Melonaissance--David Jacobson on Music


The Conductor--A More Appropriate Role

By David Jacobson

We all know the scene. The conductor by the mere lifting of a finger, the raising of an eyebrow, the wild flinging of his arms brings forth the immense sound of the orchestra.                      

He dances, he cajoles, he beguiles, he erupts. And after all is finished, sweaty, tired yet elated, he turns to the audience and bows with pleasure and satisfaction over his performance.

Yet, what did he actually do?



Suzuki--Innovator or Fraud?

by David Jacobson

“I think it is one of the biggest frauds in music history,” said Mark O’Connor, a violin teacher and professional fiddler who has spent years delving into Dr Suzuki’s past. “I don’t believe anybody has properly checked his past.”

Mr O’Connor writes “Shinichi Suzuki had no violin training from any serious violin teacher that we can find. He was basically self-taught, beginning the violin at the age of 18.” (

O’Connor misses the point. Suzuki’s past is not the real issue. It is what is being done in his name in the present that needs to be examined.



Paradigmatic Shifts in "Classical" Music--Education, Composition and Performance

by David Jacobson

"In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possibly pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally the absence of a reason for seeking some particular form of more recondite information, early fact-gathering is usually restricted to the wealth of data that lie ready at hand."--Thomas, Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, "The Route To Normal Science," 15.    

Interest in classical music is declining. Everyone in the field desperately tries to understand why, attempting to solve this chasmic generational shift.

Music administrators make programs more “pop” oriented. Musicians dress differently. The audience dresses differently. Orchestras play movie music. Musicians demonstrate classical music to school children, hoping if they catch them young enough interest will stick.

But it doesn’t seem to. The one possibility musicians never consider is that it may be the musicians themselves who are generating disinterest.


The following article first appeared in The Etude, March 1932. Secured Expressly for the ETUDE by Florence Leonard. 

Technique: The Outgrowth of Musical Thought 

Vladimir Horowitz is one of the outstanding figures in the pianistic world of today. Born October 1, 1904, at Kiev, Russia, at six he had piano lessons from his mother, and later entered the Petrograd Conservatory to become a pupil of Felix Blumenfeld, himself a pupil of Anton Rubinstein. He made concert tours of Russia till 1924 when he left for Berlin and became a favorite throughout musical Europe...




Ten Important Attributes of Beautiful Pianoforte Playing 

From an interview with Sergei Rachmaninoff, THE ETUDE (March 1910).


It is a seemingly impossible task to define the number of attributes of really excellent pianoforte playing. By selecting ten important characteristics, however, and considering them carefully one at a time, the student may learn much that will give him food for thought. After all, one can never tell in print what can be communicated by the living teacher. In undertaking the study of a new composition it is highly important to gain a conception of the work as a whole. One must comprehend the main design of the composer...