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Steps to Parnassvs: 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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Franz Liszt the Teacher

Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt was a legendary pianist, famous for his overwhelming technical prowess and expressive power. Many today do not realize that as a teacher he had a lasting effect upon piano playing throughout Europe and even in the United States. Most of the great pianists of the nineteenth century came under his influence, whether or not they attended h...
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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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Frank Glazer

Frank Glazer in 1936. Photograph by Ben Pinchot.
Many people have played all thirty-two Beethoven Sonatas in one concert season before, but I would be willing to bet that no one has done it for the first time at age ninety-five. Frank Glazer holds a unique place among concert pianists and teachers. He is the last living student from the Berlin days of the great Beethoven interpreter Artur Schnabe...
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The life of Chopin (and autographed piano)

T he Chopin Foundation of the United States has in its possession a rare and unique item: a Pleyel piano with the autograph of Frederic Chopin. This well-traveled piano has touched many lives and resided in multiple countries, not unlike the man who signed it. As we celebrate the 200th birthday of this influential composer, it  is notable to c...
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The Pedal Piano and the Schumanns

I n 1845, Robert Schumann wrote what are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and enduring pieces of music for the pedal piano, his Six Etudes in Canon Form, Op. 56; Four Sketches, Op. 58; and Six Fugues on the Name B-A-C-H, Op. 60 (for organ or pedal piano). Schumann was an enthusiastic student of counterpoint, and his interest in the pedal pian...
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Which Chopin?

There have been numerous collected editions of Chopin's music since his death, and few of them agree on anything. Why is this? The answer lies principally in the complexity of the source tradition, and I include under that heading both manuscript and early printed sources. It may be helpful to attempt a rough classification of these sources. Sketch...
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Chopin and Pleyel

Translated by Deana Shuman   The first concert in Paris Chopin's first concert in Paris (February 25th, 1832)  played a determining role in the artist's career, leading to his recognition as a composer and a pianist, providing him contacts with music publishers, opening the most influential salon doors to him, and thereby assuring him a s...
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Robert Schumann and the art of musical composition

F ollowing hard on the heels of the Mendelssohn bicentenary, 2010 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann (1810-1856), a composer who will surely garner his full share of symposia, concerts, and special events reassessing his place in the European canon. To a large extent, Schumann has fared  better in music histori...
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Chopin's teaching

We all know Chopin's piano literature-almost every serious piano student plays (or aspires to play) his works. But what do we know about Chopin's teaching? After  all, teaching was an important part of his life and provided his main source of income . 1 What can we take from Chopin's teaching in the 1800s and apply to our own professional mode...
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Clara Schumann: Ambivalence and resilience

The lives of Clara and Robert Schumann make great movies.Two exist: Hollywood's "Song of Love" (1947), starring Katherine Hepburn as Clara Schumann and Paul Henreid as Robert, and the German film "Frühlingssinfonie  (1983), starring Nastassja Kinski and Herbert  Gronemeyer. Both films present what have become  typical versions of Cla...
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How do you teach musicality?

We  have all heard it from our beginning (and sometimes more advanced) students-that awful, wooden, unmusical playing. What can we do to fix it? If we tell them to crescendo to a certain note and then get softer, they stiffly climb up and down the dynamic ladder, and it sounds even less musical! Can musi cal playing be taught, or do some ...
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A survival manual for college teachers

Every year it's the same - a group of my students prepare to leave the hallowed halls of academia and search for the elusive "job." For these students, this is BIG - and not just a little scary. As the "professor," part of my job is to prepare these changelings for what will be one of the most exciting times in their lives. For me, mentoring my stu...
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What is your plan for teaching a new piece? How does it vary for different levels of students?

Learning a new piece is like building a house. First there is a conception of the end result. The foundation is then laid - the more solid and stable, the  better. Then the frame is erected and the most basic infrastructural elements are added. The skeleton then has more "flesh" progres sively added until the process is nearly com plete . The ...
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An Interview with Leon Fleisher, Part Two

CC-Jan-Feb-2009---1
In the Autumn issue of K ey board Companion , Leon Fleisher discussed his childhood years, his studies with Artur Schnabel and Karl Ulrich Schnabel, and the early years of his career.  He also discussed the onset of focal dystonia, the diagnosis and management of the condition, and his advice to other pianists for avoiding dystonia.   " T...
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How do you use technology in the study of advanced literature?

Working with advanced students is challenging for many reasons, not the least of which is the issue of time management. As the students become more advanced, they tend. outwork simultaneously on both longer pieces and a greater number of pieces. For this reason, lessons must take very efficient use of the available time.  The last thing t...
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