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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
LaReginadellaNotte #1837658 02/03/12 01:52 AM
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte

However, being a university professor with a mediocre performing career seems like something that is much more within the grasp of most performance majors.


Unless things have changed significantly in the past 40 years (which I doubt), competition for university/college posts can be very intense, and many talented performance majors are not always successful in procuring lucrative teaching posts. Those who hold such positions are usually expected to perform on a regular basis - which some do in the school, in the community, in the state, nationally and internationally. I would encourage you NOT to continue to use the term "mediocre" when referring to their performance activity. While these artist/teachers may not be in the elite circle of international artists, the performance skills of many of these folks are far from mediocre.



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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Carey #1837665 02/03/12 02:13 AM
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Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte

However, being a university professor with a mediocre performing career seems like something that is much more within the grasp of most performance majors.


Unless things have changed significantly in the past 40 years (which I doubt), competition for university/college posts can be very intense, and many talented performance majors are not always successful in procuring lucrative teaching posts. Those who hold such positions are usually expected to perform on a regular basis - which some do in the school, in the community, in the state, nationally and internationally. I would encourage you NOT to continue to use the term "mediocre" when referring to their performance activity. While these artist/teachers may not be in the elite circle of international artists, the performance skills of many of these folks are far from mediocre.


I agree. This sounds very dismissive. These professors are very good and have coveted positions

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Carey #1837678 02/03/12 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by carey


Unless things have changed significantly in the past 40 years (which I doubt), competition for university/college posts can be very intense, and many talented performance majors are not always successful in procuring lucrative teaching posts. Those who hold such positions are usually expected to perform on a regular basis - which some do in the school, in the community, in the state, nationally and internationally. I would encourage you NOT to continue to use the term "mediocre" when referring to their performance activity. While these artist/teachers may not be in the elite circle of international artists, the performance skills of many of these folks are far from mediocre.


There may be a lot of competition for university positions, but wouldn't you say that most of the people who obtain those positions are not in the same category as artists with major international careers? When I use the term "mediocre" to describe such people, that is in comparison to the likes of Horowitz, Argerich, Pollini, et al. While university professors are generally at a much higher level of playing than public school teachers, would you agree that a person who has an obscure, part-time concert career is "mediocre" in comparison to someone like Murray Perahia? At the very least, the word "mediocre" refers to the extent of their careers (which are relatively lackluster), even if you find their playing to be impressive. There's a world of differnce between having a big, international career and having a minor career where most classical music aficionados wouldn't even know who you are. The vast majority of university professors fall into the latter category.

Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 02/03/12 02:56 AM.

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
Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Carey #1837700 02/03/12 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by carey
Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte

However, being a university professor with a mediocre performing career seems like something that is much more within the grasp of most performance majors.


Unless things have changed significantly in the past 40 years (which I doubt), competition for university/college posts can be very intense, and many talented performance majors are not always successful in procuring lucrative teaching posts. Those who hold such positions are usually expected to perform on a regular basis - which some do in the school, in the community, in the state, nationally and internationally. I would encourage you NOT to continue to use the term "mediocre" when referring to their performance activity. While these artist/teachers may not be in the elite circle of international artists, the performance skills of many of these folks are far from mediocre.



It's silly and immature to equate world-wide fame with artistry, anyway. Being a top level pianist doesn't automatically mean the person wants to live the life of a touring virtuoso, which is a pretty peculiar way of life. And neither does having the charisma that can help to generate fame automatically mean that the artistry is really all that well-developed.

And too, there are some wonderful pianists who are well-known to hardcore pianophiles, and who also are university/conservatory profs - Anton Nel, Dubravka Tomsic, and Matti Raekallio come to mind right away, but I'm sure there are many, many more.



Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
LaReginadellaNotte #1837707 02/03/12 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Originally Posted by stores
Those who will mount the concert stage and make a career out of doing so belong to a very unique, very small class. The odds that one will make his living this way are not very good at all. Grabbing engagements like those you speak of, Regina, are not as easy as you believe. Sure, anyone can rent a hall, but even minor orchestras and venues go after names that can and will sell tickets. Joe Juilliard grad isn't going to play at the Fox simply because he's a Juilliard grad.

When I said that it isn't too difficult to have a minor career, I was referring to the fact that there are many musicians who teach at a university and do some performing on the side. Those people are not stellar artists, but they are able to do some concertizing on a professional basis. For example, I know of many obscure pianists (the type who are full-time professors and part-time performers) whose playing has been broadcast on WQXR at some point. There is an obscure pianist who teaches at a lowly state university who performed with the National Orchestra of El Salvador.

It's my understanding that having a major international career is something that only very few individuals can ever achieve. However, being a university professor with a mediocre performing career seems like something that is much more within the grasp of most performance majors.


Get something straight in your mind, Regina...those state universities aren't all "lowly" and a performing career isn't mediocre if all the stops aren't major venues. I have a friend who teaches at a southern university and has one of the fullest concert schedules I've ever seen. He does more traveling than most DG artists and commands a fairly healthy fee (some of you will know who I mean). You seem to have this idea that unless one attains Horowitz-like virtuosity or graduates from anywhere but Juilliard then he/she is a more or less a failure. That may not be what you think, but it's how you come off.



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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
LaReginadellaNotte #1837731 02/03/12 06:35 AM
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Originally Posted by carey


Unless things have changed significantly in the past 40 years (which I doubt), competition for university/college posts can be very intense, and many talented performance majors are not always successful in procuring lucrative teaching posts. Those who hold such positions are usually expected to perform on a regular basis - which some do in the school, in the community, in the state, nationally and internationally. I would encourage you NOT to continue to use the term "mediocre" when referring to their performance activity. While these artist/teachers may not be in the elite circle of international artists, the performance skills of many of these folks are far from mediocre.


There may be a lot of competition for university positions, but wouldn't you say that most of the people who obtain those positions are not in the same category as artists with major international careers? When I use the term "mediocre" to describe such people, that is in comparison to the likes of Horowitz, Argerich, Pollini, et al. While university professors are generally at a much higher level of playing than public school teachers, would you agree that a person who has an obscure, part-time concert career is "mediocre" in comparison to someone like Murray Perahia? At the very least, the word "mediocre" refers to the extent of their careers (which are relatively lackluster), even if you find their playing to be impressive. There's a world of differnce between having a big, international career and having a minor career where most classical music aficionados wouldn't even know who you are. The vast majority of university professors fall into the latter category.


I just don't think "mediocre" is a relative word, and it doesn't have the same meaning is "relatively minor", which still doesn't give the credit that these people deserve.


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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
LaReginadellaNotte #1837733 02/03/12 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
Originally Posted by carey


Unless things have changed significantly in the past 40 years (which I doubt), competition for university/college posts can be very intense, and many talented performance majors are not always successful in procuring lucrative teaching posts. Those who hold such positions are usually expected to perform on a regular basis - which some do in the school, in the community, in the state, nationally and internationally. I would encourage you NOT to continue to use the term "mediocre" when referring to their performance activity. While these artist/teachers may not be in the elite circle of international artists, the performance skills of many of these folks are far from mediocre.


There may be a lot of competition for university positions, but wouldn't you say that most of the people who obtain those positions are not in the same category as artists with major international careers? When I use the term "mediocre" to describe such people, that is in comparison to the likes of Horowitz, Argerich, Pollini, et al. While university professors are generally at a much higher level of playing than public school teachers, would you agree that a person who has an obscure, part-time concert career is "mediocre" in comparison to someone like Murray Perahia? At the very least, the word "mediocre" refers to the extent of their careers (which are relatively lackluster), even if you find their playing to be impressive. There's a world of differnce between having a big, international career and having a minor career where most classical music aficionados wouldn't even know who you are. The vast majority of university professors fall into the latter category.


Well there are also those who choose not to have the international career. They'd rather not have to constantly travel. An example that comes to mind is Ronald Turini, who was one of Horowitz pupils - he was a spectacular talent. I think despite Horowitz urging, he preferred to settle down and spent his life teaching at Western Ontario.

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
LaReginadellaNotte #1837798 02/03/12 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
When I said that it isn't too difficult to have a minor career, I was referring to the fact that there are many musicians who teach at a university and do some performing on the side. Those people are not stellar artists, [...]


W T F. Just do us all a favour and stop talking and ruining threads. So you're telling me McDonald (Juilliard, the school you worship) is not a good artist? Or Fleisher? Are you out of your mind? Stop generalizing like this and WAKE UP. Being a concert pianist is not the only point of being in music, and believe it or not, some people actually like having a more stable job, such as a position at a university/conservatory. Shocking, isn't it?



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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Minaku #1837801 02/03/12 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Minaku
Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway

HAHAHAHAHAHA....A group of sensitive people, I guess.
The teacher must really enjoy the scene.


Generally I make it a point to ignore you considering how boorishly you behave yourself. However, do not make light of the situation. A teacher can get fabulous results from students without insulting them or talking about their shortcomings with the department head in front of the student].

It's clear to me that you've never been in a high-stress environment such as one that can be found in a music conservatory, nor have you any compassion for students who have mean teachers.


How do you know my life? Everybody has different ability to cope with stress, some people are weak and make a big deal of nothing. As you said that the teacher was not from the US originally so that you implied that there was a different approach. The students just could not cope with her style.....the whole class cried...what a scene???

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
RonaldSteinway #1837812 02/03/12 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by RonaldSteinway

How do you know my life? Everybody has different ability to cope with stress, some people are weak and make a big deal of nothing. As you said that the teacher was not from the US originally so that you implied that there was a different approach. The students just could not cope with her style.....the whole class cried...what a scene???


All of us were weak, then? By the end, we all needed some therapy and were very happy to be done with lessons.

For the record, the majority of the studio was made of students who came from the same country the teacher did. We all had thick skins, but it's possible to take things too far, which she often did.


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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Pogorelich. #1837840 02/03/12 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
Originally Posted by LaReginadellaNotte
When I said that it isn't too difficult to have a minor career, I was referring to the fact that there are many musicians who teach at a university and do some performing on the side. Those people are not stellar artists, [...]


W T F. Just do us all a favour and stop talking and ruining threads. So you're telling me McDonald (Juilliard, the school you worship) is not a good artist? Or Fleisher? Are you out of your mind? Stop generalizing like this and WAKE UP. Being a concert pianist is not the only point of being in music, and believe it or not, some people actually like having a more stable job, such as a position at a university/conservatory. Shocking, isn't it?

I think that you misunderstand the point. Although Fleisher is a conservatory professor, he has had one of the greatest performing careers of any artist. Obviously, he doesn't qualify as mediocre by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes, a stellar artist may choose to also be a teacher. I'm not suggesting that being a professor automatically makes you mediocre; I'm only saying that the vast majority of professors only have relatively minor performing careers (at least in comparison to internationally known artists).

To give you an example, there is an obscure pianist, whom most people have never even heard of, who has taught at a minor university, and her resume says that she has performed "locally and nationally" and on national public radio. That's an example of someone who has a career, but not a major career. That particular professor even mentioned that there are a lot of people who can make a living doing a cominbation of teaching and performing (in a relatively minor capacity), but only a few people can have major performing careers. If a person is only an obscure performer, then wouldn't his or her career be considered mediocre in comparison to people who have major international careers?

Originally Posted by stores
Get something straight in your mind, Regina...those state universities aren't all "lowly" and a performing career isn't mediocre if all the stops aren't major venues.

Some universities are obviously more prestigious than others, but I was specifically referring to state universities that are commonly considered the bottom of the barrel in terms of college ratings. If a concert career isn't a major, international one, then what word would you use to describe it? Most professors that I know seem to define a "mediocre career" as one that is well below the success of people like Emanuel Ax and Andre Watts. In Schonberg's biography of Horowitz, Schonberg said that Janis, Graffman, and Davis are the only Horowitz students who went on to respectable careers. That implies that people who do not perform with the top orchestras and at the top venues only have mediocre careers, at least in comparison to the great artists.

Quote
I have a friend who teaches at a southern university and has one of the fullest concert schedules I've ever seen. He does more traveling than most DG artists and commands a fairly healthy fee (some of you will know who I mean).

Does this person have a major concert career, comparable to the greats? I think that the quality of a career has to be taken into consideration, as opposed to just the quantity. A person can conceivably do a lot of performing, but not at the most prestigious venues or at the level of success of a Schiff or a Barenboim.

Quote
You seem to have this idea that unless one attains Horowitz-like virtuosity or graduates from anywhere but Juilliard then he/she is a more or less a failure.

People who do not have stellar careers or high-level virtuoso mechanisms do not have to consider themselves failures, but at the same time, they are not comparable to the people who actually do have major, international careers.

Great artists usually have extraordinarily high standards. It was said that one had to play extremely well for Horowitz to simply say that the playing was "not bad." Taking that into consideration, is it likely that Horowitz or an artist with similarly high standards would label the career of the average university professor as "mediocre?" Understand that I'm not postulating that every university professor necessarily has a mediocre career. There are indeed some major artists (e.g Watts, Sandor) who have taught at universities. However, the average person who teaches at a university is generally someone with a career that is well below the level of Watts or Sandor.

Quote
It's silly and immature to equate world-wide fame with artistry, anyway. Being a top level pianist doesn't automatically mean the person wants to live the life of a touring virtuoso, which is a pretty peculiar way of life. And neither does having the charisma that can help to generate fame automatically mean that the artistry is really all that well-developed.

It's true that fame is not necessarily proportional to artistry (e.g. Lang Lang); however, it seems that the majority of famous pianists are justly renowned. Couldn't we all agree that the likes of Horowitz, Rubinstein, Argerich, Richter, et al. are much greater artists than the average university professor? Also, the issue of whether a person has a "major" career is normally determined by the prestige of his or her engagements and the performers' level of fame and critical acclaim. The vast majority of university professors, who are only obscure performers, do not meet that criteria.

Quote
I just don't think "mediocre" is a relative word, and it doesn't have the same meaning is "relatively minor", which still doesn't give the credit that these people deserve.

What word would you suggest using? By "mediocre", I meant a career that is average, as opposed to stellar. If something is ordinary, it is normally classified as mediocre. From a professional standpoint, it would seem that a relatively minor career (which constitues an ordinary, as opposed to a spectacular, career) would be considered a "mediocre" career, in the normal understanding of the term. If a person's success is comparable to most others in his or her profession (which would be the case for professional musicians with relatively minor careers), then that person is normally considered a mediocre success. It is only when a person's level of success is much higher than most in his or her profession that he is considered an extraordinary success (as in the case of performers with major international careers).


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
Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
piaffe #1837852 02/03/12 10:24 AM
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Idee fixe (the "mediocrity" theme above). Can't be changed but if you get involved in arguing-- watch out for your sanity. shocked

To the OP, I remember standing in a library, years ago, and being immersed in reading a book that caught my eye-- had "Juilliard" in the title*-- was all about the experiences of students there. [a Google search steers me to Amazon, and the title is "Nothing but the Best: the struggle for perfection at the Juilliard School." came out 1987] Of course you can't borrow vignettes from it, like you can from the posters here...

Three things that made an impression: A singer talking about how difficult it was to sing and control breathing in a nerve-wracking situation (in front of a jury). A flautist whose dad went ballistic, when a judge mentioned to him that the girl's being overweight might have cost her a favorable decision. A pianist who was stymied by a difficult passage; and his girlfriend looked at it, said, Oh you mean this?-- and sailed through it at first sight, leaving him feeling shattered.

I had put music aside at that time in my life, and this book certainly wouldn't inspire me to begin again. In the same library section was an autobiography of Rubinstein. Although he seemed as remote to my experience as Juilliard, there was stuff in there I could latch on to; as in "love of music," which the author of the other book apparently didn't have. (Edit: although she studied harp at J. so I can't say she didn't love music-- but the book just seemed *so* focused on "daily reality")

To the OP, why don't you at least take some piano lessons? It'll give your writing an extra dose of reality! wink

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
piaffe #1837854 02/03/12 10:28 AM
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Regina - While "mediocre" can mean "ordinary" or "average" it also refers to "low quality or inferior value, ability or performance." The term is often used in a derogatory fashion. It would probably be more accurate to use "average," "ordinary" or "minor" to describe the careers of these artists - as opposed to "mediocre."


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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
DameMyra #1837886 02/03/12 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by DameMyra

Some rooms are a mess, coffee cups, homework papers, concert clothes, scores that are long overdue from the library. One student has made one of the rooms her own. She brought in lamps, a heater (Yes, many of the rooms are freezing in winter), hung pictures on the walls.


Hilarious.

Thanks for sharing.

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Cheeto717 #1837889 02/03/12 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheeto717
Let us know when you've finished your "piece of fiction"!


I absolutely will.

I've had my draft reviewed by an Associate in piano at the Royal Conservatory in Canada, but as much as I've researched the conservatory experience, the best way to understand the culture and challenges is really in hearing people tell their stories (good, bad, ugly).

I'm very grateful to all those sharing.

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Cheeto717 #1837911 02/03/12 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Cheeto717
Let us know when you've finished your "piece of fiction"!


Yes, it sounds interesting, especially considering some of the stories our members have to share are just as juicy as fiction wink.

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
Carey #1837915 02/03/12 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by carey
Regina - While "mediocre" can mean "ordinary" or "average" it also refers to "low quality or inferior value, ability or performance." The term is often used in a derogatory fashion. It would probably be more accurate to use "average," "ordinary" or "minor" to describe the careers of these artists - as opposed to "mediocre."

I understand your point. In some contexts, "mediocre" definitely does carry a disparaging connotation, although I wasn't intending it as such. For example, I know a voice teacher who believes that there has been a lot of "mediocre" singing at the Met as of late, and she clearly was using the term in a condemnatory manner (especially since people normally expect high-level artistry from the Met). If my description of the typical university professor could be rephrased as an "ordinary" or "average" performer, I would approve of that. However, some people might argue that performers of average or ordinary ability are subpar in comparison to great artists. Many musicians have very high standards when assessing musical performances; hence they might perceive anything less than greatness as being of inferior value.

Last edited by LaReginadellaNotte; 02/03/12 12:45 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
Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
piaffe #1837934 02/03/12 12:28 PM
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Read the biography "Testimony" of Shostakovich - there is a fantastic depiction of the conservatory in his time! You can almost see and feel it as if you were there.

Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
piaffe #1837949 02/03/12 12:43 PM
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Regina: it is not negative "some contexts" it is negative:

From a dictionary:
me·di·o·cre
   [mee-dee-oh-ker]
adjective
1.
of only ordinary or moderate quality; neither good nor bad; barely adequate: The car gets only mediocre mileage, but it's fun to drive. Synonyms: undistinguished, commonplace, pedestrian, everyday; run-of-the-mill. Antonyms: extraordinary, superior, uncommon, incomparable.
2.
not satisfactory; poor; inferior: Mediocre construction makes that building dangerous. Synonyms: meager, low-quality, second-rate; so-so. Antonyms: excellent, superior.

English language 101, finished. LOL


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Re: questions for those who studied at a conservatory
piaffe #1837954 02/03/12 12:52 PM
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The second definition definitely carries a negative connotation, but the first definition doesn't necessarily imply negativity, as it says "neither good nor bad", which could be interpreted as "neither positive nor negative." Furthermore, we were discussing whether the term "mediocre" has a more depreciative connotation than the word "ordinary". At least in the first definition, "mediocre" is defined as "ordinary", indicating that in some usages of the former word, it can be a synonym for the latter word and thereby carry similar implications.


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
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