Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible?

Posted by: Piquelol

Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/02/12 09:27 PM

Hey guys, long time lurker here. I have an audition of sorts in March 2013 to get into "advanced" performance for the next academic year. The audition is around 10-15 minutes long, and there's no set guidelines on what to play. So my question(s) is this:

-Is it possible to get the Liszt ballade 2 up to performance standard in 5 months from scratch(list of stuff I'm playing below to show where I'm at technically...)? Its one of my favorite pieces and I've always wanted to play it.

or....

-Would it make a better impression if I were to play a variety of shorter stuff in the audition instead of the ballade taking up my whole audition?

I'm listing some of the stuff I've played

-Mozart C minor fantasia

-Beethoven Pathetique

-Beethoven Op 90.

-Beethoven Op 2 No 1

-Bach Italian Concerto

-Liszt Liebestraume 3

-Rachmaninoff Op 23 no 5

(For some reason I just can't think of any more stuff I've played, hope this will be enough to gauge my level)

Ah, working on:

-Beethoven Tempest (I find this quite easy IMO)

-Liszt Un sospiro

-Mozart k310

Thanks for your time smile
Posted by: trigalg693

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/02/12 09:34 PM

Hard to say from just a list but it might be possible if you worked really hard on it.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/02/12 09:53 PM

Originally Posted By: trigalg693
Hard to say from just a list but it might be possible if you worked really hard on it.

Yes.

Piq: I think the Liszt Ballade is a bigger hill than any of those pieces you mentioned, so it's iffy. I think it would be advisable at least to have a fall-back plan, in case you see that the Ballade isn't coming like it should. But we can't rule out that the Ballade would be OK. Since the piece seems to be grabbing you right now, I'd say you can at least start going with it and see how it goes -- but if you don't have it pretty well in hand a couple of months in advance, go to plan B.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/02/12 10:33 PM

Since I assume you haven't already committed to some piece for the audition(like debrucey already having announced a recital program), I would just review/prepare some of your already learned pieces to a level suitable for the audition and then spend the rest of your time working on the Ballade. If this means that after learning your backup pieces you'd have to work only on the Ballade for the rest of the 5 months, that might not be a great idea but it would be up to you and your teacher.

Another possibility would be to find another piece that's shorter and easier than the Ballade but appeals to you almost as much and combine that new piece with one of your previously learned pieces. The only one I can think of offhand that reminds me a little of the Ballade is this one, which is certainly difficult but maybe not as hard as the Ballade.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6q2uPUei3Y

Since we don't know how many hours a day you can practice, it's hard to judge what you could learn in 5 months even if we were completely knowledgeable about your current skill level.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 12:11 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Since we don't know how many hours a day you can practice, it's hard to judge what you could learn in 5 months even if we were completely knowledgeable about your current skill level.

Especially not knowing how long it took to learn the pieces on the list, or how well you learned them..
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 12:21 AM

Originally Posted By: Derulux
[...]Especially not knowing how long it took to learn the pieces on the list, or how well you learned them..


Those are the two most important criteria, both unknowns, so it means that we can't answer the original question.

Regards,
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 12:36 AM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Derulux
[...]Especially not knowing how long it took to learn the pieces on the list, or how well you learned them..
Those are the two most important criteria, both unknowns, so it means that we can't answer the original question.

....although the fact (I think it's a fact!) that the Liszt piece is more demanding than any of those is something to go on, for part of the answer. That's what I tried to do.
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 01:05 AM

Yes, BUT...


Mozart 310 + Un Sospiro would make a great audition.

99.9% of the people who think Tempest is easy aren't playing it well. smile
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 01:11 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler
....99.9% of the people who think Tempest is easy aren't playing it well. smile

99.9% of people who think anything is "easy" aren't playing it well. ha

I don't think many people who "play really well" tend to use "easy" to describe any piece of music.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 08:06 AM

Pollini told Jeffrey Swann that he thought the Chopin E flat Prelude was easy.
Posted by: Otis S

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 08:56 AM

Originally Posted By: Kreisler

99.9% of the people who think Tempest is easy aren't playing it well. smile

+1! To play Beethoven's op. 31 no 2 piano sonata (or just about any of the major Beethoven piano sonatas) really well is difficult.
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 12:31 PM

The main technical difficulties in the Ballade are like this:

- Rapid broken octaves (similar to first movement of Pathetique, but both hands)
- Rapid LH chromatic scales
- Extensive hand-crossing
- Interlocking octave passages
- Sweeping upward scale passages near the end

If you can handle all of that, you can play this Ballade.

In general, though, it is usually better to play 2-3 contrasting pieces. A Bach P&F, Beethoven sonata movement and Chopin etude would be a standard way to approach it, substituting a more modern piece if you are especially good at that period.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 01:14 PM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
[...]In general, though, it is usually better to play 2-3 contrasting pieces. A Bach P&F, Beethoven sonata movement and Chopin etude would be a standard way to approach it, substituting a more modern piece if you are especially good at that period.


I would think that this would be the better way to go, unless the audition requirements have some specifics about what you are to play. Otherwise, it seems you are planning to put all your eggs in one (perhaps) flimsy basket.

Regards,
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 01:53 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
[...]In general, though, it is usually better to play 2-3 contrasting pieces. A Bach P&F, Beethoven sonata movement and Chopin etude would be a standard way to approach it, substituting a more modern piece if you are especially good at that period.


I would think that this would be the better way to go, unless the audition requirements have some specifics about what you are to play. Otherwise, it seems you are planning to put all your eggs in one (perhaps) flimsy basket.

Regards,
Agree with Jeffrey and Bruce. This consideration may be more important than whether or not you can prepare the piece in time.
Posted by: Piquelol

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 04:55 PM

Thanks for all the replies guys laugh

From the comments I think I won't learn the Ballade, Kreisler's suggestion of K310 + Un sospiro seems quite good, will probably go with that.

I should clarify my comment with the Tempest being easy. Obviously its not "easy" but I thought it would be on a different level than the Pathetique or op.90. When I first learned the Pathetique it was quite difficult for me, but learning the Tempest hasn't given me that type of challenge, hence why I think its "easy". Shrug.

Also, was wondering why does everyone do Chopin etudes at these type of auditions? Are they more "impressive"...?
Posted by: Damon

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 05:14 PM

Originally Posted By: Piquelol

Also, was wondering why does everyone do Chopin etudes at these type of auditions? Are they more "impressive"...?


They're not just impressive, they're short. Plus they have a narrow focus. Unless you're doing the whole set, you can play to your strengths.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/03/12 08:56 PM

No. Technically, your repertoire doesn't touch at all upon the technical demands of the Liszt ballade, and the sort of musical expression in the Ballade is something which isn't present in any of your current repertoire. Given the time constraints, it's not certain that you'll be able to put together a convincing performance of this (somewhat flawed) masterpiece.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 01:37 AM

^ Kuanpiano, I agree with your assessment of the technical difficulties, but how in your opinion is the ballade 'somewhat flawed'?

I have heard many flawed performances (including Horowitz IMO), though I do not feel the composition itself is flawed. (Arrau's magisterial recording convinced me that any perceived faults were not with Liszt.)
Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 01:54 AM

Agree with Jason. To me, this is a romantic era piano work of the highest order. I think it's one of Liszt's most perfect compositions. None of it is less inspired than any other part, it's very tightly, masterfully constructed, and simply contains much of what makes Liszt great - but most performances i've heard don't do it justice (IMO).
Posted by: Ian_G

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 08:12 AM

Reminds me of a charming Amy Fay anecdote:

...I wasn't really ready to play to him, but I took his second Ballade with me, and thought I'd ask him some questions about some hard places in it. He insisted upon my playing it. When we came in he looked indisposed and nervous, and there happened to be a good many artists there. We always lay our notes on the table, and he takes them, looks them over, and calls out what he'll have played. He remarked this piece and called out "_Wer spielt diese grosse maechtige Ballade von mir?_ (Who plays this great and mighty ballad of mine?)" I felt as if he had asked "Who killed Cock Robin?" and as if I were the one who had done it, only I did not feel like "owning up" to it quite so glibly as the sparrow had, for Liszt seemed to be in very bad humour, and had roughed the one who had played before me. I finally mustered up my courage and said "_Ich_," but told him I did not know it perfectly yet. He said, "No matter; play it." So I sat down, expecting he would take my head off, but, strange to say, he seemed to be delighted with my playing, and said that I had "quite touched him." Think of that from Liszt, and when I was playing his own composition! When I went out he accompanied me to the door, took my hand in both of his and said, "To-day you've covered yourself with glory!" I told him I had only _begun_ it, and I hoped he would let me play it again when I knew it better. "What," said he, "I must pay you a still greater compliment, must I?" "Of course," said I. "_Il faut vouz gater?_" "Oui," said I. He laughed.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 09:37 AM

Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Agree with Jason. To me, this is a romantic era piano work of the highest order. I think it's one of Liszt's most perfect compositions. None of it is less inspired than any other part, it's very tightly, masterfully constructed, and simply contains much of what makes Liszt great - but most performances i've heard don't do it justice (IMO).
You think you know more about playing this piece than most of the great pianists who have played it or have you only heard performances by really poor pianists?
Posted by: Damon

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 04:05 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Agree with Jason. To me, this is a romantic era piano work of the highest order. I think it's one of Liszt's most perfect compositions. None of it is less inspired than any other part, it's very tightly, masterfully constructed, and simply contains much of what makes Liszt great - but most performances i've heard don't do it justice (IMO).
You think you know more about playing this piece than most of the great pianists who have played it or have you only heard performances by really poor pianists?


Now that's not even good enough for you?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 07:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Agree with Jason. To me, this is a romantic era piano work of the highest order. I think it's one of Liszt's most perfect compositions. None of it is less inspired than any other part, it's very tightly, masterfully constructed, and simply contains much of what makes Liszt great - but most performances i've heard don't do it justice (IMO).
You think you know more about playing this piece than most of the great pianists who have played it or have you only heard performances by really poor pianists?
Now that's not even good enough for you?
That would depend on his answer to my question.

If he's really heard many great pianists' recordings of this piece but feels they don't do it justice, he's in effect saying he understands more about how this piece should be played than many/most of the greatest pianists in history. That's far more extreme than saying he doesn't like one or two great pianists' playing of this piece. I think saying that most of the great pianists who have recorded some major work were inadequate seems wrong for almost anyone but especially a teenager. I think if even a world class pianist made such a statement, they'd be criticized.
Posted by: Damon

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 08:39 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If he's really heard many great pianists' recordings of this piece but feels they don't do it justice, he's in effect saying he understands more about how this piece should be played than many/most of the greatest pianists in history.


That is an erroneous conclusion to infer from his statement. That's a fact, IMO.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 08:54 PM

Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If he's really heard many great pianists' recordings of this piece but feels they don't do it justice, he's in effect saying he understands more about how this piece should be played than many/most of the greatest pianists in history.


That is an erroneous conclusion to infer from his statement. That's a fact, IMO.
So the great pianists understand as much as he does but chose not to use this understanding and to play it differently from what this understanding would dictate?
Posted by: Damon

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/04/12 09:18 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Damon
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus

If he's really heard many great pianists' recordings of this piece but feels they don't do it justice, he's in effect saying he understands more about how this piece should be played than many/most of the greatest pianists in history.


That is an erroneous conclusion to infer from his statement. That's a fact, IMO.
So the great pianists understand as much as he does but chose not to use this understanding and to play it differently from what this understanding would dictate?


No. He said "didn't do it justice, IMO". If I were to paraphrase that I could legitimately write "didn't play it to my liking" I don't think the word "understanding" has anything to do with what Josh said.
Posted by: btb

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 01:38 AM

6 October 2012
Facile Liszt is at the bottom of my barrel ... and avoid him like the plague ... so anything suggested will have been guided by a disenchanted ear ... but why break one’s fingers on Ballade 2 (which opens with a chromatic romp for the LH) ... when there are far more enchanting works by other composers to brighten the day.

Beethoven’s Pathetique is the obvious lodestar which every pianist should get under their belt in building up a grand repertoire.

I’ll go with Kreisler’s Mozart 310 and Un Sospiro
(A Sigh) ... but Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata would be my bet ... for one of the most aesthetic (beautiful) architectural structures ever.

Test an opening gallop through the Liszt Ballade 2 ...
and see whether your dog howls ... a sure sign of dross.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 01:51 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
a sure sign of dross.

... to consume and thy gold to refine?
Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 02:20 AM

Originally Posted By: btb

when there are far more enchanting works by other composers to brighten the day.


That's only your opinion.

Originally Posted By: btb
a sure sign of dross.


The only dross, the only facile thing here, is your post. Calling Liszt these things now only speaks to close-mindedness, ignorance, and prejudice.
Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 02:33 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Agree with Jason. To me, this is a romantic era piano work of the highest order. I think it's one of Liszt's most perfect compositions. None of it is less inspired than any other part, it's very tightly, masterfully constructed, and simply contains much of what makes Liszt great - but most performances i've heard don't do it justice (IMO).
You think you know more about playing this piece than most of the great pianists who have played it or have you only heard performances by really poor pianists?


Pretty much what Damon said, although my opinion does seem to be a pretty common one. It is a difficult work to bring off - even for professional pianists.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 02:47 AM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: btb
a sure sign of dross.

... to consume and thy gold to refine?

You guys sent me to my musical Funk & Wagnall's....

Posted by: btb

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 02:52 AM

Ye verily bretheren!! ... I have been besmirched by an Australian chappie with the pitch of “close-mindedness, ignorance, and prejudice” ... and plead guilty on all counts regarding loopy Liszt.

Pity the Aussies can’t play cricket ... getting bombed out by the West Indies yesterday in the semi-final of the T20 ... losing by a massive 78 runs.

SA rugby beat the island-buggers by 31-8 last Saturday ... today (at home) we take on the mighty All Blacks ... I’m betting a modest sum on the Boks to win ... no ways would I venture my paid-up house!!
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 09:04 AM

Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Originally Posted By: btb

when there are far more enchanting works by other composers to brighten the day.


That's only your opinion.

Originally Posted By: btb
a sure sign of dross.


The only dross, the only facile thing here, is your post. Calling Liszt these things now only speaks to close-mindedness, ignorance, and prejudice.
He just has a different opinion about Liszt or this particular piece than you do. Just like you have your opinion about Liszt's music. You may be a Liszt fanatic but that doesn't mean it makes sense to call someone with a different opinion "prejudiced".

I know professional musicians of the highest caliber who don't rate Liszt very highly and dislike his music in general. Personally, I do like quite a bit of Liszt's music but I don't think he's anywhere near the level of those I'd consider as the very greatest composers.

Even is someone expressed dislike for composers like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, I don't think calling them close minded or ignorant make much sense.

You also seemed to have overlooked some of the intended humor in btb's post and general posting style.
Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 09:14 AM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Originally Posted By: btb

when there are far more enchanting works by other composers to brighten the day.


That's only your opinion.

Originally Posted By: btb
a sure sign of dross.


The only dross, the only facile thing here, is your post. Calling Liszt these things now only speaks to close-mindedness, ignorance, and prejudice.
He just has a different opinion about Liszt or this particular piece than you do. Just like you have your opinion about Liszt's music. Becaue your a Liszt fanatic you should describe someone with a different opinion as prejudiced?


It's not so much that. Rather the fact that he comes into this thread, made by a guy who is clearly enthusiastic about this piece, and goes on to talk about how Liszt is facile and this music dross, apparently for no real reason. I'm probably over-reacting, it's just that, as a Liszt fan, so much rubbish gets said about him over time it gets hard to take - especially when, as they say, ones taste in music is part of who they are.

And as for the humour in his post, well i've seen him make similar posts before with regards to Liszt - without the intended humour. Let us love this composer without having highly questionable opinions, communicated in condescending, 'factual' statements, being thrown in our faces - no one ever does this sort of thing with most of the other great composers.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 09:54 AM

Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
It's not so much that. Rather the fact that he comes into this thread, made by a guy who is clearly enthusiastic about this piece, and goes on to talk about how Liszt is facile and this music dross, apparently for no real reason. I'm probably over-reacting, it's just that, as a Liszt fan, so much rubbish gets said about him over time it gets hard to take - especially when, as they say, ones taste in music is part of who they are.

And as for the humour in his post, well i've seen him make similar posts before with regards to Liszt - without the intended humour. Let us love this composer without having highly questionable opinions, communicated in condescending, 'factual' statements, being thrown in our faces - no one ever does this sort of thing with most of the other great composers.
There certainly have been PW posts where the poster expressed dislike for even the greatest composers, i.e. those composers who a big majority rank at the very top.

When you say "so much rubbish gets expressed" that's how you feel about those statements. They may well be the honest opinions of those who say them. Just the fact the "so much" gets expressed means that more than a couple of people don't agree with you on your evaluation of Liszt.

That the opinions are "highly questionable" is also just your view. I didn't find btb's post condescending at all. It was clearly meant to be partly humorous as are almost all of his posts. Do you think anyone with that writing style is trying to be totally serious?

I certainly agree that you were "probably over-reacting". Being a big fan of Liszt doesn't mean you have to take any criticism of him personally and respond by calling his detractors "prejudiced, close minded, and ignorant" or saying their(to you) bad taste is part of who they are.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 06:57 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

You guys sent me to my musical Funk & Wagnall's....


You got it.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 07:25 PM

Originally Posted By: pianojosh23

And as for the humour in his post, well I've seen him make similar posts before with regards to Liszt - without the intended humour. Let us love this composer without having highly questionable opinions, communicated in condescending, 'factual' statements, being thrown in our faces - no one ever does this sort of thing with most of the other great composers.

I wouldn't worry about it, Josh. btb isn't online with Liszt as we are, who cares really, but btb's experiences in London (before we were born) are always of interest to me- and he is a cool guy.

We are both very fond of the music of Eric Coates, and he has hands on experience with what this music meant at the time. That directly mirrors what my grandmother told me, if btb is certainly younger than she is.



Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 10:02 PM

[/quote]There certainly have been PW posts where the poster expressed dislike for even the greatest composers, i.e. those composers who a big majority rank at the very top.

When you say "so much rubbish gets expressed" that's how you feel about those statements. They may well be the honest opinions of those who say them. Just the fact the "so much" gets expressed means that more than a couple of people don't agree with you on your evaluation of Liszt.

That the opinions are "highly questionable" is also just your view. I didn't find btb's post condescending at all. It was clearly meant to be partly humorous as are almost all of his posts. Do you think anyone with that writing style is trying to be totally serious?

I certainly agree that you were "probably over-reacting". Being a big fan of Liszt doesn't mean you have to take any criticism of him personally and respond by calling his detractors "prejudiced, close minded, and ignorant" or saying their(to you) bad taste is part of who they are.[/quote]

I agree with some of what you're saying and disagree with some other parts...But I guess, overall, my view on Liszt based on what i've read from both his detractors - professional and non professional, and his supporters - again professional and non professional, and my subsequent listening to his music, is that there is absolutely no question Liszt is a great composer and that anyone who denies that is the one with the problem, and not Liszt himself. With Liszt the case is magnified because there has been, yes, rubbish written about him since he was alive. If you look back to the inital reception of the Sonata, to Donald Francis Tovey's remarkable oversites in regards to the tone poems, Ernest Newman's book full of complete falsehoods (yes, actually false, as recent Liszt biographers have made clear)...it goes on, it spreads, and IMO it leads to prejudice and misunderstanding. I believe that people don't give Liszt a fair chance as they do most of the other great composers in regards to listening in-depth to his output, trying to understand his music, and his place in history, because it's easy to fall onto those old prejudices if you don't immediately understand what you're hearing and Liszt is certainly an acquired taste, also full of symbolism, extra-musical references, etc. If they do this i'm certain they won't think him any less than a great composer even if he's not to their taste. Of course this is a controversial view and you won't agree with me, and maybe it will change over time, but this is the view I hold.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 10:10 PM

Originally Posted By: pianojosh23

I agree with some of what you're saying and disagree with some other parts...But I guess, overall, my view on Liszt based on what i've read from both his detractors - professional and non professional, and his supporters - again professional and non professional, and my subsequent listening to his music, is that there is absolutely no question Liszt is a great composer and that anyone who denies that is the one with the problem, and not Liszt himself. With Liszt the case is magnified because there has been, yes, rubbish written about him since he was alive. If you look back to the inital reception of the Sonata, to Donald Francis Tovey's remarkable oversites in regards to the tone poems, Ernest Newman's book full of complete falsehoods (yes, actually false, as recent Liszt biographers have made clear)...it goes on, it spreads, and IMO it leads to prejudice and misunderstanding. I believe that people don't give Liszt a fair chance as they do most of the other great composers in regards to listening in-depth to his output, trying to understand his music, and his place in history, because it's easy to fall onto those old prejudices if you don't immediately understand what you're hearing and Liszt is certainly an acquired taste, also full of symbolism, extra-musical references, etc. If they do this i'm certain they won't think him any less than a great composer even if he's not to their taste. Of course this is a controversial view and you won't agree with me, and maybe it will change over time, but this is the view I hold.
If someone doesn't like a composer...any composer, they don't have a "problem"...they just have a musical opinion. In fact, the huge majority of people on the planet not only don't like Liszt, they don't like any classical composers.
Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/06/12 10:16 PM

[/quote]If someone doesn't like a composer...any composer, they don't have a problem...they just have a musical opinion. [/quote]

I guess it depends. I think it is a problem for them if they don't get to understand and appreciate art that has brought so much to so many people. That's how I view it anyway. If there's a great composer who I don't like I think it's a deficiency on my part, and I ought to try to lose that deficiency. Maybe it will never happen, but it does for the majority of people who give an honest effort. Besides it wasn't about not liking Liszt, it was about objectively considering him to be a great composer. You can consider a composer to be great without liking them.
Posted by: btb

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 02:14 AM

I should put $10.00 in the post for all the kind words ... there’s always a stir when one of us yokels takes a swing at Liszt ... but it livens the party and sure gets the angry out with a fair share of guffaws.

As a follow up to my earlier post about taking on the other island-buggers ... the mighty rugby All Blacks took our Boks to the cleaners in yesterdays match at Soweto before a full-house crowd of 75,000 ... we got plastered 32-16 ... which arithmetically makes the islanders twice as good.

My apologies to the stiff-upper-lip chappies who presently go gaga over the Hungarian piano player.

I still like the wonder of Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata Opus 31, no. 2 ... but then I’m “prejudiced”.

PS A little bit of "remedy" news ... as an ancient fogey to have come down with arthritis in my left hand (which curtails any piano playing) ... by chance I ate some pineapple ... and discovered that the fruit
totally dissipates the inhibiting finger movement of arthritis.

What a pleasure to again play the Pathetique Sonata ...
not quite up to the standard of Ashkenazy (who’s kidding who?) ... but at least my dog (the musical sheep-dog) doesn’t howl, so I must be on the right tack.

Kind regards chaps.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 02:48 AM

Originally Posted By: pianojosh23
Ernest Newman's book full of complete falsehoods (yes, actually false, as recent Liszt biographers have made clear)...

After praising Newman's excellent book on Wagner in another thread, his book on Liszt -which I had a hard time slogging through- amounts to little more than a character assassination.
Posted by: pianojosh23

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 03:11 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
I should put $10.00 in the post for all the kind words ... there’s always a stir when one of us yokels takes a swing at Liszt ... but it livens the party and sure gets the angry out with a fair share of guffaws.

As a follow up to my earlier post about taking on the other island-buggers ... the mighty rugby All Blacks took our Boks to the cleaners in yesterdays match at Soweto before a full-house crowd of 75,000 ... we got plastered 32-16 ... which arithmetically makes the islanders twice as good.

My apologies to the stiff-upper-lip chappies who presently go gaga over the Hungarian piano player.

I still like the wonder of Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata Opus 31, no. 2 ... but then I’m “prejudiced”.

PS A little bit of "remedy" news ... as an ancient fogey to have come down with arthritis in my left hand (which curtails any piano playing) ... by chance I ate some pineapple ... and discovered that the fruit
totally dissipates the inhibiting finger movement of arthritis.

What a pleasure to again play the Pathetique Sonata ...
not quite up to the standard of Ashkenazy (who’s kidding who?) ... but at least my dog (the musical sheep-dog) doesn’t howl, so I must be on the right tack.

Kind regards chaps.


No worries. I also apologise for over-reacting and if I insulted you in any way. The Liszt situation is just one of some importance to me. I don't think you are guilty of anything I said on a consistent basis (I don't know you at all) but I don't take it back about Liszt (prove me wrong!). As for Beethoven, well he's probably my favourite composer and I didn't say anything about your loving of Beethoven and the Tempest.

As for the whole sporting thing, your words about cricket and rugby are completely lost on me as I don't follow either - only NBA and AFL football for me. Unfortunately what you said about us not being able to play cricket applies to basketball too.
Posted by: trigalg693

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 03:39 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
...but why break one’s fingers on Ballade 2 (which opens with a chromatic romp for the LH) ... when there are far more enchanting works by other composers to brighten the day.

Beethoven’s Pathetique is the obvious lodestar which every pianist should get under their belt in building up a grand repertoire.


I don't want to be disrespectful but these are rather amusing opinions. Pathetique? Grand? Obvious? Ahem. (most people don't think of it as a "big" work from a repertoire perspective)

Break ones fingers? Ballade 2 has to be one of the least technically challenging large scale Liszt works out there...the typical opinion I've heard is that it's a very mature piece and not showy. I wholeheartedly agree. The OP's level might not be up to par but this piece has got to be the worst example to use if you're going to attack Liszt, especially for being too technical.
Posted by: btb

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 04:35 AM

7 October 2012

As discussed in earlier threads,
the issue of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata Opus 13
has vexed many a contrariwise view.

For my part, it was the moment when Beethoven pinned
his true colours to the mast and never looked back ...
up till then the dogmas and styles of mentors (Haydn and Mozart) had clouded his to be expansive batting style.

If trigalg693 can’t discern the “grand and obvious” qualities in the Beethoven Pathetique, there is much learning to be done.

Look at the Sonata Opus 2 series (dedicated to Haydn) to
realise how a scuttling mouse became an Opus 13 lion.
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 05:42 AM

Honestly, if you think the Tempest is easy( as I did when I had started it), you're not ready for the Liszt Ballade. Work on the Tempest more instead of the ballade. The panel would appreciate a well played interpretation of the Tempest.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 04:36 PM

Originally Posted By: arpan70
Honestly, if you think the Tempest is easy( as I did when I had started it), you're not ready for the Liszt Ballade....

Ironic, perhaps, but probably true!

Although....if it is to be taken how you took it, then a person who said that about the Tempest probably wasn't ready for that either -- so there isn't necessarily any greater harm in trying the Liszt! smile

IMO the main thing that would negate what we're saying is if the person means "easy" in a quite different way than how we think of it -- and judging from how often we see people here saying things like that Chopin's 4th Ballade or whatever was "pretty easy," I think it's very possible that this is what's going on. But if they mean "easy" how we think of the word, I'm comfortable saying that most people who talk about a piece like the Tempest being "easy" either aren't really playing it very well or at best are just sort of playing the notes and that's it. For one thing right off the bat, I'd bet that they're blowing the rhythm of the last movement, and have no clue about it. smile
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 04:43 PM

Originally Posted By: arpan70
Honestly, if you think the Tempest is easy( as I did when I had started it), you're not ready for the Liszt Ballade.
Your current repertoire list includes the Tempest, and you said you thought it was easy at first. Unless you've been working on it an extremely long time, any criticism of the OP for finding the Tempest "easy", would seem to apply equally to you in the not too distant past.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 04:53 PM

Where did Arpan say the Tempest was easy? (I don't know for sure that he/she didn't, but I don't recall anything like that, and it doesn't sound right.)
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 07:12 PM

News to me that the 'Tempest' is easy.
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
But if they mean "easy" how we think of the word, I'm comfortable saying that most people who talk about a piece like the Tempest being "easy" either aren't really playing it very well or at best are just sort of playing the notes and that's it.

Well indeed. I often heard it murdered during my student years, and basically the first eight measures establish what kind of performance we will be dealing with. Don't get those measures right, then forget it.

Subsequently how many student performances don't get Beethoven's carefully notated tremolos at measure 21? They are not the same as Liszt's tremolos in his transcription of Wagner's Liebestod.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 08:35 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Where did Arpan say the Tempest was easy? (I don't know for sure that he/she didn't, but I don't recall anything like that, and it doesn't sound right.)
Just read my post. The relevant quote is right there.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 09:36 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Where did Arpan say the Tempest was easy? (I don't know for sure that he/she didn't, but I don't recall anything like that, and it doesn't sound right.)
Just read my post. The relevant quote is right there.

Sorry, my bad! Indeed (obviously!) I just didn't see that.
But, it's not the same as what we were talking about, which was saying or thinking something is "easy" after having learned it. I wouldn't have said anything like the comment that I made if it was about what someone thought when first working on the piece, although indeed I'd say that ideally someone should know better. smile
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 10:31 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Where did Arpan say the Tempest was easy? (I don't know for sure that he/she didn't, but I don't recall anything like that, and it doesn't sound right.)
Just read my post. The relevant quote is right there.

Sorry, my bad! Indeed (obviously!) I just didn't see that.
But, it's not the same as what we were talking about...
Of course I never said it was the same, there's no reason why it has to be the same, and my point still stands. Arpan was criticizing someone for something he recently he was "guilty" of.

I think the whole "if you think that piece is easy you're not playing it well, have very low standards, etc." especially when often repeated by the same poster is highly arrogant and insulting. Saying that "if you think that piece is easy, you must not be playing it well" is in effect saying that "I found it difficult and I play at least as well as you do, so that if you find it easy you must be playing it poorly, not understand it".

It doesn't allow for the possibility that someone who says a piece is easy really does play much better than the person who criticizes him for making that statement.

I was once taking an elevator with Jeffrey Swann who was laughingly talking about a pianist who said the Chopin Prelude in E flat posed no problems. But Swann didn't start saying the pianist making this statement must be playing this piece poorly. The pianist who made the statement was Maurizio Pollini.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/07/12 10:48 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
....It doesn't allow for the possibility that someone who says a piece is easy really does play much better than the person who criticizes him for making that statement....

Sure it allows for the possibility, because I only said that I would think it's true for MOST people saying such a thing -- and I hold to it.

And BTW the Pollini example that you went on to give doesn't address this, because what I was talking about (and perhaps Arpan too, but I don't know) was the use of the specific word "easy" for this kind of thing. And further, many would say that using Pollini as a counter-example only supports the point, because of the nature of the frequent criticism of him as a musician -- i.e. playing the notes very well but not showing any deep appreciation of the music. But forget that -- the main thing is that the Pollini story doesn't involve his saying "easy."

It's the word. smile
Posted by: arpan70

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/08/12 07:32 AM

I did not intend on criticizing him at all. I meant on giving him some advice him because I went through the same thing. Learning the notes and playing it with the appropriate tempo is probably the easiest part of a Beethoven sonata. I was just suggesting to him that he should focus on the Beethoven sonata as he might not have been addressing the major musical difficulties that one would discover after having spent some time with such a piece. And by your ideology that you can't bring up a issue that you yourself had, don't we all tell others what mistakes we had made ourselves? That is what makes this forum so special, all of us have made a few mistake that we share. We collectively learn from the mistakes of others so that we can avoid making the same mistake. My mistake was for initially underestimating the Tempest. Again, I don't mean to criticize him, I just meant to tell him that he should perhaps spend a bit more time on his current repertoire. Beethoven would greatly help in the Liszt Ballade No.2, especially with respect to its structure. I meant to say that he might not have delved into this great work that much to say it is "quite easy". That's it. Also, I have never said "if you think that piece is easy you're not playing it well, have very low standards, etc." And again, this is just my opinion. I have much less experience in music than you do so I may be wrong as well.

Aussi, Mark, thanks for defending me. This medium can often cause misunderstanding. However, Pollini's Recording of the last three Schubert sonatas is some of the most sensitive playing I've ever heard, and the deep appreciation of those magnificent works definitely shows in his playing. And I'm pretty sure he doesn't call those "easy". grin
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/08/12 08:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
....It doesn't allow for the possibility that someone who says a piece is easy really does play much better than the person who criticizes him for making that statement....

Sure it allows for the possibility, because I only said that I would think it's true for MOST people saying such a thing -- and I hold to it.
The MOST qualifier does allow for a slight possibility that your statement doesn't apply to the person it was addressed to, but you clearly think it did or there would be no good reason to say it. If I responded to your statement by saying "Most people who say something like that are idiots", I'd assume you would rightly be offended.

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
And BTW the Pollini example that you went on to give doesn't address this, because what I was talking about was the use of the specific word "easy" for this kind of thing. And further, many would say that using Pollini as a counter-example only supports the point, because of the nature of the frequent criticism of him as a musician -- i.e. playing the notes very well but not showing any deep appreciation of the music. But forget that -- the main thing is that the Pollini story doesn't involve his saying "easy."
Now you're playing games with words to an extent it's hard to imagine. You're worrying about the distinction between saying something "poses no problems" and saying "it's easy" when it's beyond obvious that the gist of the statements are the same. Your comment about Pollini's playing is also wrong. While some find his playing cold, many consider him to be one of the most important pianists alive. He regularly sells out he biggest venues, plays with the world' greatest orchestras, and gets high praise for his recordings. You may not agree with his interpretation as I sometime do, but I doubt you would say he just learned the notes and needs to work more on the non technical aspects of the piece. He is generally considered the greatest Italian pianist since Michelangeli.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/08/12 08:58 AM

Originally Posted By: arpan70
I did not intend on criticizing him at all. I meant on giving him some advice him because I went through the same thing. Learning the notes and playing it with the appropriate tempo is probably the easiest part of a Beethoven sonata. I was just suggesting to him that he should focus on the Beethoven sonata as he might not have been addressing the major musical difficulties that one would discover after having spent some time with such a piece. And by your ideology that you can't bring up a issue that you yourself had, don't we all tell others what mistakes we had made ourselves? That is what makes this forum so special, all of us have made a few mistake that we share. We collectively learn from the mistakes of others so that we can avoid making the same mistake. My mistake was for initially underestimating the Tempest. Again, I don't mean to criticize him, I just meant to tell him that he should perhaps spend a bit more time on his current repertoire. Beethoven would greatly help in the Liszt Ballade No.2, especially with respect to its structure. I meant to say that he might not have delved into this great work that much to say it is "quite easy". That's it. Also, I have never said "if you think that piece is easy you're not playing it well, have very low standards, etc." And again, this is just my opinion. I have much less experience in music than you do so I may be wrong as well.
I'm glad to see you did not mean to criticize the OP. I think the way you expressed things in this post is different from your first post.
Posted by: RachelEDNC

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/08/12 09:58 PM

Hi, Piquelol-

I started learning the Ballade in late April/ early May. I performed it in a studio class about a month ago. The performance was at a level I was happy with- for a first performance after about 5 months. Not at a level I would hope to be playing at for an audition. Luckily, I still have about 4-5 months to now polish and bring it up to hopefully an acceptable audition level. I would think that 5 months could have the Ballade learned, but not at a high performance level.

I have played many of the pieces you listed in your repertoire, so I am guessing I am at least on the same level as you. (I realize this is a huge assumption since we are just naming pieces and not listening to how they are played). Anyways, to sum this up- from a pianist who is probably close to your level- don't do it. Spend the time reworking old stuff and if your bored learn a new, much shorter piece.
Posted by: trigalg693

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/09/12 10:55 AM

Originally Posted By: btb

If trigalg693 can’t discern the “grand and obvious” qualities in the Beethoven Pathetique, there is much learning to be done.


Ignoring your rather amusing style of writing, perhaps you should not take my words out of context. You specifically were talking about building a "grand repertoire", among other (imo) even more questionable things. That is different from a musically "grand" piece. As far as I know, Pathetique is only borderline acceptable repertoire for serious competitions and such. Stylistically it is "grand", but when one speaks of a "grand repertoire" I don't think it is a very fitting piece.
Posted by: DonaldLee

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/13/12 02:11 AM

If it's for an audition, then I wouldn't try it. I would, however, begin learning it as a "stretch" piece. DISCLAIMER: I have not yet seriously studied this piece yet, though I have studied the score many times. Technically, it's not too hard with respect to Liszt. Don't get me wrong, it's a challenging piece, but it's not as flamboyant as some of Liszts show pieces, and like many of his mature works, its technical difficulties are replaced with interpretive difficulties. 2 months, or maybe 1 would be sufficient enough to get all of the notes and rhythms perfected and memorized, but making the piece communicate could take much, MUCH longer. For example, I learned (note-wise) Beethoven's op. 81a (Les Adieux) in 1 month, but I've just recently become comfortable enough to perform it (4.5 months later). Judging by your repertoire list (or should I say liszt? =) ), I would say it may take you over 5 months to learn, but it's a great piece, and upon completing it you would have learned so much about taste, rubato, voicing, and the balance of virtuosity of musicality.

Best of Luck!!
Donald Lee
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/13/12 02:20 AM

Originally Posted By: DonaldLee
....2 months, or maybe 1 would be sufficient enough to get all of the notes and rhythms perfected and memorized, but making the piece communicate could take much, MUCH longer....

Well said -- and that's just it when it comes to pieces like this. (Even more so for a similar other thread about another piece that shall remain nameless grin -- even though you said it isn't!)

And in this case there would seem to be issues about the mere notes also, since (as several people have said) the piece is probably significantly harder than anything else that the person has played. But even if not, what you said would apply.

(Want to say why you think this about the Liszt, but not the other piece?? Seems to me like an odd juxtaposition!)
Posted by: DonaldLee

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/14/12 01:12 AM

I said that the other piece on the other thread (my god, this is getting confusing) would be manageable by the other person because said person has more experience with rather difficult pieces. Also, the conservatory setting forces people to refine pieces much more quickly. e.g.: I began Les Adieux the summer before entering university as a piano performance major. I had struggled dearly with the piece, interpretation wise, for months. 4.5 later (now), I'm comfortable performing it because I finally had 3 lessons on just this piece, and devoted 4.5 hours of practice per day on this piece alone. Beforehand, I was just shooting in the dark about how to make the piece speak. I assumed the OP might have a similar problem, as he made no reference to having a skilled professor's help. I thought OP on the other post would have a lot more help, and would have been able to get all of the notes down in 1-2 weeks, then devote lots of time to the interpretation of the piece.

Also, the importance of event comes into play here. Playing a piece that has not fully blossomed under your hand is very risky at an audition. A non-degree recital is not graded or judged (at least not at my school), thus making an "almost there, just missing a hint of something" piece a tad more acceptable.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/14/12 01:26 AM

Nice answer!
I mean, I see it differently (need I say!) grin but very nice answer -- it works, according to how ones sees the Chopin ballade, and how one sees Chopin vs. Liszt.
Posted by: DonaldLee

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/14/12 01:34 AM

I did, however, have to retract my statement about Chopin speaking easier than Liszt. I must have been thinking about preludes or waltzes, and not the ballades.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/14/12 02:31 AM

Good! smile
I was willing to accept the other thing as a reasonable difference of opinion, very broadly considered grin ....but I didn't understand it.

You could also have said it about other pieces of Chopin, such as most of the Polonaises -- and maybe, maybe even about a Ballade or two or three -- but, IMO, not that piece.
Posted by: Serge Marinkovic

Re: Liszt Ballade 2 from scratch in 5 months - feasible? - 10/14/12 06:10 AM

Horowitz MET recording with the Beethoven late piano sonata is so haunting in the introduction not even Bolet give it that color. But Horowitz play the b theme always brings me to tears.