Date of Degree
DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)
When Bruno Bartolozzi published his revolutionary treatise New Sounds for Woodwind in 1968, composers worldwide were inspired to create new compositions which incorporated the use extended techniques. Since, extended techniques have become an inevitable requirement of the contemporary performer, becoming more and more common place as time has progressed. However, it seems that Bartolozzi's original complaint and call for change regarding the general pedagogical reluctance to incorporate these techniques into a standard woodwind, or more specifically bassoon, curriculum has been met with continued resistance over the past 42 years. Too often, performers learn extended techniques only when and if they are required to perform them, resulting in a small number of largely self-taught specialized musicians and a large number of performers deficient in and ignorant of an entire genre of repertoire.
Historically, the bassoon has not been overwhelmingly favored by the great composers as a solo instrument, many of whom have preferred to compose concerti and sonatas for the piano, violin or cello, and prefer to focus on the bassoon within the orchestral setting. However, in the post-war era the bassoon has been the recipient of many solo and chamber compositions by extremely celebrated composers such as Luciano Berio (Sequenza XII, 1995), Elliott Carter (Retracing, 2002, Au Quai, 2002), and Sofia Gubaidulina, whose multiple compositions for bassoon have expanded the repertoire significantly.
However, bassoonists whose educational experience has lacked exposure to the modern aesthetic will have considerably more difficulty learning these works, should they develop an interest in performing them. Inexperience with executing extended techniques, atonality, and even comprehension of the scores themselves is often an intimidating and overwhelming endeavor for the perspective performer.
Though composed a mere 30 years ago, the Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings by Sofia Gubaidulina has already established itself as an essential part of the solo bassoon repertoire, as illustrated by its illustrious performance history. This work, being both of a large magnitude and composed by a celebrated composer, has been met with great enthusiasm in the bassoon community. Certainly, and perhaps more so than any other work in the solo bassoon repertoire, the Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings is uniquely rich in its formal and narrative structure. Due in part to the work's unique instrumentation, however, performances of this work are rare and almost entirely on the professional level. It is to the benefit of all advanced bassoonists though, that they be aware of and familiar with this work. When studied at the appropriate level, this score has the potential to provide students with a better understanding of 20th Century music, its stylistic components which include atonality, extended techniques, alternative notation, indeterminacy, and, on a broader level, exposure to a work of great musical sophistication and interpretive value.
The challenge, however, lies in the fact that many students have not been exposed to these 20th Century elements thoroughly enough, if at all, to navigate their way through such a demanding work. Additionally, the score contains many ambiguous elements; no program notes are provided, and the key which appears in the preface of the score explains a very limited portion of the non-traditional markings to come. The performer is given little relative guidance. This document will seek to reconcile this deficiency in the form of a manual intended to guide the performer who is largely unfamiliar with or inexperienced in the modern repertoire of the 20th century and the world of extended techniques as they navigate their way through the score. By way of analysis, and performance suggestions this performance guide will endeavor to acquaint prospective performers with the work's unique narrative structure, non-traditional notations and extended techniques in hopes that they might be enthused to embark on educated and interpretive performances of one of the true masterpieces of the solo bassoon repertoire.
Copyright 2011 Jacqueline May Wilson
Wilson, Jacqueline May. "The Concerto for Bassoon and Low Strings by Sofia Gubaidulina: a performance guide." doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa, 2011.