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Topic: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum  (Read 3339 times)

Offline Ludwig Van Rachabji

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My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
on: February 27, 2005, 02:52:46 AM
Hello,

Today, I sat down, and played the Opus Clavicembalisticum. I wasn't worrying about playing the right notes, I just tried my best to play something similar to what was on the page.

And I must say, playing this piece was literally, one of the most disturbing experiences in my life.

I had played movements from it before, but the whole thing from start to finish brought me to the brink of insanity. I'm not talking about technical difficulties. I can't even explain the feeling. But it was one of the most horrible feelings I have ever experienced.

I wish I could describe it, but if any of you have the score, take it out, and you'll see what I'm talking about. It is almost as if you experience Hell through music. And trust me, it was not pretty.

Call me crazy, but after all of this, I appreciate Sorabji's genius even more. Never has a piece affected me like that. Never...

Has anybody else ever had this type of feeling after playing a piece of music?
Music... can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. Leonard Bernstein

Offline Skeptopotamus

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #1 on: February 27, 2005, 03:50:14 AM
wow..... congratulations on even sitting down and trying that.   The First time I played the Berg Sonata Op. 1 all the way through.  Haha but i feel like a total novice compared to you.


you put me in my place that's for sure.

Offline DavidW

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #2 on: February 27, 2005, 04:07:16 AM
Maybe I should be embarrassed by the question I'm about to ask, but I'm really not.  I've never heard of this work.  Who is the composer? 

Offline apion

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #3 on: February 27, 2005, 04:13:04 AM
Maybe I should be embarrassed by the question I'm about to ask, but I'm really not.  I've never heard of this work. 

It is quite possibly the longest piece ever written for solo piano (4+ hours).  It is almost never performed, and I doubt if it's been recorded more than once or twice.

Don't be embarrassed if you haven't heard of it.

Offline Ludwig Van Rachabji

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #4 on: February 27, 2005, 04:19:34 AM
Opus Clavicembalisticum, by Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, is the longest and most difficult piece for solo piano ever performed. Lasting 4 hours +, not only is it incredibly long, but it presents some of the most insane technical difficulties ever written. The composer, Sorabji, has written music that is, apparently, even harder, including a piece that can last up to 8 hours. Most of it is written on 3 staves, sometimes on 4 or 5, because he could not fit it on two.

Do a search for it. There are several topics on this forum dedicated to it.
Music... can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. Leonard Bernstein

Offline Skeptopotamus

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #5 on: February 27, 2005, 04:26:05 AM
rzewski's poem for piano is 8 hours long.  isnt that for solo piano?

Offline DarkWind

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #6 on: February 27, 2005, 04:33:57 AM
Sorabji's Symphonic Variations are longer than his Opus Clavicembalisticum. Also, scary story. I can't even listen to the whole Opus Clavicembalisticum...

Offline apion

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #7 on: February 27, 2005, 04:45:30 AM
rzewski's poem for piano is 8 hours long.  isnt that for solo piano?

Is this true?  8 hours for one piece of solo piano music?

Hell, 4 hours is nothin'  :)

Offline Skeptopotamus

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #8 on: February 27, 2005, 04:47:58 AM
yes look it up on amazon.

Offline Etude

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #9 on: February 27, 2005, 10:04:08 AM
Hello,

Today, I sat down, and played the Opus Clavicembalisticum. I wasn't worrying about playing the right notes, I just tried my best to play something similar to what was on the page.

Play it properly  >:(  The last thing we need is another Madge

Offline Ludwig Van Rachabji

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #10 on: February 27, 2005, 02:21:16 PM


Play it properly  >:( 

Trust me, if I ever feel like taking the time out of my life to learn this, the last thing I would want to do is play it wrong.

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The last thing we need is another Madge

I agree.
Music... can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. Leonard Bernstein

Offline Radix

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #11 on: February 27, 2005, 03:07:06 PM
Sorabji's music is so incredibly difficult to even listen to that I've always found him more of a crazy old man than a genius.

Offline SteinwayTony

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #12 on: February 27, 2005, 04:56:05 PM
Apparently the score is ridden with errors (not that you'd know), and the two recordings that are available are said to be horrible.

Offline Etude

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #13 on: February 27, 2005, 05:31:01 PM
I'm going to get the manuscript copy from the Sorabji Archive eventually, that is probably more accurate than the publication.

while we are waiting for a decent recording, there's always midi.   ;)

Offline Etude

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #14 on: February 27, 2005, 05:33:26 PM
Sorabji's music is so incredibly difficult to even listen to that I've always found him more of a crazy old man than a genius.

He was thirty-seven when he wrote Opus Clavicembalisticum, not a crazy old man.

Offline Radix

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #15 on: February 27, 2005, 05:34:43 PM
Fine. He was a crazy nearly-middle-aged man.

Offline Etude

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #16 on: February 27, 2005, 05:36:07 PM
 :)

Offline willcowskitz

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #17 on: February 27, 2005, 05:52:26 PM
Something probably related to your experience popped in my mind;  I read somewhere that Sorabji's music is not comprehended most profoundly through hearing, but through memory. If you played through the whole thing, even if inaccurately, you entered the composition by slowly becoming part of it, and this allowed your mind to set into the optimal mood for better internalizing it as a whole instead of a bundle of interesting details. The memory strengthened by the intense, involving activity might have caused an after-effect that you can't comprehend in concepts, but it is instead directly and deeply affecting you (I would guess from your descriptions). Probably if you digest the experience for a while, maintaining open-mindedness towards new realizations not necessarily from the realm of clumsy words, it will attain a more perfect form in your head and mundane adjectives will become totally useless in describing the abstract of the work. Sounds like you've already figured that much, anyway. :P

Offline anda

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #18 on: February 27, 2005, 09:11:01 PM
then what's the point? why should anyone want to play this work, and whay did sorabji write this? except for the fact that it's sonor, does this have anything to do with music?

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #19 on: February 27, 2005, 11:57:28 PM
Today, I sat down, and played the Opus Clavicembalisticum. I wasn't worrying about playing the right notes, I just tried my best to play something similar to what was on the page.

I admire your endurance, persisting through four hours of sheer torture!  But this is where you leave me confused: if you didn't care about playing the right notes and just tried to play "something similar" in what sense can you say you played the Opus Clavicembalisticum?  How many of the notes were yours and how many were Sorabji's?  If I said, "ah I played The Revolutionary Etude but I didn't bother to play the right notes" someone would pat me gently on the head and tell me "son you need to get back in the woodshed and practice."  Or have you just made the point that with the O.C. it simply doesn't matter what notes you play: it's just a cacophonic mess...and of course no one would be the wiser.  It's impossible to make mistakes when one plays the O.C. ...no one is going to say that should have been an F# instead of an F in that little passage. 

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I can't even explain the feeling. But it was one of the most horrible feelings I have ever experienced.

This is probably the subject for another discussion but shouldn't music engage our finer feelings?  If I want to feel horrible I can just listen to someone's nails scratching the blackboard...the kind of sound that sets your teeth on edge.  Why would someone purposely set out to make themselves feel "horrible" through music?  I can understand the power of music to make us feel sad, noble, happy, wistful, loving, uplifted.  If it makes me feel horrible I cannot say that it is music to my ears.   
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline Radix

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #20 on: February 28, 2005, 12:23:46 AM
I agree, Jazzyprof, and that's probably why I've never been able to see the "genius" in Sorabji's music.

Offline Ludwig Van Rachabji

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #21 on: February 28, 2005, 01:13:26 AM


I admire your endurance, persisting through four hours of sheer torture!  But this is where you leave me confused: if you didn't care about playing the right notes and just tried to play "something similar" in what sense can you say you played the Opus Clavicembalisticum?  How many of the notes were yours and how many were Sorabji's?  If I said, "ah I played The Revolutionary Etude but I didn't bother to play the right notes" someone would pat me gently on the head and tell me "son you need to get back in the woodshed and practice."  Or have you just made the point that with the O.C. it simply doesn't matter what notes you play: it's just a cacophonic mess...and of course no one would be the wiser.  It's impossible to make mistakes when one plays the O.C. ...no one is going to say that should have been an F# instead of an F in that little passage. 


In this piece, right/wrong notes really do not matter. I was playing through it just for the sake of playing through it.

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This is probably the subject for another discussion but shouldn't music engage our finer feelings?  If I want to feel horrible I can just listen to someone's nails scratching the blackboard...the kind of sound that sets your teeth on edge.  Why would someone purposely set out to make themselves feel "horrible" through music?  I can understand the power of music to make us feel sad, noble, happy, wistful, loving, uplifted.  If it makes me feel horrible I cannot say that it is music to my ears.   

Oh, I didn't expect to feel horrible. This is why I created this post. I was so surprised at how I felt when the piece was finished. Like I said, it was almost as if I had seen Hell through the music. This is just another example of the power of music.
Music... can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. Leonard Bernstein

Offline musik_man

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #22 on: February 28, 2005, 01:50:58 AM
I'll never learn a piece that requires that you factor in a potty break. :P
/)_/)
(^.^)
((__))o

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #23 on: February 28, 2005, 02:22:53 AM
HOw bout posting a recording of yourself sightreading it for us all to listen to Ludwig Van Rachabji. It would be very interesting!
 
 
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Offline Ludwig Van Rachabji

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #24 on: February 28, 2005, 02:25:12 AM
HOw bout posting a recording of yourself sightreading it for us all to listen to Ludwig Van Rachabji. It would be very interesting!
 

Indeed...
Music... can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. Leonard Bernstein

Offline Skeptopotamus

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #25 on: February 28, 2005, 04:32:11 AM
of course a midi of this piece would violate copywrite laws, but does anyone know where one might find said midi, myself of course not wanting to partake of it!



just out of curiosity of COURSE!

Offline Lance Morrison

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #26 on: February 28, 2005, 06:56:16 AM
I am very impressed that you have gotten through this work. I am still trying to decide if I like it....oh I love modern classical music more than any other, so it has nothing to do with the kinds of sounds he uses, which I find wonderful. It has more to do with the large-scale progression of his work. I have only listened up to the fuga tertia (I happen to like the fugues, being so thorough and obsessive), but what is bothering me is the theme and variations, which I can only say for sure that I like the first half of it. Of course, if the two recordings are as inaccurate as people say, maybe I shouldn't be listening to them at all...

Offline Da Bachtopus

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #27 on: February 28, 2005, 08:09:17 AM
Is Satie's 'Vexations' a work of genius because it can give the pianist hallucinations?

Offline chopinisque

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #28 on: February 28, 2005, 08:19:26 AM
It gives pianists hallucinations?  Do you mean the music or just the hours of repeating the same thing?
Mad about Chopin.

Offline chromatickler

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #29 on: February 28, 2005, 10:46:07 AM


In this piece, right/wrong notes really do not matter. I was playing through it just for the sake of playing through it.
What you did was not playing through the OC. you think you did. but you did not. What you DID in fact do was flipping over pages of the OC every so often without interrupting a random 4hour improvisation in the style of ornstein. In which case it is expected that you would feel horrible afterwards.

Offline Ludwig Van Rachabji

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Re: My Experience with the Opus Clavicembalisticum
Reply #30 on: February 28, 2005, 04:41:44 PM

What you did was not playing through the OC. you think you did. but you did not. What you DID in fact do was flipping over pages of the OC every so often without interrupting a random 4hour improvisation in the style of ornstein. In which case it is expected that you would feel horrible afterwards.

*sigh*  ::)

If this is the type of response I'm going to get from people who have no idea what I'm talking about, I might as well close this thread.

I apologize to everyone for ever posting, expecting a discussion on a discussion board. What was I thinking?
Music... can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable. Leonard Bernstein
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