Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 20 of 40 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
If we accept the dictionary’s definition of “professional” as one’s paid occupation, can there be any other professional concert saxophonist in history other than Sigurd Rascher? Are there any others who’s primary income came from performance honorariums and recording royalties rather than fees from pedagogy? To the best of my knowledge all other classical saxophonists made their livings from teaching at universities and playing concerts attended by other saxophonists at various educational institutions”: teaching saxophonists so that they in turn can go on to teach other saxophonists, etc., etc, ad nauseam. Yes, they may have been great saxophonists, but can we call them “professional” if their incomes did not come from performance? Should we distinguish between those who commit to performance at the risk of financial ruin and those who hold back to insure their mortgage payments? It takes courage to do this, and to answer this question with honesty.
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,205 Posts
I have to point out that one can say the same about most jazz saxophonists.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
I'm not sure where you are headed, or want to go with this but Rascher DID teach at the University level and was paid quite well.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,596 Posts
How about the saxophone players stocking the military bands? Seems to me about as professional as you can get, and you made no distinction between soloists and ensemble players in your original post. BOOYEA
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,205 Posts
Wallace said:
As a saxophonist for a military band, I can assure you I am paid to play the saxophone.....and kill people.
With your playing?:twisted:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
156 Posts
hakukani said:
With your playing?:twisted:
If you have ever heard the Army band in your neck of the woods, you know the answer to that. While the musical casualties are unfortunate, the student loan deaths make it all worthwhile.

Consequently, the Army bands (non-premier) are doing away with big bands and jazz combos. Colonel Palmatier, one of our big whigs, has deemed jazz "irrelevant". The briefing we received last week, a three hour power point presentation, nearly brought me to tears.

good times...sniff....good times
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
4,147 Posts
Wallace said:
If you have ever heard the Army band in your neck of the woods, you know the answer to that. While the musical casualties are unfortunate, the student loan deaths make it all worthwhile.

Consequently, the Army bands (non-premier) are doing away with big bands and jazz combos. Colonel Palmatier, one of our big whigs, has deemed jazz "irrelevant". The briefing we received last week, a three hour power point presentation, nearly brought me to tears.

good times...sniff....good times

Wow, I am glad I wasn't able to join the Army Band after all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,095 Posts
To answer your first question:

As far as I know, Julien Petit is still not teaching. I'll ask him again, but I'm pretty sure I know that the answer is negative. I met Julien in summer 2003, and he was already making his living freelancing as a concert saxophonist. Since then, he has expanded his performance activities to include quartet, klezmer, and even a bit of jazz.

Daniel Kientzy (of recording-plethora fame on another thread) has also never taught. He might have the longest performance career ever of any concert saxophonist.

Other very busy concert saxo artists such as Arno Bornkamp, Daniel Gauthier, Nobuya Sugawa, James Houlik, John Harle and quite a few others can or could have certainly live(d) solely on the income of their performance careers, but would they want to? I mean, really. How could you refuse a school throwing money for you to teach a dozen and a half kids. The extreme bump in income in many of these cases makes it a no-brainer, especially if a very active performance career can be undertaken simultaneously.

To attempt to answer your question about the term "professional":

Our definitions are different. I recently heard a man play soprano saxo with a jazz combo in Memphis who blew me away with his sensitivity, phrasing, relevance + originality of improvisation, pretty much everything. I talked to him during a break, and he said he's a doctor and works at the local hospital. He gigs for fun. Well, I would label him a professional.

I'm a bartender at a fine dining French bistro that sells more wine than any other restaurant in the southeast U.S., incl Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans. I play pretty well -- I think well enough to call professional. I even get paid to play -- more this year than last, and next year is starting to look pretty good already. The jury's still out, but I like where it's heading -- you're going to lose money in the first 3-5 years anyway, no matter how well you're trained as a concert artist.

There's a man named James Umble in a weird spot between Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I've walked past his office at 7:30-8am and heard what I never had thought possible as a young 20-something -- major and minor scales in fourths being executed with deadly precision at speeds in excess of quarter=152 (in sixteenths), perfectly voiced tone colors with every transitory aspect controlled. Perfect. Other mornings, I heard beautifully flowing transcribed lines from Ravel Piano Concerto in G (2nd mvmt), Chambers Come Down Heavy (inner mvmts) etc. Stunning. He gets few gigs, but **** if I've ever heard a better artist on the saxo. I call him a professional.

There are a lot of "pretenders" out there, don't get me wrong. Lots of guys who teach at the college level and say that they have a performance career because they do a lot of recital/masterclasses at universities, play all the conferences, and even put out a vanity CD or two. I don't buy it.

I'm not a dictionary guy, and maybe we're really arguing the same point. Just contributing my perspective.

Angel
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
I agree with that statement Angel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
srcsax said:
I'm not sure where you are headed, or want to go with this but Rascher DID teach at the University level and was paid quite well.

Hello srcsax,

Could you offer some more details please? This is news to me.

Regards,

Beck
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2013
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
Mr. Raschèr taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Union College, the University of Mississippi and Yale.

James Hoiulik studied with Rasher privately and at Eastman. (Houlik did not finish his DMA at Eastman though)

http://music.mdickinson.com/SMR_obit.htm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
srcsax said:
Mr. Raschèr taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Union College, the University of Mississippi and Yale.

James Hoiulik studied with Rasher privately and at Eastman. (Houlik did not finish his DMA at Eastman though)

http://music.mdickinson.com/SMR_obit.htm

Ok, I see what you mean now. He taught courses in the summer at those institutions, but was never on the faculty. I am not sure of the exact amount that he was paid for these sessions but I doubt that it was a huge windfall for him.

Regards,

Beck
 

·
SOTW Administrator
Joined
·
26,205 Posts
Was he adjunct, guest lecturer, instructor, or acting assistant professor? There is a pecking order in macademia.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
srcsax said:
Mr. Raschèr taught at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, Union College, the University of Mississippi and Yale.

James Hoiulik studied with Rasher privately and at Eastman. (Houlik did not finish his DMA at Eastman though)

http://music.mdickinson.com/SMR_obit.htm
Those teaching stints for Mr. Rascher were for 1 or 2 week summer institutes. Jim Houlik's study with Mr. Rascher was one of those 2 week summer sessions at Eastman in 1960. And the comment about military saxophonists being professional is certainly true. I had not thought about them. I was referring to the group of well known soloists generally mentioned in these pages. I agree that many people use "professional" to mean highly skilled, but I am using the word in its pure sense: primary source of income. Most of the well known saxophone soloists are professional teachers (their income), but amateur saxophonists (amateur is from the Latin meaning to do something for love).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
3,302 Posts
The distinction strikes me as artificial. Marcel Mule taught at the Paris Conservatory, yet performed many premieres of important works for our instrument, and was recorded a fair amount. His successor, Deffayet, was the saxophonist for the Berlin Philharmonic (arguably, the highest-caliber "professional" ensemble in the world, certainly at that time), yet does his teaching at the Paris Conservatory (likely his most regular income stream) somehow diminish that achievement?

My experience, and what I personally strive for, is to achieve equal levels of professionalism and passion in both my teaching and performing. The limited "professional" performance opportunities available to saxophonists (as opposed to other orchestral instruments) mean that we, even more than others, must rely on a patchwork of classical performance, jazz performance, doubling gigs in pits, etc., in order to have a viable "professional" career. And, if we have a strong desire, ability, and passion, we may also marry a teaching career to our performing.

The notion that Hemke, Rousseau, Delangle, Mule, Deffayet, etc. are not "professional" saxophonists is an absurd one, as the original poster seems to imply that there has been but one "professional" saxophonist in history. Not much of a profession, if that is the case! I'm not sure what end would be served by such an exceedingly narrow definition of "professional." On the other end of the spectrum, plenty of musicians in a wide variety of genres who are marginally talented make a living in music, if our definition of professional merely relates to the financial aspect. By this definition, Britney Spears is a true professional, while Claude Delangle is not, as she makes (presumably) no income from teaching, while he does. An odd premise, don't you think?

For what it's worth, my dictionary's first definition of professionalism is "of, engaged in, or worthy of the high standards of, a profession." The third definition finally mentions income, "earning one's living from an activity, such as a sport, not normally thought of as an occupation." Webster's 2nd College Edition, 1980--and I doubt that the definition has changed much since then.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
I once read a quote from a dean of the Eastman School of Music that read, in essence, that he has never met a professional musician with just one job. While I was studying at the U of MN there were plenty of MN orch and St. Paul chamber orch players that taught adjucnt at the school. I never thought that teaching took away from the professional status of those musicians.
 

·
Forum Contributor 2011, SOTW's pedantic pet rodent
Joined
·
8,322 Posts
I would have thought the distinction is between those who derive their main income from sax playing and those who don't. The former are professional sax players, even if most of the playing is in the past. Their reputation is built partly on their concert experience and probably on recordings. If a teacher had extensive gigging experience and built their business on that I would call them a pro sax player even if the gigs weren't well paid or even if they were mainly for beer. Those who teach when they have never had that kind of experience are "saxophone teachers". There are various shades of grey in between.
 
1 - 20 of 40 Posts
Top