In a concert in Rapid City, trumpter Jens Lindemann revealed how little he thought of his audience.
Earlier this year, a superb trumpeter by the name of Jens Lindemann came and performed in Rapid City. Mr. Lindemann is one of the top solo brass musicians in the world; his accomplishments include graduating from the Julliard School, performing for Queen Elizabeth II, playing lead trumpet with the Canadian Brass, and receiving the Order of Canada (the highest civilian award given by the government of Canada to its citizens). Needless to say, I was expecting a world-class recital, encompassing the best compositions of the trumpet repertoire. However, that is not what I heard. The concert began with a shoddy arrangement of Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor,” with an accompaniment consisting of piano, drum set, bass, and an unnecessary, cheesy computer track. The disappointment generated by the first selection was not lessened by the remainder of the concert.
In his book, Advice for Young Musicians, composer Robert Schumann counsels, “Be sensitive to the requirements of your audience, but never play anything of which you are inwardly ashamed.” Steven Isserlis, one of the foremost experts on Schumann, clarifies this statement by saying, “There is nothing wrong with wanting audiences to enjoy your concerts; but one should avoid ‘playing down’ to them. Play music that you would want to hear yourself, that genuinely speaks to you” (Schumann 28).
By choosing the Bach, Lindemann is assuming a lack of knowledge concerning classical music in his audience.
Schumann and Isserlis are absolutely right about this. I agree that musicians, and performers of any sort, cannot ‘play down’ to their audiences. To refer back to my experience, Lindemann playing “Toccata and Fugue” is a perfect example of this. This piece, composed in the first half of the eighteenth century, is easily the most famous work in the organ repertoire, and its opening theme has become synonymous with classical music. However, I’m not speaking anything against this composition; I’m simply stating that the piece does not belong in a trumpet recital—especially if the arrangement is as tawdry as Lindemann’s. There are plenty of pieces in the trumpet repertoire that are just as—if not more—interesting, such as the Vasilenko, Arutunian, Haydn, and Hummel concerti. By choosing the Bach, Lindemann is assuming a lack of knowledge concerning classical music in his audience.
Another instance of this condescension was his unbelievable narcissistic remarks concerning his education at the Julliard School in New York City. He would do this by simply uttering a musical term in a fairly coherent sense, followed by the clause, “…and I know that because I went to Julliard.” Not only was this ridiculous because of the self-serving, egotistical nature of the statement, but because the musical vernacular he spouted with such artificial authority was such that anyone with a working knowledge of the South Dakota High School All-State Band Terms List would know the words.
Obviously, not everyone in the audience had this knowledge, but does that mean he has to treat these people with such blatant deference? I argue that instead of praising himself, he should let his music speak for itself—beautiful artwork, purveying emotions that all members of the audience, regardless of musical experience, can appreciate.
- Schumann, Robert. “On Being a Musician.” Robert Schumann’s Advice to Young Musicians. Comp. Steven Isserlis. UK: Faber & Faber, 2016. 28. Print