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The 'price' for greatness #1844401 02/14/12 10:34 AM
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Bech Offline OP
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To me the great concert pianists are an excellent example of people who have 'paid the price.' I'm a big believer in the concept that 'everything has a price.' That is, if you want to accomplish a great goal you will have to be willing to pay a great price. A very moral concept. If you want it, you have to be willing to earn it.

Would some of you like to give your opinion regarding the time and effort it usually takes to become a great pianist?

I wonder what percentage of people with sufficient talent refuse to pay the price? I would guess a high percentage.

Bech




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Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844426 02/14/12 11:10 AM
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I have a sense that those with the best abilities get propelled into the business before they know what has happened.
Then is seems it is either a tremendous love or a tremendous ego that keeps them going?

rada

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844478 02/14/12 12:59 PM
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I generally agree with the OP, and I think the same applies for a lot of things.

For example, my wife is currently working on her medical residency. Having met many of her colleagues and been around physicians for several years now, I can safely say (and they would agree) that a very large number of people have sufficient intelligence to make it through medical school.

However, a relatively small number of those people are willing to go to school for 8 years, do a 4 year residency, go $200,000 in debt, and work 60 hours a week (including nights and weekends) for the rest of your life.

When I was teaching at a university, we saw the same thing - students come in wanting to major in music because they like to play the piano or be in band. But not all were willing to "pay the price" (things like theory classes and learning how to teach.)


"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: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844481 02/14/12 01:04 PM
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I did poorly in school and I'm paying the price now. laugh

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844515 02/14/12 01:49 PM
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I'm not sure.

Given that music - specifically solo concertizing - is such an insane, lofty, ridiculous
thing to do and way to spend one's time, I tend to feel that it's not really so much a matter of "paying the price", as of "there being no other option".

"Paying the price", sort of implies that a CHOICE has been made - a choice to sacrifice certain comforts in one's life - and I think that for most musicians who are TRULY great, or great enough to become concert pianists, it was never an issue of a choice - only destiny or compulsion. As a lot of the greatest pianists have said "Music choose me". I think that doing something this crazy or risky requires one to have a belief in themselves so strong and unassailable, that it transcends logical thinking in life (choices, sacrifice.)

Regarding what K said, I feel that the conscious choice of paying a price and sacrifice
is more common in Medicine or Law, or other such fields that are more balanced and
provide more direct and immediate goods for the price (monetary, security, etc.)

A price is paid for all things, the difference being the conscious awareness of it.

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844524 02/14/12 02:05 PM
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Something I think that is relatively common in music is that people will accept a small college teaching job or begrudgingly start teaching children in order to support the beginnings of a concert career. Often, a person will discover they actually love teaching and find that the "price" they were "paying" is actually very rewarding and fun.


"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: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844544 02/14/12 02:37 PM
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I agree, everything has a price, and as Kreisler said, most times the journey is more fulfilling than the goal reached. this applies to everything; if you want something you have to work for it.
Goethe said "thinking is easy, acting is hard, and putting thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world". success is for the willing.


All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.
Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844610 02/14/12 04:22 PM
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Didn't some of history's greatest musicians have such spectacular talent that they didn't work all that hard - didn't need to! = and were in fact bon vivants?

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: pianomie] #1844618 02/14/12 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pianomie
Didn't some of history's greatest musicians have such spectacular talent that they didn't work all that hard - didn't need to! = and were in fact bon vivants?


I don't think so. Take Liszt. In his younger years just before his touring, he would practice 12+ hours per day. Later, after he gave up touring, he DID give constant masterclasses, and keep an active evening life with his students. HOWEVER, he would also regularly get up at 5am and compose until noon or a little after every day (orders were not to disturb him). He was such a busybody that Princess Carolyne ironically nicknamed him "lazybones."

I think more generally the "spectacularly talented" composers (and other people of accomplishment) just seemed to come up with things so easily because their other more boisterous activities were more visible, or because their biographers idolized them and exaggerated. You can begin life as a supremely gifted Mozart or Mendelssohn, but you can't accomplish major works like the Requieum or A Midsummer Night's Dream without major amounts of work.

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: pianomie] #1844641 02/14/12 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by pianomie
Didn't some of history's greatest musicians have such spectacular talent that they didn't work all that hard - didn't need to! = and were in fact bon vivants?


I can't think of any.


"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: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Kreisler] #1844681 02/14/12 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Originally Posted by pianomie
Didn't some of history's greatest musicians have such spectacular talent that they didn't work all that hard - didn't need to! = and were in fact bon vivants?


I can't think of any.


Mozart comes to mind, but otherwise I agree.
There IS, indeed, a HIGH price to be paid. Someone stated earlier that they sensed those with greater abilities were probably simply propelled into things before they knew what hit them. Where do you think those abilities came from? You're not just born with the ability to instantly play Rach 3. One must sacrifice an enormous amount in the attempt to "make it" and even after giving up everything there is no guarantee whatsoever that one WILL "make it". I know several pianists who have done the competition circuit for several years but never had the success they hoped for. I know one pianist who is now incredibly successful, but traveled the circuit for years with enviable outcomes, but never nailed the big prize. They entered what was to be their final competition (having decided beforehand that this was the last time) and finally won it all...but that doesn't happen very often. Then there are those who are a smashing success their first go through. At any rate, every single one of them gave up friends, sports, parties, social lives of any kind, steady income (relying on family funds and the support of donors), vacations...you name it...sacrifice is the choice you make. Whether you goal is to make the concert stage your home or not the biggest key is knowing HOW to use the time you have, which is why I'll never understand those who don't feel the need for a teacher...and not just Mrs. Bufont down the street, but a GOOD teacher who will ground you in the basics giving you a strong foundation and righting you on your feet to use the precious little time you have available to the best of your advantage. Every successful pianist knows this is key and especially in one's formative years where everything is so crucial. It's one helll of a sacrifice, but the music makes it so very worth every single moment.



"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."

♪ ≠ $

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844682 02/14/12 06:34 PM
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I'd guess that almost all pianists who reach a very high level have spent a great many hours practicing. But what I don't think is clear is whether the greatest pianists spent more time than the excellent but not "greatest".

If one could some how rate the top 10,000 pianists in order from 1 to 10,000, would the top 100 have spent more time practicing than the bottom 100?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 02/14/12 06:36 PM.
Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: MarkH] #1844685 02/14/12 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkH

I think more generally the "spectacularly talented" composers (and other people of accomplishment) just seemed to come up with things so easily because their other more boisterous activities were more visible, or because their biographers idolized them and exaggerated. You can begin life as a supremely gifted Mozart or Mendelssohn, but you can't accomplish major works like the Requieum or A Midsummer Night's Dream without major amounts of work.


Oh, I don't know...didn't Mozart said he composed as easily as a pig urinates? In other words, it may be doing something, but it wasn't "work".


Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844706 02/14/12 06:55 PM
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On the contrary, Mozart worked extraordinarily hard. His schedule was pretty nuts. I'm not sure when he ever slept.

Edit: He could compose easily, sure. Any of us can compose easily, but it'll probably sound bad. There's a clear difference between the masterpieces that he poured himself into and the things he wrote to fill obligations or make money.

Last edited by Minaku; 02/14/12 06:56 PM.

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Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: stores] #1844728 02/14/12 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by stores

Mozart comes to mind, but otherwise I agree.
There IS, indeed, a HIGH price to be paid. Someone stated earlier that they sensed those with greater abilities were probably simply propelled into things before they knew what hit them. Where do you think those abilities came from? You're not just born with the ability to instantly play Rach 3. One must sacrifice an enormous amount in the attempt to "make it" and even after giving up everything there is no guarantee whatsoever that one WILL "make it". I know several pianists who have done the competition circuit for several years but never had the success they hoped for. I know one pianist who is now incredibly successful, but traveled the circuit for years with enviable outcomes, but never nailed the big prize. They entered what was to be their final competition (having decided beforehand that this was the last time) and finally won it all...but that doesn't happen very often. Then there are those who are a smashing success their first go through. At any rate, every single one of them gave up friends, sports, parties, social lives of any kind, steady income (relying on family funds and the support of donors), vacations...you name it...sacrifice is the choice you make. Whether you goal is to make the concert stage your home or not the biggest key is knowing HOW to use the time you have, which is why I'll never understand those who don't feel the need for a teacher...and not just Mrs. Bufont down the street, but a GOOD teacher who will ground you in the basics giving you a strong foundation and righting you on your feet to use the precious little time you have available to the best of your advantage. Every successful pianist knows this is key and especially in one's formative years where everything is so crucial. It's one helll of a sacrifice, but the music makes it so very worth every single moment.


+1000 You nailed it Stores! smile

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Minaku] #1844739 02/14/12 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Minaku
On the contrary, Mozart worked extraordinarily hard. His schedule was pretty nuts. I'm not sure when he ever slept.

Edit: He could compose easily, sure. Any of us can compose easily, but it'll probably sound bad. There's a clear difference between the masterpieces that he poured himself into and the things he wrote to fill obligations or make money.


Well, yes, he was extremely busy, but again, I am not sure how much of that was "work" (except perhaps when he actually didn't want to write something).


Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844774 02/14/12 08:54 PM
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The OP brings to mind Clara Schumann, who sacrificed spending time with her children for her career and Johannes Brahms who devoted himself entirely to his music when his romances failed. Come to think of it, so did Beethoven.


Best regards,

Deborah
Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844793 02/14/12 09:19 PM
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There is a new book of interviews of some of today's top pianists: "At the Piano: Interviews with 21st-Century Pianists," by Caroline Benser. Simone Dinnerstein, Stephen Hough, and Jonathan Biss are just three who shared their thoughts, generously. Ms. Benser asked all of them about how they got into the concert-pianist life, and a lot about their early practice and study. A lot of what they said relates to this discussion.

Full disclosure: she mentions me in the acknowledgements. So I really wanted to like the book! And I did!

I think it's on amazon.com, but you can also get it at the Scarecrow Press website, https://rowman.com/Action/Search/SCP/benser.

Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: Bech] #1844933 02/14/12 11:48 PM
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Super cute Marc Yu says: "The thing is, you have to love music."

So...like some of you are saying, it's sometimes more about being strongly motivated by your love of music than it is about 'paying the price."

Off topic but if you don't know Marc Yu check him out on YouTube. You'll be glad you did.

Bech


Music. One of man's greatest inventions. And...for me, the piano expresses it best.
Re: The 'price' for greatness [Re: wr] #1844963 02/15/12 01:36 AM
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Originally Posted by wr
Originally Posted by MarkH

I think more generally the "spectacularly talented" composers (and other people of accomplishment) just seemed to come up with things so easily because their other more boisterous activities were more visible, or because their biographers idolized them and exaggerated. You can begin life as a supremely gifted Mozart or Mendelssohn, but you can't accomplish major works like the Requieum or A Midsummer Night's Dream without major amounts of work.


Oh, I don't know...didn't Mozart said he composed as easily as a pig urinates? In other words, it may be doing something, but it wasn't "work".
I can't really claim that I know how Mozarts' mind worked, but even if we assume that music came in his mind instantly there's still the matter of communicating this to the... paper and the audience and the performers and the publisher, etc...

Even if the whole requiem was in his mind, it sure must've taken a LONG time to copy everything down to paper (even in draft mode) and then check the copyists' work...

Boring? Sure (though I personally love creating scores (and I'm not saying I'm Mozart or anything...)), but necessary as well.

Greatness and the price paid doesn't mean sitting on the piano bench for 13 hours per day and pissing yourself because you won't stand up to go to the loo. It also means all those side skills you need to practice in order to 'make it' (charm, wits, personality, luck, study, practice, networking, etc)...

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