Don't subdivide. No reason to. Don't chop it up; it makes no legato."

At A: "You have to follow the violins, no matter what happens here!

"For subito piano you must go back (in a small way) just before the end of the bar, to give warning that they are not to continue the crescendo!"

"If you want accents on 1 and 3 you must give good upbeats. If you do not want accents, you must not give a strong upbeat."

Haydn Symphony 104, I:

"The second theme is the song theme. Don't play it metronomically - then people say Haydn is so boring."

"The 2 beat is less; the 3 almost swallowed - it would be ideal if it could be conducted in 1, but that is not really possible."

Week 1, day 2, Tuesday morning.

Haydn 104, opening Adagio:

"Don't subdivide - make it legato. Be careful your upbeats are not more expressive than your downbeats. They are only to prepare."

To a student: "The way you are holding your baton doesn't *sound* well.

"The 'fishing beat' is when you put more energy in the upstroke, like you've caught a fish. It will increase the tempo. If you don't want to increase the tempo the beats should be down, down, down, not up, up, up.

At 119: "Here you can use your left hand to bring out the main line."

Haydn 104, II

"Composing: the second time you compress the statement - you've heard it before. Never play the same phrase the same way two times."

[A remark probably related to passages like the one at m. 60:] "Mozart never doubles winds to strings in unison - always in octaves. A key to his sonority, partially.

At C: "The bassoon is not exactly comic, but definitely humorous."

"I hate the word 'memorization,' but if you jump in the composer's skin and repeat the composition process you can't help but learn the piece."

at 97: "You must conduct the rests with increasing tension, yet with tranquillity and calmness." "Don't delay the rests - you tend to create a start instead of a beginning."

at 98: "The theme at 98 aquires a cadential function! He just puts a dominant underneath! Very simple, humorous, moving."

Before minor entrance at 39: Prepare the forte by raising right hand to a higher position *without* building energy, so as to be prepared for a strong 1st beat. If the upstroke is strong, however, it will cause the strings to crescendo."

"Don't subdivide unless you want a big change coming up."

"Invite them to play. Don't put every word in their mouth."

"Every conductor should be a musicologist. Compare the new Robbins Landon edition with an older score, for the experience."

"We should start as purists, but be flexible. Never forget that we are musicians; the last test is our ear."

"Now that we have analyzed this it's necessary to find out how to tell the orchestra. We do not lecture to them. We must show them some other way.'

Haydn 104, opening:

Each beat is down, down, down - not up, up, up.

To a student: ...Now you are fishing again... [up, up, up].

At 119: Use the left hand to bring out the main line.

At 159: subito piano. Don't bring your hand to a high position at the preparatory beat - keep it low! This signals the change.

Conduct hemiolas: *1 2 *3 1 *2 3 [* marking the beat]

Week 1, day 2, Tuesday Evening

[Student loses value of an eighth note in rest]: "That eighth note - did it taste good?"

To a student: "Now why are you doing everything you know you shouldn't do? Why are you walking all over? Why are you conducting with both hands, like you're trying to fly?"

"Be relaxed in your muscles, yes, but in your mind remain very tense."

Show the long notes in your conducting - if you cut it, they will cut it.

To a student: "Your two has no power, like a ping-pong serve - do it with a downward hook."

Brahms 1, II

"To move in legato you must move completely evenly."

At 25: "Subdivide clearly and then dig in to the one - don't be afraid."

Brahms, 1, III

To a student: "What are you beating? Just one, two? It looks like 3, 4, 5, who knows?"

Week 1, day 3, Wednesday Morning

Schumann Piano Concerto in a minor

Give only ones, lightly, during solos.

At the measure before C the pianist must follow *you*. You can't follow him... don't even try.

Haydn Symphony 104

The perfect legato does not exist in the world of senses! It exists only in the mind. That is our supremacy -- we always think of things we cannot do!

Everything in the world divides into little sections, but in music there are things that have no divisions.

Prokofieff, Romeo and Juliet Suite 2

Try left hand crescendo exercises: 6 measures, then back again. You must have a repertoire of figures, beats, crescendos, etc., to throw in automatically when you find them in the music.

Week 1, day 3, Wednesday night

Brahms Symphony #4, Finale

To a student: I don't know why you're afraid to beat in quarters. They are enough. But *think* eighth notes.

B sometimes gives advice to the orchestra students too:

2nd horn at B: start soft, then expand to take over the other horn's part...hold without diminishing until the end of the bar... keep it until you colleague has started again. Even better if it overlaps a little.

At 136: Here the oboes should be equal. Not this timid reply.

Lecture sessions

Week 1, day 4, Thursday morning

About study:

"I am not technically gifted. Nor am I gifted in other ways - I find these things difficult; it takes me much time - I say this in comfort to you! ...You have to be so completely filled with the piece that nothing else can be on your mind." [In the dorm where everyone stayed we students had already noticed that Blomstedt's light was on far into the night, every night].

Score preparation

1. Analyze the score:

• Overall idea, gross form - just be curious

• Make the analysis, Completely thorough.

• For the classical period, early in the study look at the periodic structure: bars, phrases.

• Look at melodic structure: development of the theme from motivic cells.

• How does n introduction relate to the allegro?

• Always ask, "why?"

• Look at rhythmic structure, harmonic analysis, instrumentation..

2. Now you know the score. Study its background.

• Other works by the same composer. You will not be able to perform the Eroica if you don't understand the 1st and 2nd symphonies.

• Get some biographical matter too - makes nice night reading.


• You must know the piece before coming to any ideas about interpretation. Don't just listen to records! In fact, don't listen to them at all until the end of study. They can then be studied to know the tradition of interpretation of the piece.

• Profit from findings of musicologists. Historical recordings are here most interesting.

• Look at forces needed - how many violins, basses, etc.

• What tempo makes sense?

• Fix all details of accelerando, crescendo, ritard, etc.

• Cope with bowing, practical problems like breathing with wind instruments. It cannot be left to chance or you will have a chance performance.

• We can always work - in cars, in planes, anywhere! Those musicians who haven't the time, who end up listening to a recording and rushing off will never mature. Never.

Rehearsal technique:

• Plan rehearsals. Respect the time of the musicians. You are serving them! They will play better. Don't think I mean for you just to be nice - I hate this atmosphere, you know, the buddy atmosphere; let's have a good time.

• Make no compromise when it's not necessary to compromise. But don't abuse them.

• Shall I rehearse in detail at first? How much detail?

• Most of your rehearsing should be done with gestures! Say as little as possible!

• Say only the necessary. Generally orchestras hate a lot of talking. I am speaking of good musicians, or even those who think they know much.

• I especially admire Italian conductors for the way they talk with their hands - crescendo, diminuendo - he can do that just with his fingers!

• There comes then a wonderful spirit of professionalism to the group.

• Then when it does come time to talk, do it in a very matter-of-fact way.

• *Never* give an instruction when you yourself have made a mistake - they always notice.


• A duple meter stroke always starts to the right. A triple meter stroke always starts to the left. Musicians can always tell at once whether it is duple or triple.

• When to stop in rehearsal? When mistakes are bad - but not so bad that the musicians will correct themselves. Don't correct unless you think he'll probably do it again, or if there's a possibility of a score error, or if they clearly are not obeying a clear indication on your part. If they maybe just missed, don't stop them about it now!

• Spend as much time as you can looking at parts. You may learn concerning bowings, etc.

• In my Dresden orchestra, the concertmaster will perhaps (silently, no words) play a problematic passage for the others - in 10 seconds everyone knows it - it spreads like a... prairie fire!

• About verbal remarks: If they really won't watch the concertmaster, you might have to say something - but say something only when absolutely necessary. Stop as little as possible.

• Before rehearsal make sure your total picture is clear - spray it with fixative! Settled! All present in your mind. No improvisation. But still - we are flexible after learning everything *entirely*.

• Because it is said... The Holy Ghost will not be sent to those who lack the knowledge.

Week 1, day 4, Thursday afternoon


• Don't conduct with the left hand, except in perhaps a prominent unison or in a case like duple against triple. [Note: if you're left-handed the reference is to your right hand!]

• There are more important things the left hand can do other than mirroring your right hand: Accents, crescendo-diminuendo, cues - it should be completely independent of the right.

• Subito piano: the pickup comes up from low, to indicate a small downbeat is coming. Left hand can help, palm forward. Subito forte is the inverse.

• The left hand shapes phrases more subtly than the voice can.

• The left hand can be a warning: look out - something is coming!

Week 1, day 4, Thursday evening

Brahms IV, movement 3

To a student: Your beat is too big, like ears... if you make it more horizontal it will flow more. Push the second beat... also don't overdo your crescendos/dimenuendos - they tend to slow it down. My main advice to you would be to play the middle part [D] in a more flowing manner. It should grow... this is not accelerando, but a sort of growth... very poco a poco.

Have the pizzicato really sound! It's true they're marked piano, but they must - sound!

Brahms IV, Movement 2:

Blomstedt makes a point by telling a student to turn around and just practice while he himself conducts the passage. But he secretly stops conducting and lets the orchestra continue on their own. Then gets the student to turn around - "See? They can actually play it fine themselves - like chamber music - so don't interfere too much; just strike the silence." [This is a trick B. will again use in teaching Leonore No. 3].

Brahms IV, Movement 1:

Concern yourself with the legato - don't just beat the timpani - everyone can see that is obvious - but the other players must be legato - concentrate on them.

Crescendo mean always beginning from very small -- allows more resources to be used, more power.

Read Wagner's On the Art of Conducting.

Week 1, day 5, Friday morning.

Prokofieff, Romeo and Juliet Suite, #3.

The strings are pizzicato but the tuba is tenuto - breathe with the tuba player.

The marked tempo [Q=54] is not fast enough. Take that "con grano salis." Even slow music must move. If it's too slow, the boat's rudder can't say anything. Move just enough to keep the steering.

Prokofieff, Romeo and Juliet Suite, #5.

In 8ths, but beat quarters.

When some are pizzicato but others legato you do have to beat with the pizzicato: they must be exact. Go after the exact people; the others can adjust.

At 42, beat in 8ths.

At 49: in quarters here: slow down 8ths in previous measure until they equal the quarters - makes for a smooth transition.

Penultimate measure: Ritard should be in the middle of the measure: start beating 8ths there. No need to beat in the usual fashion the last measure - just show the beats.

Brahms I Mvt. 1

Start this really, really very soft. Be careful with cueing - it's not so necessary when instruments are repeating themselves.

Brahms I Mvt. 2

Don't hurry to the pizzicato. Let the rhythm flow - no accents - syncopation here has no rhythmic impetus. Sometimes syncopation should make the beat ambiguous - should make it float.

To a student: Don't cue people on your right with your left hand!

If tempo is dragging you can pick it up with a little acceleration of the upbeat [This is the 'fishing beat' mentioned elsewhere]. But make sure the beat comes at the right place!

Read: Berlioz: Orchestration

Week 1, day 7, Sunday evening

(Day 6 has no meets due to the Adventist Sabbath)

If you have a poco rallentando:

• Listen to the voice with the smallest note values

• Don't beat out the rallentando: do it like chamber music - everyone listening together. You are the first listener, so to speak.

• Make the beats themselves slower - the point of the beat itself! [Here B. does a little turn with his fingers at the bottom of the beat, extending it. Visually the effect is a less pointed beat].

Prokofieff, last measures of final movement:

It's not necessary to beat at all after the last note in the bass - keep a sort of fermata. This should be remembered for similar places elsewhere if necessary. Save the winds from strangulation!

Week 2, day 8, Monday morning

Four important things:

1. Know the score.
Conducting silently gives you an ideal sound image [B. discouraged students from conducting a recording - too easy to get the impression you're producing those effects when you are not. But conducting silently forces you to remember the score.]

2. Be free from muscular tension. Tension produces rhythmic faults, wrecks legato, makes a harsh allegro.

3. Develop technique for its own sake. Clear your beat of *all* extras, and develop the left hand [i.e. whatever is your non-beating hand].

4. Authority, Intensity, Serenity. Rest in yourself. You can practice this. Tell yourself: I don't need loud words. Be relaxed and engaged.

Read Piatagorsky, Cellists.

Read: Nikolai Malko, The Conductor and his Baton, Hanson, Copenhagen, 1950

Read Greene: Preparation of the Score.

Read Greene: Orchestral Bowing.

Week 2, day 8, Monday evening:

[In Prokofieff just before mvt 2, two violinists change seats.] B: "Now it will sound really fabulous." [Laughter, two more change seats].

Week 2, day 9,Tuesday morning:

Brahms I

Everyone must develop a memory for tempo.

Re trumpets: Brahms doesn't like to bring up the trumpets too much. Afraid they'll sound vulgar. He keeps them in obscure middle registers. German orchestras always use rotary valve trumpets too - a bigger bore; different sound.

About bowing

A basic chart you can take con grano salis:

Bowing table
Dynamic Pressure Speed Change frequency Location Length Hair Placement
Forte More Faster Frequent Frog Long All Optimal
Piano Less Can be slower Less* Usually tip Short Less Sul tasto

*One stand can alternate changes with other stands for perfect legato

More on bowing:

1. Notes on the first beat of a measure are downbow except:

 a. When downbow would imply a break in legato or intensity

 b. If first beat has an upbeat quality or begins a crescendo. (Example: first measures of Haydn 92nd).

2. Crescendos should begin upbow, diminuendo generally downbow

3. Stronger accents generally downbow. Not for Mozart, but for Stravinsky.

4. Soft single notes or entrances generally upbow

5. Start with the proper bow, then place changes according to slurs or special effects.

6. Groups of 2,4,6,8 bowed détachée generally start downbow.

Week 2, Day 9, Tuesday afternoon.

Haydn 104

Criticism of me from B:

Your right hand: turn it over. There is no strength in it if it is palm up.

Left hand: don't bring it in toward the right. Don't lift it so high - lift it out.

Begin both hands from a more horizontal position.

Re the beat: Bounce it off the bottom - don't pull it up deliberately.

The staccato notes should bounce sharper - but the same kind of bounce in both F and P for all notes. Remember to diminuendo every segment between fermatas.

For the last three chords: round the bottom of the beat.

Week 2, Day 10, Wednesday morning

Bowing in baroque practice: Allegro with no bowing marked is safely assumed to be all détaché. But in adagio small notes will often be slurred in practice, e.g. dotted 16 to 32nd. When Monteverdi used slurs in keyboard or winds he remarked "imitation violistica," which suggests he considered this typical violin practice.

Study the Barenreiter edition of Bach facsimiles, and the facsimile edition of Geminiani's The Art of Playing on the Violin, 1739. Also: Leopold Mozart's Violin School, and Quantz: Essay on The True Art of Playing the Flute, which is really a book about the performance of baroque music.

Brahms IV, Mvt. 3

When beating in two without accents the beat is shallow. With accents it's more up and down.

Week 2, Day 11, Thursday morning

B: Someone has asked about delayed action beating - beating just before the orchestra is to play... This is done... some orchestras in Europe are drilled to play this way - but most detest doing so.

You must be a little ahead in your mind, but there only.

Regarding concerto accompaniment: You simply must know naturally where to take the initiative and where to follow the soloist - if you don't you are not a musician...

About auditions for orchestra members

Much advance notice is necessary. A potential member of your group must be able to free himself of other obligations. Hold the auditions at least a year in advance of the opening. Give the applicants at least 6 weeks to prepare.

Different orchestras handle auditions in different ways...My Denmark orchestra is very democratic...sometimes to a ridiculous degree...When we audition a string player all the 1st and 2nd violins are on the jury; all have one vote. I am only one vote among many - of course I have a veto, but it is very hard to use!

Usually the jury will comprise representatives of the section involved plus other principals. You should try to avoid the effects of coteries - maybe everyone wants this one because they have good parties with him - but usually I can trust the orchestra members. They know about their instrument better than I. The orchestra members should be given as much responsibility as possible - but the last word rests with the conductor.

Ask the section about suggested material for auditions. Mozart is important - if a string play can play complicated music like lightning but cannot put music into simple Mozart - I will never take him.

Then if someone is accepted it is only for a trial period - then you know more before typing him to you. For principals the trial period is longer - in the Berlin Philharmonic no one is ever given a contract until after a year.

About personal preparation:

Complete filling in the holes in your own musical training.

Educate yourself in the other arts. To be a leader of people your mind must be developed in other ways.

Study the scores - a few in great detail, many more superficially.

Go to *rehearsals* and concerts.

Keep up and improve your instrument. You don't want to be a stranger among musicians.

A story told to end the 1975 session

B describes being a student at Juilliard and being shown a way to sneak into Carnegie Hall to watch rehearsals: One day a very tall old man with a cane and his face half paralyzed came in and sat down nearby with a score, to listen to the rehearsal and learn from it. He was of course Otto Klemperer, and if he still needed to learn, why shouldn't you?

End of 1975 session

Some highlights of Blomstedt remarks in 1976-79 sessions:

• By 'musical' I do not mean smooth, or beautiful, or elegant... I mean: corresponding to the music.

• On moving about on the podium: Where is the conductor, and where is his baton? Just when I, as a player, need him, he's over to the bass side - next bar he's over somewhere else - to look for the conductor takes too much energy and time.

• And where is the beat.

• And what is the tempo.

• And what are the dynamics here.

• And what is the balance - what is my role here? My part looks like a solo but the conductor isn't looking at me; maybe I'd better play with more restraint. Or - now the conductor is making a violent convulsion toward me - but all I'm playing is o o o o!

• And what is the expression - there are many ways I can play these notes.

• The conductor must be seen by the orchestra. Out of flair, or intensity, we may want to walk around on the podium. You know, the players cannot move on their chairs, and here is a man who has the privilege of walking around! The orchestra will react to this very quickly. They will not be concerned with you then.

• Sometimes the conductor seems more concerned with his own feelings, and so they lay him aside. Perhaps they feel a little ashamed of him. So: don't walk around. Tell yourself you will not move. Tell your body just to face forward.

• Even if your body is forward, if your baton is out of sight it won't do any good. Don't let your left hand hide the stick! The optimal field is right in front of you.

• And don't use your foot. Or your mouth - do you want to eat the orchestra?

• Don't conduct with your body - your shoulders, etc. The central body then becomes the main thing and the baton just an appendix. You should generally not lift the upper arm. And if the baton is not pointed forward it is not needed. The upper arm hangs down relaxed, but not too close to the body - that takes energy too. Think carefully about this.

• About the beat: B tells a story about a bassoonist who was fired for using his bassoon as a telescope to see Fritz Reiner's beat. The beat should not be too small! Yet if the orchestra is good they need less beat and less subdivision - don't subdivide unnecessarily.

• In rehearsal for the Schumann Manfred Overture, first bar: you must not follow the orchestra. As in Leonore #3 where the timpanist often plays with the orchestra by mistake [Reference is to Leonore #3 m. 452-9, where the timpani are syncopated with the strings].

• A quote from Fürtwangler: "I start my music making where Toscanini finishes."

• The tempo should be decided from the music - not from recordings or even the metronome.

• To keep tempo: Always Observe the Smallest Values. If they don't exist, supply them.

• In rehearsal for Beethoven 6: Look at the storm ending - the long notes must be entirely the same length as the sum of small notes in the cellos.

• Balance: Being with the main parts is mostly a thing of the eyes. You don't want to be a jongleur.

• Expression: Most important is the difference between legato and staccato.


After 5 very fun years with the chamber orchestra I was married to Patricia Carbon, a soloist who had appeared with the group - that was another indirect consequence of the Blomstedt course. We both had PhD studies beginning and teaching careers in mind, so I turned the orchestra over to Heichiro Ohyama, who was then principal violist with the L.A. Philharmonic, and thereafter I only returned to the SBCO for a couple of guest appearances at anniversaries of its founding. But while writing my dissertation I had a 2-year appointment as an associate at UCSB, teaching a large music fundamentals class. I had done some computer programming relating to my research topic and for that class I used a little of that code as the basis of a program to help the students with their intervals and chords. A friend good at marketing showed up, and that was the start of Practica Musica. Patty and I were soon busy with Ars Nova Software and never did finish our dissertations. So even Ars Nova ultimately grows from those summers at the Blomstedt institutes. -J.E., 2023

P Carbon and J Evans
in the year of launching Ars Nova Software

©Ars Nova Software 2023