Kopprasch 18. Vivace. Cruel Joke?


Following up on the Golden Clam for the Boldin Kopprasch project, one thing I would think many of you out there have noticed is the markings in the Kopprasch etudes don’t match up well with the tempos we typically go. Kopprasch 18 is a prime example, with the marked tempo of Vivace. The ever useful Wikipedia notes that,

Vivace is used as an Italian musical term indicating a movement that is in a lively mood (and so usually in a fast tempo). The speed typically coincides with that of “Molto Allegro” and implies a metronome marking of 132-160 if played 4 notes to a beat.

By that standard horn players typically play Kopprasch 18 at roughly half the printed tempo. The tempo Boldin plays his at is typical, coming in around a quarter note at 88. In spirit you want to keep it moving and it is in that sense I guess that Kopprasch marked it Vivace. Even at typical horn player tempos it is one of those etudes that is very hard to play perfectly and is one I keep coming back to as sort of a lifetime project.

Verne Reynolds included a long section on the Kopprasch etudes in The Horn Handbook. Of this etude he wrote,

Etude No. 18 should be learned in both E and D before reading it in F. In E the fingering patterns for the upper octave are rather complex, but quite simple in the lower octave. Memorizing this etude is a good idea so that we can watch our fingers. The tips of the fingers should always be in contact with the end of the valve keys. Some players, without realizing it, raise the fingers before depressing the keys, or allow the fingers to rest so far down on the keys so that the first joint is flattened. … It is best to work out this etude sempre forte to make sure that an even volume is maintained.

A great reminder on the fingers but how many of you out there cheated and read it in F first? So for all you slackers (like me) out there, get busy.

And, on the record, I think this etude would sound terrible on a horn at a real Vivace tempo, it would be much too fast and frantic. But a classic etude to be sure and one to shoot for 100% accuracy at any tempo in F or any other key, the effort will pay off.

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