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Author Topic: Improvisation in Concerts  (Read 173 times)
beethovenfan01
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« on: November 03, 2017, 12:32:00 AM »

Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and many other composer-pianists of that latter era used to do this all the time. But does anyone ever do this anymore? Just make up a piece of music on the spot? Aside from this guy , I rarely find anyone who does this. And I've never heard of this happening in a real live concert! We have fallen a long ways from the concerts that the masters themselves gave, it seems ...
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Auditioning to U of O school of music:
Bach WTC Bk 1 No. 10
Beethoven Op. 81a (I.)
Rachmaninoff Op. 32 No. 10
Future:
Liszt Wilde Jagd, Dante, HR 6
Chopin Ballade 3
Beethoven Op. 57
Prokofiev
Derek
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2017, 12:45:51 AM »

There's an entire sub-forum on this website devoted to improvising.
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beethovenfan01
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2017, 01:53:54 AM »

Yea, but how often do people actually improvise in concert? From what I've heard and seen, there is a massive gulf between the concertizing pianist and the improvising pianist ... they have never gone together, from what I have ever heard. Am I mistaken? You never hear about concert pianists who improvise a piece on the spot, even the composer-pianists like Marc-Andre Hamelin.

I mean, I've got max respect for the classical repertoire, but to be honest, most of those pieces have been performed thousands (even perhaps millions) of times since their composition. Perhaps the reason that the audience for this kind of music is so much smaller than it once was is because the modern repertoire is so rarely added too ... and stuff that's been composed since the 1920s or so isn't exactly easy to listen to or understand. And so we have a diminishing audience of this kind of music--the kind of music that is almost a hundred years old, at least, and three hundred at most. We need more fresh stuff--and the spirit of improvisation in concert, which seems to have been extinguished for the most part, was the true flame that bore those classical composer's popularity.

Does anyone have any explanations or counterpoints for this? I want to bring my improvisation skills to the same level as what I hope to attain for my classical-rep level, but I don't want to go to a conservatory, come out, and be another classical pianist. I want to do something different, and in doing so win a new audience for this style of music, as well as the current one.
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Auditioning to U of O school of music:
Bach WTC Bk 1 No. 10
Beethoven Op. 81a (I.)
Rachmaninoff Op. 32 No. 10
Future:
Liszt Wilde Jagd, Dante, HR 6
Chopin Ballade 3
Beethoven Op. 57
Prokofiev
Derek
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2017, 02:43:52 AM »

Yea, but how often do people actually improvise in concert? From what I've heard and seen, there is a massive gulf between the concertizing pianist and the improvising pianist ... they have never gone together, from what I have ever heard. Am I mistaken? You never hear about concert pianists who improvise a piece on the spot, even the composer-pianists like Marc-Andre Hamelin.

I mean, I've got max respect for the classical repertoire, but to be honest, most of those pieces have been performed thousands (even perhaps millions) of times since their composition. Perhaps the reason that the audience for this kind of music is so much smaller than it once was is because the modern repertoire is so rarely added too ... and stuff that's been composed since the 1920s or so isn't exactly easy to listen to or understand. And so we have a diminishing audience of this kind of music--the kind of music that is almost a hundred years old, at least, and three hundred at most. We need more fresh stuff--and the spirit of improvisation in concert, which seems to have been extinguished for the most part, was the true flame that bore those classical composer's popularity.

Does anyone have any explanations or counterpoints for this? I want to bring my improvisation skills to the same level as what I hope to attain for my classical-rep level, but I don't want to go to a conservatory, come out, and be another classical pianist. I want to do something different, and in doing so win a new audience for this style of music, as well as the current one.

Well if some brave young souls maybe start doing it when the audience isn't expecting, say as an encore, word will get out and maybe it'll form demand for improv.

Problem is classical music is still such a museum art.

I look at things like Power Metal and I see composers and improvising musicians there, particularly with guitar, whose genius for composition easily rivals that of the greats, but nobody's minds are open enough to admit this possibility.

The classical world can't let go of its obsession with greatness of the past and has stagnated itself completely into the ground while the rest of the world has moved on.

Not to say it couldn't revive within the context of classical recital halls, it'd just have to take a rather dramatic cultural shift I think.
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beethovenfan01
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2017, 04:14:06 AM »

Well perhaps it could still happen. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev all pushed the limits, causing some kind of change on some level. So it's not impossible.
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Auditioning to U of O school of music:
Bach WTC Bk 1 No. 10
Beethoven Op. 81a (I.)
Rachmaninoff Op. 32 No. 10
Future:
Liszt Wilde Jagd, Dante, HR 6
Chopin Ballade 3
Beethoven Op. 57
Prokofiev
quantum
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2017, 05:47:28 AM »

The classical world can't let go of its obsession with greatness of the past and has stagnated itself completely into the ground while the rest of the world has moved on.

Very well put.

I think there is a cultural push back from the classical music establishment.  There are many who would rather stay in their comfort zone.  There are also those that may have ability, but refrain from doing it because it is outside their specialty - they do not know enough about it to do it and because of that do not even attempt to do it. Ironically, in order to learn you must first attempt.  The classical music world is filled with a culture of expertise, and some feel that not knowing everything about a subject means one should not do so in public. 

One of the reasons I decided upon the serious study of the organ, was it is one of the few art music traditions that actively practices, performs and teaches improvisation.  In the study of organ, improvisation is basic training, it is like learning your scales and arpeggios. 

Improvisation requires vulnerability, and that is not a trait often encouraged by the classical crowd.  Even more so with the purist, urtext mafia folks, that will only accept their music just so, and no other way.  It makes me sad for the music, just to think about it.  People need to come to the realization that certain samples of classical music are not great because that is what they have come to be labeled, but because some human dared to have the courage to create something, even to the point of being scorned by the establishment for that creation. 

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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
ronde_des_sylphes
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« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2017, 07:44:09 PM »

To be fair, Gabriela Montero does some improvisation. I think the issue is part of a greater mindset, where spontaneity is seen as necessarily a bad thing; whereas I'd say some people are naturally given to spontaneity and others are more calculating. Imo solo performance should contain at least an element of a performer's character. Otherwise why on earth bother going when you can sit at home and listen in comfort?

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Derek
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« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 08:07:02 PM »

Improvisation requires vulnerability, and that is not a trait often encouraged by the classical crowd.  Even more so with the purist, urtext mafia folks, that will only accept their music just so, and no other way.  It makes me sad for the music, just to think about it.  People need to come to the realization that certain samples of classical music are not great because that is what they have come to be labeled, but because some human dared to have the courage to create something, even to the point of being scorned by the establishment for that creation. 

Excellent paragraph here.

Thinking of classical musicians who improvise in concert, I have yet to see any who make themselves vulnerable insofar as creating something radically new on the spot. Literally the only musician I know of who has ever done this in public is Keith Jarrett. Montero does the type of impressive improvising-in-a-style type of improvisation, but I think the most interesting type of improvisation is this kind where the artist just gets totally lost in a world of pure imagination (lol) for lack of better words.
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cuberdrift
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« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2017, 11:00:10 AM »

I think that when considering "Classical Music", it is guided by a notion of "Perfection". Improvisation isn't "perfection". Reproducing a "perfect" work is.
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