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Genius or not?
#1896421 05/13/12 09:06 PM
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I have my own personal views as to where the line is drawn when it comes to genuine genius. I have also heard many people regard to Gould, Horowitz and others to be "geniuses". So I guess my questions to you are:

A) What do you consider to be musical genius? Where does the line exist between "genius" and just.. "really good".

B) In your eyes, why are these pianist considered geniuses?

Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896457 05/13/12 10:31 PM
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The question of 'genius' has little interest to me. Horowitz and Gould were who they were. Attaching a subjective, undefined label to their persona seems immaterial to me.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896471 05/13/12 10:54 PM
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I would be more prone to reserve "genius " for great composers rather than pianists. I'm aware this might start a firestorm but as long as your performing someone else's compositions the best you can do is be a great interpreter. While is can be done with great artistry ,the genius should be reserved for the original composer. Just my opinion.

Re: Genius or not?
bfeils #1896490 05/13/12 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by bfeils
I would be more prone to reserve "genius " for great composers rather than pianists. I'm aware this might start a firestorm but as long as your performing someone else's compositions the best you can do is be a great interpreter. While is can be done with great artistry ,the genius should be reserved for the original composer. Just my opinion.
I'm a composer and however flattered I'd be by this I dissagree! As a composer I can:
a. Produce a score
b. Produce a digital recording via a computer
c. Produce a live recording with myself playing (perhaps more than 1 instruments, if I'm REALLY good at more than one, but none the less limited).

I CANNOT perform my own works. And frankly I find that other performers do more justice to my own works (even for solo piano, and I do know how to play the piano) exactly because they offer their own 'genius' into things. Without them my works would be nothing!

____________________

BTW, I 100% agree (again) with Bruce. I find the whole issue about 'genius' to be of utter unimportance to me.

Re: Genius or not?
Nikolas #1896497 05/13/12 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by bfeils
I would be more prone to reserve "genius " for great composers rather than pianists. I'm aware this might start a firestorm but as long as your performing someone else's compositions the best you can do is be a great interpreter. While is can be done with great artistry ,the genius should be reserved for the original composer. Just my opinion.
I'm a composer and however flattered I'd be by this I dissagree! As a composer I can:
a. Produce a score
b. Produce a digital recording via a computer
c. Produce a live recording with myself playing (perhaps more than 1 instruments, if I'm REALLY good at more than one, but none the less limited).

I CANNOT perform my own works. And frankly I find that other performers do more justice to my own works (even for solo piano, and I do know how to play the piano) exactly because they offer their own 'genius' into things. Without them my works would be nothing!

____________________

BTW, I 100% agree (again) with Bruce. I find the whole issue about 'genius' to be of utter unimportance to me.


That's exactly how I am - I'm fairly proficient at piano [I mean, I'm no prodigy or virtuoso, but I can hold my own] but some of my piano works would be MUCH better performed by someone else. For instance, I wrote a piano work that is essentially a VERY large fugue with a biotonal/serial theory section in the middle. I could in theory play the notes, but my friends who are more proficient in playing contrapuntal pieces would do better. I've only played inventions. But, I mean, I had the "genius" to write the work, right? :P.

BUT, for a musical genius, the funny thing is most people we call Genius' are those who have simply put in there time. Some people call me a genius piano player, or a genius at music theory, or that my compositions are put together brilliantly, or that I have a brilliant ear, etc. But, at one point I didn't. I worked hard for all of that. I had a lot of natural talent, but I worked at it all.

Defining a musical genius is really hard for me - usually I reserve it for those who are truly originals and are able to synthesize multiple styles seamlessly into their own and push new, un-traversed, musical ground before. Sadly, there aren't many in the classical world that get that, because many of them simply copy others styles or copy the music of the past. As brilliant as they might be at it, they're not pushing new ground. It's those that have the audacity to push new ground.

Last edited by TrueMusic; 05/13/12 11:44 PM.

Piano/Composition major.

Proud owner of a beautiful Yamaha C7.

Polish:
Liszt Petrarch Sonnet 104
Bach WTC book 1 no. 6.
Dello Joio Sonata no. 3

New:
Chopin op. 23
Bach WTC book 2 no. 20
Re: Genius or not?
TrueMusic #1896503 05/13/12 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by TrueMusic

Defining a musical genius is really hard for me - usually I reserve it for those who are truly originals and are able to synthesize multiple styles seamlessly into their own and push new, un-traversed, musical ground before. Sadly, there aren't many in the classical world that get that, because many of them simply copy others styles or copy the music of the past. As brilliant as they might be at it, they're not pushing new ground. It's those that have the audacity to push new ground.


Nicely said. I've always believed that true genius, in any field, is the ability to genuinely invent new.

----------------------------------------------------

^^ "Without them my works are nothing!"

For me, the question still remains: "Is superb interpretation genius?" Is what they're doing worthy of being labeled invention, or creativity?

Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896506 05/14/12 12:19 AM
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My favorite quote on genius, I think from Schopenhauer:

"Talent hits targets no one else can hit. Genius hits targets no one else can see."


"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: Genius or not?
Kreisler #1896516 05/14/12 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
My favorite quote on genius, I think from Schopenhauer:

"Talent hits targets no one else can hit. Genius hits targets no one else can see."


I adore that quote.

Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896528 05/14/12 02:06 AM
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I wonder why nobody thinks that I'm a genius ... must get back to washing up the dishes.

Re: Genius or not?
bfeils #1896531 05/14/12 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by bfeils
I would be more prone to reserve "genius " for great composers rather than pianists. I'm aware this might start a firestorm but as long as your performing someone else's compositions the best you can do is be a great interpreter. While is can be done with great artistry ,the genius should be reserved for the original composer. Just my opinion.


You summed it up perfectly. A pianist like Horowitz or Gould will always be exceptional interpreters, but I think the "G" word is thrown around too much. I remember on some News Round I watched years back they had a child on, he was about 6 years old as far as I can remember and he was playing a simplified version of "Rondo alla Turca". They were calling him a "genius" and "the next Mozart". Of course, I think it's wonderful that children still want to learn instruments but I feel like the genius word is also thrown a lot at children. To me, Mozart was a child genius, not a child who can play a little bit of piano.

But then I suppose there's an arguments that not all composers were geniuses! Some were just very theoretical and knew their stuff, and were able to create compositions this way.


Currently working on...
Chopin - Fantasie Impromptu in C sharp minor Op.66
Mozart - Piano Sonata in E flat K.282
Liszt - Romance in E minor "O pourquoi donc" S.196
Re: Genius or not?
bfeils #1896556 05/14/12 05:08 AM
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Originally Posted by bfeils
I would be more prone to reserve "genius " for great composers rather than pianists. I'm aware this might start a firestorm but as long as your performing someone else's compositions the best you can do is be a great interpreter. While is can be done with great artistry ,the genius should be reserved for the original composer. Just my opinion.


I am curious how you arrived at the conclusion that great artistry doesn't involve genius (whatever that might be). Said a different way, what is it about interpreting a composition that means that genius cannot be involved?


Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896577 05/14/12 06:21 AM
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I agree that one can have interpretive or recreative genius rather than inventive-from-whole-cloth genius.

But I wouldn't say Horowitz and Gould are illustrative, although they could play faster (and louder, in the case of Horowitz) than anyone else. I'm thinking more of a less exhibitionistic artist like Cortot (typical comment to the point of cliche: "Horowitz plays the piano, but [fill in the blank] plays Chopin").

Re: Genius or not?
TrueMusic #1896590 05/14/12 06:59 AM
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Originally Posted by TrueMusic

Defining a musical genius is really hard for me - usually I reserve it for those who are truly originals and are able to synthesize multiple styles seamlessly into their own and push new, un-traversed, musical ground before. Sadly, there aren't many in the classical world that get that, because many of them simply copy others styles or copy the music of the past. As brilliant as they might be at it, they're not pushing new ground. It's those that have the audacity to push new ground.
I think by that definition Bach wouldn't qualify as a genius. From what I've read he was the culmination of the Baroque but wouldn't fit your requirements.

Also, how "new' and "untraversed" does the music have to be? There is no sharp dividing line.


Originally Posted by TrueMusic
BUT, for a musical genius, the funny thing is most people we call Genius' are those who have simply put in there time.
I can't think of a single musician that I would call a genius who simply put in the time. In fact, I think the word "genius" implies a degree of skill way beyond that. A degree of skill that cannot be achieved by simply putting in the time. Certainly none of the greatest composers or pianists simply put in the time.

I think it's certainly possible to argue about the definition of "genius", although I doubt any agreement will be reached or is possible. But even if everyone agreed on a definition this wouldn't be sufficient in many cases to decide if certain pianists or composers fit the requirements.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/14/12 07:39 AM.
Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896599 05/14/12 07:28 AM
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There’s that old adage

10% genius and 90% sweat and perseverance

Re: Genius or not?
Nikolas #1896632 05/14/12 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by bfeils
I would be more prone to reserve "genius " for great composers rather than pianists. I'm aware this might start a firestorm but as long as your performing someone else's compositions the best you can do is be a great interpreter. While is can be done with great artistry ,the genius should be reserved for the original composer. Just my opinion.
I'm a composer and however flattered I'd be by this I dissagree! As a composer I can:
a. Produce a score
b. Produce a digital recording via a computer
c. Produce a live recording with myself playing (perhaps more than 1 instruments, if I'm REALLY good at more than one, but none the less limited).

I CANNOT perform my own works. And frankly I find that other performers do more justice to my own works (even for solo piano, and I do know how to play the piano) exactly because they offer their own 'genius' into things. Without them my works would be nothing!

____________________

BTW, I 100% agree (again) with Bruce. I find the whole issue about 'genius' to be of utter unimportance to me.




My scale for genius is whether or not your work is a game changer. So i would say Bach changed everything that led to Mozart who lead to Beethoven which led to Chopin. Thats the caliber of musicians i attribute "genius" to. Not that there weren't many other greats of those times and in between, but these are the icons. Horowitz and Gould were certainly some of the best ever within there field but we wouldnt be talking bout them without Bach or the other great composers.

Re: Genius or not?
nocturne152 #1896647 05/14/12 09:22 AM
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I have met NEA Jazz Masters, MacArthur Fellows, a Nobelist, and a Fields Medalist. I have also known geniuses without certification. Genius is where you find it, sometimes in the most unlikely people. The lives of others are none the worse if you cannot find the genius in them, just yours.


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Re: Genius or not?
bfeils #1896648 05/14/12 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by bfeils
My scale for genius is whether or not your work is a game changer. So i would say Bach changed everything that led to Mozart who lead to Beethoven which led to Chopin. Thats the caliber of musicians i attribute "genius" to. .


You forgot Liszt!


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Re: Genius or not?
bfeils #1896654 05/14/12 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by bfeils

My scale for genius is whether or not your work is a game changer. So i would say Bach changed everything...
What did Bach change?

His music was not popular after he died and only became well known with Mendelssohn's revival. From what I've read, Bach was considered the apotheosis of the Baroque but not an innovator.

Re: Genius or not?
Jolteon #1896657 05/14/12 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Jolteon
Originally Posted by bfeils
My scale for genius is whether or not your work is a game changer. So i would say Bach changed everything that led to Mozart who lead to Beethoven which led to Chopin. Thats the caliber of musicians i attribute "genius" to. .


You forgot Liszt!





Haha. I never forget Liszt. I just had to choose either Liszt or Chopin. Most non-pianists would recognize Chopin before Liszt.

Re: Genius or not?
pianoloverus #1896679 05/14/12 10:15 AM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bfeils

My scale for genius is whether or not your work is a game changer. So i would say Bach changed everything...
What did Bach change?

His music was not popular after he died and only became well known with Mendelssohn's revival. From what I've read, Bach was considered the apotheosis of the Baroque but not an innovator.



I chose Bach as an example based more on what i was taught from my theory teachers. They used to say Bach is the father of all western music as we know it.
Just an opinion. No right or wrong here.

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