Eric Wilson

Associate Professor

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Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2019)
A great wave in the evolution of the modern cellist : Diran Alexanian and Maurice Eisenberg, two master cello pedagogues from the legacy of Pablo Casals (2020)

Pablo Casals (1876-1973) ranks amongst the most influential figures in the history of the violoncello. Casals never held a permanent teaching position, neither did he commit his teaching philosophy to paper. This thesis examines three selected aspects of expressive tools: intonation, vibrato, and portamento – as interpreted by Casals – and defines how they are reflected in methods of two cellists with first-hand access to Casals's knowledge: Diran Alexanian (1881-1954) and Maurice Eisenberg (1900-1972). The first chapter presents two extensive biographical accounts of these authors. Alexanian taught at the École Normale de Musique and was succeeded by his student Eisenberg. Both cellists spent their later careers teaching in the USA. Their relationship to Casals is discussed as well: Alexanian was Casals's trusted colleague, while Eisenberg his favourite student. Alexanian's method Traité théoretique et pratique du violoncelle was published in 1922 and Eisenberg's Cello Playing of Today first appeared in 1957. All subsequent chapters contain a historical overview of the expressive tools under consideration, how Casals contributed to their development, and how the methods of Alexanian and Eisenberg discuss Casals's contributions. Each chapter contains a critical discussion of the tools' applicability to the playing of today. The second chapter provides an analysis of Casals's expressive use of intonation, discusses its practical relevance and how it is often erroneously taken for a tuning system. The third chapter introduces how vibrato developed from an occasional ornament to a crucial component of sound production and how Casals brought the "continuous vibrato" to cello playing. The fourth and final chapter offers a detailed discussion of Casals's right-hand technique and his use of portamento. My research demonstrates that not all of the content of Alexanian's method identifies with Casals's ideas – Alexanian never studied with Casals and had his own strong views. Alexanian's treatise, however, forms a bridge between two different eras, before and after Casals's hugely influential contribution to cello playing. In comparison, Eisenberg's method is in total accordance with Casals's ways of playing and his presentation of methodology is more comprehensive. Eisenberg's method presents the definitive written legacy of Casals's ideas.

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Breaking the sound barriers : extended techniques and new timbres for the developing violist (2018)

There was a drastic shift in the aesthetics of music from the twentieth century, and this placed new performance demands on musicians. These technical and expressive demands often include extended techniques, which are methods for producing novel timbres. This study undertakes an examination of these extended techniques on the viola. It is necessary for the modern violist to be familiar with extended techniques, but they are not part of standard training on the instrument, as the majority of the standard etudes come from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and do not address modern technical challenges. Because contemporary pedagogical literature is scarce for the viola and few etudes address extended techniques, six etudes have been commissioned as a practical application for this project. These etudes help to introduce and refine facility with extended techniques for students at an intermediate level. Extended techniques are often learned when a student is advanced, but they can and should be taught to younger students. The techniques are sometimes thought of as being unusual or challenging, but they are based on fundamental techniques and can contribute to and improve overall technical and musical abilities. This project begins with an introduction and a literature review, followed by the third chapter which provides a context for extended techniques with a brief history of the instrument and its pedagogy. The fourth chapter explores various extended techniques, the fifth chapter discusses the commissioned etudes, and the conclusion reiterates the importance of learning extended techniques.

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A pedagogical analysis of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104 (2017)

I first heard Antonin Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor, Op. 104 when I was 13 years old. It was a memorable experience for me, and I was struck by the melodies, the power, and the emotion in the work. As I became more familiar with the piece I came to understand that it holds a significant position in the cello repertory. It has been praised extensively by cellists, conductors, composers, and audiences, and is one of the most frequently performed cello concertos since it was premiered by the English cellist Leo Stern in London on March 19th, 1896, with Dvorak himself conducting the Philharmonic Society Orchestra.In this document I provide a pedagogical method as a practical guide for students and cello teachers who are planning on learning this concerto. Using a variety of historical sources, I provide a comprehensive understanding of some of the technical challenges presented by this work and I propose creative and effective methods for conquering these challenges.Most current studies of Dvorak’s concerto are devoted to the analysis of its structure, melody, harmony, rhythm, texture, instrumentation, and orchestration. Unlike those studies, this thesis investigates etudes and student concertos that were both precursors to – and contemporary with – Dvorak’s concerto. Through an understanding of those works I present an approach that will assist players in achieving high technical and artistic standards for their own performances of the concerto.To do this, I focus on the methodological and technical aspects of cello playing in the concerto, exploring the history of cello techniques up to Dvorak’s time, and examining the contribution of Hanus Wihan to the composition of the concerto. I also explain the methodological and pedagogical value of cello exercises and repertoire that existed before and during Dvorak’s time, and show how those contributed to the development of techniques required for the performance of the concerto. Specific excepts are analyzed with reference to left- and right-hand cello techniques as found in the concerto, and strategies and explicit repertoire for developing these techniques are discussed.

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Double concerto for violin, violoncello, and orchestra by Frederick Delius : historical context, form and performance challenges from a cellist's perspective (2014)

Double Concerto for Violin, Violoncello, and Orchestra by Frederick Delius: Historical context, form and performance challenges from a cellist’s perspective covers different issues related to the Delius Double Concerto, including historical context, the form of the Concerto, and the challenges faced by the soloists when preparing the work for performance, especially from the solo cellist’s perspective. The History of the Work chapter includes an overview of Delius’ life, how the Double Concerto fits into his compositional output, and background about the performers for whom the work was written, cellist Beatrice Harrison and violinist May Harrison. The Form and Analysis chapters provide different interpretations of the form of the work, particularly double-function and cyclic form models, and compare the Double Concerto with works with similar formal designs, specifically the Liszt Sonata in B Minor and the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor. The final chapter addresses the specific challenges faced when performing the Double Concerto, including discrepancies in the score, balance and ensemble issues, and non-idiomatic writing for both soloists.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Graduate Recitals. Works for Harp by Smetana, Grandjany, Rota, Hindemith, and M. de Falla (2017)

No abstract available.

Graduate Recitals (2016)

No abstract available.

Graduate Recitals (2015)

No abstract available.

MMUS in Orchestral Instrument (violin performance) (2013)

No abstract available.

Orchestral Instrument Master Recital (2012)

No abstract available.

 

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