Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes

Posted by: pianoloverus

Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/02/12 05:52 PM

I think I've read that Chopin didn't intend for his Etudes or Preludes to be played as an entire set and that this was rarely done in the 19th century. OTOH both sets of Etudes and the Preludes seem to be very carefully arranged and IMO work very well when played as a set.

So why did Chopin seemingly order these so carefully if in fact he didn't want them played as a set?
Posted by: BDB

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/02/12 06:36 PM

You would have to ask him to be certain, but I suspect it was to make them easier to sell as sheet music.
Posted by: asthecrowflies

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/02/12 07:26 PM

He seems to have intended at least some of them to be played in order... cf. the attacca at the end at the end of Op 10 #3...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/02/12 09:46 PM

This might seem like one of those distinctions that isn't a distinction, but I'd put it a little differently. I don't think it's that he didn't intend them to be played as sets, but that he didn't intend them necessarily to be played as sets. I think he certainly didn't intend that they shouldn't be played as sets.

But be that as it may smile here's my main answer, at least for the Etudes and to some extent for the Preludes as well. Most people seem to assume that the Etudes are (of course) studies in playing the piano. I think Chopin viewed them at least equally, and I'd guess more so, as compositional studies -- demonstrations of composing great music involving and displaying specific challenges, sometimes technical but sometimes not exactly, but so emphatically musical and creative that playing and understanding the pieces well involves far more than the 'etud-ish' challenges.

If Chopin viewed them so, then I think it's close to axiomatic that he'd view the ordering of the pieces as part of the compositional challenge, and actually part of the inspiration and concept of each next piece. Or maybe it's clearer if we put it the second part as sort of a double-negative: if indeed he viewed the pieces as I'm saying, he obviously wouldn't have then ordered them randomly or haphazardly, because if a great and brilliant composer (or any other kind of creator or artist) is approaching the units of a set creatively and artistically, he's absolutely not going to forget about creativity and artistry in how he orders them.
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/02/12 11:00 PM

It was, and is, quite common for composers to work on pieces out of order having sketched out a plan for the set, but it's true that the performance practice didn't really call for performances of complete sets of anything. It's worth remembering how much it has actually changed over the years. "Encore" originally comes from the French word "again" - and was a direction to the performers to play that movement again!
Posted by: WhoDwaldi

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/02/12 11:55 PM

Doing recordings of complete sets of things must be murder, because your prestissimos better be faster than your mere presto agitatos, or some jerk listening with the score will get snippy about it. smile
Posted by: slipperykeys

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/03/12 05:15 AM

Originally Posted By: WhoDwaldi
Doing recordings of complete sets of things must be murder, because your prestissimos better be faster than your mere presto agitatos, or some jerk listening with the score will get snippy about it. smile


Wow, you really are hard on the jerks there.....
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/03/12 07:20 PM

I never read that Chopin 'intended' his opp.10/25/28 to be executed in any specific way what so ever, so what is the fuss about? Nowadays it seems to be normal practice to play either 24 as a concertpiece, probably not in his time, but what's against playing the entire WTK, though Bach never might have 'intended' it to be played as such, but now we find it quite normal and we, 'moderns' are able to enjoy it may be more than his contemporaries?
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 04:06 PM

If this is any help, as most of you know Chopin arranged his Preludes as a nod to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier. As for the etudes, just FYI, op 10 was published originally in two different books, six etudes to a book. which could be purchased separately. Don't know about op 25.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 04:09 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

Most people seem to assume that the Etudes are (of course) studies in playing the piano. I think Chopin viewed them at least equally, and I'd guess more so, as compositional studies --

thumb

That's been my feeling, that their composition was as much a study for Chopin as a composer as the execution of them was for the student/performer.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 04:40 PM

For learning technique, the Preludes are probably better etudes than the Etudes. How many of you have played through all of them?
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 04:54 PM

Originally Posted By: BDB
For learning technique, the Preludes are probably better etudes than the Etudes. How many of you have played through all of them?


I see what you're saying, but just because something is difficult doesn't mean it should be called an etude. Should his Ballades and Scherzi be called etudes too? Obviously if you want to get into semantics and point out that 'etude' literally means 'study' in french, you could argue that every piece of music in the world is an etude since you are studying it while you learn it.
Posted by: the nosy ape

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 05:27 PM

Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
... but what's against playing the entire WTK, though Bach never might have 'intended' it to be played as such ...

Was not the whole point of the WTK that all of the pieces could be played consecutively without having to retune the instrument?
Posted by: dolce sfogato

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 05:30 PM

in a way, yes, to demonstrate that the new way of tuning opened up the possibility to go through all keys, not meaning to do it in one session, but what the heck?
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/05/12 05:47 PM

Originally Posted By: the nosy ape
Originally Posted By: dolce sfogato
... but what's against playing the entire WTK, though Bach never might have 'intended' it to be played as such ...

Was not the whole point of the WTK that all of the pieces could be played consecutively without having to retune the instrument?
I don't think so.

I'm under the impression that many of the more remote keys were simply not used at all until the newer tuning conventions allowed for that possibility. I don't think there was any intent on Bach's part for performing a huge chunk or all of these pieces at one concert. This is more the result of the fairly recent fashion to perform huge chunks of repertoire.

I'm certainly open to opposing opinions here.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/06/12 12:06 AM

Originally Posted By: -Frycek
If this is any help, as most of you know Chopin arranged his Preludes as a nod to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier. As for the etudes, just FYI, op 10 was published originally in two different books, six etudes to a book. which could be purchased separately. Don't know about op 25.


The Op. 28 Preludes seem to have been published in two separate books, too.
Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/06/12 12:34 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
For learning technique, the Preludes are probably better etudes than the Etudes. How many of you have played through all of them?

At university I learned all the Preludes at my teacher's behest. Not that I could actually play them.

Originally Posted By: mazurkajoe
I see what you're saying, but just because something is difficult doesn't mean it should be called an etude. Should his Ballades and Scherzi be called etudes too? Obviously if you want to get into semantics and point out that 'etude' literally means 'study' in french, you could argue that every piece of music in the world is an etude since you are studying it while you learn it.

I think BDB makes a valid point. The Preludes are more etude-like than, say, the collection of Brahms's short pieces. Many of them consist of a single pattern requiring or inculcating a certain dexterity. Some isolate and present a musical problem, such as playing nothing but unison broken chords and keeping it interesting, or playing the same repeated note throughout a piece without its becoming monotonous, so to speak.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/06/12 01:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
....playing the same repeated note throughout a piece without its becoming monotonous, so to speak.

ha ha ha

You must have smiled smile over that, and wondered if others would too. I did -- but I wouldn't have if not for the "so to speak." ha
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/06/12 01:40 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
or playing the same repeated note throughout a piece without its becoming monotonous, so to speak.


no. 5?
Posted by: btb

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/06/12 03:05 AM

Thanks for the reminder about the Chopin Opus 28 Preludes

Am reminded that I had played the lot with the exception of no. 24 Allegro appassionato which had never been completed, having always “bitten me on the bum”.

Am presently making amends ... but am breaking my left hand galloping up and down while the RH has a field day with the melody ... but my, oh my ... what about m14 where Chopin dazzles the peasants with an arpeggiated upward run of 28 notes in 2 seconds flat.

ps Most of us will have put a toe in the water with the 28/4
Largo ... with all 25 measures squeezed onto a single page.

Think I’ll get out my golf clubs ... more chance of success.

Posted by: Ferdinand

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/06/12 11:43 PM

Originally Posted By: mazurkajoe
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
or playing the same repeated note throughout a piece without its becoming monotonous, so to speak.


no. 5?

I was thinking of no. 15. The repeated A flat or G sharp is not literally constant through the entire piece, but almost.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/07/12 02:54 AM

Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: mazurkajoe
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
or playing the same repeated note throughout a piece without its becoming monotonous, so to speak.


no. 5?

I was thinking of no. 15. The repeated A flat or G sharp is not literally constant through the entire piece, but almost.


Yes, and it is a real shame when you want to play that prelude and that key happens to be a bit sluggish due to humidity. I have been told it is one of the most prone to become sluggish?
Posted by: wr

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/07/12 04:30 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
For learning technique, the Preludes are probably better etudes than the Etudes. How many of you have played through all of them?


I have, a few times. And although I wouldn't say that taken as a whole they are better etudes than the etudes, I think some of them are very good as etudes, and seem as if Chopin may have had some pronounced etude-like thoughts while composing them.

Other composers' preludes sometimes seem that way too - many of the preludes of Scriabin and Rachmaninoff can double as etudes quite nicely, for example.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/07/12 05:06 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict

Yes, and it is a real shame when you want to play that prelude and that key happens to be a bit sluggish due to humidity. I have been told it is one of the most prone to become sluggish?


Dampp-Chaser
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/07/12 01:17 PM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
Originally Posted By: mazurkajoe
Originally Posted By: Ferdinand
or playing the same repeated note throughout a piece without its becoming monotonous, so to speak.


no. 5?

I was thinking of no. 15. The repeated A flat or G sharp is not literally constant through the entire piece, but almost.


Yes, and it is a real shame when you want to play that prelude and that key happens to be a bit sluggish due to humidity. I have been told it is one of the most prone to become sluggish?


That sounds odd. Who told you that and what explanation was given for why one particular key "is one of the most prone to become sluggish"?

Regards,
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/07/12 02:02 PM

A piano tuner told me, and this was the explanation: "It is possible that the G# will be the first to get sluggish when humid as the flange is probably tighter than average." Not quite as strong as my assertion above, but it is still "possible".
Posted by: piette

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 04:59 AM

Originally Posted By: -Frycek
If this is any help, as most of you know Chopin arranged his Preludes as a nod to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier. As for the etudes, just FYI, op 10 was published originally in two different books, six etudes to a book. which could be purchased separately. Don't know about op 25.


Only the English and German first editions published Op. 10 as two different books; the French first edition published it as one book.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 05:41 AM

Originally Posted By: piette
Originally Posted By: -Frycek
If this is any help, as most of you know Chopin arranged his Preludes as a nod to Bach's Well Tempered Clavier. As for the etudes, just FYI, op 10 was published originally in two different books, six etudes to a book. which could be purchased separately. Don't know about op 25.


Only the English and German first editions published Op. 10 as two different books; the French first edition published it as one book.


Interesting to know. Thanks!
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 08:36 AM

Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
A piano tuner told me, and this was the explanation: "It is possible that the G# will be the first to get sluggish when humid as the flange is probably tighter than average."....

Are you sure he/she was talking generally, rather than specifically about your piano? Like, maybe there was something about that particular flange (which would be my guess).

BTW I'm talking about this without having the slightest idea what a flange is....and I don't mean that you have to tell me. smile
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 09:48 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
A piano tuner told me, and this was the explanation: "It is possible that the G# will be the first to get sluggish when humid as the flange is probably tighter than average."....

Are you sure he/she was talking generally, rather than specifically about your piano? Like, maybe there was something about that particular flange (which would be my guess).

BTW I'm talking about this without having the slightest idea what a flange is....and I don't mean that you have to tell me. smile


It certainly sounds to me as though the tuner were referring to the particular piano in question, rather than to all pianos in general. I find it hard to grasp that all pianos suffer from this (unresolved) issue. Certainly I've never encountered it on any pianos I have ever played.

Regards,
Posted by: btb

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 10:20 AM

On the question of piano strings ... did you chaps know that the Grand Johanna on the Hindenburg airship had aluminium strings ... to make it lighter!! (disaster May 6, 1937)

Now you know it all.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 10:32 PM

Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
A piano tuner told me, and this was the explanation: "It is possible that the G# will be the first to get sluggish when humid as the flange is probably tighter than average."....

Are you sure he/she was talking generally, rather than specifically about your piano? Like, maybe there was something about that particular flange (which would be my guess)....
It certainly sounds to me as though the tuner were referring to the particular piano in question, rather than to all pianos in general....

Off the subject, but......I can't help it.... grin
This is a great example of where I think the rule about using the subjunctive in such a situation is a poor idea -- and I don't do it. Good thing I'm not still in school, because I might flunk. ha

I think that actually most people who know about the subjunctive and generally use it properly violate the rule in such a context, but (as far as I know) it is nevertheless considered wrong.

What do I mean by "such a context"?
A context where the stated situation is very possibly actual. I reserve the subjunctive for where it's just being imagined, or at most highly unlikely. I think the subjunctive sounds strange when the stated situation is true or very possibly true, but as far as I know, the rule doesn't care.

The rule needs to be changed.
Pass it on. grin
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/08/12 10:42 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: ChopinAddict
A piano tuner told me, and this was the explanation: "It is possible that the G# will be the first to get sluggish when humid as the flange is probably tighter than average."....

Are you sure he/she was talking generally, rather than specifically about your piano? Like, maybe there was something about that particular flange (which would be my guess).

BTW I'm talking about this without having the slightest idea what a flange is....and I don't mean that you have to tell me. smile


Yes, it is possible that he was making an assumption about my piano (he didn't have it in front of him), but I will ask him when I have the chance. smile At any rate the tuner is coming in January, so we will have a look at that flange. laugh
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/09/12 02:17 AM

Originally Posted By: btb
On the question of piano strings ... did you chaps know that the Grand Johanna on the Hindenburg airship had aluminium strings ... to make it lighter!! (disaster May 6, 1937)

Now you know it all.


No, I don't. What was the rest of it made of?
Posted by: btb

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/09/12 04:06 AM

Hi Frycek,
Did a bit of reading up on the Hindenburg airship ...
and the use of aluminium strings to the piano.

No ... they didn't use balsawood for the rest of the piano!! ... to make it lighter.

Apparently the piano with aluminium strings did not
accompany the journey when the airship caught fire.
So presumably the old piano was left in the Frankfurt storeroom.

regards, btb

Dr. Rudolf Blüthner-Haessler was head of the Julius Blüthner Piano Company, which created the lightweight duralumin piano carried on Hindenburg during the 1936 season.
Posted by: -Frycek

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/10/12 06:16 AM

Thanks!
Posted by: BDB

Re: Ordering of the Chopin Etude and Preludes - 11/10/12 10:59 AM

I doubt that the piano had aluminum strings. That would be a tremendous design problem, as well as an acoustical one The bass strings may have been wrapped with aluminum, but the reason for wrapping strings is to add weight to them, anyway.