Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

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Ken
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Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:36 am

Hello all,

The recently-resurrected thread about fellow Canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin reminded me about an issue that seems to pop up fairly regularly in these forums: the correct pronunciation of the names of various classical music personalities from around the world. As with any discipline that crosses national boundaries, music is replete with names that "native English speakers" (I know this forum has many members whose first language is not English, but for the purposes of this thread, I'll use this term) might have a hard time pronouncing if they haven't yet been exposed to similar names before.

Perhaps we need a place to keep a running tally of the correct pronunciations of difficult-to-pronounce names in classical music, or a forum in which we can post names which we don't know how to pronounce in hopes of receiving an answer from some of our multilingual members. It might also be fun just to keep a list of the tongue-twisting names in music. For instance, I've always been daunted by the following:

Oswaldo Golijov (Go-LEE-hov??)
Einojuhani Rautavaara (I can only get the last name)
Gennady Rozhdestvensky (although I know that I can pronounce the name correctly, I always flub it.)
Peter Eötvös (No idea)
Johannes Ockeghem (one of those names I've seen a number of times, but have never heard)
Jiri Belohlávek (Something about the intonation of those middle letters in his last name)
Sergiu Celibidache (Never asked my Romanian friends about this one)
Leonid Kogan (Emphasis on which syllable?)
Eugène Ysaÿe (Admittedly...)
Torlief Thedéen

I'm sure I'll think of more in due time. And when I ask for 'correct' pronunciation, I mean as close to the native pronunciation as possible; snobby-classical-music-fan pronunciation as opposed to popular or anglicized pronunciations.

Anyone wish to add to the list or discuss the names that I've started with?

- Ken
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

hangos
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by hangos » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:48 am

Ken
I noticed that the stress falling on a certain syllable is important too!
Most non-German speakers put the stress on the second syllable in Bayreuth when it should be on the first ; similarly, they wrongly stress "Goetterdaemmerung" (which should be pronounced "Goetterdaemmerung" )(German usually stresses the first syllable of a word)
Martin

Evelyn Laden
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Evelyn Laden » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:49 am

Lance G. Hill.

It's the G that always trips me up!

Modernistfan
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:52 am

The Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková, born in the famous beer town of Pilsen, who specialized in contemporary music and was married to the important (and seriously underrecorded) Czech composer Viktor Kalabis. Ms. Růžičková was a survivor of Terezin and Auschwitz.

Another Czech performer whose (original) name is probably difficult even for Czechs is the cellist Miloš Zátvrzský. Fortunately for all of us, he changed his name to Miloš Sádlo.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:53 am

Eugène Ysaye (E-zhen_ee-za-ee)

For a French pronunciation of Ysaye, click on the line before the last line on this webpage with very tiny font:
http://members.shaw.ca/ppguide/ppguide.swf
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:56 am

Here's a mouthful:
Einojuhani Rautavaara (éïnoyouhâni rrawtavâârrâ)
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 11:59 am

Another Scandinavian phonetic pirouette:
Siguringur Hjörleifsson (sighoûrring-gurr hyeûrrléïfs-sônn)
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:07 pm

Not sure about this Eotvos guy. The French pronunciation guidelines make the "o" sound like "eu" but the English guidelines are as follows:
(The vowels in both syllables of Mr. Eötvös' name are pronounced like the ö in German; say "oh" with your lips spread, and pronounce the final "s" as "sh" – ÖT-vösh.)
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:08 pm

piston wrote:Eugène Ysaye (E-zhen_ee-za-ee)

For a French pronunciation of Ysaye, click on the line before the last line on this webpage with very tiny font:
http://members.shaw.ca/ppguide/ppguide.swf
Ah, thanks; I was always wanting to put more stress on the middle syllable of the last name--to make it 'ee-ZAY-ee'.
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:21 pm

A short audio clip of Rautavaara's name mid-way through this webpage:
http://www.pronunciationguide.info/Finnish.html
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:22 pm

Oooh, check out this wonderful page full of audio clips:
http://www.pronunciationguide.info/theb ... ml#Finnish
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

piston
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 12:39 pm

Even the best linguist can get it wrong. On the last webpage referred to above, Ginastera's name is not pronounced accurately, in the Italian tongue Ginastera pronounced his own surname. It isn't "hinastera" but truly "ginastera."

Note too how the name Charles Koechlin is pronounced, with the "chl" sounding like "shl" rather than like "kl." If that's accurate, I confess that this francophone member was mispronouncing his name....
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:06 pm

hangos wrote:Ken
I noticed that the stress falling on a certain syllable is important too!
Most non-German speakers put the stress on the second syllable in Bayreuth when it should be on the first ; similarly, they wrongly stress "Goetterdaemmerung" (which should be pronounced "Goetterdaemmerung" )(German usually stresses the first syllable of a word)
Martin
In this case, though, both words. :wink:

In some cases, English speakers do better than others. The French pronounce Mozart "Moh-zahr," and I won't even attempt their Beethoven because I don't want to have to summon up the International Phonetic Alphabet.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

THEHORN
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by THEHORN » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:37 pm

I'm something of an amateur linguist myself
and a hobby of mine is gaining some familiarity with really exotic languages such as
Turkish, Uzbek, Kazak, Uigur etc (all very similar),and Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Georgian, Circassian, Chechen etc, (these are the weirdest-sounding languages you've ever heard ), and others .
Some rules of thumb : In Czech , Hungarian and Finnish , the accent is always on the first syllable. In Polish, the next to last; in Serbo-Croatian, any syllable except the last; in Russian, it's totally unpredictable and frequently falls where you least expect it.
Rozhdestvensky is accented on the second syllable. Mussorgsky, on the first, not second,
The Armenian Khatchaturian is pronounced
not as Catch-a turian but Kh as in Chutzpah.
The Romanian Sergiu Celibidache is pronounced Chel-i -bi-da- kay, and Sergiu is pronounced as the Italian Sergio except the o changes to an oo sound.
Because of the Russian tendency to palatalize, or a y sounds, Kabalevsky is not pronounced Kabal- evsky but Kabal-yevsky .
Russian first names such as Sergei, Andrei,
Boris, etc are accented on the second syllable, not the first as we usually pronounce them, and Vladimir is accented on the second syllable, not the first. vla- DI-mir.

THEHORN
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by THEHORN » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:47 pm

Also, never pronounce Scandinavian or Dutch names as if they were German, with st and sp pronounced sht and shp, or initial s as z .
The great Kirsten Flagstad, a Norwegian, used to go ballistic when people pronounced her name Flag-shad, as in German .
And don't say Herbert Blom-shtedt, as they sometimes do on WQXR.
In Swedish G is often pronounced as y, as in Gothenburg, or Goteborg (Yo-te borg ), which unlaut over the o. I still don't have the knack of putting umlauts on my keyboard. Sorry.
In Dutch, hard G as in German is often pronounced as the guttural German Ch or Chutzpah. Also, don't pronounce sp and st as in German.
The German pronunciation is the result of what is called the High German sound shift,
where st and sp are pronounced sht and shp,
and other differences from the Germanic languages.
High German doesn't mean superior to low German, which is very similar to Dutch, but is due to the fact that low German simply means northern or lowland German, and that southern German is spoken by south Germans who live at a much higher altitude.
Remember, Bavaria has the alps and north Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are
called the low or Netherlands. (the low countries).

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Wallingford » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:49 pm

Well, I once went thru a period where I accidentally substituted the "R's" in "Faure Requiem" with "W"s!
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 1:53 pm

THEHORN wrote:I'm something of an amateur linguist myself
and a hobby of mine is gaining some familiarity with really exotic languages such as
Turkish, Uzbek, Kazak, Uigur etc (all very similar),and Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Georgian, Circassian, Chechen etc, (these are the weirdest-sounding languages you've ever heard ), and others .
Some rules of thumb : In Czech , Hungarian and Finnish , the accent is always on the first syllable. In Polish, the next to last; in Serbo-Croatian, any syllable except the last; in Russian, it's totally unpredictable and frequently falls where you least expect it.
Rozhdestvensky is accented on the second syllable. Mussorgsky, on the first, not second,
The Armenian Khatchaturian is pronounced
not as Catch-a turian but Kh as in Chutzpah.
The Romanian Sergiu Celibidache is pronounced Chel-i -bi-da- kay, and Sergiu is pronounced as the Italian Sergio except the o changes to an oo sound.
Because of the Russian tendency to palatalize, or a y sounds, Kabalevsky is not pronounced Kabal- evsky but Kabal-yevsky .
Russian first names such as Sergei, Andrei,
Boris, etc are accented on the second syllable, not the first as we usually pronounce them, and Vladimir is accented on the second syllable, not the first. vla- DI-mir.
Closer to home (linguistically), a lot of people have a problem with the syllabic accent in French, because strong syllabic accent just isn't a feature of the language. Take my name--Brosseau--which I pronounce as close as I can to true without sounding affected. In French, neither syllable is accented. English-speaking ears hear equal accent as the accent falling on the second syllable, and so it is almost impossible not to be Mr. Broh-SO. Then, because English tends to reduce unaccented vowels, the first syllable loses its true character and pretty soon I'm Mr. Br[schwa]-SO. That's just as bad as the alternative, which most of my family uses, of adopting the English convention of a short vowel before a double consonant--BRAH-so. I just can't win. :)

(P.S. to make this a musical response you could play a similar game with Chopin and Debussy.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Lance » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:19 pm

Some of my friends recently changed the plain "G" to Lance GFN Hill. When I inquired what that may signify, I was told: "Good For Nothing!" [How complimentary, eh?] My father always told me the G stood for "goldbrick," since I was always trying to get out of doing household chores and listen to music instead.
Evelyn Laden wrote:Lance G. Hill.

It's the G that always trips me up!
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Lance » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:29 pm

Here's a common Russian first name that poses problems for people:

SERGE (as in Serge Koussevitzky)

Then there's

SERGEI (pronounced as sir-GAY, as in Sergei Prokofiev/Prokofieff)

I have heard Koussevitzky's first name pronounced as "surge." I have referred to him this way, and yet others place an accent on the "e" of Serge and still prefer to call it as sir-GAY. (Does anyone know how Koussevitzky pronounced it, or what is considered positively "correct?")

I hear musicians pronouncing RACHMANINOFF as RACK-maninoff (mostly Canadians and Brits). Near as my own Russian background is concerned, it should be, sir-GAY rachh-MAN-yee-nof (soft "f"), NOT Rock-man-ee-NOFF, with heavy accent on the OFF [as in on and OFF]. As for Rachmaninoff or Rachmaninov, the Brits choose the latter spelling. I believe either is acceptable spelling-wise.

Interestingly, I prefer to spell Prokofiev the the v at the end and Rachmaninoff with the two "ff"s at the end. Go figure!

Hey, great topic!
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Lance » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:30 pm

How about

TAKTAKISHVILI? I have no trouble, but many do.

Tahk-takh-EESH-veelee [Though I could be wrong.]
Lance G. Hill
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Fri Aug 07, 2009 2:57 pm

THEHORN wrote: The German pronunciation is the result of what is called the High German sound shift,
where st and sp are pronounced sht and shp,
and other differences from the Germanic languages.
High German doesn't mean superior to low German, which is very similar to Dutch, but is due to the fact that low German simply means northern or lowland German, and that southern German is spoken by south Germans who live at a much higher altitude.
Remember, Bavaria has the alps and north Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium are
called the low or Netherlands. (the low countries).
Thanks for the tips, Thehorn! I should note, though, that it's now common to refer to the German spoken in Bavaria, Swabia, Switzerland, and Austria as 'Upper German' (Oberdeutsch), in order to not confuse it with Hochdeutsch, which is the scholastic, internationalized version of the language used by the media and in government and doesn't have much to do with the High German Consonant Shift.

I'll also note that the version of Plattdeutsch that I sometimes hear in Düsseldorf is quite distinct from the Hochdeutsch I'm used to hearing, for example, in Frankfurt, Berlin, or on television. Still, much easier to understand than Kölsch!
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by RebLem » Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:19 pm

Let me take a stab at some of them, as OJ Simpson might say.
Ken wrote:Hello all,

For instance, I've always been daunted by the following:

Oswaldo Golijov (Go-LEE-hov??) oz VOL dough GOL ih jov.
Einojuhani Rautavaara (I can only get the last name)
I know yu ha knee?

Gennady Rozhdestvensky (although I know that I can pronounce the name correctly, I always flub it.)
I can pronounce it, but I can't think of a way to write it.

Peter Eötvös (No idea)--I have no idea either.

Johannes Ockeghem (one of those names I've seen a number of times, but have never heard)--Same here.
Jiri Belohlávek (Something about the intonation of those middle letters in his last name)
YEERy be LO hlavek ?

Sergiu Celibidache (Never asked my Romanian friends about this one)--not sure either.
Leonid Kogan (Emphasis on which syllable?) I've always put it on the first syllable, but I don't know that that's correct.
Eugène Ysaÿe (Admittedly...)
u GENE e (long e, as in abcde) SIGH ay, I think.

Torlief Thedéen--no freakin' idea.

I'm sure I'll think of more in due time. And when I ask for 'correct' pronunciation, I mean as close to the native pronunciation as possible; snobby-classical-music-fan pronunciation as opposed to popular or anglicized pronunciations.

Anyone wish to add to the list or discuss the names that I've started with?

- Ken
Its not necessarily the length. I can pronounce Stanislaw Skrowaczewski just fine, but the last name of the Polish conductor Henryk Czyz has me stumped. I asked a Pole about it once, and he pronounced it for me, but after several tries, I still couldn't get it.
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by THEHORN » Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:04 pm

Taktakishvili ,a Georgian name, is pronounced
Tak-tak-i-SHVIL-i. Shvili means son of in Georgian .
Incidentally, Georgian is no more a Slavic language than Arabic , and it even has its own interesting-looking alphabet , which dates back about 15 hundred years . The Georgians are more similar in culture and physical appearance to the Armenians, even though Armenian is an Indo-European language .
The Georgians are the descendents of the inhabitants of ancient Colchis, from which we get the legend of Jason, the Argonauts, Medea and the golden fleece. There actually was an ancient Colchis on the Black sea region, and the ancient Greeks traded with this nation .
The Georgians call themselves Kartvelians, and their nation , long a part of the Soviet Union , is called Sakartvelo, the land of the Kartvelians.
There are only three other minor languages related to Georgian , Mingrelian, Lazian, and Svanetian.
Georgian is a very peculiar language ; Deda means mother, and Mama means father !
It contains the most tongue-twisting clusters of consonants in just about any language .
I have a fascinating CD of traditional Georgian songs for men's chorus sung in the original, by a Georgian men's chorus , the Rustaveli choir . Many of the songs have elaborate polyphony , and they are for many purposes, such as drinking songs for the famous Georgian banquets, songs for marching off to war, hiking in the mountains, healing the sick and mourning the dead. It's on Sony Classical , and probably hard to find, but well worth looking for .
The Caucasus, lying between the Black and Caspian seas, and not quite the size of the Iberian peninsula, has an incredible variety of different languages; the indigenous ones of the region, such as Georgian, Circassian, Chechen,
Abkhazian, Lezgin, Avar and many others, plus languages related to Farsi such as Valery Gergiev's native Ossetian, Armenian, and a number of Turkish dialects such as Azerbaijani ,among others .
The music of the region is also quite fascinating .

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:10 pm

In its Polish pronunciation, the second "L" of Lutoslawski is silent or, rather, it sounds like a "wahf":
vee-tolt loo-to-swahf-skee
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:15 pm

piston wrote:In its Polish pronunciation, the second "L" of Lutoslawski is silent or, rather, it sounds like a "wahf":
vee-tolt loo-to-swahf-skee
Reminds me of the Italian cardinal who announced the election of Pope John Paul II. He had obviously practiced his "Woytyla" long and hard.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:16 pm

Similarly, the "R" is completely silent in Rzewski's Polish name:
zheff-skee
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Sun Aug 09, 2009 12:17 pm

Interesting to note that, on yesterday's BBC Radio 3 Proms programme, the announcer (I forget who was in charge) correctly pronounced Lutoslawski's name, in line with Piston's post on this forum, English-sounding 'w' and all! It's the first time I've heard his name pronounced properly.
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by stenka razin » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:04 pm

piston wrote:Similarly, the "R" is completely silent in Rzewski's Polish name:
zheff-skee

Piston, similar to famed Duke basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, mate. :wink:
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Chosen Barley » Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:39 pm

It's never been settled once & for all, here, when we should knock ourselves out learning to say a foreign name the way the owner of that name would say it in his homeland, and when we should adopt our own local version, to avoid sounding affected (as jbuck said when talking about his own name). This topic was touched on previously, but no consensus was reached, if I remember right.
STRESSED? Spell it backwards for the cure.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:19 am

^ For the purposes of this thread, I'd asked people to give the most true-to-native pronunciations as possible, which would indeed sound affected from time to time. I suppose I'm simply interested in names that are foreign to me, and in the limitations of my English-influenced palate!

But yours is an interesting and useful question. For instance, I'd used to be quite weary about how I should pronounce highly German-sounding names like Wilhelm Furtwängler in conversation with other people who weren't necessarily big music lovers. This problem has, obviously, resolved itself since I've moved to Germany. Perhaps now I need to be conscious about how I inflect names like 'William Walton', though I've found that Germans tend to be much better at pronouncing English names than vice versa.
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by THEHORN » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:23 am

At WQXR , any one auditioning for a job as an annoucer there has to pass a rigorous test
for correct pronunciation of foreign names, one that would would b e daunting for any one , including pronouncing such names as Gennady Rozhdestvensky .
Years ago, I used to listen to amateur student announcers on University radio station classical music programs, and their pronunciation was so inept and amateurish I didn't know whether to cringe or to laugh .

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:28 pm

THEHORN wrote:At WQXR , any one auditioning for a job as an annoucer there has to pass a rigorous test
for correct pronunciation of foreign names, one that would would b e daunting for any one , including pronouncing such names as Gennady Rozhdestvensky .
Years ago, I used to listen to amateur student announcers on University radio station classical music programs, and their pronunciation was so inept and amateurish I didn't know whether to cringe or to laugh .
Speaking of universities, when I graduated from my alma mater, one of the honorary degree recipients was the noted cellist and conductor, Mitislav Rostapovitch (and that was a full professor).

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moreno
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by moreno » Mon Aug 10, 2009 4:38 pm

piston wrote:Even the best linguist can get it wrong. On the last webpage referred to above, Ginastera's name is not pronounced accurately, in the Italian tongue Ginastera pronounced his own surname. It isn't "hinastera" but truly "ginastera."
[...]
The surname Ginastera has nothing to do with Italian, and therefore the G is not an Italian (or English) G, but a Catalan G.
Beside that, there are lot of mistakes in the aforementioned page (being one of the most obvious the prononciation of Mompou).
Also, I have a question for German speakers: I used to think that the pronunciation of Richard (Strauss or Wagner) was REE-shard but, according the that page is REE-khard. Is it right?

Jetlagged greetings from the remote land of Canada.

Modernistfan
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:00 pm

One problem is that even some general knowledge of the language often does not suffice when it comes to proper names. For example, everyone taking beginning French is told that a final "z" is not pronounced, but it sure is in "Hector Berlioz" and "Pierre Boulez."

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:08 pm

moreno wrote: Also, I have a question for German speakers: I used to think that the pronunciation of Richard (Strauss or Wagner) was REE-shard but, according the that page is REE-khard. Is it right?

Jetlagged greetings from the remote land of Canada.
Here we run into the problem of phonemes (individual irreducible sounds) that either exist in one language or not another, or exist with different "accents" that might as well be different languages for practical purposes.

Neither pronunciation of Richard that you offer is "correct." To begin with, the "i" is not the long "i" of Italian; it is actually closer to the English short "i." More problematically, the phoneme represented by "ch" following "i" and certain other vowels is subject to regional variations even among German speakers, but in standard High German it is neither English "sh," nor "k," nor the uvular "kh/ch" of Hebrew or Yiddish words like chutzpah and Channukah. It is in fact a difficult sound for English speakers, and is perhaps best approximated by saying "sh" but with the tongue farther forward.

What's a body to do? Well, one generally has a choice of offering a close-enough English pronunciation, in which case "k" is IMO the better choice, or, if one is sufficiently comfortable and confident, going for broke and trying for a German-with-slight-English-accent "correct" pronunciation.

Oops, almost forgot. The "R" is also not like any English "r," nor is it a rolled "r." And the three instances of that letter in Richard Wagner's name are all pronounced slightly differently. Aren't you glad you asked? :)

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Chosen Barley » Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:53 pm

jbuck919 wrote:... More problematically, the phoneme represented by "ch" following "i" and certain other vowels is subject to regional variations even among German speakers, but in standard High German it is neither English "sh," nor "k," nor the uvular "kh/ch" of Hebrew or Yiddish words like chutzpah and Channukah. It is in fact a difficult sound for English speakers, and is perhaps best approximated by saying "sh" but with the tongue farther forward.

What's a body to do? Well, one generally has a choice of offering a close-enough English pronunciation, in which case "k" is IMO the better choice, or, if one is sufficiently comfortable and confident, going for broke and trying for a German-with-slight-English-accent "correct" pronunciation.
Glad you brought up the matter of how to pronounce CH following I. I remember, years ago, 2 German girls I worked with, arguing mightily over this. One said it's pronounced "ish" and the other said it's pronounced "ikh".

I was recently informed by someone who oughta know that if you slowly say the beginning of the word "Huge", then you are making the correct sound. Not difficult, I don't think.
STRESSED? Spell it backwards for the cure.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:24 am

There are a few ways of properly pronouncing the German 'ch', depending on its placement in a word and on the word itself.

The 'ch' in 'Richard' uses the short 'ch' (as in 'ich' - one that doesn't have a parallel in English and can be described as a soft, cat-like hiss). This is in fact the more common pronunciation of 'ch'. All German words that end in -ich, -ech, -euch, -chen, etc., use this pronunciation. Try pressing the tongue to the back of your bottom teeth and passing air through your mouth while making a 'ssshhhh' sound; it'll sound something like air escaping from a bicycle tire.

The other way of pronouncing 'ch' iss that back-of-the-throat, long 'ch' that we know from the Scottish word 'loch'. It's less common, but lots of fun to practice: with it, the speaker can really revel in his or her uvular trill. For instance: lochhhhh, dachhhhhhh, Bachhhhhh, Max Bruchhhhh...
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:58 am

Ken wrote:It's less common, but lots of fun to practice: with it, the speaker can really revel in his or her uvular trill. For instance: lochhhhh, dachhhhhhh, Bachhhhhh, Max Bruchhhhh...
Sorry to be pedantic (not really), but the "uvular trill" is reserved for some occurrences of the letter "r." What you are proposing is prolonging the "ch" to make a sound like clearing phlegm from one's throat, which is exactly how it would be interpreted by Germans, too. :)

I'm glad your German is coming together, Ken. My pronunciation was always way ahead of my real fluency (I have the same problem with French), which often confused people.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:14 am

Ah; I was just making an assumption that we'd use the same term for the rolling 'h' sound... Is there a proper name for that?
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:02 am

Ken wrote:Ah; I was just making an assumption that we'd use the same term for the rolling 'h' sound... Is there a proper name for that?
Not AFAIK. I'm reminded of Graves' book I Claudius, where Claudius mentions a satirist who makes fun of a proposed new Latin alphabet (perhaps Claudius' own proposal) that includes a phoneme to represent the sound of hacking (Graves said "hawking") phlegm. :)

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by hangos » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:12 am

John,
That's erudite (as your posts always are) but truly disgusting.
As the English gourmand said while consuming his thick pea soup, "It's time to shut one's gob" (I think absinthe and Jared would understand the pun here, but I don't know whether it works in American English! :lol: )
Martin

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Ken » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:14 am

But really, now, the German consonant sound 'ch' that is featured in words like 'hoch' and 'Fach' is not typically intoned as repulsively as someone who is horking a loogie (as we'd say in Canada). The effect is typically quite subtle. In fact, I very much enjoy listening to German actors or opera singers as they play with the language, and on the whole* find it to be more beautiful sounding and melodic language than English, with more rhythmic play and better enunciation.

* (The whole excluding Schwitzerdeutsch, Swiss German, which kind of troubles me)
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:40 am

Ken wrote:But really, now, the German consonant sound 'ch' that is featured in words like 'hoch' and 'Fach' is not typically intoned as repulsively as someone who is horking a loogie (as we'd say in Canada). The effect is typically quite subtle. In fact, I very much enjoy listening to German actors or opera singers as they play with the language, and on the whole* find it to be more beautiful sounding and melodic language than English, with more rhythmic play and better enunciation.

* (The whole excluding Schwitzerdeutsch, Swiss German, which kind of troubles me)
Of course. There's nothing like Shakespeare in the original German. "Sein, oder nicht sein. Das ist die Frage!"

(Seriously, Germans are so proud of their classic translation of Shakespeare by Schlegel and Tieck that some have claimed it is superior to the original.)

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moreno
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by moreno » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:57 pm

jbuck919 wrote: [...]
Neither pronunciation of Richard that you offer is "correct." To begin with, the "i" is not the long "i" of Italian; it is actually closer to the English short "i." More problematically, the phoneme represented by "ch" following "i" and certain other vowels is subject to regional variations even among German speakers, but in standard High German it is neither English "sh," nor "k," nor the uvular "kh/ch" of Hebrew or Yiddish words like chutzpah and Channukah. It is in fact a difficult sound for English speakers, and is perhaps best approximated by saying "sh" but with the tongue farther forward.

What's a body to do? Well, one generally has a choice of offering a close-enough English pronunciation, in which case "k" is IMO the better choice, or, if one is sufficiently comfortable and confident, going for broke and trying for a German-with-slight-English-accent "correct" pronunciation.
Obviously we were talking about an English approximation, since it's the lingua franca that we all are using in this forum. Certainly, Brujo's pronunciation is not "BROO-hoh", and saying that Falla is pronounced "FIY-yah" is almost laughable, but both of them are the best possible approximations for an English speaker.
Anyway, I'm a little confused, cause you said in the first place that the ch sound in Richard is best approximated with the sh sound, but then you say that the k sound would be a better choice. ?
jbuck919 wrote: Oops, almost forgot. The "R" is also not like any English "r," nor is it a rolled "r." And the three instances of that letter in Richard Wagner's name are all pronounced slightly differently. Aren't you glad you asked? :)
Sure I am! Thanks for illuminating us.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by piston » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:37 pm

Well, moreno, this is a "teaching moment" for me and I would appreciate the lesson about Manuel de Falla. I'll even venture a guess: is it like Fa-ya, with the "a" sounding like the French "a"? And, by the way, is the "de" pretty much the same as the French "de"?
In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished—a word that for them has no sense—but abandoned....(Paul Valéry)

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:01 pm

moreno wrote: Anyway, I'm a little confused, cause you said in the first place that the ch sound in Richard is best approximated with the sh sound, but then you say that the k sound would be a better choice. ?
Well, it is confusing, and I'm afraid the answer may not sound very satisfactory. If you can get the forward palatalized "ch" correct or very close, go for it. If not, hard "k" is a better substitute than English "sh" for the highly scientific reason that the former sounds like the expected pronunciation coming from an English speaker, while the latter sounds real dorky (and perhaps a little drunk). :)

One has to keep in mind that, in general, accents are readily forgiven. I have heard Americans speak fluent German without the slightest attempt at a "correct" accent, and while I found it absolutely hilarious, it didn't faze the German speakers. Look at it another way: Pope Benedict is a highly educated man, fluent in a number of languages including English. But along with many other German speakers, he has never mastered the "th" sound, as elementary as that seems to us. It seems that this sound (actually sounds, because there is both voiced and unvoiced "th") is one of the hardest to produce, and only occurs in a few languages in the world.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by Wallingford » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:06 am

Sometimes, anymore I fear I'll fudge the name "Bill Bell." (Probably the most perfect name for a brass player.)

So I guess I'll just take to referring to him as William.
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by THEHORN » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:20 pm

H ere's an interesting fact . The name Boulez, with the final z pronounced, comes from the same region of France where both Boulez and Berlioz were born and raised, the Auvergne .

moreno
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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by moreno » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:27 pm

piston wrote:Well, moreno, this is a "teaching moment" for me and I would appreciate the lesson about Manuel de Falla. I'll even venture a guess: is it like Fa-ya, with the "a" sounding like the French "a"? And, by the way, is the "de" pretty much the same as the French "de"?
I was affraid someone would ask me about it, and finally it happened :-)
Well, it's really difficult to explain.
The most problematic sound is "ll". First of all, there is the canonical pronunciation, which is getting rarer and rarer, both in Spain and Latin America. This sound can be approximated by /ly/ but trying to make only one consonant sound by touching the palate with the central part of the tongue. Therefore, one can start by trying to pronounce Falla like FAH-lya, and then trying to "squashing" the "ly" sound with the tongue in the way I mentioned before.
But the "ll" is more often pronounced in a different way. Unfortunately this sound doesn't exist in English and I don't know very well how to describe it. I'm not even sure about the nearest English sound: it could be the "y" in "yellow", the "j" sound, or the sound of "si" in "vision". In any case, as I said before, such approximations are usually good enough.
As for the "a" sound, you guessed right: both are pronounced like the French "a".
Finally, I have to say that "de" is not pronunced like the French "de", it's pronounced like the French "des", as in Josquin des Prez.

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Re: Tongue-Twisting Names in Music

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Aug 13, 2009 10:02 pm

THEHORN wrote:H ere's an interesting fact . The name Boulez, with the final z pronounced, comes from the same region of France where both Boulez and Berlioz were born and raised, the Auvergne .
And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that was not a coincidence. If "ez" and "oz" are closely related name endings, it would explain why Boulez pronounces the "z." What would be a coincidence then is that his "ez" happens to have the same letters as the word ending "ez" in which the "z" is silent. (The ending "oz" does not to my knowledge occur in French outside the context of a proper name.)

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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