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#2263419 - 04/18/14 09:04 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: argerichfan]
Shabbat Shalom Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/06/14
Posts: 13
Loc: USA
This thread feels like a stab in the heart! I must take issue with those who say Rachmaninoff had "formal issues", especially when comparing with Chopin. Rachmaninoff had a masterful sense of form and structure, but often the structure is too difficult for lesser musicians to pull off (myself included, no insult to be a lesser musician than Rachmaninoff). Just listen to his performances! Incomparably convincing structurally. My opinion is that many pianists' preconceived ideas of local events affect their interpretation of his music. Then there is the issue of sentimentality, once again an issue of the performer rather than the composer.

Finally, to compare Chopin and Rachmaninoff? They are so different and unique! How can we say which is better? Their emotional and aural worlds are so different, not to mention their cultures and influences.

Of course that means some people won't resonate with both or either. I don't resonate with much of Beethoven's solo piano music, and much of it strikes me as superficial, but it's obviously great music.
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"Whoever is moved by music to the depths of the soul, and works on the instrument like possessed one, who loves music and his instrument with passion – will acquire virtuoso technique; he/she will be able to recreate the artistic image of the composition; he/she will be a performer." - Neuhaus

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#2265245 - 04/22/14 10:25 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 369
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: Svenno
And i don't know why. He isn't on any 'top 10 romantic composer's' lists - but he was a romantic composer, wasn't he? Chopin seems to be the most favoured, and i really like his music too, in fact i can't decide which my all time favorite composer is, Rachmaninoff or Chopin. :p

Can anyone explain what's wrong with Rachmaninoff?
Originally Posted By: Svenno
And i don't know why. He isn't on any 'top 10 romantic composer's' lists - but he was a romantic composer, wasn't he? Chopin seems to be the most favoured, and i really like his music too, in fact i can't decide which my all time favorite composer is, Rachmaninoff or Chopin. :p

Can anyone explain what's wrong with Rachmaninoff?


It's funny you should be trying to decide between Rachmaninoff and Chopin as it's long seemed to me that Rachmaninoff was trying to >be< Chopin- or, at least, carry on from where Chopin left off.

We tend to think of Rachmaninoff as the master of the big, syrupy piano concerto, but I like to focus on the smaller, more intimate Rachmaninoff.

Even more than Chopin's obvious successor, Liszt (who seemed to have a really difficult time holding back) Rachmaninoff seemed to be a master of the lyrical miniature- full of chromatic, stepwise, arching melodies, thick chords combined with fluttery textures, passion combined with intimacy, aching restraint combined with letting it all hang out.

In other words, to me, the "miniature" Rachmaninoff sounds like Chopin kicked up a notch.


Edited by Brad Hoehne (04/22/14 10:34 AM)
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Rach. Prelude Op 32 #12
Mozart Piano Sonata #17, K570
Villa-Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras #4
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#2265295 - 04/22/14 01:19 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Brad Hoehne]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
In other words, to me, the "miniature" Rachmaninoff sounds like Chopin kicked up a notch.

Hmmm

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#2265357 - 04/22/14 03:23 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: JoelW]
Brad Hoehne Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/22/11
Posts: 369
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
In other words, to me, the "miniature" Rachmaninoff sounds like Chopin kicked up a notch.

Hmmm


By which I do not necessarily mean "better" just "more of". Are 10 pieces of chocolate cake better than two?
_________________________
1999 Petrof 125-111 (upright)
Casio Privia PX-330

Currently working on:
Rach. Prelude Op 32 #12
Mozart Piano Sonata #17, K570
Villa-Lobos, Bachianas Brasileiras #4
Playing by ear and "filling out" pop tunes

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#2265359 - 04/22/14 03:25 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
In other words, to me, the "miniature" Rachmaninoff sounds like Chopin kicked up a notch.

Hmmm


By which I do not necessarily mean "better" just "more of". Are 10 pieces of chocolate cake better than two?

Yes, but that's a bad analogy.
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Polyphonist

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#2265428 - 04/22/14 06:03 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Brad Hoehne]
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1096
Loc: Massachusetts
Originally Posted By: Brad Hoehne
We tend to think of Rachmaninoff as the master of the big, syrupy piano concerto, but I like to focus on the smaller, more intimate Rachmaninoff.


I don't often listen to Rachmaninoff but I really do admire him for his Preludes and Etudes and some of his other smaller forms. These works rank up there with some of the highest achievements in the literature.

Almost everything else he did I can do without. (not bad, just too many better options)

I love Chopin's singular focus on the piano. If I understand correctly, he had no interest in composing for orchestra and only did the piano concertos and other selections because he was advised that he needed to do this in order to make a name for himself. He proceeded to do it in his own unique way which doesn't indicate he was incapable of orchestration but just not really that interested. (Yes that's kind of speculative but not based on nothing I hope)

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#2265497 - 04/22/14 07:57 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Pathbreaker]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Pathbreaker
If I understand correctly, he had no interest in composing for orchestra and only did the piano concertos and other selections because he was advised that he needed to do this in order to make a name for himself.

Ha! This is very amusing if true. grin

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#2265629 - 04/22/14 11:43 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
Kuanpiano Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/10
Posts: 2151
Loc: Canada
I really enjoy listening-to and playing Rachmaninoff's music. I think right now I've done enough Chopin, so I'd like to play more Rach...particularly his 3rd concerto and his 1st sonata.
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Working on:
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Franck - Violin Sonata

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#2265659 - 04/23/14 01:18 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
Bloggs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/05/13
Posts: 4
Loc: Earth
Polyphonist, what do you think of Prokofiev's piano music?

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#2265753 - 04/23/14 08:59 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
jeffreyjones Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/31/10
Posts: 2358
Loc: San Jose, CA
If nothing else, and I like his piano music less as the years go by, Rachmaninoff wrote one of the most amazing a capella choral works - Vespers/All Night Vigil. The quality of the vocal writing and setting is top of the top.. it does for the Eastern Orthodox tradition what Tallis and Palestrina did for the Catholic.

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#2265755 - 04/23/14 09:24 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: jeffreyjones]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1067
Hi, Jeffrey -- Coincidentally, "Vespers" will be presented in Madison this Saturday (by a local choral group) -- and I'll be most interested to hear that. I've always thought that Rachmaninov's best piece is "The Bells", and that his strongest and "truest" expression is one that evokes the "Old Russia" quality. Of his Preludes, 32/10 is the best example. Many years ago, I sang in a chorus in which one of the members, a Russian émigré, provided some unpublished choral works of Rachmaninov which he spirited across the border, so to speak -- and I thought those were outstanding in their effect.

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#2265764 - 04/23/14 09:49 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Tim Adrianson]
prout Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/13
Posts: 833
Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
Hi, Jeffrey -- Coincidentally, "Vespers" will be presented in Madison this Saturday (by a local choral group) -- and I'll be most interested to hear that. I've always thought that Rachmaninov's best piece is "The Bells", and that his strongest and "truest" expression is one that evokes the "Old Russia" quality. Of his Preludes, 32/10 is the best example. Many years ago, I sang in a chorus in which one of the members, a Russian émigré, provided some unpublished choral works of Rachmaninov which he spirited across the border, so to speak -- and I thought those were outstanding in their effect.

Listen carefully. In one of the movements, the basses descend to A1. Very amazing when it's done well.

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#2265795 - 04/23/14 11:16 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Tim Adrianson]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
Of his Preludes, 32/10 is the best example.

I must disagree and nominate 32/13.
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Polyphonist

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#2266938 - 04/25/14 01:42 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
doctor S Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/27/12
Posts: 137
Loc: Western PA
32/13 certainly has "Russian" minor-key brooding, and bells-or-not, its huge major-key chords evoke enough joy to put it on my "desert island" list (and it helps that I can reach some of those durn chords...but just how do you make major chords sound "Grave"??)

Rachmaninoff apparently was a melancholy, humble guy (Stravinsky called him "a six and a half foot scowl.") He ceded performance of the 3rd concerto to Horowitz, he gave his gold medal to Gilels, he "quit" composing briefly due to depression after his 1st symphony premier sabotage, and composed much less after 1917. He lamented that he couldn't compose "modernly" and acknowledged his style was anachronistic. He probably would have said he wasn't worthy to carry Chopin's shoes as a composer. Since he was poor at self-promotion and "out of step" with the crowd of contemporary composers (thank God!), we shouldn't be surprised if he does not make a top ten list now. Perhaps in 100 years, a Mendelssohn will rediscover him and promote him properly.
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#2266951 - 04/25/14 02:09 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3812
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Key signatures please!!

What is this "32/13" and "32/10"? Who memorizes opus numbers, who distinguishes 10 from 11 from 12 from 13?

But since there is no key-signature duplication among the 24 preludes, let's use the rich language of key signatures to describe them!

Now, is Db major or B minor a better example of Rachmaninoff's "Old Russianness"? I don't know, but at least that's a better language for asking the question.

-J
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#2266986 - 04/25/14 03:09 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: beet31425]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Key signatures please!!

What is this "32/13" and "32/10"? Who memorizes opus numbers, who distinguishes 10 from 11 from 12 from 13?

Myself, for one. It's as good a method as any. Of course, I also refer to them by the key signature, but since the post I was responding to used numbers, I followed suit. If it had used key signatures, I would have responded in kind.
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Polyphonist

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#2266989 - 04/25/14 03:13 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: doctor S]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: doctor S
He probably would have said he wasn't worthy to carry Chopin's shoes as a composer.

And he would be very right. But who was? laugh

Originally Posted By: doctor S
he was poor at self-promotion and "out of step" with the crowd of contemporary composers (thank God!)

thumb
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Polyphonist

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#2267068 - 04/25/14 06:04 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: doctor S]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: doctor S
Perhaps in 100 years, a Mendelssohn will rediscover him and promote him properly.

What does this mean?

Edit:

Never mind. Didn't he discover Bach's works? Now I get it. smile

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#2267143 - 04/25/14 09:53 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Polyphonist]
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1467
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Key signatures please!!

What is this "32/13" and "32/10"? Who memorizes opus numbers, who distinguishes 10 from 11 from 12 from 13?

Myself, for one. It's as good a method as any. Of course, I also refer to them by the key signature, but since the post I was responding to used numbers, I followed suit. If it had used key signatures, I would have responded in kind.
Jason I'm disappointed!

Anyone who can't recite on command opus numbers *and* key signatures of all Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Etudes etc. is not a true music fan grin

The great Op 32/12 D-flat is too great of a goosebump inducing work to not know as the #13! So great probably only .001% of humans are physically built to play it! Go ahead and enjoy your G# minor which is on every menu. I'll save my appetite and savor my D-flat, thanks!

smile

-Daniel
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Currently working on:
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#2267144 - 04/25/14 09:55 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Polyphonist]
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1467
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
-Mendelssohn... I'll stop because I feel like a negative Nancy.

Oh, is Mendelssohn boring too?
A little... frown

-Daniel
_________________________
Currently working on:
-Dane Rudhyar's Stars from Pentagrams No 3

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#2267157 - 04/25/14 10:41 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Ridicolosamente]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
-Mendelssohn... I'll stop because I feel like a negative Nancy.

Oh, is Mendelssohn boring too?
A little... frown

-Daniel

crazy
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Polyphonist

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#2267179 - 04/25/14 11:10 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Ridicolosamente]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3812
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
Anyone who can't recite on command opus numbers *and* key signatures of all Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Etudes etc. is not a true music fan grin


Heh smile ...

Actually, I can do Beethoven sonatas and Chopin etudes by number or key. But, for example, when it comes to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, I find it silly to talk about "prelude and fugue #18 (Book I)"... the thing is so "G# minor"-ish from start to finish, it should just be "G# minor from Book I". (For the same reason I'd never just call it "BWV 863".)

But the WTC is an exploration of key signatures, and not randomly assembled (and there is only one selection per signature), so this makes more sense than using "the C major Chopin etude" as a label. Similarly it makes sense with the Chopin preludes. The Rachmaninoff preludes are semi-randomly assembled: there is one for each of the 24 keys, but they're not in any key-structural order. So I feel you could really go either way with these, and as calling them by key signature is unambiguous, I prefer it.

-Jason
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#2267180 - 04/25/14 11:14 PM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: beet31425]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
Anyone who can't recite on command opus numbers *and* key signatures of all Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Etudes etc. is not a true music fan grin


Heh smile ...

Actually, I can do Beethoven sonatas and Chopin etudes by number or key. But, for example, when it comes to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, I find it silly to talk about "prelude and fugue #18 (Book I)"... the thing is so "G# minor"-ish from start to finish, it should just be "G# minor from Book I". (For the same reason I'd never just call it "BWV 863".)

But the WTC is an exploration of key signatures, and not randomly assembled (and there is only one selection per signature), so this makes more sense than using "the C major Chopin etude" as a label. Similarly it makes sense with the Chopin preludes. The Rachmaninoff preludes are semi-randomly assembled: there is one for each of the 24 keys, but they're not in any key-structural order. So I feel you could really go either way with these, and as calling them by key signature is unambiguous, I prefer it.

-Jason

I agree with you on all counts, except I don't see what's ambiguous about labeling the Rachmaninoff preludes by number.
_________________________
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Polyphonist

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#2267205 - 04/26/14 01:08 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Polyphonist]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3812
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Ridicolosamente
Anyone who can't recite on command opus numbers *and* key signatures of all Beethoven Sonatas and Chopin Etudes etc. is not a true music fan grin


Heh smile ...

Actually, I can do Beethoven sonatas and Chopin etudes by number or key. But, for example, when it comes to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier, I find it silly to talk about "prelude and fugue #18 (Book I)"... the thing is so "G# minor"-ish from start to finish, it should just be "G# minor from Book I". (For the same reason I'd never just call it "BWV 863".)

But the WTC is an exploration of key signatures, and not randomly assembled (and there is only one selection per signature), so this makes more sense than using "the C major Chopin etude" as a label. Similarly it makes sense with the Chopin preludes. The Rachmaninoff preludes are semi-randomly assembled: there is one for each of the 24 keys, but they're not in any key-structural order. So I feel you could really go either way with these, and as calling them by key signature is unambiguous, I prefer it.

-Jason

I agree with you on all counts, except I don't see what's ambiguous about labeling the Rachmaninoff preludes by number.


Of course you're right: Rach preludes by number isn't ambiguous at all. My last sentence was pretty unclear; I meant: "I feel you could go either way (by opus number or by key signature), and in general I prefer referencing by key signature when I can, but that's usually ambiguous (e.g. Beethoven sonatas). Since here it happens *not* to be ambiguous (a rarity), we now have the option to use it for reference, and I like to do that when I can."

-Jason
_________________________
Schubert: Bb Impromptu D.935/3; Mozart: D minor concerto; Chopin: first Ballade

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#2267213 - 04/26/14 02:05 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: Svenno]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Why does Rach get flak? So what if he wasn't modern. His sound was original. That's what matters.

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#2267231 - 04/26/14 04:05 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: JoelW]
JohnSprung Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 1444
Loc: Reseda, California
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Why does Rach get flak? So what if he wasn't modern. His sound was original. That's what matters.


Indeed. 90+% of everything from every time period is ultimately forgotten, because it isn't much good. My guess is that a couple hundred years from now, more of Rach will be remembered than his "modern" contemporaries. "Modern" will be regarded as a dead end.
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#2267233 - 04/26/14 04:09 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: JohnSprung]
JoelW Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4828
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
90+% of everything from every time period is ultimately forgotten

Thank goodness. laugh

Quote:
"Modern" will be regarded as a dead end.

Interesting. Could you elaborate on that?

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#2267242 - 04/26/14 05:46 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: JohnSprung]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7895
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
Originally Posted By: JoelW
Why does Rach get flak? So what if he wasn't modern. His sound was original. That's what matters.


Indeed. 90+% of everything from every time period is ultimately forgotten, because it isn't much good. My guess is that a couple hundred years from now, more of Rach will be remembered than his "modern" contemporaries. "Modern" will be regarded as a dead end.



My guess is that you are wrong. And since neither of us will be around to know, either guess is as good as the other.

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#2267249 - 04/26/14 06:02 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: JohnSprung]
argerichfan Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/15/06
Posts: 8903
Loc: Pacific Northwest, US.
Originally Posted By: JohnSprung
My guess is that a couple hundred years from now, more of Rach will be remembered than his "modern" contemporaries.

Well I will try to savour the glories of Scriabin, Prokofiev, Bartok, Schoenberg, Berg and Stravinsky whilst the going's good before the inevitable dumbing down, and Rachmaninov eclipses them all.

I totally fail to understand why such a fantastic piece of music such as the Bartok 1st Concerto is so neglected. It has a bizarre, craggy, yet profound beauty, but alas too challenging unless one is willing to give it time to work its magic.

Rachmaninov, of course, poses no challenges to the listener. Gotta hand it to him, though:

(a) His music communicates effortlessly to the public
(b) It is extremely competently written and difficult enough to attract every new generation of pianists.

Whether it is particularly profound or greater than the 'modern' contemporaries listed above, I suppose only time will tell.
_________________________
Jason

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#2267292 - 04/26/14 08:55 AM Re: People don't seem to like Rachmaninoff at all. [Re: argerichfan]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Rachmaninov, of course, poses no challenges to the listener.

By this argument neither does Mozart.
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Polyphonist

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