Compositions

Please click on the following links or scroll down.
(Attention concert cellists: see #13!)
  1. Background
  2. The Books
  3. Reviews
  4. Quotes
  5. Other Noteworthy Quotes
  6. Performers of Minsky’s Music
  7. Minsky’s Performances and Seminars
  8. Curriculums Using Minsky’s Music
  9. Other Compositions
  10. Sellers of Minsky’s Music
  11. Buy Minsky’s Music
  12. Book Minsky
  13. World Premiere Opportunity!
  14. Recordings of Minsky’s Music
  15. Corrections
  16. Updates


Background

Aaron began his musical life as a rock guitarist yet he was fascinated with classical composition. At the age of fifteen he decided to become a rock cellist but wanted to first become an established classical cellist. He graduated with a Masters Degree from the Manhattan School of Music. After a few years of performing as a classical cellist Aaron was ready to go back to his goal of inventing a new cello style. But how? There was no method available for learning popular styles of cello playing, so Aaron decided to create his own. Each piece was based on a different popular style and incorporated different techniques, but there was one thing that they all had in common: Aaron would not include a piece in his method unless it made him smile! He only hoped that others would feel the same joy.

Having completed his first book, "Ten American Cello Etudes", he began looking for a publisher. His first call was to a well known commercial classical music publisher. He entered into a conversation with their representative which went as follows:

Aaron - Hello. I've just completed a set of cello etudes combining American popular music with classical technique.
Rep. - If you look at our catalog, you will notice that we haven't published a cello etude in over a hundred years.
Aaron - Yes, I did notice. That's why I'm calling!
Rep. - Well, we're very happy with David Popper, thank you. (Popper was the great etude writer of the last century).
Aaron - I'm very happy with David Popper too, but don't you think, after a hundred years, it might be time for something new?

Fortunately, his next call was to Oxford University Press, which had the foresight to see the influence that this book would have! Oxford has now published over a dozen books by Aaron Minsky and other publishers have come on board. His music is widely considered "standard repertoire" and is taught and performed on stages and at universities and schools around the world!


The Books

Below you will find pictures and explanations about each of Minsky's books published by Oxford University Press (unless otherwise indicated). The books are listed in order of publication from first to last. Books that have been recorded by Minsky have links at the bottom of their descriptions to the Von Cello Store where they can be purchased.

PLEASE NOTE: Oxford University Press no longer distributes music directly.

The following Minsky books are distributed through CF Peters:
http://www.edition-peters.com/

Ten International Cello Encores
Ten International Violin Encores
Ten American Cello Etudes
Ten American Violin Etudes
Ten American Pieces (for solo viola)

The following Minsky books are distributed by Allegro Music:

http://www.allegro.co.uk
Three American Cello Duets
Three Concert Etudes
Judaic Concert Suite
Young American Ensembles

The following Minsky books are distributed by Aaron Minsky:
http://www.voncello.com/store.html

Pacific Northwest Suite for 2 violins
Pacific Northwest Suite for 2 violas
Pacific Northwest Suite for 2 cellos
Pacific Northwest Suite for 2 basses
Pacific Northwest Suite for 2 guitars

Please click on the images below to enlarge them!

cello Ten American Cello Etudes:
The history of music is full of composers who were able to bend music to reflect their time period and country. In this century, musicians in the jazz, pop, and contemporary fields have taken instruments such as the saxophone, the drums, the bass, and the guitar, and given them a new sound reflecting modern times. Yet, the cello, with its wide range, variety of colors, and wonderful capacity for counterpoint, remains an underestimated instrument, assigned a dignified yet restricted role in today's musical world. This book will inspire cellists to help our instrument assume a more central position in popular musical culture, thereby increasing public interest in its traditional repertory and, most important, insuring its continuation as a viable musical instrument which participates fully in changing musical currents. To buy a CD of this piece click here: http://www.voncello.com/store.html.




cello Three Concert Etudes:
These Three Concert Etudes extend and amplify the techniques and styles introduced in Ten American Cello Etudes, and represent an aspect of contemporary music often neglected in the concert hall.




cello Three American Cello Duets:
The Three American Cello Duets are rooted in the tradition of cello duets written by performing cellists: Dotzauer, Romberg, Lee, Klengel, and Popper come to mind. Though I have based them on classical technique and on that tradition, these duets view the cello as a popular instrument.




cello Three American Pieces for unaccompanied viola:
When my Ten American Cello Etudes were published many violists told me of their interest in the pieces and David Dalton agreed to make the transcriptions. As a result, perhaps violists will also be encouraged to improvise, play chords and syncopation, and participate in popular musical forms through the reinforcement and expansion of traditional techniques which I have tried to incorporate in there studies.




cello Young American Ensembles:
These two-part ensemble pieces were written for...beginning string students, and have been enjoyably tested in class and in performance with the young players. The aim is to provide ensemble experience, with all its fun and teamwork, at a very early stage in the study of violin, viola, cello, bass and guitar. The books can be used separately or together, making a grand string orchestra.
Three books: Violins & Guitars, Violas, Cellos & Basses.




cello Pacific Northwest Suite:
These pieces were composed as I walked, climbed, and drove through the rugged mountains, virgin forests, misty lakes and rocky coast of the Pacific Northwest...The five part books can be used separately, in various mix-and-match combinations, or altogether, making a full string orchestra. Students are encouraged to use these pieces as a basis for improvisation.
Five books, intermediate level: Guitars, Violins, Violas, Cellos, Basses (This set is no longer available through Oxford but will be re-released in a different form in the future.)




cello Judaic Concert Suite:
The Judaic Concert Suite combines two elements from the traditional cello repertoire. One element harks back to Ernest Bloch, well known for his short works for cello and piano based on Jewish themes. This suite, however, is for solo cello, and with its robust sound and use of counterpoint of chords, it is also in the tradition of the Bach Cello Suites. What is new is the use of modern melodies and rhythms and the way the three movements form a unified whole, musically and spiritually.




cello Ten International Cello Encores:
On the 20th Anniversary of Ten American Cello Etudes, Minsky has brought together a set of ten cello pieces based on musical styles from around the world, such as Mexico, Ireland, Asia, Israel, Africa, Caribbean, and America. Ten International Cello Encores is perfect for students and recitalists who are looking for fresh, new music for solo cello. "While listening to this suite one cannot help but be impressed by the wonderful musical harmony that exists on our planet. It is with the hope that we may soon create an equally wonderful social harmony that I offer these Ten International Cello Encores to the world." - Aaron Minsky. To buy a CD of this piece click here: http://www.voncello.com/store.html.




cello Dead Cello (Published by Latham Music):
I would like to thank Alan Trist, president of Ice Nine (the Grateful Dead's publishing arm) for his undying support for Dead Cello. Said Mr. Trist, " It does not surprise me that there is such interest in Dead Cello, or in classical iterations of Grateful Dead music generally. It's a natural, because the Dead themselves approached their music orchestrally and tonally. There is more to come in this field, and you have paved the way." Dead Cello features four of the Grateful Dead's signature songs. The Other One was a vehicle for driving improvisations. Dark Star was a launch pad for space jams. Stella Blue is essentially a love song to a guitar. Truckin', a song about life on the road, became the virtual theme song of the band - a band that at one time was the top touring act in America. To buy a CD of this piece click here: http://www.voncello.com/store.html.




cello Ten American Violin Etudes:
This is an exceptional collection of ten original études by Aaron Minsky. First published to international acclaim as Ten American Cello Etudes, these captivating pieces are now available to violinists in this adaptation by editors Daryl Silberman and Danny Seidenberg. For intermediate to advanced players. Each of these études is a miniature evocation of an American place and mood, written to help violinists learn in contemporary styles of jazz, blues, folk, and more. Technique certainly won't be dull with these lively pieces, which are also admirably suited for recitals and encores.




Some Reviews

Musical Journal (Incorporated Society of Musicians), England:
"Aaron Minsky has done a brilliant job with his Ten American Cello Etudes...This collection is for the advanced cellist who is able to tackle demanding techniques and complex rhythmic structures simultaneously!...I continue my exploration of these Ten American Etudes with vigour."

The Strad, England:
"Young students may find these much more enjoyable to practice than the standard etudes. The technical issues addressed in the book are indeed an eclectic supplement to traditional study."

Strings Magazine, USA:
"The etudes are unique in applying traditional cello techniques to vernacular American themes; we enthusiastically recommend them to teachers whose students have an ear for rock, jazz, and folk idioms - who does not? - and want to bring them to life on the cello."
(See article about the etudes, written by Aaron Minsky, Fall 1988.)

American String Teacher, USA:
"I was greatly impressed by Minsky's cello etudes published a few years ago. These Young American Ensembles are reminiscent of the Americana musically portrayed in the cello etudes...Minsky has a gift for composing in a fun, contemporary style that is also pedagogically sound."

Sheet Music, England:
"Ensemble training for young string players is made easy with this series of three volumes."

Some Quotes

These quotes are from letters sent to Oxford University Press or Aaron Minsky.

Janos Starker, legendary concert cellist, professor at Indiana University:
"I find these etudes excellent, innovative, intelligent, useful and amusing. I will advise its use wherever I can."

David Johnstone, English concert cellist, living in Spain:
"There are a number of works for the cello which, although not apparent in their time, have changed the course of cello writing or at the least have had a telling influence on the next generation of cello literature. We all know about the Bach Six Suites...the concerto of Dvorak...the Kodaly Solo Sonata...the Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante...And now we come to AARON MINSKY. Maybe at the moment less known than his renowned predecessors I predict that his work for cello may well assume a similar importance."

David Wells, concert cellist, professor at New England Conservatory of Music and Hartt School of Music, formerly at Manhattan School of Music:
"...Three Concert Etudes continue in the same delightful form as his earlier Ten American Cello Etudes. They present new techniques, some of which I have never seen before, and they have rhythmic patterns which will be challenging and useful to young players."

Donald McInnes, concert violist, professor at University of Southern California:
"They (Three American Pieces) represent a "slice" of American style that we do not have in the solo viola repertoire...Without question, I will try to incorporate them into my performance plans. In addition, they will be useful in assigning to my students here at the University of Southern California and elsewhere."

Boris Pergamenschikov, Russian concert cellist, professor at Musikhochschule, Koln, Germany:
"I believe that the new generation of cellists must pay attention to the American popular music using these pieces. I'd like to include the etudes by Mr. Minsky in my teaching and solo repertoire."

Dr. Susan Tephly, professor at Marshall University, West Virginia:
"I plan to use Minsky's Young American Ensembles collection with my string class...I am familiar with Minsky's Ten American Etudes and applaud his ability to expose musicians of all ages to contemporary American music in non-threatening ways. (Recently I programmed several of the etudes from that collection as encore selections on my own recital and received positive audience response to the pieces!) The Young American Ensembles have the same appeal while, to the delight of instructors and audiences alike, sharing American music with younger players, too!"

Diane Harrington Roscetti, associate professor at University of Maine:
"I intend to use it (Ten American Cello Etudes) in my university cello studio."

Other Noteworthy Quotes

Gordon Elliot, Good Day New York, FOX, channel 5:
"(Aaron) You are a world famous cellist;  you are a writer of some of the most successful and influential cello books in the world..." (During an interview.)

Jim Ryan, Anchor, Good Day New York, FOX, channel 5:
"He just woke up Jimi Hendrix." (After Aaron's rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.)

David Wells (Aaron's teacher at Manhattan School of Music) "We used to think he was crazy. We didn't know he was a genius!"

David Blumberg (Top promoter on MP3.com) "He is a performer of the highest level... Many artists speak of their music being unique, but Aaron Von Cello's music truly is!"

RagtimeLady (Music promoter) "If you haven't heard this guy yet, be SURE to give him a listen! He breaks all the rules, so forget whatever you think about the cello. He has created a new rock instrument. Sheer genius."

"Phil Carnevale (Yamaha Sales Rep.) You're on fire! Nothing can stop you!"

Katie D'Angelo (Strings Teacher, Greenwich Public Schools) "Because of the technical difficulty and non-classical groove of Aaron Minsky's Three Concert Etudes, I was able to show my personality through his music when applying for a teaching job. Because of that piece, I am now working as an elementary strings teacher! Aaron's pieces bring a whole new level to non-classical cello playing, full of life and passion. It is a breath of fresh air, and a voice for many who want to groove on their stringed instrument. Thank you Aaron Minsky!"

Well Known Popular Style Cellist (who will remain anonymous):
"I thought I was a rock cellist. Next to you I'm a classical cellist." (After jamming with Aaron.)

Demian of Dream Singer (Musical artist and Chinese democracy activist) "All I can say right now is "Wow"...just "Wow"...What magnificent talent - no, artistry. Talent connotes skill. Artistry comes out of talent but has its source in the soul, the heart, the spirit."

Tom from Soley Duncan (Editor's Choice for Best Unsigned Band - Rolling Stone.com) "What the??!!! How did you??!! I don't understand...how do you get that sound?? Amazing truly amazing!!"

Craig Schroeder (Classical pianist) "Von Cello: The Most Unique Cellist in the World!"

From a blog on the internet: "He (Von Cello) manages to take all the soulful and sublime elements of the cello...and throw them out the window!"

A quote about Bach from a critic of his time: "By his bombastic and intricate procedures (he) deprived them (the melodies) of naturalness and obscured their beauty."

Some Performers of  Minsky's Music

The following performers have sent concert programs to Oxford or directly to Aaron:

David Johnstone, concert cellist and principal cellist of the Pablo Sarasate Orchestra, has been performing Minsky etudes in dozens of concerts all over Spain. (See his quote above) He has also made a CD of Minsky's "Ten American Cello Etudes".

Lawrence Stomberg, cello professor at Oklahoma State University, mentioned below for recording Minsky's "Ten American Cello Etudes" has also been performing them. Concerts include Oklahoma State University, and St. Cloud University, Minnesota.

Patricia McCarty, violist, Silver Medal Geneva International Competition, soloist with many top orchestras, recordings with Nonesuch and Northeastern, faculty at Boston Conservatory.

Arno Van Kerkoff, associate principal cellist, Cape Town Philharmonic, and Sarah Acres, Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, performed Minsky's "Three American Cello Duets" in Cape Town, South Africa. (Program forwarded by ASCAP.)

John Graham, violist,  professor at Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.

Marilyn Harris, cellist, winner of Mu Phi Epsilon Competition, toured the United States playing Minsky pieces in concerts and broadcasts.

Daryl Silberman, violist, performed one of Minsky's Three American Pieces at the Southern California Viola Society. The wife of the ex violist of the Turtle Island String Quartet, Danny Seidenberg, Ms. Silberman reported, "We're big fans of yours".

Erica Boras, principal cellist with Rudolf Nureyev and Friends, the Bolshoi Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet, cellist with New Jersey Symphony and others.

Craig Hultgren, commissioner of modern cello works, Alabama Symphony member and former principal cellist with the National Symphony Orchestra of Panama and the Savannah Symphony Orchestra.

Racheli Galay-Altman, Israeli cellist, opened a concert with pieces from Ten American Cello Etudes, at Tel Aviv University.

Doreen Da Silva, cellist, performed a Minsky unpublished etude during her recital at Hochshule Fur Musik, Wurzburg, Germany. Ms. Da Silva reported that the piece made a stone faced German audience break out in laughter and applause!

Melanie Baker and Matt Fenner, students of Daniel Kazez at Whittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, performed "The Fiddlers" from, "Pacific Northwest Suite". (Program forwarded by Professor Kazez.)

Elaine Bossong, a student of Gail Heppen at Hicksville Middle School in Long Island, New York, performed the Minsky etude, "Broadway" in a school recital. Ms. Heppen reports that she also plays cuts from Von Cello CDs for her students "to broaden their outlook".

Many other impressive performers play Minsky's music but haven't forwarded programs. Check the Links page of this site for links to their pages.

Some Performances And Seminars Given
By Minsky Playing His Original Music

First World Cello Congress, University of Maryland, performance
Night of the Living Cello, Knitting Factory, NYC, performance
New Directions Cello Festival #1, Knitting Factory, NYC, performance and workshop
Ithaca Suzuki Institute, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY, performance and classes
New Directions Cello Festival #4, University of Connecticut, performance and workshop
Music Publishers Association of the U.S., 100th Anniversary Concert, Lincoln Center, NYC
NYSSMA Winter Music Conference, Monticello, NY, seminar for music teachers
Interactive Music XPO, John Lennon Songwriting Contest Booth, Javits Convention Center, NYC
World Cello Congress III, Towson University, Maryland, performances at the Yamaha booth
New Directions Cello Festival #6, University of Connecticut, performances at the Yamaha booth
Maine Music Educators' Association, seminar for music teachers
Sixth American Cello Congress, University of Maryland, performances at the Yamaha booth
NYSSMA Summer Music Conference, Albany, NY, clinic and conducting of the Directors' Orchestra in a performance of Minsky's Pacific Northwest Suite
ASTA/NSOA Festival, Jersey City, New Jersey, gave two clinics for the American String Teachers' Assoc.
Maine Music Educators' Association, two seminars this time!

Some Curriculums That Include Minsky's Music

The Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, United Kingdom, Professional Diploma, solo cello and viola. (See Links page.)
NYSSMA, New York State School Music Association, level 2, cello duets.
A Guide To The Standard Cello Repertoire, by concert cellist Jeffrey Solow.
ASTA,The American String Teachers' Association. (See Links page.)

Other Compositions by Minsky

Theater Composition: "9/10" - A full fledged "Broadway" show. Music, lyrics and book by Aaron Minsky.
A dozen shows for the TRY Theatre Company, some of which have made national tours.
Film Composition: Dream City (produced by Steven Seigal) winner of the Silver Award for Experimental Film and Video, winner of the Jury Award in the New York Exposition of Short Film and Video.
Video Composition: So, You're Having A Baby (produced by the TRY Theatre Company) winner of two Nova Awards.
Popular Song Contests: Two Certificates of Merit in the Billboard Song Contest. Finalist in other contests.
Hundreds of Popular Songs: Over a dozen volumes of songs are copyrighted. New songs continue to be written.

Some Sellers of Minsky's Music

CF Peters
Allegro Music, UK
Latham Publishing
The Von Cello Store (on this site)

Buy Minsky’s Music Books

I plan to sell my music books from this site. In the meantime, if you would like to purchase books see the links or click the following link to send an e-mail with your request to Oxford University Press: music@oup-usa.org.

Book Minsky

If you would like to have Minsky give a seminar, masterclass, performance, workshop, or do a residency at your institution (colleges, schools, festivals, adult education classes, corporations, conferences) please e-mail me with the details.

World Premiere Opportunity!

For many years this part of this section began with a challenge for someone to do the world premiere of my Three American Concert Etudes.

************

I am happy to announce that the World Premiere of Three Concert Etudes finally occured on March 29th, 2004, performed by David Johnstone, principal cellist of the Pable Sarasate Orchestra, at the Auditorio del Conservatorio Superior de Musica de Navarra, Spain! In that same program, which Mr. Johnstone titled Bravo Minsky!, he also gave the world premiere of my Judaic Concert Suite, as well as performing my Ten American Cello Etudes. He was interviewed on Spanish public radio, and recieved several positive newspaper reviews.

Minsky On Record

The first approved public recording of Minsky's etudes has been released (year 2001). The Ten American Cello Etudes are on a CD called, The American Cello, which includes works by Minsky, Crumb, Siskind and Sessions. The performer is Lawrence Stomberg of Oklahoma State University. May this be the first of many recorded releases of the published music of Aaron Minsky!

The second approved public recording of Minsky's etudes has been released (year 2004). The Ten American Cello Etudes are on a CD called, Virtuoso Pop Classic and Jazz Classic Music, which includes music by Minsky, Joan Baez, The Beatles, and others. The performer is David Johnstone, of the Pablo Sarasate Music Conservatoire of Navarra, Spain. In this CD Johnstone takes a few slight liberties with the music. These were done with the permission of the Aaron Minsky, who has said that he wants his music to be a springboard to innovation and creativity!

The third approved public recording of Minsky's etudes has been released (year 2005). Truckin' Through the South is on a CD called, Cello Exam Pieces, Grade 8, released by ABRSM Publishing in conjunction with Oxford University Press. The performer is prominent English cellist, Sebastian Comberti. Minsky's etude is performed on Disc 3, along with the music of Bloch, Debussy, Hindemith, Shostakovitch and other famous composers.

The forth approved recording of Minsky's music has been released (2006). The "Judaic Concert Suite" for solo cello is on a CD called, "Rhapsody Judaica". The performer is Russian cellist, Natalia Timofeyeva, who currently lives in the United States. It is on the Marquis Music label, located in Canada, and available in many countries as well as the internet.

In 2010 Aaron Minsky released three recordings of himself playing his published music!
The following CDs are available at: http://www.voncello.com/store.html
Dead Cello
Ten American Cello Etudes
Ten International Cello Encores

Corrections

As careful as I have been to write down my music accurately, there are some mistakes in my published music from Oxford University Press. Here follows a list of pieces which contain mistakes and their corrections (as well as some updates):

Ten American Cello Etudes -
A) Sailing Down the River: p.11, line 5, meas. 4 - option: replace the eigth rest with another eigth note (f & d)
B) The Flag Waver: p. 13, line 7, meas. 1, beat 2 - the Bb should be an Ab
C) An American in France: p. 14, line 6, meas. 5 - the G should be a G#

Three American Cello Duets -
Way Out West: p. 10, line 2, meas. 2, and line 3, meas. 1 & 3 - the Bb's should be B naturals
p. 11, line 1, meas. 4, part II - the tenor clef D should be a C

Three Concert Etudes -
A) Etude #1, original title: The Burning Heart
B) Etude #2, original title: Sinai Sunset
C) Etude #3, original title: Mulatta
p. 9, line 3, meas. 3 - I invented the bow harmonic and the sign for it (which looks like a bow with the harmonic sign, the circle, over it)

Three American Pieces -
The Flag Waver: p. 7, line 7, meas. 1, last beat - the A# grace note should be A natural

Young American Ensembles -
A) Violins and Guitars -
1. Lazy Day Skip: p. 1, meas. 1 & 9 - first note, down bow, meas. 6 & 14 - two up bows on first two notes (f's)
2. Foundation Rock: p.2, meas. 1 - start down bow, p. 3, meas. 19 - start down bow, p. 3, meas. 32, top line - rhythm should be quarter note, eigth note, quarter note, eigth note
3. Rock Line: p. 11, meas. 1,5,9,13 - start down bow, meas. 4,8,12,16 - lift bow after last note
4. Chugging Along: asterik should read - optional bowing (delete: "bowing for staccato or bouncing bow)

B) Violas -
1. same corrections as Violins and Guitars

C) Cellos and Basses -
1. same corrections as Violins and Guitars, plus the following:
2. Lazy Day Skip: p.1, meas. 1, part 2, notes 3 & 4, cellos play top, basses play bottom, meas. 3, part 2, notes 1 & 2, cellos play top, basses play bottom (that way the cello plays all open strings and the bass plays all open strings except for the note C)

Pacific Northwest Suite -
Guitars I and II -
The Fiddlers: p. 3, last meas. top line, delete the low G

Judaic Concert Suite -
Entrance of the Bride and Groom: p. 4, meas. 125 - the four quarter notes should be four half notes (with tremelo as indicated)

Updates

Updates - To see what has been happening since August, 1999, go to Updates. To read a detailed article about the background behind Minsky's etudes and ensembles, go to Immortality. To read an article about the spiritual background of Judaic Concert Suite go to Spiritual. If you have reviewed, seen a review, perform, teach, list, or sell Minsky's music; or if you would like to comment on the pieces, please email him. Let him know if you would like to be added to the above lists.

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