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#1197170 - 05/11/09 08:33 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: LJC]
timbo77 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 268
Loc: Singapore
Originally Posted By: LJC
Timbo77--The reason I like this book so much is that there is no doubt that much of it qoutes R. directly. Reading R.'s words has given me a sense for the man that cannot be gained any other way. So maybe there are errors in it. Who knows they could have come from R. himself. Unless he kept a diary of his life even R. would not be able to get everything exactly right.


At the risk of making myself unpopular, I disagree. Rachmaninoff had been very upset at the first proofs of the book and asked that the title be changed and for various supposed comments that Rachmaninoff had made about his own music (which he had never made) be removed. Rieseman claimed that the publisher refused to do either, so that Rachmaninoff himself paid to have the large sections of the self-congratulatory remarks (that he had never made) removed as well as make certain other changes. This was done because Rachmaninoff had a certain amount of sympathy for Riesemann who faced financial ruin and had recently suffered a heart attack. It certainly does not follow that Rachmaninoff was happy with the resulting text, or that it can be concluded that the published text was accurate. This is abundantly clear from the way in which is responded to references to the book after publication.

Unlike many other biographies, Riesemann's book was not researched in any methodical way. It seems he cobbled together the product of a few afternoon conversations with the composer without too much attention to verifying the detail or indeed consulting the composer before the proofs were ready. You only have to compare it with Victor Seroff's account (he also knew Rachmaninoff personally, but his biography is of an altogether superior and authoritative order) to see how so much of what Riesemann seems to be his own invention.

At the end of the day, particularly against the unusual background that led to the publication of the book, it is very difficult to dismiss Rachmaninoff's letter where he talks disapprovingly of the book. The resulting text was a compromise that Rachmaninoff had to reach without ruining Riesemann financially and adversely affecting his health (Riesemann had been a musician friend of Rachmaninoff, something else which should not be forgotten). As much as the romanticised account in Riesemann's book may seem compelling, it is impossible to separate out the truth from the fiction, and so its worth as genuine biography has to be compromised.

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#1197186 - 05/11/09 09:18 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: timbo77]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4974
Loc: boston north
Timbo, may I politely ask - and how do you know this?

And I am confused that you mention that Rach paid for changes and yet then was unhappy with the changes.

???

Was the title changed - to his liking?

I haven't started reading or studying his biography yet so am curious for when I do start.
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1197683 - 05/11/09 11:06 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: lilylady]
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1502
Loc: New York
LL-Unfortunately I don't know which magazine although I think she mentioned which one at the meeting. I'm not sure if she was 10 when she took lessons from R. but that is probable and I'm almost certain she said they took place in Paris. Ruth told me that she once played one of the concerto's either the 2nd or 3rd with I believe Ormandy who had a score marked by R. himself. She asked to see the score to see R's markings but Ormandy (?) said don't bother looking because the next time R. and he did the piece together R. wanted it completely different. The best part of the lesson was choosing whether to play Ruth's Hamburg Steinway B or her Bosendorfer of about the same size. She asked me which one I wanted to play and I said I wasn't sure. Ruth then demonstrated each for me (that worked out well for me!). So then I tested each. I really think Ruth liked my jazz warm ups way better than any of the Rach I played. For those who know me they already know I picked the Steinway telling her I'm a Steinway man and commenting that I had a Hamburg myself. She said that the Hamburgs were better and you can do so much more on a D (she could anyway). She was surprised when I told her I don't have ivory keys (hers does) and she commented that she thought the plastic looked cheap. I reminded her of the ivory ban. I told her that my piano had belonged to Eugene Istomin and invited her to come see it. She accepted and said she would play me her Brahm's program that she was going to play in Japan but this did not happen. I haven't given up on it. I gave her a call a few weeks ago when I was in NY to invite her to lunch but no answer, maybe she was away again. In talking about my Hamburg D she told me that years ago she went to Claudio Arrau's piano party to celebrate the arrival of his new Hamburg D. A number of notable's were present including Horowitz. She asked me if I could guess the major topic of conversation (shortly after having explained my insurance work) and so I said I guess it wasn't music, was it insuring pianos? No, it was what pills everyone was taking.

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#1197699 - 05/11/09 11:54 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: LJC]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Lee, that's some fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing. smile

I don't know about that bit about Hamburgs being better...I guess it's what you're used to. grin
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1197731 - 05/12/09 12:42 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: timbo77]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
Originally Posted By: timbo77
If I remember correctly (I'm in the middle of moving house so don't have the book to hand), Rachmaninoff wrote to Medtner to say that he was disappointed with Oskar Riesemann's book because he appeared to have embellished or invented most of it.


Quite often, the life stories of these piano-titans have to be embellished to hold the interest of a reader because the truth is so darned boring! tired

"Then we retired to the veranda for a spot of tea. Serge had two teaspoons of sugar and I had 3. We also had melba toast with our tea, although I didn't dip mine in the tea like Serge did, although the last time we shared tea and melba toast I didn't notice Serge dipping his..... ad nauseum".

How many of these people lived life on the edge, true stories about them giving reader's goose-bumps, or the heebie jeebies at the very least?


Edited by BJones (05/12/09 12:43 AM)
_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


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#1197732 - 05/12/09 12:50 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: Horowitzian]
88Key_PianoPlayer Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/02
Posts: 1904
Loc: El Cajon, CA
Where are the pics of one of Rachmaninoff's hands playing an interval this size...


on a a piano with keys this size...


with his hand only stretched this wide?


laugh
_________________________
Associate Member - Piano Technicians Guild
1950 (#144211) Baldwin Hamilton
1956 (#167714) Baldwin Hamilton
You can right-click my avatar for an option to view a larger version.

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#1197733 - 05/12/09 12:55 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: 88Key_PianoPlayer]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
smokin
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1197873 - 05/12/09 10:29 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: lilylady]
timbo77 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 268
Loc: Singapore
Originally Posted By: lilylady
Timbo, may I politely ask - and how do you know this?

And I am confused that you mention that Rach paid for changes and yet then was unhappy with the changes.

???

Was the title changed - to his liking?

I haven't started reading or studying his biography yet so am curious for when I do start.


There are a number of sources for the account I have given. The first is Riesemann's book itself, which repays re-reading and comparing to biographies. Next is the letter where Rachmaninoff records his discontent with the book (I need to find this reference once I've moved house). Finally, there is the account in Bertenssen & Leyda's 'Rachmaninoff: A Lifetime in Music'. Again, one of the authors knew Rachmaninoff and, crucially, the whole book was closely scrutinised by Sophia Satin, Rachmaninoff's cousin and sister-in-law, who spent much of her life preserving Rachmaninoff's legacy.

Riesemann was a musician who had got to know Rachmaninoff. I don't recall now whether this acquaintance stemmed from Rachmaninoff's time in Russia or when he was living in Dresden. However, the book arose out of that friendship.

Riesemann sent proofs to Rachmaninoff. Not a draft, but publishers proofs. And Rachmaninoff was horrified because, at that stage, making substantial changes would require someone to pay for them. Rachmaninoff, I'm sure, would rather have Riesemann scrap the whole thing because he felt it was mostly embellishment. He was not interested in writing an autobiography himself (he was far more concerned with composing now that his new house, Senar, had been built). As I said in my previous post, Riesemann, shortly after delivering the proofs to Rachmaninoff, suffered a heart attack. He faced losing everything.

Therefore, Rachmaninoff had a choice: refuse publication and watch his friend Riesemann face the consequences, or pay out of his own pocket to remove the most offending items so it was in some publishable format. The worst part of the draft was apparently comments attributed to Rachmaninoff about his own compositions. Rachmaninoff therefore paid to change the proofs to remove these comments but I suspect he felt less inclined to pay to remove all the other numerous inaccuracies and embellishments. The publisher insisted on the title.

It's perilous to look at these events with the benefit of hindsight. At the time, Rachmaninoff could hardly have guessed that people would be scrutinising this book to learn about his life. His concern was to help his friend, not to provide an accurate biography for posterity. Therefore, whilst it may seem odd that Rachmaninoff would pay for certain changes to a book and then complain about remaining problems, that is perfectly understandable in the context and circumstances in which this book arose.

Further corroboration for the account in my earlier post is found in Rachmaninoff's own views of the book. It is very hard indeed to disregard Rachmaninoff's own comments made in a letter that was never intended to be published: he would have no axe to grind and could be completely honest with his correspondent. Why would he need to complain at Riesemann's embellishments? The lukewarm letter of endorsement that shamelessly appears at the beginning of the book only serves to reinforce the point: Rachmaninoff would help his friend, but he was not going to stand by this book as the definitive account of his life. My view is that we should be alert to Rachmaninoff's own reaction, as it reveals the real story.

This is my view, based on what I have read and what other biographers have written -- the alternative, that these are accurate recollections as told to Riesemann, to me is implausible and wishful thinking: the evidence just doesn't support it. As alluring as the stories may seem (and I'm sure they are derived from some comments that Rachmaninoff may have made), they of limited value when reconstructing the composer's life.
Bertenssen & Leyda contains a lot of primary source material and brings the reader much closer to Rachmaninoff of than Riesemann. Similarly, Seroff's account of Rachmaninoff's life is also worth a read: it is not a rose-tinted account by any means. Martin's biography is an excellent account (though he reaches a different conclusion on Riesemann's book, with which I respectfully disagree!). Max Harrison's 'Rachmaninoff: Life, Works, Recordings' is also worth a read, though it is sometimes marred by some extraneous and pointless commentary.


Edited by timbo77 (05/12/09 10:32 AM)

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#1198048 - 05/12/09 04:48 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: timbo77]
lilylady Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/17/05
Posts: 4974
Loc: boston north
Thank you timbo for your explanation.

Now, I am unsure about the letter explanation that seems to have been put in with the book. Was this the so so enthused letter or the 'other one'!

Yes, I am hooked on Rach's music and would love to know more about his life and his composing and how one might have influenced the other.

Sounds like you are hooked as well! Or is he just part of the many composers that you have delved into?
_________________________
"Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything."

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#1198091 - 05/12/09 05:53 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: lilylady]
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1502
Loc: New York
H- When I wrote my last I was wondering if you would see the Horowitz part--I knew you'd like that part. As for the bit about Hamburg's being better well some are but mainly they're just a bit different in my view.

T-I'd like to see the letters you are referring to. It reminds me a bit of my research into Wyatt Earp. I even have copies of most of the original source material. It seems the authors assisting in these authobiographies have to put it together and make the product marketable and thats not easy unless the subject R or E become deeply involved. In E's case well he was a man of few words. In R's case I hope the direct quotes are genuine.

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#1198147 - 05/12/09 08:05 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: LJC]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Originally Posted By: LJC
H- When I wrote my last I was wondering if you would see the Horowitz part--I knew you'd like that part. As for the bit about Hamburg's being better well some are but mainly they're just a bit different in my view.

[...]


Thanks for sharing it! Do you have any dates, such as for the Arrau piano party? smile
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1198584 - 05/13/09 03:19 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: LJC]
MarianneAlkonost Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/21/09
Posts: 122
Loc: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Dear LJC,

I am in such a shock to read your messages!!! What she told you is just amazing! This episode with the boat is so much unique and shows what a delicate person R. was and how presicely exact he felt the feelings of other people...

Piano, cars and boats)))) That's absolutely right! He also loved skating and even kite:



Dear LJC,

You ask:
"If this is interesting to you I will tell you about my lesson and talks with Ruth at her apartment (just down the street from where R. lived)"

Please go on telling us more about Ruth! We all ask you!!!
By the way, what is the exact adress of the house SVR lived in?

I'll be back to read all the marvelous posts of you friends, Rieseman's book and hands question... I wish these topics were separate not to mix everything in one theme... well.. as you like it...
By the way, did ever anyone met the photo of Oskar Rieseman? I never did!
_________________________
http://www.rachmaninoff.org/board/

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#1198646 - 05/13/09 05:11 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: MarianneAlkonost]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY


Just look at the euphoric expressions of unbridled ecstacy on their faces! This looks to be like the most fun three sober individuals can possibly have with their clothes on!

I often suggest kite-therapy to my students to alleviate the heebie-jeebies. smile


Edited by BJones (05/13/09 05:14 PM)
_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


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#1198774 - 05/13/09 09:39 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: BJones]
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1502
Loc: New York
Marianne I'll keep writing if you keep posting those great photos. I think we are all very fortunate that R. had so many cameras around him. You asked if I read Forbidden Childhood. I have not but that is about to change, I called a book dealer and he located a copy for me. I have to think back on my conversations with Ruth. She showed me some of her memorabilia that is framed and hanging on her walls. She had an original Liszt authograph. I noticed a picture of a man and I asked if it was her husband. It was her late husband and I commented that he was taller. Ruth said everyone is taller. He was a professor of political science, he was not a musician. I told her I thought it was a co-incidence that she lived on the same Street as R. and she commented that he was up the road a bit. (West End Ave) (I am not giving out Ruth's address)I have R's addresses somewhere I will look for them. I even have his summer address on Long Island where he converted the Symphonic dances for 2 pianos. Its not far from where I live but the mansion he rented burned down in the 1960's. Here's something interesting. R.'s great grandson Sergie and I had a conversation. He and his brother had missed the rehearsal at Julliard of the 3rd piano concerto that we members of the society were allowed to attend. Their mother had injured her foot that morning and it had to be attended to. They did see the performance. I thought it was really funny when everyone was filing out of the auditorium that R's family was there and almost no one knew it. I said a little bit load to my friend,"See that tall man over there, that's R.s' great Grand son as several people turned and looked in astonishment. Anyway Serg asked me how the rehearsal was and I told him it was a bit more energenic than the performance. Thats when Serg confided that he had never heard the whole concerto because he cannot help but fall asleep during it. BTW neither Serg or his brother (J.) play although J took a few lessons. Maybe you want to hear about my conversation with Vladimir Ashkenazy? Oh and Marianne I note you have a link to the R. Society. If you look at the article about the Sept 07 event in NYC at the bottom is a photo of Askenazy holding a framed photos of R. on the concert stage. That was a gift to him from the society. In the photo on the left is a man with a loosened tie no jacket and glasses. Thats me.

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#1199050 - 05/14/09 11:18 AM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: LJC]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
thank you for your post. i loved looking at the photos and viewing the movie.

thanks so much
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1199087 - 05/14/09 12:29 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: apple*]
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Lee, here is the link:

2007 Rach Society Conference NYC
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#1199987 - 05/15/09 05:19 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: Horowitzian]
MarianneAlkonost Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/21/09
Posts: 122
Loc: Russia, Saint-Petersburg
Dear LJC!!!

I do as you like it and will post as many rare pictures of Rachmaninoff as there are in the whole world only to keep you telling us more and more! I will translate to Russian what you write about Ruth and SVR for all the lovers of Rachmaninoff's music to read! There is a Rachmaninoff community in the Russian analog of facebook, and there is a Rachmaninoff society in Saint-Petersburg, and Ashkenazy played for the society, and the head of the Saint-Petersburg society is the author of the books about Rachmaninoff - "Rachmaninoff in Saint-Petersburg" and "Rachmaninof and Bunin (Russian writer - Noble prize winner)"!

Here is one of the most rare pictures I've discovered in the Internet - Rachmaninoff and Medtner. I never knew where the picture was taken and when, but my friend the architect told me that he recognised Piazza della Signoria in Firenze, so I had only to check when Rachmaninoff visited Florence to know the date: April 1924





Thank you for the link to the picture! I wish I had the large photo of that photo with SVR playing as this picture is one of the best if not the best one, because it shows him playing and it gives the impression that is a shot from the video. I saw the comments under this photo that say: "Where we can see the video to this picture?")))
_________________________
http://www.rachmaninoff.org/board/

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#1200081 - 05/15/09 08:21 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: MarianneAlkonost]
Drunk3nFist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/08
Posts: 640
Loc: London
Wow more Rachmaninoff enthusiasts than I thought! I feel all the more at home now! laugh
_________________________
Working on:

Prokofiev - Sonata No. 3
Kapustin - Variations Op. 41
Chopin - Ballade No. 4

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#1200167 - 05/15/09 11:08 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: Drunk3nFist]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
Some more interesting Rach pics.

Serge the ice-cream man:



Having tea with Melba Toast seated to his left:



Many don't realize that Serge was the first punk-pianist:



Serge, a moment before fighting off the unwelcome advances of Oscar Wilde:



With a brutal migraine:

_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


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#1200168 - 05/15/09 11:12 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: BJones]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8696
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Love those pix!

BJ, check out Elgar and his dogs.

Really cool!!!
_________________________
Jason

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#1201707 - 05/18/09 07:35 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: argerichfan]
LJC Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/04
Posts: 1502
Loc: New York
Marianne, Did you get my private message?

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#1201723 - 05/18/09 07:59 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: LJC]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
Originally Posted By: LJC
Marianne, Did you get my private message?


I received it by mistake.
_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


Top
#1201773 - 05/18/09 09:20 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: Tenuto]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
Originally Posted By: Tenuto
Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie



You forgot the word "and" after "photos," (with comma)
_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


Top
#1201790 - 05/18/09 09:51 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: BJones]
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
Originally Posted By: BJones
Originally Posted By: Tenuto
Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie


You forgot the word "and" after "photos," (with comma)

How do you know the omission wasn't intentional? That's a pretty common rhetorical device, even if the name for it isn't a household word: asyndeton.

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#1201800 - 05/18/09 10:15 PM Re: Rachmaninoff rare photos [Re: sotto voce]
BJones Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/08
Posts: 1043
Loc: Queens, NY
Originally Posted By: sotto voce
Originally Posted By: BJones
Originally Posted By: Tenuto
Welcome, Marianne.

Thanks for your links, photos, videos.

What biography would you recommend reading on Rachmaninoff?


best wishes,
Valerie


You forgot the word "and" after "photos," (with comma)

How do you know the omission wasn't intentional? That's a pretty common rhetorical device, even if the name for it isn't a household word: asyndeton.

Steven


I assumed she wasn't trying to be poetic. After reading her last 12 posts, and finding over 15 instances of punctuation errors, I'm quite certain that it's just a case of bad grammar, which I didn't realize was so important on this forum until today, and is reprehensible, considering that she openly ridiculed a forum member for mistyping a word, just a case of a key not being depressed enough. You can't have a perfect world without perfect grammar and I wanted to point this out to her so sensibly, she won't be so quick to make fun of others.

Even worse is the fact that although she was quite vocal in ridiculing others, she now has fallen mute on the subject of grammatical errors.


Edited by BJones (05/18/09 10:17 PM)
_________________________
Some recent improvisations:

Cool School Chopin:

http://www.mediafire.com/?d1yc1mmitew

Improvisations:

http://www.box.net/shared/bjv6yc34oo

http://www.box.net/shared/8lmc3hzikl


Top
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Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
OT: John Passion
by wimpiano
04/18/14 04:33 PM
3/4 time for 6/8 time comping patterns?
by Ben Ther
04/18/14 04:33 PM
Shanks with parallel wood grain
by JohnSprung
04/18/14 04:15 PM
Pinblocks & bridges... How long do they last?
by Piano Practice
04/18/14 03:58 PM
Spinoff: What do we think of "technique seminars"?
by TwoSnowflakes
04/18/14 02:46 PM
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