Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad) End Stage Fright
End Stage Fright
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 2 of 2 < 1 2
Topic Options
#916032 - 06/12/03 06:52 PM Re: Late starting Concert Pianists?
pianodevo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 836
Fascinating thread...

While emotionally and intellectually I am on the side of those who do not let age interfere with their strivings, when you talk about attaining the level of a true concert pianist, it is still true that:

Virtually all great mathematics has been done by the young and the very young. Even truly world-class mathematicians often do little (if any) significant work after, say, forty.

The world level top chess grandmasters also tend to be young - again, virtually no one over 40 and most younger than 30.

Neither of these professions requires anything PHYSICAL such as piano does ... and yet it is difficult to give more than rare examples of great work done by those over 40.

So the barrier (if such there be) might not be in trying to develop the hands when one is 20 or 30 or ....

I don't have any answers. But these three - mathematics, music and chess - are the only activities where prodigies are known, and they all to me seem to require prodigious abilities at formal symbol manipulations as part of the mandatory 'technique', before one can approach the good parts (the 'meaning'). By comparison, prodigies are unknown as far as writing great literature, which typically seems to require decades of human experience and a certain breadth and maturity.
_________________________
pianodevo

Top
Sheet Music (Piano World is an Affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale  
#916033 - 06/13/03 12:11 AM Re: Late starting Concert Pianists?
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3202
Loc: Midwest U.S.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
chickgrand,

Your long post about how you practice is interesting. What pieces are you working on?[/b]
Warm up is always Satie's 3 Gnossiennes and 3 Gymnopedies (where I picked up playing afther the 20 year lapse), followed by the ubiquitous urtext version of Beethoven Opus 27, No. 2 (could do 1st movement in my sleep, polishing the second), usually followed by Lecuona's original arrangement of his Andalusian Suite including the favorite, "Maleguena", which I used as my first "learn to play" piece about 30 years ago on a nice Steinway (absurd for a starter, but at the time I thought "if I'm only going to learn one piece..."--I'm fairly adept at it now, after the long lapse and resuming--first thing with which I surprised myself some months ago on getting through all of it for the first time at tempo on a very focused day and reliably with some finesse with some practice after).

By then I'm either warmed up in "the zone" and at my best for having at the new stuff, or I'm just not going to get there that day (not focused or hands tired). Right now, I'm working into my rotation very complex arrangements of "Besame Mucho" (40-odd pages) (with variations--both classical and jazzed), another of "Histoire d'un Amour" (32 pages) (love old Latin virtuoso piano music) as my current, fairly-evolved additions nearly committed to mental and muscle-memory, exploring a tough-reach but exciting, very-Klezmer version of "Bei Mir Bistduschon", just starting out with DeBussy's "Reverie", while polishing Claire de Lune (want to explore the whole Suite Bergmanesque soon). I rotate the new stuff to include some Vangelis compositions, jazz standards by Hoagy Carmichael, along with my own arrangements of "Nature Boy", "The very Thought of You", and "My Funny Valentine" (think Carmen Cavallero's virtuoso "show-stopper" version ca. 1956) which I permit myself to improvise on. And stuff like "Never on a Sunday" just for fun with that picnic-in-the-park sort of fun with rhythm with fingerings reminiscent of Bach, but less staid.

Basically, I throw in everything but the kitchen sink when I'm practicing a particular "skill chunk", so there are lots of other pieces I'm rotating through by parts on any given day, but not necessarily contemplating at the moment to the point for a finished performance level. Some Liszt (the "Bugs Bunny Song"), a little Chopin (some of the preludes). (I have more mountains of sheet music than I'll ever conquer.)

After listening last night to Joanna MacGregor's amazing interpretation of "Libertango" after Jazzyd's reference to it in another thread, I'm now itchy to find her arrangement (or create my own) to tackle it myself. Just loved what she did with that bass line. Actually reminded me of the energy and passion found in Beethoven's "Appassionata". I've had ideas for years about similar classical approaches to other contemporary pieces, so I really got into what she's done.

I like very passionate pieces and very lyrical pieces, and pieces that border on barely controlled chaos of passion. Not too much into some of the modern dissonant pieces yet, but it's in the back of my mind to explore eventually.

I seriously looked through the Warner's edition of "Rhapsody in Blue" last night. It looks less ominous than it did the day I bought it. But life's too short to get all that I want done and becoming satisfied with all that I've mentioned may take many years (if my fingers hold out).

Top
#916034 - 06/13/03 12:47 AM Re: Late starting Concert Pianists?
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3202
Loc: Midwest U.S.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianodevo:
Fascinating thread...

...the barrier (if such there be) might not be in trying to develop the hands when one is 20 or 30 or ....

...these three - mathematics, music and chess - are the only activities where prodigies are known, and they all to me seem to require prodigious abilities at formal symbol manipulations as part of the mandatory 'technique', before one can approach the good parts (the 'meaning'). By comparison, prodigies are unknown as far as writing great literature, which typically seems to require decades of human experience and a certain breadth and maturity.[/b]
I agree with your perspective in your well stated post. I've begun to believe that any natural talent for dealing with symbols is nessessary for "prodigy" and that that must go hand in hand with physical development while one is fit enough (usually much younger). With chess or math, if one has the intellectual talent, one might start later.

Einstein formulated his general theory of relatively in his own mind as an abstract concept many years before he had acquired the math skills to express it to the larger scientific community. The talent, or insight, was already there, but he had to learn the language to express it. He did that with some considerable difficulty.

The pianist has the added difficult dimension of translating that perhaps facile intuition of the symbols into physical expression. The limits of age and injury to the body are certainly determining factors for the level of success one may achieve, entirely regardless of that native talent for the musical language of rhythm and pitch and notation symbology. Because of that, I don't expect to see late beginners at the absolute pinnacle of excellence. But maybe a few just close enough to see that lofty peak closely enough to recognize what it would have taken to get there had they the facility of youth on their side.

That said, even the greats who started early usually display observable deterioration of performance level sometimes with advancing age. Often as not, style and expressiveness carry some of those later performances when technical perfection does not. Some of those later, though not perfect, performances are among my favorite because the clarity of understanding still shows like no other, even muted by age.

If piano were an Olympic sport, for the young, like the rest, I've no doubt it would only be the young on the podium.

I can be both a realist and embrace something I love irrationally at the same time. \:\) I'm only competing with myself, and age, on the piano for my own pleasure. It improves my appreciation for music (yes, even Bach) and sharpens my mind and dulls the pains of growing older with a sense of challenging adventure and discovery reminiscent of my youth. That's enough to ask of it for me.

As for trying to steer skills to income, I'll stick to painting and writing, as I'm not inclined to play piano on a street corner with the hat out. I've starved before. I don't like it.

Top
#916035 - 06/13/03 05:36 PM Re: Late starting Concert Pianists?
pianodevo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 836
chickgrand,

So you're a writer!? Evidently from your last post, a professional? That's interesting ... as far as I knew before your post, this board only had two professional writers, pique and myself.

And *curiously*, we both have Grotrian grands, and may be the only Grotrianers on the board too.

So I'm curious what you're playing on
_________________________
pianodevo

Top
#916036 - 06/14/03 12:27 AM Re: Late starting Concert Pianists?
ChickGrand Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/03
Posts: 3202
Loc: Midwest U.S.
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianodevo:
chickgrand,

So you're a writer!? Evidently from your last post, a professional? That's interesting ... as far as I knew before your post, this board only had two professional writers, pique and myself.

And *curiously*, we both have Grotrian grands, and may be the only Grotrianers on the board too.

So I'm curious what you're playing on [/b]
Like the flippantly-picked moniker chosen on signup implies (should have done GrandChick and portrayed myself with an alter ego as a large woman): a Chickering concert grand, 1885, ebony, 9 ft.; early, now "classic", simple "modern" design; early entry of the currently typical modern action (all orginal, save the Renner hammers, felts, etc.). Most heavily built piano I've ever encountered; spade legs taper from 12 inches, to 9, then down to 5; 4-inch thick inner rim; massive brace beams; incredible thickness on an edge-to-edge full harp, etc. (1960 pounds--compare to weights of anything made today--only the 10'2" Fazzioli comes even slightly close). My friends are always saying "my girlfriend" needs to go on a diet. All around built like a tank.

Sings diminuitively like a svelt nordic siren with a light touch, but can belt it out like the proverbial fat lady wearing the Viking horns with a slight provocation. (As with his Bose's, Liszt also could not break his two Chickerings currently in the Liszt Museum in Budapest). I'm not trying to see if I can the way he probably did. My ears probably couldn't take it. The final long crescendo on Lecuona's Malaguena is awesome, though, in a way I only ever daydreamed it could be. (Bye-bye other pianos there and then.)

I do still have some more "other" pianos, though, but I might as well not have them as I don't touch them now. Kept a digital for those 4 a.m. impulses for when you just can't get an idea out of your head unless you get up and try it but want to keep peace with the neighbors. Also I keep a massive old 1896 Kimball I've had for 25 years at another home just because its tone is too wonderful to part with. (Yes, there WERE actually great Chicago Kimballs once upon a time, inspite of the recent thread about those awful 50's-80's jobs.)

So, anyway, we're not three-for-three on pianos, and writing. We might have been,if there'd been a Grotian anywhere in my shopping radius. I've read a lot of good things about Grotian. I tend to like the "European sounding" pianos myself and was looking at older, more affordable Bosendorfers (rare), Bechsteins, and Bluthners, with an eye open for a (emphasis on:) reasonably--priced Steinway. Quite accidentally, I found I liked a couple of vintage Chickerings and started seriously leaning that way. Then I found this particular one whose overall voice (especially after I regulated it) better suited my demanding ears than any piano I've ever played (many, usually badly, too).

The Beast is incredibly clear throughout its entire range with no hint of any transition in the string scaling. While the sound has a richness of overtones that seem lacking (to me) in some Steinways, they are taughtly controlled to a distinctly narrow roundness so that there is no muddiness, but neither is there excessive brightness (unless you absolutely pound the last two octaves). The treble and upper tenor shimmer like some of the old Steinway D's, but the bass is clear (even when called to thunder (easy)--hence the itch to do MacGregor's "Libertango" arrangement with that great lefthand). Sealing the deal, it has the best sustain, even in the highest octaves, of any piano I've ever played. Sometimes I very nearly finish a whole cigarette while I listen to a final damper-open sustained chord as it very linearly resolves to what seems will never become full silence unless I finally let off the damper. It's easy to pick out the notes of long 12-note arpeggio sustained. After tone and sustain, the touch is critical and I'm happier with my ease of control of all tonal shades from soft to loud that emerges with varied attack (after my own thorough regulation, with rulers, weights, and all).

The biggest Chickerings were never built in large numbers, by the original Boston company. While many of the smaller ones turned out in large numbers by the original company and by the later company (after the American Piano Co. buyout, which itself folded in 1986) were also quite good, they really aren't in the same class as the big hand-made beasts produced during father and sons' absolute hands-on,innovative, it's-my-name-on-it ownership of the original company. Their pianos were regarded by many as among the finest in the world, topping international competitions with some of their great designs. Great artists, like Liszt, owned them alongside their Bosendorfers.

I feel quite fortunate to have found a very remarkable one of this vintage in great condition for a price that almost makes me ashamed, as an almost thief who traded a slight stack of cold crisp green for a once-in-a-lifetime dream. Whenever I speak to the very kind former owner, he always jokes that since I like it so well, perhaps I should give him "some more money". (He had his chance. I'd have gone much higher for this one if he'd rejected my fist offer--actually, I gave him $750 more than he'd agreed to to ease my conscience). The only other one I've seen like this one, also in great condition, sold the first day it was listed for 16 times what I paid a year ago (way more than I could have swung).

After all that admiration for Chickering above, I must say I had absolutely hated the ancient poorly maintained (if at all) Chickerings in my college practice rooms many years ago (as an amateur intruding lurker). Among the dozen or so new Steinways, I couldn't find a bad one (great tech, still at it today, who made them all sound and feel exactly alike--wonderful--can be done!). So overcoming this old bias and finding myself loving a Chickering, of all things, was a total surprise to me. It made me rethink my bias about other makes and want to learn a lot more about a lot of other forgotten pianos as well.

There used to be 1000's of makers and a variety of wonderful voices among them, I'm sure, bearing names all but forgotten. Or worse still, once-famous names that are now stenciled on Asian and American junk, the likes of which does a great disservice to the distiguished heritage built by exacting standards and hard work, the very "heritage" the companies now trade on with mere frail illusion. Most are mere posers like VW bugs with Rolls Royce grills--they don't fool anybody. Chickerings and Webers, indeed.

(Sorry, I'm off on a rant here. I just prefer to call things what they really are, and while I'm perfectly willing to respect things for what they are actually intended to be, I will only do so if they do not pretend to be what they are not. The mere name just doesn't mean a thing. The quality of materials, purity of design, and caliber of craftsmanship are everything.)

Yep, writing is my primary thing and has been for about 30 years. Everything from investigative, in-depth full-page newspaper, to radio news and TV, to pure fiction, 1 produced play (directed it too--learned why Hitchcock called actors cows), 1 produced film script, and on into heavily technical engineering journal writing, with a lot of contract P.R. writing and graphics design and photo journalism thrown in (to keep it interesting and passably profitable). Just got back from a meeting with a new client this evening for a contract to do a full P.R. genesis for an innovative chemical engineering firm that offers some exciting opportunities to get really creative, especially graphically. (Like most writers, I have the proverbial 1000-page "novel" in a firesafe waiting for a rewrite. (That's actually how I planned to spend this year, but I immediately went piano shopping and, well--so much for that.)

Sorry to go on so long. I do occassionally do short posts, really. My shortest ever (elsewhere) was one well chosen word. (I like how Jackie Collins perks a character along blissfully ignorant of the fact she's killing them off in the same paragraph. I need to learn to do that). If I spent this much time on the novel, it'd be rewritten now.

What type of writing do you and pique do? The last major project I did was the film script, with a team of writers (I started as script editor, but it was so bad I insisted we start over) (the play was a better partnership). It was a fun learning experience, but I have too much vanity to let my real name go on something with as many compromises as were required for what I hated and laughed uncontrollably at in the end. Not quite "Plan 9 From Outer Space". Not nearly so good. It's bad enough that friends and family can identify it (as the worst at the last Sundance) by the fact small portions were filmed at my home!

Top
#916037 - 06/14/03 02:38 AM Re: Late starting Concert Pianists?
The D's Pianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/01
Posts: 624
Loc: Southwestern Oregon
That was a great and interesting post, chickgrand -- I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

Fascinating, by the way, everything about the Chickerings.
_________________________
Musically,
Benjamin Francis
http://www.myspace.com/benjaminfrancis
(I just changed my sig., so no grief, yeah?)
----------
Sofia Gilmson regarding Bach:
"Bach didn't write the subject; he wrote the fugue."

Top
Page 2 of 2 < 1 2

What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
Download & Print Sheet Music Instantly
sheet music search
sheet music search

sheet music search
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
Who's Online
113 registered (bennevis, Arizona Sage, Almaviva, anotherscott, 36251, bfb, 36 invisible), 1319 Guests and 42 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
74206 Members
42 Forums
153518 Topics
2249714 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
New Topics - Multiple Forums
A question about app.box
by LarryShone
Today at 07:08 AM
Re-stringing an 84yr old Grand.....?
by Grandpianoman
Today at 01:56 AM
Theme identification
by Polyphonist
Today at 01:26 AM
Morning Mist: a ballade for piano
by JoelW
Today at 12:27 AM
Insanity
by Polyphonist
Yesterday at 11:55 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
| Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission