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#3066415 01/07/21 07:51 PM
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When I started lessons as an adult, my teacher told me up front that she didn't teach "Fur Elise". She went to Julliard and was probably sick of it. Sick of playing it, teaching it, listening to it. Just sick of all of it.

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That is my daughter's name so I keep it fresh.

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Originally Posted by TBell
When I started lessons as an adult, my teacher told me up front that she didn't teach "Fur Elise". She went to Julliard and was probably sick of it. Sick of playing it, teaching it, listening to it. Just sick of all of it.

Hahahaha, you should learn it, play it for her and watch her face, see if her eyes twitch and project that I'm slowly going insane look. laugh

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Emanuel Ax was to play it last year. I was looking forward to it, but Covid struck.

I love Für Elise. It's not Beethoven's fault that it's played to death, and playing it to death doesn't make it bad music.

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Emanuel Ax was to play it last year. I was looking forward to it, but Covid struck.

I love Für Elise. It's not Beethoven's fault that it's played to death, and playing it to death doesn't make it bad music.

Funny story: I love Fur Elise too (I can only play the A part of the ABACA so far) and my teacher hates it. When we were discussing which piece to choose for my recital, he was like "well, you can pick pretty much anything you want but, of course, not Fur Elise..." Then I flip through the program at the recital and, lo and behold, one of the students was playing Fur Elise :-)


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Among others, I like both Levit's performance and the Paul Lewis performance referenced in the article.

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I've never learnt to play Für Elise, but I have actually performed it. grin

It's the only classical piece I ever performed (or attempted to perform) in public entirely by ear.......in the bar on a ferry ship, at someone's request, after I'd played some classical pieces on the bar upright, following Bridge Over Troubled Water and other pop classics, sung - and accompanied - lustily by my friends and I. My friends, like all the others propping up the bar, had had a few drinks; I hadn't.........but agreed to the request only because they all had smirk .

As to why I never learnt Für Elise, my teachers never taught it to me, and I never encountered it in a score when sight-reading through stuff (including Beethoven sonatas and variations and bagatelles - but nothing about Ms Elise in them). And as to why I never sought it out, it's because when I was a kid in my home country, one of the neighbor's kids next door rattled through it ff and prestissimo for months. I never found out whether he treated it as a study or a warm-up, or just because he liked to rattle through it every day in place of whatever else he was supposed to be practicing. But I eventually had to plug my ears every time I heard him start the piece. (Our windows were always open.)

As to my actual performance on that ship, let's just say that it was fortunate that Beethoven was already quite deaf when he heard it from his perch up in the clouds (or wherever he happened to be residing), or I'd have got an earful of %\*&§?@!! (in German, of course) from him. But in my defence, I did actually play it in the right key (entirely by chance: A minor is the easiest minor key whistle) and I did actually play all the right notes in the right order in the repeating rondo theme that everyone knows - though the other sections were mostly my own imaginative recreations......... ha yippie


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As one who has frequently blighted these pages with the strictly held belief that the artist has the right to perform any piece as they wish to, Fur Elise is the exception that proves the rule. (Stupid saying, probably not even true, I don't know why I bother to write this stuff sometimes and I expect you wish I didn't!) It MUST be played EXACTLY as written and is thus a wonderful excercise in self control and musicianship. IMO.

Fur Elise is almost treated with contempt, certainly disregard as a challenging classical piece, which it most certainly is, and a bit of a joke.

But if you decide (or Beethoven TELLS you!) to treat it with respect, affection, seriousness and in a good-hearted spirit it is actually stunningly beautiful, to the point of moving and supremely nostalgic.

If you learn it and wait, until early on a warm summer's evening, when you and your piano are alone, (that bit does seem to be quite important to me) I swear it is magically evocative. It has managed somehow to take me to a place no other piece of music has. I love it and I always will, it is too good to be wasted by insufficient effort and is the epitome of the saying, "You only get out as much as you put in".

Originally Posted by bennevis
- though the other sections were mostly my own imaginative recreations......... :

I remember us having a bit of a go about Smetena's Vlatava piece, I think it was years ago now! I maintained you could (ahem) "busk" blush the rest after briefly learning the main theme. You though that a little "brash" I seem to recall (Which is fair enough, this isn't a criticism, just a rememberance)

I always "busk" a bit of Smetana and the less known bit in JS Bach's Bouree (the famous "jazzy" one)

It is astounding what you can get away with. I have NEVER had a complaint! (Too polite, I suppose!)

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Ivo Pogorelich opened a recital with it years ago! (This was during his peak playing years in the late 80s/early 90s--I've seen him 4 times, so I don't recall exactly which year he played it.) It was wonderful.

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Originally Posted by slipperykeys
As one who has frequently blighted these pages with the strictly held belief that the artist has the right to perform any piece as they wish to...
Any pianist, "artist" or not, has the right to play a piece any way that want. But doing that doesn't mean the performance is necessarily good or appropriate or musical or intelligently thought out even is some people like it. If Beethoven's tempo indication is Adagio and someone plays the piece Allegro, no serious pianist would consider that good.

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I know an piano teacher who told me that she refused to give lessons on the Rachmaninoff C sharp minor Prelude for similar reasons. Apparently it's been overplayed to death, but I didn't know that at the time. I'd only heard it once, and liked it, so I learned it and still enjoy it. This is one of those cases where ignorance is bliss, apparently.


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I absolutely love this piece as well. The quality of the piece is independant of the fact that it is overplayed. I actually find the Lang Lang version extremely well played.

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I agree.

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LangLang has a piano promo version on youtube. he doesn't rush on the meat like most performers, steady to the end.

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Originally Posted by jeffcat
LangLang has a piano promo version on youtube.
Thanks for pointing this out. Another lovely performance, IMO. Nice video as well!


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That's a very nice video - thanks for sharing. I liked LL's playing a lot. But, I like the musical video even more - I like how it portrays that this piece is so accessible to many 'mere mortals' and has a significant emotional meaning for many. After all, that's what music is for - for everyone to feel and enjoy. Very well done.

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