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Beethoven trills (Read 4515 times)

Offline fenz

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Beethoven trills
« on: July 24, 2008, 04:52:33 AM »
Hi everyone,
I'm learning Beethoven pathetique sonata and I don't know how to play the trills? It is start from the main note or the note above? Thanks for your help.
Hope someday I'll be a good pianist ^.^

piano sheet music of Sonata 8 (Pathétique)


Offline faulty_damper

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #1 on: July 24, 2008, 09:43:44 AM »
Hi everyone,
I'm learning Beethoven pathetique sonata and I don't know how to play the trills? It is start from the main note or the note above? Thanks for your help.

Whichever sounds best in context.

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #2 on: August 01, 2008, 09:44:07 PM »
Incidentally, Saint-Saens published a very interesting book back in the day, that is all about Beethoven's trills.  He showed how to play some of the more difficult ones, like in op.109 or op.111, and gave exercises for some of them.  Search for this fascinating book.  I am sure it is no longer published, but maybe a library has it, or an antique book-store online.

Walter Ramsey



Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #3 on: August 01, 2008, 11:25:07 PM »
i'm interested to read that, ramseytheii.  thanks for the info.

in the sonatas of beethoven, my premise is that you don't want to give away where you are going too soon.  for instance, even if you take one of the easy sonatas - such as the opus 2#3 composed in the style of haydn and dedicated to him - in measure 21 you have a trill sign over a B.  This B is ultimately going to finish it's course on the C.  if you trill from the upper note (the C) - you give away where you are going too soon.  it makes it dull and boring because you gave away a secret. 

Also, Beethoven has given little hints for his students in the opus 2 #3 - in that the very first measure has a sort of 'trill' and it's from the bottom note. 

now, some might argue - ok - well - still the top note is played - just in different order.  that's true - but also you have to take into consideration that the ear hears mostly what is played on the beat.  at least that's my interpretation.

say...now i have a question (for anyone) - when you get to measure 23 is it ok to trill on both notes?  that is what the first bar does.

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #4 on: August 02, 2008, 04:14:30 AM »

in the sonatas of beethoven, my premise is that you don't want to give away where you are going too soon.  for instance, even if you take one of the easy sonatas - such as the opus 2#3 composed in the style of haydn and dedicated to him - in measure 21 you have a trill sign over a B.  This B is ultimately going to finish it's course on the C.  if you trill from the upper note (the C) - you give away where you are going too soon.  it makes it dull and boring because you gave away a secret. 


 :o :o :o

That might be a new way of thinking about Mr. Beethoven, but unfortunately, I feel I might stick to more "conventional" ways of interpretation of the trill on B in this Sonata, even under a danger of "giving away sectrets".
Also, the statement about this Sonata being the "easy one" to me sounds somewhat optimistic.

Best, M

Offline fenz

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #5 on: August 07, 2008, 10:50:41 AM »
thanks all. but i still don't understand. if my interpretation right, we play the trill begin in the note. we also can play the trill from the note above, but we must play it in the beat. is it right?
Hope someday I'll be a good pianist ^.^

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #6 on: August 07, 2008, 11:57:49 AM »
as far as i'm concerned, it's not a 'new' way at all even from beethoven's perspective.  beethoven crossed over between classical and romantic - and although the sonata dedicated to haydn is in a classical context - it is clearly a teaching piece and beethoven HIMSELF chooses to start from the lower note as he is teaching his students in the first measures!  he could have written it :  E - FE FE  FE - D  G.   so...what better idea to get than from the master himself.  remember, he wasn't seeking to be like everyone else and was probably teaching haydn a thing or two.  'hey, master - look at this - i can also trill from the bottom note.' 

and, i stick to my guns about giving away secrets.  try it both ways - tell me which way sounds the best!  that's the ultimate. some like a lot of ornamentation.  i like simple ornamentation.  the baroque era over did it.  the classical era toned it down and made it part of the melody.  and the romantic era just incorporated it longer term - into the phrase.

measures 56, 58, 59 make it MUCH easier to trill from the bottom note (fast triplet) for a beginner student.  also, beethoven himself WRITES IN THE TURNS at measure 45.  some OVERDO everything and add a turn to a turn.  make it simple is my motto.  and in measure 78 - we know that in beethoven's time and after - they could choose to make this appogiatura on the beat (making this all 16th notes and played DCBC.  much of mozart's music is played this way, too!  for older students - they could trill longer - but the younger ones can keep it simple!  this seems to be the ONLY marking that makes trills start from the top (a written in appogiatura).

ps another give-away that this is a teaching piece is that beethoven writes in the ENDING for the trill in measure 21 so that the student can figure out what to do in between.  i have an idea (could be wrong - but it's what i would do when teaching this piece) - that to teach students about DOUBLE NOTE trilling in measure 23 - he simply told them to match the bottom note in measure 21 and play the B (treble) with the F (bass) the C with the G, the B A B as a TRIPLET that co-existed with the D and G in the bass - thus being perfectly set up to play the little ending with thirty-second notes that are slow enough to lead into the C as to hear them clearly and for a beginner to play them well.  when they learned that - they could move to two note trilling making the BC play with F, and so forth.  still from the bottom in my book and ending with a triplet paired against duple on the last two sixteenth beats (again - making the double trilling easier on measure 23).

you may feel that the ending indicated how fast the whole trill was to go.  in that case it could be played all 32nd notes but would be MUCH harder to double trill at measure 23.  this is just my interpretation.  suppose that it is all in the beholder's ear.  i don't like to hear the C given away.  but, as one gets used to what one likes to do - there's no saying that it has to be from the bottom note.  it's just easier to teach that way because the speed of the piece is 'allegro con brio.'  when student would reach measures 56, 58, 59 - they would be hard pressed to get all the notes in with slight arpeggios too.


Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #7 on: August 07, 2008, 12:51:05 PM »
at the 'cadenza' type area in measure 232 - beethoven leads in to the beginning of the piece again by using trills that start on the main note.  this is played fast and faster until it reaches a long trill in measure 233 which goes from C to D (mid-measure). 

also, when it switches to the trill sign over the whole note D - it makes more sense to start AGAIN on the note D and trill upwards so that the ending c# and d tie in.  some may think otherwise - and that beethoven was playing a joke on teaching trills and actually playing the two trills in two different ways.  one from the bottom note first - and the second a trill from the top note (on the half note D with trill sign).  either way is probably acceptable way to think about it.

**you can see from measure 179 that beethoven used an interesting 'half-turn' that started the beat on the middle of the turn.  this is 'unusual' too - and shows great composing genius at a young age. 

he purposely chose in measure 161 to write in a G to start this phrase - but then puts a turn in slightly after this.  i interpret this that he WANTS to start on the G and move to the A (otherwise he would have written differently).  so...avoiding making a 'full turn' by playing A G F# G A - to start - he pares it down and plays a triplet of G F# G (against the bass of C and Eb). - and this is very easy for any beginning student to do and lets them hear the notes of both hands.  it's almost like he switched the rolls of trill and turn.  he starts the trills on the bottom notes now - and the turns at the mid-way (on the main note instead of starting above). 




Offline general disarray

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #8 on: August 07, 2008, 01:36:42 PM »
Hmm.  Interesting thread, here. 

Pianistimo, I've read some scholarly papers on Beethoven's trills that agree with your point.  One argued for the excitement generated by, as you say, "not giving away where you're going too soon."  The writer used the word dissonance, instead.  Your description is much more interesting and pictorial!

A TRILL QUESTION:  In Beethoven Op. 101.  Last movement, the fugue.  The subject (first statement of it and elsewhere throughout) contains a short trill.  Would you begin on or above the note and how many notes would you squeeze in?  (So far, the the best I can come up with is 5 notes beginning on the note and wrapping up two more notes -- the ones Beethoven himself notated.)  The tempo is a brisk allegro, so not much time to squeeze notes in.   In the first statement of the fugue subject the note to trill on is an F.  Beethoven says the trill should wrap up with EF.

What say ye, experts?  I can't decide. 
" . . . cross the ocean in a silver plane . . . see the jungle when it's wet with rain . . . "

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #9 on: August 07, 2008, 05:25:54 PM »
he could have written it :  E - FE FE  FE - D  G.   so...what better idea to get than from the master himself.  remember, he wasn't seeking to be like everyone else and was probably teaching haydn a thing or two.  'hey, master - look at this - i can also trill from the bottom note.' 


Then that would've been trill on E. Somehow Mr. Beethoven wanted the trill on D. Since preceding note is E, according to the rule the trill starts from bottom note. Something tells me good 'old Haydn was perfectly aware of that rule, so that lesson most likely is only result of your vivid imagination.


measures 56, 58, 59 make it MUCH easier to trill from the bottom note (fast triplet) for a beginner student. 

Would you with straight face tell me this Sonata intended for beginner students  :o ::)? Moreover, I highly doubt Beethoven intended such monumental works as his Sonatas for students. I might be terribly wrong, but somehow I believe he was composing MUSIC, i.e. expressing his feelings, experimenting with techniques and ideas, etc., without carring much about intended  performers.
As a side note, I believe one should play not the way it is easier, but the way it is right, both musically and stylistically.

But surely, you can stick to your guns, whatever they are.

also, beethoven himself WRITES IN THE TURNS at measure 45.  some OVERDO everything and add a turn to a turn.   

So what?
What's your point here, what do you want to say, and how the fact some retards overdo everything is related to the current discussion, which BTW, is about TRILLS (not turns, if you still remember)?

make it simple is my motto.


I realize that and believe maybe THIS actually might be the core of the problem.

Unfortunately, I don't have much time to go through the rest of your fantasies.

Best, M


Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #10 on: August 07, 2008, 05:34:27 PM »

A TRILL QUESTION:  In Beethoven Op. 101.  Last movement, the fugue.  The subject (first statement of it and elsewhere throughout) contains a short trill.  Would you begin on or above the note and how many notes would you squeeze in?  (So far, the the best I can come up with is 5 notes beginning on the note and wrapping up two more notes -- the ones Beethoven himself notated.)  The tempo is a brisk allegro, so not much time to squeeze notes in.   In the first statement of the fugue subject the note to trill on is an F.  Beethoven says the trill should wrap up with EF.
 

The trill is on F and is preceded by G, so it starts from the bottom note.
I play 7 notes. The hard part is the "wrap" does not get resolved into down beat, so it is somewhat tricky to "hang it up in the air" on pp, maintaining pulse.

Best, M

Offline general disarray

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #11 on: August 07, 2008, 06:33:38 PM »
The trill is on F and is preceded by G, so it starts from the bottom note.
I play 7 notes. The hard part is the "wrap" does not get resolved into down beat, so it is somewhat tricky to "hang it up in the air" on pp, maintaining pulse.

Best, M

Thanks so much.   Just to clarify:  the "wrap" is 6th and 7th notes in your 7-note solution? If I understand you correctly, this is what I've been doing.  That would be a minor miracle if I've done it right from the beginning.   ;D  It's hard for me to tell at practice tempo what will work later on.  And particularly in this fugue, where the trills get more tangled up in fugal texture.

Appreciate your help.
" . . . cross the ocean in a silver plane . . . see the jungle when it's wet with rain . . . "

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #12 on: August 07, 2008, 06:57:28 PM »
Thanks so much.   Just to clarify:  the "wrap" is 6th and 7th notes in your 7-note solution? .

No, they are 8th-9th.

Offline general disarray

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #13 on: August 07, 2008, 07:54:07 PM »
No, they are 8th-9th.

Phew.  Busy fingers!  No flies on you, marik, sir!   ;D
" . . . cross the ocean in a silver plane . . . see the jungle when it's wet with rain . . . "

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #14 on: August 07, 2008, 08:06:08 PM »
Phew.  Busy fingers! 

Nope  :D, just very light, playing from the half depressed keys.
That is, place 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers on  E-F-G. Press them appr. half way down and then play from there (i.e. don't let the key return to the "up" position--keep it half way down, at all times).
In a couple weeks of 15 minutes a day of slow practicing, concentrating on comfortable and relaxed sensation, I promise, you will have perfect 9 notes (including the "wrap") trills there.

Best, M

Offline general disarray

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #15 on: August 07, 2008, 08:20:01 PM »
Nope  :D, just very light, playing from the half depressed keys.
That is, place 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers on  E-F-G. Press them appr. half way down and then play from there (i.e. don't let the key return to the "up" position--keep it half way down, at all times).
In a couple weeks of 15 minutes a day of slow practicing, concentrating on comfortable and relaxed sensation, I promise, you will have perfect 9 notes (including the "wrap") trills there.

Best, M

Seriously, that's totally ingenious!  Thanks! 

(I'll be going back to NYC by mid-October.  Are you near there?  Would you consider squeezing one more student into your schedule?)
" . . . cross the ocean in a silver plane . . . see the jungle when it's wet with rain . . . "

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #16 on: August 07, 2008, 10:36:51 PM »
marik knows more about the opus 101?  (110?) -as i've not played it.  but, marik, can i argue for a moment?  you see, general disarray has agreed that there are cases for both sides.  i feel that if a note is already previously played (as in the baroque era) - the case is actually made that one picks a different (top) note (to come from above) - in a trill.  here, beethoven is doing it the opposite way (from top note to trill from lower note). perhaps this is your way of saying 'beethoven is wrong' and 'this sonata cannot be for beginning students.'  i beg to argue.  it MAKES beginning students think.  it's not just 'rules' that one is following - but a musical sense of what sounds best.  i think quantz (sp?) and fux and others made rules about ornamentation - and it was basically not to repeat an already existing note - but to play an 'ornament' to it.

in this sense - we can be different and prefer two different ways and both be right.  yes. i think beginners (in the sense of taking the sonata within the first one or two years of piano lessons) could handle this piece.  it is basically something one can start at a very slow tempo and work upwards.

now, this is another dilemma - because some on this pianoforum think that one should start out playing at or near the suggested tempo.  i beg to differ.  i even think that one can eliminate ornamentation and add it later.  basically, what i would go for is the overall appeal.  the sense that the student understands the first movement and sees what beethoven did to tie it all in.  what do you say about the trills in the cadenza?  do you think that i have a case for my side?

ps why the 'fantasies' insult.  can you not accept that women study music, too?

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #17 on: August 07, 2008, 10:53:19 PM »
some of the books in the classical era that were regarded as 'helps' on ornamentation include: 

1752 - quantz, johann - 'Versuch einer Anleitung die Flote'  (roughly translated 'joachim quantz on playing the flute')

1756 - mozart, leopold, 'Die Violinschule (the violin school)

1759-62 - cpe bach, Versuch uberdie wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen (essay on the true art of playing keyboards instruments.

1789 turk, daniel gottlieb - 'School of Clavier Playing' by Daniel Gottlieb Turk

now, i think beethoven read some or all of the above and decided to show haydn he could go further in integrating ornamentation into his sonatas.  almost as if the ornamentation became the piece.  take the fifth pc.  it's very integrated with the ornamentation.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #18 on: August 07, 2008, 10:58:55 PM »
in beethoven's fifth pc - in mm 11-17 - you'll see the ornamentation written out and this sort of connection of all sorts of ornamentation sewn together.  it's like beethoven was having a field day with ornamentation.  even in the second subject (at mm. 49-56) he gets 'whacky' and slows the ornamentation down - but it's still there.  a basic turn starts this subject.  funnily - the turn (supposed to give the middle note preference) is just a way to start the ball rolling and he decides to focus on the G !!!!  Beethoven is constantly doing stuff like this.  breaking rules.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #19 on: August 07, 2008, 11:04:08 PM »
now, the opus 110 would be a real challenge for me to decipher.  marik probably has a handle on that one.  i took a look at the grosse fugue and feel that if i can at least look at it - then i could at least look at the fugue in the 110 and make some kind of 'fantasy' out of it.  maybe even marik will read my fantasy (ok - i take the joke).  seriously, though - doesn't one have to 'live the music' to create something out of it?  i am looking at it right now.  i shall create a fantasy out of a fugue!!?? :-X.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #20 on: August 07, 2008, 11:09:28 PM »
ok.  here's the beginning of my fantasy.  as with most old people - they revert back to the memories of their younger days when they want to feel good.  beethoven, especially, needed to feel good when he composed this piece.  it was a sort of recollection and 'staid in the waters' compared to some of his other pieces. 

he was fantasizing about his organ studies with christian gottlieb neefe as a young boy.  and albrechtsberger's quartet fugue 2/4?

ok measure45 - i slightly disagree with marik.  i think actually here, beethoven WANTS dissonance since the previous G is paired with an F - and the start of this measure is an F and Eb paired.  however, marik is right that the G is the longest held and therefore the 'main' note that is following a motif repetition.  he was experiencing the 'throws' of the end of his life and everything was dissonant.  in my henle verlag, it even suggests trilling from the third finger to the fifth (so one could switch to 4-5) and intimates starting with the F.  remember, you're in 6/8 - that means that you can trill in duple (two sixteenths) against one triplet. 

now, i do have a really wild interpretation - but it's backed up by some reason.  note that the fugue has a retrograde inversion starting at m 137 that mimics part of the first fugue.  now, if you count the same number of measures and look at the beginning of the line in the bass instead of the mid to end of the line ornamentation in m. 45 - you could imagine beethoven barely trilling at all at measure 45.  just playing the F with the Eb, then a sixteenth G and F with the D natural.  in effect - he just transforms what 'looks like' a trill' into what actually IS a turn on the last two beats of the first triplet in the high treble.  ingenious!  that is from comparing what he does in measure 137, btw. 

ps i counted 19 measures to both locations.

Offline quantum

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #21 on: August 08, 2008, 07:53:34 AM »
Going back to the original poster's question on the Pathetique.

Mvt 1, bar 57 seq and similar.  Arrau gives the suggestion of starting on the main note.  Thus giving a three note trill of Main-Upper-Main. 

If one considers the quick tempo, there is much more work involved in squishing a 4 note trill starting on the Auxiliary note.  Also if one were to consider that the trills in the sequence occur on strong beats and the melodic nature of the long phrases, a 3 note trill starting on the main note would would support this material much better.  I'd feel that a trill starting on the upper note would somewhat obscure the outline motif here. 

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #22 on: August 08, 2008, 05:06:56 PM »

ok measure45 - i slightly disagree with marik.  i think actually here, beethoven WANTS dissonance since the previous G is paired with an F - and the start of this measure is an F and Eb paired.  however, marik is right that the G is the longest held and therefore the 'main' note that is following a motif repetition. 

You must have confused me with someone else (unless on the forum there is another Marik, I am unaware of). For the record, as far as I remember, I never mentioned measure 45 or G, so your disagreement (or agreement) with me in those particualr places sounds... strange, at the very least. It seems your imagination (or fantasy, whatever you feel more comfortable) this time went a little bit too far.

OK, back to the topic.

Best, M

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #23 on: August 08, 2008, 05:08:26 PM »
(I'll be going back to NYC by mid-October.  Are you near there?  Would you consider squeezing one more student into your schedule?)

I am in NYC pretty often. PM me when you are there.

Offline pianistimo

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #24 on: August 08, 2008, 06:22:15 PM »
dear marik,

i was meaning the opus 110 and maybe the 101 is being discussed?  i'm a little confused myself.  i thought measure 46 was the trill we were discussing in the opus110 fugue.  but, i may be talking to myself.  anyways - i'm not saying you're wrong and i'm right -i'm just saying that beethoven wasn't stuck to only classical types of ornaments.  he was a creative composer and broke the boundaries a lot of times.  what say you about the fifth pc?  many different types of trilling, etc.  he was just a bit wild - one could say.  so - it's like he's standing in the middle - between the classical and romantic period.  i personally think both of us can be right at the same time.

Offline m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #25 on: August 08, 2008, 08:58:02 PM »
-i'm just saying that beethoven wasn't stuck to only classical types of ornaments.  he was a creative composer and broke the boundaries a lot of times. 

Whenever he was breaking boundaries and rules he indicated it in his notation very carefully.

Offline steve_m

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #26 on: August 09, 2008, 03:43:50 AM »
An interesting bit that my teacher recalled to me once, was that in the Apassionata, when she learned in Paris, she was taught to start the trill on the note, but when she played it at Juilliard they taught to start on the note above. So judging by that, though Pathetique and Apassionata are certainly not the same, you could probably conclude that in any such context there's not much of a universal correct answer, just different ways of thinking and interpreting

Offline quantum

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Re: Beethoven trills
«Reply #27 on: August 09, 2008, 03:49:30 AM »
...you could probably conclude that in any such context there's not much of a universal correct answer, just different ways of thinking and interpreting

Agree completely. 

What my teacher used to say:
You don't have to do anything I tell you, as long as you do something.

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach