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#1205114 - 05/24/09 02:35 PM Art and Maturity
Schubertian Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 937
Loc: Dallas, TX, US
I had a philosophy professor who taught a class on Hegel tell us the Hannah Arendt - Karl Jaspers famous student - refused to let her students read Hegel before the age of 30 since they would be too green, too unexposed, to be able to comprehend it.

After listening to this very young pianist play the entire Miroirs - which I enjoyed and thought he played well - I found it difficult to keep from comparing it to Gieseking, somewhat to the younger musician's detriment - are there some pieces which explore a spiritual compass which is best left for later in life? - I dont know - I"m sure if you are good enough technically you can fake it - or is all of this just purely subjective and unfair?

On the other hand Goethe once said that everything he needed to know about life he already knew at the age of 15 and the years did not really add much to it - but then - he was Goethe -



Edited by Schubertian (05/24/09 02:36 PM)
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#1205121 - 05/24/09 02:55 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Schubertian]
eweiss Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 2393
Loc: Beautiful San Diego, CA
Great topic Schubertian,

I took a class on Hegel too - when I was in my early 20's. Couldn't understand it. That's not to say there are those who can, just saying you do look at things differently when you're older.

As far as music goes, I think you can compare it to something like acting. In order to have an "informed" performance, the actor has to really step inside the shoes of the character.

Now, some like Sean Penn can do this easily. Other's can't. But even Penn can't play a role that portrays someone in their 70's.

I'm rambling. Time to stop.
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#1205167 - 05/24/09 04:35 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: eweiss]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13797
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I think anyone can play anything so long as they find some kind of connection with the music. Nobody ever fully explores a great work - one aspect of great art is that it seems to have an inexhaustible supply of new depths to plumb.

And regarding age, I once had a heated debate with someone who thought it was impossible for anyone under the age of 40 to fully understand the last three Schubert sonatas.

I reminded him that Schubert's last three sonatas were written when the composer was 31 and that Mozart died at 35. John Corigliano's monumental Violin Sonata was written in his mid-20s, and Prokofiev wrote and performed his 2nd concerto when he was 22-24 years old.

This is not to say that maturity and age don't bring things to the table that the young do not have, but youth has its advantages, and its place, as well.
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"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1205170 - 05/24/09 04:41 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Kreisler]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
I learned the Schubert B-flat at the advanced age of 11--I'm sure it was dreadfully played, but I'm very grateful my teacher was open-minded enough to let me try.
Kapell was "forbidden" by his management to play the Brahms Bb until he was "at least" 30 years old--of course this was (and is ridiculous). As Schubert(ian) (who perhaps is the PRIME example of this "emotional maturity" bullcrap) quoted Goethe, it's clearly on a case-by-case basis; in other words, genius has no age limit (in either direction).
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"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

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#1205200 - 05/24/09 06:03 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Thracozaag]
Schubertian Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 937
Loc: Dallas, TX, US
I am inclined to agree that there is no reason to believe somewhat who is only 20 can play the last three Beethoven Sonatas, for example, with sensitivity and musicianship - or else a lot of coaching - and this brings up the general topic of the relationship between emotion, the expression of emotion, and music.

Perhaps at the age of 57 there is something a little strange about hearing someone 20 play a work of such sophistication and density as miroirs - it reminds me a bit of my cousin (my perfect cousin) who used to brag about how her daughter was reading Oscar Wilde at the age of 2 - she was, or course, a genius - no other word could do! But why would a 2 year old read Oscar Wilde to begin with?
_________________________
'Always remember: the higher we fly the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.""
- Nietzsche

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#1205201 - 05/24/09 06:04 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Schubertian]
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
I wrote one of my 2nd grade book reports on the Pit and the Pendulum--clearly I was a disturbed, strange child.
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#1205216 - 05/24/09 06:45 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Thracozaag]
Schubertian Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/11/06
Posts: 937
Loc: Dallas, TX, US
Well perhaps it is best to look at it from the other side - the performer is the medium through which the composer's sound world is re-born - it is the listener who brings varying degrees of understanding and depth as he or she listens -

I have known and loved late Beethoven all my life and it always has revealed more and more of itself over time, perhaps it is we the listeners who must be good listeners -
_________________________
'Always remember: the higher we fly the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.""
- Nietzsche

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#1205240 - 05/24/09 08:04 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Schubertian]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
I just listened to a similar discussion.
In a relatively recent documentary ("La musique partagee")by Swiss television about Martha Argerich and Charles Dutoit, the interviewer asks Martha about her virtuosic childhood. She gave her first professional performance in concert under Scaramuzza at the age of 8. She played Beethoven's First concerto, Mozart's D minor concerto and Bach's Suite Francaise in-between. So he asked her what are the differences in interpretation when she plays the same pieces now vs as young child. Interestingly she recoiled as if she did not wish to go there. She said that taste and sensitivity to music change; there is a different intensity..And children can have good intuition..". Dutoit jumped in and talked about experience, and how she has now played an extensive repertoire of chamber music incl. pieces with violin and cello etc.. and so she is more intimately familiar with each composer's oeuvre and can thus interpret him better. However she was not in full agreement. She said: I don't know what we gain and what we loose with time (with emphais on "loosing"). This is something a bit strange (bizarre)". They both agreed that one can loose spontaneity as time goes by, but that a musician should strive to hold on to freshness / spontaneity while adding his/her experience. But basically it is in the "good intuitions" that the talent of a child musician lies. It is an interesting documentary (available in YT)because it shows the 2 musicians in 1974 and in 2004 and asks them to comment about their evolution to some extent.

I will add however that a listener's perspective also evolves. As I get older, I look for more complexity and less intuitive drive, but of course there has to be some element of spontaneity or joy of music making rather than a blase confidence which, to my ears, always adds a dull patina to a piece.

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#1205347 - 05/25/09 03:32 AM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Andromaque]
Bryan P. Carney Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 148
Loc: Cleveland, Ohio, US
I love this topic.

To begin, having been ruined by hegelian forces, I won't be saying anything in this post because communication is silly. It's a deal we make with ourselves(?) that enables us to believe ideas move from minds to minds with the cool fidelity of unnoticed absolutes. Equivocation is not just a concept, is it?

In accordance with the recent growing popularity of the social science mavens' 10,000 hours to become anything you want meme, trope, idea, gizmo, I'll comment that we allow lesser-trained people to fiddle with our insides than those who play our music, when the tabulated hours spent becoming are considered.

(deleted paragraph of semiotic nonsense)

But it's Art! Says you.

A professor was mentioned, above, who stated, roughly, that Hegel should not be considered until the age of thirty. I agree. That may be considerd the only just action for a teacher able to turn a man into someone almost incapable maintaining a humanly recognizable train of thought. Hegel was a charmed man. He was able to convince his peers, and himself, that the right way to live was terminally circumlocatively. (if that wasn't a word before I used it, I promise it's a word now [Darn! I promised I wouldn't meander parenthetically again]).

At 27, I wish I could think the me of a decade ago were a complete stranger. However, I don't think the me of ten years hence would turn on me and wish to be dissociated from himself. I am wondering if this relates to the question of whether a young person is able to play (and, presumably, understand) something as well as an older person. I hate the way the past is rushing to consume me and I wish something like age or wisdon could act as a barrier to inevitable consumption. I assume you do, to?

Now, what was it I was trying to say? I have no idea.
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nil volentibus arduum
Do it for Fux' sake.
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#1205357 - 05/25/09 05:39 AM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Schubertian]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7892
It is a strangely slippery thing to try to talk about, probably because there are so many variables involved, and they are not of equal importance. On one hand, I think there simply is no substitute for real experience, both of the life sort and the music sort.

But as Argerich hinted, people can have pretty amazing intuition about stuff without having lived it, which can go a long way in helping a performer play beyond their years. And in a way, performers get to sort of "borrow" the experience of the composers, as much as they are able, which can make them wise beyond their years, kind of by proxy. But that isn't quite the same as actual life, no matter how vividly a performer can get into the composer's thinking and feeling.

But it's not simply about chronological age - I've known people in their mid-teens who seemed more mature than some people I've known in their sixties, for just one kind of example. There are performers I can think of who are probably never going to mature very well as artists (or have already missed the chance). There are others who just haven't had very rich lives, I think, and it shows.

But you know, that thing about Gieseking vs. the young pianist - maybe it was just that Gieseking was that much greater of an artist, and not about maturity at all.

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#1205373 - 05/25/09 08:00 AM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: wr]
Andromaque Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 3886
Loc: New York
The question in my mind often comes down to: Do we really "understand" music? or rather what do we mean by understanding music? and does the concept differ among listeners, performers and composers?

I am often inclined to think that at a certain level, once technical mastery has been achieved, (often in the early years in the case of so-called child prodigies), our appreciation of music is intensenly emotional and far more so than we like to admit. It is our interpretation of this emotion that we consider "understanding" of music. The better our vocbulary and our verbal communication skills, the more elaborate our "understanding" sounds. While the persective of the composer and the performer may be quite different from that of the listener, they, in my opinion, nonetheless perform and create emotionally. Otherwise how do you explain the plethora of serious and beautiful music composed at a young age.
I am not denying the role of maturity and experience. In fact, more often than not, I do not appreciate the work of very young performers, "prodigies" as they may be. But I do think that the prime component of the love and appreciation of music occurs at a subconscious emotional level. Thus genuinely talented people establish those connections early on and may,or not, add layers of complexity as they age. Perhaps really successful performers possess a higher quotient of "emotional intelligence"..
I am quite a "Rambling Rose" this morning..

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#1205563 - 05/25/09 03:42 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Andromaque]
HomeInMyShoes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 495
In many ways, many things are transient in nature and what applies to a given piece of artwork is transitory. What I am trying to get at is that the context under which the original piece was created in question is gone. That time period, that specific person, the events and culture around them at that time is all gone. What I play today may be slightly different than what I play tomorrow. This is all part of interpretation. We can attempt to understand the circumstances surrounding a piece of music, but it's never that time, that exact moment. That penultimate interpretation that the composer is hearing is gone.

I think some pieces have a certain emotional maturity to them, but I think anyone (of any age) that is really in touch emotionally with a piece can give a very respectable and thoughtful performance of the piece. As Andromaque hinted at, I'm not sure child prodigies can get that emotionally invested, but maybe some can, I'm not in their brain understanding what is going on.


Edited by HomeInMyShoes (05/25/09 03:42 PM)
Edit Reason: my grammar is atrocious

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#1205583 - 05/25/09 04:05 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: Andromaque]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
I do think that the prime component of the love and appreciation of music occurs at a subconscious emotional level.



I think that this is very true. However I think that you have to speak of a psychic level, rather than emotional, for when you speak of emotions you are already very close to the surface. There is a psychic maturation, unconscious, that goes on as a child grows, and then grows up and becomes adult, and then continues to develop but differently. This maturation psychic is as real and as inexorable as his physical maturation. In this regard, there is the question of sexuality and of sexual developement, which is so tightly linked to all human artistic creation and appreciation.

A child is capable of great things, but he rests a child. He simply does not posess the sexual maturity or in general the psychic maturity which, in the end, breath the life into art.

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#1205591 - 05/25/09 04:15 PM Re: Art and Maturity [Re: HomeInMyShoes]
landorrano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 2469
Loc: France
Originally Posted By: HomeInMyShoes
I'm not sure child prodigies can get that emotionally invested, but maybe some can, I'm not in their brain understanding what is going on.


I think that a child can get very involved ... but in a childish way. It's just that we have a terribly dismal idea of what a child is capable of, so we are astounded when a child, for example, plays a Mozart sonata beautifully.

Children have a very strong psychic life, that is why they are capable of learning and playing music. But it is the psychic life of a child, not an adult. As an evident example, children do not have the same dreams as adults.

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