Etudes 101 | The Kreutzer Sessions: 'The Road Home' Nos 35, 36 & 37

Peter Sheppard Skaerved, Gwendolyn Masin


During this winter/spring season of Etudes 101, Gwendolyn Masin and Peter Sheppard Skærved continue their journey through Rodolphe Kreutzer's Etudes. In this series they will be investigating numbers 26-40.

To some, the Kreutzer Etudes are dull exercises. Not so with Peter and Gwendolyn. They have the uncanny ability to illuminate the corners of these milestone Etudes in such an exciting manner that history, performance practice and pedagogy become one unit.

Peter writes: ‘It’s a joy to return to our exploration of Kreutzer’s wonderful pieces. Working sequentially through the whole cycle offers so much. First of all, if we trust what Kreutzer is asking of us, the pieces are a window on the idealistic approach to the violin, as celebrated by the three great disciples of Giovanni Battista Viotti. Secondly, he challenges us to find the balance, the integrity, of musical and technical demands and ideals. Thirdly, the first edition, freed of the ‘improvements’ of recent editors, offers a remarkable primer for the performance practice of the generation of what might be called the ‘Revolutionary Violin’, from ‘portes-des-voix’ through to bow-distribution. Do join us as we re-embark on this adventure’!

Reference to the order of the etudes (these differ amongst the myriad editions in circulation) is made by way of the first edition. Publisher info: Paris: Cherubini, Mehul, Kreutzer, Rode, Isouard, Boieldieu, n.d.(1805). This can be found, for example, on IMSLP.

This weekly 45-minute get-together explores ways to achieve better results from daily practice by revisiting the foundations of playing. Gwendolyn and Peter offer preliminary exercises, explanations and achievable goals, injecting meaning and impact to what is often times considered the most dull and dreary moment of any practice.

These sessions are interactive, suitable for intermediate and advanced players. There will always be time for you to ask questions.

You can find recordings of the first 26 studies by going to our recording page.

29th March:

No 35. F minor – Dramatic sudden crescendos in reverse bowing

No 36. D Major – The pastoral ‘by the brook’ genre: two-part imitation

No 37. A Major – Melody and accompaniment. Perhaps a ‘Werther’ type Romance

Description and imitations continue with this 35 and 36. In no 35, carefully notated crescendo-outbursts are used with ‘backwards’ bowing (which Paganini would also use in his Caprice XI) to depict bad-tempered outbursts. No 36 returns to imitation of the countryside, the Poussin-type stream-in-the-woods. Caprice 37 is, for Kreutzer, a rare exploration of ‘melody-with-accompaniment’ solo writing: this almost feels like a voice with instrumental accompaniment. But there is nothing baroque about the resulting affect, which is closer to the romantic effect of the novels of Goethe and Laclos, which redefined expression from the 1770s onwards.


Tue 29. March 2022, 12:30–13:15 Recorded Class

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Classes held via zoom, limited to small numbers. Community classes are free to attend, with a recommended donation per person. However, please donate what you can – no one will be prevented from attending due to financial circumstances.

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