WWZS – What Would Zukerman Say?

What Would Zukerman Say
What Would Zukerman Say

Zukerman takes more pot shots at the early music movement in a recent interview:

In an interview with Marian Arnold this week, Zukerman declared the early music movement ‘an aberration…a fad.’ Anyone who tries to play what he calls ‘this authentic stuff’ is ‘pathetic’. Regarding vibrato, if you don’t vibrate, ‘you are dead in the water… it’s like having paste on that bridge and peanut butter on the hair of the bow.’ He claimed that if the great violinist Eugene Ysaye heard such playing he would ‘throw you out of the house, over the bridge and put something lead in your feet and say “Don’t come back again!”‘

I wonder what he’d say about Carnatic violinists, probably something along the lines of “get that violin off your feet and fix your posture!”:

Or Arabic and Turkish violinists, “there are only 12 tones–learn how to play in tune!”:

Or lăutari gypsy violinists “get that wrist off the neck!”:

Or Irish fiddlers, Persian violinists, Quebecois fiddlers, Bluegrass, Country Western Swing, Jazz, etc., etc., ad nauseum.  That attitude was precisely the main reason I originally quit playing classical music in the first place.  not glad to see it still alive–and couldn’t more easily have illustrated the point I made in the two previous posts!  *sighs*


12 thoughts on “WWZS – What Would Zukerman Say?

  1. He’s an idiot — then again, I bow left handed, so I suppose he’d consider me a chthonic hell east bent on world destruction.

    I mean, I’m not even crazy about the somewhat thin sound of a baroque violin, and I’ve never been a fan of the “drop a brick in the piano and call it avant garde music” school of things, but even I know that these devices that we manipulate are both arbitrary inventions, and capable of more noises than we usually squeeze out of them. Why not learn that stuff? I may not be crazy about the skatey sound of a baroque fiddle, but there is absolutely artistic and historical value in studying it.

    Besides, if someone out there IS willing to pay money to watch someone drop a brick in a piano, what earthly harm does it do to ME?

    This is a big part of why Rachel Barton Pine is my favorite classical violinist. She’ll play any damn thing, and play it with more guts and spine than Zukerman’s ever had.


    1. One of the violinists in one of the community orchestras I occasionally play with bows left-handed. He’s also a member of an Americana/Bluegrass band that the orchestra played with during their summer pops concert this past June.

      I always wondered what would happen if a violinist (or violist) auditioned for a major orchestra playing like Wells Cunningham does in his “Impossible Duet”–I imagine the musician wouldn’t end up getting a position no matter how well he or she played!


      1. That is well and truly awesome. I’ve occasionally wondered if that wouldn’t be a good way to make violins accessible to people with very small hands for whatever reason. And you’re right — play perfectly like that, and it doesn’t matter because for all their vaunted concern about “diversity,” the most important thing in an orchestra after technique is the ability to blend in. Anonymity is the hallmark of that form of music making, which is very unfortunate. (I’m convinced that’s the worst part of the penguin suits. I don’t mind the formality, but the uniformity gets to me.) I suppose it’s an unavoidable consequence of having 100+ people on stage being led by one guy (usually a guy) with a stick.


      2. BTW, if there are any pictures or video of that community orchestra with the lefty fiddler, I’d love to see them! Left-handed string players make my heart sing. 🙂


  2. BTW, thank you — I just tried playing my 16″ viola like a cello. It’s a bit strange, but I might as well keep sawing and see what happens. What the hell? It’s way more comfy than playing on the shoulder, although I may need a shorter bow. The viola bow I have is a bit much to balance when working against rather than with gravity.

    I need a cello method book now.


      1. Yeah, I’m finding the last 3″ or so of bow up to the tip to be a total waste of space like this. It’s fun, though. I’ll keep banging at it and see how it goes.


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