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#2065672 - 04/16/13 05:27 PM "Competition pieces"?  
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fnork Offline
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The whole concept of a 'competition piece' is probably a very very foreign concept for the average concert-goer, the piano amateur and the music-lover. However, it's pretty clear that the concept exists very much among young musicians. What exactly is a competition piece though? Why do we seem certain that some repertoire is suited for this context, while other repertoire is not? Why do I see pianists around me who go from one competition to the next with the same war-horses for years, and why do those pianists never cultivate their skills in piano miniatures? An unnamed pianist I know who has won several competitions has only played large-scale works by Chopin (sonatas, polonaise-fantasy, most etudes etc) but has NEVER touched a mazurka.

For anyone that has participated in competitions - why did you go for the particular repertoire you chose? I'm asking these questions while trying to piece together a competition program myself, and I've come to realize that there is no way for me to do this properly unless I only play works I feel VERY strongly attached to. Meanwhile, over the years, I've noticed that so many competition-goers around me just neglect the personal involvment in the music for what they think is the 'appropriate repertoire' required for a competition....


thoughts? ideas?

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#2065686 - 04/16/13 05:58 PM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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Well, I'm not the one who played in competitions, at least in recent years. My son did that. I can, however, relate a story that perhaps gets to the heart of the issue. I remember one competition my son played in when he was thirteen. He played a Brahms rhapsody (G minor). The young lady who won (by one point) played a Chopin Ballade. I forget which one. Afterward, one of the judges came up and complimented him left handedly. The complement was to his playing. The left handed part was the judge's reference to playing a "harder piece" next time. "Competition piece" has an aura of technical difficulty that is often quite subjective. But there it is. In some contexts, some judges have hard and fast rules of thumb about what pieces are winnable and what pieces get pats on the head.

I qualified this with "some judges" and "some contexts." I wouldn't want to issue some Moses-like pronouncement about the music itself.

The year before, he played a selection from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet suite. He came in second that year as well ... to the same young lady who again played Chopin. He played the very non-traditional work. It didn't help his cause.

No regrets. He loved those pieces.

#2065811 - 04/17/13 01:02 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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I hate the concept of competition pieces. I once played the Raindrop prelude in a competition just to annoy people.

#2065837 - 04/17/13 02:12 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: debrucey]  
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Originally Posted by debrucey
I hate the concept of competition pieces. I once played the Raindrop prelude in a competition just to annoy people.

thumb
How did it go? laugh


Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.
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#2065884 - 04/17/13 06:37 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: debrucey]  
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Originally Posted by debrucey
I hate the concept of competition pieces. I once played the Raindrop prelude in a competition just to annoy people.

I did a 30-second scarlatti sonata once just to poke fun at the fact that I had actually fulfilled the requirement of playing "a baroque piece". Then, of course, the rest of that 30 min first round was fairly heavy stuff.

#2065886 - 04/17/13 06:41 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: Derulux]  
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Originally Posted by Derulux
Originally Posted by debrucey
I hate the concept of competition pieces. I once played the Raindrop prelude in a competition just to annoy people.

thumb
How did it go? laugh


He probably won ... grin

#2065889 - 04/17/13 06:47 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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I got through to the second round but didnt win haha

#2065891 - 04/17/13 06:49 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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Piano*Dad,

I think your story gets to the heart of the issue. The idea that the "hardest" repertoire is the main thing that counts seems to have spread everywhere. Yet the question that isn't asked often enough is - would the musicians following the path of excelling in fingertwisting repertoire sustain interest in recital situations where, naturally, one doesn't repeat the same war horses over and over again? Charles Rosen pointed it out in his book "Piano notes", on how vastly different competitions and recitals can be in this sense...yet at times I have also received complimentary words for play "difficult" repertoire, while difficulty alone never has interested me. It's always encouraging to see that there are pianists that seem to win competitions without just having "competition pieces" on their programs. I remember seeing someone winning first prize having both Kinderszenen and Beethoven Moonlight in a huge competition recently…..

#2066083 - 04/17/13 03:06 PM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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I remember watching someone play the first movement of the Moonlight in a competition recently ... I forget which one. I thought to myself, "that pianist has guts." I think it was an Italian guy. I saw someone else play Mozart's simple Fantasia in D as well.

A good competition repertoire must include things that demonstrate excellent technique. But once one has proved that point, shouldn't there be some room for entertaining the judges with an insightful interpretation of something elegant and simple?


#2066105 - 04/17/13 03:53 PM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: Piano*Dad]  
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
I remember watching someone play the first movement of the Moonlight in a competition recently ... I forget which one. I thought to myself, "that pianist has guts." I think it was an Italian guy. I saw someone else play Mozart's simple Fantasia in D as well.

A good competition repertoire must include things that demonstrate excellent technique. But once one has proved that point, shouldn't there be some room for entertaining the judges with an insightful interpretation of something elegant and simple?



I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I played Schumann's Romanze in F-sharp as a contrasting piece to the Ginastera First Sonata and it went over very well. I won a competition playing the Pathetique first movement, which, while difficult, is considered a bit hackneyed. As long as it plays to your strengths, and you can make the piece special, that's what counts.

#2066109 - 04/17/13 04:00 PM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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I played 4'33 and won.

#2066124 - 04/17/13 04:18 PM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I played 4'33 and won.


Perhaps because it wasn't 4'33"?

#2066927 - 04/19/13 05:07 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I played 4'33 and won.

bravo. I assume there were other things on your program though?

I recall a multi-instrumental competition where a singer was very highly rewarded, and one of the motivations was that he sang so well in so many different languages. Funny, because any non-singer will have troubles competing in that area...

#2067027 - 04/19/13 09:13 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: JoelW]  
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Originally Posted by JoelW
I played 4'33 and won.


You can't be serious?

#2067033 - 04/19/13 09:19 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: Works1]  
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Originally Posted by Works1
Originally Posted by JoelW
I played 4'33 and won.


You can't be serious?
he's kidding! grin

#2067063 - 04/19/13 10:17 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: Nikolas]  
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Originally Posted by Nikolas
Originally Posted by Works1
Originally Posted by JoelW
I played 4'33 and won.


You can't be serious?
he's kidding! grin

The jury must've been so happy to finally experience some silence rather than liszt etudes one after the other... grin

#2067526 - 04/20/13 08:14 AM Re: "Competition pieces"? [Re: fnork]  
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After all, the piece is so transcendental...


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