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#1929445 - 07/20/12 04:22 AM How good do you think Chopin's technique was?
JoelW Offline
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Could he play his 24 etudes with ease? Did the technique of his day even come close to the technical wizards of today?

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#1929462 - 07/20/12 04:42 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Derulux Offline
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I think one thing to keep in mind, especially during a time period for which we have no recordings, is quite literally the "period" in which any comments about the artists are made. One can say, "Liszt played it flawlessly!" but that may mean something completely different in the 19th century than in the 21st. Today, we would think he played without technical error, but in the middle 19th century, that simply could have meant his expression was spot-on, and a missed note or two was ignored.

That said, I think Chopin would probably be very capable of playing his own pieces. As a very hackneyed and horrible composer (speaking, of course, about myself and not Chopin), I find that I cannot fathom writing something that is intended to be played by someone that I could not play myself. (Of course, I could write four octaves of notes and say, "This is impossible!" but if I want to write something that could actually be played, I would most-likely have to stick within the limits of my own imagination, which typically means my own ability, or reasonably thereof.)
_________________________
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#1929513 - 07/20/12 07:57 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Derulux]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Derulux
That said, I think Chopin would probably be very capable of playing his own pieces. As a very hackneyed and horrible composer (speaking, of course, about myself and not Chopin), I find that I cannot fathom writing something that is intended to be played by someone that I could not play myself...
While the huge majority of great composers for the piano were also great pianists, there were definitely exceptions who could not adequately play some of their own music. Two of them would be Ravel and Schubert.

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#1929530 - 07/20/12 08:28 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Derulux]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: Derulux

As a very hackneyed and horrible composer (speaking, of course, about myself and not Chopin), I find that I cannot fathom writing something that is intended to be played by someone that I could not play myself.


Composers routinely write for instruments they can't play at all, much less expertly, so I don't understand your point of view.

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#1929603 - 07/20/12 10:44 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
Vitruvius Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/03/12
Posts: 8
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
That said, I think Chopin would probably be very capable of playing his own pieces. As a very hackneyed and horrible composer (speaking, of course, about myself and not Chopin), I find that I cannot fathom writing something that is intended to be played by someone that I could not play myself...
While the huge majority of great composers for the piano were also great pianists, there were definitely exceptions who could not adequately play some of their own music. Two of them would be Ravel and Schubert.


Composers don't practice. Ravel could have been a great pianist if he practiced. He won a piano competition over Cortot in his early years.

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#1929614 - 07/20/12 10:53 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Could he play his 24 etudes with ease?

No doubt.

Quote:
Did the technique of his day even come close to the technical wizards of today?

Probably way close, but hard to say because (I have the impression) his technique was of such a different nature than what you're talking about, with different priorities and emphases, that it would be hard to express such a comparison even if we were hearing him play.

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#1929622 - 07/20/12 11:05 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
beet31425 Online   content
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Could Chopin have played his etudes with ease on the modern piano? Were the pianos of his time easier to play in some ways? Anyone know?

-J
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#1929628 - 07/20/12 11:10 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
Could Chopin have played his etudes with ease on the modern piano? Were the pianos of his time easier to play in some ways? Anyone know?

Easier to press the keys down. Easier to play faster. Easier to get clarity of sound. Harder or impossible to do other things.

If you're old enough to have learned typing on a "manual" and then moved to an electric, which you aren't grin that's a little bit like the reverse of what you're asking about.

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#1929639 - 07/20/12 11:26 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Vitruvius]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Vitruvius
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
That said, I think Chopin would probably be very capable of playing his own pieces. As a very hackneyed and horrible composer (speaking, of course, about myself and not Chopin), I find that I cannot fathom writing something that is intended to be played by someone that I could not play myself...
While the huge majority of great composers for the piano were also great pianists, there were definitely exceptions who could not adequately play some of their own music. Two of them would be Ravel and Schubert.


Composers don't practice. Ravel could have been a great pianist if he practiced. He won a piano competition over Cortot in his early years.
I'm not sure he won a compeition over Cortot. Having read a biography of Ravel I got the strong sense that Ravel was never particularly good, by conservatory standards, as a pianist at any point on his life.

I also don't think it's true that "composers don't practice". Some certainly may not practice as much as full times pianists, but many others were performimg virtuosos and had to practice a reasonable amount.

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#1929746 - 07/20/12 02:41 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
Derulux Offline
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Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Derulux
That said, I think Chopin would probably be very capable of playing his own pieces. As a very hackneyed and horrible composer (speaking, of course, about myself and not Chopin), I find that I cannot fathom writing something that is intended to be played by someone that I could not play myself...
While the huge majority of great composers for the piano were also great pianists, there were definitely exceptions who could not adequately play some of their own music. Two of them would be Ravel and Schubert.

Very good point. I must admit, I waned poetic there at what, 4:30am? We had a nasty thunderstorm swing through and I couldn't sleep much. I will, for the moment, set aside taste (I am not a huge fan of either of those composer's solo piano works, with very few exceptions of Schubert, but my personal taste should not weigh on the conversation).

Perhaps we should amend my statement to include, "...that I could not play myself, or have not heard someone else play." This would allow for non-pianists to certainly compose adequately for the piano, which many do, while also suggesting that the great pianist composers were the ones who advanced the musicality and technicality of the instrument. (This, I think was probably more to my point, considering we were originally looking at Chopin's Etudes, and at 4:30am, my brain was in the sack.) smile

Originally Posted By: wr
Composers routinely write for instruments they can't play at all, much less expertly, so I don't understand your point of view.

See above, my friend. I think I began answering this in my further discussion with pianoloverus.
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#1929766 - 07/20/12 03:17 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
BruceD Online   content
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Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Could he play his 24 etudes with ease? Did the technique of his day even come close to the technical wizards of today?


The best - if quite incomplete - answer to this question is to read what the critics of his day had to say of his playing as well as his own writings on piano technique and style.

He does write, (20 June, 1833) how much he envies Liszt's playing of his (Chopin's) Etudes : "I'm writing you without really knowing what I am scribbling because Liszt is playing my Etudes at the moment and is transporting me beyond any reasonable senses." [my translation from the French].

Critics have written that, even in his younger years, his tone, full of shading and infinite variety was nevertheless not robust; some complained that his sound was inadequate to fill the halls on the very rare occasions he played in public. Others admired the suppleness of his technique, the ease with which he played.

That said, of course that was judged against the technical standards of his day which were not necessarily those that we use as modern standards.

Regards,
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#1929771 - 07/20/12 03:23 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Look, dudes -- don't forget, we have VIDEO of him playing!
This should easily erase any doubts.



Yeah, some measures and stuff are left out -- but y'know how it is, anyone can have memory lapses....

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#1929855 - 07/20/12 05:35 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
dolce sfogato Offline
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what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.
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Mussorgski tableaux d'une exposition/Rachmaninoff etudes tableaux op.39

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#1929867 - 07/20/12 05:43 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
ClsscLib Offline

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Registered: 03/14/08
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Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.


I didn't understand the question to be whether he could play his compositions at all, but rather how well he played those (and other) works.

Personally, I don't view that as a stupid question. A lot of composers have been okay-but-not-great pianists.
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#1929872 - 07/20/12 05:48 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
ChopinAddict Offline
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Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Could he play his 24 etudes with ease? Did the technique of his day even come close to the technical wizards of today?


Of course!
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Music is my best friend.


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#1929873 - 07/20/12 05:49 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: ClsscLib]
dolce sfogato Offline
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Registered: 03/29/10
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Loc: Netherlands
people who doubt genius's capabilities, like that of Chopin's, should question their own. Could Bach play his Goldberg-variations, did Liszt actually toss off Mazeppa, and how was the premiere of Mahler's 8th under his own baton, let's not question those things, let's accept them and be humble and strive..
_________________________
Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!

Mussorgski tableaux d'une exposition/Rachmaninoff etudes tableaux op.39

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#1929894 - 07/20/12 06:16 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
ClsscLib Offline

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Registered: 03/14/08
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
people who doubt genius's capabilities, like that of Chopin's, should question their own. Could Bach play his Goldberg-variations, did Liszt actually toss off Mazeppa, and how was the premiere of Mahler's 8th under his own baton, let's not question those things, let's accept them and be humble and strive..


Stuff and nonsense.

No one doubts Chopin's ability as a composer. But is there anything to suggest that, as a pianist, he should be mentioned in the same breath as Liszt? I'm certainly willing to consider any evidence that may exist. I'm not willing simply to assume that he was a great pianist just BECAUSE he was a great composer. That's a non sequitur.


Edited by ClsscLib (07/21/12 09:08 AM)
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#1929904 - 07/20/12 06:34 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7840
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
people who doubt genius's capabilities, like that of Chopin's, should question their own. Could Bach play his Goldberg-variations, did Liszt actually toss off Mazeppa, and how was the premiere of Mahler's 8th under his own baton, let's not question those things, let's accept them and be humble and strive..


Could Tchaikovsky and Brahms play their violin concertos?

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#1930050 - 07/21/12 12:48 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
Ferdinand Offline
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Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 943
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Could Chopin have played his etudes with ease on the modern piano? Were the pianos of his time easier to play in some ways? Anyone know?

Easier to press the keys down. Easier to play faster. Easier to get clarity of sound. Harder or impossible to do other things.

If you're old enough to have learned typing on a "manual" and then moved to an electric, which you aren't grin that's a little bit like the reverse of what you're asking about.

Would repeated notes have been more difficult?

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#1930053 - 07/21/12 12:54 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Ferdinand]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
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Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
....Would repeated notes have been more difficult?

Good question -- I don't know! I'd guess yes.
Let's see if someone does know....

And come to think of it, wouldn't we think repeated notes would be even harder on a harpsichord? Yet Scarlatti wrote all that repeated note stuff....

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#1930069 - 07/21/12 01:58 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: ClsscLib]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: ClsscLib

Stuff and nonsense.

Not necessarily. Have you read the chapter on Chopin in Harold Schonberg's 'The Great Pianists'? There is quite a bit of information about Chopin's piano playing from his contemporaries.

Chopin may not have had the dashing power and charisma of Liszt -though I think their respective egos were fairly well matched- but there seems to be a sense that Chopin was a far more subtlety sensitive pianist than Liszt.

For all that, at the time Liszt confronted Thalberg there is every indication that if Thalberg could play his operatic fantasies as well as his horribly difficult scores suggest -and there is much evidence to say he did- then Thalberg was also at that time Liszt's equal.

I only bring this up because my local classical radio station played Thalberg's fantasie on Rossini's La donna del lago Wednesday morning. The recording was incredible, I was in the car at the time, but later when I went to IMSLP to check the score, I couldn't believe how nasty the technical demands were.
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#1930101 - 07/21/12 05:24 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
stores Offline
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There isn't any question that Chopin possessed an incredibly strong technique. Did he arrive at said technique in the same manner Liszt, and his "school" did? No. Chopin, was concerned, first and foremost, with sound production and the music, while Liszt believed in pounding out exercises until you no longer could. Was the technique of their day the likes of that which we witness from the technical wizards of our day? Absolutely not. Look no further than the difference in pianos then and now. Chopin, would struggle mightily on a modern day grand and Liszt, would have difficulty as well, though he would more easily adapt. Present day conservatories are full of students with technique that would blow Chopin, and Liszt, both away and leave them wide-eyed.
_________________________

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#1930123 - 07/21/12 07:10 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
landorrano Online   content
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Registered: 02/26/06
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Loc: France
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
people who doubt genius's capabilities, like that of Chopin's, should question their own. Could Bach play his Goldberg-variations, did Liszt actually toss off Mazeppa, and how was the premiere of Mahler's 8th under his own baton, let's not question those things, let's accept them and be humble and strive..


+1

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#1930132 - 07/21/12 07:35 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
here is an example of a superb athlete... perhaps a bit too sexy for PW. She is warming up, she is happy, she knows she is going to win this race and just takes off like a rocket. I cry when I see her because i used to be a superb athlete and mourn the loss of my tone and strength.

I can imagine Chopin being blown away by the strength and ease that Lizst was able to play his compositions (especially the etudes). I certainly am jealous of Lizst's aptitude. Even tho Chopin's techniques are not all that 'hard', if he wanted to create an exercise that taught one how to fling up and down the keyboard with ease, he could and just did.

the beauty of Chopin's techniques taught in the etudes is that they teach the fingers how to travel with ease, how to acquire the skills to semiquaver in thirds or sixths for instance.. to stretch octaves into glorious glissandos of sound. One could read analyses (is that the proper plural?) of semiquavering 3rds and the how to books, but one would simply be better off playing the 3rds etude repeatedly (it's hard). smile

There are some interesting organ (pipe organ) techniques that emerge in Lizst's compositions.... they make playing his music easy. I don't know that it is easy to spot these techniques from the scores. but Franz was an incredibly able keyboardist.. he used his thumb wisely. I don't know too much about Lizst editions, but his transcriptions of other people's pieces are brilliant. It is not easy to create a continuity of melody or legato to put it simply, without some convolutions of the fingers.

just rambling i guess. I don't know that i contributed much to this discussion.
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#1930163 - 07/21/12 09:10 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5317
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: stores
There isn't any question that Chopin possessed an incredibly strong technique. Did he arrive at said technique in the same manner Liszt, and his "school" did? No. Chopin, was concerned, first and foremost, with sound production and the music, while Liszt believed in pounding out exercises until you no longer could. Was the technique of their day the likes of that which we witness from the technical wizards of our day? Absolutely not. Look no further than the difference in pianos then and now. Chopin, would struggle mightily on a modern day grand and Liszt, would have difficulty as well, though he would more easily adapt. Present day conservatories are full of students with technique that would blow Chopin, and Liszt, both away and leave them wide-eyed.

I'm not sure about blowing Liszt away, but certainly a step in the right direction. The young pianists coming out today are just amazing. The ease with which they navigate the keyboard is astounding, and in due time, I'm sure they will develop a musicality that appeals to each new generation.

Case in point: I just listened to Yuja Wang the other day. First time I ever heard her play. Found her playing Rach 3 on Youtube. Phenomenal technique. But left me down right at the end. Something about the way she interpreted the big finale, cutting notes short and lengthening other odd ones, really broke up the drama in the lines. But right up to that point, it was quite well done.

So, as I said, case in point: her technicality was nearly flawless. Her interpretation was not quite to my liking there at the end, but it was a wonderful performance nonetheless.
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#1930168 - 07/21/12 09:15 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
ClsscLib Offline

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Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1754
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib

Stuff and nonsense.

Not necessarily. Have you read the chapter on Chopin in Harold Schonberg's 'The Great Pianists'? There is quite a bit of information about Chopin's piano playing from his contemporaries.



What I was describing as "stuff and nonsense" is the argument that simply because Chopin was a great composer, he must therefore have been a great pianist. I also wrote in the same post that *evidence* of his possible greatness as a pianist would be important to me, but that I rejected as false the syllogistic conclusion that Chopin must be a great pianist because he was a great composer for the piano. The major premise fails: It is not true that everyone who writes beautifully for an instrument plays it beautifully.

You, on the other hand, have actually brought evidence to the discussion, and it's very helpful to the question. Thanks.
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#1930203 - 07/21/12 10:44 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: ClsscLib]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5317
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
You, on the other hand, have actually brought evidence to the discussion, and it's very helpful to the question. Thanks.


I would submit to this discussion that all evidence of this period, for which we have no remaining records other than written, is entirely circumstantial at best.

Now, I do not want to preclude the possibility of examining "expert opinion", of which certainly the words of other renowned professionals of the day should constitute, but namely the position that we can compare the words of the 19th century to the pianists of the 20th and 21st centuries (or the surrounding cultures that produced them).
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#1930208 - 07/21/12 10:56 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Derulux]
ClsscLib Offline

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Registered: 03/14/08
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Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
You, on the other hand, have actually brought evidence to the discussion, and it's very helpful to the question. Thanks.


I would submit to this discussion that all evidence of this period, for which we have no remaining records other than written, is entirely circumstantial at best.

Now, I do not want to preclude the possibility of examining "expert opinion", of which certainly the words of other renowned professionals of the day should constitute, but namely the position that we can compare the words of the 19th century to the pianists of the 20th and 21st centuries (or the surrounding cultures that produced them).


Not to pick nits, but the words of other expert pianists of the time is "testimonial" rather than "circumstantial" evidence. In customary evidence evaluations (e.g., a trial) testimonial evidence is given considerable weight, subject to concerns about expertise, relevance, and veracity.

But your general point is valid: No one here heard Chopin play, and we have no recordings. Testimonial evidence from the best players of the day is probably the best direct evidence we'll ever get.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#1930221 - 07/21/12 11:15 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: ClsscLib]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5317
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: ClsscLib
You, on the other hand, have actually brought evidence to the discussion, and it's very helpful to the question. Thanks.


I would submit to this discussion that all evidence of this period, for which we have no remaining records other than written, is entirely circumstantial at best.

Now, I do not want to preclude the possibility of examining "expert opinion", of which certainly the words of other renowned professionals of the day should constitute, but namely the position that we can compare the words of the 19th century to the pianists of the 20th and 21st centuries (or the surrounding cultures that produced them).


Not to pick nits, but the words of other expert pianists of the time is "testimonial" rather than "circumstantial" evidence. In customary evidence evaluations (e.g., a trial) testimonial evidence is given considerable weight, subject to concerns about expertise, relevance, and veracity.

But your general point is valid: No one here heard Chopin play, and we have no recordings. Testimonial evidence from the best players of the day is probably the best direct evidence we'll ever get.


Hence my second paragraph, which I admit could have been written in a fashion that was a little easier to understand. But I think we're on the same page. smile
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#1930339 - 07/21/12 03:48 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
bennevis Online   content
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The Pleyels and Erards of Chopin's day (many of which are preserved and fully restored today, and played by non-period instrument specialists) feel and sound different to today's concert grands: they have lighter keyweight, shallower key travel and poorer damping and poorer sustain which makes passagework and glissandi - and rapid thirds etc - easier (I could play octave glissandi on them, which I can't on a modern grand), and bel canto melodies sound different: notes blend into each other because of the 'inefficient' damping, but the notes themselves decay faster.

One can almost imagine how Chopin would cultivate his renowned beauty of sound on these pianos. However, he probably never had the kind of power that Liszt had to do his heavier works full justice - the contemporary reports often commented on how softly he played (and he sometimes only played the slow and soft sections of some of his own music like the Ballades), while Chopin himself envied Liszt's playing of some of his music.

It's true that some composer-pianists of the 19th century, like Brahms, played 'like composers', but many composers wrote (and still write) music that they themselves weren't good enought to play even if they were quite proficient. In our own time, Thomas Adès can easily play all his own piano music, but Carl Vine can't.
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#1930406 - 07/21/12 07:41 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
dolce sfogato Offline
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I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...
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#1930425 - 07/21/12 08:40 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
wr Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


I can't even imagine why it's so important...what difference does it make?

At any rate, the point that some of us are trying to make is NOT whether Chopin could or couldn't play his etudes, but the simple rational fact that the existence of a piece of music doesn't automatically mean the composer can perform it. It just doesn't. And therefore, the existence of Chopin's etudes doesn't automatically mean that he could play them. I think the chances are probably close to 100% that he could, at least when he wrote them, but so what? They have been, and continue to be, incredibly valuable to legions of pianists and listeners and composers, regardless of what one knows about Chopin's playing, or thinks they know.



Edited by wr (07/21/12 08:40 PM)

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#1930460 - 07/21/12 10:06 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
... one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous?

I don't think you are. For me -at least- it is well established that Chopin could play any of his piano works.

If he left no recordings, I don't think that is important. Elsner (his one time teacher), and Mendelssohn and Schumann (no fools there) all praised his playing.

Moscheles was reportedly mystified by Chopin's compositions until he heard Chopin play.

Then of course you get Hallé -who knew Chopin personally- and his remark 'but with such wonderful nuances'.

Case closed.
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#1930461 - 07/21/12 10:10 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed....

I was with you till that last thing. ha

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#1930536 - 07/22/12 04:12 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
landorrano Online   content
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
... one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous?

I don't think you are.

Me too.

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#1930561 - 07/22/12 07:22 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


You're not being overzealous, dolce. I'm with you. There is no doubt that Chopin could play his own works and I said so earlier in another post. I'm not sure anyone is doubting that he was able to (of course there will always be some idiot that wants to be noticed). But in regard to your first sentence, "I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique...", I disagree, unless of course I'm misunderstanding you in overall context. Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1930750 - 07/22/12 03:03 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


You're not being overzealous, dolce. I'm with you. There is no doubt that Chopin could play his own works and I said so earlier in another post. I'm not sure anyone is doubting that he was able to (of course there will always be some idiot that wants to be noticed). But in regard to your first sentence, "I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique...", I disagree, unless of course I'm misunderstanding you in overall context. Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.


On what evidence are you basing this? Especially in the case of Liszt-- given access to a modern piano and some time to adapt, I'd bet he would be there and with a musicality these "conservatory kids" couldn't touch.

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#1930755 - 07/22/12 03:11 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Hakki Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2559
Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Could he play his 24 etudes with ease?


Absolutely. Rather silly to ask.

Originally Posted By: scherzojoe
Did the technique of his day even come close to the technical wizards of today?


Probably not, because today's instruments are not comparable to the instruments he used to play.
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#1930827 - 07/22/12 05:17 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


You're not being overzealous, dolce. I'm with you. There is no doubt that Chopin could play his own works and I said so earlier in another post. I'm not sure anyone is doubting that he was able to (of course there will always be some idiot that wants to be noticed). But in regard to your first sentence, "I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique...", I disagree, unless of course I'm misunderstanding you in overall context. Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.


On what evidence are you basing this? Especially in the case of Liszt-- given access to a modern piano and some time to adapt, I'd bet he would be there and with a musicality these "conservatory kids" couldn't touch.


I agree that given time Liszt, would adapt (were he to come back during his prime). I'm not saying all conservatory kids, but a LOT of them (more than ever before) possess technique the likes of which simply wasn't to be found during Liszt's time. No one mentioned musicality (which SHOULD be included)...the question was about technique.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1930860 - 07/22/12 06:27 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Ferdinand]
Scordatura Offline
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Registered: 04/23/12
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Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Could Chopin have played his etudes with ease on the modern piano? Were the pianos of his time easier to play in some ways? Anyone know?

Easier to press the keys down. Easier to play faster. Easier to get clarity of sound. Harder or impossible to do other things.

If you're old enough to have learned typing on a "manual" and then moved to an electric, which you aren't grin that's a little bit like the reverse of what you're asking about.

Would repeated notes have been more difficult?


I once possessed a fine 1848 Broadwood grand of the model played by Chopin in London that same year. Its key-resistance was comparable to that of a modern grand, but (like most pianos manufactured before that date) its key-depth was very considerably shallower. It had the typical "English" action (patented by Broadwood decades earlier) which, for all its astonishing simplicity, I found well adequate for playing the fast repeated-note "frissu" passage in Liszt's 13th Rhapsody and other such passages. Chopin's own (and favourite make of) piano was a Pleyel, with an action essentially of the "English" type.

The "Viennese" action, familiar to Mozart, Beethoven, Hummel, Czerny and others (and much liked by Schumann and Brahms), had less key-resistance, but its capacity for repetition fell far short of the "English" type, largely due to its being mounted on the key rather than the piano-frame. (It would be interesting to know the tempo at which Czerny himself could actually manage his numerous repeated-note exercises on such actions!)

The "state-of-the-art" action in Chopin's day was the double-escapement type, patented by Erard in 1821, from which the modern grand-piano action evolved. Favoured by Liszt, Alkan and others, it was invented specifically with the aim of maximizing the capacity for fast repetition.

(For further info on the history of piano-actions, I'd heartily recommend the "Pianoforte" entry in New Grove.)

As regards whether Chopin would have been able to play his Etudes on a modern grand, I've no doubt whatsoever that he would have, after a certain degree of acclimatization. Although his playing was founded on the light, small-muscle powered finger-touch that served ideally for the harpsichord and early pianos, the same applied for other leading pianists of that period (and would continue to be the accepted norm until the 1860s) who successfully managed to adjust this touch to the increasingly heavy and deep piano-actions that appeared over the course of their lifetimes. (NB: the notion that this touch-form was no longer applicable for playing these newer piano-actions was perpetrated by German piano-teachers, initially Lebert and Stark, and subsequently others like Deppe and Breithaupt - not by the virtuosi! In Russia and France, technical training remained based upon small-muscle powered finger-touch (cf videos of Horowitz & Cortot, for example), and, thanks to the work of Ortmann and Schultz in the 1920s and 30s, its well-suitedness to the modern piano has been re-discovered more generally. That re-discovery, I'm quite convinced, accounts more than any other factor for the astonishing number of pyro-technicians around today.)

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#1930864 - 07/22/12 06:35 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
SirHuddlestonFudd Offline
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Registered: 06/08/12
Posts: 96
Loc: Cambridge, MA
That's a stupid remark -- Beethoven could almost certainly not have played his Violin Concerto, Mozart his Clarinet Concerto, Brahms his String Quartets (any instruments). Beethoven could not have played any of the wind parts in his symphonies. A good composer learns to write for instruments which he cannot play. This is quite common knowledge.

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.

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#1930865 - 07/22/12 06:38 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: dolce sfogato]
SirHuddlestonFudd Offline
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Registered: 06/08/12
Posts: 96
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Moreover, even if Chopin was bending the accepted capabilities of the instrument, that is not unusual for composers writing for instruments which they cannot play. That's probably more likely to happen. Beethoven's friend, who was to debut one of his later string quartets, complained that it was unplayable. He remarked "you think I care about your stupid fiddle when the muse strikes me?"

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.

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#1930887 - 07/22/12 07:17 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: SirHuddlestonFudd]
wr Offline
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Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7840
Originally Posted By: SirHuddlestonFudd
That's a stupid remark -- Beethoven could almost certainly not have played his Violin Concerto, Mozart his Clarinet Concerto, Brahms his String Quartets (any instruments). Beethoven could not have played any of the wind parts in his symphonies. A good composer learns to write for instruments which he cannot play. This is quite common knowledge.

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.


But, and here it gets into somewhat different territory, questions arise about how idiomatic instrumental writing may be, and whether a composer is deliberately expanding the technical capabilities of an instrument, or if that occurs as a by-product of the kind of music they want to write.

I think it is generally true that the more intimate a composer's knowledge of an instrument is (i.e., how experienced they are at playing it), the better equipped they are to write music that will explore and exploit subtle aspects of technique. Which of course, doesn't mean that they must be able to play what they write. And many composers routinely consult with instrumentalists about technical matters to help make their music more playable and idiomatic, especially when composing a virtuosic work like a concerto.

I am pretty sure Stravinsky couldn't give an adequate performance of his 3 Scenes from Petrushka, which broke some new technical ground, but he was a good enough pianist to perform his piano concerto. His knowledge of how to write for the instrument was thoroughly grounded in practical experience, which enabled him to write for it in ways in the 3 Scenes that I am guessing he wouldn't have done if he didn't play it at a reasonably advanced level.

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#1930901 - 07/22/12 08:13 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: SirHuddlestonFudd]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8886
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: SirHuddlestonFudd/
A good composer learns to write for instruments which he cannot play. This is quite common knowledge.

Indeed, and then of course Hindemith, if he did not know how to play a particular instrument, would take a few weeks off to learn it!

What an incredible musician he must have been.

For all that, I do enjoy a lot of Hindemith's music, but after a while it all feels a bit neutral and pale in its appeal. All those busy inner voices, then he decides 'that's enough', and comes to an abrupt cadence.

Richard Strauss famously told Hindemith: 'you have talent, why do you write like this?'

And there is a point. After one piece of Hindemith, I don't particularly feel any burning desire to listen to another one. The thought of a whole concert of Hindemith -as opposed to Strauss- might be a rather chilly affair.
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#1930903 - 07/22/12 08:17 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: SirHuddlestonFudd]
argerichfan Offline
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Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8886
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: SirHuddlestonFudd
Beethoven's friend, who was to debut one of his later string quartets, complained that it was unplayable. He remarked "you think I care about your stupid fiddle when the muse strikes me?"

laugh , there is also the story of a woodwind instrumentalist confronting Richard Strauss about the difficulties in one of his tone poems.

'Well, sir, this may be possible to play on the piano, but not on my instrument'.

Strauss: 'Don't worry, it's not possible on the piano either'.
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#1930932 - 07/22/12 09:37 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Scordatura]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Scordatura
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: beet31425
....Were the pianos of his time easier to play in some ways?....
Easier to press the keys down. Easier to play faster. Easier to get clarity of sound. Harder or impossible to do other things....
Would repeated notes have been more difficult?
I once possessed a fine 1848 Broadwood grand of the model played by Chopin in London that same year. Its key-resistance was comparable to that of a modern grand, but (like most pianos manufactured before that date) its key-depth was very considerably shallower. It had the typical "English" action (patented by Broadwood decades earlier) which, for all its astonishing simplicity, I found well adequate for playing the fast repeated-note "frissu" passage in Liszt's 13th Rhapsody and other such passages. Chopin's own (and favourite make of) piano was a Pleyel, with an action essentially of the "English" type.

The "Viennese" action, familiar to Mozart, Beethoven, Hummel, Czerny and others (and much liked by Schumann and Brahms), had less key-resistance, but its capacity for repetition fell far short of the "English" type, largely due to its being mounted on the key rather than the piano-frame. (It would be interesting to know the tempo at which Czerny himself could actually manage his numerous repeated-note exercises on such actions!)

The "state-of-the-art" action in Chopin's day was the double-escapement type, patented by Erard in 1821, from which the modern grand-piano action evolved. Favoured by Liszt, Alkan and others, it was invented specifically with the aim of maximizing the capacity for fast repetition....

Wow! What an answer!

It feels like that Woody Allen movie where a guy is saying this-and-that about "Marshall McLuhan," and Woody Allen says, well, I happen to have Marshall McLuhan right here.... ha

You are our Marshall McLuhan for that question about repeated notes. grin

Some years ago I stayed for a week and a half in an apartment that had a well-maintained vintage Erard -- exactly how vintage, I didn't know, but I think it was said to be from around 1880. But I just punted on the repeated-note question because I don't remember exactly how that was on the Erard. I do remember that I didn't notice any issue about it (and I did notice other things that were issues!) so I'd guess this aspect was quite comparable to modern grands. Besides not being sure about that, I realize that anyway there may have been advances in the Erard's mechanics from the earlier part of the century.

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#1930950 - 07/22/12 10:30 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
sophial Offline
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Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3465
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


You're not being overzealous, dolce. I'm with you. There is no doubt that Chopin could play his own works and I said so earlier in another post. I'm not sure anyone is doubting that he was able to (of course there will always be some idiot that wants to be noticed). But in regard to your first sentence, "I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique...", I disagree, unless of course I'm misunderstanding you in overall context. Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.


On what evidence are you basing this? Especially in the case of Liszt-- given access to a modern piano and some time to adapt, I'd bet he would be there and with a musicality these "conservatory kids" couldn't touch.


I agree that given time Liszt, would adapt (were he to come back during his prime). I'm not saying all conservatory kids, but a LOT of them (more than ever before) possess technique the likes of which simply wasn't to be found during Liszt's time. No one mentioned musicality (which SHOULD be included)...the question was about technique.


Well, Liszt's technique wasn't to be found during Liszt's time-- until Liszt. I find it hard to believe that the Liszt who wrote and played the earlier (much more difficult) versions of the TE's would not be able to handle the demands of anything the "conservatory kids" are doing-- and wipe the floor with them musically. (and yes, we're talking about technique, but if one can't execute it musically, who cares? )

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#1930960 - 07/22/12 10:52 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
Damon Online   happy
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6145
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


You're not being overzealous, dolce. I'm with you. There is no doubt that Chopin could play his own works and I said so earlier in another post. I'm not sure anyone is doubting that he was able to (of course there will always be some idiot that wants to be noticed). But in regard to your first sentence, "I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique...", I disagree, unless of course I'm misunderstanding you in overall context. Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.


On what evidence are you basing this? Especially in the case of Liszt-- given access to a modern piano and some time to adapt, I'd bet he would be there and with a musicality these "conservatory kids" couldn't touch.


I agree that given time Liszt, would adapt (were he to come back during his prime). I'm not saying all conservatory kids, but a LOT of them (more than ever before) possess technique the likes of which simply wasn't to be found during Liszt's time. No one mentioned musicality (which SHOULD be included)...the question was about technique.


Well, Liszt's technique wasn't to be found during Liszt's time-- until Liszt. I find it hard to believe that the Liszt who wrote and played the earlier (much more difficult) versions of the TE's would not be able to handle the demands of anything the "conservatory kids" are doing-- and wipe the floor with them musically. (and yes, we're talking about technique, but if one can't execute it musically, who cares? )


The earlier versions of the Paganini etudes were also more difficult so I tend to agree that maybe Liszt was one of the first that became committed to technique in way that almost all of his contemporaries weren't. On the other hand, haven't the physical feats of previous generations always been bested? We run faster, jump higher, etc. etc., than ever before. Why would piano be different? I sometimes find it amusing to think that if we could travel back in time, we might be profoundly disappointed. Maybe Liszt or Thalberg couldn't win an amateur competition today. laugh
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#1930961 - 07/22/12 10:54 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: sophial
Well, Liszt's technique wasn't to be found during Liszt's time-- until Liszt. I find it hard to believe that the Liszt who wrote and played the earlier (much more difficult) versions of the TE's would not be able to handle the demands of anything the "conservatory kids" are doing-- and wipe the floor with them musically. (and yes, we're talking about technique, but if one can't execute it musically, who cares? )

I agree.

Warning: Baseball analogy coming up. grin

The discussion reminds me of some baseball arguments, where people wonder how (for example) Babe Ruth would have done in today's game. The doubters talk about what a different game it is today, with the overall level much higher (which it is). Someone like Babe Ruth soared above his contemporaries to an extent that he probably couldn't have done today, but I have to believe he would still be a standout. And I have to believe it is likewise with any such historic over-the-top talent, absolutely including Liszt and Chopin. Liszt, because he was more than just someone who played great -- he was (from anything that we know about him) a pianistic genius with over-the-top physical pianistic skills and instincts; and Chopin because he was essentially creating an approach and sound that hadn't existed and doing it in a way that nobody else could -- and I believe he still would, in any era -- and (again, from anything we know) he had a mechanism fully adequate for those highly demanding ends.

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#1930968 - 07/22/12 11:07 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: sophial

Well, Liszt's technique wasn't to be found during Liszt's time-- until Liszt. I find it hard to believe that the Liszt who wrote and played the earlier (much more difficult) versions of the TE's would not be able to handle the demands of anything the "conservatory kids" are doing-- and wipe the floor with them musically. (and yes, we're talking about technique, but if one can't execute it musically, who cares? )

A good point.

I have heard recordings of the earlier versions of the TE's, and they are hardly convincing. One looks at those scores with a longing: if Liszt could indeed play them as written (big IF), then I don't think his technique has been exceeded.

Look at those HUGE rolled chords at the 'Grandioso' in the 11th etude. No doubt Liszt was wise to subsequently simplify, but if he really pulled off the original as written -and he may have- then his technique fully matches the legend.
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#1930973 - 07/22/12 11:14 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: sophial

Well, Liszt's technique wasn't to be found during Liszt's time-- until Liszt. I find it hard to believe that the Liszt who wrote and played the earlier (much more difficult) versions of the TE's would not be able to handle the demands of anything the "conservatory kids" are doing-- and wipe the floor with them musically. (and yes, we're talking about technique, but if one can't execute it musically, who cares? )

A good point.

I have heard recordings of the earlier versions of the TE's, and they are hardly convincing. One looks at those scores with a longing: if Liszt could indeed play them as written (big IF), then I don't think his technique has been exceeded.

Look at those HUGE rolled chords at the 'Grandioso' in the 11th etude. No doubt Liszt was wise to subsequently simplify, but if he really pulled off the original as written -and he may have- then his technique fully matches the legend.


Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?
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#1930977 - 07/22/12 11:31 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Damon]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.
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#1930998 - 07/23/12 12:17 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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I recall that Arrau also claimed that the Douze Grandes Etudes were impossible on a modern instrument. He probably attempted a few of them, considering how huge his musical appetite was.
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#1931000 - 07/23/12 12:20 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.



Speaking of Hatto, it might be interesting to dump Howard's recording into audacity and "fix" it, record it onto a wax cylinder and claim it was Liszt. laugh
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#1931008 - 07/23/12 12:34 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Does Audacity have a "fix boring" function though? laugh Sorry, I couldn't resist!
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#1931010 - 07/23/12 12:36 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Damon]
sophial Offline
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Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: sophial
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique, it's blasphemy, or is it just the ignoble who think they own the world, to even doubt Chopin's ability to play his own etudes, the arrogance to compare that to Brahms not being able to executie his violinconcerto, of course he couldn't, it's like doubting Shakespeare ever existed, I can think of even worse denials, but, there are (written) examples, Schumann wrote about it, Chopin wrote about it, and the geniuses that made us happy with those masterpieces must have played them themselves, one cannot just invent only on paper that what changes the world, am I being overzealous? YES, sorry...


You're not being overzealous, dolce. I'm with you. There is no doubt that Chopin could play his own works and I said so earlier in another post. I'm not sure anyone is doubting that he was able to (of course there will always be some idiot that wants to be noticed). But in regard to your first sentence, "I just can't follow people who think they, or any other contempories could equal Chopin's or Liszt's technique...", I disagree, unless of course I'm misunderstanding you in overall context. Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.


On what evidence are you basing this? Especially in the case of Liszt-- given access to a modern piano and some time to adapt, I'd bet he would be there and with a musicality these "conservatory kids" couldn't touch.


I agree that given time Liszt, would adapt (were he to come back during his prime). I'm not saying all conservatory kids, but a LOT of them (more than ever before) possess technique the likes of which simply wasn't to be found during Liszt's time. No one mentioned musicality (which SHOULD be included)...the question was about technique.


Well, Liszt's technique wasn't to be found during Liszt's time-- until Liszt. I find it hard to believe that the Liszt who wrote and played the earlier (much more difficult) versions of the TE's would not be able to handle the demands of anything the "conservatory kids" are doing-- and wipe the floor with them musically. (and yes, we're talking about technique, but if one can't execute it musically, who cares? )


The earlier versions of the Paganini etudes were also more difficult so I tend to agree that maybe Liszt was one of the first that became committed to technique in way that almost all of his contemporaries weren't. On the other hand, haven't the physical feats of previous generations always been bested? We run faster, jump higher, etc. etc., than ever before. Why would piano be different? I sometimes find it amusing to think that if we could travel back in time, we might be profoundly disappointed. Maybe Liszt or Thalberg couldn't win an amateur competition today. laugh


People in general are larger than 200 years ago-- better nutrition, fewer diseases and other factors contribute. But size and muscle mass are not as crucial to the piano as they are to track and field or basketball and would likely not make as much difference as they have to sports. Human physiology as applied to the piano has not changed all that much (if any) since Liszt.

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#1931016 - 07/23/12 12:48 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
I recall that Arrau also claimed that the Douze Grandes Etudes were impossible on a modern instrument. He probably attempted a few of them, considering how huge his musical appetite was.

(emphasis added)

Can't tell what percent wry you are being.


In case it's zero percent: grin



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#1931029 - 07/23/12 01:10 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Kuanpiano Offline
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(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes), 'cause Argerichfan brought up how they're still a testament to how Liszt's technique remains at a level beyond today's piano virtuosos..
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#1931033 - 07/23/12 01:31 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Does Audacity have a "fix boring" function though? laugh Sorry, I couldn't resist!


Looking on youtube for the s.137 versions, I found someone already took it upon themselves to speed up Howard's efforts. laugh

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#1931036 - 07/23/12 01:39 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.



Might it have been Eileen Joyce? She was, according to Jeremy Siepmann, "... a Lisztian of both poetry and bravura." See Wikipedia for more details about her renown.

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#1931049 - 07/23/12 02:18 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes)

Sorry!
I knew that it was mainly Liszt's etudes that were being discussed at that point, but I didn't know that any of his etude sets were called by that name.

btw, ARE THEY? Is that really an alternate name for what's being called here the "TE's"?

Which BTW is another 'name' I wouldn't usually recognize, but I had an easier time with that than with "Douze Grandes Etudes." grin

To me, the term has always meant just Chopin.

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#1931050 - 07/23/12 02:37 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes)

btw, ARE THEY? Is that really an alternate name for what's being called here the "TE's"?


I believe they were the original versions of the Transcendental Etudes, and were published in 1836(?). Liszt later revised them, along with the Paganini Etudes, after realizing they wouldn't be very useful if nobody else could actually play them.

I believe they're S.137 or 138


Edited by ScriabinAddict (07/23/12 02:44 AM)

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#1931088 - 07/23/12 04:11 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: SirHuddlestonFudd]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: SirHuddlestonFudd
That's a stupid remark -- Beethoven could almost certainly not have played his Violin Concerto, Mozart his Clarinet Concerto, Brahms his String Quartets (any instruments). Beethoven could not have played any of the wind parts in his symphonies. A good composer learns to write for instruments which he cannot play. This is quite common knowledge.

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
what a stupid idea: that Chopin wouldn't be able to play his own etudes, who would be capable of inventing such audacious novelties without the tools to execute them, why, this space must serve something more useful than this.


It's not at all a stupid remark. dolce, may not have expressed his thoughts clearly enough (I'm pretty sure he means Chopin must have possessed the technical tools to play his etudes or he couldn't have written them...I don't agree, but that's not the point), but we know that Chopin played the piano so your remark clearly falls short in that we're not talking about a composer writing for an instrument he cannot play.
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#1931203 - 07/23/12 10:18 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.

Ah. I just remembered. (Came to me first thing this morning.)

Janice Weber.
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#1931254 - 07/23/12 12:10 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Ah. I just remembered. (Came to me first thing this morning.)

Janice Weber.

Known and loved by many of us -- among other things she's been a judge in the Boston and Washington amateur competitions. I've heard her perform also.

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#1931587 - 07/23/12 11:02 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Damon Online   happy
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Damon

Have you heard anyone but Leslie Howard try?

Yes, actually. Cannot remember her name (Joyce something... not Hatto) but long OOP. Doesn't come up on Amazon or Archiv, but I think it came out in the early '90's. I'm sure I heard it as a student, that was enough.

Ah. I just remembered. (Came to me first thing this morning.)

Janice Weber.


And it's on Amazon for 24 bucks. hmmmmm. nahh
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#1931607 - 07/23/12 11:54 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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While I haven't read every response, I'm frankly surprised at the amount of folks on here thinking that it was "doubtless" that he had such a great technique and could play all his etudes without trouble.

A few points for consideration:

- While a fine and capable pianist, I think it is fairly safe to assume that Chopin was NOT a thunder-storming virtuoso on the level of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, or Paganini.
We know he performed no often than a few times a year.

-Chopin never practiced more than 3 hours a day. His time was spent teaching and composing. I don't know of any pianist who can play all the Chopin Etudes with ease who practiced this little.

- As far as I know, there are no know reviews or reports of Chopin performing brilliantly technically...we know of his beautiful bel canto tone..of his pianissimo..of his improvisations..but not of his stupendous technical feats.

- We know that Chopin famously said he wished he could "steal" the way Liszt played his own etudes, and we have no actual way of knowing what Liszt's technical level was at the time

And as a final side note, I believe it is PERFECTLY realistic that somebody can write something they are unable to play. There is the difference between the UNDERSTANDING of piano technique and the EXECUTION of technique - I'm inclined to believe that Chopin (and Schumann, and Brahms, and Schubert), all had the former but not the latter. There is only time for so much in life - and as somebody said earlier, composers don't practice, at least not enough to attain virtuosity.

Just for the record, I DO believe that he had a few in his fingers, and could play excepts and segments of all of them. But could he play them the same way Liszt, Pollini, Browning, or Ashkenazy could? I highly doubt it.

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#1931610 - 07/24/12 12:08 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
- While a fine and capable pianist, I think it is fairly safe to assume that Chopin was NOT a thunder-storming virtuoso on the level of Liszt, Rachmaninoff, or Paganini....

Nobody's saying he was.
None of us who believe he was an extraordinary pianist of the highest order (which includes me) think he was this thing that you just said.

That doesn't mean he didn't have an A+++ technique, which I think he did. A+++ techniques can take different forms.

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#1931613 - 07/24/12 12:22 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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One other thing to consider regarding Chopin and his etudes. Don't forget that he wrote them. That means that they were the product of his brain, and, perhaps, his fingers. I think that in hundreds of little ways that are hard to pin down, this makes his music "in sync" with his muscular, neurological, and musical essence.

Dismiss this theory right away if you want smile , but I thought of this because there are compositions of my own that I would not be able to play as easily if I hadn't written them myself; it's something I've observed my whole life. I think that being a piece's composer makes that piece about 3%-5% easier to play. ("5%" of what? Who knows.) In my own experience that can make a huge difference.

-J
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#1931614 - 07/24/12 12:31 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
daviel Offline
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Of course Chopin was a great pianist with technique of the highest order. I believe he could play anything. I don't see Chopin sitting in a dark room with manuscript paper and a pen. It's easy to imagine Chopin just sitting down at the piano and ripping off his compositions impromptu at the piano and then writing down what he just played. I'll bet lunch that's how he composed.


Edited by daviel (07/24/12 12:32 AM)
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#1931623 - 07/24/12 01:08 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Opus_Maximus]
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Originally Posted By: Opus_Maximus
And as a final side note, I believe it is PERFECTLY realistic that somebody can write something they are unable to play.

I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment, and it was never my intention to incline otherwise. I merely wished to impart that it seems highly unlikely for someone who is not a master of that particular instrument to be capable of pushing the limits of virtuosity for that particular instrument. And, for many, I believe Chopin's etudes would seem to be among the very highest virtuosity.
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#1931629 - 07/24/12 01:48 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: beet31425]
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
One other thing to consider regarding Chopin and his etudes. Don't forget that he wrote them. That means that they were the product of his brain, and, perhaps, his fingers. I think that in hundreds of little ways that are hard to pin down, this makes his music "in sync" with his muscular, neurological, and musical essence.

Dismiss this theory right away if you want smile....

I hope not too many people will "want." ha

It's 100% sensible.
If not more. smile

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#1931821 - 07/24/12 01:15 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: beet31425]
daviel Offline
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Originally Posted By: beet31425
One other thing to consider regarding Chopin and his etudes. Don't forget that he wrote them. That means that they were the product of his brain, and, perhaps, his fingers. I think that in hundreds of little ways that are hard to pin down, this makes his music "in sync" with his muscular, neurological, and musical essence
-J


My hunch is that Chopin didn't sit away from a piano in a dark room with pen and ink and manuscript paper. It makes more sense to me that he just played the pieces whole or long phrase by long phrase and then wrote them down. I think they came out of his brain, his imagination through his fingers on the keyboard then on to paper. There are probably no telling how many pieces he made up on the spot and played in parlors all over France and Poland that weren't recorded on paper.


Edited by daviel (07/24/12 01:19 PM)
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#1932508 - 07/26/12 02:53 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
slipperykeys Offline
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Originally Posted By: landorrano
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
people who doubt genius's capabilities, like that of Chopin's, should question their own. Could Bach play his Goldberg-variations, did Liszt actually toss off Mazeppa, and how was the premiere of Mahler's 8th under his own baton, let's not question those things, let's accept them and be humble and strive..


+1


-1
The statement is assuming that the ego of the questioner is the cause of the question. Read carefully no such reasoning exists, simply a request for knowledge.
Are people who don't know supposed to go through life ignorant? Yes?
Oh, right, well thanks to all the "genius's" who know the answer for being so helpful.
Perhaps they should take up teaching what with their oh so helpful and generous approach, and all that.
It is strange on these forums how much ignorance is displayed by people who think they know a lot!

(I'm possibly even slipping into that nasty habit myself right now)

As for "be humble and strive" that also assumes a level of competence that does not obviously exist and should be ascertained beforehand, although it is actually nothing to do with the subject of this thread.

So, to deal with the actual question on the thread, I believe Chopin would indeed be able to play his etudes well, that is the difference between his abundant talent and my total lack of ability.



Edited by slipperykeys (07/26/12 02:54 AM)

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#1932537 - 07/26/12 06:22 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: slipperykeys]
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I think the important point is that Chopin's technique was different. That he says in a letter he'd like to rob Liszt of his way of playing his etudes is a clue. In another letter (not to hand) he says he knows something about the piano that the other 'greats' don't.

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#1932553 - 07/26/12 07:55 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: chopin_r_us]
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Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
I think the important point is that Chopin's technique was different. That he says in a letter he'd like to rob Liszt of his way of playing his etudes is a clue. In another letter (not to hand) he says he knows something about the piano that the other 'greats' don't.


+1

Notice that Chopin himself has the humility to be in awe of the genious of Liszt, whereas we ("we", so to speak) kind of grudgingly admit that Chopin must have had talent "abondant" enough to play his own études.

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#1933057 - 07/27/12 08:49 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
babama Offline
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This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y

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#1933309 - 07/27/12 06:12 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: babama]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: babama
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y


Excellent comment: "Everything is invented ... nobody knows what is right and what is wrong, because it's conception." smile
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#1933470 - 07/28/12 02:47 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
Bobpickle Offline

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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
(Liszt's Douze Grandes Etudes)

Sorry!
I knew that it was mainly Liszt's etudes that were being discussed at that point, but I didn't know that any of his etude sets were called by that name.

btw, ARE THEY? Is that really an alternate name for what's being called here the "TE's"?

Which BTW is another 'name' I wouldn't usually recognize, but I had an easier time with that than with "Douze Grandes Etudes." grin

To me, the term has always meant just Chopin.


the top of my copy of op. 10 no. 1 says Douze Grandes Etudes too shocked (http://www.chopinmusic.net/downloads/pdf/10-01-etude.pdf)

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#1933490 - 07/28/12 06:03 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Derulux]
chopin_r_us Offline
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Registered: 09/17/10
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Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: babama
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y


Excellent comment: "Everything is invented ... nobody knows what is right and what is wrong, because it's conception." smile
I like the surreptitious "Don't like staying in America".

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#1933605 - 07/28/12 01:29 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: chopin_r_us]
Derulux Offline
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Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5317
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Originally Posted By: chopin_r_us
Originally Posted By: Derulux
Originally Posted By: babama
This thread is an interesting read.

It's slightly off topic but I recently watched this interview with Horowitz who briefly talks about Chopin and Liszt and what they would sound like on record (after a joke about his nose). laugh

Starts around 8:30
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4OJoAI5d5Y


Excellent comment: "Everything is invented ... nobody knows what is right and what is wrong, because it's conception." smile
I like the surreptitious "Don't like staying in America".


HAHA YES! As long as it wasn't going in the paper, it was okay to say, right? laugh I think he was trying to make a joke, because most of his interview was sprinkled with charm and small jokes, but one never knows..
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#1935059 - 07/31/12 12:12 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Sequentia Offline
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I'm not sure what the value of any living person's thinking is supposed to be in this case, but contemporary accounts describe Chopin's playing as extremely soft. I don't recall having read anything about his virtuosity at the keyboard, but he certainly did not have the "virtuoso aura" that Liszt had.

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#1937544 - 08/04/12 11:49 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Posts: 390
Originally Posted By: stores
Liszt and Chopin's technique wouldn't stand up to today's instruments and conservatory kids (and many before conservatory age) now possess technique that would run circles around not only Liszt and Chopin, but anyone they'd have been familiar with. This is not a knock against Franz, or Fred, nor is it blasphemy... it's just a simple fact.

Since we obviously have no recordings of Liszt, how can you be certain that Liszt's technique was inferior to that of modern conservatory students? What if Liszt's technique could rival (or surpass) that of Horowitz, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, or Hamelin? We do have recordings of Rosenthal, and his technique could rival Hofmann or Rachmaninov. Isn't it possible that Liszt the teacher had at least as good- if not better- technique than Rosenthal?

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#1937546 - 08/04/12 11:54 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
....how can you be certain that Liszt's technique was inferior to that of modern conservatory students?....

I agree. In fact, if anything I think most likely it was at least as good as almost anyone who has since lived, with few if any exceptions. He essentially invented piano virtuosity as we think of it today, and from anything we know, he had everything: great fingers, great musical and pianistic instincts, a sense of the keyboard like the proverbial back of one's hand, and a genius musical mind to boot. I think that's almost impossible to beat, and almost as hard to equal. I certainly believe there are more people nowadays with superb techniques than there were then, but are today's people better than the very best of Liszt's time, especially Liszt himself? I doubt it. To me, it's like saying that today's young physicists are smarter about relativity than Einstein was. They know more, because we've learned more since then. But are they smarter about relativity?

(I know, I'm asking for it -- look for our resident physicists to chime in that indeed they are.) ha

Quote:
....We do have recordings of Rosenthal, and his technique could rival Hofmann or Rachmaninov. Isn't it possible that Liszt the teacher had at least as good- if not better- technique than Rosenthal?

Great way to look at it. And I think you're understating it; I think most piano historians would say it's absurd to doubt that Liszt's technique was superior to Rosenthal's, and in fact of a different echelon. And that's no slam on Rosenthal.

To some extent this depends (again) on what we mean by technique. If we mean just how fast someone can play whatever and play it accurately, then yeah, I suppose lots of modern pianists have been as good as Liszt and maybe better. But that's not what we mean, is it? smile


Edited by Mark_C (08/05/12 12:06 AM)
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#1937560 - 08/05/12 01:09 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 390
I definitely concur, Mark. Clara Schumann even said that Liszt wasn't just a bravura player; he was also capable of an infinite variety of color. (That description is equally applicable to Horowitz.)

Even in terms of purely mechanical ability, I find it hard to believe that Liszt was vastly inferior to modern conservatory pupils. The average conservatory student is certainly not capable of the manual dexterity that was displayed by someone like Josef Lhévinne (just listen to his "Double Thirds" Etude).


Edited by LaReginadellaNotte (08/05/12 01:14 AM)

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#1937567 - 08/05/12 01:43 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
.....The average conservatory student is certainly not capable of the manual dexterity that was displayed by someone like Josef Lhévinne (just listen to his "Double Thirds" Etude).

I think an even better example for what we're talking about (regarding Chopin as well as Liszt, even though this is about Lhevinne) grin ....is Lhevinne's recordings of the Schulz-Evler Blue Danube. I think everything I'm going to be saying here about Lhevinne applies as much for Chopin, and even more for Liszt.

I've heard pianists play the piece with what we might call "perfect" technique. (BTW I've played it myself, but without perfect technique.) ha
Perfect technique -- great tempo, perfect accuracy, fine musicianship, really doing everything right. But I've never heard anyone play with an overall technique approaching what Lhevinne did. Real good, yes. I'd even say terrific. But not approaching what Lhevinne did.

A lot of this, again, is about what we mean by technique. Sometimes people say that we who say things like this are defining technique down, we're pooh-poohing great mechanism. We're not. We're defining it up. Yes, it includes the ability to 'play fast' and to be accurate, and to be able to handle all kinds of pianistic challenges. But it also includes being able to make the keyboard sparkle and leap and come alive in every way imaginable, and some that aren't.

Lhevinne gets an A+++. Horowitz gets an A+++. I have to believe Liszt did too. Not that many others have.

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#1937570 - 08/05/12 01:55 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....is Lhevinne's recordings of the Schulz-Evler Blue Danube.

That is a classic, never to be surpassed. Talk about playing from the 'golden era'.

Lhevinne made his New York debut with the Rubinstein 5th concerto, and if anyone could pull together such a sprawling, ball-busting concerto, it would be Lhevinne. Just imagine...
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#1937607 - 08/05/12 07:00 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
piette Offline
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Back to the discussion about Chopin... I think it is important to bear in mind that Chopin was never 'taught' the piano as such. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of 4 by his mother and he was noted to be able to play pieces of reasonable difficulty by the age of six, however we don't know the extent of 'reasonable difficulty'. At this point he began taking 'lessons' with his father's friend, a music teacher called Wojciech Zywny whose shortcoming's as a teacher were more beneficial to Chopin than anything else. Recognising that he couldn't really teach Chopin anything more about the conventional piano technique he decided simply to work through the works of earlier composers (Bach, Chopin, Haydn and Hummel mostly; he didn't like Beethoven's music) and so Chopin was left to develop his own technique entirely placing whichever finger he wanted on the notes and moving his hand in any way he wanted...
On 24th February 1818 (at the age of either 7 or 8 depending on which of his two given birthdays is correct) he took place in a concert for the Warsaw Benevolent Society in which he performed a concerto by Czech composer Adalbert Gyrowetz, indicating that his technique by this point was very advanced. After this concert, his fame spread very quickly through Warsaw and he became haled as the greatest pianist in the city; he was summoned to Belvedere Palace to play for Grand Duke Constantine. Chopin completed lessons with Zywny in 1821 or 1822, as the latter knew that there was absolutely nothing more that he could do to help the young pianist.
Based on his earlier published compositions (and reviews of their performances), it cannot be denied that he was an incredible pianist with astonishing technique... His Variations on La ci darem la mano (Op. 2) are incredibly challenging and the audience was obviously pleased with this work, as Chopin wrote in a letter to his parents: "everyone clapped so loudly after each variation that I had difficulty hearing the orchestral tutti". From the age of about 22, we see that Chopin started to lose interest in the 'stile brillante' and
his compositions generally were not as technically challenging from this point onward.
It is unfair to say that Chopin had poor technique based on unfavourable reviews from the time... many critics were overly negative about his playing as it did not necessarily fit in with the bombastic Lisztian octaves which seemed to transcend the repertoire of the virtuoso pianist of the day; Chopin was a poet of the piano who strove to make the piano sing, whereas Liszt simply played the instrument percussively and supposedly often worked his way through two or more pianos per concert as strings broke during his performances.
As for the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's time, I have played on both and am in possession of an Erard concert grand from this period. The action is very different to that of today, and we must remember that prior to 1841 Chopin was also playing on the single escapement action which is completely alien to us today and which most pianists would take some time to adapt to. In many ways, the pianos then were more difficult to play than the pianos today (that makes sense, as piano makers wouldn't go out of their way to make instruments MORE difficult to play but would actually do the opposite...) so I'm not so sure that Chopin and Liszt would have great difficulty adapting to modern pianos... It is also said that Chopin chose Pleyel pianos over Erard, because on an Erard everything came 'too easily' to his fingertips and he preferred to have to work harder to produce the tone he truly wanted, which would be elicited from the Pleyel but not entirely from the Erard.
All in all, we can not know entirely how good Chopin's technique was, but it is undeniable that it was truly brilliant and that he too would have been capable of playing works much more difficult than even the most difficult of his own (the 24 Etudes played as a set, the two concerti, the allegro de concert). My following point does not apply as much to Chopin as to Liszt, as Chopin was more famous for his compositions than his performances (largely/entirely due to the fact that he performed so rarely in public), but I think it is unfair to say that most conservatoire graduates have a technique which would trounce that of Liszt/Chopin. We must remember that Liszt in particular was a world famous virtuoso pianist and was undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists (technically) alive in his day, if not THE greatest and so a technique like that would still far surpass that of the vast majority of conservatoire graduates around the world today. It is true that the development of the piano has allowed for more technical aspects of piano playing to be improved, however the worlds best of 1850 would surpass almost all of the world today.
Perhaps it would be fair to say that if the greatest technical wizard of today was to go head to head in competition with Liszt on an Erard from the 1840s or 1850s, it would most probably be Liszt that would come out victorious.

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#1937608 - 08/05/12 07:00 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
piette Offline
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Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Durham, United Kingdom
If they went head to head on a modern Steinway... who knows... with time to adapt, I don't think Liszt would be 'outclassed'.


Edited by piette (08/05/12 07:01 AM)

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#1937614 - 08/05/12 07:30 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: piette
Back to the discussion about Chopin... I think it is important to bear in mind that Chopin was never 'taught' the piano as such. He was first introduced to the piano at the age of 4 by his mother and he was noted to be able to play pieces of reasonable difficulty by the age of six, however we don't know the extent of 'reasonable difficulty'. At this point he began taking 'lessons' with his father's friend, a music teacher called Wojciech Zywny whose shortcoming's as a teacher were more beneficial to Chopin than anything else. Recognising that he couldn't really teach Chopin anything more about the conventional piano technique he decided simply to work through the works of earlier composers (Bach, Chopin, Haydn and Hummel mostly; he didn't like Beethoven's music) and so Chopin was left to develop his own technique entirely placing whichever finger he wanted on the notes and moving his hand in any way he wanted...
On 24th February 1818 (at the age of either 7 or 8 depending on which of his two given birthdays is correct) he took place in a concert for the Warsaw Benevolent Society in which he performed a concerto by Czech composer Adalbert Gyrowetz, indicating that his technique by this point was very advanced. After this concert, his fame spread very quickly through Warsaw and he became haled as the greatest pianist in the city; he was summoned to Belvedere Palace to play for Grand Duke Constantine. Chopin completed lessons with Zywny in 1821 or 1822, as the latter knew that there was absolutely nothing more that he could do to help the young pianist.
Based on his earlier published compositions (and reviews of their performances), it cannot be denied that he was an incredible pianist with astonishing technique... His Variations on La ci darem la mano (Op. 2) are incredibly challenging and the audience was obviously pleased with this work, as Chopin wrote in a letter to his parents: "everyone clapped so loudly after each variation that I had difficulty hearing the orchestral tutti". From the age of about 22, we see that Chopin started to lose interest in the 'stile brillante' and
his compositions generally were not as technically challenging from this point onward.
It is unfair to say that Chopin had poor technique based on unfavourable reviews from the time... many critics were overly negative about his playing as it did not necessarily fit in with the bombastic Lisztian octaves which seemed to transcend the repertoire of the virtuoso pianist of the day; Chopin was a poet of the piano who strove to make the piano sing, whereas Liszt simply played the instrument percussively and supposedly often worked his way through two or more pianos per concert as strings broke during his performances.
As for the Erards and Pleyels of Chopin's time, I have played on both and am in possession of an Erard concert grand from this period. The action is very different to that of today, and we must remember that prior to 1841 Chopin was also playing on the single escapement action which is completely alien to us today and which most pianists would take some time to adapt to. In many ways, the pianos then were more difficult to play than the pianos today (that makes sense, as piano makers wouldn't go out of their way to make instruments MORE difficult to play but would actually do the opposite...) so I'm not so sure that Chopin and Liszt would have great difficulty adapting to modern pianos... It is also said that Chopin chose Pleyel pianos over Erard, because on an Erard everything came 'too easily' to his fingertips and he preferred to have to work harder to produce the tone he truly wanted, which would be elicited from the Pleyel but not entirely from the Erard.
All in all, we can not know entirely how good Chopin's technique was, but it is undeniable that it was truly brilliant and that he too would have been capable of playing works much more difficult than even the most difficult of his own (the 24 Etudes played as a set, the two concerti, the allegro de concert). My following point does not apply as much to Chopin as to Liszt, as Chopin was more famous for his compositions than his performances (largely/entirely due to the fact that he performed so rarely in public), but I think it is unfair to say that most conservatoire graduates have a technique which would trounce that of Liszt/Chopin. We must remember that Liszt in particular was a world famous virtuoso pianist and was undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists (technically) alive in his day, if not THE greatest and so a technique like that would still far surpass that of the vast majority of conservatoire graduates around the world today. It is true that the development of the piano has allowed for more technical aspects of piano playing to be improved, however the worlds best of 1850 would surpass almost all of the world today.
Perhaps it would be fair to say that if the greatest technical wizard of today was to go head to head in competition with Liszt on an Erard from the 1840s or 1850s, it would most probably be Liszt that would come out victorious.


With much of what you've said here I am willing to bet good money that you DON'T own a period Erard.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1937617 - 08/05/12 07:39 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
piette Offline
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Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Durham, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By: stores
With much of what you've said here I am willing to bet good money that you DON'T own a period Erard.


I do, actually. I have nothing to gain by trying to convince you that I do however, so I won't bother.

It is undeniable that the instruments of Chopin's time are very different today... Many modern pianists would find playing them to be completely alien to what they are used to. Whilst a clarity of sound is easier on a period instrument, many other things can be achieved more easily on a modern piano. Whilst older pianos may have a lighter touch, that doesn't make them easier to play on. I don't see what your point is.


Edited by piette (08/05/12 07:43 AM)

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#1937618 - 08/05/12 07:46 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Why would Liszt and Chopin have a difficult time keeping up with conservatory students of today? Why would pianists like Yuja Wang, for example, blow them off the stage? The piano itself is vastly different. While it's true that the piano Liszt knew was one that began to resemble our modern piano closely they were still no match for the instruments we play now. Anyone putting forth ideas stating otherwise simply don't know what they're talking about. It's as simple as that. In addition, the repertoire (and as an obvious result the technique required) has developed WITH the piano and because of it in many cases (just as with Beethoven, for example). The conservatory student is that much further ahead because of Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Ligeti, Barber, etc., etc. Ask many professors (many of whom are concert artists themselves) where they stand in relation to their students technically. Liszt, and Chopin, wouldn't "wow" anyone with their technique today. There are simply too many 9 year olds running circles around Czerny, Hanon, Plaidy and the likes for anyone who listens to many pianists to be overly impressed with but the most refined technical skill. I'm not dumping on Franz and Freddy, but some of you need to pull your collective heads out of the drool box and realise that the piano world has moved on considerably since those boys ruled things.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1937620 - 08/05/12 07:49 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: piette
Originally Posted By: stores
With much of what you've said here I am willing to bet good money that you DON'T own a period Erard.


I do, actually. I have nothing to gain by trying to convince you that I do however, so I won't bother.

It is undeniable that the instruments of Chopin's time are very different today... Many modern pianists would find playing them to be completely alien to what they are used to. Whilst a clarity of sound is easier on a period instrument, many other things can be achieved more easily on a modern piano. Whilst older pianos may have a lighter touch, that doesn't make them easier to play on. I don't see what your point is.


I didn't think you'd see the point, which is part of my point. You're right, you have nothing to gain by trying to convince me, so don't bother. I'm not looking to be convinced.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1937629 - 08/05/12 08:55 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
GeorgeB Offline
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Registered: 06/06/10
Posts: 635
Stores actually he does xD I've seen pics of it on his Facebook

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#1937652 - 08/05/12 10:28 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: GeorgeB]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: GeorgeB
Stores actually he does xD I've seen pics of it on his Facebook


Good for him. He should learn a thing or two about it then and other pianos of the eras about which he speaks, because he quite simply doesn't know what he's talking about.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1937664 - 08/05/12 10:59 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
GeorgeB Offline
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Registered: 06/06/10
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ouch. I'm not getting into this discussion.

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#1937665 - 08/05/12 10:59 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
GeorgeB Offline
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Registered: 06/06/10
Posts: 635
ouch. I'm not getting into this discussion.

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#1937674 - 08/05/12 11:18 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: GeorgeB]
piette Offline
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Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Durham, United Kingdom
I know perfectly well what I am talking about. What you perhaps don't realise is that the pianos which I am mainly referring to are earlier pianos with the single escapement action which feel very different to a modern Steinway D and are also more difficult to control!!
I understand that Erard's from around 1850 onwards become very similar to modern pianos (my own Erard dates to 1851) however, I am referring to earlier pianos which were played by Chopin such as the 1830's Pleyels. John Rink, a leading Chopin scholar, owns an 1842 French Erard which is very similar to the Pleyels which Chopin favoured and played frequently and both he and I (along with many other pianist and musicians) find these earlier instruments more difficult to control. This is the point I was trying to make - that the early Erard and Pleyel grand pianos are more difficult to control than modern pianos.
Smaller Pleyel uprights from this period are not as difficult to control and in Prof. Rink's opinion, are "the most malleable in terms of a Chopin-like performance aesthetic".

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#1937686 - 08/05/12 11:43 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
stores Offline
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Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: piette
I know perfectly well what I am talking about. What you perhaps don't realise is that the pianos which I am mainly referring to are earlier pianos with the single escapement action which feel very different to a modern Steinway D and are also more difficult to control!!
I understand that Erard's from around 1850 onwards become very similar to modern pianos (my own Erard dates to 1851) however, I am referring to earlier pianos which were played by Chopin such as the 1830's Pleyels. John Rink, a leading Chopin scholar, owns an 1842 French Erard which is very similar to the Pleyels which Chopin favoured and played frequently and both he and I (along with many other pianist and musicians) find these earlier instruments more difficult to control. This is the point I was trying to make - that the early Erard and Pleyel grand pianos are more difficult to control than modern pianos.
Smaller Pleyel uprights from this period are not as difficult to control and in Prof. Rink's opinion, are "the most malleable in terms of a Chopin-like performance aesthetic".


You'll have to define "difficult to control".
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1937751 - 08/05/12 01:50 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
To piette: Please don't worry about others doubting that you have piano. (It never would have occurred to me.)

I thought also that your post was excellent and well stated.

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#1937844 - 08/05/12 06:19 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
piette Offline
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Registered: 08/01/12
Posts: 29
Loc: Durham, United Kingdom
Originally Posted By: stores
You'll have to define "difficult to control".


I was referring to controlling the tone of the piano (eg. percussive, cantabile etc), something which is particularly important in Chopin's works of music. Also, controlling the dynamic level can be a little more challenging in my opinion especially given that the touch weight of early 19th century pianos was just over half of that of later pianos. In turn, I feel that this creates a greater difficulty in achieving a perfect legato and cantabile sound where each note blends into the next.

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#1937851 - 08/05/12 07:12 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19776
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: piette
....controlling the dynamic level can be a little more challenging in my opinion especially given that the touch weight of early 19th century pianos was just over half of that of later pianos....

I agree completely with this principle, and didn't think there was any controversy about it.

It comes into play in modern pianos too, because of the differences among them. It's one of the factors for which we have to make adjustments when we play on different pianos as performers. It's also why I prefer a somewhat firm "touch weight" (in quotes because I didn't really know the phrase) smile and sometimes even gladly sacrifice some ease of execution for it when I choose a piano.

Quote:
.... In turn, I feel that this creates a greater difficulty in achieving a perfect legato and cantabile sound where each note blends into the next.

That's also more of a challenge on the earlier pianos because of the lesser sustaining of each note.

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#1937867 - 08/05/12 08:11 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Why would Liszt and Chopin have a difficult time keeping up with conservatory students of today? [...]

Some good points. Okay, but where does Rachmaninov factor in?

Alas we have so few recordings -considering the amount of music he played in concert (and look what Schnabel gave us across the 'pond') -but all of those are that of a Titan.

For what Rachmaninov recorded -and I will politely give a miss to the 2nd and 3rd concertos- no one I have ever heard has exceeded them, think Liszt's Gnomenreigen. That is positively super-human.

With Rachmaninov's miraculous technical endowment, I find it a stretch to believe that those awesome hands could not have played anything written subsequent to 1943.

Prokofiev had a go on R's G minor Prelude, but it seems oddly insecure at certain moments, particularly the descending volley of octaves. His recording of his 3rd concerto proves he was a pianist to recon with, but I should think that no one would rate his recording above what Argerich subsequently accomplished.

IMO, Prokofiev would have LOVED her interpretation.
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#1938011 - 08/06/12 04:26 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: piette
Originally Posted By: stores
You'll have to define "difficult to control".


I was referring to controlling the tone of the piano (eg. percussive, cantabile etc), something which is particularly important in Chopin's works of music. Also, controlling the dynamic level can be a little more challenging in my opinion especially given that the touch weight of early 19th century pianos was just over half of that of later pianos. In turn, I feel that this creates a greater difficulty in achieving a perfect legato and cantabile sound where each note blends into the next.


All good points. I don't have the same problems, however. I've played several period instruments and have always come away thinking, if only I had one of these pianos everything would be so much easier. The percussive quality of their tone, however, makes me happy that we've moved on. There is only so much you can do in that regard... it's simply their nature.
_________________________

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#1938039 - 08/06/12 07:28 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
lilylady Offline
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piette

I am enjoying your conversations.

Found the instruments in museums in Germany and Vienna fascinating as well the period instruments in Ashburham, Ma at the museum there. Perhaps you would enjoy this.

Frederick's Historical Piano Collection



(best listened to on good speakers)
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#1938044 - 08/06/12 07:59 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Sorry but all the above speculation is inaccurate.

According to the latest Chopin research he could not play the piano at all. On the few occasions when he "performed" it is now believed that he was using a "double". Chopin's only instrument was the kazoo on which he used to improvise his piano pieces.


Edited by pianoloverus (08/06/12 08:53 AM)

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#1938112 - 08/06/12 10:46 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
-Frycek Offline
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Quote:
According to the latest Chopin research he could not play the piano at all. On the few occasions when he "performed" it is now believed that he was using a "double". Chopin's only instrument was the kazoo on which he used to improvise his piano pieces.

thumb

'Nuff said.

(Or as George Sand used to tell him,regarding his reluctance to play in public, by choice he'd "play a silent piano in a dark room.")
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#1938127 - 08/06/12 11:09 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
JoelW Offline
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As much of a shy performer as he was, I can't imagine how he could write and publish works, especially with all of his own personal feelings written into the music. Have you ever played your own writings to a friend? It's extremely embarrassing for some reason, even if you are totally content with your music. Maybe Chopin knew his own genius so well that he didn't worry about being judged.

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#1938130 - 08/06/12 11:18 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
sophial Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Why would Liszt and Chopin have a difficult time keeping up with conservatory students of today? Why would pianists like Yuja Wang, for example, blow them off the stage? The piano itself is vastly different. While it's true that the piano Liszt knew was one that began to resemble our modern piano closely they were still no match for the instruments we play now. Anyone putting forth ideas stating otherwise simply don't know what they're talking about. It's as simple as that. In addition, the repertoire (and as an obvious result the technique required) has developed WITH the piano and because of it in many cases (just as with Beethoven, for example). The conservatory student is that much further ahead because of Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Ligeti, Barber, etc., etc. Ask many professors (many of whom are concert artists themselves) where they stand in relation to their students technically. Liszt, and Chopin, wouldn't "wow" anyone with their technique today. There are simply too many 9 year olds running circles around Czerny, Hanon, Plaidy and the likes for anyone who listens to many pianists to be overly impressed with but the most refined technical skill. I'm not dumping on Franz and Freddy, but some of you need to pull your collective heads out of the drool box and realise that the piano world has moved on considerably since those boys ruled things.


Stores,
Let's consider a few things especially in the case of Liszt. He lived until 1886, by which time the piano was more or less in its modern form. Yes, there are some differences, and the action may have been a bit lighter but in effect, he was playing on modern style instruments toward the end of his life. Of course, he was not in his prime then, but this was not the Erard/Pleyel era anymore.
Liszt was clearly in the very upper echelon of pianists of his time, and probably was at the top of that group. This was a time when the piano was very popular, many people played, and there was intense competition to be the "best" -- and Liszt came out on top probably by reason of his innate abilities coupled with his intense work ethic and personality. If you think of the distribution of talent plus work ethic, he clearly occupied the very far end of that distribution, and human abilities being distributed as they are on the normal curve, there is little reason to think he would not still be in the upper echelon today. Might he need some time to brush up on a new Steinway were he to be reincarnated into today's world? Learn that modern repertoire just as the "conservatory kids" did? No doubt, but I see little reason to discount the idea that in a short period of time he'd be schooling them.

Sophia

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#1938199 - 08/06/12 02:01 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
-Frycek Offline
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Originally Posted By: mazurkajoe
As much of a shy performer as he was, I can't imagine how he could write and publish works, especially with all of his own personal feelings written into the music. Have you ever played your own writings to a friend? It's extremely embarrassing for some reason, even if you are totally content with your music. Maybe Chopin knew his own genius so well that he didn't worry about being judged.


Chopin grew up in what was essentially a boarding house, playing for his large immediate family, his father's pupils and the neighbors. He also played in public from a very early age, before he was old enough to have become self conscious. From all accounts he received nothing but petting and praise for these performances and was even given a gold watch by a beautiful diva and a diamond ring by the tsar of Russia. Without this intense early socialization and these first very positive performance experiences I doubt if someone of his temperament could've managed to function well in society, much less perform brillantly in public.
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#1938216 - 08/06/12 02:24 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
piette Offline
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Thank you for the link to that video Lilylady! I am extremely interested in period instruments and as well as pursuing a career as a pianist/composer it is my intention to collect and restore period instruments in the future too. I find them to be so beautiful, and I absolutely love the tone which they produce. I suppose it helps that my main areas of interest are Field and Chopin too, even though Field played most frequently on Tischner pianos... I would love to get my hands on one of those!

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#1938288 - 08/06/12 04:05 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
boo1234 Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Why would Liszt and Chopin have a difficult time keeping up with conservatory students of today? Why would pianists like Yuja Wang, for example, blow them off the stage? The piano itself is vastly different. While it's true that the piano Liszt knew was one that began to resemble our modern piano closely they were still no match for the instruments we play now. Anyone putting forth ideas stating otherwise simply don't know what they're talking about. It's as simple as that. In addition, the repertoire (and as an obvious result the technique required) has developed WITH the piano and because of it in many cases (just as with Beethoven, for example). The conservatory student is that much further ahead because of Schoenberg, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Ligeti, Barber, etc., etc. Ask many professors (many of whom are concert artists themselves) where they stand in relation to their students technically. Liszt, and Chopin, wouldn't "wow" anyone with their technique today. There are simply too many 9 year olds running circles around Czerny, Hanon, Plaidy and the likes for anyone who listens to many pianists to be overly impressed with but the most refined technical skill. I'm not dumping on Franz and Freddy, but some of you need to pull your collective heads out of the drool box and realise that the piano world has moved on considerably since those boys ruled things.


I tend to agree. It's like how athletes are. The ones today are faster ,stronger, and more physically imposing than those from previous eras. They have access to better teaching and tools as well.

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#1938362 - 08/06/12 05:29 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: boo1234]
-Frycek Offline
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Originally Posted By: boo1234

I tend to agree. It's like how athletes are. The ones today are faster ,stronger, and more physically imposing than those from previous eras. They have access to better teaching and tools as well.


Probably as true of the average run of conservatory pianists as it is of athletes but Franz and Freddy were hardly the average run. Outliers will always be outliers.
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#1938376 - 08/06/12 06:05 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: -Frycek]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: boo1234

I tend to agree. It's like how athletes are. The ones today are faster ,stronger, and more physically imposing than those from previous eras. They have access to better teaching and tools as well.


Probably as true of the average run of conservatory pianists as it is of athletes but Franz and Freddy were hardly the average run. Outliers will always be outliers.

Absolutely true.. but world records are meant to be broken. wink
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#1938390 - 08/06/12 06:15 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: -Frycek]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: boo1234

I tend to agree. It's like how athletes are. The ones today are faster ,stronger, and more physically imposing than those from previous eras. They have access to better teaching and tools as well.


Probably as true of the average run of conservatory pianists as it is of athletes but Franz and Freddy were hardly the average run. Outliers will always be outliers.


You're quite right that Franz and Freddy were hardly the average run. It's quite obvious, however, that the vast majority of you have no idea what is going on in conservatories today and well before that also. I don't, by the way, mean you, Frycek, specifically... I'm just speaking about the general PW population. Someone above mentioned that Liszt was more or less playing on modern pianos toward the end of his life... the key phrase here is "more or less". I have access to an 1885 and 1888 Steinway on a regular basis and even with a few modern replacement parts and regulation they're no match for today's pianos. I get the feeling many of you feel I'm knocking Franz and Fred, but I'm not. I'm just stating that they would have (especially in Fred's case) a very difficult time with the instruments we know and that for as developed as either of their techniques may have been there are not only conservatory kids, but high school kids with technique to stand up to most anyone (and many of them run circles around anyone you've ever heard save a few).
_________________________

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#1938442 - 08/06/12 07:59 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
...not only conservatory kids, but high school kids with technique to stand up to most anyone (and many of them run circles around anyone you've ever heard save a few).


I know one of those, and it is rather scary, hehe.

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#1938468 - 08/06/12 08:30 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
-Frycek Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
I have access to an 1885 and 1888 Steinway on a regular basis and even with a few modern replacement parts and regulation they're no match for today's pianos.

I own an 1887 Mathushek Orchestral, which was Steinway's major American rival way back when, and I totally agree. It's extremely temperamental even restored, and the action is much different from my other more "modern" (1937) piano.

I do think you're right in that the average contemporary pianist is probably much better than the average run of pianist fifty or a hundred years ago, though there were probably more of them. The bar has been raised dramatically. It's a more select population for one thing, more serious, more invested with a much smaller proportion of casual low level players. I know that the average student now does levels and grades and likely has a much better qualified teacher than I had. Literally fifty years ago I was taught to play from a hymnal by an old lady who couldn't play much better herself. She was the only "piano teacher" in the county and just about every little girl with any pretensions to gentility in the area took at least a few lessons from her at some point. This may sound like a whole nother world to most of you but it was pretty normal back then away from major metropolitan areas.
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#1938479 - 08/06/12 08:42 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: -Frycek]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: stores
I have access to an 1885 and 1888 Steinway on a regular basis and even with a few modern replacement parts and regulation they're no match for today's pianos.

I own an 1887 Mathushek Orchestral, which was Steinway's major American rival way back when, and I totally agree. It's extremely temperamental even restored, and the action is much different from my other more "modern" (1937) piano.

I do think you're right in that the average contemporary pianist is probably much better than the average run of pianist fifty or a hundred years ago, though there were probably more of them. The bar has been raised dramatically. It's a more select population for one thing, more serious, more invested with a much smaller proportion of casual low level players. I know that the average student now does levels and grades and likely has a much better qualified teacher than I had. Literally fifty years ago I was taught to play from a hymnal by an old lady who couldn't play much better herself. She was the only "piano teacher" in the county and just about every little girl with any pretensions to gentility in the area took at least a few lessons from her at some point. This may sound like a whole nother world to most of you but it was pretty normal back then away from major metropolitan areas.


Good points, Frycek. The only thing I'd disagree with is the number of pianists then and now. For those not aware, the explosion in China is an amazing thing and the kids coming out of their system(s) are often something to behold.
_________________________

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#1938487 - 08/06/12 09:16 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
-Frycek Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
For those not aware, the explosion in China is an amazing thing and the kids coming out of their system(s) are often something to behold.


Right. I totally forgot about China!
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#1938496 - 08/06/12 09:24 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: -Frycek]
piette Offline
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Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: stores
For those not aware, the explosion in China is an amazing thing and the kids coming out of their system(s) are often something to behold.


Right. I totally forgot about China!


Whilst I am not fond of Lang Lang's piano playing, I feel this article is a good indicator as to why so many good pianists are coming out of China: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/14/lang-lang-piano-china-father

For those who can't be bothered to read, basically when he was 9 Lang Lang's piano teacher said he wasn't very good, so his father demanded the he kill himself to remove the shame from the family.

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#1938513 - 08/06/12 10:02 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
sophial Offline
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It may well be that the number of young virtuosos is increasing or that they are playing harder repertoire at a younger age but then what? if there are so many ultra-virtuosos floating around in the high schools and colleges where are they and are they really all that much better than the last generation of virtuosos? It does not seem like the current crop of competition winners, or Lang Lang or Yuja Wang can take the likes of Martha Argerich or Maurizio Pollini and "blow them off the stage". You might be seeing more fast finger twiddling at a younger age, but I'm not all that impressed that they will ultimately be better at the highest levels.

As far as the argument about athletics and people running faster, jumping higher, etc. it doesn't translate as well to the piano since size and strength are not as critical to playing piano. People are larger and have better nutrition and fewer diseases, hence the larger size and better physical attributes of today's athletes in general. But piano playing does not depend on that.

Sophia

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#1938514 - 08/06/12 10:05 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: piette
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Originally Posted By: stores
For those not aware, the explosion in China is an amazing thing and the kids coming out of their system(s) are often something to behold.


Right. I totally forgot about China!


Whilst I am not fond of Lang Lang's piano playing, I feel this article is a good indicator as to why so many good pianists are coming out of China: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/may/14/lang-lang-piano-china-father

For those who can't be bothered to read, basically when he was 9 Lang Lang's piano teacher said he wasn't very good, so his father demanded the he kill himself to remove the shame from the family.


No pressure... wink
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#1938606 - 08/07/12 03:24 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: piette]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: piette
a good indicator as to why so many good pianists are coming out of China


There are?
_________________________

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#1938607 - 08/07/12 03:30 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: sophial
It may well be that the number of young virtuosos is increasing or that they are playing harder repertoire at a younger age but then what? if there are so many ultra-virtuosos floating around in the high schools and colleges where are they and are they really all that much better than the last generation of virtuosos? It does not seem like the current crop of competition winners, or Lang Lang or Yuja Wang can take the likes of Martha Argerich or Maurizio Pollini and "blow them off the stage". You might be seeing more fast finger twiddling at a younger age, but I'm not all that impressed that they will ultimately be better at the highest levels.



Technically, Wang blew Martha and Pollini away long ago. The thread is about technique. I don't particularly care who can blow who away. That has no place in my musical world. The fact is, however, that there ARE more pianists in the world now than at any other time and they're younger than ever before and they're more technically advanced at younger ages than ever before.
_________________________

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"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1938691 - 08/07/12 09:37 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Andromaque Offline
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A good question might be to ask why. Why is there a larger number of people who display outstanding piano "athletism" now? Is it that we have a larger denominator (a bigger pool to select from)? better teaching? better instruments? better work ethic? greater value placed on "virtuosity" ? (that definition may have also shifted some since the 19th century.)
I have seen some interesting charts of athletic world records that seem to be steadily improving over the years. There too the reasons are not fully clear, though in some fields improved equipment plays a good role and probably doping.

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#1938692 - 08/07/12 09:39 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Batuhan Offline
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I'm not so sure about Chopin was able to play his own pieces with flawless technique or not. But one thing that I'm precisely so sure is he was able to play with impeccable musicality. Also don't forget he invented a new piano technique. And died, while he was working on his own piano technique method. Chopin's technique was so different than the Liszt's. While Chopin keep his hands in the natural position while playing. Liszt's hands are in the strict, swaggering position. Chopin was always break the standards and he succeed. He was the only composer can think outside the box.
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#1938894 - 08/07/12 05:47 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
acortot Offline
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I am a bit late on this thread, and many things have already been pointed-out

I can maybe clarify a few things regarding pianos of the time and technique as well as interpretation

first of all the Pleyel pianos had a very soft and easy pp which went from dark obscurity to a progressively more pronounced vocal sound. Fortissimo was bright compared to piano and mezzo forte etc. but nowhere as bright as a modern piano

this enables the pianist to play on different levels.. the piano to mf range can be used to murmur a theme or arpeggios in the background while the melodic lines can be accented. This is what was referred to as a 'veiled' sonority

the loudest sounds sound like the 'aaaahh!' sound a singer might make using his full chest voice.. nowhere as percussive and metallic as modern pianos... the sound was more robust in the 1840-1849 Pleyels as the ones made before were made for iron strings and had a more dainty quality of sound

chopin was said to play the etudes like an aeolian harp with pronounced leading notes.. the sound of the pleyel can achieve a wash of notes which melt into each other when playing soft and playing louder makes the sound more defined

To my knowledge there are no pianos currently on display or on recording anywhere which have the correct sonority. The felts used on the hammers were very soft and the manufacturing process was quite complicated by today's standards

you cqn reqd more about that on my blog acortot.blogspot.com

the feel of the action for these pianos in general is quite different, not only for the single escapement english action, which in the end is quite similqr to modern vertical piano actions, which are also a british design and single escapement

the action has much less lead in the keys and whatever weight you feel on the fingertip is mostly the hammer

modern actions have a lot of lead in the keys in comparison.

if you strike a modern key, the inertia of the lead will absorb the shock and the key will gather momentum as a result of the shock. this means you can reach a high note in a difficult passage and just hit the key very quickly and the mass of the key will make the hammer play relatively well

on an old action the keys are too light to be struck. If you do strike them you send a shock-wave to the hammer which is too violent and it makes an ugly sound. The actual keys were also noisy when struck

this is why Chopin played with no arm weight (as documented by Hipkins) and used mainly the fingers, according to the school of the day. He was more traditional than Liszt in this regard, although he did expand the technique

I believe he could play his etudes but he would have played thim in a much more subtle Salon-style

Chopin did not like the idea of 'concert pianists' as he was fundamentally an old-school aristocratic by taste

the traditional role of a musician had been to perform in private homes of the wealthy and powerful, the church but never to a paying public

Chopin was a highly regarded pianist and teacher. Within a short time from his arrival in Paris he had already been introduced into society by the Rothschild family who hired him as a teacher and made him instantly fashionable

he charged the highest fees of any piano teacher, asking 20 francs per lesson in the home and 30 at the student's home. a new Pleyel grand cost around 2000 francs, and they were compareable to Bosendorfers today as far as market so do the math to see roughly how much

yes he mentioned that too much practice harms the music, probably because mechanical memory replaces thought and concentration

I imagine that he was technically limitless in certain moments of inspiration, within the limts of his own compositions

the modern approach is mostly athletic and goal-driven, as conservatory students must compete in contests to get anywhere, like the olympics

this creates a different approach to playing music because the goal is to beat the other pianists in a way that is tangible to a jury

Chopin wanted no jury, he expressed many times that he preferred to play for groups of sensitive people willing to listen to him, perhaps as friends, perhaps for spiritual reasons more than anything else.. he never sold himself but was lucky to be assisted all of his life


Edited by acortot (08/07/12 05:48 PM)
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An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario

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#1938950 - 08/07/12 07:47 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Andromaque]
Derulux Offline
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Originally Posted By: Andromaque
A good question might be to ask why. Why is there a larger number of people who display outstanding piano "athletism" now? Is it that we have a larger denominator (a bigger pool to select from)? better teaching? better instruments? better work ethic? greater value placed on "virtuosity" ? (that definition may have also shifted some since the 19th century.)
I have seen some interesting charts of athletic world records that seem to be steadily improving over the years. There too the reasons are not fully clear, though in some fields improved equipment plays a good role and probably doping.

I think we can probably include all of those things, with the possible exception of "better work ethic". I am not sure that we can say for certain that work ethic improved over the centuries. Certainly not in Liszt's case, if the evidence that he practiced more than 10 hours a day is any example. But your other questions are certainly right on.

What I think people fail to consider is, guys like Liszt did it "first". They were very far ahead of the times in their day, but in order for the next generation to be competitive, they must do it as well or better. So, once one person can do it, eventually a second person either figures it out or is taught. Then a third. A fourth. Soon, nearly everybody is capable of doing it. Some outliers are certainly still there, but the rolling average improves with every passing day. This will, of course, move the bar up for the outliers as well. If the bar is at "20", an outlier at "50" is amazing. But if the bar moves up to "45", now "50" isn't that impressive.

The Legend of Liszt translates itself to nearly every human endeavor. Look at baseball. There are still people out there who say that Babe Ruth is the greatest baseball player who will ever play the game. Would he be able to stand in with today's players? That is a much more difficult conversation to have (objectively, of course--- subjectively, people can say whatever they want). It is so difficult, AND we have VIDEO evidence of Ruth playing ball! There is literally NO direct evidence of Liszt's playing, so that makes the conversation much more difficult. We can quantify the hearsay of "evidence", but nothing direct exists. So, largely, it becomes an exercise in futility to even try. But we do try, because by and large, we all really really want to know the answer. wink
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#1939018 - 08/07/12 09:36 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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I'm pretty sure that Liszt would seem to be much more proficient than today's pianists because of his ability to improvise fluently on what he was playing. He might not be able to play Prok 2 or the Ligeti etudes, but Liszt's ability to introduce bravura, or improvise technically demanding cadenzas and integrate them into works would make them seem that much greater.

His ability to sight read scores would still also be deemed incredible by today's standards.

So while today's pianists may outshine Liszt in terms of clean technique, velocity and precision, I'm still confident that he would still be one of the most virtuosic and exciting musicians around.
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#1939298 - 08/08/12 11:32 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: sophial
It may well be that the number of young virtuosos is increasing or that they are playing harder repertoire at a younger age but then what? if there are so many ultra-virtuosos floating around in the high schools and colleges where are they and are they really all that much better than the last generation of virtuosos? It does not seem like the current crop of competition winners, or Lang Lang or Yuja Wang can take the likes of Martha Argerich or Maurizio Pollini and "blow them off the stage". You might be seeing more fast finger twiddling at a younger age, but I'm not all that impressed that they will ultimately be better at the highest levels.



Technically, Wang blew Martha and Pollini away long ago. The thread is about technique. I don't particularly care who can blow who away. That has no place in my musical world. The fact is, however, that there ARE more pianists in the world now than at any other time and they're younger than ever before and they're more technically advanced at younger ages than ever before.


Well, "blow off the stage" was the phrase you introduced into the conversation. I agree with your most recent points that there are more pianists, and they are more technically advanced at younger ages. However, it remains to be seen if that translates into whether they attain significantly greater prowess at the highest levels than the best players of the past-- perhaps more will attain high technical levels but will the very best be greater than the very best we have seen? I'm not yet convinced. The next big thing is always waiting in the wings.... but does not always materialize or stand the test of time.

Back to Liszt-- in regards to instruments, it could be argued that in fact Liszt's power and technique had outpaced the instruments of his day (evidenced by his destruction of them early in his career) and he likely may have felt quite at home on today's instruments. In that sense he was likely considerably ahead of his time and in fact was trying to transcend the limitations of the nineteenth century piano. The idea that given his abilities he could not have learned things like Prok 2 or to play pieces that conservatory kids play today as someone suggested above is rather laughable.

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#1939301 - 08/08/12 11:42 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
Orange Soda King Offline
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Originally Posted By: sophial
The idea that given his abilities he could not have learned things like Prok 2 or to play pieces that conservatory kids play today as someone suggested above is rather laughable.


Well, I am sure that he easily could, but he would have an easier time with it on his own piano than modern pianos.

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#1939309 - 08/08/12 11:53 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
I'm pretty sure that Liszt would seem to be much more proficient than today's pianists because of his ability to improvise fluently on what he was playing. He might not be able to play Prok 2 or the Ligeti etudes, but Liszt's ability to introduce bravura, or improvise technically demanding cadenzas and integrate them into works would make them seem that much greater.


This ability wasn't exactly exclusive to Liszt. At the time, most performers were able to improvise fluently. Aren't there tales of Henselt improvising fugues? (possibly apocryphal)


Edited by ScriabinAddict (08/08/12 11:57 AM)

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#1939529 - 08/08/12 07:18 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: ScriabinAddict]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Originally Posted By: ScriabinAddict
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
I'm pretty sure that Liszt would seem to be much more proficient than today's pianists because of his ability to improvise fluently on what he was playing. He might not be able to play Prok 2 or the Ligeti etudes, but Liszt's ability to introduce bravura, or improvise technically demanding cadenzas and integrate them into works would make them seem that much greater.


This ability wasn't exactly exclusive to Liszt. At the time, most performers were able to improvise fluently. Aren't there tales of Henselt improvising fugues? (possibly apocryphal)

Yeah but he makes it extreme. Like he hears about Dreyshock doing the revolutionary etude in octaves, and then feels like doing an encore. So he takes the first bar of Chopin's op.25 no.2, plays it in octaves a few times, repeating, and getting faster. Then he proceeds to play the whole thing in octaves like that. I mean, one can probably practice and do it better than him, but if he just pulls it out of his back pocket, it's just ridiculous.

Source - Harold Schonberg, "The Great Pianists"
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#1943463 - 08/15/12 10:47 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Why would Liszt and Chopin have a difficult time keeping up with conservatory students of today? Why would pianists like Yuja Wang, for example, blow them off the stage? The piano itself is vastly different.

Do you think that Yuja Wang surpasses- in terms of mechanical dexterity- pianists such as Horowitz, Hofmann, Hamelin, and Rachmaninov?

Even though Liszt's piano had much lighter action than a modern Steinway, it is still an enormous leap of logic to conclude that- on a modern piano- Liszt's technique would be vastly inferior to that of the average conservatory student. For all we know, Liszt's technique could have been far beyond that of even Yuja Wang. If that was the case, then it is possible that even on a piano with much heavier action, Liszt still would have been mechanically superior to the average conservatory pupil. A pianist of Liszt's stature might be able to adjust to a new instrument quite quickly. We simply do not know how much- if any- technical ability Liszt would lose on a modern Steinway. Furthermore, even assuming that Liszt would experience a loss in technique, we don't know if such a loss would put him below the level of the average conservatory student. Maybe Liszt was so good that even at his worst (if we assume he would be at his worst on a Steinway grand), he would still be technically superior to the average conservatory student.

Although we don't have recordings of Liszt, we do have recordings of his student Rosenthal. Rosenthal played- on a Steinway- with a technique that could rival the best of them. Do you believe that Rosenthal had much better technique than Liszt did?

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#1943569 - 08/16/12 05:22 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
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Originally Posted By: sophial
I agree with your most recent points that there are more pianists, and they are more technically advanced at younger ages. However, it remains to be seen if that translates into whether they attain significantly greater prowess at the highest levels than the best players of the past-- perhaps more will attain high technical levels but will the very best be greater than the very best we have seen? I'm not yet convinced. The next big thing is always waiting in the wings.... but does not always materialize or stand the test of time.


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#1944860 - 08/18/12 02:14 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores

The fact is, however, that there ARE more pianists in the world now than at any other time and they're younger than ever before and they're more technically advanced at younger ages than ever before.

But stores DOES have a point, like him or not. I don't think Horowitz could ever have exceeded this:
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#1944990 - 08/18/12 10:52 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
....I don't think Horowitz could ever have exceeded this....

A couple of things:

-- IMO Horowitz absolutely did.

-- And anyway, going back to the original question smile it wouldn't be whether Horowitz or Liszt or Chopin exceed this, but whether this exceeds them!

i.e. In terms of the original question, a tie would be OK for them. grin

And BTW it's hard for me to see how one could think this exceeds Horowitz. I can see how one might feel it equals him, if you don't count some of the kinds of things that Horowitz did.

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#1945003 - 08/18/12 11:21 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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In the latest issue of International Piano magazine two teachers said this in response to the question about how conservatory level pianists today differ from those 30-40-50 years ago:

Gary Graffman:
Whsn I was growing up, only Horowitz and Rachmaninov were capable of playing the Rachmaninov Third Concerto. Then Willy Kapell was the first young American to play it. Now every 14-year-old Korean girl with tiny hands plays it!

Alexander Braginsky: I have young kids playing repertoire that in my generation very few people could ever master. Eleven year olds playing Feux follets in a way that once only Ashkenazy and Berman and Richter could play it. I have two teenagers playing the Brahms Paganini Variations on a level that was hardly heard of when I was growing up in Russia. That said they are all much less cultured than 50 years ago.

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#1945020 - 08/18/12 11:45 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: stores

The fact is, however, that there ARE more pianists in the world now than at any other time and they're younger than ever before and they're more technically advanced at younger ages than ever before.

But stores DOES have a point, like him or not. I don't think Horowitz could ever have exceeded this:
[Gavrylyuk wedding march video removed]


You may have a point, but I never want to hear this guy play it again. Even though his technique is gigantic, does it serve the music? Not that I would want him to copy Horowitz, but is his technique good enough to thrill me musically like Horowitz did. I'm not separating technique from musicality as it is popular to do around here. I think one instructs the other.
This guy wins, hands down I suppose, if we are to judge his technique the same way we would judge a typist.
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#1945023 - 08/18/12 11:47 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
sophial Offline
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As I wrote to stores previously, I don't dispute the idea that there are more pianists who are achieving high levels of technical proficiency earlier in life. But will they continue to improve or are they just reaching their maximum technical potential earlier and will stay there? And will the best of them really exceed people like Richter, Berman, Horowitz, Argerich ? that remains to be seen.

I found Braginsky's ending comment interesting, about them being much less cultured than 50 years ago. Is that the price for being so intensely focused on technical development? does that translate into a lower level of interpretive and artistic development? Frankly, I don't find today's competition winners for the most part to be all that compelling to listen to on an artistic and musical level. The idea that we can simply consider technique divorced from musicality and expression is part of the problem IMO-- technique should always be in service to the musical concept.

Sophia

addendum: Damon, we were writing at the same time and obviously had some similar reactions!


Edited by sophial (08/18/12 11:48 AM)

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#1945049 - 08/18/12 12:37 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: sophial]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Originally Posted By: sophial
technique should always be in service to the musical concept.

The weird thing is that technique has always been a vehicle of expression and bravura seemed to be a defining element of good technique until a belief of being "less showy, less technical, to be more *musical*".

If you look at the development of piano music in particular, technique has always been a defining factor in how expression is relayed - one can look at Liszt's works and say that his keyboard language is almost purely composed of only bravura technique.

The so called "golden age" pianists all had monster techniques. Gilels, Horowitz, Richter were all regarded as technical wizards. Going further back, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Lhevinne, Hofmann and all of the Liszt pupils had incredible technique which defined their musical expression. In Hofmann's book, he describes that technique is the most essential element in being able to develop musical expression.

I guess it almost seems like we're taking the reverse approach to music today. We study the score, to discover the musical essence, and then we bring our technique up to the prerequisite level. Whereas before, one might imagine that after developing an incredible technique, one of the great pianists would then apply their musicality that is enabled by their mastery of the keyboard.

Another small quote that I find funny which might also describe why all of those greats played so damn fast: Once Horowitz and Rachmaninoff were listening a record of Cortot playing the Chopin etudes. They started joking: "Oh, his playing is so musical, especially in the most difficult sections!". The joke being that being "musical" meant slowing down and trying to inject more "expression" because the fingers couldn't keep up with the technical demands.
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#1945066 - 08/18/12 01:32 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
sophial Offline
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By saying that technique should be in service to the music, I don't mean that more musicality equals playing slower or with less virtuosity or less bravura when it is called for-- but rather that the virtuosity and bravura should be for the purpose of expressing the musical concept rather than for showing off the technical capability of the pianist. Liszt himself condemned that type of playing (speed and virtuosity simply for its own sake and not for musical purposes).

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#1945119 - 08/18/12 03:36 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano

I guess it almost seems like we're taking the reverse approach to music today. We study the score, to discover the musical essence, and then we bring our technique up to the prerequisite level. Whereas before, one might imagine that after developing an incredible technique, one of the great pianists would then apply their musicality that is enabled by their mastery of the keyboard.


I think the only thing that is different today is that musicality is almost completely absent.

Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano

Another small quote that I find funny which might also describe why all of those greats played so damn fast: Once Horowitz and Rachmaninoff were listening a record of Cortot playing the Chopin etudes. They started joking: "Oh, his playing is so musical, especially in the most difficult sections!". The joke being that being "musical" meant slowing down and trying to inject more "expression" because the fingers couldn't keep up with the technical demands.


They were probably talking about Cziffra. smile
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#1945196 - 08/18/12 08:34 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Kuanpiano]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Once Horowitz and Rachmaninoff were listening to a record of Cortot playing the Chopin etudes. They started joking: "Oh, his playing is so musical, especially in the most difficult sections!".

Oh yes, that one. If anything permanently ruined Cortot for me, it is those two titans.

I realize Cortot is highly regarded in some circles (every note -and wrong note- fawned over with a cultish admiration), but I just don't get it all. Every couple years I check in again with a Cortot recording, but I remain unconvinced of his stature.

Talk about the emperor's clothes...
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#1945228 - 08/18/12 10:31 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: stores

The fact is, however, that there ARE more pianists in the world now than at any other time and they're younger than ever before and they're more technically advanced at younger ages than ever before.

But stores DOES have a point, like him or not. I don't think Horowitz could ever have exceeded this:


There is Horowitz's recording of the Wedding March. Do you believe that, from a mechanical perspective, Gavrylyuk exceeds Horowitz? In general, Horowitz plays with clearer articulation, although Gavrylyuk plays many of the single-note runs at a faster tempo than Horowitz does. Nevertheless, Horowitz may well have been capable of playing the runs as fast or faster than Gavrylyuk.

Horowitz might have chosen to only play as fast as is musically necessary. He might have felt that because the composition is a march, the tempo shouldn't be insanely fast and should remain consistent with the tempo of a march. Horowitz did complain about how bands frequently play Stars and Stripes Forever way too fast. He said that it should be played at a pace where you can march to it. Perhaps he had a similar view about the Wedding March.

Toward the end of the piece, Horowitz plays the octaves much faster and more easily than Gavrylyuk than does. Furthermore, from a musical perspective, Horowitz greatly surpasses Gavrylyuk. So I'm not convinced that Gavrylyuk can equal Horowitz, even from a purely technical perspective.

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Whsn I was growing up, only Horowitz and Rachmaninov were capable of playing the Rachmaninov Third Concerto. Then Willy Kapell was the first young American to play it. Now every 14-year-old Korean girl with tiny hands plays it!

Horowitz and Rachmaninov may have been the only people who had chosen to record Rach 3, but I'm sure that Josef Lhevinne also could have played it. I also wonder about Rubinstein and Arrau. Although they weren't virtuosi on the level of Horowitz, Rubinstein or Arrau might've been able to give an adequate performance of Rach 3.

In Harold Schonberg's book The Great Pianists, which was published in 1987, Schonberg said that some people are under the impression that current pianists have better technique than pianists from the early part of the twentieth century, but nothing could be further from the truth. Schonberg pointed out that pianists such as Hofmann, Rachmaninov, Lhevinne, and Moiseiwitsch possessed technical ability that is now practically nonexistent. The same might hold true for today. There are certainly a lot of technically advanced pianists, but would their technique be able to rival that of Hofmann, Rachmaninov, and Lhevinne?


Edited by LaReginadellaNotte (08/18/12 11:21 PM)

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#1945241 - 08/18/12 11:11 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
Mark_C Offline
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(BTW, just a detail about the Harold Schonberg book:
1987 was the updated edition. The original was 1963.)


Great breakdown/comparison there by LaReginadellaNotte.
I love it. smile

Nobody should doubt that Horowitz could have played the runs "faster" if he'd felt like it. For all his technical wizardry, to me he never gave the slightest impression that he thought playing the piano was any kind of race. What Horowitz was about wasn't speed, but range of expression and effects.

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#1945244 - 08/18/12 11:23 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Kuanpiano Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Kuanpiano
Once Horowitz and Rachmaninoff were listening to a record of Cortot playing the Chopin etudes. They started joking: "Oh, his playing is so musical, especially in the most difficult sections!".

Oh yes, that one. If anything permanently ruined Cortot for me, it is those two titans.

I realize Cortot is highly regarded in some circles (every note -and wrong note- fawned over with a cultish admiration), but I just don't get it all. Every couple years I check in again with a Cortot recording, but I remain unconvinced of his stature.

Talk about the emperor's clothes...

I don't know much about Cortot, but I will admit the insight he brings while playing this piece by Schumann is astonishing:
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#1945274 - 08/19/12 01:30 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte

Horowitz and Rachmaninov may have been the only people who had chosen to record Rach 3, but I'm sure that Josef Lhevinne also could have played it.

No doubt Lhevinne would have played it magnificently (but did he ever?) and I still would love to have heard his NYC debut with Rubinstein 5. As I have posted before, if anyone could bring off that bombastic slug-fest (the coda of the first movement alone), it would be Lhevinne.

There are two Gieseking recordings of Rachmaninov 3: 1938 with Barbirolli and 1940 (live) with Mengelberg. I've only heard the latter (thanks to wiki for news of the former), and whilst Gieseking takes the 'big' cadenza, I don't think the recording is particularly competitive compared to the usual suspects today.

Also I would like to mention that George Thalben-Ball -best known to British church musicians as organist for almost 60 years at London's the Temple Church- was the first English-trained pianist to play Rachmaninov 3... in 1915 at the age of 19!

Edit: listening to the Horowitz Wedding March posted above, I can only say mea culpa. Stupendous. (Too long since I last heard it.)


Edited by argerichfan (08/19/12 01:45 AM)
Edit Reason: Listened to Horowitz
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#1945292 - 08/19/12 04:06 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
allegro_concerto Offline
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Alfred Cortot was an exceptional musician, have a listen at this famous recording (made in 1919):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJot3tfsUBM

And don't forget Clara Haskil, Samson François and Dinu Lipatti were his students, among many others.

I also agree Gavrylyuk was not as good as Horowitz in the video. Technique is there to support music not the other way round. Music is not an Olympics of finger sprint where we award prizes for the fastest scales, fastest octaves and fastest thirds...

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#1945338 - 08/19/12 07:59 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
stores Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
In the latest issue of International Piano magazine two teachers said this in response to the question about how conservatory level pianists today differ from those 30-40-50 years ago:

Gary Graffman:
Whsn I was growing up, only Horowitz and Rachmaninov were capable of playing the Rachmaninov Third Concerto. Then Willy Kapell was the first young American to play it. Now every 14-year-old Korean girl with tiny hands plays it!

Alexander Braginsky: I have young kids playing repertoire that in my generation very few people could ever master. Eleven year olds playing Feux follets in a way that once only Ashkenazy and Berman and Richter could play it. I have two teenagers playing the Brahms Paganini Variations on a level that was hardly heard of when I was growing up in Russia. That said they are all much less cultured than 50 years ago.



Thank you. Gosh, it would seem I'm not the only idiot that doesn't know what he's talking about... go figure.
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#1945416 - 08/19/12 10:24 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Orange Soda King Offline
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I honestly like Michelangeli's technique more than Horowitz's, or Richter's, or maybe even Rachmaninoff's. But yeah, I think there are many many more pianists with insane technique these days than there used to be.

Of course, that's only speaking about technique. whistle

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#1945422 - 08/19/12 10:35 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: stores]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

Gary Graffman:
Whsn I was growing up, only Horowitz and Rachmaninov were capable of playing the Rachmaninov Third Concerto. Then Willy Kapell was the first young American to play it. Now every 14-year-old Korean girl with tiny hands plays it!
Alexander Braginsky: I have young kids playing repertoire that in my generation very few people could ever master. Eleven year olds playing Feux follets in a way that once only Ashkenazy and Berman and Richter could play it. I have two teenagers playing the Brahms Paganini Variations on a level that was hardly heard of when I was growing up in Russia. That said they are all much less cultured than 50 years ago.

Thank you. Gosh, it would seem I'm not the only idiot that doesn't know what he's talking about... go figure.


grin thumb
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#1945609 - 08/19/12 03:27 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Orange Soda King]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
I honestly like Michelangeli's technique more than Horowitz's, or Richter's, or maybe even Rachmaninoff's. But yeah, I think there are many many more pianists with insane technique these days than there used to be.

Of course, that's only speaking about technique. whistle

In what aspects of technique do you feel that Michelangeli surpassed Horowitz and Rachmaninov? Michelangeli is certainly one of the most precise pianists that I've ever heard.

Originally Posted By: stores
Thank you. Gosh, it would seem I'm not the only idiot that doesn't know what he's talking about... go figure.

I don't think that anyone denies that there are many current pianists with great technique. My question is whether any of those pianists could compete with the greatest technical giants of the early twentieth century. As Schonberg pointed out, pianists such as Lhévinne, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, and Horowitz were at a very high level of mechanical ability. He also claimed, in 1987, that it is incorrect to believe that modern pianists are technically superior to those people. Are there any living pianists who could match the manual dexterity of Horowitz, Lhévinne, Rachmaninov, or Hofmann?


Edited by LaReginadellaNotte (08/19/12 03:27 PM)

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#1945613 - 08/19/12 03:38 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
trigalg693 Offline
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte

I don't think that anyone denies that there are many current pianists with great technique. My question is whether any of those pianists could compete with the greatest technical giants of the early twentieth century. As Schonberg pointed out, pianists such as Lhévinne, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, and Horowitz were at a very high level of mechanical ability. He also claimed, in 1987, that it is incorrect to believe that modern pianists are technically superior to those people. Are there any living pianists who could match the manual dexterity of Horowitz, Lhévinne, Rachmaninov, or Hofmann?

Uh, is this a serious question? Hamelin? Argerich?

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#1945616 - 08/19/12 03:47 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Hamelin is a potential candidate, but I don't know about Argerich. While she obviously has extraordinary technique, I doubt that she could play the "Double Thirds" Etude as fluently as Lhévinne played it.

Granted, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain which pianist has the best technique. A pianist may excel at certain technical aspects, but not at others. Hofmann could play runs better than Rachmaninov could, but Rachmaninov could play chords and octaves better than Hofmann could.

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#1945636 - 08/19/12 04:20 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte

I don't think that anyone denies that there are many current pianists with great technique. My question is whether any of those pianists could compete with the greatest technical giants of the early twentieth century. As Schonberg pointed out, pianists such as Lhévinne, Hofmann, Rachmaninov, and Horowitz were at a very high level of mechanical ability. He also claimed, in 1987, that it is incorrect to believe that modern pianists are technically superior to those people.
One person's opinion does not make something true. It's possible he was correct, but you have to realize that Schonberg was a fanatic about "golden age" pianists in every aspect of their playing and somewhat prejudiced IMO about pianists not from that time.

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#1945640 - 08/19/12 04:28 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
Granted, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain which pianist has the best technique. A pianist may excel at certain technical aspects, but not at others. Hofmann could play runs better than Rachmaninov could, but Rachmaninov could play chords and octaves better than Hofmann could.
I think there are at least 20 pianists with such perfect overall technique that trying to say which one is the "best" is not worth discussing. And as you say, there are numerous aspects of technique and no one is best in all of them.

David Dubal gave an interesting lecture quite a while ago where he discussed many different aspects of technique and played recordings by a few examples of the pianists he thought were the best in each category. Even in a single category of technique I think one could name many pianists ted for the "best".

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#1945643 - 08/19/12 04:48 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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That sounds like a very interesting lecture. Is it available on video? Just out of curiosity, which piansts did Dubal consider the best in certain categories? I have some guesses as to who would have been included. For runs and repeated notes, Hofmann was unsurpassed. The top octave players probably included Horowitz, Rachmaninov, Lhévinne, Hamelin, and Argerich. For double note technique, Friedman, Lhévinne, and Hofmann were probably included.

As to comparing different technicians, it's true that we may never obtain a definite answer regarding who is the best, but I still think that it's interesting to discuss the topic. I enjoy intellectual exercises, especially ones that involve comparing and contrasting great musicians. For example, we may conclude that the pianist who excels in the greatest number of technical challenges is probably the top technician overall. Lhévinne was outstanding at both octaves and double notes. Argerich has excellent octaves, but her runs have never been as clearly articulated as those of Pollini, Horowitz, or Hofmann, and I have never heard her play double notes of the Lhévinne order. For those reasons, I think that Lhévinne was overall a better technician than Argerich was.


Edited by LaReginadellaNotte (08/19/12 04:49 PM)

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#1945667 - 08/19/12 05:43 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
acortot Offline
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piano-technique can be based on muscle-memory, founded on hours of mechanical repetition until the phrases sound 'perfect' and beyond criticism

it can also be based on artistic thought, where the technique is under the pianist's complete control

Chopin could improvise for hours. This to me means he had a very strong technique, in the sense that he played what he envisioned...

can the musical artists of today improvise like the old masters?

Jazz Pianists are constantly improvising and interacting on-the-fly. I believe that it is this mental connection with the music that gives Jazz pianists the kind of technique that Chopin or Liszt used to have

in fact, before 1860 or so, to be considered a great pianist one had to play his own compositions

'muscle memory' technique has more of an athletic approach. The pianists who practice endless repetition may play correctly but I would not call their technique good because it has been tainted by the physical aspect of playing

music is created in the mind, not in the fingers
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An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

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#1945680 - 08/19/12 06:04 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: acortot]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: acortot
piano-technique can be based on muscle-memory, founded on hours of mechanical repetition until the phrases sound 'perfect' and beyond criticism
All the great pianists of every age have this kind of technique. It is not something negative.

Originally Posted By: acortot
it can also be based on artistic thought, where the technique is under the pianist's complete control
Muscle memory isn't under a pianist's control?

Originally Posted By: acortot
Chopin could improvise for hours. This to me means he had a very strong technique, in the sense that he played what he envisioned...
Anyone can improvise for hours. While we can assume Chopin's improvisations were very great and at at high technical level this doesn't mean his improvisations were at the technical level of his compositions.

Originally Posted By: acortot
'muscle memory' technique has more of an athletic approach. The pianists who practice endless repetition may play correctly but I would not call their technique good because it has been tainted by the physical aspect of playing
All the great pianists have very good or great muscle memory technique in addition to their great musical understanding. All of them practiced endless repetition. As Alexander Braginsky has said playing the piano is half athletic and half mind(of course, he didn't mean exactly half and half...he just meant there is an important athletic part)






Edited by pianoloverus (08/19/12 06:07 PM)

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#1945685 - 08/19/12 06:15 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
As to comparing different technicians, it's true that we may never obtain a definite answer regarding who is the best, but I still think that it's interesting to discuss the topic. I enjoy intellectual exercises, especially ones that involve comparing and contrasting great musicians. For example, we may conclude that the pianist who excels in the greatest number of technical challenges is probably the top technician overall. Lhévinne was outstanding at both octaves and double notes. Argerich has excellent octaves, but her runs have never been as clearly articulated as those of Pollini, Horowitz, or Hofmann, and I have never heard her play double notes of the Lhévinne order. For those reasons, I think that Lhévinne was overall a better technician than Argerich was.
There are a lot more than two or three aspects to technique. That's why trying to rank pianists in terms of their "technique"(even if one could rank the individual aspect of their technique precisely...which one can't)is IMO fruitless. I think the best one can try to do is have some broad ranking categories for great technician.

Same thing for composers. Most would put Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and some others in the highest category. But why try and decide if Mozart comes before Beethoven or vice versa?


Edited by pianoloverus (08/19/12 06:16 PM)

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#1945746 - 08/19/12 07:52 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: LaReginadellaNotte
I think that Lhévinne was overall a better technician than Argerich was.

I suspect she would agree with that. As you say, it is an 'intellectual exercise', and nothing more, eh?

The point is that Argerich -like an experienced cook- has put all the ingredients together in a sumptuous recipe, and if certain pianists exceed her in double notes, scales, or octaves, what of it? That does not diminish her stature. I have no problem rating Argerich over Hofmann, Hamelin, Friedman, Lhévinne, or even Pollini. I have heard recordings of all of those pianists, but IMO they don't bring quite as much to the table as Argerich.

Charles Rosen -a student of Hofmann- claimed that he had the most effortless technique (speaking of Chopin Op 10/1), but he does not comment on Hofmann's interpretations of the masterworks. Hofmann was a pianist of his time, but unlike Rachmaninov, I don't think his recordings are more than a curiosity today.
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#1945752 - 08/19/12 08:03 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: allegro_concerto]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: allegro_concerto

And don't forget Clara Haskil, Samson François and Dinu Lipatti were his students, among many others.

How could I forget? thumb

But sorry to rain (or reign) on the parade, but IMO those pianists -particularly François- have left recordings which are far greater than anything I've heard from Cortot. I guess (a) you had to have been there or (b) had to appreciate how 'musical' he was.

Cortot's pedagogical stature is not in any way questioned.
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#1945756 - 08/19/12 08:11 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
Andromaque Offline
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why so green Jason?

Everytime I see the title of this thread, my brain responds with
"he had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad technique. There!".
I personally fail to see the relevance of these comparisons. People sound like they are discussing breeding racehorses or NASCAR drivers for fastest, recklessest and so on.

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#1945765 - 08/19/12 08:34 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Andromaque]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Andromaque
why so green Jason?

I don't get it. 'Green' to me is everything that George Will and Bill Kristol oppose.
Quote:
I personally fail to see the relevance of these comparisons.

I don't either, though I'll 'play' along. But I do wonder if Argerich's octaves were the equal of Horowitz and Rachmaninov, would she be a greater pianist?
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#1945779 - 08/19/12 08:50 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
allegro_concerto Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: allegro_concerto

And don't forget Clara Haskil, Samson François and Dinu Lipatti were his students, among many others.

How could I forget? thumb

But sorry to rain (or reign) on the parade, but IMO those pianists -particularly François- have left recordings which are far greater than anything I've heard from Cortot. I guess (a) you had to have been there or (b) had to appreciate how 'musical' he was.

Cortot's pedagogical stature is not in any way questioned.


Well, that 1919 recording impressed Horowitz and me, and it suggested to me at the height of his powers, he must have been an extraordinary pianist.

Leopold Godowsky was another pianist with extremely outstanding technique, but I could not tell this from a number of recordings we had of him today. But that does not make him a lesser pianist in my view.

I think since Chopin etc.. were all dead with no recordings, there is little point to speculate how good their technique was, it is much more productive to work on our technique instead.

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#1945788 - 08/19/12 09:05 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: allegro_concerto]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: allegro_concerto

Leopold Godowsky was another pianist with extremely outstanding technique, but I could not tell this from a number of recordings we had of him today.

Not his recording of the Chopin E major Scherzo? I think that is magnificent, unmatched in my experience. I have never been a big fan of Rubinstein, generally preferring Ashkenazy in this repertoire, but Godowsky was really something else.

I fail to see why you are so upset that some of us may not rate Cortot as highly as you do. It is certainly not a personal attack.

Lighten up my mate. wink
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#1945807 - 08/19/12 09:35 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
Andromaque Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Andromaque
why so green Jason?

I don't get it. 'Green' to me is everything that George Will and Bill Cristol oppose.


Referring to your avatar darling. Or whatever the little green or yellow heads next to user names are called. The green one you are sporting (unknowingly?) is decidedly sickly, dengue or ebola or something of the sort.

Bill kristol? why waste your time?

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#1945842 - 08/19/12 10:45 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Andromaque]
argerichfan Offline
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Originally Posted By: Andromaque

Referring to your avatar darling. Or whatever the little green or yellow heads next to user names are called. The green one you are sporting (unknowingly?) is decidedly sickly, dengue or ebola or something of the sort.

Oh. I see what you mean, not terribly appetizing. Since returning from Paris last May I have lost a lot of weight, does PW track this? laugh

Better we leave Kristol alone... what an evil warmonger, but I digress. blush
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#1945849 - 08/19/12 11:10 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
LaReginadellaNotte Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

There are a lot more than two or three aspects to technique. That's why trying to rank pianists in terms of their "technique"(even if one could rank the individual aspect of their technique precisely...which one can't)is IMO fruitless. I think the best one can try to do is have some broad ranking categories for great technician.

Same thing for composers. Most would put Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and some others in the highest category. But why try and decide if Mozart comes before Beethoven or vice versa?

Obviously, there are a lot more than three aspects of technique. Perhaps the most reliable method of assessment would be to list as many technical aspects as possible and to determine which pianist(s) excel in the greatest number of aspects. In some cases, it will be obvious that one pianist- in practically every conceivable way- is a better technician than another. I think that we can all agree that Argerich and Horowitz are/were much better technicians than Brendel is.

However, even when assessing supervirtuosi, sometimes we can conclude that one person (at least in certain aspects) is superior to another. For example, in Rachmaninov's biography, it describes an octave contest between the composer and Lhévinne. They were trying to see who could play the fastest octaves, and Rachmaninov won. That suggests that Rachmaninov had better octaves than Lhévinne did. In addition, Rachmaninov declared that Horowitz had the fastest and loudest octaves, which suggests that Horowitz had better octaves than either Rachmaninov or Lhévinne.

Also, we could compare Horowitz to Volodos (an extraordinary technician in his own right). Volodos recorded Horowitz's transcription of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody #2, and- for the most part- Volodos' technique doesn't compare to that of the Maestro. Horowitz plays the runs more evenly and easily than Volodos does, and the Maestro's octaves are much more sonorous and exciting than Volodos' octaves. There is one repeated note passage that Volodos plays more cleanly than Horowitz does, but overall, Horowitz displays better technique. My point is that even when comparing virtuosi of extremely high calibers, we may find solid evidence that one is better than the other.

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
The point is that Argerich -like an experienced cook- has put all the ingredients together in a sumptuous recipe, and if certain pianists exceed her in double notes, scales, or octaves, what of it? That does not diminish her stature. I have no problem rating Argerich over Hofmann, Hamelin, Friedman, Lhévinne, or even Pollini.

I definitely agree that Argerich is an extraordinary pianist. She is a particular favorite of mine, and I definitely like her playing better than Pollini's. Few people can generate as much visceral excitement as Argerich does in virtuoso repertoire, but she is also surprisingly good in Bach.

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#1945931 - 08/20/12 04:26 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: pianoloverus]
acortot Offline
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Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: acortot
piano-technique can be based on muscle-memory, founded on hours of mechanical repetition until the phrases sound 'perfect' and beyond criticism
All the great pianists of every age have this kind of technique. It is not something negative.

Originally Posted By: acortot
it can also be based on artistic thought, where the technique is under the pianist's complete control
Muscle memory isn't under a pianist's control?

Originally Posted By: acortot
Chopin could improvise for hours. This to me means he had a very strong technique, in the sense that he played what he envisioned...
Anyone can improvise for hours. While we can assume Chopin's improvisations were very great and at at high technical level this doesn't mean his improvisations were at the technical level of his compositions.

Originally Posted By: acortot
'muscle memory' technique has more of an athletic approach. The pianists who practice endless repetition may play correctly but I would not call their technique good because it has been tainted by the physical aspect of playing
All the great pianists have very good or great muscle memory technique in addition to their great musical understanding. All of them practiced endless repetition. As Alexander Braginsky has said playing the piano is half athletic and half mind(of course, he didn't mean exactly half and half...he just meant there is an important athletic part)






yes of course muscle memory is necessary but a technique which is based on endless repetition, perhaps while reading a book, is not in the same league as a technique developed with absolute concentration (which is far more energy-consuming mentally)

This is why Chopin got very angry if his students studied more than a couple of hours a day, and perhaps why he suggested that students take rests every once in a while to regenerate their mental energies

Jazz players have to concentrate fully on their playing because they are constantly improvising, so that influences the WAY they study.. this is what I meant
_________________________
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An Article on the unusual makeup of original Pleyel hammers, during Chopin's lifetime:

http://acortot.blogspot.it/2012/07/pleyel-hammers-in-chopin-era-i-martelli.html

Max DiMario

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#1946436 - 08/20/12 09:37 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: argerichfan]
allegro_concerto Offline
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Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: allegro_concerto

Leopold Godowsky was another pianist with extremely outstanding technique, but I could not tell this from a number of recordings we had of him today.

Not his recording of the Chopin E major Scherzo? I think that is magnificent, unmatched in my experience. I have never been a big fan of Rubinstein, generally preferring Ashkenazy in this repertoire, but Godowsky was really something else.

I fail to see why you are so upset that some of us may not rate Cortot as highly as you do. It is certainly not a personal attack.

Lighten up my mate. wink


Actually I am not upset at all, I am actually not a big fan of Alfred Cortot myself, but I do have a lot of respect for him as a pianist and as a teacher. I just felt some comments relating to Cortot were unjustified, hence my comments etc...

That recording of Chopin E major Scherzo was very well played, with brilliant technique and I have never heard of this recording until just now.

It seems strange we have one (?) brilliant recording of Godowsky and not so great recordings elsewhere, and similarly for Cortot, but then Cortot is regarded as a "bad" pianist...

I reckon if I had a fraction of Godowksy or Cortot's talent, I can die happy.

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#1946561 - 08/21/12 07:26 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: acortot]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: acortot
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: acortot
piano-technique can be based on muscle-memory, founded on hours of mechanical repetition until the phrases sound 'perfect' and beyond criticism
All the great pianists of every age have this kind of technique. It is not something negative.

Originally Posted By: acortot
it can also be based on artistic thought, where the technique is under the pianist's complete control
Muscle memory isn't under a pianist's control?

Originally Posted By: acortot
Chopin could improvise for hours. This to me means he had a very strong technique, in the sense that he played what he envisioned...
Anyone can improvise for hours. While we can assume Chopin's improvisations were very great and at at high technical level this doesn't mean his improvisations were at the technical level of his compositions.

Originally Posted By: acortot
'muscle memory' technique has more of an athletic approach. The pianists who practice endless repetition may play correctly but I would not call their technique good because it has been tainted by the physical aspect of playing
All the great pianists have very good or great muscle memory technique in addition to their great musical understanding. All of them practiced endless repetition. As Alexander Braginsky has said playing the piano is half athletic and half mind(of course, he didn't mean exactly half and half...he just meant there is an important athletic part)
yes of course muscle memory is necessary but a technique which is based on endless repetition, perhaps while reading a book, is not in the same league as a technique developed with absolute concentration (which is far more energy-consuming mentally)
Your reply seems to have little to do with my comments. Who said anything about reading a book or not concentrating? All I said was that the athletic part of piano playing is an important one.

Some very great pianists did practice technique while reading a book and it worked for them although it may not be a good idea for most. As long as one's technique allows one to do whatever one wants, I don't think it matters how it's achieved.


Edited by pianoloverus (08/21/12 07:44 AM)

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#2016705 - 01/18/13 12:28 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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I read many biographies on Freddy in my youth, and history indicates that he was the complete package. His volume range, particularly ppp was unmatched. Before he contracted TB, he concertised extensively. Also, he supposedly took Liszt to task often for adding fireworks to Chopin's compositions.

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#2016745 - 01/18/13 01:50 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: jdott]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: jdott
I read many biographies on Freddy in my youth, and history indicates that he was the complete package. His volume range, particularly ppp was unmatched. Before he contracted TB, he concertised extensively. Also, he supposedly took Liszt to task often for adding fireworks to Chopin's compositions.

thumb Well said!
Although, I'm not sure about the "extensive" concertizing. It depends what we mean by concerts. I imagine he played dozens or maybe hundreds of "salons," "soirees" etc., but I recall reading that he probably didn't play more than about a couple dozen what we'd now call concerts. (Not sure I'm right about this, but I think that's what I saw.)


edit: I checked it out a little and this appears to be so.


Edited by Mark_C (01/18/13 01:52 PM)

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#2016781 - 01/18/13 03:23 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: jdott]
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Originally Posted By: jdott
I read many biographies on Freddy in my youth, and history indicates that he was the complete package. His volume range, particularly ppp was unmatched. Before he contracted TB, he concertised extensively. Also, he supposedly took Liszt to task often for adding fireworks to Chopin's compositions.


"Freddy"? Really?

I would like to know where you get this information. It has been documented in the biographies that I have read that Chopin gave relatively few concerts in his adult years. In some of which he did give, he was criticized for having a weak tone that did not project well.

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#2016788 - 01/18/13 03:45 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: BruceD]
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Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: jdott
I read many biographies on Freddy in my youth, and history indicates that he was the complete package. His volume range, particularly ppp was unmatched. Before he contracted TB, he concertised extensively. Also, he supposedly took Liszt to task often for adding fireworks to Chopin's compositions.


"Freddy"? Really?

I would like to know where you get this information. It has been documented in the biographies that I have read that Chopin gave relatively few concerts in his adult years. In some of which he did give, he was criticized for having a weak tone that did not project well.

Regards,


In those days, opera was the primary entertainment for the masses, so I imagine any critic would have been expecting the operatic approach to projection. Chopin's music is unusually intimate and gentle, and he played with a very wide tonal palette, so it's easy to imagine that the comment about a "weak tone" is based on the tastes of the day. It only takes a read through one of his Preludes compared to Liszt's to understand how far ahead of the curve he was. That's not to say he wasn't frail, but it has never taken a lot of physical effort to play loudly, certainly not on pianos of the day.

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#2016796 - 01/18/13 04:08 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: jdott]
pianoloverus Online   content
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Originally Posted By: jdott
I read many biographies on Freddy in my youth, and history indicates that he was the complete package. His volume range, particularly ppp was unmatched. Before he contracted TB, he concertised extensively. Also, he supposedly took Liszt to task often for adding fireworks to Chopin's compositions.
Not according to what I've read.

Any biographies or articles I'm familiar with make a point of how few concerts he gave in his life. And many of them, while praising his playing to the skies and commenting on his control at very soft levels, talk about his very soft overall playing which would imply a lack of dynamic range in his playing. This second aspect of his playing we can't ever be sure about because "dynamic range" can depend on the standards of a particular time or the personal definition of those who commented on Chopin's playing.

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#2016798 - 01/18/13 04:13 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: JoelW]
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Although the subject of Chopin's technique is very interesting to me, it's a shame we will never know for sure. I'm just glad he wrote his stuff down.

Where exactly did you read that Chopin concertized regularly before catching TB? I've never heard that.

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#2016899 - 01/18/13 08:12 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: BruceD]
jdott Offline
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I said before he contracted TB, which, if memory serves, was in his early twenties. I believe he was in his late teens when he toured Europe, then spent most of his time in Paris. What's wrong with 'Freddy?'. He wasn't a God; he was a great composer.

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#2017004 - 01/19/13 12:19 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: jdott]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: jdott
What's wrong with 'Freddy?'....

I thought it was pretty funny. smile

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#2017982 - 01/20/13 06:42 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: jdott]
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Nobody knows when Chopin contracted TB (if that's what he had). He was having serious pulmonary trouble by the time he was fifteen if not a good bit earlier. He was fifteen when he was treated at a spa along with his younger sister who was also ill. His sister died, he got better, temporarily at least. He first used the dreaded C word, consumption, in his late 20's when he became very ill while in Majorca with George Sand. He was described as a consumptive by third parties a good bit earlier than that. And possibly diagnosed for all we know. He had a lion's heart and was a master of denial.

Chopin never concertized extensively. His lifetime total is something like thirty and almost none of them were the extensive affairs we would think of as a concert by a major artist today. You may be thinking of the killing concert schedule he was depicted as following in A Song to Remember. Blood on the keys and all that. That never happened, though ironically he did give his last concerts, a handful, in England and Scotland, when he was very ill because he was adrift after George Sand dumped him and very broke.

Chopin flat out hated playing for strangers in public. He said it suffocated him. According to George Sand, his ideal venue would've been a dark stage, an empty hall, and a muted piano.
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#2018010 - 01/20/13 07:50 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
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Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: jdott
What's wrong with 'Freddy?'....

I thought it was pretty funny. smile


Freddy Krueger was (? is) invincible, unlike Frederyk Chopin..... wink
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#2018014 - 01/20/13 07:55 PM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: -Frycek]
Mark_C Offline
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Originally Posted By: -Frycek
....He first used the dreaded C word, consumption, in his late 20's when he became very ill while in Majorca with George Sand....

I think what they called consumption probably included the thing that is our dreaded C word, as well as TB (which was probably what it usually was) and other things.

BTW great post, Frycek -- and great to see you on here. smile

What you said about his performing is in line with what I've ever come across. And I don't think even "Song to Remember" gives much of an impression that it was otherwise, even though they have him doing that breakneck final tour.

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#2018157 - 01/21/13 03:35 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: Mark_C]
-Frycek Offline
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Quote:
I think what they called consumption probably included the thing that is our dreaded C word, as well as TB (which was probably what it usually was) and other things.


I've often wondered the same thing, how much of a catch all term consumption was, though I suppose even then a canny physician would have realized a difference in the symptoms between lung cancer and tuberculosis - which are distinctly different. Don't really know how prevalent lung cancer was in the early 19th century.

Quote:
What you said about his performing is in line with what I've ever come across. And I don't think even "Song to Remember" gives much of an impression that it was otherwise, even though they have him doing that breakneck final tour.

It was the breakneck final tour I was thinking about. You're right though, now that I remember, in the movie some Polish rebels/exiles (?) guilt tripped him into doing even that.
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#2018247 - 01/21/13 09:29 AM Re: How good do you think Chopin's technique was? [Re: -Frycek]
carey Offline
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Originally Posted By: -Frycek
Quote:
What you said about his performing is in line with what I've ever come across. And I don't think even "Song to Remember" gives much of an impression that it was otherwise, even though they have him doing that breakneck final tour.

It was the breakneck final tour I was thinking about. You're right though, now that I remember, in the movie some Polish rebels/exiles (?) guilt tripped him into doing even that.


As I recall, the film (which I saw a couple of years ago) was an entertaining piece of fiction which wove Chopin's hit tunes into a series of implausible vignettes. For example, the scene where Chopin first met Liszt featured the Opus 53 Polonaise which I'm certain was composed well after their initial meeting actually took place. The breakneck final tour just made me laugh. But, to its credit, "Song" increased public awareness of Chopin's music in general.
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