Smetana!

Posted by: meltone1

Smetana! - 09/17/01 05:09 PM

I have really seemed to find some hidden treasures recently at my local library! First, it started with the Scriabin sonatas I picked up last week, and this week I picked up a c.d. with some of Smetana's work for piano and to say I am thoroughly impressed is an understatement. I first heard his "Memories of Pilsen" on a "classical masterpieces" album and that sparked my interest in him. Through his work I can hear all those who were prominent during the romantic period; Chopin, Liszt, Shumann, and even foreshadowings of Debussy. It is said that Smetana once sent a letter to Liszt included with some of his recent compositions(which he dedicated to Liszt) and he asked of Liszt to have them published for him. Upon review of Smetana's compositions Liszt described his pieces as,"truly among the most exceptional, beautifully felt and finely crafted that I have encountered recently." His polkas have been compared to that of Chopin's Mazurka's, and I can see why.. there is such a great wealth of ideas in them, and they all so entirely different from another. I seem to be puzzled why no one seems to talk about his music. I did a search in these forums and the word Smetana didn't come up once! I understand that his work is extremely difficult for the most part and not suited for the typical amateur pianist, but I am at a loss why I don't seem to see or hear about his music anywhere; I think it is really a shame. It seems that he has had quite a bit of output for the piano.. can anyone solve this mystery for me?
Posted by: yok

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 12:30 AM

Gee, I didn't even know Smetana wrote any solo piano music. I knew there was some chamber music with piano, but I haven't heard it. Probably like most people, I associate Smetana with two works - Ma Vlast and the opera, "The Bartered Bride". I will definitely try to hear some of his piano music now that you have told us about it - thanks for the recommendation.
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 06:10 AM

Meltone1 and Yok:

While you're at it, you should also check out some of the solo piano music of Dvorak. From what little I've seen of each of their output for piano, Dvorak's is much in the same vein as that of Smetana and while it might not have the immediate appeal of the music of the 19th century composers we know and love so well - that's perhaps why this music is not too well known - it does bear studying and certainly gives the amateur pianist something a little "different" to put into his/her repertoire.

Regards,
Posted by: meltone1

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 01:53 PM

I would really like to hear some of Dvoraks solo piano works, since I like his Slavonic Dances so much. I wonder how much of Dvorak's oeuvre is dedicated to piano works..I was also trying to determine how much Smetana composed for piano; he was said to be an excellent pianist and he wrote for the piano in every phase of his creative life. Among some of the works that I have heard I would recommmend his Polkas, the six "reves", "furiant" and he was said to have composed some etudes. Quite a bit of his work is extremely virtuosic, and very Lisztian in nature. I think he may be one of piano's best kept secrets. ;\)
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 02:15 PM

Meltone1

Groves lists some (approx.) 120 compositions for piano - that's including the 4-hand compositions, among them the two sets of Slavonic Dances. They go from 1855 to 1894 (he lived from 1841 to 1904).

Have you tried any of the piano music of Joesph Suk (1874-1935), another Bohemian composer who also wrote some piano music? There are some interesting compositions in his output, too. He doesn't come cheap, however. For volume I of his piano works (there are 3 volumes published by N. Simrock) I paid US$44.95 for 87 pages (ouch!). The same publisher, I see, publishes 10 different Opp. of Dvorak; they are listed on the back pages of the Suk edition.

Regards,
Posted by: Rick

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 06:21 PM

Hey, as long as everyone's doing it, here goes. Has anyone listened to any of Sibelius' piano works? Somehow, I ended up a few months ago with three CD's of his works. I really enjoyed them, and even wrote to this forum 4 or 5 months ago about him. Nobody responded - no problemo. However, the very next issue of International Piano Quarterly had a feature article on this very topic. It basically said that in amongst some "shavings from his workbench" are some real gems. I still wonder how difficult these pieces would be to play, and better still, where one would find the sheet music!
Posted by: AndrewG

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 06:44 PM

Rick,

Sibelius piano music is on intermediate/early advanced level. I played only two or three of them. Some are quite lovely. You should be able to get the core of it through Dover. Here it is:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0...2270517-3180026

Rgds,
AndrewG
Posted by: meltone1

Re: Smetana! - 09/18/01 11:19 PM

BruceD,

I regret to say that I have never heard nor played anything by Joseph Suk, however I will check him out. I have just recently stumbled across so many new composers that I like and admire.. I really am quite amazed..I started out listening only to Bach, Beethoven and Mozart and shunned everything else that I came across, but now I have developed a much broader sense of musical appreciation by listening to and playing all different kinds of works. But like you said, the obscure ones don't come cheap!
Posted by: Rick

Re: Smetana! - 09/19/01 02:25 AM

Thanks, Andrew.
Posted by: ChemicalGrl

Re: Smetana! - 09/19/01 09:49 AM

Sibelius, as in Jean Sibelius? We performed "A Song of Peace" set to the tune of Finlandia as a choral prelude last Sunday morning before Mass. It would be very very cool if there were a good piano solo of Finlandia as I would be very keen to learn that.

Thanks heaps for the link! \:\)
Posted by: BruceD

Re: Smetana! - 09/19/01 01:37 PM

I don't know that I consider it "cool," but there is a piano version of the (complete) tone poem, Finlandia. It should be very easy to find, as it's a popular work. There are probably half a dozen simplified versions, too, as well as abbreviated versions of just the "chorale" theme.

Regards,

[ September 19, 2001: Message edited by: BruceD ]