The Onstage Instrumental Musician as Theatre Performer

By Winston Stone.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

“Nicht mehr.” No more. This phrase is strategically written throughout the score of the last movement of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony 45 in F# minor (1772), and it signals the musicians, in groups of twos and threes, to rise, blow out the music stand candle, and walk off stage. This ritual is repeated until only two violinists remain. By the end of the piece the orchestra is gone, and the stage is dark. Haydn’s clever use of both musical and theatrical devices not only made for wonderful entertainment but also served an ulterior purpose. The movement was, in fact, written as a not-so-subtle message to his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy. The orchestral musicians, most of them family men, had been playing for weeks past their usually limited engagement at the Prince’s summer home. The Prince immediately understood Haydn’s meaning and released the musicians from their duties. By their actions these instrumentalists, in addition to gaining their freedom, had become actors.
From the earliest evidence of instrumental musicians in the works of Homer, through the performers of commedia dell’arte at Renaissance street fairs, in the operas of Mozart and Rossini, and presently on Broadway, onstage instrumentalists have played a unique role in theatre. This paper explores the social, political, and economic significance of these performers in historical context.

Keywords: Onstage, Instrumental Musicians, Theatre, Performance

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.285-302. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.051MB).

Dr. Winston Stone

Visiting Assistant Professor, Aesthetic Studies, Arts and Humanities, University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, Texas, USA

Winston Stone graduated from the State University of New York with a Bachelor of Music in music education, a Masters of Music in clarinet performance, and, from the University of Texas at Dallas, with a Ph.D. in Aesthetic Studies. Originally from New York City, Dr. Stone has performed at Carnegie Recital Hall, Town Hall, Merkin Concert Hall, and in numerous Off-Broadway theaters. Other credits include principal clarinet in the Brooklyn Opera Society, Cosmopolitan Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan Savoyards, Atlantic Wind Symphony, and concurrently, a solfeggist for the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Dr. Stone is currently a Clinical Associate Professor of Music and the Arts at UT Dallas, and Director of the Wind Ensemble. Previously Stone was an instructor of woodwinds, music theory, and composition at Cedar Valley College, and music theory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Dr. Stone has performed with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth-Dallas Ballet, Richardson Symphony, Dallas Opera, Casa Manana Musicals, Dream Collectors, and Texas Winds, and has also performed at the Grand Teton Music Festival and the Arundel Music Festival, Arundel Castle, England. Recent performances include Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, and Marvin Hamlisch.

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