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Topic: Which pieces do you think are the bare minimum to play to master the instrument?  (Read 3521 times)

Offline anacrusis

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Hey y'all, this is a half serious question that I thought could be fun to speculate around. I'm thinking a bit about which pieces you, at the very least, need to play to master the instrument? Realistically, you'll keep growing the more you play, but I'm thinking about what would be the absolutely essential repertoire to play to grow from beginner to having mastered the main difficulties of the instrument. For me, some of the obvious ones are all the Chopin Etudes and Bach The Well-tempered Clavier, both books - absolutely essential. But what else is there? Of course, there are the Liszt etudes, the Transcendental and Paganini ones, but are these specific Etudes truly essential to play, do they teach any specific lessons like the Chopin Etudes do? Or could they realistically be replaced with otehr repertoire? What do you guys think? :)

Offline nightwindsonata

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I think one should certainly be capable of playing everything on that list you just mentioned. Whether or not they choose to champion those works is another story--some people have a naturally loose, relaxed technique that allows them to play Chopin Etudes quite well, or have the special gift of concentration to give an exceptional performance of a 30-40 minute Schubert Sonata, while others have a talent for lyricism. There is far to much repertoire to be a complete master over all of it, but most people who have reached a level of mastery over the instrument have found at least a few genres/niches that they can program confidently (and this evolves over the course of their lives). For instance, my professor is a great interpreter of Liszt. Can he play other composers? Of course. But he is known for his skill and passion for Franz Liszt's music. I am still discovering my niche, but many have encouraged me to look more into the music of Florence Price.
1st-year Master's Program:
- Ravel Piano Concerto
- Liszt Ricordanza
- Liszt 3 Liebestraums
- Liszt 3 Sonnets

- Rhapsody in Blue
- Dante Sonata
- Schubert Sonata D.780
- Mozart Piano Quartet in Gm

Offline bwl_13

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I like your ideas, I would only add the Beethoven sonatas. Unlike the WTC and Etudes, these pieces feel more like novels than short stories to me. Equally great, but there are differences in the way that the narratives are told.

Each sonata is different and offers new ideas, full of musical potential and possibility. Even though I can probably say the same about the P&Fs and Etudes, there's an intangible quality that makes me think the Beethoven sonatas are different enough to include.

Fun question!
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline anacrusis

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I like your ideas, I would only add the Beethoven sonatas. Unlike the WTC and Etudes, these pieces feel more like novels than short stories to me. Equally great, but there are differences in the way that the narratives are told.

Each sonata is different and offers new ideas, full of musical potential and possibility. Even though I can probably say the same about the P&Fs and Etudes, there's an intangible quality that makes me think the Beethoven sonatas are different enough to include.

Fun question!

Ah yes, the "New Testament" of the piano repertoire, as my first teacher used to say (WTC being the "Old Testament"). Good suggestion! Do you think all are strictly necessary to play, or are there certain ones that are essential for the development of a complete command over the instrument?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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I think it is short sighted to consider that only particular works from particular collections determine if someone has "mastered" the piano, and even the definition of what mastery is is a blur. Just because you can play something doesn't really mean much even if you play it well. What about reading skills? What about composition or transcribing skills for the piano? What about being able to teach the piano effectively for a broad range of different levels? etc etc There are so many niches when it comes to the piano.

I don't think anyone really should consider themselves a master at the piano even if they are in other peoples eyes. Maybe because I am Australian and we do look down on boasters, in other places in the world it's considered self confidence.
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Offline ted

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I think it is short sighted to consider that only particular works from particular collections determine if someone has "mastered" the piano, and even the definition of what mastery is is a blur.

At present my piano seems to be successfully "mastering" me without the help of any pieces at all. But never mind because one very good pianist on forums declared that everybody is a musical amoeba compared to Keith Jarrett anyway. Hearing that has given me unbounded relief ever since.
"Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Offline bwl_13

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Ah yes, the "New Testament" of the piano repertoire, as my first teacher used to say (WTC being the "Old Testament"). Good suggestion! Do you think all are strictly necessary to play, or are there certain ones that are essential for the development of a complete command over the instrument?
I personally do think they're all necessary. There isn't a weak sonata and they are all different enough to be beneficial in a different way.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline bwl_13

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I think it is short sighted to consider that only particular works from particular collections determine if someone has "mastered" the piano, and even the definition of what mastery is is a blur. Just because you can play something doesn't really mean much even if you play it well. What about reading skills? What about composition or transcribing skills for the piano? What about being able to teach the piano effectively for a broad range of different levels? etc etc There are so many niches when it comes to the piano.
You are right of course, but I interpreted this question to be a fun exercise in attempting to justify an impossible idea. I don't think that playing certain pieces means that you've mastered the piano. This thread seems to be more of an opportunity to explore what repertoire people find to be most beneficial for a pianist's development. There's a clear classical bias coming from myself which should be taken into account. I'm a classically trained musician, but there's far more ways of learning or "mastering" the piano.

I don't know of many places that boasting is applauded. Mastery might just be a stand in for 'a degree of technical and musical competence' in this case. That's how I've interpreted things.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline lostinidlewonder

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This thread seems to be more of an opportunity to explore what repertoire people find to be most beneficial for a pianist's development.
From my experience what benefits the individual is various, I have taught pianists who could play Chopin etudes if they wanted to but it is far away from their interests and yet they are not missing out on anything at all.

There's a clear classical bias coming from myself which should be taken into account. I'm a classically trained musician, but there's far more ways of learning or "mastering" the piano.
These days many pianists tend to play Chopin etudes but neglect developing skills with composers like Heller or Cramer. These days people seem to use Chopin Etudes for technical acquisition, which to me is just backwards. It seems that to build from the bottom up in a thorough manner is what will produce the most solid musicians, not just those who are clever at solving puzzles and brute force their way through things with mind numbing hours of effort every day.

I don't know of many places that boasting is applauded. Mastery might just be a stand in for 'a degree of technical and musical competence' in this case. That's how I've interpreted things.
I guess people can call themselves master, but mastery comes in lots of different shades. I studied with Roger Woodward who is a real titan at the piano, I've not met one pianist in person who comes close to his calibre. I couldn't call myself a master compared to him, it's quite crazy lol. He's a master with a blackbelt 10th dan lol, I guess we can have masters who are 1st dan and all shades in between :) It doesn't really mean much though.

I have heard wonderful music from people who just play piano casually, and it has been much more enjoyable than listening to some complex work that only 0.001% of pianists could manage. So what really is mastery? I think it certainly has something to do with the joy you give others when you play. Some so called masters simply irritate me with their repetoire choice, no love in their playing, what's the point of mastery then?

At present my piano seems to be successfully "mastering" me without the help of any pieces at all. But never mind because one very good pianist on forums declared that everybody is a musical amoeba compared to Keith Jarrett anyway. Hearing that has given me unbounded relief ever since.
Hahah, yet I personally don't find Keith Jarrett that desirable to listen to and don't understand why he's considered so great. I guess he's just not my cup of tea. I think getting too involved with comparing people to others limits ones ability to enjoy music and experience it, which seems to me just a shame.
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Offline lelle

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Brilliant thread! Do you think Mozart sonatas are essential, or is it more efficient to use Heller, Cramer, Czerny et al instead?

Offline bwl_13

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Brilliant thread! Do you think Mozart sonatas are essential, or is it more efficient to use Heller, Cramer, Czerny et al instead?
From my experience what benefits the individual is various, I have taught pianists who could play Chopin etudes if they wanted to but it is far away from their interests and yet they are not missing out on anything at all.
No doubt about it. I think this thread is meant to be fairly personal. Repertoire is very personal, so you can gain a glimpse into the type of musician a pianist aspires to be through their repertoire choice. Not that a pianist is a master because they can play all the Beethoven sonatas, but you can see the dedication to this particular style of music and what that MIGHT mean about the pianist. Of course, people choose repertoire for different reasons, but this is an opportunity to see what (mostly classical) music different pianists value and why they value it.

In a way, this is a sort of elitism, but as long as it's acknowledged that this is all subjective to the pianist who is saying it, I don't see the harm. It's a more interesting take on the "favourite X" question, with the twist of focusing on skills that you find valuable being included in the music.

Brilliant thread! Do you think Mozart sonatas are essential, or is it more efficient to use Heller, Cramer, Czerny et al instead?
I don't consider Mozart sonatas essential when there are already Beethoven sonatas. They're more approachable, but ultimately not as consistent.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Repertoire is very personal, so you can gain a glimpse into the type of musician a pianist aspires to be through their repertoire choice. Not that a pianist is a master because they can play all the Beethoven sonatas, but you can see the dedication to this particular style of music and what that MIGHT mean about the pianist. Of course, people choose repertoire for different reasons, but this is an opportunity to see what (mostly classical) music different pianists value and why they value it.
I guess we can get a surface understanding of "why" someone might value certain repertoire but it doesn't really reveal much. There is a whole lot more music written after the time of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt etc, the world is moving forward, there are new genres that excite new musicians. I feel it's so old fashioned and stale to think certain oldies are a MUST have or you are an inferior, lesser pianist. You get this stale ideologies permeating throughout music universities across the world, but institutionalised education tends to hold onto old fashioned ideologies that is no surprise.

As a private one on one tutor of piano for almost 3 decades now I find music is such an organic entity which suffers if merely contained in some kind of creative tank that encourages only certain works or composers to be studied otherwise you are missing out or a lesser pianist. Don't get me wrong I personally love all the great masters of the past but I cannot expect other pianists to think the same and I need to know how to develop skilled pianists who have interests elsewhere otherwise I am a much less useful educator.

There is certainly elitism when it comes to musical education, let those people think how they want, most of what I see churned out from those places are clones and robots who have had their creativity forcefully moulded into some ideology of what it means to be a musician. Maybe I'm being cynical but music must progress and education around the world needs to stop being so old fashioned unless they want to become less and less relevant to society.

"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
www.pianovision.com

Offline lelle

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I don't consider Mozart sonatas essential when there are already Beethoven sonatas. They're more approachable, but ultimately not as consistent.

I think Mozart presents a different challenge than Beethoven though. Beethoven can handle, and is even made for, being a bit rough. Mozart really challenges you to perfect your touch, suppleness and elegance in a way Beethoven doesn't quite do in my opinion.

Offline anacrusis

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I guess we can get a surface understanding of "why" someone might value certain repertoire but it doesn't really reveal much. There is a whole lot more music written after the time of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt etc, the world is moving forward, there are new genres that excite new musicians. I feel it's so old fashioned and stale to think certain oldies are a MUST have or you are an inferior, lesser pianist. You get this stale ideologies permeating throughout music universities across the world, but institutionalised education tends to hold onto old fashioned ideologies that is no surprise.

As a private one on one tutor of piano for almost 3 decades now I find music is such an organic entity which suffers if merely contained in some kind of creative tank that encourages only certain works or composers to be studied otherwise you are missing out or a lesser pianist. Don't get me wrong I personally love all the great masters of the past but I cannot expect other pianists to think the same and I need to know how to develop skilled pianists who have interests elsewhere otherwise I am a much less useful educator.

There is certainly elitism when it comes to musical education, let those people think how they want, most of what I see churned out from those places are clones and robots who have had their creativity forcefully moulded into some ideology of what it means to be a musician. Maybe I'm being cynical but music must progress and education around the world needs to stop being so old fashioned unless they want to become less and less relevant to society.

My question is more aimed at identifying repertoire that teaches core skills in an efficient manner and can be considered "essential" for that reason - though as I said at the start this topic is intended to be more half serious and for fun.

For example, I consider the Chopin Etudes essential because you simply HAVE to have solved some fundamental issues of technique before Op 10 no 2 or Op 25 no 6, for example, become playable as intended.

I likewise consider the Well-Tempered Clavier essential because I think working on counterpoint teaches you many valuable lessons about multi tasking, countrol over voicing, and finger independence. There is a lot of repertoire you can play that doesn't really force you to deal with these things.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Yet there are plenty of advanced pianists who never touch these pieces you mention. Nothing MUST be done, that is my argument. You can fully appreciate piano without Chopin. I have students who go many different directions never playing some old masters. For instance I've had students go from blues, ragtime, modern jazz, contemporary then to composers like Kasputin and Uehara.

If the question is, you love Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Debussy, Rachmaninov etc etc what are the good pieces to learn, then we can go ahead and spew forth the standard tradition that is taught all over the world at music universities. The piano journey however is much more diverse than just this traditional path.
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Offline rachorascho

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Of course, there are the Liszt etudes, the Transcendental and Paganini ones, but are these specific Etudes truly essential to play, do they teach any specific lessons like the Chopin Etudes do? Or could they realistically be replaced with otehr repertoire? What do you guys think? :)

What exactly do you mean by the specific lessons of Chopin's Etudes? Of course I like them very much, but I actually do not really get, why they have their so specific place in piano literature. I would be glad for some explanation. :)

EDIT: Oh, I have just read through the whole thread... sorry! :D

Offline truecam

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Besides classical music, I think that one should be able to also at least play some regular pop/ jazz tunes. I have seen multiple pianists who can play some of the most difficult classical pieces, but have a hard time even playing a simple jazz/ pop rhythm or swinging notes.

I also think being able to improvise is another important part of mastering any instrument. I don't think one can be considered to have mastery if they don't have the ability to play multiple different genres and have the ability to create their own musical ideas.

Offline bwl_13

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Besides classical music, I think that one should be able to also at least play some regular pop/ jazz tunes. I have seen multiple pianists who can play some of the most difficult classical pieces, but have a hard time even playing a simple jazz/ pop rhythm or swinging notes.

I also think being able to improvise is another important part of mastering any instrument. I don't think one can be considered to have mastery if they don't have the ability to play multiple different genres and have the ability to create their own musical ideas.
It all depends what a musician values. Improvising is a very important component of music making. There are genres of music made up entirely from improvisation. I will never get tired of improvising on top of Autumn Leaves. What a fantastic standard.

However, genre is an important distinction since classical really isn't a genre. Similar to jazz not really being a genre. I think specialization is important at some point, since we don't have infinite capacities to have a perfectly balanced repertoire for piano music. However, I do think many pianists benefit from learning a few jazz standards, writing arrangements of some of their favourite film or video game music, maybe playing a few arrangements if they're motivated to do so.

It also comes down to what a master musician is, which is different from person to person. Some places consider dancing to be an essential component of being a musician, others consider composing to be just as important as playing/performing.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline mjames

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Ah yes, the "New Testament" of the piano repertoire, as my first teacher used to say (WTC being the "Old Testament"). Good suggestion! Do you think all are strictly necessary to play, or are there certain ones that are essential for the development of a complete command over the instrument?

If Beethoven's Sonata the new testament, what do we call Chopin's? The Lutheran/Protestant reformation of the piano?

Seriously, no offense to Ludwig but those op.10/25 etudes, alongside the op. 11 concerto did more for piano playing than the Beethoven sonatas did in their entirety. Chopin's ouvre revolutionized the direction of early 19th century piano composition.

Offline mjames

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I guess we can get a surface understanding of "why" someone might value certain repertoire but it doesn't really reveal much. There is a whole lot more music written after the time of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt etc, the world is moving forward, there are new genres that excite new musicians. I feel it's so old fashioned and stale to think certain oldies are a MUST have or you are an inferior, lesser pianist. You get this stale ideologies permeating throughout music universities across the world, but institutionalised education tends to hold onto old fashioned ideologies that is no surprise.

As a private one on one tutor of piano for almost 3 decades now I find music is such an organic entity which suffers if merely contained in some kind of creative tank that encourages only certain works or composers to be studied otherwise you are missing out or a lesser pianist. Don't get me wrong I personally love all the great masters of the past but I cannot expect other pianists to think the same and I need to know how to develop skilled pianists who have interests elsewhere otherwise I am a much less useful educator.

There is certainly elitism when it comes to musical education, let those people think how they want, most of what I see churned out from those places are clones and robots who have had their creativity forcefully moulded into some ideology of what it means to be a musician. Maybe I'm being cynical but music must progress and education around the world needs to stop being so old fashioned unless they want to become less and less relevant to society.

Music has evolved and will continue to well past beyond early 19th century music, true. Piano music, however? It peaked in the first half of the 20th century.

Technically the instrument has been exploited to its limits. The best jazz pianists today and of the past 50 years aren't/weren't doing anything technically that hasn't already been explored by 19th century composers.

No recent pianist has pushed the boundaries of the instrument in the same way Chopin's etudes or Scriabin's sonatas did in the past. All jazz pianism has done for the instrument is introduce new theory of music, in terms of technique nothing has been added. That's why institutions fixate on classical piano, because it documents the rise and peak of the instrument, the instrument at its best; that's the sad reality of the matter.

That's why hardly anyone composes "common practice period" piano music anymore, because honestly, what else is there left to be said (besides weird avant garde crap that involves plucking piano strings with cacti)?

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Music has evolved and will continue to well past beyond early 19th century music, true. Piano music, however? It peaked in the first half of the 20th century.
In terms of world wide interest I don't think it has. Today more people are playing the piano than any other time, the accessibilty of the piano has exploded with technology of digital pianos and education no longer only belongs to the wealthy. The interest of genres in piano has changed a great deal, if you are not teaching the general public it will be very difficult to understand this, but go ahead and check places like musescore and you will see some of what is popular with the younger generation today.

Could we say that composers like Joe Hisaishi are not masters? I think that would be rather ridiculous to say such things and rather highbrow to think he is nothing compared to Chopin, they are apples and oranges, just because Chopin is a monkey who climbs trees doesn't mean because the Hisaishi fish can't climb trees it is not a master, put it to the correct test. This is really how I see it, niches of mastery, creativity is vast and to contain it is to miss out.

Technically the instrument has been exploited to its limits. The best jazz pianists today and of the past 50 years aren't/weren't doing anything technically that hasn't already been explored by 19th century composers.
There are sounds of the piano that have never been heard in the 19th century. What about making a piano speak words as an extreme example? Technology has changed a lot with the piano. I don't necessarily think that this really matters in terms of musical education. Is everyone supposed to only study pathways which explore all the things the piano can do? That only is a stupid path to take because not everyone has the capability to do everything the piano is capable of, even great masters of the piano who actually specialize in certain areas. So to me a master isn't necssarily one who can do all that the piano can do, that is just rather silly a view imho, it is like saying a painter must be able to paint all styles there is possible to paint or they are not a complete master. Many areas of art require dedication to specialization if you want to become masterful at it.

No recent pianist has pushed the boundaries of the instrument in the same way Chopin's etudes or Scriabin's sonatas did in the past. All jazz pianism has done for the instrument is introduce new theory of music, in terms of technique nothing has been added. That's why institutions fixate on classical piano, because it documents the rise and peak of the instrument, the instrument at its best; that's the sad reality of the matter.
I mean that is not something that is measurable as a mathematical truth that everyone in this world will agree with. Chopin really didn't push the maximum limits of the piano either, there are all sorts of niches in piano playing, Chopin really could be considered a Cramer/Field mix if you wanted to compare him to what existed before him. Universities actually have no excuse to remain old fashioned, they all really should modernize themselves and allow multiple pathways. Why not get a degree in performance specializing in video game music or Korean soap opera music? Why does creativity need to be moulded in a certain way? You get all these graduates who are mere clones of one another and we wonder why they fail to make any money as concerting pianists.

That's why hardly anyone composes "common practice period" piano music anymore, because honestly, what else is there left to be said (besides weird avant garde crap that involves plucking piano strings with cacti)?
How many great masters have been forgotten in the past? What about Buxtehude why does he get microscopic attention compared to J.S Bach? So many more examples can be found. People today are writing music in the style of the old masters but they are not going to become famous with those works or even recognised world wide. I have heard compositions from my peers over the decades which are really quite brilliant works but they will never get the attention, not because of the value of the writing but because the factors required to become famous with new classical works do not merely rest on quality of work composed and that is a sad truth you will have to accept if you know anything about the classical industry of today and yesteryears too! It's all politics, which influential people/groups you know and how much funding you have to back yourself and how well propoganda is manipulated, only a few commanding factors.
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Offline bwl_13

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Universities actually have no excuse to remain old fashioned, they all really should modernize themselves and allow multiple pathways. Why not get a degree in performance specializing in video game music or Korean soap opera music? Why does creativity need to be moulded in a certain way? You get all these graduates who are mere clones of one another and we wonder why they fail to make any money as concerting pianists. 
I just want to emphasize this.

Seriously, no offense to Ludwig but those op.10/25 etudes, alongside the op. 11 concerto did more for piano playing than the Beethoven sonatas did in their entirety. Chopin's ouvre revolutionized the direction of early 19th century piano composition.
Citation needed.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline mjames

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I just want to emphasize this.
 Citation needed.

Read any major biographies and research papers on major pianist-composers of the early romantic era. Seriously, just look at Liszt himself pre- and post op. 10. lol

It's standard knowledge that Liszt included many of Chopin's stylistic attributes to fuel his own creative genius. Before Chopin he was just a slightly more tolerable version of Thalberg.

Offline ranjit

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Read any major biographies and research papers on major pianist-composers of the early romantic era. Seriously, just look at Liszt himself pre- and post op. 10. lol

It's standard knowledge that Liszt included many of Chopin's stylistic attributes to fuel his own creative genius. Before Chopin he was just a slightly more tolerable version of Thalberg.
It's definitely not standard knowledge, and I don't think it's true that Liszt magically got a touch of genius after hearing Chopin. In terms of technique, why are Chopin's op 10 and 25 special? After all, the anecdote goes that Liszt was able to sightread them, so they couldn't have been that hard. I would argue that Liszt probably did the most in history to push the technical limitations of the instrument. On the other hand, it's not true that there haven't been others who pushed it further -- it's just that those "innovations" haven't caught on, either because they were simply too difficult for too many people to master, or because we are stuck with the classical canon, which for the most part doesn't require such virtuosity. Look at Godowsky or Cziffra, for example.

Offline mjames

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It's definitely not standard knowledge, and I don't think it's true that Liszt magically got a touch of genius after hearing Chopin. In terms of technique, why are Chopin's op 10 and 25 special? After all, the anecdote goes that Liszt was able to sightread them, so they couldn't have been that hard. I would argue that Liszt probably did the most in history to push the technical limitations of the instrument. On the other hand, it's not true that there haven't been others who pushed it further -- it's just that those "innovations" haven't caught on, either because they were simply too difficult for too many people to master, or because we are stuck with the classical canon, which for the most part doesn't require such virtuosity. Look at Godowsky or Cziffra, for example.

Godowski died in 1938. Also his music isn't a part of the classical canon because it simply just isn't good enough, that's the simple truth. If it was about difficulty, his contemporaries like Prokofiev, Scriabin, and Rachmaninoff wouldn't have made it either.

Most of the "obscure composers" online communities lament about not being popular were writing derivative, non-innovative music. Why bother paying attention to Godowski's neo-romantic aberrations when the new kids on the block like Prokofiev, Debussy, Scriabin, Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Ravel and so on were busy writing the things they were. Prokofiev's 2nd piano concerto was published more than a decade before Godowski's Passacaglia, and the former was decades ahead of the latters in terms of innovation and originality.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Godowski died in 1938. Also his music isn't a part of the classical canon because it simply just isn't good enough....
Good enough? Lol. Experts in Godowsky (which is a minsicule % of pianists) will eat through Chopin like it's nothing. Do you even know how good the "Buddha of the piano" was???

Most of the "obscure composers" online communities lament about not being popular were writing derivative, non-innovative music.
 
Yet JS Bach was utterly forgotten until Mendelssohn initiated a revival. Buxtehude as I have given example of has stunning works which easily rival Bach and would be argued as being better in many cases if "better" really matters to you which it really doesn't in the large scope of creativity.

We have irrationally given mythical status to many famous masters imho.
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Offline mjames

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Good enough? Lol. Experts in Godowsky (which is a minsicule % of pianists) will eat through Chopin like it's nothing. Do you even know how good the "Buddha of the piano" was???

And Thalberg specialists would also eat through Chopin like it's nothing, those opera fantasies of his were ridiculously difficult; however none of them were as innovative, harmonically or technically, as even the most juvenile Chopin works. I struggle to find anything of Thalberg's that matches up to Chopin variations in la ci darem la mano.

 That's specifically why i said it wasn't about difficulty. Godowski was writing 1850s piano music in the 1920s, it makes perfect sense as to why he didn't make it to the canon of standard repertoire.

Quote
Yet JS Bach was utterly forgotten until Mendelssohn initiated a revival. Buxtehude as I have given example of has stunning works which easily rival Bach and would be argued as being better in many cases if "better" really matters to you which it really doesn't in the large scope of creativity.

The revival is exaggerated. A huge portion of Bach's ouvre was forgotten yes, but he wasn't forgotten in the way you're alluding to. His keyboard works were widely studied for generations following his death. Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Chopin, and even Mendelssohn himself GREW UP learning and studying J.S. Bach. His reputation was mostly limited to that of a composer for keyboard music. In the 19th century it was his ensemble works and works for non-keyboard music that experienced the revival.

Offline ronde_des_sylphes

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Someone said Thalberg?  ;)

Tbh, I think that between him, Chopin and Liszt, the framework of all modern tonal technique was put in place. Thalberg's "three hand" effect is far more influential, texturally, than it is given credit for, because almost everyone who knows about this corner of the literature associates it with arpeggiated filigree surroundings, whereas when you look through even some not especially virtuoso transcriptions like his one on Casta diva, it is still there, but far less overt in nature. Thalberg was of course by some distance the weakest of these three compositionally, but purely as a *pianist* and the consequent technical influence, I'd say he's close to being an equal to Chopin. Czerny, for one, was duly impressed upon his first concert encounter with the three hand effect.

If I was a teacher looking to impart a fully functional technique, I'd give a pupil some Bach p+fs, one of the bigger early Beethoven sonatas, and in the later stages, some Liszt and Chopin etudes plus a Thalberg paraphrase. Maybe some Henselt for left hand development. That should take anyone right up to Rachmaninov and after that we could worry about more modernist rep.

If you can play the complete Liszt TEs or for that matter the complete Alkan op 39, imo conquering such a diverse set of demands takes you to the point where you can play anything within the tonal repertoire. You're also a damn good pianist  ;D
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Offline lostinidlewonder

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And Thalberg specialists would also eat through Chopin like it's nothing, those opera fantasies of his were ridiculously difficult; however none of them were as innovative, harmonically or technically, as even the most juvenile Chopin works. I struggle to find anything of Thalberg's that matches up to Chopin variations in la ci darem la mano.
The thread is about mastery of the piano and Godowsky certainly would allow you to call yourself a master if you could play many of his works well, he elaborated on Chopin etudes in great detail unlike Thalberg. I find it unintelligent and rather useless to try and put him lower than other composers in this respect, it's all highly subjective but there is no doubt he was a true master of the piano and his works are worthy of study.

That's specifically why i said it wasn't about difficulty. Godowski was writing 1850s piano music in the 1920s, it makes perfect sense as to why he didn't make it to the canon of standard repertoire.
He's not standard because most people die trying to play him well. I don't see how you can orphan Godowsky from great mastery of the piano, unless you want to think inside a little box of studying only the standard masters, but this is very close minded and rather claustrophobic perspective as to what constitutes mastery at the piano.

The revival is exaggerated. A huge portion of Bach's ouvre was forgotten yes, but he wasn't forgotten in the way you're alluding to.
Semantics, if there wasn't people pushing Bach he would have not the elevated platform he has now, he would be like Buxtehude who is rather neglected yet is a true master in every way. It is irrelevant to my point anyway, popular doesn't mean they are the only composers we should study to master the piano, why be so close minded and only consider very few worthy? It's irrational and illogical. If responses focus on answering the question of this thread then mastery of Buxtehude as useful as Bach and anyone who neglected Bach and did other baroque masters would not miss out on anything. There are multiple pathways to mastery of the keyboard which doesn't require a stringent syllabus of only a few well known composers.
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Offline mjames

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He's not standard because most people die trying to play him well.

If it was about difficulty, then why is Prokofiev so popular? Plenty of people die trying to play his concerti well as well. Same goes for Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Ravel - all these composers are rather difficult to play.

Godowski isn't a part of the canon because his music is substandard in comparison. His arrangement of Chopin's etudes are mostly awful and complete aberrations as well.

Trust me, the Kissins, Yuja Wangs, Sokolovs, Tiffany Poons of the world aren't steering clear of him because he's too hard. It's just awful music.

Offline ranjit

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If it was about difficulty, then why is Prokofiev so popular? Plenty of people die trying to play his concerti well as well. Same goes for Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Ravel - all these composers are rather difficult to play.
They are not as hard, plain and simple. Taking a piece to the highest level of perfection is of course a certain kind of difficulty, but when it comes to technical difficulty, most of the standard canon is not that difficult. By this I mean that plenty of undergraduate piano students can play Chopin etudes and Ravel sonatinas. How many of them would be up to attempting a Godowsky transcription? Ask them to perform it for a recital, and you'll see fear in their eyes, lol.

It's simply ridiculous to claim that Prokofiev sonatas are also hard etc. There's a reason people like Hamelin play such pieces in concert and others don't -- and the reason is as lostimnidlewonder said. Piano technique hasn't advanced much beyond Chopin and Liszt because there are simply too few people who can play harder stuff at the piano for it to catch on. So the typical technical difficulties expanded to whatever the "average concert pianist" could bear with good training.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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If it was about difficulty, then why is Prokofiev so popular? Plenty of people die trying to play his concerti well as well. Same goes for Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, and Ravel - all these composers are rather difficult to play.

Godowski isn't a part of the canon because his music is substandard in comparison. His arrangement of Chopin's etudes are mostly awful and complete aberrations as well.
You take a single sentence from my entire post?? Talking past what I wrote doesn't help your case. What you are writing is all opiniative. You have not contended with the question of this thread and mastery of Godowsky clearly would allow one to claim a high level of mastery over the piano, your attempts at putting him down are simply ridiculous. You going on and on about "classical canon" is boring, as if they are the only composers needed for keyboard mastery?? That is highly close minded and living in a tiny box.

Trust me, the Kissins, Yuja Wangs, Sokolovs, Tiffany Poons of the world aren't steering clear of him because he's too hard. It's just awful music.
I've made it a habit to never trust someone who says "trust me". You don't know anyone of these pianists personally so are merely speculating. It also is utterly irrelevant the question of the thread. Why don't you start a post "the fake classical canon of awesomeness that is the one and only way, all else are substandard!"?
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Offline bwl_13

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Trust me, the Kissins, Yuja Wangs, Sokolovs, Tiffany Poons of the world aren't steering clear of him because he's too hard. It's just awful music.
I want to understand the metric that's used to decide that certain music is just "better". I hope it's more informed than, "everyone says so". You arguing these points to multiple pianists only supports that this information isn't as readily available as you claim. Can you elaborate why the music is "awful"?
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
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Offline shashasha

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This is such a tough question,
but the teacher in me thinks the following:

1. Be able to create a deep, beautiful sound with clean pedaling and even some counterpoint.
Cure? Chopin Nocturnes

2. Understand counterpoint, voicing, and various fingerings at the highest level.
Cure? Bach WTK

3. Understand fundamental classical melody and harmony with fundamental scale/arpeggio/chord fingerings.
Cure? Beethoven Sonatas

4.  Debussy Preludes for the new additions in jazz voicing, impressionist use of modal harmonies, etc.

If I had to restrict to a certain repertoire, it would be those first three books and then the Debussy afterwards.  I think that if you have an understanding of those four, then the full repertoire should be significantly less daunting.  I say this because most other composers are a culmination or derivation of those three... Rachmaninoff Etudes-Tableaux, Brahms Sonatas, you name it.

Even after all of that, there are other concepts to learn.
For one example, you have odd time signatures, which Prokofiev would be great for. 

Offline anacrusis

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This is such a tough question,
but the teacher in me thinks the following:

1. Be able to create a deep, beautiful sound with clean pedaling and even some counterpoint.
Cure? Chopin Nocturnes

2. Understand counterpoint, voicing, and various fingerings at the highest level.
Cure? Bach WTK

3. Understand fundamental classical melody and harmony with fundamental scale/arpeggio/chord fingerings.
Cure? Beethoven Sonatas

4.  Debussy Preludes for the new additions in jazz voicing, impressionist use of modal harmonies, etc.

If I had to restrict to a certain repertoire, it would be those first three books and then the Debussy afterwards.  I think that if you have an understanding of those four, then the full repertoire should be significantly less daunting.  I say this because most other composers are a culmination or derivation of those three... Rachmaninoff Etudes-Tableaux, Brahms Sonatas, you name it.

Even after all of that, there are other concepts to learn.
For one example, you have odd time signatures, which Prokofiev would be great for.

Apart from Etudes-Tableaux, what are your thoughts on some other Etude sets? The Chopin Etudes? Liszt Transcendental? Czerny?

Offline paxxx17

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If one can play Beethoven's sonata op. 106 well, I'd say that they've mastered the instrument.

Yeah, I think it's possible to do so even with a single piece (provided it's robust enough)

Offline bwl_13

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If one can play Beethoven's sonata op. 106 well, I'd say that they've mastered the instrument.

Yeah, I think it's possible to do so even with a single piece (provided it's robust enough)
A very diverse piece. The more I think about it the more I see where you're coming from. It's got lyricism, bombast, counterpoint and more pretentious adjectives that I'm struggling to name.
Second Year Undergrad:
Bach BWV 914
Beethoven Op. 58
Reger Op. 24 No. 5
Rachmaninoff Op. 39 No. 3 & No. 5

Offline chopinonions

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Not to be that one person, but acknowledging our bias as classical musicians, we should also consider jazz works with particularly difficult rhythms. Just like mastering voicing in Chopin and Schubert is an essential skill that differs from pure technical mastery, jazz offers a different skillset to perfect.

Offline lostinidlewonder

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I beat you to it so you can be the 2nd person lol.
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