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Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance" (Read 1197 times)

Offline mrcreosote

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Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
« on: May 05, 2017, 05:56:49 PM »
I just LOVE this - Chopin is #1 in my book!

"Before Liszt, it was considered almost in bad taste to play from memory," Hough explains. "Chopin once chided a student: It looked almost arrogant, as if you were pretending that the piece you were playing was by you. Liszt saw that playing the piano, especially for a whole evening in front of an audience, it was a theatrical event that needed not just musical things happening but physical things on the stage."    (from http://www.npr.org/2011/10/22/141617637/how-franz-liszt-became-the-worlds-first-rock-star

I have great respect for this because it is very true.  We that play classical are not creating music - we are reciting it - like a stage actor.  And now with Chopin's notion in my mind, I would vote for ALWAYS playing with sheet music, however it is not practical.  I need to be able to play a piano I encounter so it HAS to be memorized.  But for recital, even if memorized, I think the sheet music should be on the piano, just to make Chopin's point.  (And for difficult works, I think you do a much better job if memorized, however memory is another link in the chain that can be a weak link.)

I just love how the disheveled Helfgott walks into the pub and puts his frayed worn-out sheet music on the piano and impresses! 

Frankly, I would love to have a stage presence like a Professor Irwin Corey with moths coming out of my torn, stained, and crumpled sheet music - this business is too snobby. 

Pires hated the formal performance convention - thought they should be laid back "picnics" if you will.  I love Pires.


Offline brogers70

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #1 on: May 05, 2017, 06:23:15 PM »
I just LOVE this - Chopin is #1 in my book!

"Before Liszt, it was considered almost in bad taste to play from memory," Hough explains. "Chopin once chided a student: It looked almost arrogant, as if you were pretending that the piece you were playing was by you. Liszt saw that playing the piano, especially for a whole evening in front of an audience, it was a theatrical event that needed not just musical things happening but physical things on the stage."    (from http://www.npr.org/2011/10/22/141617637/how-franz-liszt-became-the-worlds-first-rock-star

I have great respect for this because it is very true.  We that play classical are not creating music - we are reciting it - like a stage actor.  And now with Chopin's notion in my mind, I would vote for ALWAYS playing with sheet music, however it is not practical.  I need to be able to play a piano I encounter so it HAS to be memorized.  But for recital, even if memorized, I think the sheet music should be on the piano, just to make Chopin's point.  (And for difficult works, I think you do a much better job if memorized, however memory is another link in the chain that can be a weak link.)

I just love how the disheveled Helfgott walks into the pub and puts his frayed worn-out sheet music on the piano and impresses! 

Frankly, I would love to have a stage presence like a Professor Irwin Corey with moths coming out of my torn, stained, and crumpled sheet music - this business is too snobby. 

Pires hated the formal performance convention - thought they should be laid back "picnics" if you will.  I love Pires.



"We that play classical are not creating music - we are reciting it - like a stage actor."

And yet stage actors memorize their lines without its being considered arrogant. I don't think less of a pianist who plays with the score, but I don't think less of one who plays from memory, and I certainly don't think that they are pretending to have composed the music themselves.

Offline mrcreosote

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #2 on: May 05, 2017, 07:17:23 PM »
I agree with you, but in a "left-handed" way:  Yes, actors are not perceived to have written their works - but on the other hand, performing classical musicians are not called actors either.  In fact, they are now called artists - a real slap in the face to genuine artists that create works of art.  NOTE:  even worse, a painter is a true artist, but what of a person who copies paintings?  a Technician perhaps?

The classical piano camp is full of, let's call them ego maniacs.  And everyone has pretty much lost sight of what is actually going on:  recital.  

It's ironical for me because I was 100% dependent on sheet music from about 10 to 50 years old and considered myself NOTHING because I could not walk up to a piano and PLAY IT.

Conductors and symphony members use it, so what's with these piano and violin players?  

Returning to a sheet music "standard" would be great because the many supremely talented piano players that do not have an eidetic memory could now perform.  

But then, perform where?  The job opportunities are so slim that for the "same money" you can hire someone with perfect recall.  Waiters in high end restaurants are just that - there are so many with perfect memories, they can take orders without writing them down - so why hire someone who has to write?

Offline mrcreosote

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #3 on: May 06, 2017, 05:23:29 AM »
I'm revising my argument as follows: 

I think Chopin was spot on. 






Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #4 on: May 06, 2017, 06:56:46 AM »
Chopin could also improvise all night.
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Offline dogperson

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #5 on: May 06, 2017, 11:06:32 AM »
 You are assuming by this thread that everyone memorizes because of ego or arrogance. At least in my case that is not true.   I am an intermediate pianist but I memorize anything that I polish.   Why?   Because not needing to read the notes Is freeing  to be able to actually concentrate on hearing what I'm doing.  It allows me to be able to watch my left hand in measure  31 to see that I am making the legato Finger transition that I need to make. 

 Memorizing has nothing at all to do with ego, but really just playing better. 

Offline ahinton

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 11:48:45 AM »
It's also worth bearing in mind that there's certain repertoire that one would never perform from memory and which audiences would not expect to be performed from memory; in piano terms, imagine anyone performing the larger-scale works of Michael Finnissy, to say nothing of those of Kaikhosru Sorabji, without the music on the stand in front of them - it would simply be an unnecessary burden on the pianist.

Best,

Alistair
Alistair Hinton
Curator / Director
The Sorabji Archive

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #7 on: May 06, 2017, 12:32:12 PM »
It's worth bearing in mind Beethoven got furious with those who played his music from memory but only because they left out his meticulous markings (and they still do today).
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Offline stevensk

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #8 on: May 06, 2017, 01:25:06 PM »
It's worth bearing in mind Beethoven got furious with those who played his music from memory but only because they left out his meticulous markings (and they still do today).

-He was always furious, wasnt he?  ;D

Offline hardy_practice

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Re: Chopin Considered Memorizing "Arrogance"
«Reply #9 on: May 06, 2017, 08:17:08 PM »
Yes, if you believe his neighbours.
B Mus, PGCE, DipABRSM