The Free-Reed Journal
Articles and Essays Featuring Classical Free-Reed Instruments and Performers

The Symphonic Squeezebox
Letters from an accordionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

by Henry Doktorski
copyright 1996

Doktorski performing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and conductor Lorin Maazel. (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: May 1996) Photo by Craig Thompson

Date: Mon Mar 18 5:14:02 1996

Dear Friends,

I'm inviting you to hear my accordion debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra on May 2, 3 & 4 at Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts in Pittsburgh, PA. I'll be playing in "Music for Violoncello and Orchestra" composed by PSO music director & conductor Lorin Maazel. The solo cello part will be played by the Russian cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.

According to the composer, the accordion part is "short but important." I look forward to rehearsing and performing with the PSO, which is (according to PSO management) one of the top five orchestras in the United States, after the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Symphony, etc.



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Date: Tues Mar 19 1:06:35 1996

Dear Friends,

Thought I'd tell you a story about my audition for the accordion part for the PSO. In late 1994 some of my Pittsburgh Symphony friends told me that Maestro Maazel had just written a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich with a part for accordion. They suggested that I contact the orchestra personal manager and request an audition for the part. My audition was scheduled in May 1995.

The symphony mailed me the part which I dutifully learned. Most of it was not difficult, but there was a very challenging section with 16th & 32nd note atonal scale passages with some long leaps (up to an octave) in the right hand which went at a very fast tempo without a break. The score was marked, "Moto perpetua." Fingering was difficult, because it really didn't fit the hand and normal scale fingering was useless, as it did not follow normal scale patterns.

When it was time for my audition, I was a little concerned because my PSO friends said that Maazel (an extremely brilliant and talented conductor) was an incredibly demanding taskmaster who could blow up at a musician for the slightest interpretive error, let alone a wrong note. I did not know what to expect. I think the person who coined the phrase "up on a pedestal" might have been referring to symphony conductors who direct from "up on a podium."

On the way up in the elevator to the fifth floor where Mr. Maazel's office is located, I met two Heinz hall employees (stage hands) who inquired what I was doing. When I explained that I was about to audition for maestro Maazel, they wished me "Good luck, kid! You'll need it!"

After a short wait in the reception room, I was ushered into Maestro Maazel's spacious and beautifully decorated office. My gaze fell upon an enormous grand piano, exquisite paintings on the walls, and Maestro Maazel sitting behind a huge wooden desk. Upon my arrival, he rose and shook my hand, "Nice to meet you, Mr. Doktorski. I've heard much about you!"

I joked, "I hope what you heard were good things!" He smiled, "Of course!" Then in a serious vein, he said, "I've written a cello piece for Mstislav Rostropovich which includes a short but important part for accordion. Have you seen the part?"

I indicated that I did, and he said that he would like to hear me play. I suggested warming up with a movement from a Handel suite and he agreed. I played the prelude from the "Suite for a Mechanical Clock" from an organ score.

Then he asked to hear parts of his concerto, specifically the moto perpetua section. He gave me a few beats to establish the tempo and I began. When I had finished I looked up and noticed that his grave countenance had been transformed into a huge smile! He said, "Excellent!" and asked me if I would help him learn more about the accordion. He said that he loves the sound of the instrument and would like to write more music for it, but needed to learn more about the range and capabilities of the instrument. "Are there any specific reference works which would be helpful for a composer?" he asked. I said that I knew of several books which promised to track down for him. He thanked me, and told me to see the personnel director about writing up a contract for me.

On the way down the elevator to the lobby, I met the same employees who earlier had wished me luck with my audition. They pensively asked, "How'd it go?" I replied with a big smile, "Maestro Maazel was pleased with my playing!" to which they retorted, "You're probably the first one!"



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Date: Wed Apr 24 12:27:04 1996

Dear Friends,

Just finished our first day of rehearsals.

For the record: this is not my PSO debut, since I've already performed some six concerts with them (on celeste) but this IS my accordion debut. Prior to the rehearsal, when I entered the stage I walked over to far stage right where the keyboard instruments are situated. Today, in addition to the 9 foot grand piano, there was the celeste, a beautiful 2-manual harpsichord and a keyboard glockenspiel, all in a row. I set down my accordion in the next empty seat closest to the harpsichord (where I assumed that I would sit) and went to get my music.

When I returned Maestro Maazel called me over to the podium (it must have been 30 or 40 feet from where I had set up) and and pointed to a seat set dead-center in front of him about two rows back -- right in front of the woodwind section.

I began to think that the accordion part was not such a "wee bit-part" as I originally thought.

Anyway, we had two rehearsals, one with the keyboards, percussion, brass & winds and one with the strings. The music I heard was impressive. Of course it was just bits and pieces that we rehearsed and there was no solo cello (Mstislav Rostropovich will arrive later). Maazel's music is hard to describe in words; you will have to hear it.

The accordion plays only three times during the entire piece. The first section is simple sustained chords which go on and on and on without a place to breathe (switch bellows).

The second time the accordion enters, I play one of the main themes of the piece - a rapid volley of 16th and 32nd notes accompanied by a repeated drone in the left hand. The entrance is tricky - time signature alternates between 8/8 and 7/8 and 4/4.

The third time the accordion plays is a duet with the solo cello while the rest of the orchestra tacets. (I had no idea that I was to play a duet with Rostropovich!)

The tempo of the duet is incredibly slow (quarter note = 50) and the accordion part is difficult only in that the bellows control is demanding; there is absolutely no place to breathe! Maazel asked me to play it as legato as possible without any breaks, which wasn't easy since the left hand consists entirely of low sustained notes (which speak more slowly than the higher pitches). If I need to switch bellows, I hope nobody notices!

I saw the program notes for the piece today which were written by the composer/conductor himself. The accordion duet part is, in the words of maestro Maazel: An organ grinder like waltz tune recalled from a forgotten past.

I'm looking forward to more rehearsals next week, and I have my work cut out for me -- making the accordion breathe like an organ! (That means NO breathing.)



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Date: Tue Apr 30 19:08:24 1996

Dear Friends,

I am tired! Just had five hours of rehearsal with the PSO today. Cellist Mstislav Rostropovich appeared during the afternoon rehearsal. He is certainly worthy of his great international reputation. And such a pleasant disposition! He cracked jokes several times during the rehearsal. Some parts of the concerto are really exciting; quite thrilling actually.

Many of the orchestra members commented favorably to me about the accordion: "I've never heard an accordion like yours!" "Your instrument has such a beautiful tone!" "I'm impressed with your playing!" (Luckily I do have a very good instrument.) I discovered that the accordion is a good conversation starter; several orchestra members asked me to give them a demonstration during our lunch break.

Anyway, it has really been a thrill rehearsing with the PSO. A pleasure. Such fine musicians. I have decided that maestro Maazel is a genius. In addition to being music director for the PSO, Maazel also directs the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich. Not to mention guest conducting appearances at La Scala, Vienna Philharmonic, Salzburg Opera, etc.

Although Maazel grew up in Pittsburgh, his residence today is in Monaco - the tiny .7 square mile country on the southern coast of France which is populated by 31,000 millionaires. Monaco has two great assets for the wealthy: the weather is pleasantly Mediterranean and the country has zero income taxes!



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Date: Wed May 01 17:20:13 1996

Dear Friends,

Had an interesting day at the PSO rehearsals. One thing I didn't expect is that when an orchestra is this large (103 musicians or so) we can't always hear each other! For instance, I play an important duet with Rostropovich, but because he is at the very front of the stage right next to the conductor and I'm directly behind him about 2 or so rows back, I can hardly hear him when I'm playing! The stage is so huge and the ceiling is so high that the sound of the cello travels out into the hall and not back to me. Therefore, I've got to watch the conductor's stick like a hawk (and so does Rostropovich) because if either one of us gets off beat, it's curtains and the music falls apart!

The high point of my day was right before the rehearsal, when I knocked on Rostropovich's door and introduced myself. He greeted me warmly with a kind compliment about my playing. I said that it was a great thrill for me to play a duet with such a legendary musician as himself and I presented him with a copy of "Introduction and Allegro for Accordion & Cello" by Matyas Seiber, a piece which I played with the Polish cellist Cecilia Barczyk a few years ago.

He asked me if I heard of Yuri Kazakov. I replied, "Of course; the great Russian bayanist. I have some of his recordings!" Mr. Rostropovich proceeded to tell me about the time he and Kazakov went on tour together and played one hundred concerts in small towns and villages in Siberia -- the smallest population was thirty-three including children!

They traveled as a trio consisting of cello, bayan and a singer and presented a two-hour program together. Rostropovich spoke very highly of Kazakov's playing, "His bayan is very special -- it sounded like an organ and had many different stops." Rostropovich's Russian accent was heavy and I unfortunately couldn't understand all the words.

After a few minutes, Rostropovich indicated that he wanted to practice again, so I departed.

Mstislav Rostropovich is a legend. He has recorded virtually the entire cello repertoire during the last five decades. His career started in 1940 at the age of 13 when he played his first concert with the Slovyansk orchestra. During the 1955 era of U.S. Soviet cultural exchange he came to the United States. He holds more than 35 honorary degrees and 25 different nations gave him 90 major awards. He taught at the Moscow conservatory for 25 years and at the Leningrad Conservatory for 7 years.

Rostropovich is also well known for his courageous defense of Alexander Solzhyenitsyn -- a pioneer in the history of human rights. This might be why he was exiled for some time to perform in Siberia, as the Soviet government was not fond of his criticism. In addition, he has a warm personality, and the orchestra musicians love him!



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Date: Thur May 02 17:30:38 1996

Dear Friends,

Today was our dress rehearsal. As soon as I arrived at Heinz Hall I was called into Mr. Rostropovich's room. He asked if we could rehearse our duet together. It appears that just as I had trouble hearing him on stage, so he also had some trouble hearing me. He asked if I could make the left hand louder without making the right hand louder. Since the right hand was already using the softest stop (the eight-foot reed, or clarinet register) I said that there was nothing I could do except add another set of reeds to the free-bass left hand at the octave higher. I played a little with this combination, but neither of us liked it. It wasn't as subtle and beautiful as the single low reed.

After playing through the duet a few times, maestro Maazel entered with Mark Huggins (associate concertmaster) who plays an off-stage violin part way up in the balcony -- it must be a hundred feet from the stage -- with us at the end of our duet. I was important for us to rehearse at least once together in the practice room -- the music is very slow, the rhythms are tricky and there is a lot of rubato. However, under Maazel's direction, the three of us fit together beautifully!

I was grateful that I got a chance to practice once with the other soloists as I was afraid that I would never have a chance to hear what the other players were doing! That is one of the hazards of playing with a big ensemble -- you don't always know what the other players are doing! The sound blends well out in the audience, but on stage you only hear the instruments which are close to you.

For example, two weekends ago, I played celeste with the PSO in Menotti's "Apacalypse" and had a solo (in unison with the violas) at the opening of the second movement. The violas were at the front of the stage to the right of the conductor, and I was a long way off at the very back of the stage on the left side. The violas were playing pp and I was supposed to play ff, (the celeste is such a soft instrument). I couldn't hear the violas, so I had to watch their bows! The PSO musicians play slightly after the conductor's beat; a tradition which varies among orchestras.

Tonight is our world premiere performance. Wish me luck!



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Date: Fri May 3 06:02:04 1996

Dear Friends,

Last night was our opening concert; as you might have guessed, I'm having a ball! Just a few short notes:

1) Yesterday afternoon I happened to tune in to WQED-FM, Pittsburgh's classical music station and caught a plug for the PSO concerts this weekend. The disc jockey said: "Maazel uses some very colorful and unusual instrumental combinations like harpsichord ... (pause) and accordion! which will be played by Pittsburgh's own concert accordionist Henry Doktorski."

I was surprised that they would make such a deal about a couple of short solos, but I'm not complaining! If they think it will help sell tickets...?

2) The opening concert went extremely well. I sat in the audience during the first half and watched the first three pieces: a fanfare by Maazel, Pavane for a Dead Princess by Ravel and Mathis der Maler Symphony by Hindemith. It is always a treat for me to hear such a great orchestra.

The Maazel "Music for Violoncello & Orchestra" was a the big hit and the audience gave a deserved standing ovation. Maazel asked five players to stand and receive acknowledgment for their solos: Andres Cardenes (concertmaster) and Randolph Kelly (principal violist) for their solos at the opening of the piece, George Vosburch (trumpeter) for his very difficult solo during the jazz section, Mark Huggins (associate concertmaster) for his off-stage violin solo at the end of the work, and yours truly (accordionist).

I was surprised and delighted when Maazel reached over to shake my hand during the applause. And suddenly Rostropovich himself walked over and shook my hand. It was quite a thrill for me. I hope more composers write more music for accordion and more orchestra conductors program more music with accordion.

3) The Pittsburgh Post Gazette newspaper printed a favorable review titled:
Maazel Work Impressive -- Rostropovich shines in premiere of piece written for him.

Allow me to tell one story about the concert which might serve as a lesson in patience and hope for all aspiring musicians:

During the very difficult moto perpetua section (which is fast and loud), Rostropovich apparently miscounted and entered a bar early with the fugue theme. (Since I was, at this time, simply counting rests, I could observe everything from my vantage point in center stage.) Maazel facial expression immediately spelled ALARM! (in capitol letters!) and he lowered his left hand (palm down) to indicate to Rostropovich: "Don't play here!" After four beats, Maazel gave an enormous down beat practically in the cellist's face (at the next bar) -- which was the actual entrance.

Without missing a beat, Rostropovich came in correctly and Maazel heaved a great sigh of relief. (It's amazing what an orchestra musician can see that no one in the audience can see!)

But the difficulties were not over! Rostropovich and the orchestra were not quite together as he was playing at a faster tempo than the orchestra and was getting noticeably ahead. This is understandable since earlier we had rehearsed this rapid section in two different tempi: one fast and one devilishly fast.

Apparently Rostropovich's fingers were flying at the devilishly fast speed and Maazel had to frantically communicate a surprise accelerando to the orchestra in order to keep everybody together! (I think this was the fastest we ever played this section!)

During my solo part I managed to keep up the excitement and ff dynamic level and also kept in sync with the flute player who plays along with me at that time!

It was a really thrilling section and the audience loved it! (Now if we were making a recording, Maazel would have stopped us right at the beginning of that section and started over, but, hey! this was a live performance; the show must go on! If the players play with life, with commitment, with energy, it's great! even if a few notes are not quite right.

For example, I have a recording of pianist Sviatoslav Richter (another Russian) playing the Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, recorded live in Sofia Bulgaria in 1958. This recording won the Grand Prix du Disque. Yet the movement titled "Baba Yaga" (the hut on fowl's legs) is full of mistakes: the left hand leaps sometimes completely miss their mark and hit totally wrong keys! But I hardly noticed the mistakes; the piece was so dynamic, so intense, so full of life!

Give me life any day!

This early entrance by Rostropovich reminded me of the time I heard Friedrich Lips -- one of the world's greatest bayanists) in recital in Toronto in 1993. He was playing the "Gothic Suite" by Boellman (originally for organ) and began the chorale with his left-hand fingers accidentally positioned on the wrong buttons! He played one or two bars of music -- all the time fumbling around with his left hand trying to get his fingers on the right notes -- but finally was forced to stop when he realized that his fingers were completely lost.

Lips quietly shut his bellows, adjusted his jacket, paused for a few moments and began playing again from the beginning of the movement -- this time with his left-hand fingers on the correct notes. His playing was brilliant and exciting. He had regained his composure in lightning speed and continued as if nothing had happened, and after about five seconds the entire audience also had forgot what happened, we were so caught up in rapture by his confident playing!

Now... please don't think I'm being critical of these players or that I'm trying to make them look bad and show off my great knowledge and musicianship or any other nonsense like that!

No. I am glorifying these great musicians and I'm bringing to our attention the fact that even the greatest geniuses sometimes make mistakes. They are human too.

So the lesson is: if you make some mistakes during a performance, don't be too hard on yourself! Roll with the punches and get right back up and into the arena! Keep trying and don't give up! And keep a sense of humor, be able to laugh at yourself. (It seems that I have to laugh at myself more than I care to admit! I'm so full of faults!)

Back in 1993, I was more inspired by Mr. Lips' mistake than by all his flawless playing! It gave me hope, that if I kept practicing and trying my best, perhaps I, too, might be able to be able to make the world a better place by my music and make a small contribution to civilization and the upliftment of mankind.

And the truth is: every one of us can do this, no matter what level of virtuosity we happen to be at! The illiterate self-taught village concertina player can provide just as much joy to his audience at village weddings and dances as can the world-renowned virtuoso at prestigious symphony concerts.

Isn't life grand? We all have a part to play in this wonderful world. And as long as we are giving all we have, we are giving the greatest thing. The widow who contributed two mites to the temple donation box actually gave far more than the billionaires who contributed millions of dollars, for she gave all that she had.



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Date: Sat May 4 04:13:48 1996

Dear Friends,

Last night was our second performance. I didn't think I would have anything of interest to write about today, but I was wrong! Last night's concert went very well in general and for me in particular. Apparently Maestro Maazel and Rostropovich practiced a little together before the concert, because it went smoothly without a hitch. However, the rest of us in the orchestra were shocked when Maestro Maazel began the perpetual motion part (this was the part which was not quite together on opening night because Rostropovich kept going faster & faster and Maazel had to keep conducting faster and faster to keep the orchestra & soloist together.)

Anyway, as soon as we arrived at that part -- Maazel began beating his baton like a bat out of hell! the tempo was incredibly fast -- faster than we had ever played it before. We rehearsed it at 120 beats per minute, but he conducted it (I checked with my metronome when I got home) at around 138 beats per minute!

Rostropovich tossed off his part like it was the easiest thing in the world! but some of the rest of us in the orchestra were racing to keep up! I don't know where the wind players got time to breathe! Despite the tempo surprise, the orchestra kept together exactly in time to Maazel's baton, (it really was exciting and I think the audience was thrilled) although not all of us could breeze through it like Rostropovich! I personally thought that I could have played it better, but I was satisfied that nearly all the notes were there and my timing was right on. Today I'm going to practice that passage at the new tempo!

A special treat was waiting for me at the stage door as I left the hall: the great American bayan virtuoso Peter Soave, his teacher Lana Gore and three bayan students from Europe who were studying with them had just driven 300 miles (483 kilometers) from Detroit just to hear me perform with the PSO. I was flattered. We chatted for some time and I invited them out for dinner. However, Peter graciously declined and explained that Lana had to teach the next morning and so they had to immediately return to Detroit. I was impressed with their dedication: imagine driving 600 miles round-trip to hear one concert!

After Peter left, a young lady timidly requested me to autograph her program! I asked if she was an accordionist; she said, "no, I'm a pianist, but I love your playing!"

Damn! I should have asked her for her phone number!



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Date: Sun May 5 04:30:21 1996

Dear Friends,

I had decided that I wasn't going to write anything about the final concert last night (I thought I had written enough already) but I had such an unusual, funny and embarrassing experience, that I just HAD to share it with you!

One of my friends came with a camera to get a photo of me shaking Mr. Maazel's & Mr. Rostropovich's hand during the applause after our final concert.

However, this time neither Maazel nor Rostropovich were close enough to me to shake my hand, so my friend did not get the photo I had hoped for. (Rostropovich did blow a kiss with both hands, as is his Russian custom.)

After the applause finally ended, I returned to the men's locker room on the third floor, changed out of my tuxedo and prepared to return home.

However, just as I was leaving the building, on a hunch I walked over to Rostropovich's dressing room and saw a line of people waiting to see him and get his autograph! "Now's my chance!" I thought. "I still could get a photo of me with the world-famous cellist/conductor!" However, I wasn't dressed properly! I wanted to change back into my tuxedo, which I was holding in my hand on a hanger.

But where to change? I did not want to take the time to run all the way up to the third floor locker room, since I was afraid that by the time I returned, Rostropovich might have left already.

In anxiety, I looked around and spied the door to the Heinz Hall garage. Without thinking, I ducked in, shut the door, undressed in a flash and donned the tuxedo as quickly as I could. My photographer friend straightened my tie and in a flash we walked backstage to Rostropovich's door.

But I was too late! Rostropovich had already left! His door was locked and I caught a glimpse of him walking away toward the front of the hall. Oh well! Too late! I sadly returned to the parking garage and started changing into my civilian clothes again.

But then the unthinkable happened!

While I was still half-dressed, can you guess which two people (the stars of the concert) walked into the garage through another door to get into their limousine which was parked right next to where I was dressing?

I wished I could have disappeared and become invisible, but there was no time, it all happened so quickly! The two maestros looked over at me with a rather quizzical expression on their faces ( I was NEVER SO EMBARRASSED in my entire life!)

As they entered the limo, Maazel looked at me again, smiled, and said, "Thank you very much!" Instantly I replied, "Thank YOU, Maestro!" all the while trying to slip my shoes back on my feet without using my hands.

If only I still had my tux on, I could have asked them both for a photo with me at their limo, and I'm sure they would have agreed!

Well, I suppose there is justice and fairness in this universe after all. One gets what one deserves and not necessarily what they desire. There is a saying, "Man proposes, but God disposes!" So I didn't get my photo, but all you readers got a terrific story!

I'm going to take a week's vacation now; I deserve a break! Hope you enjoyed my posts. Best wishes to all!



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Readers' Letters:

Dear Henry,

Absolutely wonderful to hear for your successful performance with the PSO. I signed on this morning hoping to read of your posting about the concert on the newsgroup. Also, it was nice to hear of the slight performance imperfections of even the best professional musicians. I guess that unless your familiar with the piece it is almost impossible to detect any mistakes in professional performances. I know that when I'm playing a piece of music, every single mistake feels like a major catastrophe, and I would swear that everyone who is listening has caught it. Your remarks have put me at ease a lot, and will help me to relax more the next time I perform.
CONGRATULATIONS again on your fantastic performance with the PSO!


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Dobri dyehn, Henry !, (with respect to Rostropovich, being Russian)

I could bash this keyboard of mine with strings of superlatives, but I won't !

Your phrase: "Give me life any day!"I think encapsulates it.

Permit me to say that you gave us all "a life in the day of.."....beautiful !

Thanks, dah vstryehchee (see you later!)


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Hi Henry,

Now, I'm dying to know what Slava and Maazel talked about as there limo pulled away . . .


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Whoa....I've been reading about your orchestra experiences. You must be very talented and perhaps slightly lucky because most accordionists never get opportunities such as yourself. I would love to hear your orchestra someday....I'll keep the PSO in mind if I ever in my future career obtain the chance to go there on a business trip!

I was impressed with both the style you write with and the experiences you tell about....they are very genuine and enjoyable to read. Each of your posts are a pleasure to read...I never miss one (though I never have anything to respond with!) Your experiences are those that I can only dream about.

Michael John

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Mr. Doktorski:

I have been following your entries on the squeezebox newsgroup. I feel elated to have found someone, in this country, who is actually studying the accordion at a university and is playing with a well known symphony orchestra, not to mention someone who is interested in 'classical accordion'.

Wayne R. Lutzow

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Thanks Henry for pointing out this very important aspect of performance practice. It's so extremely easy to get flustered when things don't go off as planned.

I remember a concert by the incredibly wonderful trad. Irish group De Danaan, which halfway through the second half featured a solo by their bodhran player. Now this guy (whose name, alas, escapes me at the moment) is a FIREBREATHING player. But he made three mistakes in that solo, and the only way anyone could tell they were mistakes was by the grimace that passed across his face each time. Tiny little lapses that might have passed unnoticed were thus made painfully obvious. This was a huge lesson to me.

Rob Greenway

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Dear Henry,

I want to congratulate you for your contribution to the accordion net. You may not realize what effect your input is to all the young accordionists reading your experiences playing in the classical world .

But, keep up the good work Henry. Your tales of performing and practicing with the great cellist, Rostropovich are priceless. I would have loved to hear him with Yuri Kazakov


Vic Aijala

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Hi Henry,

I have been enjoying your rehearsal & concert pieces enormously. Thank you so much for sharing them with us. It's wonderful to get a peek inside the workings of a professional symphony orchestra. Congratulations on a successful concert!


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Hi Henry -

Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed your performance last Thursday night with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Maazel's music stand was in my line of sight, so I couldn't see your head, but was able to watch your right hand and occasionally your left hand when it extended into view as you opened the bellows. Contrary to your worries, I couldn't hear you switch bellows direction in the "drone" section. It was a pleasure to hear the intricate countermelody and watch your hands as you played the duet with Rostropovich. In the rest of the piece it was a delight to hear the distinctive accordion in a symphonic setting.

Maazel's composition was very interesting. As a die-hard folk musician who was raised on older classical music, the non-regular meter and discordant melodies took a little getting used to - the Composer's Notes added immensely to my enjoyment of the piece, as I could follow along, and see what it was supposed to "feel like". It indeed MUST have been a difficult piece to put together: it was the only piece performed that evening for which Maazel had the score in front of him... and he composed it! I guess it's a lot like abstract art on some level (though MUCH more complex and though-out in others): a viewer's/listener's enjoyment of a piece is directly proportional to his/her understanding the genre.

As usual, the performance was superb! As a musician who plays almost exclusively by ear, I always enjoy watching the symphonic musicians - it always amazes me how "tight" everything always sounds, especially on "non-intuitive" music. I love to watch the impassioned expressions on the players faces as they're performing a moving passage, or the "dramatics" certain musicians add to their performance. As you said in your last post to the squeezebox list, I think passion for the music (enjoyment) can add 1000% to any performance, in any genre. I think you, Rostropovich, Maazel, and the whole PSO gets a "10" for a marvelous performance, both in execution and in energy!

I also think your beautiful black and white accordion went wonderfully with your tux!

Take care, and I hope you get to play with the symphony again, and soon. Keep me posted on your other local performances.


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