By Randy Max

Randy Max joined the Rotterdam Philharmonic as principal timpanist in 1988, where he performed the European premiere of the Timpani Concerto No. 1 by William Kraft. He has also performed extensively as timpanist with the Budapest Festival Orchestra, with whom he has appeared as soloist and toured North and South America, Europe and Russia.

Randy’s new timpani book and CD, Orchestral Excerpts for Timpani, provides authentic parts for 57 of the most-requested audition excerpts for timpani. On the enclosed 78 track audio CD is an orchestral performance of each excerpt, plus 21 play-along practice tracks. Today’s lesson is from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany. His family originated from Belgium, thus the Flemish “van” in his name as opposed to the German “von.” Beethoven’s father was his first music teacher and a musician at the Court of Bonn, as was Beethoven starting in 1784, at age 14. In 1792, Beethoven left Bonn for good and moved to Vienna where he studied with Haydn, and where he lived for the rest of his life.

There are three main style periods in Beethoven’s life, known simply as early, middle, and late. Music through 1802 is considered to be from the early period. The Symphony No. 1 was written in 1799-1800, at the end of the early period.

In 1800, Beethoven organized a concert in Vienna which included the premiere of his Symphony No. 1. Though this work is considered classical and close to the music of Haydn and Mozart, there are many differences which audiences at the time found unusual. One of these differences is the very opening; instead of beginning on the tonic chord (C major), the symphony begins on a C dominant-seventh chord, resolving to F. Another is the Menuetto at breakneck tempo (Allegro molto e vivace).

Practice this excerpt slowly and accurately, gradually working up to the performance tempo of dotted half = ca.108.

Use single sticking, with either cross-sticking or “shifting” (moving from one drum to the other without crossing over). Experiment with what works best, concentrating on evenness of sound and a steady pulse.

To emphasize the difference between f and ff in this excerpt, begin in a light f dynamic (at [A]), leaving plenty of room to go to ff.

Think of this of this excerpt as the da capo, as the end of the movement is generally played with a certain finality (stronger) “the last time around.”

Note that slashed half notes and slashed dotted half notes are shorthand for eighth notes.

Click here to download this lesson (in PDF format), which is an excerpt from Randy’s book. For more information on Randy and his new book, visit his website.

What are some other considerations to think about when preparing for a timpani audition? What are you favorite mallets for this excerpt? Leave a comment.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on September 21, 2010.

Dave Gerhart
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