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Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
#1323358 12/11/09 01:54 PM
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I think not, and it never occurred to me that anyone would claim that who's neither myopic nor ignorant. But in another current discussion, it was asserted that the "Winter Wind" etude is at the "very highest level of difficulty"—not just among Chopin's etudes, or Chopin generally, but of piano literature generally.

It seems to me this is manifestly untrue (and I said so), yet my riposte that even most of Alkan's and Liszt's works are more technically challenging was disputed. Proceeding from my example of two of Chopin's Romantic-era contemporaries, I can think of numerous composers whose compositions make the technical requirements of anything found anywhere in Chopin pale in comparison. Here's a short list in alphabetical order of the first ones to come to mind:

Feinberg
Godowsky
Kapustin
Ligeti
Mosolov
Ornstein
Pabst
Roslavets
Rzewski
Sorabji
Xenakis

To claim that a Chopin Etude is at the very highest level of technical difficulty would presume, in my estimation, a quaintly blinkered scale like the one that Sheet Music Plus uses: there are 10 levels, and the Brahms Rhapsodies Op. 79 are at Level 10! I cannot take that seriously.

Are the elements of super-virtuosic piano writing and the criteria for ranking them all just a matter of subjective opinion?

What other composers have pushed the envelope of technical prowess since the mid-19th century?

Steven

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
sotto voce #1323370 12/11/09 02:11 PM
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It is indeed a silly claim. That he is at the most highest level musically, is a different matter.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
keyboardklutz #1323381 12/11/09 02:25 PM
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To be honest, playing op25 no11 to a high standard is beyond my wildest dreams, and the same goes for at least half of the other Etudes.It's clear that there are greater technical challenges, the Godowsky 'Studies on Chopin's Etudes' to name but one, but to me it's all just 'up there somewhere'.

Last edited by timmyab; 12/11/09 02:41 PM.
Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
sotto voce #1323382 12/11/09 02:26 PM
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As I posted to you on the other thread, I changed my mind -- I agreed that there is a 'higher level,' and gave an example of such a piece.

I don't agree that there are many such pieces.

I think either we disagree about particular pieces, or we disagree about what "level" means.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
keyboardklutz #1323383 12/11/09 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
It is indeed a silly claim....

Hold your horses.
Quote
That he is at the most highest level musically, is a different matter.

That's involved in what I meant.

Maybe the issue is that when some or most of you talk about technical difficulty, you mean just getting the notes. I can do that with the 25/11 etude (or at least "could"; I gave up playing it and working on it).

That's not what I'm talking about.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
sotto voce #1323385 12/11/09 02:30 PM
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Of course not. In fact Chopin's music always fits well under fingers. No big leaps, no awkward hand, finger positions etc..
And Winter Wind is no exception.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
timmyab #1323386 12/11/09 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by timmyab
.....Godowsky Studies....

Yes
Quote
......Chopin's Etudes....

As I mentioned on the other thread, I think that at least a couple of the other etudes are more difficult than 25/11 but I don't consider them at a different "level."

"Levels" include more than one piece. I could see that different people might have different concepts of what constitutes a "level," but people shouldn't be so quick to mock something.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Mark_C #1323391 12/11/09 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkCannon
As I posted to you on the other thread, I changed my mind -- I agreed that there is a 'higher level,' and gave an example of such a piece.

I don't agree that there are many such pieces.

I think either we disagree about particular pieces, or we disagree about what "level" means.


That's what I thought you said before in the other thread as well. I guess you're not myopic, ignorant, or silly. smile

The Chopin etudes are pretty high on the difficulty scale - especially the more difficult ones - 25/11, 10/2, 10/6, etc. To play them well, you have to study them, put them away for a while, study them again, and they become incorporated into your technique. Of course, you could say that about some other music too.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Phlebas #1323395 12/11/09 02:40 PM
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Thanks!
BTW I don't think you meant Op. 10 #6 -- that's the "slow" one in E-flat minor.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Phlebas #1323396 12/11/09 02:41 PM
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I think that different ages, different aesthetics require different abilities. One is not necessarily more clever because (s)he can use a computer, vs someone who doesn't, but just more used to the different requirements.

I would suggest that contemporary piano writting is more difficult than any Chopin, including musicallity etc, but this doesn't stand a real chance of being truthful. Simply because it's hard to set a level of what 'difficult' is. The Rach 3? I find the Prokofiev 2 to be more difficult for me... :-/ the Prokofiev Tocatta? I found it rather "easy" (in relative terms) while I can't play the very 1st Chopin etude, for the shake of me (the one with the arpeggios, and can't remember op., sorry).

It's all relavent and thus almost impossible to rate in level. Especially when we are talking about such high level and not grade 2 material... :-/

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Mark_C #1323397 12/11/09 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkCannon
Thanks!
BTW I don't think you meant Op. 10 #6 -- that's the "slow" one in E-flat minor.

25/6, the thirds etude.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in pi
Phlebas #1323400 12/11/09 02:44 PM
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10/1 I've never heard played correctly (don't get me started).

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Mark_C #1323402 12/11/09 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkCannon
Originally Posted by timmyab
.....Godowsky Studies....

Yes
Quote
......Chopin's Etudes....

As I mentioned on the other thread, I think that at least a couple of the other etudes are more difficult than 25/11 but I don't consider them at a different "level."

I think you may have misread my post.I was referring to Godowsky's "Studies on Chopin's Etudes".I don't consider any of Chopin's Etudes to be on a higher level than op25 no11.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Mark_C #1323403 12/11/09 02:48 PM
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Mark, you gonna chime in to give an electronic pat on the back to everyone who agrees with you?

I'm sure Phlebas delighted in insinuating that I called you myopic and ignorant. I think he made it seem like he was agreeing with you just to make me look bad. It's happened before.

Certain behaviors on this board are oh-so-predictable, and the Ignore feature, unfortunately, is ineffective when it's a moderator who's the offender.

Steven

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Phlebas #1323405 12/11/09 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Phlebas
....25/6, the thirds etude.

Yes -- I would agree that one is more difficult than 25/11.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
sotto voce #1323408 12/11/09 02:52 PM
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This whole thing is a pretty bad instance of taking something out of context.

How about if we remember how it was and where it was that I made my statement that this etude is "at the highest level of difficulty"....

It was in the discussion with the 19 year old who's been studying piano for a year and a half, with no teacher and no lessons ever, who's working on the "Winter Wind" etude.

Most of us felt that probably wasn't a good idea. Some of us (including me) thought it was probably ridiculous.

In trying to make the point to him, I made that statement. I was just making a point. I didn't mean it to satisfy everybody's finest wishes of semantics. ha

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Mark_C #1323409 12/11/09 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkCannon
Originally Posted by Phlebas
....25/6, the thirds etude.

Yes -- I would agree that one is more difficult than 25/11.

I think all the etudes i call the "3-4-5 etudes" - op 10/2, 25/6, and 25/8 - are pretty difficult. Also, I think you could make a case that the more difficult Chopin etudes are more difficult than most of the Liszt trancendentals, because the technical "problem" - 3rds, sixths, lh skips, etc. - are continuous without a break in the Chopin etudes, whereas the trancendentals give you a break.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
sotto voce #1323411 12/11/09 02:55 PM
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Speaking of predictable behaviors, please see what I said in my above post. I think your singling out this thing that I said is an example.

I think the only reason this thing became such a focus is that for whatever reason, I've become a bit of a lightning rod to you and a couple of others, and so my posts are perhaps getting dissected more than they should.

To whatever extent that's going on, it would be good for you to cut it out.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Mark_C #1323412 12/11/09 02:56 PM
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If technique is purely stealth, the ability to play the right notes at the right time, with the right dynamics and pedalling then yes, there are more difficult composers out there. Of course, it is no mean feat to be able to do this with the Chopin Etudes.

If technique is the above plus the ability to connect with the music, feel the inner heartbeat of the music, and allow the composer himself to communicate to the audience through your technique (no i'm not talking about being a medium, just a figure of speech), then actually the slow movement of Beethoven's Pathetique Sonata is as difficult as Rachmaninoff 3.

Of course there are certain works that are mechanically more challenging than others, but it must be remembered that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Someone may find Rachmaninoff 3 quite comfortable, but be unable to play Mozart and Beethoven convincingly.

Re: Chopin is the highest level of technical challenge in piano?
Phlebas #1323413 12/11/09 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Phlebas
Originally Posted by MarkCannon
Originally Posted by Phlebas
....25/6, the thirds etude.

Yes -- I would agree that one is more difficult than 25/11.

I think all the etudes i call the "3-4-5 etudes" - op 10/2, 25/6, and 25/8 - are pretty difficult. Also, I think you could make a case that the more difficult Chopin etudes are more difficult than most of the Liszt trancendentals, because the technical "problem" - 3rds, sixths, lh skips, etc. - are continuous without a break in the Chopin etudes, whereas the trancendentals give you a break.

Well said.
And I don't care what Sotto voce says about this post. smile

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