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Pedal in Mozart (Read 17898 times)

Offline elsie07

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Pedal in Mozart
« on: November 02, 2007, 04:00:24 AM »
I did a search on pedaling Mozart's music, but I still have a couple questions.  The piece I am currently playing and wanting to find information for is Mozart's K. 397.  I learned the piece about six months ago, but am polishing it up again for a college audition.

1. My music professor says that using pedal in Mozart is a big no-no.  He plays piano, but does not teach it (he teaches voice and music appreciation), but I still want to consider what he says because he does have a lot of knowledge about the piano and stylistic practices.  What are your thoughts on using pedal in Mozart's music?

2. If you think that pedaling Mozart is acceptable, how much is ok?  How do you avoid "romanticizing" Mozart (assuming that this should be avoided)?

3. What are some other stylistic practices to keep in mind when playing Mozart?

4. Finally, if pedal is not acceptable, should I be reasonably concerned about playing the K. 397 for a college audition?  It is for a different professor than the one I mentioned earlier...but this other professor has a DMA in piano performance from Peabody, and I have no idea how picky he is about pedaling and such. *gulp* :-\


I tried playing the K. 397 without pedal, but it sounds so dry!  Maybe I'm just not used to it without pedal, but to me, it just sounds so much more beautiful with the pedal!  And I don't use the pedal constantly, but I wouldn't say that I use it sparingly, either.  The sections in which I use pedal are: arpeggios in the opening section (m. 1-11); measures 12-15, 19-22, 29-33, 35-37, 46-55, twice in m. 64-71 to make a jump smoother, and m. 72-86.

I have been told by my teacher to use pedal as needed, but that it should never be obvious.  I also use a lot of tempo changes - "stretching" the music out.  I don't know if that makes any sense; it is rather difficult to explain without demonstrating, and I don't have any recording equipment to put a recording of myself on here for y'all to hear what I'm doing.


If anyone has suggestions or advice, I would greatly appreciate it!  Thanks very much! :)
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Offline chopinfan_22

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #1 on: November 02, 2007, 04:24:01 AM »
I've worked on this piece before. When I played it, I used pedal, because as you said, it sounds dry.

I used the pedal on the beginning measures, then when the main melody starts, I kept using pedal. During the chromatic or scale runs, I avoided pedal. Then for the last section of the piece, I didn't use pedal. But again... I'm no expert on Mozart. But that's just what I've done.
"When I look around me, I must sigh, for what I see is contrary to my religion and I must despize the world which does not know that music is a higher revelation beyond all wisdom and philosophy."

Offline prongated

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #2 on: November 02, 2007, 07:36:37 AM »
1. Using pedal in Mozart is perfectly fine as long as it's not overused.

Regarding music scholars (i.e. musicologists - professors delving in past performance practise), a very famous piano professor remarked; "they don't know the first thing about performing". A very harsh generalisation which IMO is true for many (but not all) musicologists, judging by the articles they write.

2. In general for me: very sparingly. I use it mainly to connect phrases that I can't join with my fingers.

4. This particular Mozart is very controversial in that respect. How much pedal to use, if at all, whether to hold the pedal note in the d minor following the opening (yeap, I prefer very minimal pedal here as per 2.)...it really comes down to taste. The only way to know what this other professor prefers is to ask him directly.

Offline pianochick93

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #3 on: November 02, 2007, 07:51:54 AM »
I am someone who instinctively uses pedal in almost everything. I shouldn't, but I should.

In this piece, I use it for the arpeggios at the start, and very lightly almost everywhere else. I don't use it for the runs though, it gets too muddy.

I say as long as the pedal adds to the effect of the piece, and doesn't start sounding too muddy or sustained, it is fine.

As to you stretching out tempo etc., I also do it, I don't like the sharpness of the chords near the end, so I get rid of the pause and make it a long note with a pause. I think it just sounds better. I got told off though.
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Offline faustsaccomplice

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #4 on: November 02, 2007, 08:15:42 PM »
it's just silly to say that one should never use pedal in mozart.

forget these musicologists and professors, just listen to the great pianists and behold that it sounds good, and it enhances the music's purpose. 

to play the d minor fantasy's opening without pedal...it's hard to imagine on the modern piano.

generally, whenever a person uses the words "never" and "always," especially in the arts, the statement will have a flaw. 

Offline kitty on the keys

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #5 on: November 02, 2007, 08:50:47 PM »
WHAT!!!! Of course you can use pedal in Mozart. And you can in Bach too. Remember you are playing the piano, not the harpsichord or forte-piano. The pedal is used to add color and aid the legato to the music---which is the most important part anyway. Use yours ears, listen to recordings , and play it for your piano buddies---they will tell you the truth.
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Offline gyzzzmo

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #6 on: November 02, 2007, 09:25:39 PM »
Ofcourse you can use pedal in Mozart, but very unlike you use normally. Also, the thing about mozart's pianomusic is that its not really suitable for pedalling anyway. For example the famous sonate facile (K-whatever). You COULD use pedal in the first bar, but in the second bar it gets messy wich automaticly makes pedalling in the first bar sound stupid.
So in general you can use some pedalling, but only on few places and very shortly.
1+1=11

Offline thalberg

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #7 on: November 02, 2007, 09:36:26 PM »
Mozart's piano had pedals.  Mozart used them.

Offline dmc

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #8 on: November 02, 2007, 10:21:28 PM »
Nothing wrong with pedal on any Mozart as long as it is used in moderation.   Plenty of the great ones use (and have used) it.  Just pick your spots carefully.  Try to approach it as a challenge to make it as subtle as you can so your note articulation stands out.

Offline daniloperusina

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #9 on: November 03, 2007, 03:13:48 AM »
Mozart's piano had pedals.  Mozart used them.

Precisely. It was operated by the knee, and here's a quote from one of Mozart's letters:
"...The device which you work with your knee is better on his than on other instruments. I have only to touch it and it works; and when you shift your knee the slightest bit, you do not hear the slightest reverberation."
To his father, 1777, about Stein's pianos.

If he never used the pedal he wouldn't have made that comment.

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #10 on: November 03, 2007, 01:41:13 PM »
Mozart's piano had pedals.  Mozart used them.

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Offline teresa_b

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #11 on: November 03, 2007, 04:52:21 PM »
I think pedaling is perfectly appropriate in Mozart, used very sparingly, as others have said. 

Be careful in different venues.  In your home or a small room you may find more pedal sounds fine, but in a large hall with a lot of reverberation, you will obscure the clarity of the runs and such--so you may end up better using no pedal, or extremely little.  (Have someone listen from the audience, as it sounds different out there.)

As to the stretching (agogics), it's OK too, with moderation in Mozart.  You don't want too many tempo shifts.  Mozart himself said he played the melodies in his andantes with agogic shifts and stretches, etc--BUT he always kept the left hand accompaniment in strict tempo.  I would say, when in doubt, especially in more fast movements, keep strict time.

Have fun!
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Offline bluepianist

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #12 on: November 04, 2007, 11:33:49 PM »
After reading all the responses, I agree with Thalberg and Theresa.  Mozart did use pedal;  he like the advances that were being made on the piano.  In addition to the damper pedal, you might consider hand pedaling. (Keeping your left fingers depressed during the same harmony.)  This will give you more warmth with less blurring. ::)

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #13 on: November 05, 2007, 02:37:40 AM »
In addition to the damper pedal, you might consider hand pedaling. (Keeping your left fingers depressed during the same harmony.)  This will give you more warmth with less blurring. ::)

That's a really nice suggestion - thanks. :)
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Offline elsie07

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #14 on: November 05, 2007, 03:46:27 AM »
Thank you SO much for all your replies, everyone! :) They were very helpful.

I think I will continue using the pedal (with moderation), and I will also try finger pedaling.  That might get a similar effect without actually using the pedal.  Hopefully I will meet with the piano professor soon and I will ask his opinion on using pedal in that piece, so I know what to expect for the audition, or if I should choose a different piece.
"I'm not a deaf musician. I'm a musician who happens to be deaf." - Evelyn Glennie

Offline slobone

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #15 on: November 08, 2007, 07:25:44 PM »
Mozart used the pedal, but only as a "special effect". The modern practice of keeping the pedal going most of the time to enhance the legato passages didn't come in till later.

It's true that playing without pedal sounds odd to modern ears, but try it a few times before you give up on the idea. Tie your feet to the legs of the piano bench.

Offline ramithediv

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #16 on: November 08, 2007, 07:38:36 PM »
I am no expert on Mozart or any other composer, but for me, I like Mozart to be crisp and clean.  ;D

Pedalling ruins that.  :'(

And,


I don't like using the pedal.  ::)
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Offline richard black

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #17 on: November 08, 2007, 07:53:26 PM »
It's true that using the pedal to keep legato going can make classical-period music a bit thick but using it to warm up the harmony a bit is another matter entirely - it means you change pedal far more often and for me that's the trick in, well, most music, actually.
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Offline elsie07

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #18 on: November 09, 2007, 12:50:43 AM »
Well I ended up auditioning for the piano professor yesterday.  It was really "spur of the moment."  I went to ask him what the requirements were for testing out of the piano proficiency, and he said "let's just do it today!"  He asked me to play a few easier scales, like G and B-flat, then he asked for some minor scales, and finally he wanted me to play the scale and arpeggio of the parallel minor of D major, second inversion. :o Yikes!  That one caught me off guard.  He had me do a few chord progressions and some sight reading (which I think I did really well on), and then he asked me to play something for him.  I played the Mozart piece - with pedal, though moderately.  At the end of the audition, he said that I played "very nicely and beautifully" and I passed "with flying colors" and his "highest recommendation"!!! ;D So even though the whole audition caught me by surprise, I am thrilled that I passed! :)
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Offline prongated

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #19 on: November 09, 2007, 02:31:20 AM »
Well I ended up auditioning for the piano professor yesterday.  It was really "spur of the moment."  I went to ask him what the requirements were for testing out of the piano proficiency, and he said "let's just do it today!"  He asked me to play a few easier scales, like G and B-flat, then he asked for some minor scales, and finally he wanted me to play the scale and arpeggio of the parallel minor of D major, second inversion. :o Yikes!  That one caught me off guard.  He had me do a few chord progressions and some sight reading (which I think I did really well on), and then he asked me to play something for him.  I played the Mozart piece - with pedal, though moderately.  At the end of the audition, he said that I played "very nicely and beautifully" and I passed "with flying colors" and his "highest recommendation"!!! ;D So even though the whole audition caught me by surprise, I am thrilled that I passed! :)

...that sounds strange...but...congratulations!

Offline gerry

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #20 on: November 09, 2007, 03:57:55 AM »
tI have to agree with the finger pedaling acvocates. Even taking into account the characteristics of the Mozart Piano, use of pedal should be sparing and limited at best. If you take the time to look closely enough, Mozart notated his music to be played this way. The opening arpegios of K397 are a perfect example - using a smooth legato finger technique while holding only the D octave in the bass (not muddying it with pedal sustain.) It's quite clear from his notation that he didn't intend these first measures to be a d minor wash.  Later in meas 12+ just holding the D in the left, etc. I think early training ought to emphasize developing this type of legato technique without reliance on the pedal. If it sounds "dry" without pedal, then you need to work on this aspect of your technique. It is possible to achieve a sufficiently "pedaled" sound if you do and I believe you'll be a better musician for the effort.
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Offline thalberg

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Re: Pedal in Mozart
«Reply #21 on: November 09, 2007, 04:29:24 AM »
There was a farmer had a dog and BINGO was his name-o... ;D
Down with ignorance, down with ignorance, down with ignorance


...oh ya


and BINGO was his name-o ;D

* hugs

* whispers (I think you're my favorite  :P)

LOL   ;D