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#1648537 - 03/26/11 07:50 PM Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter
vers la flan Offline
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Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 139
Van Cliburn and Sviatoslav Richter were mutual admirers. Cliburn once described Richter's playing as the most powerful he'd ever heard, and Richter, as a judge in the Tchaikovsky competition directed to score competitors on a scale of 1-10, gave Cliburn 100 and everyone else 0.

But their mindset regarding performance couldn't be more different. Cliburn once said that the pianist must never think of himself when performing because it is always for the audience he is playing, never for himself. Richter, on the other hand, said he always played only for himself and that he never paid any attention to the audience.

So, which do you agree with? Bear in mind, there's no right or wrong answer.

That being said, Richter is right wink .

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#1648542 - 03/26/11 07:55 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Kreisler Offline



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#1648544 - 03/26/11 07:56 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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If a pianist was listening to himself/herself playing, wouldn't that make him/her also part of the audience? In which case they'd both be right!! Or both wrong...
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#1648551 - 03/26/11 08:02 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
stores Offline
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I love them both, but, here I have to side with Van.


Edited by stores (03/26/11 08:02 PM)
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#1648563 - 03/26/11 08:18 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Andromaque Offline
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I think that Richter meant that he plays up to his own standards, and very faithfully to the score.

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#1648591 - 03/26/11 09:07 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
vers la flan Offline
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Interesting... so far, the consensus seems more inclined towards Cliburn.

I feel I need to amend the perspective of Richter, which isn't quite so cut and dried as I made it. His specific take is the following:

Quote:
I am not so altruistic as to play only for the listener; no, I play above all for myself. If it turns out well, the listener may also get something from it. A well-known musicologist once asked me, 'Why do you always have these invisible walls round you when you play? Why don't you like the audience?' My answer, 'Because it doesn't concern me, I simply don't notice it.' I am often asked, 'How satisfied were you with the audience?' But what is much more important is whether the audience was satisfied with me!


So apparently, it's not that he didn't care about the audience, and in fact he wanted them to feel "satisfied" with his performance. But as far as how it relates to his playing, the audience just doesn't seem to factor in to it at all.

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#1648592 - 03/26/11 09:10 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
pianoloverus Offline
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If one plays only for oneself, why even perform solo recitals in public?

Are you sure Richter said that? I read the recent and only, I think, lengthy bio of Richter and I don't remember reading that.

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#1648602 - 03/26/11 09:23 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: pianoloverus]
vers la flan Offline
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Hi pianoloverus,

I got the quote from the Autumn 1997 issue of International Piano Quarterly, who in turn got it from a German book called Musiker Im Gespräch: Sviatoslav Richter. According to IPQ, the interviews from this article originally took place in September 1971 and August 1973.

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#1648654 - 03/26/11 11:20 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Opus_Maximus Offline
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These are just things that people say. When you are performing onstage, in real time, you are too engulfed in the moment and in the music to be conscious of to whom and why you are playing. (off-stage philosophies notwithstanding)

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#1648677 - 03/26/11 11:55 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Well.... I think you should play in a way that is honest to yourself, and share that with an audience.

Where does that make me stand?
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#1648688 - 03/27/11 12:28 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Mark_C Online   content
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No, here's the right answer. ha

It's in between. smile

The audience is what enables us to find things in ourselves that we never would have -- and that's what we express.
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#1648701 - 03/27/11 01:34 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Ralph Offline
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Richter suffered from performance anxiety after an embarrassing memory lapse during a performance. He used to play with the score and just a single light next to the piano shining on the keyboard. The audience couldn't even see his face. I think he did all that to ward off the anxiety. His attitude toward performing was probably a device to deal with his fear.


Edited by Ralph (03/27/11 01:35 AM)
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#1648772 - 03/27/11 08:41 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Hmm, I think Richter just started performing with a score because he said if you were to be absolutely true to the composer you should play with a score; it's impossible to memorize every single detail, and a score gives you the details right there. According to him, it's more honest that way.
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#1648777 - 03/27/11 08:49 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
pianoloverus Offline
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Originally Posted By: vers la flan
Hi pianoloverus,

I got the quote from the Autumn 1997 issue of International Piano Quarterly, who in turn got it from a German book called Musiker Im Gespräch: Sviatoslav Richter. According to IPQ, the interviews from this article originally took place in September 1971 and August 1973.
I was responding to your OP. Your second post(the quote) clearly shows that the audience was also important to Richter.

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#1648917 - 03/27/11 12:36 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: Pogorelich.]
Ralph Offline
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Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Hmm, I think Richter just started performing with a score because he said if you were to be absolutely true to the composer you should play with a score; it's impossible to memorize every single detail, and a score gives you the details right there. According to him, it's more honest that way.


That was Richter's official statement, and I dont disagree with him, buy in reality he never trusted his memory after that famous memory lapse. I believe he was playing a well known Bach P&F (it may have even been #1 in C major) and he just kept coming back to the same spot and couldn't remember the next chord.
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#1648923 - 03/27/11 12:47 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Dave Horne Offline
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Originally Posted By: vers la flan

Cliburn once said that the pianist must never think of himself when performing because it is always for the audience he is playing, never for himself. Richter, on the other hand, said he always played only for himself and that he never paid any attention to the audience.

So, which do you agree with? Bear in mind, there's no right or wrong answer.

That being said, Richter is right wink .


I agree with neither. Performing is for the composer first and everything else comes second.
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#1648950 - 03/27/11 01:42 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
jdhampton924 Offline
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Registered: 01/13/08
Posts: 1006
Loc: Evansville, Indiana
I guess I have to side more with Richter on this one, though Cliburn sounds like the more PC statement. I want to hold what I do up to standard with myself, if I don't like what I am hearing myself, how will I convince the audience to like it.

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#1649040 - 03/27/11 04:31 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Would Cortot and Michelangeli represent two extreme examples of each argument?


Edited by TheCannibalHaddock (03/27/11 04:32 PM)
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#1649076 - 03/27/11 05:34 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: TheHappyMoron]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock
Would Cortot and Michelangeli represent two extreme examples of each argument?
Maybe, but I don't know which categories they'd be in?

Unless someone is playing only for the money or their ego, I can't see why soemone wouldn't care what the audience feels. Why perform in public?

I think some posters are confusing about caring if the audience feels something with who should evaluate the quality of a performance.

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#1649131 - 03/27/11 07:49 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: Ralph]
vers la flan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 139
Originally Posted By: Ralph
Richter suffered from performance anxiety after an embarrassing memory lapse during a performance. He used to play with the score and just a single light next to the piano shining on the keyboard. The audience couldn't even see his face. I think he did all that to ward off the anxiety. His attitude toward performing was probably a device to deal with his fear.


Hi Ralph,

Don't *all* pianists suffer from performance anxiety? ;P

At any rate, if I'm not mistaken these interviews took place before the infamous memory slip. And, according to Richter, at least, the thing about playing almost completely in the dark was to allow the audience to focus on the music and not the performer (and, he admitted, there was a kind of theatrical effect to it as well).

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#1649140 - 03/27/11 08:02 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: pianoloverus]
vers la flan Offline
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Registered: 02/13/11
Posts: 139
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: vers la flan
Hi pianoloverus,

I got the quote from the Autumn 1997 issue of International Piano Quarterly, who in turn got it from a German book called Musiker Im Gespräch: Sviatoslav Richter. According to IPQ, the interviews from this article originally took place in September 1971 and August 1973.
I was responding to your OP. Your second post(the quote) clearly shows that the audience was also important to Richter.


I agree that the audience was important to Richter. In fact, later on in the same interview he goes on to describe the audience in Paris and contrast that with the audience in Germany and how the dynamic affects the recital. So clearly, he's attuned to these kinds of things.

I guess what I'm reading in these assertions is that one philosophy is geared more towards playing based primarily on what one is feeling, while the other is geared towards giving the audience what they seem to want. And given these options, I agree with the former (much as I think Pogorelich stated she does).

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#1649155 - 03/27/11 08:16 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Palindrome Offline
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Registered: 12/22/01
Posts: 3910
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
It's like the contrast between (Stanislavsky) "method" actors and others. Are you trying to be the character, or do you consciously act so as to convey the character to the audience. According to Chasins, Hofmann was in the second group, feeling that at times one had to "project" more to the audience than you would if you were playing in a small venue (a living room) or for yourself. Artur Rubinstein comments in the first volume of his autobiography that he would choose a person in the audience to play to. Perhaps that puts him in the second group also.
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#1649167 - 03/27/11 08:29 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Ralph Offline
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Registered: 12/09/01
Posts: 1293
Loc: Delaware (slower/lower)
Originally Posted By: vers la flan
Originally Posted By: Ralph
Richter suffered from performance anxiety after an embarrassing memory lapse during a performance. He used to play with the score and just a single light next to the piano shining on the keyboard. The audience couldn't even see his face. I think he did all that to ward off the anxiety. His attitude toward performing was probably a device to deal with his fear.


Hi Ralph,

Don't *all* pianists suffer from performance anxiety? ;P

At any rate, if I'm not mistaken these interviews took place before the infamous memory slip. And, according to Richter, at least, the thing about playing almost completely in the dark was to allow the audience to focus on the music and not the performer (and, he admitted, there was a kind of theatrical effect to it as well).



That's all true about the timing of the interview and the memory issue not occuring until 1980, but I think (and this is just my opinion) that Richter was fearing some sort of catastrophe that in fact did happen during that 1980 concert. And yes, most certainly all pianists suffer from performance anxiety. Gould delt with it in his way and Richter in his.

Richter was a powerhouse and a big figure of a man and he knew it, but none of us know what was really going on between his ears. He was also very theatrical when he performed. He'd sit at the piano for what seemed to be minutes and then attacked the keyboard. Maybe just a little showboating? He was VERY aware of the audience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hOKcdZJJFU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ-NAgDpRVs
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#1649278 - 03/28/11 01:33 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Pianolance Offline
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Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 1178
Loc: Nashville, TN
I noticed that on that second video he sat on what looked like a bar stool. Very interesting.
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#1649347 - 03/28/11 06:39 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
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To me, there's something smarmy and false about the Cliburn position. Of course, it's just what someone pandering to an audience would say.

Richter's not caring about the audience seems much more real to me, and interestingly, he's the one who had the long career, not Cliburn. And over time, it appears that he played for far far more people than Cliburn ever did, in spite of his "bad" attitude towards audiences.

But I don't think Richter was really anti-audience, it's more that he knew his own standards of performance worked better to get him playing at his absolute best, rather than trying to please "the audience". So playing for himself and not considering the audience was indirectly the way to do his best for the audience.

Pleasing the audience is something of a fantasy anyway, since the audience is really made up of all sorts of individuals who have all sorts of thoughts and ideas about what the music and performance should be and what they want out of it. A performer playing for the audience is really just projecting onto that mass of people some kind of imagined common denominator, which may or may not be close to reality.

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#1649421 - 03/28/11 09:55 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: pianoloverus]
TheHappyMoron Offline
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Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: TheCannibalHaddock
Would Cortot and Michelangeli represent two extreme examples of each argument?
Maybe, but I don't know which categories they'd be in?

Unless someone is playing only for the money or their ego, I can't see why soemone wouldn't care what the audience feels. Why perform in public?

I think some posters are confusing about caring if the audience feels something with who should evaluate the quality of a performance.


Cortot would be in the "playing for self" category and Michelangeli the other. Of course i'm not being serious.

As to playing in public, i thought the audience goes to hear the pianist, and not necessarily that the pianist goes to play for the audience; especially in Richter's case.
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#1649427 - 03/28/11 10:06 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: Dave Horne]
Stanza Offline
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Registered: 01/18/02
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Loc: Chapel Hill, NC
Originally Posted By: Dave Horne
Originally Posted By: vers la flan

Cliburn once said that the pianist must never think of himself when performing because it is always for the audience he is playing, never for himself. Richter, on the other hand, said he always played only for himself and that he never paid any attention to the audience.

So, which do you agree with? Bear in mind, there's no right or wrong answer.

That being said, Richter is right wink .


I agree with neither. Performing is for the composer first and everything else comes second.

+1 When I am playing a Beethoven Sonata, I play best when I feel like I am "channeling Beethoven".
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#1649453 - 03/28/11 11:09 AM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: wr]
Mark_C Online   content
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Originally Posted By: wr
To me, there's something smarmy and false about the Cliburn position.....Richter's not caring about the audience seems much more real to me....

If anything I would say essentially the opposite.

As I said before, I think the answer for most performers is (and should be) somewhere in between. But IMO Richter's is basically full of crap. smile

Along the lines of what some other people have said, IMO we can be pretty sure that what Richter said was more a compensatory kind of thing (sort of what would sometimes be called "sour grapes") than genuine. Looking at it that way perhaps helped him -- but it wasn't true.

(I think I can predict fairly well how you might reply, and I'm ready.) ha
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#1649575 - 03/28/11 02:15 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
1RC Offline
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As I read I keep thinking "false dichotomy". I doubt I could keep doing this without a healthy does of both attitudes.

I would never be able to learn anything on piano if I didn't love the music itself, enough to organize my life to accomodate hours of solitary practicing. The thought of performing pushes me to prepare as much as possible to cope with nerves and memory slips, and do the best I can of bringing this music to life in front of an audience, so's they can share some of the enjoyment I get out of it.

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#1649582 - 03/28/11 02:22 PM Re: Philosophy of performance - Cliburn vs. Richter [Re: vers la flan]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Disagree with what Mark says. Given the way he thrashes his own performances in his own private journals, I'm pretty sure that when he says he's only satisfied with a concert when he plays to his own standards, he's being genuine.

And to the OP or somewhere: I think the more exact words by Richter were somewhere along the lines of "I don't need the audience", not that he doesn't exactly care about them.
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