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BTW, my favorite and most memorable use of the word is in a recording by Vladimir de Pachmann.

I wish I could find the thing online. Maybe one of y'all can. It's on an old "78" vinyl. He had just played a Chopin piece, was about to play a Mendelssohn piece, and right before the Mendelssohn, he can be heard saying (at least this is what it sounded like to me):
"The peerless will now try a little relief." ha

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Carey
In a letter written twenty-seven years after Chopin’s death to Carolyne Sayn-Wittgenstein Liszt commented, “no one compares to him: he shines lonely, peerless in the firmament of art.” smile

In all this circuitous and - so far - pointless discussion about the meaning of a specific word in a piece of correspondence, did it occur to no one that Liszt was not writing in English, and that we are relying - precariously - on a translator's equivalency of what Liszt actually wrote?
Good point. grin


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I disagree with those who dislike this piece - it's very melodic, and it combines virtuosity with lyricism in an effective and beautifully written manner. But as I like to think, music, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.


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I believe certain composers and their pieces in the less-played repertoire ought to be re-examined.
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Originally Posted by Farazissimo
I disagree with those who dislike this piece - it's very melodic, and it combines virtuosity with lyricism in an effective and beautifully written manner. But as I like to think, music, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Seconded. And in response to those who were talking about Liszt's lack of melody, this piece is stuck in my ear due to the very melody.

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lol @ the folks in this thread who argued over the definition of a word


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Well, this is one piece of piano music that I will never try to learn. (Not because I don't like it).

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Originally Posted by Carey
Technically everything you say is correct (with the exception of "not really liked in his time")

Yes, I was talking about his late years in particular. Beethoven was without a doubt considered like one of the greatest living composer, but he was also getting out of fashion. Other composers, Hummel but also Rossini had immense success. Hummel was well known and was playing across all Europe. Beethoven though respected and admired was also mis-understood and not so much played. He compositions were difficult, often times long and were puzzling the audience with his abrupt sometimes even violent tone, strong chromaticims and an architecture that wasnt always clear. His works were often more respected than "liked"

AW Thayer who wrote his bio (still consulted as one of the best) write what a visitor reports when visiting Beethoven (Rochlitz 1822):

"Of my works you hear nothing ...What is there for them to hear? “Fidelio”? they can’t perform it and do not want to hear it. The symphonies? For these they have no time. The concertos? Everybody grinds out his own productions. The solos? They’re out of fashion long ago—and fashion is everything. At the best, Schuppanzigh occasionally digs up a quartet"

Many accounts of Beethoven works have been published by the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Here is what Adolf Marx writes in 1826 about the 9th symphony:

"Now, to whoever imagined that this new Beethovenian creation would be a vocal composition in the hitherto customary sense, the accomplishment must appear incomprehensible and incomplete. Such a long prelude (four grand symphonic movements)3 to a moderately long cantata appears incomprehensible; the treatment, indeed even the dismemberment of the poem, appears unsatisfying and incom-plete."

Similar and sometimes stronger reactions were reported, for example for the first performance of the 9th in London. Again people were puzzled by the style, and other works had more preference. Many reports are polite and admire the great composer but the enthousiasm is often absent (though not always).

Originally Posted by Carey
- yet (and I mean no disrespect by this) it comes off as sounding a bit dismissive. Beethoven was a genius and a titan among composers of serious music who took the classical form about as far as it could go.


I usually try not to rank composers as I think it is a complicated task. I dont deny that B is one of the greatest composer in classical music. So I dont see any disagreement here. I let others though position him vs other composers.

Originally Posted by Carey
The fact that the classical form was "progressively abandoned by romantic composers" had nothing to do with the significance of Beethoven's achievements.

There is no implication of my statement about B importance. It is just a fact. My post was about Chopin or other romantic composers. It is quite natural that new generation of composers seek to renew the musical langage of the previous generation. The same happend with Bach and his successors like Mozart who was not trying to imitate him.

Chopin is probably the romantic composer that was most immune to Beethoven influence. Others like Schumann or mainly Schubert did to some extent reuse some of the Beethoven style and technique, mostly in symphonic compositions. Schubert is really apart, somewhere in between tradition and innovation. But the most innovative characteristics of romantic composers are not coming from the legacy of Beethoven. We have to wait for composers like Brahms to see B legacy picking up again.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Many accounts of Beethoven works have been published by the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung. Here is what Adolf Marx writes in 1826 about the 9th symphony:

"Now, to whoever imagined that this new Beethovenian creation would be a vocal composition in the hitherto customary sense, the accomplishment must appear incomprehensible and incomplete. Such a long prelude (four grand symphonic movements)3 to a moderately long cantata appears incomprehensible; the treatment, indeed even the dismemberment of the poem, appears unsatisfying and incom-plete."

Just to be clear this lengthly article is in fact quite laudatory of the work, unlike some others (in particular outside Vienna or Germany), but it does highlight what was the frequent perception of a more general audience about some Beethoven works. Something of a grand spirit and a highly elevated composition but difficult to understand. The article goes into great depth of analysis but again is more on the admirative side of the talent. Of course that does not prevent that some people and composers were genuinely enthusiastic of B's music. This may explain some bitter remarks by B, who even though he was respected and admired wasn't anymore the center of attention, like he may have been in the early 1800.

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But the most innovative characteristics of romantic composers are not coming from the legacy of Beethoven. We have to wait for composers like Brahms to see B legacy picking up again.
Berlioz, Franck, and Wagner were greatly influenced by Beethoven, all well before Brahms.


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I think the Polonaise has to many repetitions(albeit with variants) of the same two themes. If about 1/3 of the piece had been cut it might be better. The same problem as with many Alkan pieces IMO.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
A "peer," when speaking of a person, is an individual of equal status, qualities, and abilities. To say that one is "peerless" is stating that one has no equal. It's obvious, then, that "peerless" is the best.

Any argument against that is arguing for the sake of arguing and not for the meaning of the word.

5 is not equal to 4 but it is greater than 4. smile

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Originally Posted by Damon
5 is not equal to 4 but it is greater than 4. smile

So now we know where you've been: studying math! grin

(Good to see you!)

BTW it's not just you -- most of us older timers have been scarcer (as you probably know).

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It would be a challenge for any pianist to program Chopin's opp.44/53 and the 2 Liszt Polonaises, or combine op.53 with 'Funérailles, or combine '3 études de concert' with Chopin's related works, but I know who ends up with the laurels..


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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Originally Posted by Damon
5 is not equal to 4 but it is greater than 4. smile

So now we know where you've been: studying math! grin

(Good to see you!)

BTW it's not just you -- most of us older timers have been scarcer (as you probably know).

Well PL, Bruce, and Bennevis are still here. And you of course, still chasing after PL's post count. wink
I never got used to the site changing their navigation to better suit cellphones. The arrow at the bottom that takes you back to the top especially annoys me. But yeah, people have gone missing. Fortunately, Can has not.

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About the Polonaise though, I don't think Cziffra does it any favors. Pianists have so bought into the bombast of Liszt that they go overboard when they play it. Liszt really benefits from a more introspective touch and modest rubato. Cziffra loses the rhythm too often while trying to show off to keep this interesting. I would have tried selling the piece with a better recording.

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After a quick youtube search the very next 3 recordings (I sampled about 4 min. each) are much preferable to Cziffra. I wonder if Can Cakmur has recorded this, it seems perfect for his touch.

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Originally Posted by Damon
About the Polonaise though, I don't think Cziffra does it any favors. Pianists have so bought into the bombast of Liszt that they go overboard when they play it. Liszt really benefits from a more introspective touch and modest rubato. Cziffra loses the rhythm too often while trying to show off to keep this interesting. I would have tried selling the piece with a better recording.

Sometimes the recording does make the world of a difference when trying to sell people onto a piece. That's why I often cite pianists of big stature when I play a piece that isn't exactly popular.

(For example, Leopold Godowsky or Earl Wild play the Hexentanz by MacDowell pretty dang well. Can't say the same thing about too many others.)


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I believe certain composers and their pieces in the less-played repertoire ought to be re-examined.
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