Paul Neubauer on Alan de Veritch

In anticipation of this year’s Primrose Memorial Concert honoring Alan de Veritch, Utah Viola Society will be presenting visiting guest bloggers! This week’s guest contributor is the distinguished violist Paul Neubauer. As a young man, Mr. Neubauer worked with Alan de Veritch, and will be participating as a panelist, teacher, and featured performer at the Primrose Memorial Concert/Alan de Veritch Tribute events September 22-23, 2017 at Brigham Young University.


“I first met Alan de Veritch because Alan’s father and my mother both taught at a school in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. They became very good friends, and our families grew quite close. When I was 10 or 11, my godfather, Paul Doktor, suggested to my parents that it was time to leave my local viola teacher to study with Alan. I wasn’t keen on the idea since I really liked my teacher, but move on I did, and it was a great decision. I recall Alan’s teaching style as very confident and decisive – he always had a great deal to say. How much I absorbed at the time I’m not sure, but I am extremely grateful for the solid foundation that he instilled in my playing.

I have memories of Alan trying to get me to work on scales, exercises and etudes. I must have done a considerable amount of work on these studies as I still have numerous study books by Flesh, Schradieck, Kreutzer, Campagnoli, Sevcik and others with various exercises marked for my attention. Alan worked with me on numerous pieces and his knowledge about the repertoire and Ysaye-Primrose pedigree was very helpful in my music education. After I left Los Angeles to study with Paul Doktor in New York, Alan was always available to offer his advice on any questions that I had, and there were occasions when I would return to play for him since his counsel was always appreciated. One of the most helpful couple weeks was when I was preparing for my New York Philharmonic audition. I had auditioned for Zubin Mehta to be a soloist with the orchestra and the word back from the Philharmonic was the question of whether I would have interest in auditioning for the Principal Viola chair. I had known that the orchestra was looking for a new principal but had never thought about it due to my lack of orchestral experience and not to mention my young age. With an invitation from the Philharmonic to take the audition, I of course was flattered and thought I would give it my best shot. I think I had 4 weeks’ notice to prepare for the audition. I was familiar with all the solo and chamber pieces that they wanted but was pretty much clueless on the very long list of excerpts that were asked for. I contacted Alan and he agreed to work intensively with me for a couple weeks during that time. His guidance (and knowledge of Zubin’s preferred way of approaching certain pieces) were incredibly helpful in my preparation for that audition and I think it’s fair to say that Alan had a tremendous amount to do with my being asked to join the orchestra.

There were some amusing moments in our lessons that stand out in my mind. Alan was not happy with my strolling around the room when I played for him so he made me play for him while I was standing on a chair. Needless to say, it worked. (These days I have been known to stroll around audiences playing so he wasn’t entirely successful on this count!) Alan also complained about my high left thumb (courtesy of my first teacher) and claimed that he could throw horse shoes on it! Alan was not particularly happy that I would yawn in my lessons. My father took care of that by paying me 10 cents for every lesson that I didn’t yawn in. For a kid who didn’t have an allowance, this dime a week did the trick. If only I had invested those dimes in a wise way… Alan likes to remind me that I would come in and play show tunes instead of my assigned repertoire. This part is a bit hazy for me but I know that I did like to fool around by playing show tunes and any other tunes that I was interested in. I certainly learned a great deal of repertoire with Alan so it’s fair to say that I couldn’t have just played show tunes.

Whenever I have the occasion to visit Bloomington, I always try to meet up with Alan and Evie. Alan also invited me to take over his viola studio on a couple of occasions while he was on sabbatical. I’m thrilled to take part in this tribute concert for Alan and to return to the epicenter of all things viola – Provo, Utah, the home of the Primrose International Viola Archive!”

Please join us for the Primrose/de Veritch weekend at BYU September 22-23, 2017!

Save the date! Primrose Memorial Concert/Alan de Veritch Tribute Weekend September 22-23, 2017

If you’ve ever wanted to attend a Primrose Memorial Concert event at Brigham Young University, this year’s festivities may entice you to take a fall road trip to Provo, Utah.

Every year we are lucky to have a distinguished guest violist come to Utah and BYU to perform, teach, and honor the memory of the great virtuoso of the viola, William Primrose. This year’s event is a celebration of world renowned violist and pedagogue Alan de Veritch on the occasion of his 70th birthday, and the dedication of his collection to the Primrose International Viola Archive. Mr. de Veritch was one of Primrose’s youngest students, beginning his studies with him at age 12. The weekend will also feature Mr. de Veritch’s illustrious former students James Dunham, Nokuthula Ngwenyama, and Paul Neubauer in a recital honoring him. Other events will include a masterclass with Mr. Dunham, Ms. Ngwenyama, and Mr. Neubauer, a book signing of Mr. de Veritch’s recently published biography Malibu Man, an exhibition of his collection, a panel discussion led by Mr. de Veritch, and tours of the Primrose International Viola Archive.

The recital will feature repertoire that Mr. Dunham, Ms. Ngwenyama, and Mr Neubauer had studied with Mr. de Veritch. After intermission there will be a viola ensemble play-along of Mr. de Veritch’s arrangement of the Brahms songs for Viola and Piano. (Audience members are encouraged to join in!)

Some of Mr. de Veritch’s interesting memorabilia that will be on display include photographs from his outstanding career, his grandfather’s 1903 Graduation Diploma from the Prague Conservatory bearing Anton Dvorak’s signature, and Mr. de Veritch’s working copy of the Walton Concerto, which contains the handwritten notes and signatures of Sir William Walton.

Mark your calendar and make your travel plans so you don’t miss this exciting Viola celebration!
Friday and Saturday, September 22-23, 2017.
Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Erwin Schuloff Concertino for Flute, Viola, and Double Bass

Utah Symphony Flute/Piccolo Caitlyn Valovick-Moore and Principal Bassist David Yavornitzky at Abravanel Hall.

On Sunday, February 26, the Utah Viola Society is proud to present our guests Caitlyn Valovick-Moore, flute and piccolo, and David Yavornitzky, double-bass, in a performance of the Erwin Schuloff Concertino for Flute, Viola, and Double-bass.

Erwin Schuloff (1894-1942) was a Czechoslovakian composer and pianist. He showed musical talent from a young age, and at age 10 Antonin Dvorak recommended him for study at the Prague Conservatory where he studied composition and piano. He continued his musical education in Vienna, studying composition with Max Reger. (He later studied briefly with Claude Debussy, and though their teacher-student relationship was short lived, one can hear the influence of Debussy’s music in Schuloff’s style.)

Schuloff’s compositional career is generally divided into four periods. The Concertino, written in 1925, falls in the middle of his third period which is marked by the influence of Debussy, his exploration of jazz, and interest in folk music. Schuloff’s synthesis of these styles can be heard in the Concertino. It was premiered in 1926 by a group comprised of the flautist for whom the piece was written, Hermann Wilber Drauber, and the Hindemith brothers, Paul Hindemith playing viola, and his brother Rudolph Hindemith playing double bass.

Schuloff’s later compositional period is known as “Socialist Realism” and included a cantata setting of the Communist Manifesto. His compositions were labeled “degenerate” by the Nazi party, and he was no longer allowed to perform in Germany. He applied for citizenship to the Soviet Union, but before he could leave Czechoslovakia, he was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Wülzberg, Bavaria, where he died of tuberculosis in 1942.

The Concertino is in four movements: Andante con Moto, Furiant, Andante, and Rondino. Throughout the trio one hears the influence of folk music, the freedom and counterpoint of jazz, and the textures of Debussy. The first movement opens with a viola bass ostinato under an exotic-sounding flute melody reminiscent of Debussy. The second movement is a folksy and rustic dance in 5/8 time. The third movement has some of the most interesting counter point of the piece, with each instrument getting a turn at a Ruthenian folk song, with the accompanying instruments dovetailing the melody. The final movement is another folk dance and includes a piccolo melody described by Schuloff as a “Moravian seller of shepherd’s flutes in the streets of Prague.”

We’ve enjoyed putting together the Schuloff Concertino. Caitlyn, David, and I agree that the most interesting thing about the trio is the range, reaching at times a 4-octave span between the bass and piccolo, with the viola sandwiched in between. One would think that working with such a large range would be challenging, but Schuloff’s writing for each instrument is so idiomatic that each voice works well independently and yet pairs beautifully with the others.  We love that Schuloff’s compositional voice is unique; while he’s been influenced by many types of music and compositional techniques, his synthesis of those influences creates a very personal style. We also enjoy how he writes counterpoint. The melodies are very clearly written, but the accompanying lines help take the listener in a different direction.

My favorite part about working on the trio has been getting together with my wonderful Utah Symphony and University of Utah colleagues Caitlyn and David. Playing chamber music is a highlight and delight for us, but I am deeply honored to be able to perform with such high caliber musicians as Caitlyn and David. In case you miss this performance, you can catch us again on March 26 at 7 pm in Libby Gardner Hall for a Sundays at 7 program.

Utah Viola Society Spring Recital
Sunday, February 26, 3pm
University of Utah, Dumke Recital Hall

Elizabeth Beilman on Schumann’s Fairy Tales

Elizabeth Beilman will be presenting Robert Schumann’s Märchenbilder as part of Utah Viola Society’s Spring Recital. (In case you aren’t able to attend our exceptional program, you can see Elizabeth perform this work on March 5 for the NOVA Chamber Music Series.)

“I love that the Schumann is made up of four short movements with completely different characters, so it really challenges me to expand my musical color palette.

In particular, the second movement makes me think of a hunt on horseback. I’m trying to imitate the sound of horns heralding the start of the hunt.
My teacher, Don McInnes, always looked to singers for inspiration when it comes to tone color.  For me, the last movement of the Schumann makes me think of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau’s rich baritone voice.”

Emily on Rebecca

Utah Viola Society member Emily Barrett Brown will be performing Rebecca Clarke’s Shorter Pieces for Viola and Piano on Sunday’s Utah Viola Society Spring Recital. 

“I love playing pieces composed by a woman and violist–you get the complete package with Rebecca Clarke.
 I appreciate Rebecca Clarke’s unique perspective on a woman’s life portrayed in her short pieces–love songs, lullabies and whimsical period pieces.
 I love the rich texture, the sonorous use of the viola and expertly balanced piano parts!”

Join us to hear Emily showcase Rebecca Clarke on Sunday as part of the Utah Viola Society Spring Recital. 

Sunday, February 26, 3pm
Dumke Recital Hall, David Gardner Hall, University of Utah

Carl talks Bax

“I enjoy how the sonata starts, as though he was improvising in the garage with his British romantic rock band. 

The harmonies are beautifully exotic, with flourishes that lead you to unexpected but incredibly beautiful places. 
It has been a fun sonata to work on, trying to develop 4 different sounds: romantic, electric, declamatory, and the final muted section where I want something that an opera singer might do with her tenor.”
Utah Symphony Violist Carl Johansen will be performing the Sonata for Viola and Piano by Arnold Bax on Sunday, February 26 as part of the Utah Viola Society’s Spring Recital.
Join us Sunday, February 26 at 3pm.
Dumke Recital Hall, David Gardner Hall, University of Utah

Brad Ottesen on the Romance by Ralph Vaughan Williams

Utah Viola Society President and Fry Street Quartet Violist Brad Ottesen will be performing the Vaughan Williams Romance as part of the UVS Spring Recital.

“I love the note from English violist Bernard Shore in the score:

“There is no information about the approximate date on which this work was written.  The manuscript was discovered with others, without any clue, among the composer’s papers after his death.  All that can be said is that it was probably intended for the great virtuoso Lionel Tertis.”
How lucky we are to have this piece! How fortunate that Vaughan Williams gave us this parting gift to accompany the legacy of his other great works for the viola. The mystery of its origins seems appropriately reflected in the character of the music – elemental, simple yet profound, and achingly beautiful.”
Join us Sunday, February 26 at 3pm for the Utah Viola Society’s Spring Recital.
Dumke Recital Hall, David Gardner Hall, University of Utah