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What exacly is required from a concert pianist? #1719545
07/23/11 07:25 PM
07/23/11 07:25 PM
Joined: Jul 2011
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XXVII Offline OP
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Hello fellow pianists, how are you all doing?

I have a question for you guys about concert pianists. Being new to the piano I came across on a forum where people were talking about concert pianists and that one should start at a very very young age to become one. Notice that becoming a concert pianist is not any of my goals. But it made me wonder what exacly is required from a concert pianist. What I mean is that I have seen people all from 6-30 years play the hardest piano pieces ever composed and they are not concidered concert pianists.

So am I wrong in assuming that a concert pianist is actually like a pro-boxer. There are very very good boxers at the same level as the pro-boxer but the pro-boxer boxes for a living. So is concert pianist just a name for a pianist that is playing piano as a job? I know that my younger brother can play almost any piece with a little practice and he has only played for 4 years and manages to play EXACLY as the concert pianists I see on YouTube. So what is the fuss about?

I apologize if this question has been asked before but in all honesty I did try searching for this particular subject without any results. Then again my knowledge of computers is almost equal to a chimps knowledge in handling a gun.

New here by the way so friendly greetings.

Cheers

-XXVII

Last edited by XXVII; 07/23/11 07:31 PM.
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Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719556
07/23/11 07:39 PM
07/23/11 07:39 PM
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Kreisler Offline
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I think your analogy of boxer and pro-boxer is pretty good.

There are a lot of pianists who can play very, very well, but it's something different to do it for a living - playing 50 or 100 concerts a year, keeping your repertoire up while traveling and all that.

Also, "concert pianist" is one of those vague terms that is defined differently depending on who you ask, so it's hard to say exactly what's required of one.


"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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Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719570
07/23/11 08:16 PM
07/23/11 08:16 PM
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The simplest answer is that "concert pianists" play concerts. The actually play in a hall that is designed to seat people for a musical performance. They don't technically need to be paid, but it doesn't hurt. Most are unemployed. laugh

Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719668
07/23/11 10:50 PM
07/23/11 10:50 PM
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Concert pianists play concerts. They also tend to play very well and like music.


One111
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719946
07/24/11 11:07 AM
07/24/11 11:07 AM
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"I'm a concert pianist. That's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment." -Oscar Levant


Chopin, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninov
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719962
07/24/11 11:36 AM
07/24/11 11:36 AM
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Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719980
07/24/11 12:11 PM
07/24/11 12:11 PM
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Seattle area, WA
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After reading several biographies, I've learned that concert pianists must love living out of a suitcase, hopping from city to city constantly, eating restaurant and hotel food, sleeping in a strange bed, putting up with all the inconveniences of travel, adjusting to inferior pianos and halls, and having very little constancy of companions. It's a lonely, exhausting life.

I recently had a conversation with someone who has had a concert career and he made an interesting comment. He said the agents who book the concerts are looking for someone who plays well and is agreeable to the above lifestyle. If you say, "no, I don't want to travel so much" or "no, I need to take some time off" or something similar, the agents don't view you as a money maker and lose interest in booking concerts for you. So a successful career isn't only about talent. It's also about economics.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1719995
07/24/11 12:37 PM
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Have a look at the DVD of 'Russia's Child Prodigies - a film by Irene Langemann' for a salutary look at how difficult it is to become a concert pianist. The pianists were feted when they were young, but found it next to impossible to get any concerts once they were no longer children, when the public lost interest in them. So, they went on the competition circuit....a promoter/agent said that anything less than a gold medal was useless.

If that was often true in the past - Pollini, Ashkenazy and Michelangeli are just a few of the great names whose careers only took off when they won a first prize, not a previous second - that's even more true today. Unless you're supremely gifted or lucky (stepping in at short notice for someone indisposed and giving the performance of your life, or spotted by a high-profile conductor etc), noone can make a career as a (solo) concert pianist today without a first prize at a major competition, and even that doesn't guarantee one.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1720163
07/24/11 06:23 PM
07/24/11 06:23 PM
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In general, it is true that winning a competition is an important factor to push one's career to become a successful concert pianist. However, there are so many people who have ability like that of concert pianists, but they are not that lucky to make a living from playing piano due to various reasons.

You should talk to your brother, he may have tremendous talent. If within 4 years he can play concert pianist pieces like in Youtube, he should record his playing, and who knows he will get noted by big guy in the piano industry.

Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1720167
07/24/11 06:30 PM
07/24/11 06:30 PM
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like most music careers, being good enough is not enough. You need to market yourself and establish networks. To 99% of the people that will pay for the ticket, you all sound the same. It is also extremely hard to get people out for just a piano let alone pay for hearing just a piano. Concert pianist , the term at least refers more to skill. In reality, there are virtually 0 pianists that actually tour headlining their own tour. Most of them go from city to city doing concertos and master classes the same or next day to supplement the income at the university. That is really the only way to draw a big enough crowd to actually make a living and even then , you making around 100 000 a year

moat pianists that are "concert pianists" tend to do recording or vocal coaching as that is where the money is at.

Last edited by BadOrange; 07/24/11 06:32 PM.
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1720440
07/25/11 05:36 AM
07/25/11 05:36 AM
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My piano teacher was on the concert circuit for a number of years in what he calls his "cowboy days." He taught at the university level for a number or years, then retired from that, and now does public recitals/concerts 3 or 4 times a year and teaches privately. He explains that the years on the concert circuit were rewarding and a necessary part of his career as a pianist, but ultimately became dreary because of always traveling and never having the same group of friends around.

I think many people romanticize the idea of life as a concert artist, but of the three concert pianists that I have the privilege of calling my friends, all of them agree that being on the concert circuit is emotionally draining.

Last edited by crogersrx; 07/25/11 05:36 AM.

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Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1720442
07/25/11 06:17 AM
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Most concert pianists eventually end up having a teaching job in a conservatoire or music school from which they get most of their income, and only give concerts occasionally, to stay in the public eye. Many end up only teaching, simply because concert engagements dry up. Very few have the luxury of choosing whether or not they teach.

Shura Cherkassky was one of those rare pianists who actually enjoyed travelling and living out of hotels.....


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1720684
07/25/11 02:47 PM
07/25/11 02:47 PM
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XXVII Offline OP
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Allright, now it has been 2 weeks since I started to play the piano and I complete Moonlight Sonata without any flaws and on YouTube I see people pay for that. I don't know guys, I guess concert pianists ain't about some super extraordinary skill. It's probably as previously said all about marketing yourself. I mean heck, I saw some chinese girl a couple of days ago play some Chopin piece that sounded very, very hard. Concert Pianists seem way too glorified by alot of folks. Im not hating on them, I wish them all the luck in their career. But it seemed to me after reading alot of peoples views about concert pianists, they spoke as if they were gods on the piano. This was a false perception from my part I guess.

Thank you all for joining this subject and let see if we have any more opinions.

Cheers all!

-XXVII

Last edited by XXVII; 07/25/11 02:48 PM.
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1720719
07/25/11 03:32 PM
07/25/11 03:32 PM
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Carey Offline
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Originally Posted by XXVII
I don't know guys, I guess concert pianists ain't about some super extraordinary skill. It's probably as previously said all about marketing yourself. I mean heck, I saw some chinese girl a couple of days ago play some Chopin piece that sounded very, very hard. Concert Pianists seem way too glorified by alot of folks. Im not hating on them, I wish them all the luck in their career. But it seemed to me after reading alot of peoples views about concert pianists, they spoke as if they were gods on the piano. This was a false perception from my part I guess.


No - its not really a false perception on your part. To be successful as a concert pianist you do need to have an extraordinary technique and interpretive ability (which usually takes many years to develop and refine) as well as an incredible memory and ability to concentrate. The "marketing" aspect is rather meaningless if you don't have the "goods."


Last edited by carey; 07/25/11 04:53 PM.

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Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: Carey] #1720740
07/25/11 03:58 PM
07/25/11 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by XXVII
I don't know guys, I guess concert pianists ain't about some super extraordinary skill. It's probably as previously said all about marketing yourself. I mean heck, I saw some chinese girl a couple of days ago play some Chopin piece that sounded very, very hard. Concert Pianists seem way too glorified by alot of folks. Im not hating on them, I wish them all the luck in their career. But it seemed to me after reading alot of peoples views about concert pianists, they spoke as if they were gods on the piano. This was a false perception from my part I guess.

No - its not really a false impression on your part. To be successful as a concert pianist you do need to have an extraordinary technique and interpretive ability (which usually takes many years to develop and refine) as well as an incredible memory and ability to concentrate. The "marketing" aspect is rather meaningless if you don't have the "goods."

Absolutely.

XXVII Welcome to the forum! Playing flawlessly is just the beginning. When you are first learning the piano it is common to assume that all it takes to play something is to push the right "buttons" at the right time. As your ear becomes more discerning you will learn it takes much more than that. Expression, dynamic changes, articulation, rubato, tone, a style that complements the period and composer, maturity, etc. is what makes a performance great. Only a few can do that. Listen to recordings of some of the "great" pianists and you will hear what I mean. Start with Horowitz and Rubinstein.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1721070
07/26/11 04:42 AM
07/26/11 04:42 AM
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San Francisco, CA
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Originally Posted by XXVII
Allright, now it has been 2 weeks since I started to play the piano and I complete Moonlight Sonata without any flaws and on YouTube I see people pay for that. I don't know guys, I guess concert pianists ain't about some super extraordinary skill.

Thank you all for joining this subject and let see if we have any more opinions.

Cheers all!

-XXVII


All three movements?? Wow...! I'd love to see a YouTube video of you playing your version of the Presto Agitato movement. Post a link for us. LOL

I'm sure you're talking about the Adagio Sostenuto movement. While not a beginners piece, it's not technically challenging, though I would guess that you must have some musical background other than two weeks of playing the piano or you would not have been able to play it. Keep up the diligent work. If you're doing this well, you may well have a knack for the keyboard that will allow you to advance quickly.;



Cary Rogers, PharmD
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Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1721072
07/26/11 04:50 AM
07/26/11 04:50 AM
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UK
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I'm not a pro concert pianist, but I do earn my living from music (and part of it is from my career), so I guess I can offer some insight about a few things...

The idea of having a career is a combination of tons of different skills, luck, etc... It's not about who plays the best, or who has the most talent (go on and measure talent if you can), or who started giving concerts earlier (kid prodigies). EVERYTHING matters!

You need luck!
You need to network!
You need to be a seller and sell yourself!
You need experience!
You need knowledge!
You need education!
You need marketing skills (other than selling yourself).
You need, sometimes, to be beautiful and know how to use that to your advantage!
You need to control your image!

And, of course, you need a backup plan, since having a career alone is almost impossible apart from the top 20 musicians of the world lets say (could be top 2000, it's just a number but it's again completely slim to be able to fit in their ranks). I've never ever met someone in person who didn't have a second job apart from composing, or concerting. There's always teaching, or masterclassing, or recording, or creating media music, or whatever else will pay the bills!

Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: XXVII] #1721100
07/26/11 07:09 AM
07/26/11 07:09 AM
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Posts: 1,104
west coast island, canada
Dara Offline
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What exacly is required from a concert pianist?

To perform piano concerts.

I have played many solo piano concerts but the term 'concert pianist' isn't part of my identity. This may be because the term 'concert pianist' is most often associated with a classical pianist. There are many pianists that perform piano concerts that aren't classical pianists.

Originally Posted by Nikolas

And, of course, you need a backup plan, since having a career alone is almost impossible apart from the top 20 musicians of the world lets say (could be top 2000, it's just a number but it's again completely slim to be able to fit in their ranks). I've never ever met someone in person who didn't have a second job apart from composing, or concerting. There's always teaching, or masterclassing, or recording, or creating media music, or whatever else will pay the bills!



It's not clear if you are referring to classical pianists Nikolas. You refer to the top 20 musicians of the world, and then say could be 2000.

I live in a community of a little over 10,000 people. I would approximate that about 300 of these people earn their living entirely from their art - myself included currently. This includes all the fine arts.
I bumped in to a musician last night that I went to hear perform in concert when I was a child, 7000 km from where I live now but still in the same country. He was playing a solo concert of his original compositions and has been entirely earning his living from composing and performing his music for the past 40 years.

There are many opportunities for all artists - concert pianists too, even classical ones smile
Usually these opportunities are ones that are created by ones self.

All that is required is doing it.

Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: Dara] #1721126
07/26/11 08:19 AM
07/26/11 08:19 AM
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My former teacher is now quite a famous concert pianist. (I am not sure that I should mention her name here...but I will tell the story, some of you may be able to figure out who she is). She studied at Julliard and in Europe and had a small concert career, a lot of chamber music, and some accomanying of famous soloists...but nothing major. When she was about 30 (really late to get this sort of thing going) she played a concert at a college auditorium and a rather wealthy gentleman was there (a friend of one of her students) who was very impressed. He wanted to help her career. They rented Weill Recital Hall at carnegie hall in NYC, produced a CD, and got a publicist who filled the hall with everyone of importance in the music business. She played beautifully that night. That one concert lead to a recording contract, major management, and a major concert career with solo recitals and concerto appearances with major orchestras all over the world. I hear her recordings on the local classical radio station all the time. This is a really really unusual story, and she is one of the very lucky ones.

Re: What exacly is required from a concert pianist? [Re: Williamus] #1721138
07/26/11 08:44 AM
07/26/11 08:44 AM
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west coast island, canada
Dara Offline
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Originally Posted by Williamus
This is a really really unusual story, and she is one of the very lucky ones.


This may seem unusual but there are thousands of stories that resonate with this one.

Is she lucky?

Friends and an expanding circle of friends can be a very powerful force.

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