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#1431149 - 05/06/10 10:44 PM Horowitz' Technique  
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I'm sure that you are aware that Horowitz had an extremely unorthodox approach to the piano. He frequently played with low wrists, flat fingers, and a curled pinky. He played runs with a type of stratching motion, striking the key with an outstretched finger and then quickly pulling it back.

Many pianists who tried to follow Horowitz' technique had injuries. Does anyone have any theories as to how Horowitz was able to become the greatest virtuoso using a system of technique that would injure most people?

Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 05/06/10 10:56 PM.

Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
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#1431150 - 05/06/10 10:48 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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I don't think we understand how Horowitz did what he did at all. smile

I mean, even forget the stuff you said. How about how he generated so much power with so little movement? How about how he got such SOFT sounds, and with such unfailing control, out of a piano which by most accounts was unusually bright?

#1431159 - 05/06/10 10:59 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Those are all important questions, and I don't know if anyone can answer them. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but wonder how certain hand positions would provide one person with the most brilliant technique, but injure almost everyone else. Normally, approaches to technique that are potentially injurious will result in significant technical limitations, even if you don't actually injure yourself.


Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1431160 - 05/06/10 10:59 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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The simple answer is that he was doing what came most natural to him. That's why he is the "one and only" Volodya. smile


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
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#1431164 - 05/06/10 11:04 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Those are all important questions, and I don't know if anyone can answer them. Nevertheless, I couldn't help but wonder how certain hand positions would provide one person with the most brilliant technique, but injure almost everyone else.....

I think you're trying to understand fine details of a subject when we don't even know about the large details. That's hard to do.

But since you're raising it.....I don't agree that those hand positions would necessarily injure most people more than "normal" hand positions. Lots of people get injured with the latter, and I don't think we know how many people would get injured with Horowitz's. I think the main problem would be that they just wouldn't play very well.

#1431165 - 05/06/10 11:04 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Horowitzian, so you believe that a technique that is natural for one person might not be natural for everyone else? That may be true, although it flies in the face of the logic of pedagogues such as Taubman who insist that everyone's anatomy is essentially the same and thus motions that are healthy for one pianist are automatically healthy for everyone. Those teachers would argue that what constitues a healthy or natural technique applies to everyone.

Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 05/06/10 11:05 PM.

Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1431167 - 05/06/10 11:08 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Look at how different people's seating positions are when they drive.

(My driving position makes most people laugh.) smile

Look at how differently people stand.
Or walk.

Quote
That may be true, although it flies in the face of the logic of pedagogues such as Taubman who insist that everyone's anatomy is essentially the same and thus motions that are healthy for one pianist are automatically healthy for everyone.

I recently had one lesson with a Taubman follower.
That was all I could take. ha

Last edited by Mark_C; 05/06/10 11:14 PM.
#1431172 - 05/06/10 11:12 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Look at how different people's seating positions are when they drive.

(My driving position makes most people laugh.) smile

Look at how differently people stand.
Or walk.

That is true, but certain types of sitting or standing (e.g. collapsing the neck and back) can lead to injury- just as certain hand positions can cause injury at the keyboard. I just thought that it's a little strange that Horowitz could do something that normally would be injurious, yet have it work for him.

What didn't you like about the Taubman teacher?

Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 05/06/10 11:12 PM.

Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1431175 - 05/06/10 11:15 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Basically what you said. smile

I think it's a travesty -- the idea that there's any single physical way to do anything.

(There were personal reasons too -- we just weren't a good match -- but I think the Taubman stuff was involved in that too.)

#1431176 - 05/06/10 11:17 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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So you would agree with Horowitz that there is no one right technique that will work for everyone? If you subscribe to the theory that technique must be tailor-made to an individual's specific hand type, then I can see why it wouldn't surprise you that certain approaches will injure some people while working very effectively for others.


Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1431183 - 05/06/10 11:33 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
[...]

I think it's a travesty -- the idea that there's any single physical way to do anything.

[...]


Exactly my thoughts. smile


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1431186 - 05/06/10 11:41 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
Originally Posted by Mark_C
[...]

I think it's a travesty -- the idea that there's any single physical way to do anything.

[...]


Exactly my thoughts. smile


I agree with this in principle.

On the other hand, I'm starting with a Taubman teacher in 4 weeks. It will be pretty reconstructive-- hand rotations and C major scales only at least for several lessons. But I've heard nothing but wonderful things about her, and at this point, I'm still recovering from a long-term injury and don't know how to play anything without fatigue and pain. I'll let you know how it goes.... smile

-Jason


Beethoven op.110, Chopin op.27/2, Liszt Vallée d'Obermann
#1431202 - 05/06/10 11:57 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: beet31425]  
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I scratch the keys. Scratching (non-piano) is pretty much universal.


snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
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#1431203 - 05/06/10 11:57 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: beet31425]  
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Originally Posted by beet31425
I agree with this in principle.
On the other hand, I'm starting with a Taubman teacher in 4 weeks. It will be pretty reconstructive-- hand rotations and C major scales only at least for several lessons. But I've heard nothing but wonderful things about her, and at this point, I'm still recovering from a long-term injury and don't know how to play anything without fatigue and pain. I'll let you know how it goes.... smile

I think I'd have a good chance to get you out of the fatigue and pain without Taubman. smile

But good luck with the teacher!! Sounds like it could be good.

How would I do it? Look at exactly how you play, and consider it in light of the symptoms.
You might want to consider seeing someone who can do that kind of stuff anyway. It doesn't require Taubman or any other particular method.
BTW.....this isn't my work; I hope I'm not making it sound like it is.

#1431213 - 05/07/10 12:17 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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I think that everyone lies on a bell-curve. For people near the average, a generally successful technique would work very well. But people near the extremes would have a hard time. This goes for all kinds of things - clothing, medicine, and learning. Horowitz likely disregarded the naysayers and found the technique that was perfect for him. Others who are on different parts of the bell-curve, when attempting it, would injure themselves.

It is useful to find out what generally works for people so that we have a guideline, and to try out this method first instead of something extreme (just like how a lot of people would try on the medium sized shirt first).

#1431214 - 05/07/10 12:22 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Frozenicicles]  
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Originally Posted by Frozenicicles
.....(just like how a lot of people would try on the medium sized shirt first).

I thought men only try large and extra-large, and woman only try small and petite. ha

#1431220 - 05/07/10 12:47 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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If you look at his fingers when he strikes the key, they are not perfectly straight. They appear straight because they are so long, but they are perfectly relaxed.

Last edited by Rui725; 05/07/10 12:50 AM.
#1431224 - 05/07/10 01:08 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Rui725]  
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Originally Posted by Rui725
If you look at his fingers when he strikes the key, they are not perfectly straight. They appear straight because they are so long, but they are perfectly relaxed.

Yes -- the "straight fingers" thing is at least exaggerated.
I think it varied according to what kind of passage it was.
Chords: mostly straight fingers
Passagework: mostly curved

In fact, IIRC.....Harold Schonberg commented on it in some of his reviews.

But I think it's true that Horowitz played with straight fingers (or straight-ish) to an unusual extent.

#1431286 - 05/07/10 06:41 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
I'm sure that you are aware that Horowitz had an extremely unorthodox approach to the piano. He frequently played with low wrists, flat fingers, and a curled pinky. He played runs with a type of stratching motion, striking the key with an outstretched finger and then quickly pulling it back.
I think there are lots of pianists who play with low writs or flat fingers or a curled pinky. But since this way of playing is not the way the majority of pianists play and Horowitz is very great, these parts of H's playing get talked about as being something unique to him(which they aren't).
I wouldn't personally say H used a scratching motion.

#1431299 - 05/07/10 07:32 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Perhaps the 'scratching' is what my teacher called 'wiping' or 'sliding' and she was adamantly opposed to it. On the other hand (no pun intended) she advocated very low wrists for some parts and very high wrists for some parts, curved fingers for some and very flat fingers for some. One hand might be using a low wrist and flat fingers and the other high wrist and finger tips.


#1431329 - 05/07/10 08:42 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
I'm sure that you are aware that Horowitz had an extremely unorthodox approach to the piano. He frequently played with low wrists, flat fingers, and a curled pinky. He played runs with a type of stratching motion, striking the key with an outstretched finger and then quickly pulling it back.

Many pianists who tried to follow Horowitz' technique had injuries. Does anyone have any theories as to how Horowitz was able to become the greatest virtuoso using a system of technique that would injure most people?


1) There are a lot of things in anyone's technique that are invisible. Horowitz' fingers often look flat, but that doesn't mean he fails to maintain an arch or bridge. You may not be able to see it.

2) Horowitz performed on his own Steinway D almost exclusively, and it had a feather light action.

3) Horowitz didn't always play with flat fingers. Look at some of his vids playing Scarlatti.

#1431332 - 05/07/10 08:49 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Phlebas]  
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Originally Posted by Phlebas
Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
I'm sure that you are aware that Horowitz had an extremely unorthodox approach to the piano. He frequently played with low wrists, flat fingers, and a curled pinky. He played runs with a type of stratching motion, striking the key with an outstretched finger and then quickly pulling it back.

Many pianists who tried to follow Horowitz' technique had injuries. Does anyone have any theories as to how Horowitz was able to become the greatest virtuoso using a system of technique that would injure most people?


1) There are a lot of things in anyone's technique that are invisible. Horowitz' fingers often look flat, but that doesn't mean he fails to maintain an arch or bridge. You may not be able to see it.

2) Horowitz performed on his own Steinway D almost exclusively, and it had a feather light action.

3) Horowitz didn't always play with flat fingers. Look at some of his vids playing Scarlatti.


So is he cheating ?


Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

#1431356 - 05/07/10 09:19 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Batuhan]  
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lol no, like Pheblas said, horowitz often performed on his own steinway&sons, it's a bit of a stretch calling it cheating.

#1431361 - 05/07/10 09:24 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: mikelovespiano]  
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Horowitz could play any piano in the world and be just fine. If light actions actually made people sound better, people with Casio Privias and upright pianos would be flying through Liszt rhapsodies at breakneck speed.


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#1431403 - 05/07/10 10:12 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Kreisler]  
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Romantic music is played mainly with a warmer tone, thus with the flatter part of the finger as opposed to say baroque and classical where playing the rounded tip is optimal. Naturally the fingers would appear straighter in romantic repertoire as well. Thus, the difference between Scarlatti and his romantic, late romantic technique.

Last edited by Rui725; 05/07/10 10:19 AM.
#1431414 - 05/07/10 10:22 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Rui725]  
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I think Horowitz did what worked for Horowitz. Having a rubber wrist didn't hurt. The famous story, which is in Schonberg's biography, is that one of his students (I forget which) asked him how he practiced his octaves, and he answered that he did so slowly, dropping his hand from the wrist - the same as everybody else.

Glenn Gould is another example of a pianist with a wildly unorthodox technique who nevertheless was able to do just about anything at the piano.

Lang Lang's another example; I remember when I saw him for the first time I was sure his arms were going to fall off before the end of the performance because his motion seemed so jerky.

I don't think pianists should try to emulate these people. Personally, I think Kissin has the most fluid motion; the piano is truly an extension of the person in his case.

#1431420 - 05/07/10 10:31 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Horowitz could play any piano in the world and be just fine.


I'm sure that's right, but I think the extreme lightness of the action of his piano may have allowed him to play with flatter fingers, etc.

#1431436 - 05/07/10 11:05 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Horowitz could play any piano in the world and be just fine. If light actions actually made people sound better, people with Casio Privias and upright pianos would be flying through Liszt rhapsodies at breakneck speed.


Proof positive. By all accounts, Scriabin's Bechstein was pretty run down by the time Horowitz played it during his Soviet Union tour.


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#1431492 - 05/07/10 12:17 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: hophmi]  
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Originally Posted by hophmi

Glenn Gould is another example of a pianist with a wildly unorthodox technique who nevertheless was able to do just about anything at the piano.


Maybe so, but he did develop focal dystonia and thoracic outlet syndrome.

Last edited by 2301; 05/07/10 12:18 PM.
#1431507 - 05/07/10 12:38 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: 2301]  
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...and he had a lot more than that too. smile

Question: If we could play like Glenn Gould -- I mean really play like him -- and we knew it would lead to "focal dystonia and thoracic outlet syndrome," would we still play that way?

I think we would.

And then we'd try to get treatment for those things. smile

#1431544 - 05/07/10 01:35 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Frozenicicles]  
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Originally Posted by Frozenicicles
I think that everyone lies on a bell-curve. For people near the average, a generally successful technique would work very well.

Are you saying that the supremely gifted, such as Horowitz, need to use a technique that is different than that of the average pianist? And that if the average pianist attempts to use a technique that is designed for the supremely gifted, that is when you are risking injury?

Quote
If you look at his fingers when he strikes the key, they are not perfectly straight.

They often look close to being straight. Even Horowitz talked about how he thinks that flat fingers, where the entire ball is touching the key as opposed to just the tip, will produce a better sound. However, many pianists are in the habit of curling the fingers, instead of maintaining a natural curve. If someone thinks that a curl is a curve, then I can understand why he would perceive Horowitz' fingers as being excessively flat.

Quote
In fact, IIRC.....Harold Schonberg commented on it in some of his reviews.

Yes, he talked about how Horowitz used low wrists and flat fingers.

Quote
Horowitz' fingers often look flat, but that doesn't mean he fails to maintain an arch or bridge.

How do you maintain the arch of the hand if the wrist is below the keyboard. Doesn't the arch of the hand automatically collapse when the wrist is too low?


Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1431553 - 05/07/10 01:45 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Quote
In fact, IIRC.....Harold Schonberg commented on it in some of his reviews.

Yes, he talked about how Horowitz used low wrists and flat fingers.

You're taking me a bit out of context. smile
What I said was that Schonberg talked about how Horowitz used different physical approaches for different kinds of passages -- straight fingers for some, curled fingers for others.

#1431555 - 05/07/10 01:50 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte Horowitz' fingers often look flat, but that doesn't mean he fails to maintain an arch or bridge.[/quote

How do you maintain the arch of the hand if the wrist is below the keyboard. Doesn't the arch of the hand automatically collapse when the wrist is too low?


I don't think that follows. I've seen lots of pics and videos of VH with his wrists low, but I can't recall seeing one where his knuckles/arch looks collapsed.

#1431557 - 05/07/10 01:50 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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You're right; he talked about that also. Horowitz did use different approaches for different pieces, but I suppose that the most unorthodox approaches are the ones that people remember best.


Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 05/07/10 01:57 PM.

Recent Repertoire:
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Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
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Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
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#1431559 - 05/07/10 01:52 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C


Question: If we could play like Glenn Gould -- I mean really play like him -- and we knew it would lead to "focal dystonia and thoracic outlet syndrome," would we still play that way?

I think we would.

And then we'd try to get treatment for those things. smile


I'd take the third choice: figure out a way to play that doesn't cause focal dystonia.....


#1431564 - 05/07/10 01:53 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Quote
His physical organization was supreme. I was reminded of the T’ai Chi masters who could reportedly send an opponent flying by barely moving their little finger. How was it possible for such explosions of sound to come rocketing out of the piano, but there’s virtually no movement! In any case, those who felt he was stiff were dead wrong. Physically he was loose as a goose, but the extreme economy of his movements led to the illusion of stiffness.

Years later one of my Feldenkrais trainers, Jeff Haller was watching the Moscow recital with me and said, “Look, he walks and moves his head just like Moshe!” And indeed, Horowitz was the embodiment of an ideal which Moshe Feldenkrais taught in a different sphere: his entire physical organization was based on sensitivity (that is, ability to discriminate) and most important, derived from a clear intention.


Repertoire
John Cage: 4'33"
#1431566 - 05/07/10 01:57 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: hat]  
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Phlebas, how would you define "arch of the hand"? I understood it to mean that the wrist is level with the knuckles and slightly higher than the keyboard. Am I misunderstanding the concept?


Recent Repertoire:
Liszt: Concerto #1 in Eb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dY9Qw8Z7ao
Bach: Partita #2 in c minor
Beethoven: Sonata #23 in f minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Chopin: Etudes Opus 25 #6,9,10,11,12
Prokofiev: Sonata #3 in a minor
Suggestion diabolique
#1431619 - 05/07/10 03:29 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Question: If we could play like Glenn Gould -- I mean really play like him -- and we knew it would lead to "focal dystonia and thoracic outlet syndrome," would we still play that way?

I think we would.
Gould was a dreadful pianist. Very much a creature of his time.


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#1431623 - 05/07/10 03:33 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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You folks really need to read Schlutz's Riddle of the Pianist's Finger. It's a very dense book but is in reality Shultz's attempt to 'scientifically' verify Horowitz's approach.


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#1431631 - 05/07/10 03:41 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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You need to have a more open mind.
(Yes, Glenn Gould was terrible.)

#1431635 - 05/07/10 03:48 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
You need to have a more open mind.
(Yes, Glenn Gould was terrible.)


Eccentric, yes. Terrible?!?!?!?!? No way!


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1431637 - 05/07/10 03:50 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Is it possible that Gould hated Romantic period music because of the percussive tone produced by his very much, baroque style technique?



#1431638 - 05/07/10 03:52 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Rui725]  
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Gould hated Mozart too. smile

He didn't hate stuff because of his percussive tone. He hated stuff because he was strange.

But he was great.

#1431640 - 05/07/10 03:53 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Rui725]  
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Gould had some big Oedipal problem. Composers had to bend to his will.


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#1431653 - 05/07/10 04:10 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Composers had to bend to his will.


That is exactly why I've never cared for him. He was absolutely a genius and I'd kill for his ability to play polyphonically, but Gould, was all about Gould. The best thing he did (which was quite a GREAT thing) was to put Bach back in the spotlight where he belongs. Unfortunately, he tainted an entire generation of pianists who tried to imitate him. Some of what I've heard from him leaves me wondering, "what the heck?" I appreciate him and respect his abilities, but he's one pianist I can live without.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1431657 - 05/07/10 04:14 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: stores]  
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Funny......I've never heard anyone who struck me as trying to imitate Gould.

#1431659 - 05/07/10 04:16 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Funny......I've never heard anyone who struck me as trying to imitate Gould.


Neither have I.


Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.
#1431665 - 05/07/10 04:20 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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I hear it all the time. A friend of mine tells the story of a young man playing some Bach for a class they were both in at university many years ago and he'd nailed down practically every nuance he'd heard in Gould's recording of the same work. The professor wasn't, at all, pleased with his performance. The young man exclaimed, "but I played it EXACTLY like Glenn Gould does!" The teacher replied, "I don't like Glenn Gould."



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1431676 - 05/07/10 04:31 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Originally Posted by Horowitzian
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Funny......I've never heard anyone who struck me as trying to imitate Gould.

Neither have I.

Cool. smile
But on the other hand, I spent too much of my life trying to imitate Horowitz, as did a few billion other people. ha

-----------------------------

"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." -- Yogi Berra

#1431678 - 05/07/10 04:31 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: mikelovespiano]  
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Originally Posted by mikelovespiano
lol no, like Pheblas said, horowitz often performed on his own steinway&sons, it's a bit of a stretch calling it cheating.


You can buy a piano today with action every bit as light as Horowitz's. It's called a Shigeru Kawai.

#1431697 - 05/07/10 04:57 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Originally Posted by Frozenicicles
I think that everyone lies on a bell-curve. For people near the average, a generally successful technique would work very well.

Are you saying that the supremely gifted, such as Horowitz, need to use a technique that is different than that of the average pianist? And that if the average pianist attempts to use a technique that is designed for the supremely gifted, that is when you are risking injury?

Not necessarily. I'm thinking that the generally accepted techniques would work for most people, but some people who are built differently would need something else to work optimally. For example, many people would be fine with a typical diet following the food guide. But smaller people might become overweight if they tried to follow it, and people with faster metabolisms might lose weight. But most people would be fine. If, on the other hand, you tried to recommend a typical muscle builder's diet to everyone...

#1431700 - 05/07/10 05:03 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Horowitzian
Originally Posted by Mark_C
Funny......I've never heard anyone who struck me as trying to imitate Gould.

Neither have I.

Cool. smile
But on the other hand, I spent too much of my life trying to imitate Horowitz, as did a few billion other people. ha

-----------------------------

"If you can't imitate him, don't copy him." -- Yogi Berra


I think most of us did at one point, or another.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

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#1431711 - 05/07/10 05:19 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
I think most of us did at one point, or another.

How about an "Imitate Horowitz" competition! ha

There would need to be several categories:

-- best
-- worst
-- most ridiculous
-- funniest
-- sustaining the greatest degree of injury

#1431855 - 05/07/10 09:09 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Don't forget how the sounds Horowitz was able to create are based on his own orchestral ideas behind them, and how it is a conscious decision to make the enormous fortes, and the extremely soft pianos. There is an element of massive technique behind it...but I'm sure that other top performers could gain that ability if their interpretations required that kind of contrast. Horowitz's ideas about tone colour led to his extremely colourful playing, not just his ability to do so.


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#1431873 - 05/07/10 09:34 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: LaReginadellaNotte]  
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Horowitzian, so you believe that a technique that is natural for one person might not be natural for everyone else? That may be true, although it flies in the face of the logic of pedagogues such as Taubman who insist that everyone's anatomy is essentially the same and thus motions that are healthy for one pianist are automatically healthy for everyone. Those teachers would argue that what constitues a healthy or natural technique applies to everyone.


The belief that what works for one person will work for everyone is egocentric rubbish. Look at 5 sets of hands and you'll immediately see why. No set of hands is exactly the same, so not all techniques are going to be universal. I'm sure that Horowitz developed many of his ideosynchratic techniques from the time he was a child. Of course the worked for his hands... he spent a lifetime figuring out just what worked for his hands. To just look at his hand position and try to copy it is not really using the same technique.


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#1431967 - 05/08/10 12:48 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Funny......I've never heard anyone who struck me as trying to imitate Gould.
Ivo Pogorelich


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#1431974 - 05/08/10 01:01 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Question: If we could play like Glenn Gould -- I mean really play like him -- and we knew it would lead to "focal dystonia and thoracic outlet syndrome," would we still play that way?

I think we would.
Gosh, I certainly wouldn't. I'd rather have my technique and pass on the injuries.


Du holde Kunst...
#1431978 - 05/08/10 01:07 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: currawong]  
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I wouldn't even if it offered 40 virgins in heaven! Or is that raisins?


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#1431990 - 05/08/10 01:31 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Composers had to bend to his will.


That is exactly why I've never cared for him. He was absolutely a genius and I'd kill for his ability to play polyphonically, but Gould, was all about Gould. The best thing he did (which was quite a GREAT thing) was to put Bach back in the spotlight where he belongs. Unfortunately, he tainted an entire generation of pianists who tried to imitate him. Some of what I've heard from him leaves me wondering, "what the heck?" I appreciate him and respect his abilities, but he's one pianist I can live without.

This is well said, and I quite agree with you my good mate.

Gould's Bach is always fascinating to hear, though didn't one reviewer comment: his humming would be better served by adhesive tape rather than magnetic tape?

For all that, the only Gould recordings in my collection are of Bach (and not that many), but when he gets around to other composers, sorry, it is not my cup of tea. One evening I heard his Beethoven Op. 28 whilst driving in the car and almost drove off the road.

My sincere apologies -yes, I don't have the barest fraction of his talent- but I'll listen elsewhere for Beethoven, okay?



Jason
#1432040 - 05/08/10 04:09 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
Don't forget how the sounds Horowitz was able to create are based on his own orchestral ideas behind them, and how it is a conscious decision to make the enormous fortes, and the extremely soft pianos. There is an element of massive technique behind it...but I'm sure that other top performers could gain that ability if their interpretations required that kind of contrast. Horowitz's ideas about tone colour led to his extremely colourful playing, not just his ability to do so.


Very good point imo.
I think Richter could have played anything like Horowitz, if he wanted to.

#1432336 - 05/08/10 02:32 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: babama]  
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Originally Posted by babama
I think Richter could have played anything like Horowitz, if he wanted to.

No, he couldn't. smile

Arguably perhaps he played better, depending on your tastes (not by mine), but neither he nor anybody else could play like Horowitz.
Horowitz was an extremely individual thing.

As was Gould.

#1432341 - 05/08/10 02:37 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Mark_C]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by babama
I think Richter could have played anything like Horowitz, if he wanted to.

No, he couldn't. smile

Arguably perhaps he played better, depending on your tastes (not by mine), but neither he nor anybody else could play like Horowitz.
Horowitz was an extremely individual thing.

As was Gould.


Yes. They were all very unique and I wouldn't want to be without any of them. smile


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#1432344 - 05/08/10 02:44 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: keyboardklutz]  
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Gould was a dreadful pianist. Very much a creature of his time.


I wouldn't really say dreadful.. He was a genius, but very very strange. Very.



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#1432346 - 05/08/10 02:46 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Phlebas]  
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Originally Posted by Phlebas

2) Horowitz performed on his own Steinway D almost exclusively, and it had a feather light action.



YES. I got to play on the last Steinway he used in his life, and its action was so incredibly beautiful and light. But also somehow, it had a great, big sound. And you didn't even have to TRY to make legato.. man I really fell in love with that piano.



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#1432387 - 05/08/10 03:22 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by babama
I think Richter could have played anything like Horowitz, if he wanted to.

No, he couldn't. smile

Arguably perhaps he played better, depending on your tastes (not by mine), but neither he nor anybody else could play like Horowitz.
Horowitz was an extremely individual thing.

As was Gould.

It really depends on their conception of a piece: Richter would not believe a piece would go the same way as Horowitz, they were both unique. However, both had the technique to do whatever they wanted.
Originally Posted by AngelinaPogorelich
Originally Posted by Phlebas

2) Horowitz performed on his own Steinway D almost exclusively, and it had a feather light action.



YES. I got to play on the last Steinway he used in his life, and its action was so incredibly beautiful and light. But also somehow, it had a great, big sound. And you didn't even have to TRY to make legato.. man I really fell in love with that piano.

I heard some of his older Steinways, like the one he used in the 1960s had an extremely heavy action, and many technicians were surprised he could play it.


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#1432391 - 05/08/10 03:25 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano

I heard some of his older Steinways, like the one he used in the 1960s had an extremely heavy action, and many technicians were surprised he could play it.


I've never heard that about Horowitz, but I've heard that Rubinstein liked a very heavy action.

#1432396 - 05/08/10 03:29 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Kuanpiano]  
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Originally Posted by Kuanpiano
[...]
I heard some of his older Steinways, like the one he used in the 1960s had an extremely heavy action, and many technicians were surprised he could play it.


You are confusing him with Rubinstein.


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#1432447 - 05/08/10 04:40 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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No. I heard a story from the stand-in pianist who had to rehearse for the filming of the 68 concert. He said the piano was actually very heavy. As did Halim, his last pupil, if I remember rightly (certainly one of his last students if not). Apparently the piano he made his last recording on had a very unusually heavy action.

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really? Because the one I played on was not heavy at all and it was from the 80s.



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#1432457 - 05/08/10 04:51 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
No. I heard a story from the stand-in pianist who had to rehearse for the filming of the 68 concert. He said the piano was actually very heavy. As did Halim, his last pupil, if I remember rightly (certainly one of his last students if not). Apparently the piano he made his last recording on had a very unusually heavy action.


That goes completely against everything I have ever heard, which was quite the contrary re Volodya's taste in a piano action. Is there some documentation available?

Hank Drake, where are you?


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#1432468 - 05/08/10 05:03 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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I heard he got a different piano from that he toured with, right at the end of his life. He only used it on the last recording, I believe. I forget where I read it, but I remember one of his students mentioning how hard the piano's action was to play. Might have been in Dubal's book.

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Ohh that makes a little more sense. So he had different ones for recording and touring? Because the one I played on was definitely the last one he toured with - at least that's what I was told.



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#1432470 - 05/08/10 05:07 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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Originally Posted by Nyiregyhazi
I heard he got a different piano from that he toured with, right at the end of his life. He only used it on the last recording, I believe. I forget where I read it, but I remember one of his students mentioning how hard the piano's action was to play. Might have been in Dubal's book.


Yes, I remember that now. He initially did not like it, but he grew to love the instrument and was planning to take it on tour. But he died before that ever happened.


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#1432487 - 05/08/10 05:21 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Horowitzian]  
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Here, as opposed to there
There's actually a quote from de Larrocha I read in a book once where she described having the chance to play one of his pianos and she thought it would be very light, but was surprised to find it very heavy. I don't remember the book and I don't remember when it was that she said she'd played the piano, nor do I know WHICH piano. Hahaha, guess I don't remember much, eh? But I've always remembered reading that, because it surprised me.



"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

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#1432504 - 05/08/10 05:50 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Pogorelich.]  
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Originally Posted by AngelinaPogorelich
really? Because the one I played on was not heavy at all and it was from the 80s.


But I've also heard that the action of the Horowitz piano on tour (Is this the one that you played?) is not the same anymore. Steinway changed certain parameters for the tour. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can chime in.

#1432508 - 05/08/10 05:53 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: SeilerFan]  
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Also, let's not forget that an individual feeling of "heaviness" or "lightness" of an action can be brought about through various means. Not all of them involve actual increase/decrease of the lead weights but alteration of action geometry/change of friction/change of hammerheads etc... So, there are measurable results of an action being heavy or light (the actual touch weight), and there are more subjective feelings that are more complex and cannot easily be measured.

To know exactly why Horowitz's piano felt so "light" (which is what is generally believed) we would have to know what was exactly done to the action. let's call up Franz Mohr, shall we?

Last edited by SeilerFan; 05/08/10 05:54 PM.
#1432509 - 05/08/10 05:54 PM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: SeilerFan]  
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not somewhere over the rainbow
No clue.. Maybe. I should dig out that recording they gave me (i got to record on it! it was awesome) and see what says on the cover.



"The eyes can mislead, the smile can lie, but the shoes always tell the truth."
#1432776 - 05/09/10 03:19 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: SeilerFan]  
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Originally Posted by SeilerFan
Also, let's not forget that an individual feeling of "heaviness" or "lightness" of an action can be brought about through various means. Not all of them involve actual increase/decrease of the lead weights but alteration of action geometry/change of friction/change of hammerheads etc... So, there are measurable results of an action being heavy or light (the actual touch weight), and there are more subjective feelings that are more complex and cannot easily be measured.

To know exactly why Horowitz's piano felt so "light" (which is what is generally believed) we would have to know what was exactly done to the action. let's call up Franz Mohr, shall we?


Exactly. Actions may be described as "heavy" when the more accurate term would be "unfamiliar". I remember once experiencing a Baldwin that I thought was extremely heavy at first, but after getting used to it after a few weeks, it seemed well within the usual range of touch. I just had to learn how to play it, that's all.

I think having other people give their impression of a Horowitz piano is a little bit silly unless they had quite a bit of time with it.


#1432814 - 05/09/10 05:20 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: wr]  
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But who would describe any piano with a big dynamic range and low key-weight as heavy? A light action feels heavier when you stuggle to get sound out of it. That would not have been the case on Horowitz's pianos. I'm perfectly willing to believe that he did not always use a light action. Seasoned pros are so used to different pianos that they can make the adjustments you describe in no time. You may have needed to develop a little extra muscle and agility to become comfortable. But I don't think Alicia De Larrocha would have had that problem.

#1432848 - 05/09/10 07:59 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: Nyiregyhazi]  
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I've read somewhere that Anton Rubinstein played with flat fingers, and he taught that to Blumenfeld, and Blumenfeld taught that to Horowitz.

Besides the flat fingers, his use of pedals, touches, the colors created are much more fascinating.

#1432855 - 05/09/10 08:20 AM Re: Horowitz' Technique [Re: wr]  
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Exactly. Actions may be described as "heavy" when the more accurate term would be "unfamiliar". I remember once experiencing a Baldwin that I thought was extremely heavy at first, but after getting used to it after a few weeks, it seemed well within the usual range of touch. I just had to learn how to play it, that's all.

I think having other people give their impression of a Horowitz piano is a little bit silly unless they had quite a bit of time with it.[/quote]I think one's first impression of an action's lightness/heaviness may be more meaningful. After a certain amount of time many pianists can adjust or get used to to an action's feel as long it is not at an extreme end of the spectrum.

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