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#2077614 - 05/05/13 11:47 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by wr

But I do see it as a bad thing that musicians are taught that they aren't ever supposed to "think outside the box", as it were, and are not supposed to get very wild with their interpretations. It suppresses the imagination, I think.



To hear what we're missing today, have a listen to Raoul Koczalski, who, among the pianists who have left us good recordings, was the closest in 'lineage' from Chopin himself via Karol Mikuli, Chopin's favorite student.

http://youtu.be/VRmek8kADWA Nocturne in E flat, Op.9/2
http://youtu.be/XqvLEdvrhjE Ballade No.1 in G minor
Not at all appealing for my taste.


Tastes change over time. A modern period performance of Bach on period instruments would have been panned by audiences in the early twentieth century, and also possibly panned by audiences in Bach's own time. We just don't know, and frankly, who cares, except the musician trying to make a living?

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#2077626 - 05/05/13 12:16 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag


Yep, I still remember the goosebumps I got from first hearing these fantastic performances.


And I also remember the first time I heard them too - during the Chopin Symposium held at London's Purcell Room as part of his bicentenary commemoration at the South Bank, where Kenneth Hamilton, Professor John Rink, Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (who edited the New Critical Edition for Peters, where you'll find all the known variants that Chopin is known to have annotated on his pupils' scores - especially of that Op.9/2 Nocturne), Jim Samson and two well-known concert pianists were on the stage to discuss his life and music, and the way it is performed today compared to how it was in Chopin's time, and the pianos he used.

Koczalski's recordings were played, and everyone agreed that his playing was as close to how Chopin himself would probably have played it as we're likely to hear on any recording. It opened my eyes (and ears) to a world of interpretative freedom that I'd never encountered before (disregarding some very odd performances from Vladimir Pachmann and the like wink ). Even Kenneth Hamilton admitted he couldn't imitate such a free-flowing rubato and rhythm, despite having a go on the Pleyel and Erard grands (of Chopin's time) that was on the stage together with a modern Steinway D.


"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."
#2077644 - 05/05/13 12:43 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Thracozaag


Yep, I still remember the goosebumps I got from first hearing these fantastic performances.


And I also remember the first time I heard them too - during the Chopin Symposium held at London's Purcell Room as part of his bicentenary commemoration at the South Bank, where Kenneth Hamilton, Professor John Rink, Professor Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger (who edited the New Critical Edition for Peters, where you'll find all the known variants that Chopin is known to have annotated on his pupils' scores - especially of that Op.9/2 Nocturne), Jim Samson and two well-known concert pianists were on the stage to discuss his life and music, and the way it is performed today compared to how it was in Chopin's time, and the pianos he used.

Koczalski's recordings were played, and everyone agreed that his playing was as close to how Chopin himself would probably have played it as we're likely to hear on any recording. It opened my eyes (and ears) to a world of interpretative freedom that I'd never encountered before (disregarding some very odd performances from Vladimir Pachmann and the like wink ). Even Kenneth Hamilton admitted he couldn't imitate such a free-flowing rubato and rhythm, despite having a go on the Pleyel and Erard grands (of Chopin's time) that was on the stage together with a modern Steinway D.


I'm glad you got to hear these recordings within the context as well with some really top-notch musicologists--they're real eye (or rather, ear) openers. There are some really fabulous recordings of DePachmann, as well which I was fortunate enough (along with stunning recordings by Eugene D'Albert and Busoni) to hear through a CEDAR system, and you could really hear what these guys were all about in terms of phrasing, voicing, and their amazingly creative pedaling. If you haven't already encountered them, you might also enjoy the Chopin renditions of Alexander Michalowski.


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

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#2077669 - 05/05/13 01:53 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag


I'm glad you got to hear these recordings within the context as well with some really top-notch musicologists--they're real eye (or rather, ear) openers. There are some really fabulous recordings of DePachmann, as well which I was fortunate enough (along with stunning recordings by Eugene D'Albert and Busoni) to hear through a CEDAR system, and you could really hear what these guys were all about in terms of phrasing, voicing, and their amazingly creative pedaling. If you haven't already encountered them, you might also enjoy the Chopin renditions of Alexander Michalowski.


I must admit I've not heard of Michalowski - thanks for bringing him to my attention. Certainly, pianists of that era had a much greater diversity of playing styles - especially in Chopin - than today, when it is almost impossible to tell one pianist from another (apart from a few notable exceptions). Even among Polish pianists: Paderewski was as different from Koczalski as Leschetizky was from either of them.

Occasionally, in the privacy of my home, I allow my musical mind to wander freely, and indulge in some fanciful rubati and nuances, and even add the odd filigree decoration to some Chopin and Liszt music I know well. While I wouldn't dare to play like that to an audience who knows the music, I have done so for non-knowledgeable audiences, who seemed to like it.... grin


"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."
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#2077766 - 05/05/13 04:38 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]  
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Originally Posted by bennevis
While I wouldn't dare to play like that to an audience who knows the music, I have done so for non-knowledgeable audiences, who seemed to like it.... grin


It's funny how when people play for educated audiences, they try to play like Liszt, whereas when they play for un-educated audiences, they feel free to *be* like Liszt.

I'd much rather live in a world where performers are trying to be like Liszt. (And connect with audiences and be creative artists themselves.)

I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.


"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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#2077775 - 05/05/13 04:59 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.
To ask the most basic question...does this mean they thought that all the markings other than the notes they put in the score are optional? Or just one suggested interpretation? Or do you mean that occasionally making some relatively small changes is what they'd approve of? Or something else?

Last edited by pianoloverus; 05/05/13 07:18 PM.
#2077810 - 05/05/13 06:05 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
Originally Posted by bennevis
While I wouldn't dare to play like that to an audience who knows the music, I have done so for non-knowledgeable audiences, who seemed to like it.... grin


It's funny how when people play for educated audiences, they try to play like Liszt, whereas when they play for un-educated audiences, they feel free to *be* like Liszt.

I'd much rather live in a world where performers are trying to be like Liszt. (And connect with audiences and be creative artists themselves.)

I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.


Couldn't agree more


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#2077822 - 05/05/13 06:22 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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My two cents.

I consider the score to be just a guideline. I do not follow it to the letter.
I also believe that it's next to impossible to find a score that conveys the intent of the composer 100%. Musical language on paper is abstract.

And even if the score might be a close rendition of what the composer thought of: What about posthumous works? Chopin and Schubert come to mind. Would they have left their unpublished works the way they were found?

And (slightly OT): Anton Bruckner comes to mind, who didn't write piano music AFAIK, but lots of other music where lots of different versions exist. And when a later version differs from the first one, it's not always possible to tell if the changes were made by Bruckner himself; or if they were made by someone else with Bruckner's acceptance, his tolerance, without his knowledge or even against his will.

So: Since the score is only approximative, and it's uncertain that the composer was ok with it, the "intent of the composer" is only guesswork.
In my opinion the main focus of the pianist should not be to try to guess the composer's intent when playing the work; it should be to try to make good music.


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#2077836 - 05/05/13 06:59 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Kreisler]  
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Originally Posted by Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.

Personally, I could not disagree more with such a statement. And why choose just those three? Why not extrapolate that idea to all of their contemporaries, too?

Would the same statement be made about great writers or painters of the past who were aware of their greatness? Seems absurd. Why would great composers who knew they were great expect their work to be taken any less seriously?

#2077856 - 05/05/13 07:34 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]  
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Originally Posted by Goomer Piles
Originally Posted by Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.

Personally, I could not disagree more with such a statement. And why choose just those three? Why not extrapolate that idea to all of their contemporaries, too?

Would the same statement be made about great writers or painters of the past who were aware of their greatness? Seems absurd. Why would great composers who knew they were great expect their work to be taken any less seriously?


I'm utterly confused as to what you mean by their work being taken "seriously".


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#2077872 - 05/05/13 08:31 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Really? I thought it would be very clear. Kreisler's own words were 'reverential and deferential treatment'. That's what I was responding to, and that's exactly what I meant by 'being taken seriously'.

#2077874 - 05/05/13 08:35 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]  
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Originally Posted by Goomer Piles
Really? I thought it would be very clear. Kreisler's own words were 'reverential and deferential treatment'. That's what I was responding to, and that's exactly what I meant by 'being taken seriously'.


Reverence and deference (aka score worshipping) have a far different connotation than 'being taken seriously' for me.


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

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#2077898 - 05/05/13 09:08 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]  
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For me, 'reverence and deference' do not connote 'score worshipping'.

#2077901 - 05/05/13 09:11 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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Fair enough. Just hoping you're not one of those score being the end-all be-all type of philosophy.


"I'm a concert pianist--that's a pretentious way of saying I'm unemployed at the moment."--Oscar Levant

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#2077906 - 05/05/13 09:23 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Goomer Piles]  
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Originally Posted by Goomer Piles
Originally Posted by Kreisler
I believe, fairly strongly, that if Beethoven and Chopin and Liszt were alive today, they'd be absolutely baffled by the reverential and deferential treatment of their music.

Personally, I could not disagree more with such a statement. And why choose just those three? Why not extrapolate that idea to all of their contemporaries, too?

Would the same statement be made about great writers or painters of the past who were aware of their greatness? Seems absurd. Why would great composers who knew they were great expect their work to be taken any less seriously?


You made a superfluous association between paintings and writings, and music scores. The former are what they are - fixed (though written literature can be, and often are, translated into other languages or even simplified, e.g. the Bible). But music scores need to be brought to life, and are written to be performed (not just read, or admired): in the Baroque and Classical period, usually by, or under the supervision of, the composer himself, when he may often not bother to write every detail down, and will make changes and improvise on the spot. Famously, Beethoven's score of the piano part of his 3rd concerto consisted of 'Egyptian hieroglyphs', according to his hapless page-turner Ignaz von Seigfried, during the first performance by the composer grin. (Beethoven was known to add many extra notes to what he actually wrote, when he performed his own music). And everyone knows that Mozart's piano scores (especially the concertos) are only the blueprint for what he himself played during his subscription concerts.

Because classical music needs performers to bring the composers' vision to life, the performers themselves have to bring their own knowledge, intelligence and musicality to interpret what lies beneath the printed scores. During the early Romantic period of Chopin and Liszt, performers were expected to show something of themselves in their playing, even if they weren't the composers themselves (though most performers in those days were also the composers - including Mendelssohn and Brahms). They never treated the scores as set in stone.

It wasn't till the 20th century and Ravel - no great pianist himself - who declared 'performers are slaves'. And Stravinsky too. But their music ( and that of later composers who weren't also performers) are meticulously notated, leaving little of the freedom that many Chopin and Liszt scores often allow.

As wr has already recommended in his post - read Kenneth Hamilton's excellent book, and you'll realize what a straightjacket modern pianists have put themselves into, compared to how pianists used to play during the time the music (of the Romantic era) was composed.


"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."
#2077911 - 05/05/13 09:29 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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I suppose one could get the scores and frame them; frozen in posterity and thus unsullied by troublesome performers.


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#2077924 - 05/05/13 09:50 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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LOL. That is a good one, not that others were not. smile


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#2077989 - 05/05/13 11:45 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Thracozaag]  
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Originally Posted by Thracozaag
Fair enough. Just hoping you're not one of those score being the end-all be-all type of philosophy.

I wouldn't say so, though it wouldn't be of much consequence if I were given I play only for my own enjoyment.

I've said before that I think the score tells you all you 'need' to know, but that's awfully basic - just notes and expression marks, really. I expect that performers go beyond what they 'need' to know. I don't expect any performance to be limited to, or limited by, the notes and expression marks.

#2078082 - 05/06/13 02:42 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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What if there is nothing to know. Haha! IF ONLY!

Maybe we should view limits as encouragements, and let them pull and push us as they please! That would be fun, more ideas for all!

#2078255 - 05/06/13 11:07 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.

#2078259 - 05/06/13 11:18 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: patH]  
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Originally Posted by patH
My two cents.I consider the score to be just a guideline. I do not follow it to the letter.I also believe that it's next to impossible to find a score that conveys the intent of the composer 100%.
So why not follow whatever guidelines they did write even if it's not complete or one thinks it's approximate? Even if the composer's instructions are not perfect why not make the best with what he did write?

#2078264 - 05/06/13 11:24 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: boo1234]  
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Originally Posted by boo1234
I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.
A perfect example IMO of how words with connotations can color a statement. If one replaced "anal" by "respectful" or "concerned" the statement sounds very different I think.

#2078272 - 05/06/13 11:40 AM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: boo1234]  
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Originally Posted by boo1234
I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.


Listening to composers playing their own music (Bartok, Rachmaninoff, Faure, Scriabin, etc.) is really illuminating in this regard.


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#2078294 - 05/06/13 12:39 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by boo1234
I don't want to speak for or offend any composers who are on this forum, but I would bet that a vast majority of performers/listeners are a lot more anal about fidelity to the score than the composers themselves.
A perfect example IMO of how words with connotations can color a statement. If one replaced "anal" by "respectful" or "concerned" the statement sounds very different I think.


What is respectful and what is concerned really depend on who you ask. And to my understanding, people in the 1800s were much more liberal about music. Pianists often did what they want with a score without a second thought. One could even argue that back then, it may have been disrespectful to NOT make the piece their own. Just a thought.

#2078313 - 05/06/13 01:11 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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#2078339 - 05/06/13 02:10 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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I think all the evidence indicates that Beethoven was pretty fussy, but could be won over by a convincing personality. So, try if you want, but prepare to be fried if you're insincere.

I think Bach would ask, "if you double here, do more people come?" That man had kids to feed.

Schubert would have been happy that his music is played at all, great as it is. I think a reverential attitude with Schubert is especially wrong.

Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky would probably be the most diva-like, and complain about tempi and dynamics and instrumentation. (Mozart did it with Clementi, Chopin with Liszt, and Tchaikovsky plenty)

#2078344 - 05/06/13 02:17 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: shirlkirsten]  
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I just cannot understand what is so hard about doing what is on the page. It never restricts you. You don't have to be a purist, snob, elitist, or "score-worshiper" to do what's on the page. You just do it. If you're a good musician, there are still COUNTLESS interpretive choices to be made.

#2078381 - 05/06/13 02:57 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Ian_G]  
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Originally Posted by Ian_G

Mozart, Chopin and Tchaikovsky would probably be the most diva-like....


There are very few pianists today who would play a Mozart concerto exactly as written in the score....... wink


"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."
#2078387 - 05/06/13 03:07 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: bennevis]  
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Ian_G  Offline
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Joined: May 2010
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Germany
You're talking about 25? Don't fall prey to the Rosen flock. That wasn't an object-lesson in Mozart's free-wheeledness. That was a busy composer not bothering to write something out for himself.

#2078394 - 05/06/13 03:19 PM Re: about whether we can truly realize the composer's intent [Re: Ian_G]  
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bennevis Online content
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bennevis  Online Content
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Posts: 9,645
Originally Posted by Ian_G
You're talking about 25? Don't fall prey to the Rosen flock. That wasn't an object-lesson in Mozart's free-wheeledness. That was a busy composer not bothering to write something out for himself.


No, I'm talking about all his piano concertos.


"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."
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