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#2118118 - 07/15/13 05:34 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
It seems to me that Beethoven did not have a sufficient understanding of the human voice to write idiomatically for it. Many other composers did have that knowledge. I have been involved with professional singers for 50 years, and not one has said to me they enjoyed singing Beethoven 9. To them, it is poorly written. They perform the work because they get paid. For them , it is a form of prostitution.

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#2118181 - 07/15/13 07:59 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: Mwm
It seems to me that Beethoven did not have a sufficient understanding of the human voice to write idiomatically for it. Many other composers did have that knowledge. I have been involved with professional singers for 50 years, and not one has said to me they enjoyed singing Beethoven 9. To them, it is poorly written. They perform the work because they get paid. For them , it is a form of prostitution.

This strikes me as being so unfair, unless -as it appears- you have an axe to grind.

I have sung it myself, I have a friend in the UK who has done it professionally several times, and I had some other UK friends who also sang it. NONE of them -whilst admitting a difficult slog- ever said that Beethoven's writing was poorly written, just a challenge (if a nuisance) to be met. Singing in that performance was an experience I shall never forget; collectively we knew we were taking part in an extraordinary experience.

Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. Even his well meaning (if a bit naive) cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick has always demonstrated to me that Beethoven was utterly incapable of writing bad music. Like the Choral Fantasy -which has always been fair game to the critics- that Congress of Vienna work has an honesty and integrity to it that I find profoundly moving.

I am very sorry that Beethoven is a bit of a closed book for you. But to use the word 'prostitution' in reference to anything of Beethoven seems a most unfortunate choice of words.
_________________________
Jason

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#2118191 - 07/15/13 08:15 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Mw,

How about Fidelio? I can't think of any other opera that goes out of its way to show how badly a singer can be made to sound.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2118192 - 07/15/13 08:16 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: argerichfan]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Argerich,

"Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. "

I beg to differ!
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2118233 - 07/15/13 09:18 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4931
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi Argerich,

"Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. "

I beg to differ!


In what way?

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#2118236 - 07/15/13 09:23 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: JoelW]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
To start with, how about every soprano aria in Fidelio?
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2118483 - 07/16/13 10:44 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2392
Loc: San Jose, CA
Back to the OP: Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are the best examples I can think of, when it comes to great piano music written by non-pianists.

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#2118773 - 07/16/13 09:22 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
To start with, how about every soprano aria in Fidelio?

Ouch! You drive a hard bargain. One of my favourite German arias of all time:



Apparently no one told Ludwig (or Nilsson or Flagstad) that this is an awful piece of music. Beethoven apparently wasn't trying to be a Rossini.

Though Ludwig is having more fun here: (You need to watch this!)



I suppose we might wonder if Fidelio had been written by anyone else, would the opera still be in the repertory today? Perhaps the magic attachment of Beethoven's name is sufficient to grant anything the status of Parnassus.

But I don't think so. As one who has worked with many singers over the years, none of them had much praise for Beethoven's writing for voice, but, then again, none of them IIRC put up much of a fuss. Great music is not always convenient, and Abscheulicher isn't very easy for the pianist either!

How well I know. cry
_________________________
Jason

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#2118796 - 07/16/13 10:04 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
This too:

_________________________
Jason

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#2118860 - 07/17/13 12:03 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: argerichfan]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2119049 - 07/17/13 12:16 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]
worov Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/13/08
Posts: 115
Loc: Paris
Is anyone aware that Donizetti composed for piano ?

Donizetti : La ricordanza for piano

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#2119158 - 07/17/13 03:48 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: worov]
ronde des sylphes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/08
Posts: 31
Loc: Scotland
Ligeti Etudes (though their merit is a question of taste).

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#2119162 - 07/17/13 04:03 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2392
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.


Beethoven's genius was in making memorable music out of material that isn't strictly melodic. It's often no more complicated than a scale or arpeggio, and you think, "why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.

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#2119699 - 07/18/13 03:38 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
didyougethathing Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/11
Posts: 545
Loc: New York
Has anyone mentioned Respighi? He has a few really neat piano pieces including the Three Preludes on Greogrian Melodies.



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#2119914 - 07/18/13 11:18 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: jeffreyjones]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3489
Loc: US
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.



Beethoven's genius was in making memorable music out of material that isn't strictly melodic. It's often no more complicated than a scale or arpeggio, and you think, "why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


+1 Thank you!

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#2119939 - 07/19/13 12:09 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: jeffreyjones]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
"why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


Oh Jeff Honey,

I don't want to make this sound any more challenging than it must already. But are you saying the Mozart was somehow less of a composer because he could write better tunes than Beethoven?
Are you saying people don't revere Mozart?


Come on...
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2119940 - 07/19/13 12:10 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: didyougethathing]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Did you,

I think Respighi is the first name added tot his thread that actually qualifies.
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2119956 - 07/19/13 12:52 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8934
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg

I think Respighi is the first name added to this thread that actually qualifies.

Not true. I mentioned Edward Elgar a lot earlier, but perhaps you conveniently missed that. IMO Elgar is a greater composer than Respighi, who is more about flash and glitter than substance. I never hear any flash and glitter in Elgar.

Of course Americans generally find Elgar suspect for all sorts of pumped up and silly reasons, and cannot actually listen to his music. The usual Colonel Blimp and Empire, which is such ignorant nonsense, but Americans -unlike the rest of the world- just don't get the irony of it all.
_________________________
Jason

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#2119958 - 07/19/13 01:18 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: argerichfan]
laguna_greg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/13
Posts: 1382
Loc: guess where in CA and WA
Hi Argerich,

I'll concede the point. My only reservation was that Elgar was more of a pianist than Respighi, who could hardly play the piano at all...although I wasn't there in person...


...and I like Elgar's music very, very much, especially the Serenade (wonderful in so many ways), and the cello concerto...


Edited by laguna_greg (07/19/13 01:20 AM)
_________________________
Laguna Greg

1919 Mason & Hamlin AA
1931 Bechstein C - now sold
http://www.triangleassociates-us.com/about_us (my day job)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Taubman (a recent article I wrote about one of my teachers)

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#2119973 - 07/19/13 02:23 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2392
Loc: San Jose, CA
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
"why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


Oh Jeff Honey,

I don't want to make this sound any more challenging than it must already. But are you saying the Mozart was somehow less of a composer because he could write better tunes than Beethoven?
Are you saying people don't revere Mozart?


Come on...


That's not what I said at all. And I would not want to be the one trying to argue either Mozart or Beethoven was greater than the other.

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#2119975 - 07/19/13 02:29 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]
BDB Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21907
Loc: Oakland
There are tons of gorgeous melodies in Beethoven's music. His ability to develop even the simplest motives tends to overshadow them, that and the fact that his melodies are often so broad that they defy the human voice.
_________________________
Semipro Tech

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#2120094 - 07/19/13 10:13 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: BDB]
Mwm Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/13
Posts: 752
Originally Posted By: BDB
There are tons of gorgeous melodies in Beethoven's music. His ability to develop even the simplest motives tends to overshadow them, that and the fact that his melodies are often so broad that they defy the human voice.

Well said!

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