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#2118118 - 07/15/13 05:34 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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It seems to me that Beethoven did not have a sufficient understanding of the human voice to write idiomatically for it. Many other composers did have that knowledge. I have been involved with professional singers for 50 years, and not one has said to me they enjoyed singing Beethoven 9. To them, it is poorly written. They perform the work because they get paid. For them , it is a form of prostitution.

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#2118181 - 07/15/13 07:59 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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Originally Posted by Mwm
It seems to me that Beethoven did not have a sufficient understanding of the human voice to write idiomatically for it. Many other composers did have that knowledge. I have been involved with professional singers for 50 years, and not one has said to me they enjoyed singing Beethoven 9. To them, it is poorly written. They perform the work because they get paid. For them , it is a form of prostitution.

This strikes me as being so unfair, unless -as it appears- you have an axe to grind.

I have sung it myself, I have a friend in the UK who has done it professionally several times, and I had some other UK friends who also sang it. NONE of them -whilst admitting a difficult slog- ever said that Beethoven's writing was poorly written, just a challenge (if a nuisance) to be met. Singing in that performance was an experience I shall never forget; collectively we knew we were taking part in an extraordinary experience.

Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. Even his well meaning (if a bit naive) cantata Der glorreiche Augenblick has always demonstrated to me that Beethoven was utterly incapable of writing bad music. Like the Choral Fantasy -which has always been fair game to the critics- that Congress of Vienna work has an honesty and integrity to it that I find profoundly moving.

I am very sorry that Beethoven is a bit of a closed book for you. But to use the word 'prostitution' in reference to anything of Beethoven seems a most unfortunate choice of words.


Jason
#2118191 - 07/15/13 08:15 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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Hi Mw,

How about Fidelio? I can't think of any other opera that goes out of its way to show how badly a singer can be made to sound.


Laguna Greg

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#2118192 - 07/15/13 08:16 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: argerichfan]  
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Hi Argerich,

"Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. "

I beg to differ!


Laguna Greg

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#2118233 - 07/15/13 09:18 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Hi Argerich,

"Nothing in Beethoven is poorly written. "

I beg to differ!


In what way?

#2118236 - 07/15/13 09:23 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: JoelW]  
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To start with, how about every soprano aria in Fidelio?


Laguna Greg

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#2118483 - 07/16/13 10:44 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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Back to the OP: Tchaikovsky and Dvorak are the best examples I can think of, when it comes to great piano music written by non-pianists.

#2118773 - 07/16/13 09:22 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
To start with, how about every soprano aria in Fidelio?

Ouch! You drive a hard bargain. One of my favourite German arias of all time:



Apparently no one told Ludwig (or Nilsson or Flagstad) that this is an awful piece of music. Beethoven apparently wasn't trying to be a Rossini.

Though Ludwig is having more fun here: (You need to watch this!)



I suppose we might wonder if Fidelio had been written by anyone else, would the opera still be in the repertory today? Perhaps the magic attachment of Beethoven's name is sufficient to grant anything the status of Parnassus.

But I don't think so. As one who has worked with many singers over the years, none of them had much praise for Beethoven's writing for voice, but, then again, none of them IIRC put up much of a fuss. Great music is not always convenient, and Abscheulicher isn't very easy for the pianist either!

How well I know. cry


Jason
#2118796 - 07/16/13 10:04 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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This too:




Jason
#2118860 - 07/17/13 12:03 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: argerichfan]  
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Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.


Laguna Greg

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#2119049 - 07/17/13 12:16 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Is anyone aware that Donizetti composed for piano ?

Donizetti : La ricordanza for piano

#2119158 - 07/17/13 03:48 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: worov]  
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Ligeti Etudes (though their merit is a question of taste).

#2119162 - 07/17/13 04:03 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.


Beethoven's genius was in making memorable music out of material that isn't strictly melodic. It's often no more complicated than a scale or arpeggio, and you think, "why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.

#2119699 - 07/18/13 03:38 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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Has anyone mentioned Respighi? He has a few really neat piano pieces including the Three Preludes on Greogrian Melodies.



#2119914 - 07/18/13 11:18 PM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: jeffreyjones]  
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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Well, let me shock you all by saying something even more heretical:

Most often, Beethoven was an indifferent melody writer. He had no great gift for writing great or even hummable tunes. Both Schubert and Mozart did a much better job of it, and on a more consistent basis. When he does manage to come up with a great tune, it is sublime. But I think you can count the number of great tunes he wrote on 4 hands.

What makes Beethoven a genius is not his melodies, but everything else about his writing.



Beethoven's genius was in making memorable music out of material that isn't strictly melodic. It's often no more complicated than a scale or arpeggio, and you think, "why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


+1 Thank you!

#2119939 - 07/19/13 12:09 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: jeffreyjones]  
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Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
"why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


Oh Jeff Honey,

I don't want to make this sound any more challenging than it must already. But are you saying the Mozart was somehow less of a composer because he could write better tunes than Beethoven?
Are you saying people don't revere Mozart?


Come on...


Laguna Greg

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#2119940 - 07/19/13 12:10 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: didyougethathing]  
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Did you,

I think Respighi is the first name added tot his thread that actually qualifies.


Laguna Greg

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#2119956 - 07/19/13 12:52 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg

I think Respighi is the first name added to this thread that actually qualifies.

Not true. I mentioned Edward Elgar a lot earlier, but perhaps you conveniently missed that. IMO Elgar is a greater composer than Respighi, who is more about flash and glitter than substance. I never hear any flash and glitter in Elgar.

Of course Americans generally find Elgar suspect for all sorts of pumped up and silly reasons, and cannot actually listen to his music. The usual Colonel Blimp and Empire, which is such ignorant nonsense, but Americans -unlike the rest of the world- just don't get the irony of it all.


Jason
#2119958 - 07/19/13 01:18 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: argerichfan]  
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Hi Argerich,

I'll concede the point. My only reservation was that Elgar was more of a pianist than Respighi, who could hardly play the piano at all...although I wasn't there in person...


...and I like Elgar's music very, very much, especially the Serenade (wonderful in so many ways), and the cello concerto...

Last edited by laguna_greg; 07/19/13 01:20 AM.

Laguna Greg

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#2119973 - 07/19/13 02:23 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: laguna_greg]  
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Originally Posted by laguna_greg
Originally Posted by jeffreyjones
"why didn't Mozart think of that?" Well, because he didn't. That's why we still revere Beethoven.


Oh Jeff Honey,

I don't want to make this sound any more challenging than it must already. But are you saying the Mozart was somehow less of a composer because he could write better tunes than Beethoven?
Are you saying people don't revere Mozart?


Come on...


That's not what I said at all. And I would not want to be the one trying to argue either Mozart or Beethoven was greater than the other.

#2119975 - 07/19/13 02:29 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: Mwm]  
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There are tons of gorgeous melodies in Beethoven's music. His ability to develop even the simplest motives tends to overshadow them, that and the fact that his melodies are often so broad that they defy the human voice.


Semipro Tech
#2120094 - 07/19/13 10:13 AM Re: Great Piano Music composed by Non Pianists [Re: BDB]  
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Originally Posted by BDB
There are tons of gorgeous melodies in Beethoven's music. His ability to develop even the simplest motives tends to overshadow them, that and the fact that his melodies are often so broad that they defy the human voice.

Well said!

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