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Volcano Brought Chopin to Orange County

Because of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano a man sat waiting Monday afternoon in the Newark airport instead of on a plane to Berlin. Sitting there, the man got a phone call. Yuja Wang had a sore arm, it seemed, and a doctor had ordered her to rest. The man didn’t wonder why they were telling him this. He got on a plane for Orange County. The pianist had Chopin’s Etudes, all 27 of them, ready to go... Read more >>

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Author Topic: The Fantaisie-Impromptu - Is it really that hard?  (Read 3054 times)
chopiabin
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« on: January 14, 2004, 07:10:39 AM »

After looking at this piece, the only thing that seems difficult about it is the three vs. four rhythm, which could be learned relatively quickly with some slow practice. It also seems a bit overrated to me. Yes it is pretty, but Chopin wrote a million things more beautiful; in fact he didn't even like this piece - that's why it was published after his death. I know I am going to get yelled at (or posted at Grin) for this topic, but it just seems that everyone is playing it and I don't know why.

Chop ( the right hand running passage that starts on a B and ends on an A ,I think, is a direct quote from Beethoven's Moonlight sonata 3rd mvmnt.)
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piano sheet music of Fantaisie-Impromptu
schnabels_grandson
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2004, 08:58:55 AM »

I agree.  The first time I heard this piece I thought it was awesome.  Then I realized that it's really nothing special.  It's not even difficult.
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You don't have to eat garbage to know it's garbage.-Old Proverb
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erak
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2004, 03:59:42 PM »

Yeah, just the 3vs4 is hard, the rest is quite easy if you can play the 'fast' notes:). And also, I feel the same as 6th gen beethoven. I loved it at first, now I can't stand listening to it once more.
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Chitch
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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2004, 02:28:11 AM »

I imagine Cziffra could do some pretty interesting improvising with the Impromptu, if he did and published it I might actually learn the piece again...
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chopiabin
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2004, 06:16:11 AM »

I think Horowitz's is great, but I can't stand it now, and I know about 3 or four people who are playing it.
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Jemmers
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2004, 01:26:41 PM »

Firstly, difficulty-wise, I must admit, it's pretty simple (especially if your hands are large or agile enough to cover at least just over an octave with ease). I'm saying this because I'm actually very crap. Yet when I saw this piece, I found learning it pretty simple. (Well, compared to many other pieces anyway)

Secondly, I like Yundi Li's recording. It's very cleanly done.

Thirdly, I think I'll just give my theory on why it's so popular.
I think we should consider the times that we live in. People (the masses, that is) judge pieces (and songs) not by their depth or ingenuity, but by their "single" quality. In other words, if Chopin had released Fantaisie Impromptu as a single, it would have faired well on the charts (... whatever that is....). This is due to the fact that a) it sounds quite impressive and most importantly b) the melody is really quite catchy. That's why it's so popular. It wouldn't have been even half as popular in Chopin's days, simply because people then never judged songs by their "single" quality. Not that it wouldn't have done well... just not as well.
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liszmaninopin
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2004, 02:09:41 PM »

The Fantaisie-Impromptu was in fact the piece that first got me interested in piano music, which I can't thank Mr. Chopin enough for.  I won't say I can't stand the piece anymore, but I really don't like it very much.  The middle section, especially, can get tedious.

Jemmers brought up an interesting thought.  I know it drives me crazy when I play a piece that is anything other than a simple melody with a simple left hand because casual audiences call it "confusing" or "gibberish" or some other name when they don't have a clue.  For example, I have put alot of work into learning a fair sized chunk of the Prokofiev Toccata, I intend to finish it.  Anyway, the comments I usually get from friends and family go something like this:  "That's nice dear, now play Fur Elise (or insert Claire de Lune, Moonlight Sonata 1st movement, or other overplayed favorite of the masses)."  Apparently, people don't like to think about music anymore, they want all details in the piece to hit them over the head, so they don't have to try to understand what they're hearing.
Perhaps I have been ranting too much, but that just really bugs me, and I felt the need to get it out.
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chopiabin
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2004, 09:47:26 PM »

I know!! I hate it when people don't like Scriabin because it "sounds weird" or is "too deppressing". People have gotten it into their heads that music should be somethiung happy and easy to understand. Most people don't like to think.

I try to avoid hackneyed music (in the ears of the general public) at all costs.


Chop (I don't consider Chopin's etudes, polonaises, and most of his nocturnes hackneyed)
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bernhard
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2004, 12:40:12 AM »

Interestingly enough, it seems that Chopin himself did not like this piece very much, since he never published it (it was composed in 1835 - before the Impromptus, and published by his friend Fontana after his death).

I have read many times that Chopin disliked it because it was very similar to a piece by Moschelles, and he was afraid he might be charged with plagiarism.

Does anyone know this piece by Moschelles? Is there a CD of it?
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Jemmers
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2004, 09:55:18 AM »

Shall I just say that to the casual audience, radio and mtv has ruined their ability to appreciate classical music. While I'm not saying they are unable to appreciate music, it's just that they can't seem to understand what the deal is with classical music. This is because radio and mtv (and to a large extent, the world) has modified human behaviour to have a very short attention span. If your piece is any longer than five minutes, you're gone. It's that simple. And if your piece is more than just a "verse-chorus-verse-chorus-climax" style, you better have a good melody. Add that to the fact that the public in general would prefer vocalisation, and you can understand why classical music has a small audience.
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bernhard
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2004, 11:56:56 AM »

Jemmers is absolutely right.

However - and this in no way goes against what she said - let us not forget that classical music has never been a widespread mass phenomenon.

In Medieval times it was a "sacred" religious experience, considered by many as "magical" and surrounded in secrecy.

In Baroque and classical times it was the privilege of a few nobleman with power and money enough to afford it. (If you missed a performance of a Beethoven symphony you missed it forever, since there was rarely more than one).

In the romantic era, it was again the privilege of the emerging Bourgeoisie who was just trying to imitate the aristocracy by supporting classical (erudite) music.

Without radio, Tv, CDs, etc., music was a very rare experience for everyone concerned. Hence the flourishing of the piano and of the sheet music industry in the 19th century (it was the only way you could get to hear the Beethoven's 9th at home: through a piano transcription of it).

It is only after 1940 that music became such a mass phenomenom and now we have Muzak! Angry

Now I consider Pachebel's canon a very beautiful piece of music. But I have heard it so much (it seems to be everywhere - from weddings to lifts) that now I cannot bear it.  Tongue

So maybe it is a good thing that classical music does not fall into the masses liking.

Contrary to common sense opinion, I do not think classical music needs popular success to keep going. Popular success is necessary for some producer to get filthy rich, but it is not necessary for the survival of classical music. It has done well so far, has it not?

Best wishes,
Bernhard.

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The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
cziffra
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2004, 01:00:15 PM »

the question i want answered, which incidentally has nothing to do with the fantasie impromptu, is: was there always trashy pop music?

we live in a world where the pop music of today is in our face, rearing it's ugly, empty, useless head, soon to be completely forgotten- so was there trashy pop music around the time of bach and beethoven that we simply do not know about?  we remember the good stuff, so what bad stuff was there to forget?
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bernhard
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2004, 02:29:03 PM »

Quote
the question i want answered, which incidentally has nothing to do with the fantasie impromptu, is: was there always trashy pop music?



Yes.

It is called "folk music" or "nursery rhymes"

So in a couple of hundred years time your great grandchildren will be put to bed on the immortal tunes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguillera. Grin
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The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)
Sketchee
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2004, 03:56:25 AM »

If I recall, Liszt was very much influenced by the popular music of the gypsies with their street music.  In that time, street musicians playing folk music or improvising by ear were the way most people heard music in their daily lives.
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Sketchee
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comme_le_vent
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2004, 05:51:20 PM »

can you all quit this dissing of pop and folk music please?
'classical music' has been called boring by many people , and pop music has been called boring by quite alot of people too. the fact is they have to be listened to in completely different ways to be appreciated - most pop music has a danceable beat and a simple melody and structure, and i am furious that you can say great art hasnt been created within these constraints - witness 'karma chamaleon' by culture club. i think you owe it to yourself to listen to it.
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Great artists aim for perfection, while knowing that perfection itself is impossible, it is the driving force for them to be the best they can be - MC Hammer
Sketchee
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2004, 02:16:32 AM »

(In response to comme_le_vent and the thread in general)

I personally love Hip Hop, R&B and yes even Pop and lots of other types of music as well.  The structure is really derived from classical music and a lot of popular music could even be broken down and described in Rondo and Sonata form.

I have encountered a lot of people who don't like classical music simply because some of us classical music fans seem to think that classical music is objectively and unarguably better than other forms of musical entertainment.  I wouldn't assume that other people like music for the same reason as me.  I don't even like pieces or popular songs for the same reasons as each other.

It was Satie who predicted that there would be music not made to be heard directly but to be put in the background. Ravel took the tonality of the popular music of the time and combined it with a classical touch.  Liszt took popular music and "refined" it for the rich--quite controversially too.  Many of the people who classicists tend to think are greater than modern popular musicians were just as commercial--not by the modern music industry but by the aristocracy's musical whims--and the ones who were the most revolutionary among them held a special place in their heart for the pop of their day.  In both popular and classical music, it's the ones who really try to do something new who stand out, from the Neptunes and Madonna to Beethoven and Chopin.
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Sketchee
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eddie92099
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2004, 02:57:13 PM »

Quote
the Neptunes and Madonna to Beethoven and Chopin.


Why say The Neptunes when you can say The Beatles?
Ed
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Jemmers
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« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2004, 06:13:56 PM »

Firstly... we SO need to start talking about the Fantaisie Impromptu.

Secondly, we are NOT dissing popular music. I love every type of pop... except hip-hop. Sorry. Personal preference.

Thirdly, erm... there was a thirdly somewhere. I forgot.
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airasia
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« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2006, 06:16:58 AM »

Firstly... we SO need to start talking about the Fantaisie Impromptu.

Secondly, we are NOT dissing popular music. I love every type of pop... except hip-hop. Sorry. Personal preference.

Thirdly, erm... there was a thirdly somewhere. I forgot.

Hip hop wasn't meant to be pop music.  It has just been manipulated by the music industry since the late 90s in order to sell to the masses.  I've always listened to hip hop and recently caught onto  piano music because I find both of them to be the truest, most expressive music.  Hip Hop lyrically and the piano musically.  If you really LISTEN to good hip hop, you'll understand. 
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cherub_rocker1979
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« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2006, 07:01:51 AM »

Hip hop wasn't meant to be pop music.  It has just been manipulated by the music industry since the late 90s in order to sell to the masses.  I've always listened to hip hop and recently caught onto  piano music because I find both of them to be the truest, most expressive music.  Hip Hop lyrically and the piano musically.  If you really LISTEN to good hip hop, you'll understand. 

me is sure a lot of peeps at da SDC would say this is randomly true  Cool
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mwf
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« Reply #20 on: January 19, 2006, 02:53:10 PM »

The fantasy impromptu is a difficult piece yes, people get on my nerves when they say it is not, to me most of the time they sound like they are showing off, because it means the piece is easy to them and they can play a lot more difficult pieces, so there, kind of attitude (annoying), the truth of the matter is that IT IS DIFFICULT. Unless you are an advanced player it is difficult to master, you cant say the end section is not difficult to play, its also the hardest part of the piece.

There are however much harder pieces to play by Chopin, for example the etudes are more difficult, but you cant take away the fact that the impromtu is a difficult piece, its certainly not easy as people have suggested, what drugs are they on?

This forum can be interesting and rewarding at times, but theres too many show-offs and wannabes, sorry.

bye, bye.
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cherub_rocker1979
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« Reply #21 on: January 19, 2006, 07:48:54 PM »

The fantasy impromptu is a difficult piece yes, people get on my nerves when they say it is not, to me most of the time they sound like they are showing off, because it means the piece is easy to them and they can play a lot more difficult pieces, so there, kind of attitude (annoying), the truth of the matter is that IT IS DIFFICULT. Unless you are an advanced player it is difficult to master, you cant say the end section is not difficult to play, its also the hardest part of the piece.

There are however much harder pieces to play by Chopin, for example the etudes are more difficult, but you cant take away the fact that the impromtu is a difficult piece, its certainly not easy as people have suggested, what drugs are they on?

This forum can be interesting and rewarding at times, but theres too many show-offs and wannabes, sorry.

bye, bye.

That's rite!! There's also too many gay and cheesy posts.  respect da mwf!!
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maxy
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« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2006, 01:45:32 AM »

heh

played that piece more than 10 years ago... I still consider that piece somewhat hard (oh no, that must mean that I suck!  Shocked ). It certainly is not easy.  Very easy to lose balance on thumbs.

But the end is not the hardest part.  Tongue  Come on, 2 on 1 with a "misplaced" accent.  Wink 
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steveie986
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« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2006, 04:04:08 AM »

The Fantasie-Impromptu sums up why I'm not particularly fond of Chopin. It is dazzling whenever someone hears it for the first time, but that's where the problem lies. You realize after several listenings that it is not particuarly deep. It sounds like a grand ocean the first time you hear it, but after a while when you dissect it it's only an inch deep. That doesn't mean it isn't memorable or moving, but you cannot expect it to be intellectually and emotionally "deep" like Beethoven or Bach.

That's not to say that Chopin did not write pieces that are both beautiful and deep. My favorite is the Polonaise-Fantasie, which I think is Chopin's Hammerklavier and Goldberg Variations. But his popular pieces are largely rather formulaic: memorable, but shallow.
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steveie986
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« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2006, 04:08:42 AM »

Oh, and I dislike girls who play Chopin all the time. And girls who always ask me to play "that Chopin piece" again because they are fed up with the beautiful dissonant harmonies of Prokofiev that I play.

(Unless they are...)
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mpd210
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« Reply #25 on: January 20, 2006, 07:04:28 PM »

I think when people say the fantasie is easy, they mean its easy AFTER learning it. The imromptu is one of those pieces that may be difficult to learn (b/c of the timing) but after getting that down, its easy to play from then on out.
Some pieces aren't like that. For example, a piece with big fast jumping cords. It'd be difficult to play every single time. Especially for people with smaller hands.
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