Why Every Cellist Should Study Popper Cello Etudes

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I play the cello and I want to improve my technique. Popper can help me do that by giving me access to various resources.

The High School of Cello Playing Op. 73 from Carl Flesch will turn into your bible and is used by all great cellists and teachers around the world. Practice makes perfect! Most of us have heard that one before. One easy way to overcome many types of technical difficulty is just to practice more. Check out our favorite etudes below and start your practice regimen now!

Who is Popper

David Popper (1843-1913), was a Czech Bohemian cellist, composer and musician. Popper enjoyed a long and successful career as both a performer in Europe and as a teacher at Budapest Conservatory. His compositions for cello were also well-known. He composed four concertos, a Requiem to three cellos and an orchestra, as well as other pieces.

Popper was one the greatest cellists who played without an endpin. However, a drawing of him in a string quartet shows that he did adopt it later. Popper composed the 40 Etudes while he was teaching at the conservatory to help his students overcome technical difficulties.

Bohemian (Czech) is the true identity of the composer of the Hungarian Rhapsody, and cello professor at Budapest’s renowned Franz Liszt Academy. David Popper was the son of Jewish parents and a cantor at large synagogues.

Popper was a gifted musician from an early age. He started playing the piano at his home and then moved to the violin when he was about 12. This was not unusual as other musicians such as Becker, Casals and Piatti began their studies on the violin. Popper was rejected by the Prague Conservatory. He was asked to immediately switch to cello and was admitted into the Julius Goltermann class.

Goltermann, who is not related to the composer of the ubiquitous student concertsos, was a pupil at F.A. Kummer. Kummer studied under J.J.F. Dotzauer studied with J.J.F. (who also played in a string quartet alongside Beethoven). This cello diet Popper was raised on, which is still being used today, hundreds of years later. He proudly added to it later.

Popper was a rapid learner. Popper was just 15 years old when he took over for William Tell, his principal cellist at Opera. The audience broke out into spontaneous, sustained applause at the end of the overture’s prominent solo.

Popper’s remarkable talent is evident even if the anecdote from Stefan De’ak’s biography is not entirely true or embellished. Popper was 18 when he became a cellist and began a remarkable, multifaceted career as a soloist, composer, teacher, and chamber musician.

At 25 he became the youngest principal of the Vienna Imperial Opera and Philharmonic. He often worked with Wagner. He was a chamber musician and performed recitals with Clara Schumann, Brahms, and even Bartok (giving the Trio Op. 101), and even Bartok. He was also able to participate in two of Europe’s most prestigious string quartets, the Hellmesberger Quartet or the Hubay-Popper Quartet. (also known as the “Budapest Quartet,” a precursor to the famous 20th century group Hubay’s students founded).

Popper began performing solo at the age of 19 with professional orchestras, already performing his own compositions. One critic said that Popper’s stupendous technique was impossible to describe at the height of his career. George Bernard Shaw called him “the greatest player in the world,” as far as we know.

Of course, teaching was also a key focus. His students at the Liszt Academy included Arnold Foldesy, Jeno Kerpely, who was later the principal of the Berlin Philharmonic) and Adolf Schiffer, who succeeded Popper and later taught a young Janos Starker.

Popper produced a large body of music for the instrument, including 81 opus numbers (some with six pieces), as well as cadenzas and standard-repertoire concerti as well as many arrangements. Although his four concerti are not very musical and rarely heard today by the public, his many salon pieces in every style were loved by cellists around the globe.

Popper’s output on the cello is a pleasing to the ears and a requirement for any virtuoso (his wife Sophie Menter was one of Liszt’s most renowned pupils). Popper’s works also stand out in the fact that many of them have been transcribed for the violin, a departure from the usual practice and a testimony to their brilliance.

The Hohe Schule der Violoncellospiels Op. The Hohe Schule des Violoncellospiels, Op. Popper didn’t stop there. He published ten more etudes in Op. 76, which was designated “Preparatory Studies” by the Hohe Schule. This is a strange title, since the new etudes were more difficult that others in this set. One day, someone might create a unified and graded collection with all 50.

The Hohe Schule “closed” the canon of etudes that is universal in the teaching profession today (along with those of Duport Lee, Dotzauer and Piatti, Servais Grutzmacher, Franchomme, and all others written long before). It would be inaccurate to claim that the Hohe Schule is the “pinnacle of cello technique.” Grutzmacher etudes, which date back almost half a century earlier, are far more difficult. The Caprices of Franchomme & Piatti examine bowing issues that Popper barely touches.

The Hohe Schule’s unshakeable status as a central pillar in our instrument’s educational pedagogy rests on its utility, thoroughness and practicality. Although some etudes have finger-twisters that are not tied to any literature, the majority of passage-work is based on real-life examples. Popper’s etudes, in contrast to other etudes, are short.

His densely-chromatic language is heavily influenced from his close friendship with Wagner and Liszt. This makes it difficult for the student to navigate remote keys or confusing areas of accidentals in a way that no one of his predecessors can. Anyone who masters this material will be able to use it as a foundation for any other standard literature. Only a few additional tweaks are required, such as bow technique.

The new edition is currently in development and aims to simplify, organize, and sometimes even make exploration more enjoyable.

More About the Etudes

Cellists often struggle with difficult passages in various pieces. No matter how hard they study, it’s not unusual to see them struggling. This can lead to frustration, which can be dangerous for the cellist.

Popper’s High School of the Cello was created to solve technical problems using melodic and enjoyable exercises.

Popper is a way to learn the fingerboard from all angles. Popper exercises are designed to allow you to move in and out positions with grace and ease.

Many students fear, dread and avoid Popper. They are challenging and difficult, which I can understand. Popper’s work cannot be understood in one reading. It is important to dive into the text and make a study plan. You will realize that you’ve been studying incorrectly once you begin to study Popper.

These exercises will work your left hand just as well as your right. The technical problems seem to be more difficult with the left hand but the bowing on your right hand is just as difficult.

Professor Richard Slavich, University of Denver Lamont School of Music says that the following exercises are in order of difficulty:

  • Relatively easy: 1, 3, 6, 11, 16, 19, 27, 36
  • Moderately demanding: 2, 5, 8, 10, 15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 30, 31, 34, 35
  • Difficult: 4, 7, 9, 12, 14, 20, 24, 27, 28, 32, 37, 39, 40
  • Very Difficult:13, 29, 33, 38

These are the exercises you should practice in order to be ready for the following repertoire, according to Mihai Tetel (Associate Professor of Cello, Hartt School of Music).

Joshua Roman, cellist and composer, created the Popper Project to help you hear how these exercises sound. He created the Popper Project to record all 40 exercises, no matter where they were and then post them on YouTube. He only needed his cello and a laptop to do this! He blogs about the project and how he recorded all 40 exercises.

Popper High School of the Viioloncello is undoubtedly one of the best ways to strengthen your technique. Take them slowly and build a process around them. This will help you to develop a better practice schedule!

You will improve your technique by creating a better practice session. It is important to overcome difficulties in order to improve your instrument. So don’t be afraid to embrace Popper and take on the difficult tasks!

How to Choose the Right Instrument Size: a Guide for Beginner Cellists

This guide will give you an idea of what size instrument your child or grandchild will need. This is only a guide. When it comes to instrument size, we try to be conservative. You cannot grow into an instrument like clothes.

You will feel severe pain while performing or practising if the instrument is too big. This can lead to decreased practice and interest, which in turn leads to players choosing not to learn an instrument.

Start with Simply for Strings and you can play pain free. From the neck to the middle part of your palm, measure in centimeters.

Directions for Measuring: Hold the player’s arm straight up and parallel to the ground. Measure in centimetres between the neckline and the middle of your palm.

1/16 35 – 38 CM 3 – 4 YRS
1/10 39 – 42 CM 4 – 5 YRS
1/8 43 – 46 CM 5 – 6 YRS
¼ 47 – 51 CM 6 -7 YRS
½ 52 – 56 CM 7 – 8 YRS
¾ 57 – 60 CM 9 – 11 YRS
4/4 > 60 CM 11 – 13+ YRS

Directions for Measuring: Extend your arm out straight to the side and measure from the neck to the middle of your palm.

12″ 53 – 55 CM
13″ 55 – 59 CM
14″ 59 – 63 CM
15″ 63 – 65 CM
15″ ½ 65 – 67 CM
16″ >67 CM

Directions for Measuring: Things get a little more complicated when sizing cellos. The student should be seated at the edge of a chair such that their knees are bent at a ninety-degree angle and their feet are flat on the floor. For string instruments, the top of the instrument should be positioned horizontally in the middle of your chest. The C-peg should be close to and behind your left ear.

Your knees should lightly grip the lower bouts of the viola – if the violin’s corners are digging into your legs, you may need a smaller instrument. The corners should be slightly above the inside of your knees. The student should be able to reach the ends of the fingerboard. Here’s an approximate sizing chart according to age.

Note: 7/8 cellos are also available. This can be a good choice for players who want an instrument with a slightly bigger size or that’s easier to hold, without being too bulky.

1/10 4 – 5 YRS
1/8 5 – 6 YRS
¼ 6 – 8 YRS
½ 8 – 10 YRS
¾ 10 – 12 YRS
4/4 12 – 13+ YRS

Directions for Measuring: The 3/4 size double bass is the standard size for adults. 7/8 size or 4/4 sizes basses are also made but less common. Some people swear by a rough guideline: the height of the bridge should be around where the student’s palm meets the string. Alternatively, when both student and bridge are standing upright, it should be about at eye level. I feel like the most important thing to consider is that the instrument is comfortable to play & easy for the student to reach higher parts on the fingerboard.

FAQ for Why Every Cellist Should Study Popper

What is the “Popper Method of Violin Playing”?

The Popper Method is a teaching method for the violin, developed by Dorothy DeLay and based on the teachings of Carl Flesch. The Popper Method is a comprehensive system for learning how to play the violin. It includes exercises for all aspects of violin technique, from basic finger and bow control to advanced bowing techniques, fingering exercises, scales, arpeggios and more.

Popper’s teaching philosophy is that students should not be forced to learn anything they are not ready for. His methods are designed to allow students to progress at their own pace.

What is the main essence of the Popper method for cellists?

Popper’s method is a technique that is used to help with the left-hand technique of cellists. It is a way to improve the sound quality and intonation of the instrument.

Popper’s Method can be used with any type of cello, but it is most commonly used on larger instruments. The technique involves using the right hand to hold down one finger on a string while the left hand plucks another string close by on an adjacent string. This creates an alternating sound that provides more clarity in sound and better intonation in pitch.

What does Popper teach cellists?

Popper is a cellist and author. He has written many books about playing the cello. In his books, he teaches cellists how to play the instrument in an effective way. He also teaches people how to read music and to play by ear.

Popper’s books are very popular among cellists, especially those who have just started out with the instrument. His books have helped many people learn how to be better musicians and taught them what they need to know about reading music.

What is the best age cellists to start studying Popper?

The best age to start studying Popper is 8 years old. This is because a cellist needs to have a certain amount of dexterity and the fingers need to be able to move independently.

How can studying the Popper Method help a cellist?

The Popper Method is a way of practicing where you work on the most difficult parts of your repertoire first and then work your way back to the easier sections. This method will help a cellist because it helps them to improve their skills by working on the hardest parts first.

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