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The legacy of Leopold Wolfsohn

Leopold Wolfsohn. You may look at this name and wonder why it seems vaguely familiar. If you access Leopold Wolfsohn on Google, it will notify you in 0.27 seconds that you have 18,700 results. Of course, as the search continues it gets further away from its initial goal. However, there is a common denominator in the vast majority of sites: Leo...
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Cliburn 2017

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Every four years, piano fans gather in Fort Worth, Texas, for one of the piano world's biggest parties: the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. At this year's Cliburn—the fifteenth—Yekwon Sunwoo, 28, earned the Gold Medal. Although a native of South Korea, Sunwoo has degrees from Curtis and Juilliard (and, yes, he played the Rach 3). The S...
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Putting it all together: Creating a great lesson

I've recently been inspired to think about the essential elements of a successful lesson, prompted in part by Pete Jutras's column "Quality Ingredients" ( Clavier Companion , July/August 2015) and a superb 2012 workshop that Marvin Blickenstaff presented at Nazareth College, just outside of Rochester, NY. Jutras's points—that every lesson should ha...
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Jascha Spivakovksy: Rediscovered Romantic

1929-Jascha-at-piano
Our appreciation of pianists of the past is based primarily on their recordings. How amazing it is that in this age of digital technology we can listen to the actual playing of pianists born and trained in the nineteenth century—including pupils of Liszt and pianists who studied with Chopin's students—hearing with our own ears pianism from an era t...
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Pianist as artist: Samuil Feinberg on the role of the performer

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It's not just historically minded pianists who listen to older records. Music lovers of all sorts do. 2015 marked the first year that 'catalogue' albums, defined as any recording made more than eighteen months previous, outsold new music by 4.3 million copies. 1 "Records." That's what Thomas Edison called his reproducing wax cylinders in 1888, asso...
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Playing composers' slurs: From Mozart to the nineteenth century

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In recent decades, scholars and publishers have reproduced composers' original notations in so-called Urtext editions. In these scholarly editions and facsimiles of composers' autographs, pianists will notice two slurring patterns—slurs obviously cutting off a phrase or a melody, or a slur ending before the bar line when the end of the phrase or me...
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So you have been asked to play the organ: A guide for pianists

It is likely that, sometime during a pianist's career, he or she will be asked to play the organ for a wedding, funeral, or a Sunday service. This can be daunting for pianists who have little or no organ experience. Looking at the organ, pianists might scratch their heads and wonder how to use the multiple keyboards (including the pedals) and how t...
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Developing sound expectations: Does the sound match the picture?

How do we develop a student's sense of musical awareness in performance? So often the wonderfully phrased and dynamically diverse musical performance in a lesson becomes a lifeless memory of its former glory when presented in public. How do we help our students develop the ability to maintain this musicality when performing for their families and f...
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Recent comment in this post
Amy Glennon
Wonderful article!
Wednesday, 29 August 2018 12:52
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Rethinking the master class

Recently, my husband Louie and I presented a joint master class at the Mississippi Music Teachers Association State Conference. We have developed a different format for these educational, and sometimes intimidating, sessions where a student performs before an audience of peers and teachers, and an invited guest teacher, by reputation a "master," ma...
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On the Value of Art Music Today

david
As a promoter of the arts and arts education, in Alberta, Canada (as founder and director of Alberta Pianofest, a summer festival of concerts and piano master classes), I often have occasion to speak before audiences of music-lovers, arts patrons, and potential supporters. These audiences are sympathetic to the cause, and they understand at th...
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Repertoire: Bach's Two-Part Inventions

Affect in J.S. Bach's Two-Part Inventions Bach's oldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann, was born in 1710 when Bach was twenty-five years old. By the time Wilhelm was ten, his father had instructed him in playing—as well as composing—some rather complex pieces. According to The New Bach Reader, Bach used the Two-Part Inventions and Three-Part Sinfonias as ...
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What about that bass?

As piano teachers, we commonly show our students how composers divide pieces into three parts, such as in Sonata or Minuet and Trio forms. What  is often missed is that most music is composed with a vertical division of three as well. We are adept at teaching  students to focus on—and voice—the melodic  content. However, often overlo...
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Finding musical expression through photography and film

Music is invisible. Yet how many times have we heard teachers, critics, and the general  music using the piano. Our priorities often lie in teaching proper technique to avoid unnecessary tension, and in showing students how to decipher notes, tempo markings, dynamics, and written terms on the page. These elements are crucial in order to give p...
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Winds of Change

While this column usually focuses on change as it transforms our profession and sometimes flus ters its practitioners, I want to think about something that doesn't change: the effect of artistry and its long-lasting impact. These thoughts come to mind as I reminisce about the unexpected effect Phyllis Curtin had on my life. Phyllis was an admired A...
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A Life Among Legends: an impresario looks back, part II

Jacques Leiser ©Jacques Leiser
​Many of the biggest musicians of the twentieth century have worked with Jacques Leiser: Richter, Michelangeli, Berman, Arrau, Cziffra, and Callas, to name just a few. As an agent, impresario, and photographer, Leiser helped direct the stunning careers of many household names. Such a life brings with it many valuable stories and insights that take ...
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The dynamics of sound and time

Music is at once simple and complex. We hear it, and we are moved by the feelings the music evokes. Yet, it is also a complex matter. There are eight ingredients of music: medium (the sound), meter-tempo-rhythm (the time), melody (the tune), harmony  (the chords), texture (the thickness or number of voices), form (the organization), dynamics (...
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The Sound of the future

The Sound of the future
Editor's note: In the November/December 2014 issue, Clavier Companion launched a series of articles addressing the future of piano teaching. The following article is part of that series. In the mid 1900s, electronically produced sounds were only available to an elite group of composers, artists, and recording studios. Today, our students have easy ...
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Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons

Tone production: Doing the right things for the right reasons
As a sophomore in college, I performed in a master class given by a former Van Cliburn Competition medalist. At one point, I was asked to play certain chords so that my fingers moved toward the fallboard as they depressed the keys, and this was supposed to change the timbre of these loud chords without actually changing their volume (providing a "r...
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Pedagogical treasures from Paul Pollei

Paul Pollei, popularly known as the "ambassador of the piano," passed away in July 2013 in Provo, Utah, leaving behind friends and colleagues on many continents, who loved him and his enthusiasm for life. He was a champion of piano pedagogy and all facets of the wide world of piano performance. He loved the art and science of teaching teachers. He ...
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What jazz contributes to the classical pianist

There is a long tradition of teaching quality classical piano in Canada. There are also a myriad of support systems to teach theory and written scores in a variety of contemporary styles. Then there's jazz. Some teachers like it and some don't. Others don't feel knowledgeable enough to include it in their studios. For many teachers it is a big unkn...
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