Strauss Don Juan – Bass Part
Edited by Paul Ellison
Title: Don Juan
Composer: Richard Strauss
Edited By: Paul Ellison
The bass part for Strauss' Don Juan, Op. 20 has been edited by Paul Ellison, in-demand double bassist, professor, presenter, and former Houston Symphony Orchestra principal bassist of 23 years. Ellison's bowings, fingerings and other editorial markings have been added throughout the score.
Don Juan is an early tone poem by Richard Strauss. The work is scored for large orchestra in the key of E major. Strauss' wrote Don Juan in 1888 and premiered it in 1889 with the orchestra of the Weimar Opera, where he served as Court Kapellmeister.
The legend of Don Juan originated in Renaissance-era Spain and was the subject of many musical settings throughout the years, though Strauss' rendition is specifically based on the play by Nikolaus Lenau. His Don Juan is more of a psychologically-based question of values, rather than the simple condemnation of the lecherous character in Mozart’s version of the traditional story, Don Giovanni. In search of his ideal woman, Don Juan ruins several women along the way in his search for perfection. This becomes a burden to him as he realizes he has harmed so many, and – despairing of never finding his ideal woman – he surrenders his life to the brother of one of his victims in a duel.
Strauss's Don Juan represents several aspects of this story with individual themes: at least two memorable themes for Don Juan himself. A typical performance lasts around sixteen minutes, and the difficulty of the work has made excerpts from Don Juan a staple of orchestral auditions.
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Dear bassist or interested party,
All my editing is done in the spirit of "living editions." They are never finished or to be considered set in stone. Bowings, articulations, fingerings, dynamics and phrasings may change with conductors, historical performance considerations, change of instrument, bow or strings, differing venues, individual physical considerations, change of climate or altitude not to mention additional acquired knowledge or change in personal taste. Asking oneself to have about five ways to play most passages seems to cover the fluctuating circumstances mentioned in addition to giving oneself reason and context for choices to be made. Each set of performances of any major work is likely to prompt some change(s). The very nature and future of music as an art form demands live, dynamic, fresh interpretations which frequently necessitates realizing that there actually is no "rule book" and that the "bass police" will never actually show up.
Please accept this editing in the spirit of knowing that our skills and abilities are in constant flux and may require many possibilities. Here's to great music making.
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