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Topic: Anton Rubinstein  (Read 1678 times)

Offline cziffra

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Anton Rubinstein
on: March 08, 2005, 04:25:39 PM
I sight read one of his nocturnes today and i was quite impressed.  He seems to have a very powerful romantic sound, and he uses his harmonies with sophistication and clarity.

Any discussions of his music?  He seems to have been completely forgotten, and this is a shame.  He would stand quite well amidst company like rachmaninoff, for example.  (well, i don't know, i would need to hear more.)

If there's a Rubinstein expert who would like to share their views on the highs and lows of the rubinstein repertoire, i would be very grateful. 
What it all comes down to is that one does not play the piano with ones fingers; one plays the piano with ones mind.-  Glenn Gould

Offline cziffra

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Re: Anton Rubinstein
Reply #1 on: March 08, 2005, 04:28:31 PM
This is a very good article, stolen from a google search result:

https://members.chello.nl/mvpaasse/rubinstein.htm

Gustav Mahler:

'He is the thundering, but also very elegant gentleman from Petersburg who will tell you with grandeur and Slavic straight forwardness whats on his mind. He comes straight to the point. A gentleman from Russia with a overwhelming enthusiasm for music. His opera, The Demon, is a great elaborate piece of music that belongs to the everlasting masterpieces of this century.

 

An artist who is worshipped by one generation may be forgotten just as easily by the next. The way our cultural heritage is judged changes with each new era. The legendary Anton Rubinstein has been ignored for half a century now. This is all the more fascinating because he played a central part in musical life in the 19th century. His compositions ware performed throughout Europe by people like Franz Liszt, Gustav Mahler, C. Saint Sans, Hans von Blow, Johannes Brahms and other renowned musicians. His popularity as a pianist was equalled only by Franz Liszt. For hours the people would queue up for tickets and sometimes the police had to be called to maintain order. Enthusiastic fans even climbed into the chandeliers not to miss anything of his performance. Why has Rubinstein fallen into oblivion in our century?

One of the explanations could be that with the present day style of playing his music could hardly be brought to life. Rubinstein's piano- playing - together with that of Franz Liszt regarded as the most impressive of the 1 9th century - concentrated radically on character and the melody line in music. A risky way of playing. Rubinstein was known for his mistakes, but the public accepted them with love. A second explanation of the fact that Rubinstein's music is hardly performed nowadays might be found in a popular 20th century dogma that only innovating, avant-garde art is worthwhile.

Rubinstein's music is not 'modern' but has close links with classical music traditions. As a pianist and a conductor he also showed interest in history. He stressed the importance of studying the period instruments in order to be able to play the music the way it used to sound. He asked the music-editors to remain more faithful to the original scores of the old masters. He disapproved of the common practice in 19th century to romanticise the old scores by means of all sorts of additions. A third explanation may be found in Rubinstein's internationalism. He regarded music as an international language. He watched the growth of German nationalism with anxiety. In Russia young colleagues objected to his music not being 'Russian'. These composers: Cui, Moessorgsky, Borodin and others had, like Wagner, in our century much success with their nationalistic aestheticism.

'To the Christians I am a Jew, to the Jews I am a Christian, to the Russians I am a German, to the Germans I am a Russian.' This is how Rubinstein describes his place in the world. His father was Russian, his mother was German. Both were converted to Christianity because of anti-Semitism. He received his education as a pianist in Russia from Villoing with whom he wandered through Europe as a child prodigy. It was in Berlin that he learned to compose.

Rubinstein left en enormous oeuvre. His music is passionate end noble. His favourite tempo indication was moderato. Unjustly one could conclude from this that his music is moderate or without character. On the contrary: his moderato is a moderato in the grand manner. He wrote for almost all combinations: many compositions for piano, symphonies, string quartets, piano trio's, songs, opera's and solo concerts for various instruments. His efforts to introduce a new form of opera, the religious opera, were in vain. He dreamed of staging Bach's passions, and he himself composed biblical opera's that look up to eight hours to perform. His personal zeal and his financial backing were of decisive importance for the start of musical life in Russia.

The most difficult thing about the interpretation of Rubinstein's music is the actual understanding of its artistic contents. He gives us hardly any clues in his compositions. This is all the more peculiar as he was always impressing on to his pupils the importance of inspiriting the notes. He compared notes to hieroglyphs that one has to decipher. Not ask yourself: What note is this? With which finger should I play it? But, what does this note mean? What is the nature of this piece? Is it dramatic, lyric, romantic, humorous, heroic, divine, mystical ... ? The performer has to choose for one specific character to be able to animate the notes.

What it all comes down to is that one does not play the piano with ones fingers; one plays the piano with ones mind.-  Glenn Gould
 

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