Piano Street's Classical Piano Blog

- your guide to the classical piano world.
Minimalist Philip Glass sought to maximize his piano-playing potential

By the time Philip Glass had decided to better himself as a pianist, he had already been a successful composer for almost 30 years. His music had been used in the Olympic Games and movies, and he had been a worthy successor to such seminal minimalist composers as Reich and Riley. The journey he began in 1994 covered the following 19 years, and, during that time, he composed each of the chronologically numbered etudes he intended to use to make himself better at the keyboard. During that time, he kept them mostly to himself; in fact, he had never even published the first 10. There was only one recording, which he did himself.

Philip Glass discusses The Etudes:

Video Playlist:
1. Interview with Philip Glass
2. Maki Namekawa plays Etude no. 13
3. Maki Namekawa plays Etude no. 16

The new recording

Pianist Maki Namekawa has now become the second artist to record these remarkably disparate works. The styles inherent in the individual etudes run from “movie soundtrack,” such as No. 2, to “big and sprawling,” such as No. 16. The longest and most ambitious of these etudes, No. 20, is an exercise in give and take and is missing the intense technical structure of No. 1.

Etude no. 1, sample score:

Read more:
Philip Glass’s Etudes: the sound of a lifetime


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International Piano – January/February 2015

A new issue of International Piano is out! Content highlights:

  • Jeremy Siepmann explores piano duos with some of the world’s leading exponents
  • Cover story: The return of Ivo Pogorelich
  • Mature pianists: The next generation of musical role models
  • Cruise ships: Life on the open seas
  • Piano partnerships, part four: Piano trios
  • The Piano Etude: The evolution of the genre, in conversation with Clare Hammond
  • Education: Newark College’s course for piano technicians
  • Summer schools: Residential courses in the coming year
  • Search and rescue: Discovering Antoine Reicha’s Grandes Sonates

Piano Street Gold members have instant online access to the digital version of the magazine.


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Behind the Scenes of the Piano Puzzler

So, what is a Piano Puzzler? On the air every week, Bruce Adolphe re-writes a familiar tune in the style of a classical composer. One listener gets on the phone, and the caller listens to Bruce play his Piano Puzzler. They then try to do two things: name the hidden tune, and name the composer whose style Bruce is mimicking. In this video we get behind the scenes and learn the core secrets behind the construction of a Puzzler.
Further listening and reading:

Piano Street: Can you figure out these Piano Puzzles?


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Top Picks of 2014

We wish all readers a Happy New Year with a list of highly recommended reading from Piano Street’s Classical Piano Blog. These are the 10 most read, discussed or shared articles of 2014:

Moonlight Trapped in the Sonata Form?

How can we explain the immense popularity of the sonata for over two hundred years? What makes it so satisfying, so complete?
Here we listen to a recent performance of the Moonlight Sonata by pianist Yundi Li from a popular TV-show in Japan. His interpetation is quite traditional with a slow and beautiful rendition of the first movement. But there is another completely different way to interpret it. Which do you prefer? Read article >>

Natural Fingering – A Topographical Approach

The art of fingering is a huge subject, not least if studied historically. While many professional players stress the importance of good fingering we often find fingering suggestions offered by renowned editions to be clumsy, odd or simply out of place. New York pianist and teacher Jon Verbalis book Natural Fingering is a rich resource on the subject of piano fingering. Read article >>

The New Concept: Scores for All Stages of Learning

On the recent Music Education Expo in London, Piano Street presented a new concept for sheet music publication. Depending on your own level of experience and where you are in the learning process of a particular piece, you may need fingering, pedal markings, practice and performance tips, or perhaps the right opposite – a clean Urtext score. Read article >>

Reader Poll: Do you like classical music with jazz influences?

Since the early 20th century, jazz always had a significant impact on classical music and classical pianists. Composers found the rhythms, the blue quality in melody and harmony, as well as the spontaneous improvisation immensely fascinating and irresistibly modern. Read article >>

World Premiere: Piano Piece in G by Felix Mendelssohn

The first edition ever of a newly discovered piece by Mendelssohn was presented by Piano Street at the Music Education Expo in London earlier this month. The Urtext Piano Score and Autograph Manuscript are now available for download. Read article >>

Glenn Gould – Seeking the Ordinary in the Eccentric

Many are names of things we hold dear. An enigmatic musical poet, world- renowned pianist Glenn Gould continues to captivate years after his untimely death in 1982. In 2010 the documentary Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould was presented and became yet another attempt to describe the iconic musician. Read article >>

The Bigger Picture: A Personal Perspective on Practicing Routines

In the third and final part of the series on building a career as a professional pianist, Alexander Buskermolen gives a personal perspective on practicing routines at the piano with practising tips by Dutch pedagogue Jan Wijn. Read article >>

Simplicity Meets Complexity in Denk’s Piano Boot Camp

When NPR invaded Jeremy Denk’s home he was seriously practicing the piano etudes of György Ligeti. His music is “continuous madness,” Denk says. “Wonderful, joyful madness.” Denk has a great talent for making you fall in love with the most complex music, letting it sound completely natural. Read article >>

The Women Behind Chopin’s Music

Chopin revolutionised the nature of piano music composed both technically and emotionally but the actual musical instrument that provided his greatest source of inspiration was the female voice. In this documentary marking the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, pianist and trailblazer James Rhodes explores not only the Polish master’s music but also his complex relationships with women. Read article >>

Piano Vintage – Italian Excellence Bringing Old Steinways Back to Life

One of the most interesting exhibitors at the Cremonafiere Exhibition’s piano part – the so called CremonaPianoforte – this fall was a company and and workshop called Piano Vintage. The company performs a type of restoration dictated from the work philosophy and experience of the “Steinway Academy”. Read article >>


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Musical Holiday Greetings from Piano Street!

As a musical holiday gift, you are welcome to try out to learn “a small piece that sounds big” in 49 easy steps or to compose your own ending to one of Mozart’s most loved piano pieces.

New at Piano Street, December 2014:
Worksheets & Practice Guides

The two pieces below are from the series of Piano Street Instructive Edition, now incorporating a completely new, added concept: “Worksheet & Practice Guide”. It’s like always practicing with a teacher next to you; demanding but incredibly effective…

Try i it out now by selecting a piece approriate for your level, print it out (or view in your mobile device), get yourself a coffee and have a nice time at the piano!

Bach – Prelude in C (Easy/intermediate)

Learn the piece by following the 49 easy steps in the Practice Guide!

PDF to download and print

- Worksheet & Practice Guide (page 1)
- PS Instructive Edition (page 8)
- PS Edition (page 9)

Mozart – Fantasia in D Minor (Intermediate/advanced)

The preparatory excercises makes you master the pieces faster and more effortless. Then finish it off by composing your own ending!

PDF to download and print

- Worksheet & Practice Guide (page 1)
- PS Instructive Edition (page 5)
- PS Edition (page 11)
- PS Urtext (page 17)

These are completely free gifts for anyone visiting this page before January 11 2015. The Instructive editions, including several other pieces, are normally only available within the Gold membership.

Please post your comments below or follow the discussion, share or like this post on Facebook.

Happy Holidays!


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