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#2155195 - 09/21/13 07:07 PM lesser known composers
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Is it just me or do most pianists nowadays seem not to perform works of neglected composers? Am I wrong or is there a reason I haven't come across Zimerman playing Medtner's Sonata Remeniszenca (I have no idea how that's spelt)? Or Barenboim playing Leschetizky or that Russian guy whose name escapes me?
Why is it always down to Hamelin?


Edited by TheHappyMoron (09/21/13 07:09 PM)
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#2155208 - 09/21/13 07:26 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19230
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Is it just me or do most pianists nowadays seem not to perform works of neglected composers?
Yes, by definition.
Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Am I wrong or is there a reason I haven't come across Zimerman playing Medtner's Sonata Remeniszenca (I have no idea how that's spelt)? Or Barenboim playing Leschetizky or that Russian guy whose name escapes me? Why is it always down to Hamelin?
I think there are probably a variety of reasons why some pianists play more of the less standard repertoire than most other pianists. A few of those reasons might be personal preference, the amount of freedom they have to choose their programs, and whether they think the tremendous effort is worth the reward(for supremely difficult composers like Alkan and Godowsky).

Medtner is reasonably popular although IMO not nearly as popular as he should be. Most would probably say Leschetizky is a very minor composer.


Edited by pianoloverus (09/21/13 07:47 PM)

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#2155214 - 09/21/13 07:35 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13763
Loc: Iowa City, IA
My guess is that it's a marketing problem. It's hard to sell tickets to Medtner, especially to a public that doesn't like to take chances on repertoire (and pianists) it isn't familiar with.

That being said, there are several pianists who play unfamiliar repertoire. Tharaud, Hough, and Aimard come to mind. And just a couple of weeks ago, I heard a program that included the F# minor Dussek sonata and the first Auerbach sonata.

Unfamiliar repertoire is out there, you just have to find adventurous performers. (And performers with high profile careers are almost by definition not adventurous, since they have to appeal to a very broad audience to make a living.)
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#2155222 - 09/21/13 07:46 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
pianoloverus Offline
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Registered: 05/29/01
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Loc: New York City
The performance venue and expected audience may also have something to do with it. For example, most of the Carnegie Hall recitals I have attended seem to feature works mostly by the most well known fifteen or so composers, but the concerts at the Mannes IKIF, in a 300 seat hall and an audience with many pianophiles, seem to have somewhat more adventurous programming.

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#2155245 - 09/21/13 08:27 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Is it just me or do most pianists nowadays seem not to perform works of neglected composers? Am I wrong or is there a reason I haven't come across Zimerman playing Medtner's Sonata Remeniszenca (I have no idea how that's spelt)? Or Barenboim playing Leschetizky or that Russian guy whose name escapes me?
Why is it always down to Hamelin?


Zimerman plays Bacewicz - which is even further off the beaten path than Medtner.

Berezovsky, OTOH, does play Medtner. As do Sudbin and Kissin, at least on recordings. Steven Osborne spent an entire season touring with Messiaen's 20 Peeps, and has recorded Alkan. Mustonen also did an Alkan recording. Yuja Wang has given world premieres of works by Higden and Shchedrin, although I don't know if there were any subsequent performances. Argerich also did a Shchedrin premiere, of his double concerto for piano and cello. Ohlsson just released a recording of Griffes earlier this year, and has often played music outside of the standard rep. Denk has performed Ives and Ligeti. Etc. Etc.

Of course, it is true that there are those whose repertoires are limited to a few "major" works by "major" composers. I think of them as the museum curators, and even though they can be very fine indeed, they still represent a kind of dead end in classical music. IMO.

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#2155247 - 09/21/13 08:39 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: wr]
bennevis Offline
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Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4850
Let's not forget Maurizio Pollini performing Stockhausen, Luigi Nono and Boulez. Though it's fair to say that he's in a minority among superstar pianists in performing music that few people would want to listen to.

Even a relatively major composer like Szymanowski is hardly played by non-Polish pianists (and Zimerman himself only started playing him fairly recently).

Part of the problem is that pianists are so spoiled for choice, as evidenced by Schnabel's proclaimation that he only wanted to play 'music that is greater than it could ever be performed', which to his mind meant only the Viennese classics. And people like Brendel have built careers almost entirely on it.

Whereas clarinettists and flute players, and even violinists have to branch out somewhat, and play music by 'minor composers' to have a decent repertoire.

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#2155262 - 09/21/13 09:49 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6096
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
We had an "Unsung Heroes" recital here some time ago which was quite interesting in this respect.
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#2155263 - 09/21/13 09:52 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7516
Loc: New York City
Chopin is the most neglected piano composer. Why is it that no one plays Chopin any more?

In all seriousness, Percy Grainger deserves some recognition, although much of his music falls into the category of "party music," or "bar music," or whatever you want to call it. grin (Not all of it, though.)
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#2155272 - 09/21/13 10:16 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: ChopinAddict]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3847
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
We had an "Unsung Heroes" recital here some time ago which was quite interesting in this respect.


Originally Posted By: wr
[...] Zimerman plays Bacewicz [...] Berezovsky, OTOH, does play Medtner. [...] Mustonen also did an Alkan recording. Yuja Wang has given world premieres of works by Higden and Shchedrin, although I don't know if there were any subsequent performances. Argerich also did a Shchedrin premiere, of his double concerto for piano and cello. Ohlsson just released a recording of Griffes earlier this year, and has often played music outside of the standard rep. Denk has performed Ives and Ligeti. Etc. Etc. [...]


wr plays Koechlin. smile


Edited by Cinnamonbear (09/21/13 10:18 PM)
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#2155361 - 09/22/13 04:27 AM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1709
Loc: Helsinki, finland
Be as it may, I know of many cases with less-known pianists that use the fact that they perform repertoire that few others do as their main 'marketing tool'. At one point, Hamelin made a rather true and interesting statement regarding many "neglected" composers. Forgive my paraphrasing, but it roughly went like this - 'is it flawless, perfect music? No, but are your friends flawless and perfect? You like them in spite of their imperfections', and the same goes, then, for many neglected composers. Think about it for a moment - there really were very few craftsmen like Ravel, but there were composers in his surroundings that were not that but are still worthy of SOME attention - Florent Schmitt, Jean Cras, Koechlin, tons of others.

Of course, there's also a real irony in that in the big concert halls we get to hear the "mainstream" classical music - those 15-20 names that everyone with basic knowledge in classical music knows of. Were those names mainstream when the composers were alive, or even long after they died? Think of Paris in the first half of the 19th century - piano virtuosos everywhere, writing crappy (in the case of most of those composers, yes) operatic paraphrases to earn money. Henri Herz wrote somewhere under 1000 paraphrases, I read! In this milieu there was also one fellow who rarely performed concerts, who despised all of the virtuosos, and who also hardly had any 'real' colleagues among composers - he despised Schumann, had a troublesome relation with Liszt, etc etc....that was Chopin. Nowadays the most performed piano composer ever, more or less. What about Bach? Who cared about his fugues or about anything else he wrote decades after his death? Mendelssohns revival did lots for Bach, but that was quite a bit after his death...etc etc. My point is that a lot of what is our mainstream today is music written by a bunch of oddballs that didn't always fit in well. Chopin is a clear example - nobody today knows a thing about the operatic paraphrases by the average Parisian virtuoso, but actually, that's what really sold well back then. Meanwhile, Chopin mainly earned money on teaching...
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#2155375 - 09/22/13 05:10 AM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
PrestoConFuocco Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/27/13
Posts: 92
"That Russian guy whose name escapes me" - do you mean about 200 different Russian composers? :P

I actually think about this a lot - "What if there's a really great compser out there, but nobody knows about how awesome he is because nobody botheres to play him?!"
But hey - pianists, just like us, prefer to play pieces that they know and love. Taking a "shot in the dark" by picking a random unknown composer and playing him without having any other performance to use as a point of reference can be really frustrating (I guess). So they prefer to stick to the basics.
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- Johann Sebastian Bach.

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#2158052 - 09/26/13 01:59 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Michael Sayers Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 881
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
The music of many lesser known 19th-century composers used to be very much in vogue such as that by Anton Rubinstein and Sinding, and I think maybe over time it has worked out that the public and also performers just don't like the music as much - and in addition there now is all of the 20th century repertoire to study.

Much of this music has a quaint feel and charm - it resonates with energy of a time and place that is very much in the past when every household wanted to have a piano and young ladies would swoon with Anton Rubinstein's Melody in F and might spend summer evenings tying threads around the legs of June bugs to watch them swirl around.

Even though this music - much of which has a particular, very innocent quality and unpretentious way of feeling - has been almost totally squeezed out of the repertoire, I think it is worth performing.

In a recital one can easily include a five to ten minute long composition by Raff, Leschetizky, Thalberg, Sinding, Henselt or Anton Rubinstein.

I've included Leschetizky's Intermezzo in Octaves with recitals a few times. Everyone seemed to like it.


M.

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#2158066 - 09/26/13 02:25 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Cheeto717 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 696
Loc: Pennsylvania
I'm a huge fan of Manuel Ponce, Nikolai Kapustin, Sergei Bortkiewicz, Felix Blumenfeld and some others. I would love to hear more of their works being performed.
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Working On:
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Beethoven: Op. 26
Brahms: Op. 120
Chopin: Op. 10

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#2158080 - 09/26/13 02:47 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: Cheeto717]
Plowboy Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/26/08
Posts: 2278
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
Yuja Wang will be performing Kapustin's Variations for Piano in Costa Mesa on Oct.13.
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#2158087 - 09/26/13 02:56 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
FSO Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/12
Posts: 853
Loc: UK, Brighton
The onus is on the performer; as seen but a brace and a half of posts above some pianists are including the slightly more obscure into their repertoire...I think society will like good music regardless of who it is by but, unfortunately, also be swayed further and further...as is only natural; I mean, um, imagine a tally chart in the mindbox; "I went to hear Chopin the other night, it was excellent!" puts a +1 in the Chopin box and, therefore, you are more likely to listen to Chopin too....and on and on with, assuming equal musical value, some composers being left by the wayside purely by accident, through no fault of anyone....um....as performers and presenters of literature, pianists shouldn't be afraid of putting lesser known works into their programmes; likewise, it's okay to stick to the Bs and the Ms and the Ss, leaving the Zs and the Xs to others....just...the only issue I hold with people playing lesser known composer's works is that they may play them poorly and, with no frame of reference for the audience, that may reflect poorly on the dear sod that composed, rather than the performer who under...well, performed frown Um...the reason there seems to be "composers for musicians" rather than for the public is that there's simply *too many* absolutely brilliant pieces out there; enough for a lifetime, certainly...so...the average person doesn't need to search out the Baines's, Mosolovs and Schnittkes, let alone the Zaderatskys or the Xenakis's....it is on *us* to bring it to them. Um...I say "us" laugh I mean "you"...and for those who wish they heard such composers more often in concert....well....frankly....you know where the piano is..... smile
Xxx
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#2158097 - 09/26/13 03:12 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: Plowboy]
Cheeto717 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 696
Loc: Pennsylvania
Originally Posted By: Plowboy
Yuja Wang will be performing Kapustin's Variations for Piano in Costa Mesa on Oct.13.


I'm cringing a little bit imagining her interpretation, but at least he's getting more exposure. I'm just not a fan of Yuja Wang.
_________________________
Working On:
Bach: Partita No. 6
Beethoven: Op. 26
Brahms: Op. 120
Chopin: Op. 10

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#2158156 - 09/26/13 05:31 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
drumour Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/05
Posts: 848
Loc: Scotland
I prefer (really I do):-

the Nocturnes of Faure
the Preludes of Scriabin
the Valses of Chaminade.

That's about it, though.

John
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#2158157 - 09/26/13 05:35 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: pianoloverus]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: TheHappyMoron
Is it just me or do most pianists nowadays seem not to perform works of neglected composers?
Yes, by definition.


grin i could have worded that better!!
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All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#2158158 - 09/26/13 05:36 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: Cheeto717]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Cheeto717
I'm a huge fan of Manuel Ponce, Nikolai Kapustin, Sergei Bortkiewicz, Felix Blumenfeld and some others. I would love to hear more of their works being performed.


Felix Blumenfeld!! that's the Russian guy i couldn't remember in my original post!!!! laugh
_________________________
All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#2158394 - 09/27/13 03:57 AM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Michael Sayers Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 881
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
I think the key with this lesser known music is to select for performance specific compositions one really relates to and hopefully therefore the music can be played with interpretive authority to which audiences will respond positively.


M.

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#2158430 - 09/27/13 06:29 AM Re: lesser known composers [Re: Michael Sayers]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: Michael Sayers
The music of many lesser known 19th-century composers used to be very much in vogue such as that by Anton Rubinstein and Sinding, and I think maybe over time it has worked out that the public and also performers just don't like the music as much - and in addition there now is all of the 20th century repertoire to study.



It's also that people going to concerts seem to think they should get wall-to-wall "masterpieces from the established canon" and nothing else, or else they are not getting their money's worth. Or so concert promoters seem to think.

While I appreciate heavy-duty ultra-serious recitals, I also think there's room for ones that include both less famous composers and some lighter fare. It's rare nowadays, but I love recitals where there's a half-hour or so of a grab-bag pieces that the performer simply enjoys playing for people or wants to introduce to the audience.

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#2159622 - 09/29/13 12:19 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Michael Sayers Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/15/13
Posts: 881
Loc: Stockholms län, Sverige
Maybe someone hear has thoughts on Howard Brockway's piano compositions. I've known him as the pianist in some piano rolls, and a little check shows that he is at IMSLP and also is the composer of this music which has been used in a movie, illustrated here with photos of Stockholm:




M.

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#2160058 - 09/30/13 12:19 PM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Cheeto717 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/06/07
Posts: 696
Loc: Pennsylvania
Here are some listening examples of the composers I listed earlier

Manuel Ponce Waltz Etude "Life Smiles": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGL7vjbUq6E

Sergei Bortkiewicz Impromptu: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiDNAxTEZ3Q

Felix Blumenfeld (teacher of Horowitz)Impromptu starting at 1:15:45: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmBb8_mOM18

Xaver Scharwenka Piano concerto 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHCRbWJGTBE
_________________________
Working On:
Bach: Partita No. 6
Beethoven: Op. 26
Brahms: Op. 120
Chopin: Op. 10

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#2160291 - 10/01/13 02:20 AM Re: lesser known composers [Re: TheHappyMoron]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1480
As long as we're listing lesser-known composers, I'd like to throw out the barely known Gabriel Dupont - French turn of the century composer. He writes absolutely fantastic music, with such beautiful melodies..

here is one of his main piano cycles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-dvNmBy7zc

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