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Author Topic: A new Age for piano?  (Read 858 times)
josh93248
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« on: May 27, 2016, 05:17:14 PM »

If the golden age of the piano has passed (or perhaps you dispute that, in which case I would like to know why you think that) then what would it take for a new flourishing of Piano playing?

What would this new age of piano playing be like? What would drive it? Is it even possible?

I'd like to suggest a few things to keep in mind as you answer that question.

1. Humpty Dumpty couldn't be put back together again and neither can Music. It will never be like it was, so how will it change?

2. Technology almost always plays a role in these sorts of things, how do you think it will impact on this question?

3. The state of Classical Music as a whole and indeed, music in general must also be considered. What trends in these areas may impact the piano?
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georgey
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« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2016, 02:50:07 AM »

Great question.  I don’t think we will ever see another “clavierland” that Mozart and Beethoven saw in Vienna.  Today we can buy and listen to CD’s and hear 100 times more music than was ever heard by anyone prior to the invention of recordings.  If listening was the only enjoyment from music, there may be enough recordings already made so there would be no need for any new recordings, performers or composers.  But people will always want to go to live performances or learn to play an instrument or compose, so there will always be a market for pianists.  Maybe less of a market though.
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ted
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« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2016, 06:48:27 AM »

The golden age of piano is only just beginning. Music is not about concerts and famous artists, but the artistic transcendence of the individual human soul, in homes where everyone from Beethoven to Keith Richards are frequent and honoured guests. A cheap device the size of a cigarette packet can produce recordings comparable to professional in one's own lounge. I can record an idea right now and send it to anybody in the world in seconds. I can access, at the push of a mouse button, practically every piece of music that was ever created or played. How on earth could anyone suppose this state of affairs is inferior to the ludicrously aristocratic magisteria of past ages ?

1. I say let Humpty Dumpty lie where he dropped. We have something infinitely better.

2. Technology has already changed music around the globe. The revolution has occurred.

3. Classical music will continue as a small but dearly loved subset of world music.

Overriding everything is the fact that the piano is still the best physical medium of immediate, personal musical creation. Until something handier is invented it will remain supreme.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2016, 04:48:29 PM »

Classical piano (in the sense of the pre-eminence and status afforded to it in the first half of this century) has been banished to the netherworld of a complete niche, associated with pejoratives or pseudo-pejoratives like "elitist", "boring" and "snobbish". To the average Western human it is a virtual irrelevance, a curiosity encountered only by the accidental press of the wrong button on the remote control, or in a tangentially diluted form when someone does something classical piano-ish on a talent show. It's a shame, but the insistence that the masses can't understand it and it's in some way beyond them is largely responsible. A chicken and egg situation in that I don't know whether this almost consciously alienating attitude which pervades classical music is an attempt at an explanation of its demise, or the cause of it, or both. (Personally, I think the diminishing presence of the upright piano in middle-class homes has a lot to do with its decline.)

It's also a shame, because my experience (and it is now fairly wide-ranging) is that if you present piano pieces, competently executed and in a manner and situation which is completely non-judgemental, people who don't expect to enjoy it often DO enjoy it. Yes, OF COURSE it adds to one's enjoyment and appreciation if you are suffciently knowledgeable to matters of structural integrity, or understand how Beethoven treated the thematic fragment x in bars y and z - but this is an intellectual facet of response to music and much of (initial, at least) response to music is visceral in nature. The classical music world should be encouraging people to experience that visceral response, not talking down to them saying "this is too difficult for you" and variants thereof. Sadly, the only commercial visceral encouragement nowadays seems to be attractive female soloists with not many clothes on. Not that I mind attractive female soloists of course..  but it is a bit demeaning, both to music and them, tbh.

I agree with ted, in the sense of his argument about technological advances. It's a great time for samizdat music creation and promulgation. I should know - there's no way I would have been working on a second CD release had I been at a similar stage in my musical development 20 years earlier. It just wouldn't have been feasible with the resources I would have had then. So we must make the most of this aspect, and try to encourage others to share our interests, whilst remaining aware that everyone has this democratising option, which means that for every good recording someone can put out, there will be a lot of dross to wade through.
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georgey
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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2016, 05:30:59 PM »

I should know - there's no way I would have been working on a second CD release had I been at a similar stage in my musical development 20 years earlier. It just wouldn't have been feasible with the resources I would have had then. So we must make the most of this aspect, and try to encourage others to share our interests, whilst remaining aware that everyone has this democratising option, which means that for every good recording someone can put out, there will be a lot of dross to wade through.

Ronde - I just ordered a new copy of your "Operatic Pianist" CD on Amazon.  I look forward to hearing this.
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2016, 05:40:29 PM »

Oh thank you!  Grin  I hope to be able to make an announcement fairly soon regarding its sequel.
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octave_revolutionary
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« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2016, 06:20:31 PM »

The golden age of piano is only just beginning. Music is not about concerts and famous artists, but the artistic transcendence of the individual human soul, in homes where everyone from Beethoven to Keith Richards are frequent and honoured guests. A cheap device the size of a cigarette packet can produce recordings comparable to professional in one's own lounge. I can record an idea right now and send it to anybody in the world in seconds. I can access, at the push of a mouse button, practically every piece of music that was ever created or played. How on earth could anyone suppose this state of affairs is inferior to the ludicrously aristocratic magisteria of past ages ?

Classical piano (in the sense of the pre-eminence and status afforded to it in the first half of this century) has been banished to the netherworld of a complete niche, associated with pejoratives or pseudo-pejoratives like "elitist", "boring" and "snobbish". To the average Western human it is a virtual irrelevance, a curiosity encountered only by the accidental press of the wrong button on the remote control, or in a tangentially diluted form when someone does something classical piano-ish on a talent show. It's a shame, but the insistence that the masses can't understand it and it's in some way beyond them is largely responsible. A chicken and egg situation in that I don't know whether this almost consciously alienating attitude which pervades classical music is an attempt at an explanation of its demise, or the cause of it, or both. (Personally, I think the diminishing presence of the upright piano in middle-class homes has a lot to do with its decline.)

This is what worries me. In a way, I think both of you are right. But, if we are to assume that the principle "everything which is born, must die", than sooner or later, we must reconcile ourselves with the fact that the piano itself must die, and something just as relevant, or more relevant, should come in its place. I just can't figure out, considering the way the piano is being treated nowadays, could that time have set upon us, but without anything to take its place?  Embarrassed Embarrassed Embarrassed

I personally think that the generation of pianists today between the age of 40 and 65 is one of the greatest in history. If the era of Liszt was the "Diamond Age", then today we are either living in the second Diamond Age, or at least the Golden Age. However, I can't help but thinking that given the treatment that has been meted out to the piano, and which Ronde has effectively elaborated in this post, that the very people who presume to "uphold" the piano's position of prestige are the very people who seem to have doomed it. It seems that even Lang Lang (of whom I am NOT a fan, although I have to give him credit for trying to bring piano music to the masses), has not been able to reverse, or even brake this tendency, precisely because, well....... I'll leave that for you to discuss.......

May I DARE ask..... does anyone at all here think that my newly-found brand of "circus-stunt pianism" coupled with lucid, up-beat, passionate musical offerings could help, at least, captivate audiences who otherwise, wouldn't give two damns about the piano at a time when, just slightly under the surface, it seems that, it is losing ground and has less and less to offer?

Octave
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ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2016, 06:53:47 PM »

I'm not a fan of Lang Lang either, though he can be very expressive at times, but I must credit him for having done more than just about anyone else living to raise the public profile of classical piano.

I'm not a huge fan of current pianism either. I think the current generation are magnificiently gifted, as regards technique/digital mechanique, but tbh I find most of the big names rather bland. Of course, that's a personal perspective and I can't help thinking that (with few honourable exceptions - curiously most of them either compose or arrange as well) all the pianists I truly venerate are no longer with us. What they had was, to my ears, that little bit extra, the magic that enabled them to connect emotionally. There's a lot of identikit pianism around these days.

If anyone is wanting to be famous (or notorious!) and really make an impact, I would suggest that at very least two of the following are required a. win a lot of competitions (or Pogorelich them!) b. be highly photogenic c. know the right people d. have a gimmick (b. is of course an example of that) e. persevere, whilst accepting that success is very unlikely f. be very lucky - though you do make your own luck to an extent; if you don't try you can't get lucky. (edit - also g. be social media-savvy)
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octave_revolutionary
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« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2016, 07:07:25 PM »

I basically agree with Ronde on this issue, although I think knowing the "right people" - which, in reference to my first post in this thread, could actually turn out to be the "wrong people"- might be the most decisive factor in this endeavour. Experience has shown me that one has got to be VERY careful with whom he or she is dealing, as an amateurish agent, or an inflexible or despotic benefactor could do MUCH more harm than good. Anyway, if anyone feels that the positive role of the piano in society is unduly or unjustly waning, please do not hesitate to offer me some advice. I've obviously got my own ideas on how to do approach this matter, and I never take anyone's counseling as gospel, incontrovertible truth, but I'm always willing to hear new ideas.

Octave
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Petter
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2016, 10:10:18 PM »

Maybe its not so much up to the pianists, but rather the media, producers, record companies and the likes to sell it to the public in the right way. The only way I see classical music promoted on public TV today is like its this gladiator game where you either go insane or die if you attempt to play this fiendishly difficult piece, and somewhere along the line the music gets lost.
  Also I think I have noticed that the gap between commercial music and "serious" music, disregardless of genre, has gotten much wider. There shouldn't be a reason why piano music shouldn't be popular, I mean, at least as popular as Brazilian death metal or w/e, if it could find the right audience. Any major monetary gain is probably out of the question though...
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ted
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2016, 11:15:16 PM »

Personally, I think the diminishing presence of the upright piano in middle-class homes has a lot to do with its decline.

You are so right, Andrew, I don't know why I had forgotten something so obvious. When I was a boy practically every home had a piano, and most of them were frequently played. The music was mostly tunes for singing at drunken (but well behaved, not like now) parties, plus Winifred Atwell, Russ Conway and the better known flashier classics, but almost every child had a go at it and was encouraged to learn to play it well. Two things killed it, at least in my country. Firstly, the guitar took over as the principal instrument of popular music and secondly, television sets invaded lounges and began to dominate people's free time at night.
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hfmadopter
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« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2016, 04:34:35 PM »

You are so right, Andrew, I don't know why I had forgotten something so obvious. When I was a boy practically every home had a piano, and most of them were frequently played. The music was mostly tunes for singing at drunken (but well behaved, not like now) parties, plus Winifred Atwell, Russ Conway and the better known flashier classics, but almost every child had a go at it and was encouraged to learn to play it well. Two things killed it, at least in my country. Firstly, the guitar took over as the principal instrument of popular music and secondly, television sets invaded lounges and began to dominate people's free time at night.

Ted, everyone is enamored with electronics. I can drive all over this town in the later afternoon, people aren't out, the kids aren't playing in yards, it's like a ghost town. If they are out it's yard work or its specific walking trails that you drive to and then go walk or ride a bike. Yet they live there, go at the right time when the school buses are coming along and every parent is out and kids getting off the bus. 20 minutes later it's back to the ghost town. My own grand kids come here and boom, they dive behind their electronic device the very second they walk through the door. At home they are couped up in their rooms doing the same thing. Even myself, I'm on this computer more than I should be really.

Upright piano's ? They would be in peoples houses if they wanted them, they don't want them. I'm talking about Joe Average here, and Mrs. Joe Average too. And at that, if to take piano, get a digital, stick it in a corner someplace or under the bed when not in use. That is where we are at, at least here in America. Obviously, serious musically inclined or truly interested people is another matter, but that is a minority , always has been it's everyone else that dropped out. On average, people don't even want to listen to it, never mind take up an instrument. They are too busy ! If it isn't electronics and social media, it's socker moms dropping kids off as a form of baby sitting or dad , who can be so into sports with that kid and sports he becomes a coach and every living hour is hell over sports. God, what is that by the way, never mind piano ?
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Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.
georgey
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« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2016, 05:26:56 AM »

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