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Late starting Concert Pianists? #916002
06/07/03 09:00 PM
06/07/03 09:00 PM
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Tulsa, Oklahoma
cool_breeze Offline OP
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Anyone know of any concert pianists who started their piano studies late in life. When I say late I am saying in their 20's. All of the Concert Pianists I have seen or heard of started very early. Before the age of 10 years old. I am a late starter and have no real desire to be a concert pianist--the amount of practice required seems incredible--but just wondered if anybody has risen to the ranks of concert pianist after a late start. Or does anyone think it is possible. Thank you in advance for your responses.

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Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916003
06/07/03 09:14 PM
06/07/03 09:14 PM
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Hans Richter-Haaser, a German active in the 60s/70s, comes to mind, but I may be mistaken.


There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians
Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916004
06/07/03 09:19 PM
06/07/03 09:19 PM
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Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916005
06/07/03 09:27 PM
06/07/03 09:27 PM
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I think it is very possible, given the right talent. Elena, are you viewing it from a viewpoint that it will be too late to establish marketability? Sometimes, a late start may be slightly advantageous because one will have more maturity and a clear ambition. A pianist technique is not impossible to acquire after one is young, all it takes is the right balance of talent/effort and it is indeed possible. Perhaps difficult to occur, but possible.

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916006
06/07/03 09:43 PM
06/07/03 09:43 PM
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I don't think Elena's answer is based on principle, I think it's based on observation.

My observation is the same.

A simple no.

Possible? Probably, but I've never met or heard of anyone who's pulled it off.


"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: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916007
06/07/03 09:59 PM
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What age would you say is the limit to begin, and what is the particular reason that people who start later cannot achieve the samething as one who starts earlier?

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916008
06/07/03 10:19 PM
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Harold Bauer switched from violin to piano when he was about 20. He is usually cited as one of the great pianist among the oldest to start.


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Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916009
06/07/03 10:25 PM
06/07/03 10:25 PM
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Irvine, CA
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The following concert pianists did not start at this age, but began taking piano more seriously which is nevertheless remarkable:

Paderewski was 22 or something, Richter was 27, Perahia was 15, and of course, Bauer was already mentioned. Don't quote me on those exact ages, but I know I'm close.

Mike

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916010
06/07/03 11:26 PM
06/07/03 11:26 PM
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Philly, PA
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I believe that Arcadi Volodos didn't start getting serious until about 20(Little shaky on the age, but I think somewhere around there)


"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music." ~Rachmaninoff
Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916011
06/07/03 11:30 PM
06/07/03 11:30 PM
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Iowa City, IA
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I "got serious" at around age 17. I'm no great concert pianist, but I've been good enough to appear at a few conferences this year. I'll be in Greensboro on the 19th playing a trio with some friends at the international double reed conference. Not exactly Carnegie Hall, but it's something...


"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: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916012
06/08/03 12:11 AM
06/08/03 12:11 AM
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No, come to think of it, playing in concerts only applies to about one in every half million people and you still have to be one out of the bag and fairly young to do any good anyway because of the physical aspect. On the other hand, I don't see why activities such as composition and improvisation couldn't be taken up at any age and developed over the course of a lifetime.


"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law" - Aleister Crowley
Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916013
06/08/03 12:42 AM
06/08/03 12:42 AM
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i would venture to guess that late starters are less often great artists because they didn't have the advantages of childhood: they have to get a living, they don't have a nurturing environment, they aren't given great wads of time to develop their talents. these are very real limitations.

i no longer believe that the limitations are mental or physical. i grew up playing a few different instruments, but didn't get serious about the piano until quite late in life. i think my learning faculties are quite a bit sharper now than they were when i was a child. i certainly have more focus and discipline. and fortunately, i have not experienced any physical limitations.

theoretically, i believe, if one had unlimited time and didn't have to worry about earning a living, and was talented and motivated, beginning in one's late 20s shouldn't be an obstacle.

or rather, i think it should be just as possible to achieve one's full potential later in life.


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Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916014
06/08/03 02:54 AM
06/08/03 02:54 AM
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Weatherford, Texas
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Quote
Originally posted by PianoMuse:
I believe that Arcadi Volodos didn't start getting serious until about 20(Little shaky on the age, but I think somewhere around there)
I believe he was either 16 or 18, and some professional manager or someone similar said that in the span of about 6 years or so (I think until he was early to mid 20's) he developed his technique to the point it's at now...which is really good. And I'm assuming in this time he also got a chunck of his repertoire down so that he could tour.

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916015
06/08/03 04:37 AM
06/08/03 04:37 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by mkesfahani:
Paderewski was 22 or something, Richter was 27, Perahia was 15, and of course, Bauer was already mentioned. Don't quote me on those exact ages, but I know I'm close.
This is misleading. Very few of us get "serious" at an early age. I started when I was 6, but didn't get serious till I was 16. Maybe I;ve never really gotten serious? wink

The point is you need to START early, ideally no later than 7. I wonder about the example of the violinist-turned pianist mentioned above. It is likely that he played both instruments from an early age and just focused on the violin later switching to piano. I will have to look that up.

I have met several people that have made efforts to become career classical pianists who started in their teens and though their work and dedication is admirable, the movement of their hands is significantly stiffer than the technique of those who started earlier (and learned it right). Murray Perahia himself said that there is a notable difference between people who start at the age of 4 and earlier and those who start between 5 and 7 saying that things tend to be a lot easier and more natural for those that started pre-5, the technique never goes away even if you don't practice, whereas the post-5 group loses technique very quickly if they don't practice. He is in the category of the pre-5, of course!

And I'm not saying this to make it seem like it's some sort of elite club of kiddie pianists, it's just that I have not seen anyone become a successful concert pianist who did not begin early.

Elena
http://www.concertpianist.com


Schnabel's advie to Horowitz: "When a piece gets difficult, make faces."
Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916016
06/08/03 08:47 AM
06/08/03 08:47 AM
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New York City
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I started from scratch at the age of 15. I always felt that I had two strikes against me because I started late. No one said this to me, but that is how I felt about my playing.
What EHPianist said is true, and what Pique said about a nurturing environment for younger children is also true.

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916017
06/08/03 12:00 PM
06/08/03 12:00 PM
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The rate of brain wiring, and the importance of it, is highest at the early stages of development.

That said, adults have other qualities that 4 year olds lack, like discipline and seriousness.

But by then all those trillions of synapses needed to perform things like music or languages at the very highest level of fluency are already spoken for.
The clay has hardened up.

Kind of like changing the location of, not just the walls, but the foundation of a building after it was built.
Possible, but a lot of work.

OTOH, unlike a 4 year old, an older person can recognize that even though a concert career is not in the cards, a precious world on beauty and self expression is possible through the pursuit of piano playing.

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916018
06/08/03 12:55 PM
06/08/03 12:55 PM
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Iowa City, IA
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Quote
Originally posted by kenny:
OTOH, an older person can recognize that even though a concert career is not in the cards, a precious world on beauty and self expression is possible through the pursuit of piano playing.
A good quote on this subject from the jazz pianist Bill Evans:

"Music should enrich the soul; it should teach spirituality by showing a person a portion of himself that he would not discover otherwise. It's easy to rediscover part of yourself, but through art you can be shown part of yourself you never knew existed. That's the real mission of art. The artist has to find something within himself that's universal and which he can put into terms that are communicable to other people. The magic of it is that art can communicate to a person without his realizing it...enrichment, that's the function of 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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Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916019
06/08/03 04:53 PM
06/08/03 04:53 PM
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The converse, of course, is not true. I started playing long before I went to school but played my own way and did nothing I was told, finishing with an entirely unsuitable technique. I think there has to be an element of discipline present from the start too.


"We shall always love the music of the masters, but they are all dead and now it's our turn." - Llewelyn Jones, my piano teacher
Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916020
06/08/03 10:43 PM
06/08/03 10:43 PM
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Volodos was training as a singer, I think, when he finally decided to concentrate on the piano. It is more common for people to become singers while after pursuing piano studies or careers, eg. Galli-Curci, Ferrier, Barbara Fritolli, Della Jones.

I don't think it's just a case of a certain age being too late to start, but also that the degree of aptitude required for a musical career is unlikely to go unrealised for so long.

Re: Late starting Concert Pianists? #916021
06/10/03 07:23 AM
06/10/03 07:23 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by EHpianist:
...Murray Perahia himself said that there is a notable difference between people who start at the age of 4 and earlier and those who start between 5 and 7 saying that things tend to be a lot easier and more natural for those that started pre-5, the technique never goes away even if you don't practice, whereas the post-5 group loses technique very quickly if they don't practice. He is in the category of the pre-5, of course!...
I can almost imagine precocious 3-year-olds searching for weaknesses in and psyching out their rivals in competitions. (Almost--I've known such sophisticated 3-year-olds and could only come to a draw with one in a three-hour debate about ethics.) The concept of perceptible differences in these two so-very-young groups is utterly depressing...

I wonder if this early brain-wiring developmental impediment is less problematic for women generally than men? Studies indicate women's brains have many more neural connections (about 25% more) between the hemisphere's than men's and they are far more adept at multitasking in general as a result (definitely a plus for piano). Perhaps there's a broader window for a woman to start and still achieve a higher level?

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