THE ESSENTIAL ORCHESTRAL EXCERPT COLLECTION FOR CELLISTS
“The big cello book” is primarily an audition preparation book consisting of excerpts from the standard orchestral repertoire that appear again and again in auditions and in orchestra subscription concert seasons. It is also an exercise book, presenting technical and musical challenges that every student of the cello must surmount.
Volume I of the two-volume set is annotated with suggested bowings and fingerings for a basic list of audition excerpts. Volume II contains the same excerpts but without annotation. Also, Volume II shows full size versions of Glen Morley’s drawings, a useful visual aid for anyone who wants to understand orchestra life.
The first “edition” of this book was actually a non-edition. I meant it as a storage place for students to keep suggestions about audition repertoire and preparation from their teachers, coaches, and from other students. I reasoned that they might want to put those suggestions into a notebook of some sort…and what better way to store advice about excerpts than in and around the excerpts themselves? I gathered a list of frequently asked audition excerpts and photocopied them, along with some of Glen Morley’s whimsical drawings that had been given to me by my father.
The book was popular and over the next few years I made some corrections (believe it or not, there are wrong notes in the published editions!) and added some refinements. Eventually the book became “the big book,” but I stayed with my original intent to leave the book un-edited aside from a few corrections. I did one print run each year, but I began to increase the number of books printed as I received requests from colleagues and from my own students.
Friends, colleagues and students urged me to publish an annotated copy of “the big book,” but I resisted, suspecting that it would be a lot of work. I was right, and it cost a bit more to produce than I thought it would. Both the work and the production costs are reflected in the price of the two volumes. Still, this will probably be the least expensive part of an audition quest and I believe that it is better to have a slender volume of the most often asked excerpts to carry around rather than a sheaf of individual parts.
Some of the excerpts included in “the big book” are the only sections of the orchestral work likely to be requested at an audition…but most come from works that have a number of important and challenging passages. In the Verdi Requiem, the first section solo in the Offertorio is really the only part one needs to know well. On the other hand, Strauss Ein Heldenleben is full of nasty moments.
An essential library might consist of my two volume work, of course, augmented by complete parts to Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, Beethoven Symphonies #5, #8, #9, Mahler Symphonies #4, #5, Mozart Symphonies #35, #39, #40, Prokofiev Symphony #5, Shostakovich Symphony #5, Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra, (cello part A), Don Juan, Ein Heldenleben, Don Quixote (Solo Part), Tschaikowsky Symphonies #4, #6.