Thomas Stevens

Arrangements and Transcriptions 901 (part II)

  • General Quotes

Further comments from the 901 Club.

There were a number of similar gatherings at the 901 Club in those days, none of which was particularly memorable, and, of course, no one was taking notes for future reference; however, one particular evening has remained etched in my memory because of a comment Henry Lewis made about a brass quartet rehearsal in which I had participated.

I do not remember specifically why, but, most likely because of the student composer contingent in attendance, there was an extended discussion concerning the vagaries of scoring (writing) for stringed instruments (including some very funny comments about how most string players like to play everything as if it were written during the 19th century). At one point Henry, who at the time was a bassist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and concurrently the music director of the Young Musicians Foundation Orchestra of L.A., posited that string instrument performance practices involve subtleties of execution, timbre, nuance, etc. that can only rarely be approximated but never duplicated by wind, brass, keyboard, or percussion instruments. In this writer's view, he was simply offering another, more specific, argument in support of his opinion that string music should only be transcribed for other stringed instruments. This was immediately followed by