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Excerpts to work on?

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by HudsonTD, Jan 24, 2012.

  1. HudsonTD


    May 13, 2011
    Hi there,

    I've been wanting to start working at excerpts and I was wondering which ones would be appropriate for my current level. (I'm doing the Capuzzi concerto right now) so about Grade 8 RCM.

    Thanks for any tips,
    HudsonTD. :bassist:
  2. Bugmeister96


    Jan 25, 2012
    As a fun piece, the Elephant from the Carnival of Animals if you haven't already played that.

    If you don't already have it, I would go grab Simandl's 30 Etudes. That's what state auditions are from and they vary in difficulty. I'm working on one now that is just ridiculous but there are a couple that I can sightread.
  3. This is just me, but you should probably at least get through the Dragonetti (or maybe even Koussevitzky) before you tackle any of the big excerpts. But ask your teacher!
  4. Jordan M

    Jordan M

    May 10, 2009
    My syllabus says the excerpts for RCM 8 are the first 15 measures of Bach's violin concerto 2, the fifth Bartok Romanian Folk Dance, the first movement of Dvorak 9, Mahler 4 first movement: two after 18 to 19, the Mozart requiem excerpt in the Simandl book, The Elephant, and prelude to act 3 of Lohengrin.

    I think some of the grade 9 excerpts are better, especially the Symphonie Fantastique 3rd movement, the Mahler 1 solo, and Rigoletto solo.
  5. Andy Mopley

    Andy Mopley

    Sep 24, 2011
    Me too! What etude are you up to?
  6. I would suggest advancing yourself in two ways from where you seem to be at with Capuzzi.

    The first would be to continue working through a range of studies that are about as hard or a little harder than Capuzzi, that will broaden and strengthen both your bow and left hand techniques (as well as challenge your fingering solutions). Lee 12 Studies (IMC) will develop legato bowing. Sturm 110 Studies,Volume 1 (IMC), Slama 66 Studies in All Keys (IMC) and Bottesini 24 Studies do not ask you to do impossible things with your left hand. Sturm has short varied pieces that also demand dynamics and expression. All these studies are only medium difficulty and you can always slow them down to still get heaps of value. Try and make each one sound different. To me these books are a lot more fun than Simandl 30 Etudes!!

    The second suggestion is to find complete bass parts instead of excerpts to study. Excerpts books contain passages chosen because they are somehow difficult. They don't give you the context of the bass line, the style of the piece or speeds. You can borrow or buy CDs of the works so that you can follow the bass part as you listen, then put into practice what you hear. I am thinking of the Oscar Zimmerman books of complete bass parts for Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Overtures, etc. (don't worry about Richard Strauss until later!!). Try to find parts for Mozart Symphonies 29, 36, 38, and 40. Then Beethoven 1, 3, 4, 5, and 8. Then Tchaikowsky 4, 5, 6 and 1812 Overture. Perhaps also Dvorak Symphonies 8 and 9.

    Best Wishes,

  7. Here's a bit of common sense advice. Work on the pieces that you are playing in orchestra at the moment. It seems obvious but think about it.
    You bash away at the Recit in Beethoven 9 and you still fumble around that chords and scales in the orchestra pieces....
    I never have sat and worked on excerpts that were not either required for an audition/exam I was doing or taken out of pieces I was workin on at the time. Right now my excerpts are from 'Faust' and 'A Masked Ball'.

    If you follow this advice people will hear you in the band and say "boy, can he really get round those nasty bits!' They wont care how well you can play the solo in Pulcinella or the Recit in B9 etc. unless they (the orchestra) are playing it.

    This might be a bit extreme and I may be exaggerating a little, but the idea is very simple - Play the stuff in front of you well, what ever it is!

    By the way, Dave's advice is also very good...
  8. Dbass926


    Jun 20, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    My one concern with Fergus' comment above is that sometimes in music you are presented with the sudden need to play a piece for which you haven't had adequate time to prepare. If I were called to play Beethoven 9 next week...even next month, I would have some anxieties about the nastier places in the piece.
    Often, having a familiarity with a broad spectrum of the repertoire and working it up without the pressure of a looming performance can help you get it refined to a high level.
    Of course, in this case, taking on a few excerpts that are level appropriate is in my opinion the best advice. Attempting something beyond your technical abilities may be beneficial but it can also e very taxing and frustrating. Use caution and don't hurt yourself!
  9. I print out excerpt lists that are required for major symphony auditions, and I have them going back to 1977. You can boil them down to the ones we all know should be there. Once a month, at least, I like to play them all through.
  10. this point is well taken. I guess I could say that If I was asked to play B9 next week I would have to stop practicing Ein Heldenleben and Mahler1,2,3&5 Mozart 37, Tchaikovsky 4,5&6 etc. and get stuck in to B9! I guess that was what I was trying to say.

    Another point about learning excerpts is that you should learn then so you can be flexible when asked to play them, and not fixed on one interpretation. I remember practicing a passage in my youth (Borodin 2 over 30 years ago now) and not being able to change my bowing to the principals when we eventually got into rehearsal!

    In a not so recent audition I was asked to prepare the nasty loud fugue in Schostakovich 4. I gave it everything I had like you would do in the orchestra and 2 of the members of the panel nearly fell off their chairs! The principal cellist and co leader. The bassists loved it, but it was too much for the other string players and I only got first refusal... I guess the moral of the tale is learn the excerpts nice 'n' neat for auditions but don't forget that they are music(!) when you get to playing them in the band!

    Another tale about learning excerpts by heart and probably the time it counted most was this: In th BBC we played 'Don Juan' and I was playing number 4 with Adolf Mink at number 3. After the first page turn the conductor stopped and asked us to go from the top again. I reached out to turn the page back but Adolf put his bow across the page and look over to me saying "this time you play from memory!" Needless to say I got the difficult stuff OK but the odd pizzicato notes I couldn't remember at all. Adolf was a player in the Berlin Symphony Orchestra before coming to the BBC so he had that German training thing in his DNA man!

  11. HudsonTD


    May 13, 2011
    @David / Jordan: Thanks a lot for the list of repertoire to work on / towards. I'll be sure to start working on some of those.
    @Fergus: Love the tips, and the story regarding playing in the BBC.
    @Simandl Fan: Good idea, I'll be sure to do that in the future.

    Many thanks for all the advice from everyone,
    glad to see this conversation really take off.

    Hudson TD.
  12. Blakewdm


    Jun 17, 2008
    Beethoven 9 recits a great place to start, then Meisterzinger,brahms 1,2 letter E.
    Those are all challenging, but the problem is, most of the excerpts you will be asked to play in your life are going to be challenging in some light. If you dont have to play excerpts for any audition, then I would focus on getting your capuzzi in shape, because most excerpts tend to get more difficult than that piece.

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