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chopin godowsky #1638382
03/10/11 07:24 PM
03/10/11 07:24 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 832
Lingyis Offline OP
500 Post Club Member
Lingyis  Offline OP
500 Post Club Member

Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 832
wow! i just discovered them last week and listened to some hamelin recordings. unbelievable.

i looked at the scores for some of them... man do they ever look difficult.

at some point, i'd like to take a shot at the 2 on Op.25 No.9 and the Op.10 No.5 + Op.25 No.9 combination one... but my left hand needs to get much better for that to happen (or maybe that's the whole point of these etudes).

i'm curious, which godowsky etudes have people enjoyed (or not) playing?

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Re: chopin godowsky [Re: Lingyis] #1638416
03/10/11 08:24 PM
03/10/11 08:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,235
Goldberg Offline
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Goldberg  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,235
I have "played" quite a handful (this means that, although I can play them proficiently, there are many that I have learned that I am too afraid to perform, because in my experience an audience makes those things 100% more frightening!) and can say that some are harder than others; and some are surprisingly approachable! It's important to understand Godowsky as an artist, a composer, and a pedagogue who was concerned for advancing piano technique into the new century. Despite popular belief, he was not much of a showman--for as difficult as the etudes are, there are very few cases of exaggerated theatrics (Marc-Andre Hamelin believes that one etude where he might have gone a little overboard was the first version of 10/8, but even then one could hardly accuse him of "showing off"). So many people take an interest to them these days, largely because of their legendary technical demands, but they should realize there's a lot of music and ingenious pianistic effect to be found as well. For the most part, I avoid performing the left-hand only ones because they are often very literal translations and are not always, in my mind, the best concert pieces (there are several exceptions, like 10/1ii, and 25/4i, and of course 10/6 and 10/3, which by the way is one of the hardest of the whole set imo); on a practical level, though, they are VERY effective for personal study. And, some like 10/12 and 25/12 are nevertheless viable concert pieces because they capture the drama of the original shockingly well with just the one hand.

I recommend starting with perhaps the easiest of all the etudes, 10/5i (etude 7). That's where I started, years and years ago, and I had the notes pretty much down within a day. It's surprisingly comfortable, and if you continue on learning them, I think you'll agree that Godowsky's aim is never to write music TO be difficult, but to write everything as comfortably as possible. I've always found the 25/9 etudes to be a little more awkward than most, although the left hand only version is quite charming--but after 10/5i you may find 10/6 to be a good second etude. I have learned both 10/2 versions, and 10/1ii, and those three form a solid foundation for the techniques you'll apply elsewhere (after both 10/2s, 25/6 comes along quickly, believe it or not!).

My chief word of warning is that these etudes take a considerable amount of time, and that can get frustrating. A single one could take two months or even more to get up to an appreciable tempo, and even then performing it will be quite risky. I've gone through long periods of time where I don't learn any of them, just because there's a lot of great music out there that's not nearly as difficult. But, they're still fun little gems to play and reward you over and over if you have the patience. A few of my favorites include:

10/1ii; 10/2ii; 10/3; 10/5iii, vi; 10/6; 10/8ii; 10/9i; 10/10i; 10/12; 25/1iii; 25/3i; 25/4i; 25/5i, ii; 25/9i, ii/ 25/12, T.N. 2i; and of course Badinage. I've fully learned about 6 of them.

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