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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461422
06/23/10 06:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Mostly

Your point on class and social wealth could also be argued against, far more than I care to do ; in early XXth Russia, the Moscow conservatory was, I think, known for having less than wealthy students - so much that teachers such as Glazunov were quite famous for helping gifted individual progressing despite lack of parental or monetary support.
The exception that proves the rule.


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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461426
06/23/10 06:51 AM
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I'm really looking for specific examples(although names can be omitted) of people who personally know or have read enough about specific professional pianists to judge how "intelligent" they are in the sense I mentioned in my OP.

That's a really hard if not impossible task to do. You can't really judge of someone without meeting and chatting with them (in a good dialectic and socratic fashion I might add.)
Most often, intelligence in History is judged by the individual's perceived contribution to the field. Pianists with great recordings or, for those that came before, with great reviews, are judged "intelligent", "gifted" in piano playing. Writers are judged by their books, often after they've been dead for a while and analizes have been done on their work - even then not everybody agrees ; for instance, even after Marcel Proust's death, many people argued that his style was horrible, and littered with atrocities against the French language, and deemed him of mediocre brains. Some aren't even said intelligent because of what they've done, but because it is culturally associated with them ; Mozart is by definition a prodigy for non-musicians (it's in the language ; in French rhetoric we call that a "catachrèse".) even though they barely listen to it, let alone understand. In the same way, many authors are remember as gifted for witty quotes, sometimes that aren't even theirs ; I would almost mention Einstein, because few really understand his work, and yet many quote his silly sentences (that are most of the time philosophically bland, but I won't go there.)

Last edited by Mostly; 06/23/10 06:52 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: keyboardklutz] #1461428
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Originally Posted by Mostly

Your point on class and social wealth could also be argued against, far more than I care to do ; in early XXth Russia, the Moscow conservatory was, I think, known for having less than wealthy students - so much that teachers such as Glazunov were quite famous for helping gifted individual progressing despite lack of parental or monetary support.
The exception that proves the rule.

I would like to argue with your signature.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461439
06/23/10 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Mostly
Quote
I'm really looking for specific examples(although names can be omitted) of people who personally know or have read enough about specific professional pianists to judge how "intelligent" they are in the sense I mentioned in my OP.

That's a really hard if not impossible task to do. You can't really judge of someone without meeting and chatting with them.... Pianists with great recordings or, for those that came before, with great reviews, are judged "intelligent", "gifted" in piano playing.
As I said in my OP, I'm not talking about musical intellgence here, so you're second sentence doesn't apply. Although I would assume there are people at PW who personally know professional pianists, that doesn't have to be the case either. One can also judge their intelligence by their writings, interivews, what their biographies have said about them, etc.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/23/10 07:25 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: pianoloverus] #1461441
06/23/10 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
One can also judge their intelligence by their writings, interivews, what their biographies have said about them, etc.
I've a copy of Schnabel's Music and the line of most resistance. I've read it twice and still don't know what it's about!
Originally Posted by Mostly

I would like to argue with your signature.
Would that be the ten minute argument or the full half-hour?


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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461442
06/23/10 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Mostly

I don't mean to argue semantics, but that really isn't true. While classic music might be prevalent in the more bourgeois and materialistic class, being a professionnal pianist is not a direct effect of belonging to that social class ; the fact that the parents of most professional musician, independly of social class, are musicians themselves is really more relevant.
It's also not really relevant to music itself ; since the dawn of humanity, children have often followed in the footsteps of their family's craft. Even nowadays, teachers' children often become teachers themselves, doctors' children etc.

Your point on class and social wealth could also be argued against, far more than I care to do ; in early XXth Russia, the Moscow conservatory was, I think, known for having less than wealthy students - so much that teachers such as Glazunov were quite famous for helping gifted individual progressing despite lack of parental or monetary support.


No, it is not a _direct_ effect. Bang on. Parental input is key, no doubt. Couldn't agree more.

But if we're disputing semantics, then I never said it was a directly causal relationship. grin I said that it was a by-product of class; i.e it requires money to be a pianist, regardless of whether you get it from your parents or a scholarship. The number of rich parents greatly exceeds the number of scholarships, meaning it is easier and more common for affluent children to grow up musicians. In addition, it is often more acceptable for them to do so. This is not direct causality; being rich does not instantly turn you into a musician. But this is a link, and a strong one.

Also: can you be a musician 'independently' of social class? As was mentioned above, our standards of 'musicianship', musicality and intelligence are all shaped by society.

An example: George Bellamy. Rhythm guitarist of The Tornadoes. The fact that he was a musician undoubtedly influenced the future career of this fella.

http://img0.liveinternet.ru/images/attach/b/2/22/190/22190848_MattBellamy.jpg

George Bellamy was highly musical, albeit not highly trained. Why? I hate to use a buzz phrase like socio-economic background. But in large part, George Bellamy was not highly trained because of his socio-economic background which, asides from anything else, didn't _value_ the idea of running off to a conservatory for five or six years. Much more acceptable was the idea of being in a band.
Is it a coincidence that his son grew up a rock-star instead of a pianist, albeit a rock star who writes songs like this? ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOCZFChafOQ let's play spot the Rachmaninoff!) Hardly. Parents influence their children? Yes. Society influences parents and children? Big time.

I recognise your point about Glazunov, but dispute the significance. To me, the fact that his students succeeded _in spite_ of their financial issues merely proves that finance and background are of huge importance, huge obstacles which must be overcome if someone who's not 'bourgeois' wants to succeed in a very 'bourgeois' world.


"Nine? Too late."
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461457
06/23/10 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Mostly
Your point on class and social wealth could also be argued against, far more than I care to do ; in early XXth Russia, the Moscow conservatory was, I think, known for having less than wealthy students - so much that teachers such as Glazunov were quite famous for helping gifted individual progressing despite lack of parental or monetary support.


Sorry to be picky but Glazunov was director of the St Petersburg/Leningrad Conservatory (not Moscow).

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: TheFool] #1461459
06/23/10 08:06 AM
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I agree with your general point.

However, and this is not my domain of expertise, it would be interesting to think about "musicianship and society". I'd say CLASSical music is a social class of its own, one that can be joined by a weird association of predestination (having the luck to learn music young) and effort (working tears and sweat to make it.) From what I've seen, classical musicians have values of their own, and though there are various schools of piano, there are some common values that could be said pianistic. In a way, classic music has something of a "corporation", in the old sense of the word, people united in their craft. It is quite the same in literature and linguistics ; there are people from various backgrounds, but years of a certain intellectual method (in the cartesian meaning) have shaped more than just their work habit, and molded them into a coherent ensemble of individuals.

Quote
As I said in my OP, I'm not talking about musical intellgence here, so your second sentence doesn't apply.

It does apply, I was trying to see what the "measures of intelligence" would be in the relevant fields, and illustrating my point with various fields, including piano playing.
You even confirm the validity of that approach by saying :
Quote
One can also judge their intelligence by their writings, interivews, what their biographies have said about them, etc.

I'm not really sure that's true, but even then, I don't think I've read anything from a pianist that wouldn't be music related and that seemed deep to me. On the other hand, I've read about writers, like Oscar Wilde, that were supposed to be pretty good pianists. Would "pretty good" qualify ? I don't know.

The bottom line of this thread is really pretty obvious anyways ; piano playing does improve brain functions, but "intelligence" as it is determined by society is hardly a matter of brain functions alone.
Things such as achievements are really much more important to us. In that way, IQ tests are quite useless as they judge potential intelligence; which by that definition doesn't exist ; but that might be the Sartre in me talking.
Hence my point, you'd need some pianists right here so we could judge (Intellectual Idol here we go.)

Last edited by Mostly; 06/23/10 08:09 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: John_B] #1461460
06/23/10 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by John_B
Originally Posted by Mostly
Your point on class and social wealth could also be argued against, far more than I care to do ; in early XXth Russia, the Moscow conservatory was, I think, known for having less than wealthy students - so much that teachers such as Glazunov were quite famous for helping gifted individual progressing despite lack of parental or monetary support.


Sorry to be picky but Glazunov was director of the St Petersburg/Leningrad Conservatory (not Moscow).

You could be right I'm speaking strictly from memory ; I'd have to check his biographies to see where he taught. Doesn't really affect my point though smile Thanks for the clarification.

Last edited by Mostly; 06/23/10 08:07 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461479
06/23/10 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Mostly


Originally Posted by Pianoloverus
As I said in my OP, I'm not talking about musical intellgence here, so your second sentence doesn't apply.

It does apply, I was trying to see what the "measures of intelligence" would be in the relevant fields, and illustrating my point with various fields, including piano playing.
???
You said "Pianists with great recordings or, for those that came before, with great reviews, are judged "intelligent", "gifted" in piano playing." I said in my OP the topic wasn't about how musically gifted or intelligent pro pianists were because the answer was obvious.


Originally Posted by Pianoloverus
One can also judge their intelligence by their writings, interivews, what their biographies have said about them, etc.

Originally Posted by Mostly
I'm not really sure that's true...
I think how someone writes, what they choose to write about, and what they have to say are almost universally considered one of the clearest indications of how intelligent they are.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/23/10 08:51 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: pianoloverus] #1461486
06/23/10 08:57 AM
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???YOu said "Pianists with great recordings or, for those that came before, with great reviews, are judged "intelligent", "gifted" in piano playing." I said in my OP the topic wasn't about how gifted or intelligent great pianists were musically because the answer was obvious.

Obviously gifted pianists are gifted in piano playing, that's a tautology smile I'm saying that regardless of the fact that there are pianists. Doesn't really matter, but it's for reasoning's sake. By wondering why gifted pianists are considered gifted pianist, you can understand how they would be considered gifted-anything-else, and see if they are. That was the general idea.

Quote
I think how someone write and what they say are a clear indication of how intelligent they are.

I both agree and disagree. Writing is an acquired skill. Usually, educated people tend to write better, so you can correlate the quality of their writing with their supposed intelligence (though it is less and less true, as most people nowadays write horribly.)
Sadly, I'm frequently rewriting essays by "high-level" scientists (side-job as a public writer), and I can tell you they write horribly. Historians are also terrible writers, despite being in the field of what we call "the humanities".

I wouldn't say a blog qualify as a valid measure of "intelligence". That may just be me, but it seems shallow to think so. I remember reading a few posts on the blog Kreisler linked (the Hamelin interview was there, right ?), and though it is interesting, it doesn't have any striking brilliance. Not to say he's not highly intelligent - just that it's undecidable based on that sole element.
A blog is usually a one-sided medium of expression (hence why it is highly favored by most people - ask your local sociologue) ; there really is a reason why Plato wrote dialogues : real substance can only be attained through careful scrutiny and contradiction.

Well, I don't think I have anything else to add to this thread. I've also talked about polymaths earlier ; that might sound conceited, but sure, some people do sound intelligent for some, but really, when placed in front of specialists, they pale in comparaison. I mean, most people I know find my piano playing wonderful ; most of them also aren't musicians. So what may seem a highly skilled and intelligent individual might infact just be a little more advanced in some of his studies than you are. Piano playing isn't the only "lifelong pursuit or nothing" subject you know.

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461490
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Originally Posted by Mostly
but that might be the Sartre in me talking.
Who, incidentally, played the piano every day. Perhaps the question should be - Do highly intelligent professionals play the piano?


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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: pianoloverus] #1461492
06/23/10 09:07 AM
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Per Pianoloverus - "I think how someone writes, what they choose to write about, and what they have to say are almost universally considered one of the clearest indications of how intelligent they are."

Excellent point !!

Someone should compile the "writings" of several well-known professional pianists (dead or alive) and see what they had to say !!! That's assuming, however, that those pianists actually devoted much of their time to writing in the first place (as opposed to practicing, teaching, composing and performing as a pianist or conductor).

Seems to me that the number of languages some professional pianists are/were able to speak fluently would also be a measure of their overall smarts.


Last edited by carey; 06/23/10 09:10 AM.

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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: keyboardklutz] #1461501
06/23/10 09:17 AM
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I've studied Sartre for years and yet I didn't know he played the piano. Funny. Was he any good ?
Anyways, he was a highly learned man, and wrote many interesting things on many topics. He made some very thorough analyses of a few literary works (there's a very interesting text by him on Borgès for instance), and though I don't necessarily agree with everything he wrote, it no doubt was quality work.
He's also a great playwright in my opinion (his novels are a little less convincing because of the underlying philosophical elements that do not suffer well the transposition in this very literate medium.)
He might be the closest thing we have nowadays of a polymaths, though it's not as "poly-" as it was centuries ago. There were a few of those "intellectuels" in the middle of the XXth in France ; sadly, they were an ephemeral breed.

People like Lacan are also interesting, though Lacan is another species altogether.
And then there were the structuralists that analyzed pretty much everything - that could be called "intelligence through system". People like Roland Barthes are also very interesting to read because they've wrote with great insight on many topics.
I don't think piano playing transposes as well on other intellectual objects though. Sure some of the methods are the same, but the words... really a whole different animal.

Last edited by Mostly; 06/23/10 09:18 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461504
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Originally Posted by Mostly
Quote
???You said "Pianists with great recordings or, for those that came before, with great reviews, are judged "intelligent", "gifted" in piano playing." I said in my OP the topic wasn't about how gifted or intelligent great pianists were musically because the answer was obvious.

Obviously gifted pianists are gifted in piano playing, that's a tautology smile I'm saying that regardless of the fact that there are pianists. Doesn't really matter, but it's for reasoning's sake. By wondering why gifted pianists are considered gifted pianist, you can understand how they would be considered gifted-anything-else, and see if they are. That was the general idea.
???

Originally Posted by Mostly
Originally Posted by Pianoloverus
I think how someone write and what they say are a clear indication of how intelligent they are.

I both agree and disagree...

I wouldn't say a blog qualify as a valid measure of "intelligence". That may just be me, but it seems shallow to think so...
Anyone can write a blog. I never said it meant they were intelligent. It's what they say there and how they say it that shows their degree of intelligence.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 06/23/10 09:47 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461510
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My brother's very much a Lacanian. As you seem to be French maybe you could get a copy of this and let us know how good Satre was? Le toucher des philosophes : Sartre, Nietzsche et Barthes au piano


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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: keyboardklutz] #1461553
06/23/10 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by keyboardklutz
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
One can also judge their intelligence by their writings, interivews, what their biographies have said about them, etc.
I've a copy of Schnabel's Music and the line of most resistance. I've read it twice and still don't know what it's about!
Originally Posted by Mostly

I would like to argue with your signature.
Would that be the ten minute argument or the full half-hour?
laugh LOL!


I'll figure it out eventually.
Until then you may want to keep a safe distance.
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Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: keyboardklutz] #1461578
06/23/10 11:00 AM
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I had actually heard about that book from François Noudelmann ; he's a teacher on philosophy and literature in the modernity at a concurrent university - I've heard him speak a few times on the radio I think.
Never had the occasion to read the book, but I'll definitly give it a quick read and share anything interesting. It's avalaible on amazon, I'll check in a university library tomorrow and if I can't find it I'll order it.

I can translate the summary if you're interested, it's somewhat funny.

PS : Having a Lacanian brother must be really hard, you have my sympathy ! smile

Last edited by Mostly; 06/23/10 11:01 AM.
Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: Mostly] #1461631
06/23/10 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Mostly
Quote
Both professional musical ability and intelligence are by products of a third phenomenon: class. grin

I don't mean to argue semantics, but that really isn't true. While classic music might be prevalent in the more bourgeois and materialistic class, being a professionnal pianist is not a direct effect of belonging to that social class ; the fact that the parents of most professional musician, independly of social class, are musicians themselves is really more relevant.
It's also not really relevant to music itself ; since the dawn of humanity, children have often followed in the footsteps of their family's craft. Even nowadays, teachers' children often become teachers themselves, doctors' children etc.

Your point on class and social wealth could also be argued against, far more than I care to do ; in early XXth Russia, the Moscow conservatory was, I think, known for having less than wealthy students - so much that teachers such as Glazunov were quite famous for helping gifted individual progressing despite lack of parental or monetary support.

While learning piano seriously can no doubt be an expensive thing, I don't think money is really what matters for a child to become / to not become a pianist.

Quote
I wish the mechanics of playing the piano were a matter of reason alone. If it were true, all the muddle/gangly/disorganized nerds (I didn't find the correct translation for what I'm trying to say, hope you understand) would play appassionata in a matter of weeks, discovering the reasonable and logical facts behind it. Instead, as my tinny experience sugests, it is a matter of "imput" and feedback. Of course there is a reasonable way to do that, but this is different than saying that there is a logical and discernible unique way to move your body such that it applies to all people.

I'm not sure of what you mean exactly by reason ; in fact, piano playing is for the most part a most reasonable and reasoned thing. There is musical theory to guide our understanding, and technical theories and practices to guide our fingers.
I don't see either the point of saying "nerds" can't play an advanced sonata in a matter of weeks either. Piano playing, like mathematics, like chemistry, like physics, like video gaming, like literature, are complex processes that result of a multitude of underlying knowledges and habits. Trying to understand the Appassionata without any prior knowledge would be like trying to synthetize a specific protein or demonstrate an advanced theorem without knowing the basics of chemistry or mathematics.
Likewise, moving your body in a coordinated fashion must be learned and practiced. Some people such as gymnasts or dancers spend their life perfecting these functions.
You really shouldn't confuse innate and acquired knowledge.

Cognitive functions heavily factor in what we usually call intelligence. The ability to analize heavily relies on the ability to perceive - and perception is both the reception of information, and the organisation of that information (seing shapes, seing objects, instead of mere dots of colored lights.)


You missed my point entirely. smile

Re: Are professional pianists highly intelligent? [Re: deAlmeida] #1461648
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Any good artist is intelligent. A great one, highly intelligent. I personally have yet to see any exceptions - whether it's in music or any other art form.

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