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Improvisations – New Forum Section

The other day I heard Chopin improvise at George Sand’s house. It is marvelous to hear Chopin compose in this way: his inspiration is so immediate and complete that he plays without hesitation as if it could not be otherwise.
But when it comes to writing it down and recapturing the original thought in all its details, he spends days of nervous strain and almost terrible despair.”

– Karl Flitsch –

“In 1968, I ran into Steve Lacy on the street in Rome. I took out my pocket tape recorder and asked him to describe in 15 seconds the difference between composition and improvisation. He answered:

In 15 seconds, the difference between composition and improvisation is that in composition you have all the time you want to decide what you want to say in 15 seconds, while in improvisation you have 15 seconds.

His answer lasted exactly 15 seconds and is still the best formulation of the question I know.”
– Frederic Rzewski –

In the history of Western music, from the medieval until the romantic period, improvisation was an important skill for all composers and keyboard players. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Liszt, and many others were celebrated for their ability to improvise.

However, while most of the composed music easily survived in its purest form, written scores, improvised music left nothing but the traces in the minds of its listeners (or, on rare occasions written descriptions such as the above quote by Flitsch). The modern conception of the history of music is probably lacking a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Jarrett - The Köln Concert A milestone in the solo piano improvisation revival?

Jarrett - The Köln Concert
A milestone in the solo piano improvisation revival?

Consequently, in music education today and on the main concert platforms there are often distinct borders between improvising, composing, interpreting and performing, and few “classical” musicians are masters of all four trades.

Many modern jazz pianists are currently widening their musical skills and approaching the area traditionally belonging to art music. Thus, in the future, the distinction between being a “jazz pianist” and a “classical pianist” might be blurrier than it has been, not least since there also seems to be a growing interest in improvisation among classical pianists and piano teachers.

Improvisations in Audition Room

In the Piano Street forum community there is a subset of pianists exploring solo piano improvisation. In an effort to support both them and the historical tradition of keyboard improvisation we have now opened a separate section for improvisations in our Audition Room. Here you can listen to uploaded improvisations, discuss them and, not least, share your own recorded improvisations!

In order to make life easier for you when you listen to these improvisations and to all the other pieces in our Audition Room, we have now added an embedded mp3-player next to all the attached files. Just click the little play button and enjoy!


Happy Holidays! – Musical Gifts from Piano Street


EDIT 13 January 2008:
The audio files are no longer available
for free but will soon be added to the
Gold membership resources.


We would like to wish you Happy Holidays with some of our new recordings for you to enjoy!

The seven new recordings below are freely available until 12 January 2009.

No flash player!

It looks like you don’t have flash player installed. Click here to go to Macromedia download page.

(The sheet music of the pieces are availabe for instant download within the Piano Street Gold membership by clicking the sheet music images.)

1. Johannes Brahms:

Brahms - Intermezzo opus 117 no 1

2. Johannes Brahms:

Brahms - Intermezzo opus 118 no 2

3. Franz Schubert:

Schubert - Impromptu opus 90 no 1

4. Charles Mayer:

Mayer - Miniature March, piano sheet music

5. Matthew Camidge:

Camidge - Church Bells, piano sheet music

6. Samuel Maykapar

Maykapar - Quite Morning, piano sheet music

7. Anton Diabelli:

Diabelli - Canzonetta, piano sheet music


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