One of my students is playing the David Popper Hungarian Rhapsody in DePauw’s concerto competition Thursday. It’s such a fun piece, and he’s made terrific progress with it, and so I’m in one of those happy-teacher moods. There’s nothing better than when your students work hard and make progress and you feel like you’re able to actually pass things along.
The Rhapsody is far from a profound piece of music. It’s an incredibly effective showpiece, written with such idiomatic insight that it sounds about five times harder than it actually is. It’s a great piece for young cellists who are developing both technique and interpretive flair; to really pull it off takes not just cellistic chops but showmanship as well. I used to perform it a lot and haven’t for some time, and haven’t had a student study it for a couple of years at least. It’s fun to revisit, and to help someone else explore all the things that can be done with it.