This video introduces the background to the composition and presents performance suggestions for measures 1-7. By Terry B. Ewell. Bassoon Digital Professor #104.

<Music: Cadenza portion of Osborne’s Rhapsody for Bassoon>

Welcome to this series of videos on performing Osborne’s Rhapsody. In these videos I present comments drawn from my article and further performance suggestions I have developed. You can read the article. I have linked this at “,” see the link on the screen:

I also want to draw your attention your attention to the very important article by Sol Schoenbach, “The Story Behind the Composition of the Osborne Rhapsody.” In this article he recounts his meeting of Osborne, his first recording of the piece, and the later radio broadcast of the Osborne Rhapsody. Furthermore he includes some important preliminary sketches of the Rhapsody. These were called “Study for Bassoon.” Osborne later published both the Rhapsody for bassoon as well as for clarinet. These were published in 1958 by Edition Peters. I think that you will find if you are a clarinetist that these videos will also help you because they address issues of the music, the tempo, and the phrasing that will be helpful for your performances. But these videos are primarily for bassoonists and offer performance suggestions for them.

I also want to draw your attention to Steven Hanna’s dissertation, which includes a portion on the Osborne Rhapsody. Most of his comments on the Osborne Rhapsody deal with his analysis of the work. There is very little attention given to the performance of the work or performance suggestions. These videos will be primarily about performance suggestions.

I want to preface by the fact that the Osborne Rhapsody is still under copyright. I will not be providing the complete music here, nor will I be performing the complete piece here. I want to respect the copyright, its owners, and the mechanical rights to the music. So please purchase a part from Edition Peters.

Good, let’s get started. The Osborne Rhapsody opens with this phrase. There are a number of things you need to pay attention to. One of the most common mistakes I find with student playing the Osborne Rhapsody is that they do not carefully parse out or control their rubato. Rubato should not just be “willy-nilly” [haphazard] but there should be a sense of direction, there should be a sense of inevitability: where you are going and where you are coming from. In order to do that, I subdivide eighth notes in this passage. Now I will take (later) freedoms as I convey the music on the stage and in performance, but I depart—for those freedoms—from a careful scaling, a careful control of the music.

You can see a much more detailed discussion of how I subdivide and how I use this control in music in Bassoon Digital Professor #100. This is called “Music in Motion.” It is right now available in three languages: English, Mandarin (Chinese) and Korean.

Now it is important to look very carefully at this section that says “piu piano,” that means more quiet. In order to achieve this on the bassoon I change my embouchure. This was a wonderful discovery I made several years ago. Playing piano is not simply an issue of biting down on the reed more or closing the reed tip. Indeed, that is effective. But you can also achieve variations in dynamic and timbre by changing your position on the reed.

So for instance, if 2A is your normal position, sliding the reed out of your mouth slightly will dampen the tone of the reed. There will be less reed tip area vibrating. For instance here [2A] we have almost half of the reed [blade] vibrating. Less on the bottom lip than on the top. Here [2B] we have only about a third of the reed area vibrating. This portion is inside of the mouth, this portion is outside of the mouth. Even further dampening here in 2C we see that the lower blade really doesn’t vibrate much at all. You are only getting half of the reed vibrating—the top half.

So pulling the reed out here in this passage will get the desired effect of piano.

<music: Rhapsody, mm. 1-5.>

Let me play this section now for your with counting to demonstrate the subdivision and rubato that I am doing in the work.

<music: Rhapsody, mm. 1-6, with counting.>

Now, let me play that for you without the counting. This time you can pay attention to the little inflection that I do here with the change in dynamic. On hindsight I wish I had done more but you can hear a little tone and dynamic change.

<music: Rhapsody, mm. 1-8.>

Very good, now let’s go on. The section here with the whole note [m. 5] is one of the very common mistakes I hear when students play the work. They will not fully count out the note values here. If you are counting in eighth notes as you play through the passage that will help you keep that in rhythm.

I find that continuing with eight note [subdivisions] in this passage is not real helpful. Because the eight notes don’t coincide with the three [triplet]. It would be four against three, which is more difficult to count. So I think of beats, two against three here, taking some freedom.

Incalzando--we take our words “calorie” and “caloric” that is a measure of heat—we get that from Latin (or the Romance languages). You can see that this is a heating up, or increasing of speed and warmth in this area.

<Music: Ending of Osborne’s Rhapsody for Bassoon>