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#1589054 - 01/02/11 02:56 PM Luck and the concert pianist  
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How much luck is involved in order to become a concert pianist in the likes of Argerich, Cziffra, Richter, Horowitz or some of our modern day ones like Hamelin, Kissin, Lang Lang, Yuja Wang etc..?

I watch all these performers on youtube and think about all the other pianists around the world at various universities and conservatories who practice just as much and dedicate just as much of their time to the art, but don't end up making it as a concert pianist. It makes me wonder how much luck is involved to "make it".

If it is a large percentage of luck, that is a unsettling truth.


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#1589068 - 01/02/11 03:17 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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I don't think we'll ever know the true answer to this question. But it sure is a good question.


(I'm a piano teacher.)
#1589069 - 01/02/11 03:19 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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To paraphrase Yogi Berra, I think success as a concert pianist is ninety percent talent and hard work; and the other half is luck. Fortune favors the prepared mind so you have to be good and then ready to take advantage of the stroke of luck.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP
#1589072 - 01/02/11 03:24 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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I think the luck comes mainly in that they are brought up in a situation where they are able to develop their talents, and has less to do with the later stages of 'making it big'. In other words, for example with a superstar like Cziffra, he was just amazingly good and cut through the crowd of many hard-working pianists.

Of course Cziffra was hardly born into ideal circumstances for developing his talent, but he ultimately did have good enough circumstances (coupled with extraordinary talent that probably made up for the missing training).

At a less 'superstar' level, you probably do have some people who are just as talented as others who you've never heard of, and the difference may be just luck.


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#1589076 - 01/02/11 03:30 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Choice is more of an aspect than people think, too. A lot of pianists want to be as famous as Perahia or Argerich, but not very many want that kind of schedule.

I know some pianists who are very good but have chosen much lower-profile careers than they could have simply because they wanted a family or weren't interested in flying all over the planet to do concerts.

I think a lot of people assume that everyone who studies music at a conservatory wants to have a busy, high profile career. Having known people who've studied at big conservatories, that's just not the case.

On the other hand, I know a few people who makes regular appearances at festivals around the world, performing frequently as concerto soloists and recitalists. But it comes at a price - they've taken jobs at a colleges where they'd rather not live in order to have a stable income, they've been rather unsuccessful in relationships (it's hard to keep a long term relationship going when you're constantly out of town), and they have far more acquaintances than friends (again, it's hard to have close friends when you're rarely around for them.) But it's a life they've chosen, and for them, it's worth it.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1589084 - 01/02/11 03:44 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: charleslang]  
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I think that any luck involved would likely be situational, such as being in the right place at the right time (think Lang Lang stepping in for Andre Watts at the last minute in Chicago in 1999). The outcome of one of those situations will be the result of hard work and dedication.

Maybe luck can open a door for you, but I don't think that it will get you through it.



Ignorance is not a point of view.
#1589087 - 01/02/11 03:47 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Kreisler, great post. Plus I think temperament (some very talented people don't have the emotional stamina for the concert artist life), connections, being in the right place at the right time (ok, luck) and even, these days, physical appearance may all play a role too.


Last edited by sophial; 01/02/11 03:48 PM.
#1589185 - 01/02/11 07:06 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Here, as opposed to there
It's a TON of freaking work and anyone that doesn't think so can drop what they've got lined up for a few years and take on the schedule. Of course there IS a bit of luck involved just GETTING to the point of contract/tour(s)/endorsements, etc., but it's much, much more work than most think and much, much more than most are willing to take on.



"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."

♪ ≠ $

#1589188 - 01/02/11 07:13 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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luck is needed in every discipline of sport, art, work or even in everyday life. Of course it's better when you help your luck. That's why some artists sell their souls to devil...

#1589190 - 01/02/11 07:18 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: offnote]  
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Originally Posted by offnote
That's why some artist sell his soul to devil...
I almost lost my soul, but instead I turned the tables on him and got a gold fiddle Imperial Bosendorfer 290!

Last edited by Orange Soda King; 01/02/11 07:19 PM.
#1589241 - 01/02/11 09:20 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Luck has a lot to do with it. If an artist chooses to be a top-level touring A-list performer, and has the talent, the background, the repertoire, the work ethic, etc, thus the overall package, that does not automatically guarantee top A-level success.

If it did, there would be a lot more people at the top, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron.

I read somewhere that the aforementioned style of success in music is defined as "having the right product, at the right time, in the right place, in front of the right person/people". I think there is more than a little bit of truth to that.

I personally know several phenomenal performers who have all the above qualifications and desire, have put in a lifetime of work, yet are not anywhere near the top, even though they can play as well as, and in some cases better than, the people who are household names.

Yup, luck is a component.

ps...Politics has a bit to do with it also.


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1589249 - 01/02/11 09:36 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Along this thought, what about looks? Does having good looks and/or gimmicks and flashy moves helps too? It seems lots of modern day famous pianists are either cute or flashy.

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#1589257 - 01/02/11 09:49 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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I can think of one that is both cute and flashy!


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1589258 - 01/02/11 09:53 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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It takes a fair amount of pushiness, as well.


Semipro Tech
#1589261 - 01/02/11 09:57 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: rocket88]  
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Originally Posted by rocket88
I can think of one that is both cute and flashy!

Now I'm dying to know who are you thinking about.

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#1589269 - 01/02/11 10:17 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: dspiano]  
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Not Tellin'.


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#1589287 - 01/02/11 10:42 PM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: dspiano]  
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Originally Posted by fkpiano
Along this thought, what about looks? Does having good looks and/or gimmicks and flashy moves helps too? It seems lots of modern day famous pianists are either cute or flashy.


I think looks have something to do with it, but I wouldn't limit it to "modern" pianists. Liszt surely became more famous because he was good looking and had a good stage presence (or should I say salon presence?).


Professional pianist and piano teacher.
#1589356 - 01/03/11 01:31 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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I have a collection of quotations, most compiled long ago. Here's a few pertaining to "luck" and I hope they have meaning and can be helpful to anyone whose goal is to be a concert pianist.

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose."--Disraeli

"Good luck is a lazy man's estimate of a workers success."--????

"Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure."--Earl Wilson

"Genius can happen in 10 seconds. It's that 90% follow-up that's tough and necessary."--???

"When someone referred to his 'Godlike genius', Edison snorted, 'Godlike nothing! Sticking to it is the genius." --Thomas Edison

"Winston Churchill was once asked how he accomplished so much in so many varied fields--from painting to politics. His answer was, 'Audacity is the only ticket'."--Bernice Fitz-Gibbons

"I've never sought success in order to get fame and money; it's the talent and the passion that count in success."--Ingrid Bergman

Assuming much talent, I'd go with the old saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

Bech






Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.
#1589366 - 01/03/11 01:57 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Luck plays a HUGE part. Look at the music industry as a whole and who has gotten famous. Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Susan Boyle, Kate Perry, they are all the product of an entertainment media that push glamour and hype over real music.

If any musician wanted money they wouldn't even bother with trying to be a concert pianist. Who's rich in the classical world, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma? It's the singers like Pavoratti and Andrea Bocelli. I can't even think of anyone else.

The Spice Girls got rich and all of them combined have less musical talent than the pinky finger of Keith Jarrett. But their wallets sure aren't complaining.

#1589369 - 01/03/11 02:01 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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I second Bech.

#1589371 - 01/03/11 02:02 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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trail of tears this subject isn't in regards to pop music. Completely different world that is.

#1589372 - 01/03/11 02:07 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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Turtle, this subject is related to the entire music industry as a whole. He's asking why some concert pianists make it and some don't. Talent is a big part, yes, but so are looks, appeal, charisma.

You pick any musical genre, classic, jazz, pop, rock, country, rap, hip hop, and luck is a factor in why some artists become famous and others are never heard from.

Talent may have more weight in classical, but sheer marketability is a HUGE factor.

#1589376 - 01/03/11 02:36 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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I always heard in either classical or pop two types of people get popular, the insanely beautiful or the insanely talented.

#1589390 - 01/03/11 03:08 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: JdhPiano924]  
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Originally Posted by jdhampton924
I always heard in either classical or pop two types of people get popular, the insanely beautiful or the insanely talented.


In pop music these days, it seems all you need is the "insane" part.

I always feel old when I say stuff like this, but when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, I remember a lot more talent than today. The 70's and 80's had some really incredible talent - Eddie Van Halen, Michael Jackson, Elton and Billy, Madonna, Genesis, the Police, etc.. Sure, we had our share of fluff (Debbie Gibson, anyone?), but there were some seriously talented people in the business.

Today, there still seem to be some talented people out there - Dave Grohl and Thom Yorke come to mind, and I think Regina Spektor's first album was very interesting. But on the whole, today's headliners (Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Nelly, Kenny Chesney?) just don't seem to be going anywhere. Pink Floyd followed Dark Side of the Moon with Wish You Were Here. Michael Jackson had Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. It felt like artists those days were just that - artists, trying to say something new and interesting, developing their voices. I even applaud some hip-hop artists for doing that - Dr. Dre, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, and Queen Latifa. Even the Beastie Boys have come a long way since License to Ill.

I just don't see the same coming from the Billboard charts these days. Nor do I see as much variety. I blame the 90's, that decade was awful. What did the 90's give us? Dave Matthews and Nirvana? Really? (Okay, it gave us Radiohead, specifically OK Computer, but I still think Laurie Anderson can take 'em in a fight.)

And please don't anyone mention U2. I will never understand the popularity of U2. Or why people take Bono as seriously as they do. I mean, the Joshua Tree was a good album, but I thought Lauper's True Colors was every bit as good, and perhaps a more personal and original statement.


"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1589395 - 01/03/11 03:27 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: rocket88]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by rocket88
Luck has a lot to do with it. If an artist chooses to be a top-level touring A-list performer, and has the talent, the background, the repertoire, the work ethic, etc, thus the overall package, that does not automatically guarantee top A-level success.

If it did, there would be a lot more people at the top, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron.

I read somewhere that the aforementioned style of success in music is defined as "having the right product, at the right time, in the right place, in front of the right person/people". I think there is more than a little bit of truth to that.

I personally know several phenomenal performers who have all the above qualifications and desire, have put in a lifetime of work, yet are not anywhere near the top, even though they can play as well as, and in some cases better than, the people who are household names.

Yup, luck is a component.

ps...Politics has a bit to do with it also.


And these phenomenal performers that you know have they chosen, as you say, to become "top-level touring A-list performers"?



"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."

♪ ≠ $

#1589398 - 01/03/11 03:37 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: Tr@iL of TEARS]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by Tr@iL of TEARS
...this subject is related to the entire music industry as a whole. He's asking why some concert pianists make it and some don't.


Is it related to the whole, or to whether luck is required to make it as a top tier concert pianist (which, correct me if I'm wrong, seems to me was the OP's topic that I only read a minute ago).




"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."

♪ ≠ $

#1589409 - 01/03/11 04:11 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler


I always feel old when I say stuff like this, but when I was growing up in the 70's and 80's, I remember a lot more talent than today. The 70's and 80's had some really incredible talent - Eddie Van Halen, Michael Jackson, Elton and Billy, Madonna, Genesis, the Police, etc.. Sure, we had our share of fluff (Debbie Gibson, anyone?), but there were some seriously talented people in the business.

Today, there still seem to be some talented people out there - Dave Grohl and Thom Yorke come to mind, and I think Regina Spektor's first album was very interesting. But on the whole, today's headliners (Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Nelly, Kenny Chesney?) just don't seem to be going anywhere. Pink Floyd followed Dark Side of the Moon with Wish You Were Here. Michael Jackson had Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad. It felt like artists those days were just that - artists, trying to say something new and interesting, developing their voices. I even applaud some hip-hop artists for doing that - Dr. Dre, Eminem, Busta Rhymes, and Queen Latifa. Even the Beastie Boys have come a long way since License to Ill.



I think this has a lot to do with the way pop music and marketing has developed and sorted itself out in the digital era, rather than the talent of the performers. Back in the good old days you talk about, I think many of us were exposed to a much wider spectrum of pop music than is common today, and the vast number of specialized niches that characterize the current scene just didn't exist.

But I think if you really start digging, you can still find many pop musicians who are as creative as ever - but it is unlikely they will be headliners or on the cover of People (I think the fame machine has a problem with real creativity, because it is too unpredictable to market effectively over time). An interesting development is that there seem to be a good number of composers who see themselves as primarily classical, at least in their training, but who are working in areas very close to pop. And the reverse it true, too - there are people like Steve Mackey who moved from rock to classical. And none of these are doing cheesy "cross-over" stuff.

Sort of non sequitur, other than speaking of the good old days - one of the people I most admired in pop music, Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart), died last month.

#1589456 - 01/03/11 07:56 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: stores]  
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Originally Posted by stores


And these phenomenal performers that you know have they chosen, as you say, to become "top-level touring A-list performers"?


Yes. Their whole life is focused upon that very elusive goal.


Piano teacher and Blues and Boogie-Woogie pianist.
#1589553 - 01/03/11 11:20 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: lisztonian]  
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As some here have said, I'm sure many top flight pianists simply refuse to experience the loneliness and bother of constant travel, being away from family and friends, boring interviews that require good answers, a smiling face and sucking-up to sponsers. Some have all the money they need so don't need to be bothered with so much that is non-musical? And, they can always play their special piano rather than having to often contend with pianos that are second rate, or worse. And.... all in the comfort of their own home.

Concert pianist Di Wu speaks of sometimes having doubts about her career choice on her web site. I believe she also mentions that every line of work has some drawbacks and of course that's true.

Conversly, I'm sure some pianists experience their greatest moments of joy when they "connect" with an audience and reap thunderous applause. They are exactly where they want to be. It has to be a wonderful feeling when the pianist receives admiration and even love from thousands of music loving people throughout the world. I expect Valentina Lisitsa is experiencing this right now--and, due to considerable effort on her own part.

People are different. Some are not comfortable with strangers and unfamiliar locations while others feel "the world is their oyster" and "home is where ever they hang their hat."

A few will have found their niche in life while others will find the life of a concert pianist is not for them. Some few don't need or want the luck. Their talent, passion and persistence is all they need.


Bech








Last edited by Bech; 01/03/11 12:39 PM.

Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.
#1589558 - 01/03/11 11:25 AM Re: Luck and the concert pianist [Re: rocket88]  
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Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted by rocket88
Originally Posted by stores


And these phenomenal performers that you know have they chosen, as you say, to become "top-level touring A-list performers"?


Yes. Their whole life is focused upon that very elusive goal.


If they play as well as and in some cases better than the top tier pianists of note on today's stage, then, might I ask where they are? Major competitions? Performances?...



"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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