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One thing is liking to listen to the music of some composers, another thing is to enjoy playing their pieces.

I try to be as diversified as possible in my choice of music. I'm equally fond of playing baroque as romantic and some 20th century music. But I have problems finding pieces worth while practicing by some major composers.

One of them is Liszt. Obviously because his music is generally difficult to play. But even his simpler pieces have limited appeal to me.

Another composer is Schumann. It is strange, because I like accompanying many of his songs, like Widmung and several others. And I adore his piano concerto. But I haven't been able to break the code of his solo piano pieces.

I'm really interested in entering the spiritual world of both Liszt and Schumann. Any suggestions about where to start?

And are there anyone else who have similar feelings about certain composers?

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Yep. My nemesis is Rachmaninoff. I like some of his stuff, like the Vespers, but so much of his music sounds a bit too close to gushy sentimentality to me. Sorry, Rachmaninoff. I tried, I really did. eek

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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Yep. My nemesis is Rachmaninoff. I like some of his stuff, like the Vespers, but so much of his music sounds a bit too close to gushy sentimentality to me. Sorry, Rachmaninoff. I tried, I really did. eek

His Concertos are not sentimental. At least I don't think they are.


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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Yep. My nemesis is Rachmaninoff. I like some of his stuff, like the Vespers, but so much of his music sounds a bit too close to gushy sentimentality to me. Sorry, Rachmaninoff. I tried, I really did. eek

His Concertos are not sentimental. At least I don't think they are.


They're the ones that I have the biggest issue with... eek

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Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Yep. My nemesis is Rachmaninoff. I like some of his stuff, like the Vespers, but so much of his music sounds a bit too close to gushy sentimentality to me. Sorry, Rachmaninoff. I tried, I really did. eek

His Concertos are not sentimental. At least I don't think they are.


I think they are and that's why I don't care to listen to them anymore...for me the sentimentality just gets tiresome.

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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by Tyrone Slothrop
Originally Posted by johnstaf
Yep. My nemesis is Rachmaninoff. I like some of his stuff, like the Vespers, but so much of his music sounds a bit too close to gushy sentimentality to me. Sorry, Rachmaninoff. I tried, I really did. eek

His Concertos are not sentimental. At least I don't think they are.


I think they are and that's why I don't care to listen to them anymore...for me the sentimentality just gets tiresome.


His second concerto must be one of the most sentimental works of all time. That's why I like it so much ... and so do God knows how many millions of other people - and for the same reason. smile

Originally Posted by Ganddalf
I'm really interested in entering the spiritual world of both Liszt and Schumann. Any suggestions about where to start?


I can't help you with Liszt, because I share your feelings entirely. But with Schumann I think that his Kinderszenen are much deeper and more interesting than most of his piano works (eg. I consider Carnaval rather shallow by comparison, albeit a lot more flashy).

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Since you're interested in learning pieces by Schumann and Liszt we need to know your level. Can you tell us of some of the most advanced pieces you've studied or some other description of your level?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Since you're interested in learning pieces by Schumann and Liszt we need to know your level. Can you tell us of some of the most advanced pieces you've studied or some other description of your level?


Well, I play Bach's French Suite #6, Mozart a-minor rondo, Beethoven Sonata Op.14/1, Chopin Rondo Op.5 and Faure Nocturne #3. And pieces by Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, Grieg, Albeniz. Skriabin and Shostakovich. And many more. But not a single Schumann or Liszt piece. Not Rachmaninoff either, just to mention that.

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Bartok is one that just leaves me cold. I love his Concerto for Orchestra, but the piano pieces don't interest me. I had a couple of teachers that tried to get me to learn some of his stuff, but I resisted.

I spent quite a bit of time with Schumann's Arabeske Op 18. Loved it at first, but I spent so much time working on it, then letting it rest, then picking it back up again, that it lost some of its fascination.

I have been avoiding Chopin since he is so overplayed. All the college kids at school love Chopin and Liszt. Maybe after I am done with school I will go back to Chopin again, but I am doing Brahms and Grieg for my romantic period pieces just to be different.

I honestly think Barber was a one-hit wonder, and the one hit was not for piano (Adagio for Strings).

Coplands piano music is also disappointing to me. That's not the Copland of Appalachian Spring or Rodeo.

And I don't get excited about Glass or Einaudi.

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Originally Posted by Ganddalf
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Since you're interested in learning pieces by Schumann and Liszt we need to know your level. Can you tell us of some of the most advanced pieces you've studied or some other description of your level?


Well, I play Bach's French Suite #6, Mozart a-minor rondo, Beethoven Sonata Op.14/1, Chopin Rondo Op.5 and Faure Nocturne #3. And pieces by Haydn, Schubert, Brahms, Grieg, Albeniz. Skriabin and Shostakovich. And many more. But not a single Schumann or Liszt piece. Not Rachmaninoff either, just to mention that.
Then, based on your playing the Rondo a la Mazur and a few other you listed, I think you could handle a lot of Schumann except the maybe absolute hardest pieces. Schumann actually didn't write that much for solo piano. His first around 28 works are all for piano and then there are a few other later works like the Forest Scenes, Ghost Variations, and Bunte Blatter. Have you listened to some of these but found them unappealing? If so, which didn't you like?

Much of Schumann is very advanced(all the Sonatas and long suites...Davidsbundler, Carnaval, Toccata, Symphonic Variations, Fantasy, Kreisleriana, Humoresque, etc.)if you choose to play the entire suite. But if you want you can select individual pieces from most of the suites that are not at the highest level. The easiest Schumann include the Kinderszenen, Papillons, Arabesque, Flower Piece, Forest Scenes, some of the Bunte Blatter, and some of the Fantasy Pieces Op. 12.

As far as Liszt goes there are many more works for solo piano. Many people, including me, seem to like the song transcriptions which range in difficulty from reasonable for an amateur to ones requiring the highest virtuoso technique,

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Originally Posted by Ganddalf
But not a single Schumann or Liszt piece. Not Rachmaninoff either, just to mention that.

You should combine Schumann with Liszt to produce Schumann/Liszt, whose greatest - and most popular - piece is of course Widmung.

Liszt, being Franz, adds an extra dimension (fireworks, excitement, bombast even whistle). And almost everyone who's anyone has performed it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gigyV69ARA4

If playing a song that you've accompanied but with no singer doesn't appeal, there're lots of other pop songs, like Mendelssohn/Liszt's Auf Flügeln des Gesanges, or Schubert/Liszt's https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHhhAOt0NVE .

Personally, I like Liszt/Liszt, i.e. Liszt transcribed by Liszt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FqugGjOkQE

I also like Rach/Rach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVIz9QjBRdA


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Talk about sentimental, my problem composer is, and has always been, Tchaikovsky. I find his melodies at best wishy-washy and at worst cloying. He is not particularly good at development in sonata form; his developments all sound so labored to me and sometimes he seems to get positively lost as he tries to get from point A to point B. His symphonies veer from the bombastic to the over-dramatic to the gooey and syrupy (sometimes all at once). His ballet music is particularly saccharine, though I do harbor a sentimental place in my heart for the Nutcracker. Go figure. It's a childhood thing.

I know I'm probably in the minority on this one, but we all have a bête noire and Tchaikovsky is mine. Please don't scream at me... eek smile


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Originally Posted by AaronSF
Talk about sentimental, my problem composer is, and has always been, Tchaikovsky. I find his melodies at best wishy-washy and at worst cloying. He is not particularly good at development in sonata form; his developments all sound so labored to me and sometimes he seems to get positively lost as he tries to get from point A to point B. His symphonies veer from the bombastic to the over-dramatic to the gooey and syrupy (sometimes all at once). His ballet music is particularly saccharine, though I do harbor a sentimental place in my heart for the Nutcracker. Go figure. It's a childhood thing.

I know I'm probably in the minority on this one, but we all have a bête noire and Tchaikovsky is mine. Please don't scream at me... eek smile



You are not alone. I have no problem with the ballet suites, they fit the purpose nicely, but otherwise along with Rach Tchaikovsky is my least favorite Russian composer. I cannot stand his piano music or the concertos.

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Originally Posted by bennevis

You should combine Schumann with Liszt to produce Schumann/Liszt, whose greatest - and most popular - piece is of course Widmung.


I have played the original accompaniment of Schumann's Widmung on several occasions. As well as many other Schumann's songs (Art songs, Lieder) and these are at least manageable even for me.

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Originally Posted by outo
Originally Posted by AaronSF
Talk about sentimental, my problem composer is, and has always been, Tchaikovsky. I find his melodies at best wishy-washy and at worst cloying. He is not particularly good at development in sonata form; his developments all sound so labored to me and sometimes he seems to get positively lost as he tries to get from point A to point B. His symphonies veer from the bombastic to the over-dramatic to the gooey and syrupy (sometimes all at once). His ballet music is particularly saccharine, though I do harbor a sentimental place in my heart for the Nutcracker. Go figure. It's a childhood thing.

I know I'm probably in the minority on this one, but we all have a bête noire and Tchaikovsky is mine. Please don't scream at me... eek smile



You are not alone. I have no problem with the ballet suites, they fit the purpose nicely, but otherwise along with Rach Tchaikovsky is my least favorite Russian composer. I cannot stand his piano music or the concertos.


Tchaikovsky isn't on the top of my list either, but I have, at least, played a few of his pieces.

Moreover, I have never played any piano music of Sibelius. I like very much his symphonic work, but I know very little about his piano production.

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I absolutely love Schumann and have learned (or attempted to learn) most of his Kinderszenen in the last few years, definitely the pieces I would start with because they are so short and interesting, each with a different character. I think you would probably be able to sight-read a lot of them! The thing with Schumann, I think, is understanding how the sound relates to the writing. John Mortensen said that his piano pieces are awkward to play, and don't fall easily under the hands. This is probably true, but once you identify and decode the different voices (he especially likes to add middle voices), the pieces kind of fall together. I also do quite a lot of hand distribution with Schumann, and sometimes even rewrite some parts in a clearer way. The harmonies are always beautiful, sometimes surprisingly so. I would definitely give it a go, Ganddalf!

About composers I don't "get"... definitely Debussy. I tried his easiest pieces but I don't seem to understand his sound yet. I also have a hard time with Beethoven, probably because most of his pieces are so advanced. I think I know how he should sound, but then technique problems prevent me from making it happen.


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Originally Posted by Ganddalf

Moreover, I have never played any piano music of Sibelius. I like very much his symphonic work, but I know very little about his piano production.

Surely, you can't ignore the music of Scandinavia's greatest composer (with a nod to Grieg and Nielsen wink ).

Here's your greatest compatriot playing a piano piece which can only be by one composer (even if you only know his symphonies and tone poems), with its runic sounds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWJJkYm_66E

It's not too difficult, if your fingers are 'stretchy' enough to encompass some awkward arpeggios.
It's interesting to hear knowledgeable people's reactions when I play it - it seems almost 'familiar' and very Nordic-sounding, yet they cannot quite place the composer, because they don't think of Sibelius as a piano composer. But he composed at the piano (I've seen it at Ainola) and churned out many more piano pieces than orchestral ones (OK, he also needed to make money.......).

And this is also quintessential Sibelius:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G048GQNLJI


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Ganddalf

Moreover, I have never played any piano music of Sibelius. I like very much his symphonic work, but I know very little about his piano production.

Surely, you can't ignore the music of Scandinavia's greatest composer (with a nod to Grieg and Nielsen wink ).

Here's your greatest compatriot playing a piano piece which can only be by one composer (even if you only know his symphonies and tone poems), with its runic sounds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWJJkYm_66E



Oh, this is beautiful!
I didn't know that yet.
I was looking for something new to play and I think, I`ve just found it. Thanks for sharing smile

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Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Ganddalf

Moreover, I have never played any piano music of Sibelius. I like very much his symphonic work, but I know very little about his piano production.

Surely, you can't ignore the music of Scandinavia's greatest composer (with a nod to Grieg and Nielsen wink ).


Possibly the greatest composer from the Nordics, but not Scandinavia. wink


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Originally Posted by QuasiUnaFantasia
Originally Posted by bennevis
Originally Posted by Ganddalf

Moreover, I have never played any piano music of Sibelius. I like very much his symphonic work, but I know very little about his piano production.

Surely, you can't ignore the music of Scandinavia's greatest composer (with a nod to Grieg and Nielsen wink ).


Possibly the greatest composer from the Nordics, but not Scandinavia. wink

I stand corrected!

Now I remember that I first travelled to Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark on a Nordturist (not Scanditurist) train ticket when I was young and penniless.
BTW, I thought then (and still do) that it was scandalous that the Carl Nielsen monument in København gets totally ignored while the Mermaid gets all the cuddles and kisses from tourists.........

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbbbfvg6mi0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bymLAXnY0I

https://images.app.goo.gl/mQ9PeP2QgdRoeZvr8


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