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#581973 - 10/24/04 11:36 PM What makes a concert pianist?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Is it starting at a young age under good tuition, developing top sight-reading skills or is it dedicated practice and excellent aural memory that eventually carries the day?

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#581974 - 10/25/04 01:18 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
fogwall Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/01/04
Posts: 160
Loc: Sweden
I guess the formula of achieving a success as a concert pianist is not only to be a technically excellent performer but also to be able to spellbound the audience. Piano performing is just as much show business (combined with smart marketing).
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#581975 - 10/25/04 01:33 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
2 things, technically:

1) You have to be a pianist
2) You have to play in concerts

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#581976 - 10/25/04 01:37 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
F. Chopin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/03
Posts: 386
Loc: England
LOL

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#581977 - 10/25/04 04:31 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Dave_2003_G Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/03
Posts: 167
Loc: England
Although I'm a pianist and I play in concerts, but wouldn't consider myself a 'concert pianist'
How odd :p

Dave

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#581978 - 10/25/04 06:58 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
2 things:

you gotta be good
you gotta be lucky

koji (STSD)
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#581979 - 10/25/04 07:29 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by Thracozaag:
2 things:

you gotta be good
you gotta be lucky

koji (STSD) [/b]
...or you need a lot of money and lots of friends so you can hire out concert halls, and fill them up with audiences.


btb,

Sight reading doesn't have as much to do with it.

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#581980 - 10/25/04 08:38 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
panicworld Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/07/04
Posts: 9
hey
what a stupid thread!
look around and try to find a concert pianist who is able to make his living on playing, there are only a few buddies to do so, the "rest" , well sleeping the half of the day and practising the other

it's better learning a serios craft and be a lucky plummer than living in LA doing concerts or writing scores for Disney

all rite, fellows?

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#581981 - 10/25/04 08:58 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Freedom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 1192
Loc: Scotland
 Quote:
Originally posted by panicworld:
hey
what a stupid thread![/b]
Thats a bit harsh
_________________________
"A print of the score has everything you need to know about the music, except the essential."

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#581982 - 10/25/04 09:00 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Freedom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 1192
Loc: Scotland
I think you are best listening to Brendan or Elena for this type of question. \:\)
_________________________
"A print of the score has everything you need to know about the music, except the essential."

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#581983 - 10/25/04 09:11 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Mikester Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 1254
Loc: Minneesooota
I think it has a lot to do with luck. I mean, think about Lang Lang. He had nothing until he got a lucky break when some concert pianist got injured before a performance, so he stepped in, and after that one performance he got so much exposure that his life's not been the same since. Same thing for Horowitz, his career was abysmal (he played for half-empty auditoriums in France and to scathing reviews) until, in America, he subbed in for an injured pianist and played the Tchaikosvsky Concerto No 1 as if his fingers were on fire. His life was never the same.

I remember reading that, before the concert, the conductor at the time said to Horowitz something like, "just don't screw up and we'll make it out no problem." Remember that Horowitz had less than one day's notice to play in the concert. So, Horowitz proceeded to light the piano and the audience on fire with his fingers, and the shocked conductor occasionally stared at Horowitz's fingers in awe and amazement. I can imagine that if I was there, I would know that a special career was jumpstarting on the stage.

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#581984 - 10/25/04 09:41 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Kreisler Offline



Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13799
Loc: Iowa City, IA
Pretty much everybody takes a different path.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#581985 - 10/25/04 09:45 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
So is Watts. That Liszt Concerto No.1 launched his huge career.

Cecil Licad had 6 listeners including the stage hand in her first recital. Listen to her new Gattschalk recording on Naxos will fully convince you that she IS cut out to be a professional pianist.

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#581986 - 10/25/04 11:49 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Goldberg Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/03
Posts: 1231
Loc: U.S.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Freedom:
I think you are best listening to Brendan or Elena for this type of question. \:\) [/b]
Or Koji (Thracozaag, who has already sounded off). Don't forget that he's a phenomenal pianist as well who went to Curtis and is now at Julliard working towards his Ph.D. He knows a thing or two about the business!

His post actually sums everything up perfectly and concisely. "Gotta be good; gotta be lucky" All of us can develop, overtime, an amazing technique and, if we love the music, a respectable sense of musicality. But as for hitting the concert stage and attracting an audience, well..that typically relies on who you know and on being at the right place at the right time.

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#581987 - 10/25/04 12:08 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5319
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by AndrewG:
So is Watts. That Liszt Concerto No.1 launched his huge career.
[/b]
True. Funny thing now is that a good number of pianists substituted for an "ailing" Watts and had a big boost because of it - Orion Weiss and Lang Lang come to mind immediately.

Edit:

To add my experience to the thread, you need:

1. Money or a sponsor.
2. Luck.
3. A bubbling personality.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#581988 - 10/25/04 12:21 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Max W Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/05/02
Posts: 2846
Loc: RHUL
 Quote:
Originally posted by Thracozaag:
2 things:

you gotta be good
you gotta be lucky

koji (STSD) [/b]
And these days..

You gotta know the right people
You have to sell yourself! (aka provacative photography)

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#581989 - 10/25/04 12:22 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Mikester Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/17/04
Posts: 1254
Loc: Minneesooota
No I think you can be boring and make it big as a concert pianist. Yundi Li talking is probably about as exciting to listen to as a ceiling fan. I have on tape several of his interviews. But his playing is exquisite.

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#581990 - 10/25/04 12:29 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Googlism Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/08/02
Posts: 1072
Loc: Toronto
 Quote:
Originally posted by Mikester:
Yundi Li talking is probably about as exciting to listen to as a ceiling fan. [/b]
rofl \:D
_________________________
Old videos from prior piano competitions:
http://www.youtube.com/user/kilace

____________________

"... It is a skill you go on learning all your life: the more you write, the more you learn."

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#581991 - 10/25/04 04:38 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
 Quote:
Originally posted by Brendan:
 Quote:
Originally posted by AndrewG:
So is Watts. That Liszt Concerto No.1 launched his huge career.
[/b]
True. Funny thing now is that a good number of pianists substituted for an "ailing" Watts and had a big boost because of it - Orion Weiss and Lang Lang come to mind immediately.

Edit:

To add my experience to the thread, you need:

1. Money or a sponsor.
2. Luck.
3. A bubbling personality. [/b]
Meng-Chieh Liu as well! Watts has unwittingly helped a lot of pianists, haha.

koji (STSD)
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#581992 - 10/25/04 04:56 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
valarking Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/17/02
Posts: 2331
Loc: Dallas
Weiss is good but by boosting Lang Lang to fame, I'd say Watts has created a monster...

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#581993 - 10/25/04 07:52 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Thracozaag Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/06/04
Posts: 1980
Loc: Salt Lake City
Yeah, Orion's a terrific pianist; glad he's getting concerts. Funny that Licad got mentioned in this thread, my ex filled in for Licad at the last minute in Germany, and got quite a bit of noteriety for it.

koji (STSD)
_________________________
"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

http://www.youtube.com/kojiattwood
https://www.giftedmusicschool.org/

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#581994 - 10/25/04 10:18 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
Brendan Offline



Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5319
Loc: McAllen, TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Thracozaag:
Meng-Chieh Liu as well! Watts has unwittingly helped a lot of pianists, haha.
[/b]
Watts needs to come to KC and cancel STAT.
_________________________
http://www.BrendanKinsella.com

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#581995 - 10/25/04 11:15 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Apologies for a badly worded question which should have read

"What background, attributes and skills are necessary to qualify to become a Concert pianist"?

Scrub round all those very real marketing strategies, money and luck catalysts.

Can you qualify for Concert pianist status without

1. Musical flair
2. Perfect pitch
3. Top teachers
4. Sight-reding fluency
5. Equivalent ABRSM Grade 8, etc.
6. Dedicated practice
7 Rachmaninoff hand-spread
8 Photographic memory

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#581996 - 10/25/04 11:24 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
NAK Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/20/04
Posts: 2561
Loc: Canada
IMO, numbers 5, 2, 3, 7, and 8 are not essential traits of a concert pianist. I think a certain amount of panache is needed to be popular, but I don't think good body language is absolutely necessary. 4 is iffy, as I don't think you ever have to sight-read a piece on command without being given time to practice and learn it (Brendan, care to comment?). 6 is the most important step for anything in music, so it is necessary to being a successful concert pianist - nay, a successful person.

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#581997 - 10/25/04 11:29 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
F. Chopin Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/26/03
Posts: 386
Loc: England
Depends what you define as "concert pianist". If we're talking strictly solo performances, then sight-reading is only important insofar as it helps one learn new repetoire quickly.

"Musical flair": not sure what you mean by that; if we're talking "showmanship" then that may help one become popular I suppose. In terms of the old "musicality" versus "technique", I'm afraid technique wins out by far. It doesn't matter if you think you have great musical understanding of a piece; being able to play the notes in a very professional and polished manner is a necessary requisite of being a concert pianist, where as excellent musicality probably is not (note: obviously a bare minimum of decent musicality is expected).

"Perfect pitch": absolutely unnecessary.

"Top teachers": not necessary, but helpful of course.

"Grades or diplomas": nope

"Dedicated Practice": Of course. This is an absolute requisite no matter what path you choose.

"Rachmaninoff hand-spread": [originally misread that as hand-speed] nope. Rachmaninoff had huge hands, very few concert pianists would match his, and there are plently of successful pianists who have fairly small hands. Obviously, being able to reach a 10th would help, but it's not necessary.

"Photographic memory": well, being able to easily memorize pieces and keep them stored without much practice would be an amazing boost, but it is not necessary to be unusually gifted in this sense in order to become a professional.

Just my 2 cents. Please note that I am not a professional and my playing is no where near that level.

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#581998 - 10/26/04 05:28 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Thanks to NAK and Fred for the input. It would be interesting to discover whether a Concert pianist would concur with your views.

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#581999 - 10/26/04 05:52 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
ryan Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/04/01
Posts: 1995
Loc: Colorado
 Quote:
Originally posted by btb:

1. Musical flair
2. Perfect pitch
3. Top teachers
4. Sight-reding fluency
5. Equivalent ABRSM Grade 8, etc.
6. Dedicated practice
7 Rachmaninoff hand-spread
8 Photographic memory [/b]
There are concert pianists that don't have 2, 7, and 8, but I don't think any haven't had the rest. I think they are a requirement in the real world.

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#582000 - 10/26/04 05:59 AM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
sarah_blueparrot Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/18/04
Posts: 808
Loc: Bristol, England
That's good because someone (a non-pianistical someone) once told me that I would never be a concert pianist because my hands are too small. I thought that this was an incredibly narrow-minded view to take as I rarely have a problem with big stretches as long as there is a suitable alternative (rearrangement of the chord). I'm still hoping that I will play in concert professionally at some point.
_________________________
Every time you play a funeral march, the devil grabs a soul.

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#582001 - 10/26/04 08:08 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
bb_pianist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/24/04
Posts: 33
Loc: Sydney
yeh my hands are probably relatively small, but then look at people like daniel barenboim, he doesnt have big hands does he?

yet i still think hes a great pianist,

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#582002 - 10/26/04 08:20 PM Re: What makes a concert pianist?
AndrewG Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2506
Loc: Denver, Colorado
De Larrocha has relatively the smallest hands of all pianists. She is not even 5' in height. Yet she played Khachaturian Piano Concerto.

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