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Hi all,

I'm having this sort of dilemma. I feel sort of 'unfulfilled' inside after having accomplished a renown and arguably difficult piece by Beethoven, because to learn it I relied heavily on watching YouTube videos of other performers playing it. Without doing this, it may have taken me six months (or longer) to sit down each day and sight read, and doing a 100% personal interpretation/rendition of a piece. Instead what I did was implement snippets of different pianists' interpretations, and then slightly modified them in my performance of it.

What are your thoughts?

And do all well-known pianists (including Kissin, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, Valentina) commonly employ this method, or do they mostly start from scratch, having never heard any records?
Hello!

There are a lot of different perspectives I think on whether you should learn a piece without listening to other people's interpretations or not. My current teacher encourages me to listen to as many different interpretations as possible, especially when I'm learning something like Bach, so I can get ideas. However, if you want to get better at sight reading and learning pieces faster, you should really work on learning pieces without heavily relying on recordings.

Concerning famous concert pianists, I really don't think its possible that they learn pieces without ever having heard them, unless they are rare. From what I know, pianists love to listen to music as well as play it. But the really great ones don't try to copy other people's interpretations, but play with their own personal touch.
Watching someone play a piece is very helpful, on several levels. If the piece is difficult, there is sometimes a psychological barrier of sorts. Watching someone cross that barrier helps to alleviate the fear. You can also see approaches to hand and arm position, fingering position, etc during passages that are tough for you, which suggests solutions.

As for interpretation, it perhaps depends on how you get your ideas in general... but listening to the wide range of interpretive ideas is more than likely going to expand your "horizon" and suggest other possibilities than you might have come up with. Go for it!

Also, IMHO try to develop an inner "singer" who sings what you are playing and what you will play next, to lead your own interpretation according to what "feels right." Also, listen carefully to each chord or note you play, so the next one follows with a feeling that it "works". A lot of pianists play a note here or their differently than they were trying to... so the rest of the usual plan may not work from that spot. So you have to listen to what you did instead of what you planned, and blend into that.

Kind Regards
I think that if one is not a professional level pianist then listening to performances by great pianists can only be helpful. It's like getting a free lesson from them or like having an edition by them in front of you.

And as has been pointed out by others, unless a piece is very rare, many/most have heard it many times before so that it's impossible to learn it 100% " from scratch".

I think listening to a great pianist playing is no different from taking a lesson from your teacher and learning something about a work.

Once someone reaches a very high level of playing, then all the above may not apply as much or even at all. I really don't know the answer for those people. I guess it would depend on the person.

Originally Posted by pianoloverus
I think that if one is not a professional level pianist then listening to performances by great pianists can only be helpful. It's like getting a free lesson from them or like having an edition by them in from of you.

And as has been pointed out by others, unless a piece is very rare, many/most have heard it many times before so that it's impossible to learn it 100% " from scratch".

I think listening to a great pianist playing is no different from taking a lesson from your teacher and learning something about a work.

Once someone reaches a very high level of playing, then all the above may not apply as much or even at all. I really don't know the answer for those people. I guess it would depend on the person.



Wow nicely said! I never thought of it that way grin !
I don't think there is anything bad in listening to great performances.
After all, teachers often play a piece too to show students how it should be, and they are not as great as the great performers... smile
Of course this doesn't mean you have to copy (don't!), but you do get a better feel for a piece if you hear a good performance and then you can make it your own interpretation.
Though I believe I'm in the minority I almost never listen to a piece while I study it. Nor do I listen to a piece if I even think I'm going that way. For me I loose any individuality because the musician in me can't hear. Though if you've never heard any other musician period then I'd advise you to give a listen. Yet sooner or later it's probably best you find your own voice.
Originally Posted by MikeN
Though I believe I'm in the minority I almost never listen to a piece while I study it. Nor do I listen to a piece if I even think I'm going that way. For me I loose any individuality because the musician in me can't hear. Though if you've never heard any other musician period then I'd advise you to give a listen. Yet sooner or later it's probably best you find your own voice.


I have trouble listening to music that I'm learning, but I don't know why... I don't disagree with listening to other people's performances/recordings and even being inspired by what they do. Just don't compromise the score.
See if I listen to another performance I'll possibly take an idea. For me it just wouldn't be authentic. Yet I must say see what's out there. Just find you though.
Originally Posted by MikeN
See if I listen to another performance I'll possibly take an idea. For me it just wouldn't be authentic. Yet I must say see what's out there. Just find you though.
Doesn't your teacher give you ideas?
I never listen to a piece I'm actually working on.

My teacher doesn't give me many ideas as far as the interpretation itself goes. I go to him with technical problems, he helps me solve those. I ask him what best fingerings to use, he helps me with that. I ask him how to best emphasize the lines I want to. Never have I actually asked him what something "should" sound like.
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by MikeN
See if I listen to another performance I'll possibly take an idea. For me it just wouldn't be authentic. Yet I must say see what's out there. Just find you though.
Doesn't your teacher give you ideas?


Actually at the very moment I have no teacher. Though I didn't like my former teacher. I remembered more of the repertoire than he did and I didn't particularly like his playing.
Originally Posted by Fredil
I never listen to a piece I'm actually working on.

My teacher doesn't give me many ideas as far as the interpretation itself goes. I go to him with technical problems, he helps me solve those. I ask him what best fingerings to use, he helps me with that. I ask him how to best emphasize the lines I want to. Never have I actually asked him what something "should" sound like.
Interpretation has to be based on musical understanding. It's not just what one feels like doing. Just like technique this needs to be learned and for virtually everyone that means learned from a teacher. This doesn't mean there is just one way something "should" be played.

Master classes, which usually involve very advanced students, are almost always more than 90% about musical ideas and not about technical issues.
Much of my motivation in learning any music is wanting to play something I already know I like. I want to take the music I already love to listen to and let it come from me instead of the CD.
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto


Concerning famous concert pianists, I really don't think its possible that they learn pieces without ever having heard them, unless they are rare


What do you think Rubinstein did, as well as Rachmaninoff or Richter?

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.

Now, for individuals who are amateurs or play for pleasure, I say do whatever makes you feel/play better..
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto


Concerning famous concert pianists, I really don't think its possible that they learn pieces without ever having heard them, unless they are rare


What do you think Rubinstein did, as well as Rachmaninoff or Richter?

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.

Now, for individuals who are amateurs or play for pleasure, I say do whatever makes you feel/play better..


+1
There's many pieces I play without ever having heard them - not all classical music is easily available on a recording.
This is a blessing at times, and a curse at times. You should always play your own interpretation of a piece, in my opinion. At the same time, a recording may reveal certain musical facets you might have overlooked or missed, or not even considered. There's no crime in hearing another pianist perform a passage a certain way, and allowing it to influence the decisions you make on a particular passage.

It's hard to say what is plagiarizing, and what is not - if you feel another pianist has caught the essence of a passage - why not use that as inspiration? Now, assuming the playing mannerisms of a pianist, without reflection, is mere idol worship and apery.

Again - I don't think there's a clear-cut answer as to how to react to another pianist's recording. After all, we are playing another person's composition to begin with, so even if we claim we are being original in our interpretation - we are still being mimics, in a way. Any attempt at originality, besides simple interpretation, usually is met with boos and hisses, judging from some threads on this forum, and many books out there pushing for an authentic performance, faithful to the master's intentions - whatever they might be. There have been many times I have wanted to give up playing classical piano, because of that aspect - I think that's why many people move into composition, and leave piano-performance behind them, unless it's their own works.
Just few points.

You should be able to assimilate the notes, the rhythm, dynamics, etc, etc from the score. It is a really very bad idea to rely on recordings for things like that.

As far as interpretative aspects are concerned, most of us don't come with tremendous interpretative insights and skills built in from birth. They have to be developed just like any other aspect of playing a musical instrument. This is especially true for people without a background in classical music listening (if they are learning to play classical music).

Having said that, I can't believe that any of the top pianists listen to recordings or performances to gain ideas. Indeed I have heard some international concert pianists say that they avoid listening to other peoples recordings whilst they are working on a piece as doing so inevitably colours their own view of the work. Of course, they will almost certainly have previously heard performances and recordings of any piece they work on, but that is something very different.


Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto


Concerning famous concert pianists, I really don't think its possible that they learn pieces without ever having heard them, unless they are rare


What do you think Rubinstein did, as well as Rachmaninoff or Richter?

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.

Now, for individuals who are amateurs or play for pleasure, I say do whatever makes you feel/play better..
Don't you think Rubinstien or Rachmaninov had heard many of the pieces they played before they ever learned them? And didn't they all study extensively with teachers before they became full time performing pianists?

What about everything the teachers told them? I'd guess more was about musical understanding and interpretation than technique.

Isn't there a very fine line between listening to copy interpretation and listening to a recording or a teacher during a lesson or using a specific pianist's edition...any of these to learn both general musicality and specific ideas about a piece?
Originally Posted by Mozartian_Dreams
Hi all,

I'm having this sort of dilemma. I feel sort of 'unfulfilled' inside after having accomplished a renown and arguably difficult piece by Beethoven, because to learn it I relied heavily on watching YouTube videos of other performers playing it. Without doing this, it may have taken me six months (or longer) to sit down each day and sight read, and doing a 100% personal interpretation/rendition of a piece. Instead what I did was implement snippets of different pianists' interpretations, and then slightly modified them in my performance of it.

What are your thoughts?



My thought is this: why would it take longer to learn from the score rather than from other people's performances? I don't get it.

Quote


And do all well-known pianists (including Kissin, Lang Lang, Yundi Li, Valentina) commonly employ this method, or do they mostly start from scratch, having never heard any records?


It's not either/or. Of course, musicians will have heard a lot of music (one hopes), and often in a lot of different interpretations. That doesn't mean they will copy anything specific that they've heard before, when working on a piece. Having a working knowledge of a lot different performers' styles and interpretations should really just be an element in the imagination of a performer, I think. It gives an idea of what is possible, rather than providing specific templates of how to play.

Besides, what about all the music for which no good recordings even exist? For just one example, competitors at some of the major competitions are expected to be able to come up with a reasonable interpretation of a newly composed work. There are no recordings for them to hear - the whole idea is to see how well they can interpret an unfamiliar score from scratch. And of course, they won't necessarily even be familiar with the composer's style, which can make it quite a bit more difficult than working from a score by a composer in a style already known.

Originally Posted by Pogorelich.

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.


I've heard this argument several times but usually against the idea of playing classical music...at all. If you are concerned about being "original", write your own music.

Running and ducking.
Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.


I've heard this argument several times but usually against the idea of playing classical music...at all. If you are concerned about being "original", write your own music.

Running and ducking.


I believe there is room to put your own original "voice" to music that someone else wrote. Otherwise, why do people listen to different interpretations of the same pieces.

I can't stand to hear people who closely immitate the interpretations of someone else with little or no thought. On the other hand, you can thoughtfully be influenced by other players, and use that influence in your playing. That's a big part of how you learn. It's one thing to say, "I like the way Glenn Gould uses different articulation to differentiate voices, and emulate other instruments, and I'll try to do some of that in my playing," for example. It's another thing to listen to his playing and simply immitate every way he plays ornaments, rolled chords, tempos, articulation, etc. without thinking about it. I used to hear lots of students do that, and I'd think "geez, why don't you push out the old kitchen chair with the short legs, and put on an overcoat, so you get the full effect."

As to the OP question: "worthy" is probably not the best word. I tend to listen to different recordings to get an idea of how various artist play a piece. Also, it's difficult to find many pieces I haven't heard a recording or performance of at some point. It's an interesting exercise to try to learn something you've never heard before, and see how you do.
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.

What do you think Rubinstein did, as well as Rachmaninoff or Richter?

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.

Now, for individuals who are amateurs or play for pleasure, I say do whatever makes you feel/play better..


If it actually were that easy to copy interpretation, I would totally agree with you. However, I think it's only possible to COPY interpretation at extremely obvious levels (well, for me it is). Example: Stretching the ending of L'isle Joyeuse like Horowitz did. If I did that, then yes, that would be copying interpretation. But I don't have the level of technique or musical mind a pianist at the caliber of Horowitz possesses, so it would be very difficult for me to copy their exact interpretation.

OR I may be totally wrong and I'm just not bothering with copying interpretation. If that's the case, I guess that's good. smile
If you listen to really old recordings you'll find a variety of style that you don't hear now. Those players might have heard a piece they were learning once or twice, perhaps several years apart, before learning them, and so they were forced to develop their own interpretations. Even the composers played things ways that aren't the "authoritative" contemporary versions. Now I'd ask you, who's right--the composer, or 100 modern guys who all sound completely the same, and different from the composer's own version by a mile?

Now everyone sounds pretty much the same, relatively. I saw a masterclass video the other day where the teacher was trying to get someone to play a crescendo differently because "that's the way it's played," stamping out the tiniest piece of individuality in the student's playing.

If you want to sound like everyone else, and that's what people seem to want these days, listen to a lot of examples before you try to learn a piece. If you don't, try it on your own. It's really your choice.
Knowing how a piece is supposed to sound is very helpful in learning. However....one problem is the conflict that develops when you haven't yet aquired the ability to play what your mind hears. This can lead to poor practicing (rushing, etc.)

It is good to play obscure pieces...no one knows how it is "supposed" to sound!

As an aside, on "American Idol" the judges rip the singers if they are not original...leveling accusations of bad karaoke.

Are we guilty of pianistic karaoke when we try to play pieces like we hear them on recordings?
Originally Posted by Stanza
As an aside, on "American Idol" the judges rip the singers if they are not original...leveling accusations of bad karaoke.

Are we guilty of pianistic karaoke when we try to play pieces like we hear them on recordings?
I think there is a far greater freedom allowed in pop songs than classical. It's completely acceptable to totally change the tempo, sometimes the meter, the notes, the phrasing, the accompanying instruments, etc. Plus the human voice, I think, varies a lot more than the tone of concert pianos.

All this leads one to expect that each singer's version will be quite different from everyone else's.
When I was first learning piano, my teacher insisted ardently that I do not listen to recordings of the pieces I was learning. I was very interested in music though, and decided to go against her wishes and get the recordings that accompany my graded piano repertoire books.

Now when learnng standard-rep stuff, I usually hear the piece at least once before I play it. I try not to listen to the recording while im working out my interpretation, but I usually go back to recordings later on because I find that I get a couple small ideas about interpretive details I havent thought of. I dont personally have a problem with doing this.

Just because I heard something in someone elses playing, doesnt mean Its anti-individualistic for me to use it in my own! Composers have "borrowed" musical bits and pieces, and even entire themes, as long as music has existed! If we choose to use other people's music, that music must have had a personal effect on us, and so it really is part of our personal artistic expression!

Of course, copying for the sake of copying is of no use.
PianoL:

Don't you think Rubinstien or Rachmaninov had heard many of the pieces they played before they ever learned them?

- As much as we hear in recordings today? Doubt it. The occasional concert or masterclass. They did not listen for interpretation ideas, that's for sure, and if you think that - then you're greatly misguided.

And didn't they all study extensively with teachers before they became full time performing pianists?
- didn't everybody?

What about everything the teachers told them? I'd guess more was about musical understanding and interpretation than technique.
- If you've ever had a good (and I mean really good) teacher, you wouldn't ask me this.

Isn't there a very fine line between listening to copy interpretation and listening to a recording or a teacher during a lesson or using a specific pianist's edition... any of these to learn both general musicality and specific ideas about a piece?
- Yes but that's completely different than taking say, a Chopin ballade, hearing some unique voicing by the pianist and immediately pasting it onto your own interpretation. Or unique rubato which you just MUST play the same way. It will never sound good. Because first of all, you will not completely understand WHY they did what they did - and usually there is a reason for everything. You have to know what you're playing and why. Believe me it comes through.

And I've heard the same old: how do you suddenly gain ideas out of nothing. We don't, obviously. You should listen to as much music as you can. Of course you should - I'm not for a second preaching against it. That would be retarded, wouldn't it? I listen to tons of music and most of it is orchestral actually. After a while, you learn to develop ideas - and that starts with listening to both music AND your own playing. And studying the score.

Consider Horowitz when he performed many of Rachmaninoff's works. Hmm I wonder if he had heard them a lot........ I would guess not, since HE was premiering them.
Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.


I've heard this argument several times but usually against the idea of playing classical music...at all. If you are concerned about being "original", write your own music.

Running and ducking.


I'm not concerned about being original. I'm concerned about being sincere and doing my homework before I play something. I hope your statement doesn't say much about your playing. Because to me, it kind of does..
We've been down this road several times in recent years and my take on the question has always remained the same.

I don't think that a beginning/intermediate student should listen to and diligently study a recording to find out "how a piece should sound," that is, how to play it. A student should be able to read a score and correctly interpret note-values and dynamics, all at a relatively steady tempo, however slow that initial tempo might be. The extreme case is the student who says that s/he can't learn to play the piece until s/he's heard it is also the student who shouldn't be listening to recordings until s/he learns to read.

This doesn't preclude, in my view, students looking for interpretive ideas from master pianists, whether that be a teacher or a pianist on a recording, once they have learned the notes. Nor does it imply that doing so necessarily diminishes one's own ability to make the piece one's own from an interpretive standpoint.

I think it's rather naive to think that advanced piano students should learn only pieces that they have never heard. Advanced students or simply avid music lovers will have heard many pieces over a period of time that they may eventually want to add to their repertoire. Having heard them before doesn't make their study of them any less worthy. However, slavish copying of someone else's performance would make that effort less "worthy" - if "worthy" is the operative word here.

Regards,
Originally Posted by Michael Darnton
If you listen to really old recordings you'll find a variety of style that you don't hear now. Those players might have heard a piece they were learning once or twice, perhaps several years apart, before learning them, and so they were forced to develop their own interpretations. Even the composers played things ways that aren't the "authoritative" contemporary versions. Now I'd ask you, who's right--the composer, or 100 modern guys who all sound completely the same, and different from the composer's own version by a mile?

Now everyone sounds pretty much the same, relatively. I saw a masterclass video the other day where the teacher was trying to get someone to play a crescendo differently because "that's the way it's played," stamping out the tiniest piece of individuality in the student's playing.
If the teacher said to do it a certain way and gave "that's the way it's played"as the only reason, I think that was a poor teacher.

I think even before the advent of recorded sound, pianists were more familiar with the basic repertoire more than you say. They would have heard these pieces many times in master classes or concerts.

I think the "variety of style" you mention was partly due to the piano playing philisophy of the times, where the performer was considered as important or more important than the composer and the score was less sancrosanct than it is today. I don't think that the newer philosophy is a bad thing. I think present day performances don't all sound the same, although it's possible that the differences in performances today are more subtle.

Another point to consider is that we mostly have recordings from the distant past by a relatively small number of great pianists. It's possible that if we had recordings from a much larger numer of pianists from 80 or 100 years ago, they wouldn't all sound so unique.
"I think the "variety of style" you mention was partly due to the piano playing philisophy of the times, where the performer was considered as important or more important than the composer and the score was less sancrosanct than it is today."

An easy comment to make with a lack of evidence, but we have plenty of evidence, so I'll repeat myself:

Even the composers played things ways that aren't the "authoritative" contemporary versions. Now I'd ask you, who's right--the composer, or 100 modern guys who all sound completely the same, and different from the composer's own version by a mile?
Originally Posted by Pogorelich


And didn't they all study extensively with teachers before they became full time performing pianists?
- didn't everybody?

What about everything the teachers told them? I'd guess more was about musical understanding and interpretation than technique.
- If you've ever had a good (and I mean really good) teacher, you wouldn't ask me this.

I think these two questions and your answers(and maybe all my questions and your answers) go together because my point about having teachers was that I think good teachers spend a lot of time on interpretation and musical understanding. That is not IMO the same as saying to the student you must play this passage a certain way. But it could involve a teacher explaining why they think a passage should be played a certain way and expecting the student to try it out at least during the lesson.And the best teachers would make it clear which things were just musical "mistakes" by the student and which were much more optional suggestions by the teacher.

That has been my experience in watching 100's of master classes mostly at Mannes. There have been almost none where the teacher didn't spend the huge majority of the time, i.e. 80+ %, on non technical matters (which I would call musicality and/or interpretaion).

Maybe we have different ideas about the meaning of "interpretation"?



I understand the Angelina's argument, my teacher always make the same argument and she thinks exactly like Angelina.

But I think the major problem is not the originality issue. The real problem is to learn the score by ear, because you do not develop your reading skills, and you tend to play exactly the way you heard. It is, indeed, a bad thing to originality matters.

BUT, if even the Composers themselves used to study other composers works, so why not listening to different renditions to come out with yours? You can make your own the same way, don't you?




Originally Posted by Michael Darnton
"I think the "variety of style" you mention was partly due to the piano playing philisophy of the times, where the performer was considered as important or more important than the composer and the score was less sancrosanct than it is today."

An easy comment to make with a lack of evidence, but we have plenty of evidence, so I'll repeat myself:

Even the composers played things ways that aren't the "authoritative" contemporary versions. Now I'd ask you, who's right--the composer, or 100 modern guys who all sound completely the same, and different from the composer's own version by a mile?
I don't see what the question in your last paragraph has to do with what I said in the paragraph you quoted. I also don't think 100 modern guys all sound the same.

I think the answer to your question a composer's performance being authoritative would depend on factors like the composer's skill as a pianist and whether the composer tended to play his music in a similar way all the time. If the composer was a great pianist and tended to play his works similarly all the time, then I would say his performance was "authoritative" in the sense it was what the composer intended the music to sound like.

When you say "lack of evidence" are you talking about:

1.my statement about the changing philosophy of piano playing or
2.the conclusion I made(using that philosophy as a possible reason why there was "more variety of style"?

I think the evidence for the change in philosophy is just common knowledge. I think that the earlier greater emphasis on the pianist's personality would logically lead to greater interpretive freedom and more or greater degrees of "variety".
Musical interpretation is an art, and as such it is a creative process, but that doesn't mean it has to arise out of a vacuum. Did Olivier never watch a Shakespeare play? If your effort is directed at listening to others, copying their interpretations, and calling them your own, then I think it's misdirected. If you're listening for inspiration, to have other possibilities revealed to you, or just to compare your ideas with others, then I think the more you hear of others' playing, even playing your pieces, the better.

I don't see how you can play anyone's interpretation but your own. Or maybe I should say, I can't play anyone's interpretation but my own. I listen to another performance, I'm fed by what I hear, it goes in and takes hold somewhere, but when it comes back out it's still me. Maybe it's just that my technique and my memory aren't up to replicating someone else's performances, but by the time I've played a piece a few hundred times to learn it, anything I've heard anyone else do with it is just part of the mix of possibilities that I draw on when I play. And what I draw out is different every time; I seldom play a piece the same way twice.

David
Originally Posted by David T
Musical interpretation is an art, and as such it is a creative process, but that doesn't mean it has to arise out of a vacuum. Did Olivier never watch a Shakespeare play? If your effort is directed at listening to others, copying their interpretations, and calling them your own, then I think it's misdirected. If you're listening for inspiration, to have other possibilities revealed to you, or just to compare your ideas with others, then I think the more you hear of others' playing, even playing your pieces, the better.


Originally Posted by BruceD
This doesn't preclude, in my view, students looking for interpretive ideas from master pianists, whether that be a teacher or a pianist on a recording, once they have learned the notes. Nor does it imply that doing so necessarily diminishes one's own ability to make the piece one's own from an interpretive standpoint.


What I think but expressed better.
I think what Al-mahed is saying is:
An original interpretation is possible,
even if informed by another pianist's interpretation -
because nothing exists in a vacuum.

"Nothing exists in a vacuum" applies to musical interpretation because there are many things that already influence, such as:
- Personal experience
- Specific Piano Schools
- General piano techniques
- Country-based techniques
- Musical Era techniques
- Specific instructions from a composer
- Advice from music analysts, writers
- Hearing a live performance, or a recorded one
- The music itself
- A composer's distinct style
- Etc - more examples could be provided, I imagine.

Basically, nobody is approaching a piece of music in a vacuum, so any claim to an original interpretation simply because they refuse to hear another performance of it, is a questionable claim to originality when so many other influences constantly inform us.

As the wise old baby-threatening King Solomon (or whoever wrote Ecclesiastes) said: "There is nothing new under the Sun". It's difficult to be a classical pianist and try to retain originality, while remaining true to the composer and his music. I suppose it's forgiveable on both sides. There are some composers I try to remain more true to than others.

David T summed it up nicely, as well.
Originally Posted by ChopinAddict
I don't think there is anything bad in listening to great performances.
After all, teachers often play a piece too to show students how it should be, and they are not as great as the great performers... :)that's some gruesome opinion...
Of course this doesn't mean you have to copy (don't!), but you do get a better feel for a piece if you hear a good performance and then you can make it your own interpretation.
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.

Listening to copy interpretation will always, always be something I loathe deeply. (this is only concerning aspiring or 'professional' pianists) If you can't come up with ideas on your own and need to copy someone else, you have no business performing. I think of it as plagiarism.


I've heard this argument several times but usually against the idea of playing classical music...at all. If you are concerned about being "original", write your own music.

Running and ducking.


I'm not concerned about being original. I'm concerned about being sincere and doing my homework before I play something. I hope your statement doesn't say much about your playing. Because to me, it kind of does..


It couldn't possibly say anything about my playing.
Also, if you are learning a piano concerto, you SHOULD listen to recordings to hear the orchestra, especially how they interact with the piano, and how the piano plays some of the orchestra's themes and vice versa (WHILE studying score to SEE how it plays out, too).

When learning a piano transcription, I think it's necessary to listen to the original, also.

Maybe in chamber music too? Similar principles as with concerti.

What are your thoughts on this?
Originally Posted by David T

I don't see how you can play anyone's interpretation but your own.


Have you ever seen an impressionist do an impression of some famous person? Or somebody do their impression of a regional dialect? I think copying someone's performance is somewhat comparable to those kinds of mimicry, where the player has deliberately assumed the "voice" of one or a number of other players, rather than using their own.

I think there may be a bit of a paradox involved too, because part of how you get a voice of your own comes in part from listening to others, initially, but it isn't really deliberate imitation.
For as much as I love recordings (I have a TON of them) sometimes I loathe them, because they've become such a crutch for so many. I really don't understand pianists who say "I only listen to see how the piece goes." Huh? You play the piano don't you? Well then, YOU should be able to determine how the piece goes. If you can't figure it out for yourself then I'd suggest getting together with your teacher and have them help re-ground you in the basics.

When we base everything on another person's ideas we're not learning anything, nor are we even sure why we're doing many of the things we're doing, because someone else predetermined everything we are doing and for their own reasons. As a result we are only playing the notes, because interpretation flew out the window once we decided that Joe Blow's ideas were those we were going to plagiarize. Now I can already hear many yapping that "it's not plagiarism", but really, it is. It's not YOUR idea is it? You heard Joe's articulation and Joe's delicious rubato and made them your "own", however, they're not your own. Hence, I sentence you to a week's practise of nothing but scales and arpeggios (hands separate of course) for not engaging the incredible brain God gave you in order to arrive at your own conclusions (and, of course, for your theft).
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Also, if you are learning a piano concerto, you SHOULD listen to recordings to hear the orchestra, especially how they interact with the piano, and how the piano plays some of the orchestra's themes and vice versa (WHILE studying score to SEE how it plays out, too).

When learning a piano transcription, I think it's necessary to listen to the original, also.

Maybe in chamber music too? Similar principles as with concerti.

What are your thoughts on this?


I don't think it's necessary to listen to recordings, but I don't think it hurts. I spent much of my youth playing Mozart and Beethoven I never heard before.
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Also, if you are learning a piano concerto, you SHOULD listen to recordings to hear the orchestra, especially how they interact with the piano, and how the piano plays some of the orchestra's themes and vice versa (WHILE studying score to SEE how it plays out, too).



I don't agree that you SHOULD listen to recordings when playing a concerto. Isn't the score guide enough? Why do we need to rely on a recording for any of these things? I'm not saying recordings are a bad thing (I love them), but reliance on your knowledge and musicianship, technique, etc., is a much better source than any recording.
Originally Posted by stores
For as much as I love recordings (I have a TON of them) sometimes I loathe them, because they've become such a crutch for so many. I really don't understand pianists who say "I only listen to see how the piece goes." Huh? You play the piano don't you? Well then, YOU should be able to determine how the piece goes. If you can't figure it out for yourself then I'd suggest getting together with your teacher and have them help re-ground you in the basics.

When we base everything on another person's ideas we're not learning anything, nor are we even sure why we're doing many of the things we're doing, because someone else predetermined everything we are doing and for their own reasons. As a result we are only playing the notes, because interpretation flew out the window once we decided that Joe Blow's ideas were those we were going to plagiarize. Now I can already hear many yapping that "it's not plagiarism", but really, it is. It's not YOUR idea is it? You heard Joe's articulation and Joe's delicious rubato and made them your "own", however, they're not your own. Hence, I sentence you to a week's practise of nothing but scales and arpeggios (hands separate of course) for not engaging the incredible brain God gave you in order to arrive at your own conclusions (and, of course, for your theft).


stores, I would 100% agree, but in my case, when I love someone's interpretation and learn that piece of music, it doesn't influence my interpretation (maybe my love of the piece and the want to bring out the same emotion and feeling the performer gave me, but not how I shape my phrases, specific dynamic levels in specific spots, use of rubato, etc. I refer to the score or my piano teacher for guidance in that). When I learned Chopin Ballade 2, I was in love with Zimerman's recording! But I don't interpret it like he does. I sat at the piano (or away from the piano) with my score figuring out how I wanted to (or how I should shape the phrases, what the score is telling me to do, etc. Same with Le Tombeau de Couperin, Schumann Concerto 1st movement, and any other piece I knew of very well before learning them.

However, how often to people plagiarize/attempt to plagiarize interpretations?[b][/b]
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Also, if you are learning a piano concerto, you SHOULD listen to recordings to hear the orchestra, especially how they interact with the piano, and how the piano plays some of the orchestra's themes and vice versa (WHILE studying score to SEE how it plays out, too).



I don't agree that you SHOULD listen to recordings when playing a concerto. Isn't the score guide enough? Why do we need to rely on a recording for any of these things? I'm not saying recordings are a bad thing (I love them), but reliance on your knowledge and musicianship, technique, etc., is a much better source than any recording.


Well, in the cases I gave, I meant to hear the ORCHESTRA part and to hear the orchestra's interplay with the piano. Does that make a difference or not?
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Also, if you are learning a piano concerto, you SHOULD listen to recordings to hear the orchestra, especially how they interact with the piano, and how the piano plays some of the orchestra's themes and vice versa (WHILE studying score to SEE how it plays out, too).



I don't agree that you SHOULD listen to recordings when playing a concerto. Isn't the score guide enough? Why do we need to rely on a recording for any of these things? I'm not saying recordings are a bad thing (I love them), but reliance on your knowledge and musicianship, technique, etc., is a much better source than any recording.


Well, in the cases I gave, I meant to hear the ORCHESTRA part and to hear the orchestra's interplay with the piano. Does that make a difference or not?

It makes a difference only in that it is more difficult, but you can study everything you need to using the full score, audiation, and playing lines and chords as you need to keep your audiation on track. After enough study the orchestral parts are in your head and you can use your innner orchestra while practising (in the same way as if you had used recordings).

While this is by no means easy! and you have to have some experience with orchestral scores and be familiar with alto clef for viola and other technical issues, it's a wonderful exercise for developing your musicianship.

If you were not familiar with orchestral scores I'd recommend beginning with something like a Mozart concerto.

OSKing - I bet you would be capable of this. Do you think you could if there was a movement of a Mozart concerto that you weren't familiar with? Or would you find it too time consuming to bother?
The times I've played concertos I've always played through the accompaniment and then studied the full score. Doesn't hurt and you learn more. It also takes more time, which is why I can see people running to recordings. I think in general people underestimate themselves. I am sure you're all capable of doing more than you say.

Damon I'm sorry for that ridiculous comment. I wish I didn't have to be responsible for the garbage that comes out of my mouth sometimes.. laugh
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.
The times I've played concertos I've always played through the accompaniment and then studied the full score. Doesn't hurt and you learn more. It also takes more time, which is why I can see people running to recordings. I think in general people underestimate themselves. I am sure you're all capable of doing more than you say.

Do you think it adds a lot more work/time if you the piece is completely unfamiliar? I guess I'm asking if you've ever had the experience of studying this way with a piece you've never heard, and with no listening to get the process started.
Originally Posted by Canonie

OSKing - I bet you would be capable of this. Do you think you could if there was a movement of a Mozart concerto that you weren't familiar with? Or would you find it too time consuming to bother?


I have a book of Mozart concerti on me right now. I'll pick a random one and look at it (slow movement to start off with) and see what I can make of it.

What if I recorded myself playing 2nd piano part, and then played the solo part to to it? Is that any different? Since it is my own "interpretation." Sort of like this guy.
Originally Posted by Pogorelich.

Damon I'm sorry for that ridiculous comment. I wish I didn't have to be responsible for the garbage that comes out of my mouth sometimes.. laugh


Piano means never having to say you're sorry. smile
But what about piano transcriptions of an orchestral piece? Shouldn't one know of the orchestral version? That makes a little more sense to me...
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by Canonie

OSKing - I bet you would be capable of this. Do you think you could if there was a movement of a Mozart concerto that you weren't familiar with? Or would you find it too time consuming to bother?


I have a book of Mozart concerti on me right now. I'll pick a random one and look at it (slow movement to start off with) and see what I can make of it.

What if I recorded myself playing 2nd piano part, and then played the solo part to to it? Is that any different? Since it is my own "interpretation." Sort of like this guy.


Soda, you don't need to listen to any recordings. The times I've heard you you've played quite well and I think you're fully capable of forming your own determinations about things. Try it and I'm betting you'll surprise yourself.
Which concerto did you pick?
...by the way...a book of Mozart concerti?
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by Canonie

OSKing - I bet you would be capable of this. Do you think you could if there was a movement of a Mozart concerto that you weren't familiar with? Or would you find it too time consuming to bother?


I have a book of Mozart concerti on me right now. I'll pick a random one and look at it (slow movement to start off with) and see what I can make of it.

What if I recorded myself playing 2nd piano part, and then played the solo part to to it? Is that any different? Since it is my own "interpretation." Sort of like this guy.

Yes do it! and report back.

Playing the piano reduction and recording it does not develop the reading and audiation of orchestral scores. You would become very familiar with the notes of the score which would of course be useful. You could do this after trying to "hear" the score.

What I'd be interested in is if you can play from the score and then re-imagine it as strings, woodwind or tutti well enough, even if you can't get ALL the detail. A much simpler example of this skill is when you learn a collaborative piano part and "hear" the other instrument part in your head while practising. I assume you would have done this at some point.

Good luck smile
Haha, sorry... 20, 21, and 22. So not a WHOLE LOT of concerti, but still plural. I'm familiar with 20 and obviously 21, but not so much 22... Maybe I heard it a while back, but it'll be fresh enough to work with. So, 22 it is. laugh

Or if you want to go by K. numbers, K. 482.

I'm also going to learn the second piano part with the Ravel Concerto, because I'm actually learning it.

I also find it funny that you shorten my name to "Soda" instead of "Orange"... you're the only person to do that, hehe. Not that it matters.
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
But what about piano transcriptions of an orchestral piece? Shouldn't one know of the orchestral version? That makes a little more sense to me...

Yes that makes sense - it's where the composer/arranger started from after all. But of couse it could be done from the score rather than recordings. Probably you want to make a judgement of when it is most useful to work directly from the score (time available, what you can learn from the exercise, how much you value the composition and orchestration).
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King


I also find it funny that you shorten my name to "Soda" instead of "Orange"... you're the only person to do that, hehe. Not that it matters.


Yeah, I'm different like that =p
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
But what about piano transcriptions of an orchestral piece? Shouldn't one know of the orchestral version? That makes a little more sense to me...


Personally, I don't think it could hurt. I still don't think it's necessary. For my own part, I would never be able to learn operatic transcriptions if I had to listen to the original opera. laugh

Seriously though, why would you think a transcription should be treated differently, unless you wanted the option of disagreeing with the transcriber?
I listened to the entire Tristan and Isolde when I played liebestod. But that was after I learned it..
Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
But what about piano transcriptions of an orchestral piece? Shouldn't one know of the orchestral version? That makes a little more sense to me...


Personally, I don't think it could hurt. I still don't think it's necessary. For my own part, I would never be able to learn operatic transcriptions if I had to listen to the original opera. laugh

Seriously though, why would you think a transcription should be treated differently, unless you wanted the option of disagreeing with the transcriber?



I feel like it would be a good idea in this case to listen to the orchestral version. Then you could get ideas about how to "color" your playing. I mean you can't really tell how to sound like different instruments from a piano score. And you can't get it from the orchestral score either unless you are really familiar with how different instruments sound. Or am I wrong in thinking that you should try to emulate orchestral sounds in piano transcriptions?
Originally Posted by WinsomeAllegretto
Originally Posted by Damon
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
But what about piano transcriptions of an orchestral piece? Shouldn't one know of the orchestral version? That makes a little more sense to me...


Personally, I don't think it could hurt. I still don't think it's necessary. For my own part, I would never be able to learn operatic transcriptions if I had to listen to the original opera. laugh

Seriously though, why would you think a transcription should be treated differently, unless you wanted the option of disagreeing with the transcriber?



I feel like it would be a good idea in this case to listen to the orchestral version. Then you could get ideas about how to "color" your playing. I mean you can't really tell how to sound like different instruments from a piano score. And you can't get it from the orchestral score either unless you are really familiar with how different instruments sound. Or am I wrong in thinking that you should try to emulate orchestral sounds in piano transcriptions?


Now you just opened a whole other can of worms. I'll just say that, for me, pianos sound like pianos no matter how you play them. I would think a good transcription would provide indication in the score for leading "voices".
Personally, I get acquainted with a piece mostly by listening to recordings and exploring what new music there is....if I like a piece a lot I'll listen to it a lot, and maybe I'll end up playing it.

But when studying the piece, I don't listen to recordings. I play by the score, and I try to explore what I can do with the piece. If I'm dried up, can't think of anything else to do, I'll maybe listen to a recording and see how far away my interpretation is from a professional, or to get some ideas, or to just get a fresh perspective. I think even Richter did that, where he listened to Michelangeli's recording of the Brahms Paganini variations while studying them. But it's important to listen with the score in your head, with your own interpretation in mind. An example being that I've listened to Chopin's ballade 1. Recently, I"ve been learning it as a birthday present for a friend, so I learned the notes, studied the score, etc. Built my own interpretation. I come back to Horowitz, Zimmerman, Richter, everybody, and listen to them with my own interpretation and view of the score in mind. I listen to them to see the possiblities of the piece and to see the limitations of my interpretation, and then I go back to study the score again. For some pieces, like the Waldstein, I've listened to it only once or twice again since starting the piece.
Originally Posted by Canonie
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Originally Posted by stores
Originally Posted by Orange Soda King
Also, if you are learning a piano concerto, you SHOULD listen to recordings to hear the orchestra, especially how they interact with the piano, and how the piano plays some of the orchestra's themes and vice versa (WHILE studying score to SEE how it plays out, too).



I don't agree that you SHOULD listen to recordings when playing a concerto. Isn't the score guide enough? Why do we need to rely on a recording for any of these things? I'm not saying recordings are a bad thing (I love them), but reliance on your knowledge and musicianship, technique, etc., is a much better source than any recording.


Well, in the cases I gave, I meant to hear the ORCHESTRA part and to hear the orchestra's interplay with the piano. Does that make a difference or not?

It makes a difference only in that it is more difficult, but you can study everything you need to using the full score, audiation, and playing lines and chords as you need to keep your audiation on track. After enough study the orchestral parts are in your head and you can use your innner orchestra while practising (in the same way as if you had used recordings).

While this is by no means easy! and you have to have some experience with orchestral scores and be familiar with alto clef for viola and other technical issues, it's a wonderful exercise for developing your musicianship.

If you were not familiar with orchestral scores I'd recommend beginning with something like a Mozart concerto.

OSKing - I bet you would be capable of this. Do you think you could if there was a movement of a Mozart concerto that you weren't familiar with? Or would you find it too time consuming to bother?


I think this is great for musicianship and better understanding of the piece. But I have to say, I have doubts that most professional pianists regularly do it to any great degree when learning a concerto. It would be interesting to take a look at their music libraries to see how many full scores they own, rather than just piano reductions of the orchestral parts. I'm thinking that some of the brainier and more scholarly pianists might have a lot of full scores, but it wouldn't be the norm.

And of course, most of us classical music lovers these days have internalized all sorts of orchestral stuff from concertos already, without ever looking at the score, just because we've heard recordings of them so many times. For me, what often happens when looking at a score of music I know, instead of audiating what I see directly, I'll get a memory trigger of the music, so it's actually recognition of something I already know.
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