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#476708 - 10/24/01 10:59 PM A few questions...
CDSheridan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/01
Posts: 27
Hello everyone.

I'm new here, and I'd just like to begin by saying that I'm a sophomore in college and a math/piano performance double major who has been playing for twelve years now.

So anyway, I'm thinking that next semester I want to start one of the Chopin Scherzos. I'm leaning toward Opus 31 because I've always liked that one, but lately I've been considering Opus 20 and Opus 54 as well. How difficult are each of these Scherzos? I'll definitely learn the one that is the most rewarding for my effort.

And what do you think about the Debussy Ballade? How is that one? I listened to it a few times, and I really liked it... lyrical, yet attractively melancholy.

And how manageable is Liszt's "Benediction of God in Solitude" from his Harmonies Poetiques e Religieuses? (sp?) That's number 3. I love the piece, but I don't have a copy of the score.

And just a few random questions that have nothing to do with nothing except to satisfy my own curiosity...

1. Which of the less mainstream composers is your favorite? Mine's Alkan. Especially for his Opus 39 Etudes.

2. Which, in your opinion, is the most depressing piece of music ever written? (The answer to this question does not have to be limited to piano works.) In my opinion, it's the last movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.


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#476709 - 10/25/01 10:45 AM Re: A few questions...
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
why not the Op. 39 in c sharp minor? this has always been my favourite scherzo.

#476710 - 10/25/01 10:51 AM Re: A few questions...
wghornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 201
Loc: KY
I don't think I've ever heard Debussy's Ballade mentioned here. but I agree with you. It's near the top of my all-time favorite piano works.

#476711 - 10/25/01 04:03 PM Re: A few questions...
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
I love to hear a good performance of Chopin's Scherzo No. 4, Op. 54. I didn't like practicing and playing it, however, and eventually dropped it. (It's funny that what we like to hear doesn't always correlate with what we like to play.)

I think one of the most depressing pieces of music is the 2nd mvt. of Mozart's "Sinfonia Concertante" for violin and viola. That mvt. is the valley and the outer mvts. are peaks!

[ October 25, 2001: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

#476712 - 10/25/01 09:16 PM Re: A few questions...
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
My own opinion is that I would start with Op. 31. Even though it's the most played and destroyed, it is the most accessible one to start and probably the most accessible technically. Op. 20 is good as kind of an etude with the beautiful Polish Christmas carol in the middle. Op. 54 is a different animal all together and, quite frankly, I think it requires a very mature pianist. I would not study it as the first scherzo studied.

Now, I am shocked by your choice of Beethoven 9 as a depressing piece. IMHO, it's the most uplifting piece of music ever written, especially the last movement. It's the only piece of music that is guaranteed to move me to tears of joy everytime I hear it (and I'm man enough to admit it).

#476713 - 10/25/01 09:48 PM Re: A few questions...
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
There's an adagio in one of Barber's pieces (a symphony, I think), quite a famous one that to my ears is really depressing. It was used in the movie Gallipole.
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#476714 - 10/25/01 10:34 PM Re: A few questions...
swb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/03/01
Posts: 68
Loc: Dallas, Texas
I always love to find other oddballs out there. I double majored in math and English, with lots of piano playing (still take lessons at 40). You'll always get lots of questions when potential employers look at your resume!! Depressing: the Pie Jesu from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem, especially after you read his story about what inspired him to write it. If I recall right, it's about a tragic situation in the Vietnam war, sort of a "Sophie's Choice." Not so mainstream composers: I love Albeniz, for guitar and piano.

#476715 - 10/27/01 10:11 PM Re: A few questions...
CDSheridan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/01
Posts: 27
To Alex,
Okay, the first twelve minutes or so of the last movement of Beethoven's ninth is spent building up to that great choral Ode to Joy climax. After that grandiose, uplifting statement, the chorus then goes into what I think is something very appropriate for a funeral dirge. In my opinion, this part of the movement has a very tragic sound to it. And then after the tragic part is over, Beethoven decides to then go back to a somewhat triumphant atmosphere. But, as you may have noticed, the Ode to Joy theme never really resurfaces intact. During the last seven or so minutes, you hear semi-triumphant themes based on fragments of the Ode to Joy theme. The lyrics at the end are also fragments of that grand choral statement twelve minutes into the movement. So the ending of this movement, in my opinion, is not nearly as triumphant as that choral statement twelve minutes into the movement.

That, in my opinion, is much more depressing than if Beethoven had just left the movement in D minor and made the whole movement into some type of funeral dirge. The structure of this movement, I think, is analogous to this; encountering bliss, then darkness and despair, and then finally rising back up, but never reaching that high point that you were at twelve minutes into
the movement. And also, the fact that the music and lyrics during the last eight or so minutes are fragments of the Ode to Joy theme gives the impression of a memory of something that is now gone forever. To me, the atmosphere of the ending is more like one of acceptance.

Sorry if you don't really understand this. I'm sleep-deprived and not really articulate right now.

#476716 - 10/27/01 11:31 PM Re: A few questions...
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
Actually, I think it sounds a lot more like a drinking song than a funural dirge. What recording do you have? It must be quite distorted from what Beethoven originally indicated for any of the last movement to sound like a funural dirge. I can't think of any of my recordings that have a funural march section.

Anyway, the movement clearly contains references to past, present, and future. It's statements of things remembered and perhaps lost are profound. Things future are joyous, yet the present has a sense of things lost and remembered. To me the whole movement seems to describe the process of putting things past, present, and future into perspective, and coming to a mature understanding of life. Childhood, middle age, and old age, perhaps. I think the sense of acceptance is more the sense of perspective that one gains at the end of a long life.

Hope that makes sense. I'm not really very good at interpreting music in words \:\)


#476717 - 10/28/01 08:57 AM Re: A few questions...
PianoMuse Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 902
Loc: Philly, PA
I don't know if you've ever heard of the guy. but Gorecki(prounounced go-wreck-EE) has written some of the most depressing, if not beautiful, music i have ever heard...try symphony no. 3, sorrowful songs.
Hi CdSheridan! I am also a sohpomore in college, majoring in piano pedagogy and performance. ( try saying that 3 times fast!)
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." ~Rachmaninoff

#476718 - 10/29/01 10:12 PM Re: A few questions...
CDSheridan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/01
Posts: 27
To Ryan,
Well, maybe funeral dirge is the wrong description, but to me, it definitely sounds a bit despairing. And I think your interpretation of this movement might make sense; to me, the ending is not only something of an acceptance, but it is also a reflection, memories of something that would never return, which is, in a way, sort of similar to your interpretation.

Well, I don't know. Different people have different views on the criteria for "depressing."


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