Strauss: Dance of the Seven Veils Tips for Cellists

I recently had the great pleasure of getting to know Maestra JoAnn Falletta at the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina and getting to work with her on a challenging orchestral program. One of the pieces we did was the “Dance of the Seven Veils” from Richard Strauss’ Salome. Now that piece is not easy. Nor is it peasy. Nor is it lemon-squeezy! So I want to share some tips for having an easier time with it…once you get it, it’s so much fun!

Photo credit: Rong Ma
First of all, there are a couple of intervallic leaps that are pretty gnarly to get right if you’re not using some mental tricks. The first one starts about 3 bars before rehearsal “R.” The measure descends from G-Flat to E-Flat to D-Flat, and then goes up to a D-Natural just over an octave higher in the next measure. So essentially, you have to go up an augmented octave. However, if you think of it as a minor ninth instead (or a minor second plus an octave), it just might work to make it easier to hear in your head.

The other one comes towards the end of the piece, at rehearsal “i.” Right before the measure at “i,” there’s a G-Sharp, and then at “i” it goes up to an E-Flat…a diminished sixth. Say what?! Try thinking of it as a perfect fifth (changing the E-Flat in your mind to D-Sharp). It should make that passage easier.

Now for a fingering suggestion: at “f,” for the lower C in the bar, use your thumb on the D string. Lastly, a bowing: in the fourth bar of “l,” you may want to use two bows (down, up). I hope that these tips help you!

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