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Your Solo’s History

Imagine walking into your college audition. You have practiced your solo piece for months. You are technically stellar and your musical interpretation borders on the poetic. You walk in, set up, and introduce yourself. The adjudicator acknowledges you and says, “Before you perform your solo, tell us a brief history of the solo and it’s composer.”

You freeze. You weren’t expecting that question so you mumble some lame answer. Now you’re questioning yourself, “why didn’t I know more about the piece and the composer?”

You play your solo, but because you punted on the history question, it wasn’t your best performance. It was less than stellar. Do you still get in?

Let’s rewind. Make an effort to understand the history of your solo piece and the biography of its composer. Here are some pointers to help you ace your audition history quiz:

  • Be able to pronounce correctly the title/name of your solo
  • Be able to pronounce correctly the composer’s name
  • Be able to share the musical style period in which the composer lived
  • Be able to share the dates in which the composer lived
  • Be able to share the dates this particular piece was composed
  • Be able to share the country in which the composer lived and/or was living when your solo was composed
  • Be able to share the religion of the composer and whether it played a factor in composing your composition
  • Be able to share what was happening in the musical world as a whole when your solo was composed
  • Be able to share if the solo was a commissioned composition, who commissioned it, and for what purpose
  • Be able to share your solo’s history in context of general world history

What would the audition scenario look like if you had known about your solo and its composer? Let’s use Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor as an example.

“Before you perform your solo, tell us a brief history of the solo and it’s composer.”

Now, you can confidently say something like:

“I’ll be performing Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor. Vivaldi was an Italian, Baroque music composer and teacher. He was also a virtuoso violinist and an ordained Catholic priest. Vivaldi lived from 1678 to 1741, which was the same time America was being settled in communities usually based on shared religious convictions. From 1702 to 1715 and again from 1723 to 1740, Vivaldi was employed in Venice at the Ospedale della Pietà which was a convent, all-girls orphanage, and music school. In fact, by the 17th and 18th centuries, the Pietà was well known for its all-female musical ensembles and attracted tourists and patrons from throughout Europe. He probably composed the Concerto in G Minor for one of his students. It has been noted that Vivaldi wrote five violin concertos in 1729, which was during his second tenure at the Pietà, and during this time, his ensembles gave weekly performances for the public. So, image yourself in Venice in 1729 at the recital hall of the Ospedale della Pietà as I perform Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G Minor.

Keep Practicing,
Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO

 

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