Character Conundrum: Literary Lessons for Pianists in Schumann's Kreisleriana

Robert Schumann's oeuvre owes structural and inspirational credit to the works of numerous German romantic authors. However, some aspects of his literature-inspired compositional style are more often discussed than others.1 Numerous authors have written about the highly fragmented nature of Schumann's piano cycles, including Kreisleriana,...
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Inside the Studio with Nicholas Phillips

In this lesson, we focused on character and touch that are stylistically appropriate, and I encouraged Promise to think more independently about phrasing. Promise is a Music Education major. We had one lesson on this piece a month prior to recording this video. Music and Technology Featured: Haydn, Piano Sonata in G Major, Hob:XVI:39 (1st movement)...
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From the Artist Bench with Andrew Cooperstock

Sonata in F Minor, Op. 2 No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven
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From the Artist Bench with Jerry Wong

Funérailles by Franz Liszt
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The Composer's Score from Conception to Publication: The Evolution of Ginastera's Piano Sonata No. 2

Pianists, when learning repertoire, are not always aware of the challenges faced in producing a published edition. Some composers seem to frequently change their minds, making it difficult for scholars to agree upon a definitive score. Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 53, by Alberto Ginastera is an interesting case study. I first encountered this work when ...
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Diversifying Concert Programming: Introducing Works for Solo Piano by Asian Female Composers

As a performing musician, I am always looking for ways to expand my concert repertoire, not only to promote diversity in music programming but also to spark interest in both students and audiences by introducing fresh voices into traditional classical repertoire. In my search for solo piano works, I came across three Asian female composers who have...
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The A-B-C’s of Nocturne Repertoire: Alexander Before Chopin

Piano students transitioning from method books to standard intermediate repertoire often yearn to study the beautiful and deservedly popular Chopin Nocturnes. However, these require oft-underestimated musical sensitivity and technical command. Jane Magrath recognizes this in The Pianist's Guide to Standard Teaching and Performing Literature, statin...
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Subverting the Pianistic Psyche: Learning Approaches to Webern’s Concerto for Nine Instruments, Op. 24

A well-trained pianist is a musician fundamentally chained to notational accuracy—one of the prime pianistic obsessions. In traditional pianistic modes of learning, embracing tonally centered repertoire, accuracy of notational acquisition has absolute primacy. Pianists at all levels of accomplishment are guided by an inherent, perhaps inherite...
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The Beethoven Piano Sonatas: Frequently Asked Questions

As the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) approaches, it is a good time to get in the celebratory spirit by answering some FAQs. A warning, though: behind every seemingly straightforward answer, there are always more questions! 1. What editions should I use?  Simple answer: There are excellent Urtext editions av...
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Steps to Parnassus: Preparing Students to Play Advanced Masterworks

All learning of complex knowledge and sophisticated skills must be approached by first learning more limited and simplified versions of what students are eventually needing to master. The nature of the simplifications—the substance and magnitude of each task, the sequence in which the tasks are presented, the speed of ...
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The Neglected Consolations of Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt's beloved Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major from the Six Consolations S.172, is a character piece frequently performed by the advancing pianist in recital and festival adjudications. Reminiscent of a nostalgic nocturne, Consolation No. 3 features a stunning melodic line and unpredictable harmonic nuances that have surely contribute...
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Deciphering Chopin’s shorthand in the posthumous Mazurka in F minor

If someone had told me a decade ago that I was going to produce the first (and, so far, only) published reconstruction of Chopin's posthumous Mazurka in F Minor that includes every uncanceled measure of the composer's sketch, I would have laughed. But apparently when a performance opportunity inspires a research obsession, unexpected things can hap...
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Touching Debussy, Teaching Alchemy

faries-are-dancing The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers, Illustration in 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' by J.M Barrie
Sound is touch at a distance. Jad Abumrad, from Radiolab "Sound is touch at a distance." I heard this quote at a recent talk given by Radio Lab creator, Jad Abumrad, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Over and over it repeated itself. Mothers sing to babies after they put them down as a way of continuing physical contact, Jad told us. So, i...
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Elizabeth Medici
Wonderful discussion of Debussy's elegant and refined style that gives us so much emotional freedom at the piano. It is also a ver... Read More
Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:22
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Moving from Sonatina to Sonata: Bridging the gap with Johann Wilhelm Hässler

Progressing from late-intermediate level sonatinas by Clementi and Kuhlau to early-advanced level sonatas by Mozart and Haydn can be a challenge for students. The piano repertoire does not have many well-structured eighteenth-century pieces of good musical quality by well-known composers that bridge this gap. The Six Easy Sonatas by Johann Wilhelm ...
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Bumping into Brahms: A conversation about the Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2

JM: Oh! Sorry sir, you startled me! I almost bumped into you. But wait, I know you! Are you not Herr Doktor Brahms? Brahms: Guten Tag? Bitte, kein Doktor. I am amazed that we have somehow encountered one another here. Might it be because I have played so many of your wonderful song accompaniments and piano pieces recently? Would you possibly be wil...
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Learning John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes

I couldn't use percussion instruments for Syvilla's dance, though, suggesting Africa, they would have been suitable; they would have left too little room [on the stage] for her to perform. I was obliged to write a piano piece. I spent a day or so conscientiously trying to find an African 12-tone row. I had no luck. I decided that what was wrong was...
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Richard Wagner at the piano

Richard Wagner at the piano
Wagner was the ultimate drama king and a lightning rod for controversy, yet he remains one of the most fascinating and uncompromising figures in the arts. Richard Wagner's 200th birthday is being celebrated this year at major opera houses including the Metropolitan Oper...
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A master class on three favorite Beethoven sonata movements

The thirty-two sonatas of Beethoven are often cited as the pianists' New Testament, with Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier being the Old Testament. These treasured works are a staple in piano teaching studios throughout the world, and are also required repertoire in the most demanding international piano competitions. A sonata or fugue ...
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Opus 111: A revelation

No one questions that Beethoven's controversial choices in his work are appreciated as groundbreaking. But nearly anyone would question a choice made by a young pianist to deviate from instructions printed in Urtext scores. As a young student, celebrated pianist and best-selling author Seymour Bernstein made that conscious choice in a passage of Be...
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The completion of De Profundis: Instrumental Psalm for Piano & Orchestra by Franz Liszt

Excerpt 1: Liszt’s dedication page. “De Profundis Psaume Instrumental pour Orchestre et Piano Principal by F. Liszt.” Dedicated to the Abbé Felicité de Lamennais.
The instrumental psalm De Profundis for piano & orchestra by Franz Liszt (Raabe: 668, Searle: 691) is an unfinished, though virtually complete manuscript held by the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar, Germany. It was composed during the late summer of 1834 while Liszt was staying at La Chênaie, in Brittany, having sought out the company of ...
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