July 4, Americana

Independence Day, 2021, in America is fast approaching. I have been thinking about this year’s July 4 for a while now. I wanted to do something to mark the celebration of America’s birthday but using only Forgotten Cello Music, as it were.

Sometime ago I found and looked through two works by Anton Hegner. 1. Recreations for elementary cello. (A method of sorts, without all the excessive and wordy explanations. It contains 70 numbers split into several volumes. Volume 1 is for elementary level. ) Each number is preceded by a scale and/or a preparatory exercise. 2. Fantasias on Popular Melodies. Some American, German, and Irish melodies are used to create fantasies all in the first position. Labeled as easy. However, easy is relative and would be challenging for the late beginner-level year student who is not committed to expanding technical proficiency in the first position. (The mention of “all in first position” is often off-putting to students who have graduated up the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th positions already.) They are interesting and creative takes on rather well-known tunes of the day.

How many more of these graded volumes will one have to uncover and disseminate before recognizing their creative and pedagogical worth? What a trove of worthy collections well-suited for the student. They are thoughtfully and artfully formatted. They may not have the colorful pictures to accompany but that could also be easily accommodated by soliciting the student’s artistic creativity. Some students will welcome the drawing and coloring more than others.

Back to the plans for July 4.

Initially, it seemed a great idea to include all of the numbers from the Fantasias and most of those from Recreations. All tallied it would be nearly 20 and it immediately became clear that I would–logistically–choose only four from Fantasias and two from Recreations.

This music is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, they are arrangements and actual compositions utilizing existing melodies that were well-known and quite popular around the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Second, the compositions are thoughtfully worked out so a student can learn using melodies already known to him or her. Third, and this pertains mostly to Fantasias on Popular Melodies, there are plenty of technical advancements to be made all while in the first position. He requires some rather extensive ability of the bow technique.

I hope you will take time to listen to my podcast in which I play several of the numbers from Fantasias on Poplular Melodies.

There is not so much written about Hegner that I have found so much of Episode 20 will be utilized to listen to his creations. All of the selections will be connected to Americana in honor and celebration of Independence Day, July 4. Let Freedom Ring!

The Red, White, and Blue

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