Ernest Hemingway – cellist2018-05-092022-05-19http://rockacellocenter.com/wp-content/uploads/rocakacello_center_logo_v02_60h.pngRockacello Centerhttps://rockacellocenter.com/wp-content/uploads/cello_hero_scribble_feature_feature.jpg200px200px
Here is a section from the New Yorker, May 13 1950, a re-issue of Lillian Ross’ portrait of Ernest Hemingway when he was 50 or so, visiting New York City at a time that he was living mostly in Cuba. I’m not sure how many of us know to include Hemingway in our cello family. The first long paragraph below is the cello one; the author Lillian Ross is writing in the first person:
In this next passage from the piece, Hemingway talks about economy of style. And while not about music, what he says is absolutely applicable to cellists devising parts and improvising in non-classical music. (Too often I hear string players just noodling and noodling throughout a tune. No structure, no empty spaces that would allow the ear to breathe, no direction, just adding a bit of padding.) You know that old line about how it’s what you leave out that makes something powerful and beautiful? See what Hemingway says about cutting things out. A reminder that simple can be better than complex, if you do it right. Notice also the stuff about picking up style from great French writers. He has such a feel for them that he compares them to different types of baseball pitchers. (This reminded me of something quite similar in Bob Dylan terrific autobiography – Chronicles:_Volume_One – where he talks about about picking up style from great French poets when he was still starting out.)
As an improvising non-classical cellist, whose style do you especially love and are always inspired by? Don’t say Casals, Piatigorsky, Rostopovich, Du Pre, Roman, Sherry, Ma, Haimovitz. Too obvious. We all would play like them if we could. Pick others: saxophonists, singers, trombonists; and listen to them and love their style, even steal their phrasings and make them your own.