America's Concertmasters (Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music, No. 51)

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9780899901398: America's Concertmasters (Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music, No. 51)
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This unique book, based on extensive research on more than 180 concertmasters and dozens of interviews, looks at the training and personality traits that have yielded great leaders in the string sections of orchestras in the United States and Canada. After a brief overview of some of the early concertmasters in Europe, twelve chapters present the histories of the concertmaster position in twelve North American orchestras, together with in-depth profiles of twenty-two of the men and women who are the recent and present occupants of the first chair in these symphony and opera orchestras. America's Concertmasters depicts their love affair with violins, their political and psychological acumen, their activism on behalf of their colleagues, and how they model ethical and professional standards. It describes in their words how they advocate for and cede authority to the conductor they serve. And it examines how they make musical decisions, react in crises, and in practical ways deal with the pressures of their solo work.

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About the Author:

Anne Mischakoff Heiles has been on the faculties of the University of the Pacific, Northwestern University, California State University at Fresno, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, teaching viola and music history. She is the author of Khandoshkin and the Beginning of Russian String Music (UMI Press, 1983), Mischa Mischakoff: Journeys of a Concertmaster (Harmonie Park Press, 2006), and many articles.

Review:

After a brief prologue explaining the concertmaster selection and interview process, and an excellent introduction of how the concertmaster role evolved, Heiles takes us on a wonderful journey exploring the lives of concertmasters from ten of the major performing orchestras in North America. Among the issues Heiles seeks to probe are the traits that distinguish concertmasters from section players and soloists, the musical training concertmasters receive, how power is shared between conductor and concertmaster, how authority develops between concertmaster and section players, the range of musical interests today's concertmasters have and whether their musical activities differ from their predecessors, and their tips for those aspiring to orchestral careers. ... this book really should be on the required list for every performance major (string players especially) at the undergraduate and graduate levels of learning. It will give much understanding to the discipline and fortitude it takes to become a great player, and most important, a great leader. --Nola Campbell, NOTES, September 2008

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