Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists

Posted by: Mwm

Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/13/13 07:07 PM

Thoughts and names?
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/13/13 11:59 PM

M Dearest,

Are you kidding? Even the mediocre music composed by "non-pianists" (and there's a lot of it) is most often played first by the composer, making them a pianist! By definition!

Could you rephrase that...
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:13 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
M Dearest,

Are you kidding? Even the mediocre music composed by "non-pianists" (and there's a lot of it) is most often played first by the composer, making them a pianist! By definition!

Why not be nicer? smile

You know what the OP meant. (Don't you?)

There's pianists, and there's people who just sort of play the piano. Chopin wrote some stuff for violin, cello, and voice. Would you say he was a violinist, cellist, and singer? grin

I admit that the line might be a bit hard to draw. Was Schubert a "pianist"? I'm not sure but I think he could be a good answer here. Not sure I could name any other 'great' composer of piano music who might not have been a "pianist."
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:19 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

Why not be nicer? smile


Yeah, having a few drinks usually makes me happier, not grouchier. smile

EDIT: To stay on topic, Berlioz.
Posted by: currawong

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:25 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
You know what the OP meant. (Don't you?)
Well actually, I'm not sure. Perhaps he should clarify. Does he mean by "non pianists"
[1] composers who are not virtuoso pianists, or performing pianists?
[2] composers who don't play the piano at all, and I can't think of any off-hand. Anyone with any training as a composer should be able to get around the keyboard to some extent (making them, as laguna_greg says, by definition a pianist).
or [3] something (?) in between.

It would perhaps have helped if he'd given his own example to start with. That's often the best way to kick off a thread in any case. Some posters are inclined to pose a question, nothing else, and then disappear...

Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:33 AM

Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
EDIT: To stay on topic, Berlioz.

Good try, but not on topic. grin

(Piano music, piano music!)

Originally Posted By: currawong
....Some posters are inclined to pose a question, nothing else, and then disappear...

Those people tend not to get too much attention in the future. ("Fool me once".......how does that go?) ha

(I know, but not everyone famously always did....)
Posted by: Orange Soda King

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:35 AM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Orange Soda King
EDIT: To stay on topic, Berlioz.

Good try, but not on topic. grin

(Piano music, piano music!)


I know. There just happens to be somebody singing along. ha
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:42 AM

Which major piano pieces did Berlioz write? And I think I'm perfectly nice, especially when I'm drunk.

Either way, my point is perfectly valid. Why don't don't we start with that? So get over yourself...

...and along those lines...how about Mussorgsky, an indifferent pianist, who wrote one of the major cyclic works of the 20th century?...Pictures...

Now there's somebody who really didn't understand the idiom of the piano!
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 12:47 AM

Mark,

"I admit that the line might be a bit hard to draw. Was Schubert a "pianist"? I'm not sure but I think he could be a good answer here..."

Schubert was good enough to convincingly play the Erlkönig at its premier, even if it was in someone's living room, and countless times after. And all the other, particularly nasty song accompaniments.

Have you, ever, played the Erlkönig with a singer in front of an audience, of any kind? Or "Die jönge nönne", or "Auf dem wasser zu singen", or "Groupe aus dem Tartarus" I have, a few times...

Either way, it makes him one heck of a pianist and possibly better than you or I. Thanks for proving my point...

Posted by: stores

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 07:44 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Mark,

"I admit that the line might be a bit hard to draw. Was Schubert a "pianist"? I'm not sure but I think he could be a good answer here..."

Schubert was good enough to convincingly play the Erlkönig at its premier, even if it was in someone's living room, and countless times after. And all the other, particularly nasty song accompaniments.

Have you, ever, played the Erlkönig with a singer in front of an audience, of any kind? Or "Die jönge nönne", or "Auf dem wasser zu singen", or "Groupe aus dem Tartarus" I have, a few times...

Either way, it makes him one heck of a pianist and possibly better than you or I. Thanks for proving my point...



+1
Schubert, was not a pianist of Liszt's, Chopin's, or even Beethoven's caliber, but he was no slouch and the music history books need to stop implying otherwise. You'll have to forgive Mark, as he, at times, speaks on topics he's not completely versed in.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 08:39 AM

You'll have to forgive Stores. He's jealous of people who know stuff that he doesn't and especially who think a little more complexly. ha

The main point of my post was the opening:

"Why not be nicer?"

I was trying to help the thread have a better tone than the first reply threatened to give it.


P.S. My post admitted that I'm not the best versed in exactly what kind of pianist Schubert was. grin
Anyway it appears that yes indeed (as an above post by somebody or other said) ha .....he could be a good answer here.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 08:52 AM

Good morning all. Yes, perhaps one too many drinks made me laconic rather than verbose. I should rephrase my question, though I have really enjoyed the responses anyway.

Let me provide an analogy that made me think of asking this question from posting in another thread. Beethoven was not trained as a singer, as far as I know, yet he wrote for the voice - badly.

Is there any great piano music written by composers who could not, did not play the piano? The point is that one can learn the range of an instrument, the transposition of the instrument, and so on, and write a decent symphony. But, there seem to be limits on how well can write for an instrument (the voice is an instrument) if one does not have training on it.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:02 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Which major piano pieces did Berlioz write? And I think I'm perfectly nice, especially when I'm drunk.

Either way, my point is perfectly valid. Why don't don't we start with that? So get over yourself...

...and along those lines...how about Mussorgsky, an indifferent pianist, who wrote one of the major cyclic works of the 20th century?...Pictures...

Now there's somebody who really didn't understand the idiom of the piano!

Precisely! Wonderful music, but not idiomatic. Look at the structure of a work of Chopin - cascading phrases that are identical in structure, just shifted harmonically, lines that fall effortlessly under the hands that make a piece sound vastly more difficult than it is.
Posted by: asiantraveller101

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 10:56 AM

Rossini, more well-known as an operatic composer, wrote many piano pieces that are quite interesting and should be better known. I like especially the pre-Satie style collection of "Sins of Old Age" with pieces like "Ouf! Les petits pois!" and "Prélude convulsif."
Posted by: jdw

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 11:35 AM

This thread led me to look up Joaquin Rodrigo because he's more famous for his guitar concerto than for his piano music. But it turns out he really was a pianist.
Posted by: Steve Chandler

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 11:35 AM

How about Cesar Franck? He was known primarily as an organist, he obviously had keyboard skills, but is the Prelude Chorale and Fugue a good enough piano piece to warrant inclusion?
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 02:01 PM

Of course, why not Steve?

Except that Franck was a very fine keyboard player including the piano. His chamber music, if nothing else, attests to a highly idiomatic understanding of the piano.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 02:14 PM

Good suggestions all, so maybe there is a significant grey area as to the pianistic qualifiations of a piano composer. My somewhat narrow and hugely biased thought was that Beethoven (IMNSHO) was lousy at writing for voice, therefore, by analogy, are there other famous or infamous composers who could not play the piano, but, nonetheless, wrote idiomatically for the piano?
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 02:19 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
M Dearest,

Are you kidding? Even the mediocre music composed by "non-pianists" (and there's a lot of it) is most often played first by the composer, making them a pianist! By definition!

Could you rephrase that...


You make an interesting point I have often wondered about. If a composer writes, at the piano, or even tests sections of a composition at the piano, when the work is actually for, say, a string quartet, does that inevitably bias the final texture, voicing, and flow of the music?
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 02:20 PM

Hi Mwm,

The difference is that there are several major composers who were not singers themselves but who understood how to write for the voice. Puccini, Mozart, Duparc, Poulenc, Copland, Brahms, and many others understood how to write beautifully for the voice and show off its best qualities. And none of them sang per se. Most successful opera composers fall into this category, and they all played the piano very well.

I've run across a few composers these days, still living, who are not pianists, just composers (you can actually do that today). And they compose with facility until they try to write something virtuosic for the piano. They can't do it because they really don't understand the instrument. At the same time, the piano has fallen out of favor as the chosen instrument for composition. So new works are slim on the ground even from people who know how to play.

It used to be that composers had to be trained in keyboard skills at the conservatory in order to be able to write anything. For the last 70 years, not nearly so much. It's all serialist this, and IRCAM that, and algorithms and chance. No room for real piano writing in that kind of philosophical setting.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 02:27 PM

Hi Mwm,

Stravinsky was well known to insist on only using a special piano to compose on, either at his home, or at summer festivals. He had the pedal disabled so he couldn't just sit and play, as he felt it would influence the act of composing too much. Copland followed a similar habit, as I've heard. They both played quite well.

Now Samuel Barber, on the other hand, liked to noodle around the keyboard a lot while he was writing. And I think that influenced his writing a lot!

The differences between the piano textures from the three of them are unmistakeable.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 03:06 PM

Yes they are. I really enjoy accompanying singers performing Barber. There are moments where he allows the piano to resonate from the acoustic energy of the singer. It is very special.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 03:48 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
....My somewhat narrow and hugely biased thought was that Beethoven (IMNSHO) was lousy at writing for voice, therefore, by analogy, are there other famous or infamous composers who could not play the piano, but, nonetheless, wrote idiomatically for the piano?

The logic of this fairly much escapes me ha ....but be that as it may, Beethoven was not "lousy" at writing for voice, nor on anything else of any significance with music.


P.S. I do get the 'logic' grin but the premise is wrong.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 03:58 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Mwm
....My somewhat narrow and hugely biased thought was that Beethoven (IMNSHO) was lousy at writing for voice, therefore, by analogy, are there other famous or infamous composers who could not play the piano, but, nonetheless, wrote idiomatically for the piano?

The logic of this fairly much escapes me ha .....I mean, there's the converse, the inverse, the contrapositive (which for some reason is a word that my Firefox spellcheck doesn't recognize, but heck, as I just found out, it doesn't recgnize "spellcheck" either) ha .....and this is none of those -- heck, it's not even a syllogism grin ....but maybe there's some principle of logic heretofore unknown to man (or woman) that's involved here.

But be that as it may, Beethoven was not "lousy" at writing for voice, nor on anything else of any significance with music.

Actually, I think he was also lousy at modulation. Don't get me wrong. I like Beethoven's music, especially the late quartets.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 04:02 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
....Actually, I think he was also lousy at modulation....

Yeah, he was just terrible at it -- the guy just really wasn't very much at music theory or technique. grin
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 04:11 PM

One way to rephrase the initial post might be to look at the purpose of composition:

1) To write music to be played by oneself
2) To write music to be played by a specific group of people
3) To write music to be played by a broad public

Thinking this way, we might get:

1) Liszt, who wrote with himself in mind as a performer
2) Beethoven, who wrote with the expectation that the performer would have great technical command and a high level of artistry
3) Grieg, who wrote music for anyone to enjoy, from amateurs to professionals and everything in between

And of course some composers fall into more than one category. I think Brahms, Schumann and Chopin have works in all three categories.

And some are clearly in one - Samuel Barber for example clearly falls in #2

I also have a feeling that Schubert spent most of his time in #1 and #3, not so much in #2 (same with Granados I suspect). Rachmaninoff didn't care so much about #3 (though he highly respected them as audience members.)
Posted by: haakonsb

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 04:13 PM

Christian Sinding was a Violinist, and he wrote piano music, mainly because his publisher earned more money on it!!! "Rustle of Spring" is a good example

He also wrote a piano concerto, not as well known! don't think many non pianists did that!


Dvorak was also primarily a violinist i think?
Posted by: jdw

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 04:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C

The logic of this fairly much escapes me ha ....but be that as it may, Beethoven was not "lousy" at writing for voice, nor on anything else of any significance with music.



Mark, I wonder if you sing? Beethoven's vocal writing is great as music, which I'm sure is what you're talking about. But I can see Mwm's point too, because vocally it's not too friendly.

Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 04:20 PM

Originally Posted By: jdw
....Beethoven's vocal writing is great as music, which I'm sure is what you're talking about. But I can see Mwm's point too, because vocally it's not too friendly.

With that, I agree.

Do I sing? Yes and no. I've sung in choruses, including a fair amount of Beethoven, including this:



IMO pieces like that in themselves immediately negate anything about his being "lousy" at writing for voice. And that's before we get to the 9th Symphony, which seems to have been Exhibit A on here for his being "lousy," which is fairly absurd.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 04:43 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Mwm
....Actually, I think he was also lousy at modulation....

Yeah, he was just terrible at it -- the guy just really wasn't very much at music theory or technique. grin

So true. Finally, we agree on something! crazy
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 05:37 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Of course, why not Steve?

Except that Franck was a very fine keyboard player including the piano. His chamber music, if nothing else, attests to a highly idiomatic understanding of the piano.
Franck was an extremely proficient pianist (a prodigy) before he even took up the organ. I would rate the PC&F and PA&F amongst some of the greatest piano works of the 19th century, though many seem to disagree. As an organist I'm of course familiar with his organ works, but IMO Franck's successors -Widor and Vierne for example- wrote a lot more idiomatically for the organ. (That is not, however, to say their music is greater than Franck's.)

It is fairly well known here that I am very fond of Edward Elgar's music, and his Concert Allegro would be a good example for this thread. Written for Fannie Davies, it is Elgar's only piano work conceived for the concert hall. It is not very idiomatically written (Elgar could get around the piano, though not a virtuoso), but it dates from 1901, just after a masterpiece -Cockaigne- so he was at the height of his creative powers. It really is a wonderful piece of music, and a few years later we would get the Introduction & Allegro for strings, another masterpiece.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 05:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Mwm
....Actually, I think he was also lousy at modulation....

Yeah, he was just terrible at it -- the guy just really wasn't very much at music theory or technique. grin

So true. Finally, we agree on something! crazy

Unless I'm missing something -and I cannot blame it on excessive heat or lack of coffee- I don't think you quite 'got' Mark's post.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 05:44 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Unless I'm missing something -and I cannot blame it on excessive heat or lack of coffee- I don't think you quite 'got' Mark's post.

....and I thought he had! (i.e. that he was being sarcastic in return)
But yeah, it's unclear because it 'works' either way.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 06:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Unless I'm missing something -and I cannot blame it on excessive heat or lack of coffee- I don't think you quite 'got' Mark's post.

....and I thought he had! (i.e. that he was being sarcastic in return)
But yeah, it's unclear because it 'works' either way.

BTW, is it a 'he' or 'she'? wink

I was confused because you and I disagree with Mwm. Calling Beethoven lousy at modulation is a serious accusation, it basically implies that this man was an amateur who didn't know any better.

Whatever, it seems a bit late in the day to worry about it. Beethoven is so universally praised by the public and professionals alike as to make any perceived weaknesses irrelevant. And I do wonder: if Beethoven had been 'better' at modulation, how might that have impacted his music? Would it still be as profoundly stirring and communicative?

Something to think about.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 07:38 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Unless I'm missing something -and I cannot blame it on excessive heat or lack of coffee- I don't think you quite 'got' Mark's post.

....and I thought he had! (i.e. that he was being sarcastic in return)
But yeah, it's unclear because it 'works' either way.

BTW, is it a 'he' or 'she'? wink

I was confused because you and I disagree with Mwm. Calling Beethoven lousy at modulation is a serious accusation, it basically implies that this man was an amateur who didn't know any better.

Whatever, it seems a bit late in the day to worry about it. Beethoven is so universally praised by the public and professionals alike as to make any perceived weaknesses irrelevant. And I do wonder: if Beethoven had been 'better' at modulation, how might that have impacted his music? Would it still be as profoundly stirring and communicative?

Something to think about.

He, meaning me, got it.
While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative. As to your thought if B had been better at modulation, I think it would have had a profound effect on future composers. They would not have had a wonder tutorial from B. on how not to modulate. The closest composer I can think of to follow in B.'s footsteps was Prokofiev, and maybe Poulenc, but they had the advantage of a larger harmonic vocabulary.
Posted by: Kuanpiano

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 08:38 PM

Boulez has written some works for (or including) piano, but he's not a first-rate concert pianist (unless I'm seriously missing out on something). Apparently he failed the entrance exam for piano performance at the conservatoire playing the same piece that Debussy failed with previously.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 08:44 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm

While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative.
How can one enjoy playing music one does not like to listen to?
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 08:51 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm

While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative.
How can one enjoy playing music one does not like to listen to?

Don't know, never thought about it. I am prepping the Beethoven Op. 69 Cello Sonata for performance in the fall and loving it. In all my long life I have never heard a performance, recorded or live of this work until a month ago. I listened to the youtube of Gould and Rose. Very cool. Gould plays with the lid fully up but has the piano facing the back wall, which means Rose is on his left. It works really well from a blend standpoint. Gould can play right out.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 08:57 PM

Quote:
As to your thought if B had been better at modulation, I think it would have had a profound effect on future composers. They would not have had a wonder tutorial from B. on how not to modulate. The closest composer I can think of to follow in B.'s footsteps was Prokofiev, and maybe Poulenc, but they had the advantage of a larger harmonic vocabulary.

Would you perhaps provide an example of a modulation or two in Beethoven that you find particularly inept? That would help.
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:03 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm

While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative.
How can one enjoy playing music one does not like to listen to?

Don't know, never thought about it. I am prepping the Beethoven Op. 69 Cello Sonata for performance in the fall and loving it. In all my long life I have never heard a performance, recorded or live of this work until a month ago. I listened to the youtube of Gould and Rose. Very cool. Gould plays with the lid fully up but has the piano facing the back wall, which means Rose is on his left. It works really well from a blend standpoint. Gould can play right out.
My point was it seems incredibly illogical to say you don't like listening to Beethoven but say you enjoy playing it. Don't you listen while you play?
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:06 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm

While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative.
How can one enjoy playing music one does not like to listen to?

Don't know, never thought about it. I am prepping the Beethoven Op. 69 Cello Sonata for performance in the fall and loving it. In all my long life I have never heard a performance, recorded or live of this work until a month ago. I listened to the youtube of Gould and Rose. Very cool. Gould plays with the lid fully up but has the piano facing the back wall, which means Rose is on his left. It works really well from a blend standpoint. Gould can play right out.
My point was it seems incredibly illogical to say you don't like listening to Beethoven but say you enjoy playing it. Don't you listen while you play?

Of course, but there is subtle difference between playing a sonata and being assulted by 700 inept choristers who think B. 9 was actually written by god.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:12 PM

Which reminds me of an interview with the head of music for the Salvation Army. He receives numerous compositions from members and accepts a few and rejects many. One composer complained to him about having his composition rejected as it was dictated to him directly by God. The good music director said "I have no doubt that it was dictated to you by God, but you must of written it down wrong."
Posted by: pianoloverus

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:13 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm

While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative.
How can one enjoy playing music one does not like to listen to?

Don't know, never thought about it. I am prepping the Beethoven Op. 69 Cello Sonata for performance in the fall and loving it. In all my long life I have never heard a performance, recorded or live of this work until a month ago. I listened to the youtube of Gould and Rose. Very cool. Gould plays with the lid fully up but has the piano facing the back wall, which means Rose is on his left. It works really well from a blend standpoint. Gould can play right out.
My point was it seems incredibly illogical to say you don't like listening to Beethoven but say you enjoy playing it. Don't you listen while you play?

Of course, but there is subtle difference between playing a sonata and being assulted by 700 inept choristers who think B. 9 was actually written by god.
Now it seems like you mean you don't like to listen to what you consider to be poor performances of Beethoven which is completely different.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:15 PM

Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: pianoloverus
Originally Posted By: Mwm

While I rank Beethoven amongst the greatest composers, I don't particularly enjoy listening to his music. I do like playing it however, and my audiences have always been appreciative.
How can one enjoy playing music one does not like to listen to?

Don't know, never thought about it. I am prepping the Beethoven Op. 69 Cello Sonata for performance in the fall and loving it. In all my long life I have never heard a performance, recorded or live of this work until a month ago. I listened to the youtube of Gould and Rose. Very cool. Gould plays with the lid fully up but has the piano facing the back wall, which means Rose is on his left. It works really well from a blend standpoint. Gould can play right out.
My point was it seems incredibly illogical to say you don't like listening to Beethoven but say you enjoy playing it. Don't you listen while you play?

Of course, but there is subtle difference between playing a sonata and being assulted by 700 inept choristers who think B. 9 was actually written by god.
Now it seems like you mean you don't like to listen to what you consider to be poor performances of Beethoven which is completely different.

You are digging too deep. Accept the fact I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin? I am not asking you to dislike Beethoven.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:15 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
...I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin?

Of course. wink
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:17 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
...I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin?

Of course. wink

Is it deadly? Do I have six more left?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:18 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
...I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin?

Of course. wink

Is it deadly? Do I have six more left?

No, I'm afraid not liking Beethoven counts for all seven.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:22 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
...I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin?

Of course. wink

Is it deadly? Do I have six more left?

No, I'm afraid not liking Beethoven counts for all seven.

Sing a requiem in my honour, preferably not one by Beethoven. Did he write any?
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:24 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
...I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin?

Of course. wink

Is it deadly? Do I have six more left?

No, I'm afraid not liking Beethoven counts for all seven.

Sing a requiem in my honour, preferably not one by Beethoven. Did he write any?

I'll put a record of Beethoven's complete works on repeat in your grave, to run for eternity.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:26 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
Originally Posted By: Mwm
...I don't particulaly like Beethoven. Is that a sin?

Of course. wink

Is it deadly? Do I have six more left?

No, I'm afraid not liking Beethoven counts for all seven.

Sing a requiem in my honour, preferably not one by Beethoven. Did he write any?

I'll put a record of Beethoven's complete works on repeat in your grave, to run for eternity.

I always knew I would suffer eternal damnation.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:40 PM

Originally Posted By: Polyphonist

No, I'm afraid not liking Beethoven counts for all seven.

Too bad you are so far away, we could listen to Beethoven to the accompaniment of a good hot Indian curry (I am an awesome cook) and a delectable French Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Where shall we start? Let us ease into it with the early piano quartets, then just imagine how excited we will be when we arrive at the Op 2 sonatas!

Oh wait, Polyphonist, I forgot the Op 1 piano trios!

(Seriously, I heard a live performance of the Op1/3 at St. Bride's in London one rainy afternoon. It knocked my socks off.)
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 09:54 PM

I am going to sign off. With all due respect, Beethoven has always been the most important composer in my life, and he was the one who first got me involved with classical music in the first place. (Not a bad thing, I should think?)

I have never looked back, and my gratitude has no bounds. Just the other day I heard a superb performance of the the D major cello sonata (Op 102), and once again I was in the presence of the Master. Thank-you, sir.
Posted by: stores

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 10:16 PM

Originally Posted By: Mark_C
You'll have to forgive Stores. He's jealous of people who know stuff that he doesn't and especially who think a little more complexly. ha




Trust me, if it's you that you believe I'm jealous of then you need to get yourself a life. If "complexly" is a rambling mishmash of incoherency then I'll happily remain a simple thinker.
Posted by: stores

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 10:19 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm

Actually, I think he was also lousy at modulation.


Good thing your thoughts on the subject mean nothing.
Posted by: Polyphonist

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/14/13 10:26 PM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
I am going to sign off. With all due respect, Beethoven has always been the most important composer in my life, and he was the one who first got me involved with classical music in the first place. (Not a bad thing, I should think?)

I have never looked back, and my gratitude has no bounds. Just the other day I heard a superb performance of the the D major cello sonata (Op 102), and once again I was in the presence of the Master. Thank-you, sir.

I agree completely, and I might add that the latest piano sonatas (from Opus 101 on) are some of the most sublime and transcendent works ever composed, in addition to pieces like the late string quartets, the Ninth Symphony, and the Diabelli Variations (the 33rd variation of which has never failed to bring me to tears).
Posted by: Verbum mirabilis

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 06:31 AM

Originally Posted By: argerichfan
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Of course, why not Steve?

Except that Franck was a very fine keyboard player including the piano. His chamber music, if nothing else, attests to a highly idiomatic understanding of the piano.
Franck was an extremely proficient pianist (a prodigy) before he even took up the organ. I would rate the PC&F and PA&F amongst some of the greatest piano works of the 19th century, though many seem to disagree. As an organist I'm of course familiar with his organ works, but IMO Franck's successors -Widor and Vierne for example- wrote a lot more idiomatically for the organ. (That is not, however, to say their music is greater than Franck's.)



I'll just add that Frank once sightread the Hummel concerto in a minor a third lower than written.

Regarding the ongoing discussion about Beethoven, I too think he is one of the greatest composers ever (op. 111 is one of my favourite piano pieces, if not my all-time favourite) and I'd like to see a "lousy modulation" of his. I really mean this, if he did write bad modulations, I'd like to see an example or two.

Regarding the topic, Haydn hasn't been mentioned. He wasn't a virtuoso, but he could play the piano pretty well, so he is also in the "grey area". And he certainly composed great piano pieces.

IMHO Sibelius's piano music is great (and underappreciated), and Sibelius also didn't play the piano at a virtuoso level, altough it was the first instrument he learned (violin took over later).
Posted by: wr

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 07:51 AM

Originally Posted By: Mwm

Accept the fact I don't particulaly like Beethoven.


Earlier in the thread you said you liked him. How quickly tastes change...

But hey, you are in pretty good company - IIRC, Debussy and Benjamin Britten had issues with Beethoven, too. And for some current composers, the entire esthetic world that Beethoven belonged to is too remote to even matter.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 09:27 AM

Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Mwm

Actually, I think he was also lousy at modulation.


Good thing your thoughts on the subject mean nothing.

Each of the thoughts posted on PIano World is an opinion. There is no such thing as absolute or universal truth. There is only observed reality, and that reality applies to the observer alone. I say what I think, you say what you think. In the end only what you think matters to you. Live with it.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 11:04 AM

HI Mark,

Let me throw some more gasoline on the fire:

"but be that as it may, Beethoven was not "lousy" at writing for voice, nor on anything else of any significance with music."

Actually he was not a great writer for the voice as any singer will tell you. I and many other also do not consider him a great melody writer generally.
Posted by: Mark_C

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 11:41 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Let me throw some more gasoline on the fire:

"but be that as it may, Beethoven was not "lousy" at writing for voice, nor on anything else of any significance with music."

Actually he was not a great writer for the voice as any singer will tell you. I and many other also do not consider him a great melody writer generally.

Look at what you just said.

Actually, before we do, we need to know what you mean by "great."

But for the moment, I'll assume that great means great. grin

There's an awful lot of room between "lousy" and "great." I was just saying it's absurd to say he was lousy -- which it is.

So, you're not pouring fuel on the fire. You're offering to start a new fire, and I'm not getting into it. smile
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 05:34 PM

It seems to me that Beethoven did not have a sufficient understanding of the human voice to write idiomatically for it. Many other composers did have that knowledge. I have been involved with professional singers for 50 years, and not one has said to me they enjoyed singing Beethoven 9. To them, it is poorly written. They perform the work because they get paid. For them , it is a form of prostitution.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 07:59 PM

Originally Posted By: Mwm
It seems to me that Beethoven did not have a sufficient understanding of the human voice to write idiomatically for it. Many other composers did have that knowledge. I have been involved with professional singers for 50 years, and not one has said to me they enjoyed singing Beethoven 9. To them, it is poorly written. They perform the work because they get paid. For them , it is a form of prostitution.

This strikes me as being so unfair, unless -as it appears- you have an axe to grind.

I have sung it myself, I have a friend in the UK who has done it professionally several times, and I had some other UK friends who also sang it. NONE of them -whilst admitting a difficult slog- ever said that Beethoven's writing was poorly written, just a challenge (if a nuisance) to be met. Singing in that performance was an experience I shall never forget; collectively we knew we were taking part in an extraordinary experience.

Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. Even his well meaning (if a bit naive) cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick has always demonstrated to me that Beethoven was utterly incapable of writing bad music. Like the Choral Fantasy -which has always been fair game to the critics- that Congress of Vienna work has an honesty and integrity to it that I find profoundly moving.

I am very sorry that Beethoven is a bit of a closed book for you. But to use the word 'prostitution' in reference to anything of Beethoven seems a most unfortunate choice of words.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 08:15 PM

Hi Mw,

How about Fidelio? I can't think of any other opera that goes out of its way to show how badly a singer can be made to sound.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 08:16 PM

Hi Argerich,

"Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. "

I beg to differ!
Posted by: JoelW

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 09:18 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Hi Argerich,

"Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. "

I beg to differ!


In what way?
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/15/13 09:23 PM

To start with, how about every soprano aria in Fidelio?
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/16/13 10:44 AM

Back to the OP: Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are the best examples I can think of, when it comes to great piano music written by non-pianists.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/16/13 09:22 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
To start with, how about every soprano aria in Fidelio?

Ouch! You drive a hard bargain. One of my favourite German arias of all time:



Apparently no one told Ludwig (or Nilsson or Flagstad) that this is an awful piece of music. Beethoven apparently wasn't trying to be a Rossini.

Though Ludwig is having more fun here: (You need to watch this!)



I suppose we might wonder if Fidelio had been written by anyone else, would the opera still be in the repertory today? Perhaps the magic attachment of Beethoven's name is sufficient to grant anything the status of Parnassus.

But I don't think so. As one who has worked with many singers over the years, none of them had much praise for Beethoven's writing for voice, but, then again, none of them IIRC put up much of a fuss. Great music is not always convenient, and Abscheulicher isn't very easy for the pianist either!

How well I know. cry
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/16/13 10:04 PM

This too:

Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/17/13 12:03 AM

Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.
Posted by: worov

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/17/13 12:16 PM

Is anyone aware that Donizetti composed for piano ?

Donizetti : La ricordanza for piano
Posted by: ronde des sylphes

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/17/13 03:48 PM

Ligeti Etudes (though their merit is a question of taste).
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/17/13 04:03 PM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.


Beethoven's genius was in making memorable music out of material that isn't strictly melodic. It's often no more complicated than a scale or arpeggio, and you think, "why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.
Posted by: didyougethathing

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/18/13 03:38 PM

Has anyone mentioned Respighi? He has a few really neat piano pieces including the Three Preludes on Greogrian Melodies.


Posted by: sophial

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/18/13 11:18 PM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.



Beethoven's genius was in making memorable music out of material that isn't strictly melodic. It's often no more complicated than a scale or arpeggio, and you think, "why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


+1 Thank you!
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 12:09 AM

Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
"why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


Oh Jeff Honey,

I don't want to make this sound any more challenging than it must already. But are you saying the Mozart was somehow less of a composer because he could write better tunes than Beethoven?
Are you saying people don't revere Mozart?


Come on...
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 12:10 AM

Did you,

I think Respighi is the first name added tot his thread that actually qualifies.
Posted by: argerichfan

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 12:52 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg

I think Respighi is the first name added to this thread that actually qualifies.

Not true. I mentioned Edward Elgar a lot earlier, but perhaps you conveniently missed that. IMO Elgar is a greater composer than Respighi, who is more about flash and glitter than substance. I never hear any flash and glitter in Elgar.

Of course Americans generally find Elgar suspect for all sorts of pumped up and silly reasons, and cannot actually listen to his music. The usual Colonel Blimp and Empire, which is such ignorant nonsense, but Americans -unlike the rest of the world- just don't get the irony of it all.
Posted by: laguna_greg

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 01:18 AM

Hi Argerich,

I'll concede the point. My only reservation was that Elgar was more of a pianist than Respighi, who could hardly play the piano at all...although I wasn't there in person...


...and I like Elgar's music very, very much, especially the Serenade (wonderful in so many ways), and the cello concerto...
Posted by: jeffreyjones

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 02:23 AM

Originally Posted By: laguna_greg
Originally Posted By: jeffreyjones
"why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


Oh Jeff Honey,

I don't want to make this sound any more challenging than it must already. But are you saying the Mozart was somehow less of a composer because he could write better tunes than Beethoven?
Are you saying people don't revere Mozart?


Come on...


That's not what I said at all. And I would not want to be the one trying to argue either Mozart or Beethoven was greater than the other.
Posted by: BDB

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 02:29 AM

There are tons of gorgeous melodies in Beethoven's music. His ability to develop even the simplest motives tends to overshadow them, that and the fact that his melodies are often so broad that they defy the human voice.
Posted by: Mwm

Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists - 07/19/13 10:13 AM

Originally Posted By: BDB
There are tons of gorgeous melodies in Beethoven's music. His ability to develop even the simplest motives tends to overshadow them, that and the fact that his melodies are often so broad that they defy the human voice.

Well said!