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#1695101 - 06/13/11 06:54 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Strings & Wood]
chercherchopin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 550
Loc: Dystopia (but not Dystonia!)
Originally Posted By: Strings & Wood
Quote:
What the ... ?

Nice.

Quote:
What's your interest in this matter?

Same as anyone's.
Perhaps I missed the part where someone ask your opinion on Fantaisie-Impromptu; or that this is an exclusive thread.

Quote:
Is your 'question' supposed to be constructive?

No

Quote:

Are you perfect?

No

Without regard to how others felt about the piece, you trashed it and then proceeded to say you were sorry for stepping on anyone's toes who might think differently about the piece; however, I am not convinced.
My point - perhaps, the damage has been done.

Look, I’m sorry -- again -- if you didn’t get what I was getting at -- ‘respect’. If you want to treat a negative opinion about a piece of music like it had the weight of a personal insult, obviously that wasn’t my intention and it’s not my problem.

You haven’t even posted in this thread since I joined the forum. I’ve had private communication with the regulars, and I don’t care what you think in the least.

And ... at least, I’m capable of self-examination and humor and apology. Feels like you’re using that against me ... and looking for a pot to stir. or an axe to grind What-ever.

ETA: I 'missed the part' where it says that unsolicited opinions are unwelcome here. At least, I care about how to express them in a constructive way.


Edited by chercherchopin (06/13/11 07:00 PM)
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#1695115 - 06/13/11 07:19 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: chercherchopin]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1833
Loc: USA
Quote:
ETA: I 'missed the part' where it says that unsolicited opinions are unwelcome here. At least, I care about how to express them in a constructive way.


I'm sorry, I failed to see the constructive way of your comments: "I think FI is worse than mediocre", "(I'm thinking that if 'A rose by any other name', etc., then ... the same for an onion ... or a skunk.)", "superficial charm", "category of music that sounds harder than it is", "inconsequential -- even tho it could be considered a 'major piece' if it were written by a minor composer".

I rescind my "bulldozer" comment.
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#1695118 - 06/13/11 07:25 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Strings & Wood]
chercherchopin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 550
Loc: Dystopia (but not Dystonia!)
Originally Posted By: Strings & Wood
Quote:
ETA: I 'missed the part' where it says that unsolicited opinions are unwelcome here. At least, I care about how to express them in a constructive way.


I'm sorry, I failed to see the constructive way of your comments: "I think FI is worse than mediocre", "(I'm thinking that if 'A rose by any other name', etc., then ... the same for an onion ... or a skunk.)", "superficial charm", "category of music that sounds harder than it is", "inconsequential -- even tho it could be considered a 'major piece' if it were written by a minor composer".

I rescind my "bulldozer" comment.

And so what? Where’s your ‘regard’ for how I feel about the piece?

I don’t believe in ‘sacred cows’, sorry. Neither do musicologists who've said worse things about FI than I ever could. And an informed negative opinion isn’t ‘trashing’ except in the mind of somebody with the agenda to characterize it that way.

I got better things to do. You're on my Ignore list.
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#1695152 - 06/13/11 08:53 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: chercherchopin]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1833
Loc: USA
I don't know why I bother...I suppose, since I am on the ignore list, I will at least get the last word here.

Quote:
And an informed negative opinion isn’t ‘trashing’ except in the mind of somebody with the agenda to characterize it that way.

So this must mean either, you have been influenced by someone's opinion on the FI or you have evolved to a higher plane: because you state -
Quote:
*I pretty much can't stand the piece anymore (even tho as a child and even teenager I thought it awesome)


Perhaps, "back when" you listened instead of analyzing.
Just saying ... but then, if a tree falls in the woods...
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#1695175 - 06/13/11 09:34 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Strings & Wood]
chercherchopin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 550
Loc: Dystopia (but not Dystonia!)
Originally Posted By: Strings & Wood
I don't know why I bother...I suppose, since I am on the ignore list, I will at least get the last word here.

Quote:
And an informed negative opinion isn’t ‘trashing’ except in the mind of somebody with the agenda to characterize it that way.

So this must mean either, you have been influenced by someone's opinion on the FI or you have evolved to a higher plane: because you state -
Quote:
*I pretty much can't stand the piece anymore (even tho as a child and even teenager I thought it awesome)


Perhaps, "back when" you listened instead of analyzing.
Just saying ... but then, if a tree falls in the woods...

Okay, I toggled. I mean, it's just too easy and too tempting to do.

I did 'evolve to a higher plane' but not in any kind of mystical or special way -- just the usual way: Since I was a teenager, I've grown up. Nothing unusual about learning and maturing and having tastes that evolve, I think. And FWIW, as a teenager I also thought the Nocturnes were boring (heresy!) and wouldn't have had any understanding at all of, say, the Polonaise-Fantaisie or the Fourth Ballade or the Cello Sonata. I knew nothing then of Schumann or Brahms, and doubt I could have appreciated them if I did.

So you're right, that 'back when' -- when I was 5 and 'discovered' the Fantaisie-Impromptu -- I listened instead of analyzed. Not knowing how to analyze, I really didn't have much choice! And even 10 years later, I was listening rather than analyzing.

Since then ... I've learned to analyze what I'm listening to. It didn't happen overnight, but rather over decades. I think it's a change for the better -- I wouldn't choose to go back to listening without analyzing.

I don't think any of this is productive, and I hope we can drop this exchange. You don't like how I handled myself here, and I think I was within my right to express myself tho I tried to make amends for any perceived impropriety. If we can agree that those are the basic facts here, can we just agree to disagree about anything/everything else?

It's pointless to go on about it, and the fact remains that I'd like suggestions from Elene et al. about the norms of 'polite disagreement' about music here. Because like it or not, it's gonna come up -- and probably already has done many times before my time here.

Finally, can I apologize to you for offending your sense of decorum? I apologized already more generally, but I'm not even aware that Elene or Terez or anybody else even was offended. I obviously pushed your buttons, though, and I am sincerely sorry ... despite saying before that I didn't care what you think.

I don't like hard feelings or ill will -- and I'll continue to hope that music can be discussed here candidly and passionately without remarks about music being meant, or taken, personally.
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#1695194 - 06/13/11 10:34 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: chercherchopin]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1833
Loc: USA
Quote:
And FWIW, as a teenager I also thought the Nocturnes were boring (heresy!)

smile

Quote:
I don't think any of this is productive, and I hope we can drop this exchange. You don't like how I handled myself here, and I think I was within my right to express myself tho I tried to make amends for any perceived impropriety. If we can agree that those are the basic facts here, can we just agree to disagree about anything/everything else?


Agreed


Quote:
I don't like hard feelings or ill will


None here.


Edited by Strings & Wood (06/13/11 10:50 PM)
Edit Reason: Additional comment
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#1695247 - 06/14/11 12:25 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Jeff Kallberg]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: Jeff Kallberg
So by "generic" I should clarify I mean simply "showing the traits of the genre" in question. The impromptu was relatively new in the mid 1830s; as far as I can recall, besides Schubert and Moscheles, there are also examples by the likes of Vorisek and Tomasek. (Once again I'm too lazy for diacritics!) A kind of central European feel to that group. What at least some of these earlier impromptus seems to share is a way of creating a sense of pianistic lightness of touch, and so (without getting more deeply into this than I currently have time for) that's what I see the Moscheles and Chopin sharing.

I can see that they probably share these genre traits, but that doesn't really address the issue of the obvious other similarities. Can it really be established that those characteristics are a kind of 'shared vocabulary' when no similar examples can be found in Chopin's other Impromptus? Also, there's another bit I should have addressed earlier:

Originally Posted By: Jeff
The most logical explanation for why Chopin did publish the impromptu is because he gave it to the Baroness, and it was therefore "hers". It would have been unlike Chopin (or pretty much any other composer of the day) not to publish because s/he was worried about allusions to another composer's piece.

Didn't Chopin have a particular concern about 'copying'? It comes up every now and then in the letters, and it seems that the general music crowd of the time had a concern about copying:

Originally Posted By: Chopin to Tytus, 10 April 1830
The article jeers at this quartet without mentioning the composer. Soliwa says, he could jeer at Cecilia in the same words; moreover, this article, always referring to me in the most delicate and loving way, several times makes a long nose at me, and advises me to study Rossini, but not to copy him. This advice is in consequence of the other article, which spoke of me as original; this the Warsaw Gazette will not admit.

And of course it comes up again later with Kalkbrenner, right off the top of my head.

I can see how unconscious copying might have been a problem for Chopin, since he for the most part did not know other composers' works all that intimately; he likely played them and forgot them, with a few exceptions. He also didn't seem to have the perfect memory of Bach, or Mozart, or even Liszt. And thus all of these things are floating around in his brain, but not so distinctly that he can recognize them when they end up in his compositions (undoubtedly transformed into something far superior than the original, such as seems to be the case with this Impromptu). I haven't looked into the Field nocturnes; I'll have to make the time for that.

PS - I am no longer trying to say that this is necessarily the reason why Chopin didn't publish it; I can believe that he never noticed the similarities, maybe even that he noticed them and just didn't care. But it seems to me that among the unpublished compositions, there are very few that don't fall into the category of the 'weak' or 'imperfect' compositions he was really worried about on his deathbed, and though Cher obviously disagrees, I tend to think this Impromptu is one of those few, which would suggest another reason. The Baroness explanation looks good on the surface, but the idea that Fontana had another manuscript complicates the issue somewhat. Is my impression about Fontana a bad one? Did he really Bowdlerize much?

Originally Posted By: Jeff
Originally Posted By: Terez
Another question, if anyone knows the answer. Who had the manuscript of the 1827 E minor nocturne? Is there anywhere I can read about it (if there's anything to be said), or maybe see the autograph?

This autograph hasn't been seen since the days of Fontana. There's nothing whatsoever known about it, unfortunately.

So I'm guessing that Fontana dated it based on what the Chopin family told him about it? I'm also curious as to the process of gathering these unpublished manuscripts. Did the family gather them, or Fontana? Is there anywhere I can read about this? I found an interesting article in The Age of Chopin (ed. Goldberg) that has several Fontana letters I've never seen before. Is this the sort of thing you have to hunt down in a dusty archive somewhere, or have they been published?

[PS - I read in Samson that Ekier 'argues for a slightly later date', since Fontana was 'notoriously unreliable on such matters' but Samson doesn't say which date that would be. 1828? 1829? The book cited is in Polish, which is a shame; I'd love to read about the 'stylistic grounds' cited in the argument.]

I apologize for all these questions; I know it has to be annoying. No hard feelings if you don't have the time (or if you want to cherry-pick), and thanks a lot for your answers so far.


Edited by Terez (06/14/11 02:23 AM)
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Terez

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#1695257 - 06/14/11 12:53 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1402
Loc: near keyboard, mouth open
Cher CCC, I'm fine with you hating the Fantaisie-Impromptu. I did say "personally I can't imagine." I meant that I can't imagine seeing it as mediocre (or worse) myself, because I think it's a truly fine piece and I enjoy it greatly. But obviously you feel that way and it's how your specific brain processes what you are hearing, which is not something anyone should get upset with you about. We can't hear with your ears or experience what you hear.

For the record, I'm not crazy about the scherzi, not that I think they're bad compositions, but they're harder for me to enjoy for some reason. I also have a lack of enthusiasm for the very popular A flat Ballade, though I love the others. My opinion appears to be in the minority there. Anyway, I certainly don't like every single note Our Guy wrote.

At one point our dear departed Sotto Voce was upset, a couple of years ago, that I couldn't stand the Allegro de Concert, a great favorite of his. He seemed to feel personally hurt by that, even though I never in any way criticized him for liking it. I certainly didn't want to hurt his feelings, but I just couldn't like the piece for some reason, no matter how hard I tried. He felt sad that no one was sharing his enthusiasm.

For the past 5 or so years, since Kathleen started this thread (for which I am eternally grateful), our corner of PW has been a bastion of civility in the often-violent jungle of Internet forums. I've been here for about 3 1/2 years myself, and this has been both a source of fascinating information that I couldn't have found otherwise and a place where I've met some of my best friends. I have every interest in keeping this wonderful community going and functioning smoothly and happily.

My best thought as a beginning of ground rules: No personal attacks. Ideas can be attacked, pieces of music said to be trash, etc., but people can't be called idiots or whatever for writing what they write. You can say, "I never did like Chopin's work, I prefer Scriabin, " for example, but you can't say, "You totally suck because you don't like Scriabin."

Does that sound like a start? What do you think?

(I am exhausted right now and could only skim today's very interesting posts, so please forgive me if I am missing something. I'll try to do better tomorrow.)

Elene
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Blog: http://elenedom.wordpress.com
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#1695260 - 06/14/11 01:14 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: Elene
For the record, I'm not crazy about the scherzi, not that I think they're bad compositions, but they're harder for me to enjoy for some reason.

I love the first two from beginning to end, but the third and fourth I love with reservations. Maybe I will change my mind one day.

Originally Posted By: Elene
I also have a lack of enthusiasm for the very popular A flat Ballade, though I love the others. My opinion appears to be in the minority there.

I once read a comment on a performance of this piece, saying that the performer 'made the piece sound better than it really is'. Very strange. (Even odder, in searching for that comment I realized that the same person said the same thing about a performance of the 4th ballade; for a moment I thought I'd remembered it wrong until I looked at the date. Oh well, he's more of a Bach and Schubert kind of guy.) I think I love it the least of the four, but I still think it's a masterpiece.

I'm happy with the 'no personal attack' thing, if anyone happens to care about my opinion.


Edited by Terez (06/14/11 01:18 AM)
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#1695343 - 06/14/11 09:04 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
Thank you so much, Elene, for your advice on playing that chord. I did think of "rolling" it. Pretty difficult but can be done with some practice. I appreciate the time and trouble you took in responding, especially when you are not feeling well. Get better quick!

As always, and though it is a trite idea, I belive we here at the DtC thread have (sooner or later) agreed to disagree. I don't like the word "attack." It just doesn't have a place here, where saner heads prevail. I cringe when I write this, but I don't care for Bach or Mozart all that much. Since music is such a subjective thing, IMO, it has to appeal to one's emotions. It has to move you in some way. And while I know that the two composers I mentioned above are giants, and I know I am confessing my ignorance, their music (with just a few exceptions) just doesn't do anything for me. AND there are several compositions by Chopin that leave me cold.

I believe we are on safe ground when we debate someone's analysis of a certain composition, but we can never argue someone's opinion, on whatever grounds it may be based. When I was younger, eons ago, I thought the FI was excitingly beautiful. But now, at the age of 71 ( cry), after I have heard it played a zillion times, it has lost its appeal. There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Almost like eating steak everyday for a year. crazy

My best to all,
Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1695368 - 06/14/11 10:15 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
Strings & Wood Offline


Gold member until Dec. 2012


Registered: 05/22/08
Posts: 1833
Loc: USA
Quote:
At one point our dear departed Sotto Voce was upset, a couple of years ago, that I couldn't stand the Allegro de Concert, a great favorite of his. He seemed to feel personally hurt by that, even though I never in any way criticized him for liking it. I certainly didn't want to hurt his feelings, but I just couldn't like the piece for some reason, no matter how hard I tried. He felt sad that no one was sharing his enthusiasm.


Sotto Voce did have his way of getting the point across.

This thread is older than my interest in Chopin. That does not diminish the way I feel about his music or the respect that I feel towards him as a composer; and I enjoy reading here about him as a person. I am usually in the "shut up and listen" mode for that reason, so I am not sure why I felt compelled to speak out previously. Especially, when I am not in disagreement with cher on where FI sits within "my" favorite Chopin compositions.

My favorites would be the nocturnes, waltzes, most of the preludes. I have not the sophisticated ear for the etudes at this time, nor the proper foundation for the mazurkas. But, I reserve the right to disagree with that general statement on an individual composition basis.

Post Flame:

I regret and apologize for my lack of thought and consideration in my previous post.
My initial question posed to cher was not meant as an attack on cher, although she/he and perhaps some of you here, interpreted it in that way and in retrospect perhaps it was. Not for her opinion on the FI, but the choice of wording. I felt a lacked of respect for the composer. Would those terms be used in a face to face with Chopin? If so, I would have surely let Chopin defend himself, or in this case, perhaps he would have been in agreement with cher. I don't know.

Finally, with the knowledge, experience and capabilities pooled within this thread, (imop) lies a certain responsibility to acknowledge the influence that your words carry. If I were that "FI inspired teenager" logging on here to glean additional information on my newly found love, I can imagine the confusion I would walk away with.

Now back to my "shut up and listen" mode.
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#1695410 - 06/14/11 11:21 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: loveschopintoomuch
I cringe when I write this, but I don't care for Bach or Mozart all that much.

If it makes you feel any better, I think that not liking Bach is a common affliction of pianists because Bach didn't write for piano. It's difficult for those of us who were raised on the expressive pianistic music of the 19th century to get into the older styles, particularly when it was written for harpsichord instead of piano and doesn't capitalize on the piano's unique characteristics (though IMO Bach's music often seems to accidentally capitalize on those characteristics in subtle ways because of the nature of keyboard technique). And while Chopin did teach Bach to his students, it was relatively rare for pianists of that day to actually perform Bach, and Chopin almost never played Mozart's piano music, nor did he give it to his students. He seems to have loved Mozart mostly in the context of opera, which is a good place to love Mozart, since the drama that Chopin loved so much (in music) was so often lacking in Mozart's music outside of the opera (which contained that drama in non-musical form). Clean contrapuntal lines and musical logic, all day long; drama, not so much.

In case you can't tell, I dig Bach, and don't much care about Mozart. wink

Quote:
When I was younger, eons ago, I thought the FI was excitingly beautiful. But now, at the age of 71 ( cry), after I have heard it played a zillion times, it has lost its appeal. There is such a thing as having too much of a good thing. Almost like eating steak everyday for a year. crazy

Do/did you teach? It's good to be totally removed from the realm of amateur pianists.
_________________________
Don't mind me; I talk too much and know too little.

Terez

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#1695982 - 06/15/11 10:30 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
Thank you, Terez, for not making me feel in the minority because I don't fully appreciate the music of Bach and/or Mozart. I do prefer the Romantics. Although Chopin did not consider himself one, (in fact, he protested the whole idea), he was and still is one of the greatest of all times. I guess it might be my Slavic blood, but I love the sweeping and soaring magic, the elegance of the melody line and just the whole emotional ups and downs that enrapture me.

I did teach but not the piano. Would if I could, but as I stated previously, I am just a feather-weight in terms of skills and knowledge. I had to smile at of your advice to remove myself from the realm of amateur pianists, for I sit squarely in the middle of this realm and have been doing so for more years than I care to remember. Sometimes I wonder if I can even consider myself a pianist, for it seems that I plod more often than I play. blush

Kathleen
_________________________
After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1696009 - 06/15/11 11:20 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: loveschopintoomuch
I do prefer the Romantics. Although Chopin did not consider himself one, (in fact, he protested the whole idea), he was and still is one of the greatest of all times. I guess it might be my Slavic blood, but I love the sweeping and soaring magic, the elegance of the melody line and just the whole emotional ups and downs that enrapture me.

You know, sometimes people say that Chopin's exile made him 'more Polish than the Poles' and 'more romantic than the Romantics'.

Originally Posted By: Kathleen
I had to smile at of your advice to remove myself from the realm of amateur pianists, for I sit squarely in the middle of this realm and have been doing so for more years than I care to remember.

Oh, I'm squarely in it as well. I just don't pay any attention to other amateurs, so I'm blessedly detached from bad Chopin interpretations (or at least, from amateur Chopin interpretations), aside from my own (and I like how I hear it in my head, so it's only the actual playing bit that vexes me).

I got another Chopin biography today - Atwood - and a couple of books on sexuality, notably Epistemology of the Closet which is one of the most horrifically dense things I've ever tried to force myself to read. Now that I've gotten the hang of this woman a little bit, it's getting easier, but WOW is it really necessary to wind so many twists and turns into your language? I can dig the obscure vocabulary competition, but obscure syntax drives me insane.
_________________________
Don't mind me; I talk too much and know too little.

Terez

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#1696049 - 06/15/11 12:25 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1402
Loc: near keyboard, mouth open
That was poetic, Kathleen.

Until Fryderyk happened to me in such an overwhelming way in 1993, I was more involved with early music, so Bach always seemed familiar and comfortable-- though he seemed relatively late in history to me.

I've always had trouble appreciating Classical-period music to the fullest, but I do work at it, and I do feel that I have an understanding of it. It's just not one of my strengths (to the extent that I have them).

Other than Chopin, Romanticism is still rather foreign to me. I empathize with his discomfort with its more effusive expressions.

I did teach music for many years, over 3 decades in fact, up to about 3 1/2 years ago. Now it seems like it was another lifetime. I was a classical guitar major, and expected to spend most of my time teaching guitar, but events conspired to leave me largely teaching beginning and early-intermediate piano and less guitar (as well as having a few voice students and now and then a recorder student).

Almost 3 years ago I started getting Taubmanized, and now everything seems so different that I'm not sure how I would start a beginning piano student. I used to feel that even though I have considerable difficulties with playing the piano, I had an excellent grasp of how to teach and think about basic technique. Now I'm developing another kind of understanding but it doesn't feel entirely mine yet.

Which brings me back to that chord in 17/4. The main thing is to let go. Let go of those lower RH notes and let your hand and arm sweep up to the F freely and gracefully. Again, allow it to be easy. I'm just repeating the Taubman gospel here, but I know this works. Even though it took me somewhere close to 2 years to even begin to let go in the way my teacher wanted. Like most of us, I'd been taught to cling down to the keys and connect everything as much as possible with the fingers, even when it was unworkable.

(Although I find that particular chord easy-- now-- widespread arpeggiated chords have always bugged me. There are a great many in the piece I just recorded, and I struggled a lot to get them to stop clunking. I was not quite as successful as I had hoped, but they did improve.)

One valuable insight I got from The Man a while back: "Let go of obstacles." That sounded so strange to me at first-- why would anyone hold on to obstacles? But we do cling to difficulties and limitations, own them, dote on them, make them part of our self-definition. I'm trying to stop that.

Elene


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Semi-Pro Musica

Blog: http://elenedom.wordpress.com
Website: http://elenelistens.com






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#1696059 - 06/15/11 12:40 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
chercherchopin Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 550
Loc: Dystopia (but not Dystonia!)
Elene, you've mentioned Taubman on more than one occasion now -- and I know nothing about it. I guess it was a statement about finger substitution that got my attention, made concerning the Nouvelle Etude in D-flat -- which I'm pleased to say is coming along with a very minimal amount of that particular activity (despite what Constantine von Sternberg advised in his preface to the etude that I had mentioned in the PC).

Anyway ... talk of Classical and Romantic eras brought to light another of the confusions of my muddled mind. It's the use of the terms 'Late Romantic', 'Post Romantic' and 'Neo-Romantic' with describing music (well, piano music, anyway).

I've looked it up, and can't keep the distinctions straight in my mind -- even about whether the terms refer to actual artistic movements, or eras, or to describe the styles of specific pieces provided they were written roughly between mid-to-late 19th and mid 20th centuries.

It's probably not as important in the end as the attention I'm giving it. I just like to get the facts straight in my hend (or at least feel like I do). smile
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#1696260 - 06/16/11 12:20 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Terez Offline
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Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Hedley says that the waltz written for Chopin's 'ideal' was the D-flat major posthumous. Is there any actual evidence for this? (Not that I find it unlikely; I just don't want to treat it as fact if it isn't.)

PS - Nevermind, I get it now. I thought he was talking about an actual Trio with an actual violin after that.

PPS - Re-reading Sand's infamous letter to Grzymala for the first time in a while, in a totally new light. It's amazing how much I missed!


Edited by Terez (06/16/11 06:22 AM)
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#1696399 - 06/16/11 11:53 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
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Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1402
Loc: near keyboard, mouth open
CCC, I'm referring to the Taubman Approach, developed by Dorothy Taubman. I'm not anything like a strict Taubmaniac, but it has still changed my life. If you look at references to this on PW, you'll find that people get positively evangelical about it. It would be OT here-- except insofar as it relates to Chopin's ideas about technique, which I can only say a few things about and don't have time for right now anyway. Feel free to chat backchannel about it if you like.

I think my eyes would cross and my brain muddle if I were trying to distinguish different types of later Romanticism, too. I'm afraid I'm not in tune with most of it, except for Rachmaninov, much of whose work I adore. I don't know which part of the nomenclature he fits into. I'd really have to get educated about that period a lot more. (Hey, it's all after 1849....)

Elene

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#1697338 - 06/18/11 03:55 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Terez Offline
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Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
I just read through the 1st and 4th ballades for the first time in years. They don't seem quite so difficult to me as they once did. (In other words, I recommend 25/11 for everyone!)
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Terez

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#1697376 - 06/18/11 07:39 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Terez]
chercherchopin Offline
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Registered: 04/25/11
Posts: 550
Loc: Dystopia (but not Dystonia!)
Originally Posted By: Terez
I just read through the 1st and 4th ballades for the first time in years. They don't seem quite so difficult to me as they once did. (In other words, I recommend 25/11 for everyone!)

Hey, that's great! Last time I tried to do that with Op. 52, I was frustrated. Same as it ever was! (Great, now I'm thinking about the Talking Heads!) Anyhow, I consider myself a good sightreader, but 'sightreading' only works for way less complex material -- and when the fingering (among other details) doesn't matter. With any unfamiliar Chopin, I find myself stopping at every turn and wanting to 'figure out' the fingering that suits me most.)

'Winter Wind' (don't hate me for using one of them dumb titles, I only do it on occasion and only for convenience) is one of those that I've picked up and put down several times -- but my experience of it wasn't what so many claim. The RH chromatic parts fall into neat handfuls -- six per measure -- and I learned them by treating them as what C.C. Chang calls 'parallel sets' (probably the only truly useful thing I, personally, got out of his book).

Where the RH hand moves in disjunct position instead -- well, that's tougher, but fun in its own way, and Friedheim gives marvelous fingerings there. And after all, the LH has little to do at any point in the piece. Where it finally steps in with something to say, at mm. 41-44, I found that to fit my fingers so very well that I had it up to speed in very little time.

So while it might not be for everybody, I do think WW is for more people than would ever realize it -- just on account of the 'fear factor' surrounding it.

Anyway ... anybody ever 'read through' the Concert Pieces? I wonder if they don't have some of Chopin's most technically demanding writing, and if the Krakowiak isn't the most extreme -- of that lot, in that regard.
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#1697400 - 06/18/11 09:26 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: chercherchopin]
Terez Offline
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Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: chercherchopin
'Winter Wind' (don't hate me for using one of them dumb titles, I only do it on occasion and only for convenience)

I have to use them with my teacher; she doesn't know any of the opus numbers. When I was playing the Op. 45 prelude she kept referring to it as 'posthumous'. I think I had to tell her ten times that it wasn't. And then my friend David uses the nicknames too because he thinks that memorizing numbers is 'too technical'.

Originally Posted By: Cher
...my experience of it wasn't what so many claim. The RH chromatic parts fall into neat handfuls -- six per measure -- and I learned them by treating them as what C.C. Chang calls 'parallel sets' (probably the only truly useful thing I, personally, got out of his book).

I would be interested in hearing about this 'parallel sets' thing. I get the grouping, I'm just wondering about the technical advice. I've mostly got this down, but there is still a small glitch in my technique. I think it's mostly hand position and wrist rotation...this keeps getting smoother and smoother, but I still have a few kinks to work out.

Originally Posted By: Cher
Where the RH hand moves in disjunct position instead -- well, that's tougher, but fun in its own way, and Friedheim gives marvelous fingerings there. And after all, the LH has little to do at any point in the piece. Where it finally steps in with something to say, at mm. 41-44, I found that to fit my fingers so very well that I had it up to speed in very little time.

The LH technical parts were really torture for me, partly because I had serious carpal tunnel issues around November due to typing too much, but mostly because my LH sucks. Or it did. It's getting much better - the tricky LH bits are mostly easy for me now.

Originally Posted By: Cher
Anyway ... anybody ever 'read through' the Concert Pieces? I wonder if they don't have some of Chopin's most technically demanding writing, and if the Krakowiak isn't the most extreme -- of that lot, in that regard.

I've tried reading through the concertos exactly once, and I noticed the extreme difficulty right off. I should try it again now and see if it's any easier.

PS - I gather that the whole point of Concert Pieces was 1) that they were necessary to gain a reputation as a composer (or Chopin would likely have never bothered), and 2) that they were intended to show off the soloist's flashy technique in a variety of ways. So it's not too surprising that they are particularly difficult.


Edited by Terez (06/18/11 10:19 AM)
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#1697428 - 06/18/11 10:32 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
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Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1402
Loc: near keyboard, mouth open
You guys are still way ahead of me. This is great that we're finding our capacities increasing over time-- though mine do so very slowly. Terez, if you want to know about the "parallel sets," you can download Chang's "Fundamentals of Piano Practice" for free; just google it. I have mixed reactions to it but he does have some very practical ideas. (Some of which I am applying to the poor, maligned Posthumous Impromptu, with some success.)

When the comments about the A flat Ballade came up a few weeks ago (someone hated it, then enjoyed Jack Gibbons' recording), I read through that. Took me like 1 1/2 hours! cry I did develop a lot more respect for the piece while looking at it from the inside, and even though it's still not my favorite, I want to add that I didn't mean to insult it here. I had been under the totally mistaken impression that it was the "easiest" of the ballades.

Yesterday morning while on the way to a class (that I have to go back to in a minute), I turned on the car radio. A young woman was passionately speaking on gay rights to a gathering in Rome. It turned out to be, synchronistically enough, Lady Gaga. At the end of her speech they played part of her version of "Born That Way." After all that and everything here, I felt like maybe I ought to kick my activism up a notch, although I do yap about gay rights whenever I get a chance.

Let me be very clear: If I did think that Chopin was gay, I'd be pushing for that to be known, too. I don't think it would make him less in any way; I just have a great deal of reason to think it's not true. (I'll be outlining my thoughts on that further in the future, in case anyone is about to jump me for lack of evidence.)

My activism for today is to remind everyone that sexuality is a continuum, not a set of fixed categories. Since my own orientation is pretty well split down the middle, or perhaps I should say goes 360 degrees around, and can morph fluidly over time and according to circumstances, I don't want to see anyone forced into a box that doesn't fit them. Chopin doesn't fit into the box marked "gay" without a good deal of contortion (of course he was good at contortions...).

And a bisexual or even just somewhat flexible Chopin is useful in terms of combating homophobia in Poland and elsewhere, too.

Elene
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#1697464 - 06/18/11 12:11 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Elene]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: Elene
My activism for today is to remind everyone that sexuality is a continuum, not a set of fixed categories. Since my own orientation is pretty well split down the middle, or perhaps I should say goes 360 degrees around, and can morph fluidly over time and according to circumstances, I don't want to see anyone forced into a box that doesn't fit them. Chopin doesn't fit into the box marked "gay" without a good deal of contortion (of course he was good at contortions...).

I think the opposite is true. His only apparent interest in women was a very chaste sort of interest. His Ideal was the angelic type, a vision of chastity on a pedestal to be admired at from distance, and his entrance into a physical relationship with George Sand was incredibly reluctant. So it comes as no surprise that the sex did not last long. Considering that society at the time expected all men to be heterosexual, I believe it takes a great deal of contortion to make Chopin out to be even bisexual. If he was truly bisexual, he could have faked it better. In other words, I am aware that sexuality is a continuum, but I think that Chopin was clearly on the male-oriented end of the spectrum.

As for the third ballade, I still think it's the easiest of the four. That doesn't mean it's easy; it's a relative thing. The second ballade is more fiendish IMO (in the difficult bits).
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#1698542 - 06/20/11 09:20 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Terez Offline
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Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Wow, I have said some ridiculously stupid things on this thread, out of sheer ADD. And no one called me on them. (I was re-reading old posts.)

Subject change, again:

What do you guys think about rubato in 25/12?
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#1698577 - 06/20/11 10:29 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
loveschopintoomuch Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/05/06
Posts: 4690
Loc: Illinois
Dear Terez: I don't think anything you have stated on this thread is stupid...far from it. It is obvious that you done some very studious research and have formed some very solid opinions. ALL opinions are welcome here. We may not always agree, but that is, to some degree, what has kept this thread alive and well for all these years.

Some aspects of Chopin and his life that we have debated, aside from his sexual preference, are why so little is known of his early childhood, whether he was bipolar, the real date of his birth, if the break-up with Sand (who is not one of my favorite people) hastened his death, the color of his hair, the size of his nose, the "real" cause of his death, his relationship with Titus, whether he was anti-semitic, the reason why he never returned home, what happened to sour his friendship with Liszt, why his father never told him of his French relatives...I could go on and on. And I haven't even included what we thought of his music.

So, do NOT feel "stupid" for posting anything here. When I look at the number of "hits" we have, which is approaching 3 million and compare them to the number of posts (around 7,000), I think there has to be many, many people who feel their questions or opinions might be considered unworthy, or who are intiminated by some of the very knowledgeable people here. But I implore all who have been lurking to "jump in." We would love to hear from you if only to say hello. laugh

Kathleen
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After playing Chopin, I feel as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own." Oscar Wilde, 1891

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#1698595 - 06/20/11 11:14 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Terez Offline
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Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: loveschopintoomuch
Dear Terez: I don't think anything you have stated on this thread is stupid...far from it. It is obvious that you done some very studious research and have formed some very solid opinions.

Thanks! grin You know, one of the things I said that I thought was stupid...I went back and looked at it, and it wasn't as stupid as I'd feared.

PS - As for why Chopin's father never spoke of their French relatives...Zamoyski mentions that the elder Chopin encouraged rumors that he was the bastard son of a visiting Polish aristocrat. I'm not sure what the source of that story is, though...it appears to be one of those things that was never translated into English. In any case, he seemed very determined to become Polish in every way possible when he left France, with the odd exception of the fact that he always wrote to his son in French. Perhaps that was because he thought Chopin could use the practice. I got the feeling that there was some bad blood at home; it could have been something like an abusive father. Hard to say. From what I can tell the surviving letters to his parents in France are not available anywhere on the web. (I wonder if they are included in the new Correspondence recommended by Dr. Kallberg.)


Edited by Terez (06/20/11 11:41 AM)
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#1698613 - 06/20/11 11:59 AM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Terez]
Jeff Kallberg Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/11/09
Posts: 208
Originally Posted By: Terez
Originally Posted By: loveschopintoomuch
Dear Terez: I don't think anything you have stated on this thread is stupid...far from it. It is obvious that you done some very studious research and have formed some very solid opinions.

Thanks! grin You know, one of the things I said that I thought was stupid...I went back and looked at it, and it wasn't as stupid as I'd feared.

PS - As for why Chopin's father never spoke of their French relatives...Zamoyski mentions that the elder Chopin encouraged rumors that he was the bastard son of a visiting Polish aristocrat. I'm not sure what the source of that story is, though...it appears to be one of those things that was never translated into English. In any case, he seemed very determined to become Polish in every way possible when he left France, with the odd exception of the fact that he always wrote to his son in French. Perhaps that was because he thought Chopin could use the practice. I got the feeling that there was some bad blood at home; it could have been something like an abusive father. Hard to say. From what I can tell the surviving letters to his parents in France are not available anywhere on the web. (I wonder if they are included in the new Correspondence recommended by Dr. Kallberg.)


While not on the web, the best new source for information about Chopin's family is

Chopin's Origins

Jeff Kallberg

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#1698641 - 06/20/11 12:48 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
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Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1402
Loc: near keyboard, mouth open
Hmmm, it looks like that book will be the next indispensable volume to join the stack I'm not getting around to reading. (Right now I am anxiously awaiting The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms, which makes sense out of a lot of things at once.) It continues to amaze me that new things can still be found out about old things, like Chopin's ancestry.

If I spent my time picking at every post anyone at PW made that I thought was stupid, and if others did the same to me, none of us would ever get anything else done.

Kathleen, out of your list of the myriad things that can't be definitely known about Chopin (and even more could be listed!), there are a couple that we do know. At least we know the size of his nose, as it existed at age 39 anyway, from the death mask! But even there, we have some uncertainty about his exact appearance, because the nose is a bit distorted and squished sideways by the plaster.

Just to show how changeable people are: I've been going through some old family photos, and it's even more striking than I realized how my hair has lightened from black to medium brown, my skin is far paler, and my nose has become far more aquiline... hey, do you think I'm spending way too much time with...?... it appears that in childhood I was expressing more of my father's genes, and now much more my mother's. The different locks of Chopin's hair we have seem to be slightly different colors (I haven't been able to compare them directly but it seems that it may be from my observations and others'); if all are authentic, it may be that his hair color did change somewhat, which could even have been a simple matter of sun exposure. So what does anybody "really" look like, even within a short segment of their lifetime?

As to why he didn't go home again, that actually has a simpler answer than most of the questions about him. The political situation, as you all probably know, was such that he most likely wouldn't have been allowed to leave again. Almost his entire professional and personal life was based in Paris, and it would have been intolerable to take even the slightest chance of being barred from returning to France. He probably always hoped, though the hope faded toward the end of his life, that somehow the situation would change and he'd be able to at least visit Poland again. This is one of the areas where Sand did him a disservice in Histoire de ma vie, by saying that he could have gone home at any time and making out that he was unnecessarily and neurotically torturing himself by staying in France. Simply not true. Yes, he could have gone home-- he just couldn't have come back.

(I have a friend who was born in Warsaw who had similar fears in her youth, having had an awful time leaving her home country, and refused to visit there again until she had US citizenship and an ironclad right to return here.)

I'm afraid I have no opinions about rubato in 25/12, but I do have a general opinion that rubato is often overused. I tend to underdo it, myself, and am working on that. The exact "right" amount of rubato for Chopin is yet another fuzzy area.

Elene
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#1698668 - 06/20/11 01:32 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: Jeff Kallberg]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Originally Posted By: Jeff Kallberg
While not on the web, the best new source for information about Chopin's family is

Chopin's Origins

Jeff Kallberg

Thanks! That one's obscure enough that it's not on Amazon; I did find it for sale here though. My list of books to buy is getting shorter, but unfortunately it's all the most expensive books, like this one. frown But fortunately this one is not nearly as bad as the Brzowski diary, which is going to kill me because I just absolutely have to have it and will probably eventually fork over the €70-90 for it.

@Elene - Didn't Clésinger prettify the death mask? In any case, we have the photograph. Which is also often prettified.
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Terez

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#1698801 - 06/20/11 05:42 PM Re: Just for those totally devoted to Chopin [Re: loveschopintoomuch]
Elene Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/07
Posts: 1402
Loc: near keyboard, mouth open
Did Clésinger prettify the death mask? Not much, it appears, if at all. All the anatomical landmarks one might expect are present in the casting of the skull, showing that the fine details of the original human being are present and haven't been glossed over. I could easily find acupuncture points or osteopathic landmarks on it if I needed to. When I first got my copy and showed it to my office mate, a physical therapist who does a lot more cranial work than I do, she was completely freaked out because she could see all those things and it was so like having an actual dead person lying there in front of her. Just too real for her comfort.

So my view from the medical realm is that the mask closely reflects his genuine face.

However, there is an odd mixture of finely-delineated detail and blurred areas. I'd have to know more about the process of making such masks to understand better what we see in Chopin's. But if the final product had been sculpted rather than honestly cast, I think we'd see more symmetry than we do-- a straighter nose included.

We do know that there was more than one attempt at casting his face, and the first one was quite horrifying. A couple of months ago there was an extensive discussion of the masks here; it may be in a thread that started off with an ersatz photo of the subject on his deathbed, rather than the DtC thread, but it should be findable.

I wonder if perhaps it might have been his face itself that was remodeled a bit in between the two attempts, rather than the plaster? I don't know if that would have been possible.

For comparison with some other death masks, check out this site I ran across while looking for something else ( I think it may have been cited here before). Liszt and Mendelssohn are included, though not Chopin. Some of these masks seem to have come out a great deal more "finished" looking than Chopin's, and some are quite beautiful. Others have a deeply disturbing quality, and some are a bit of both.

http://www.undyingfaces.com/info/

Elene

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