The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Rediscovering old piano technique is altering how the music of the classical Old Masters sounds and how easily it is played

August 26, 2016
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Sure, for a long time musicology has traced how musical styles, forms and instrumentation have changed.

But now some researchers are using computers to investigate – and revive – an older keyboard technique from the 19th century that differs dramatically from the more modern technique generally in use. (Below is a photo by Alexander Refsum Jensenius.)

old piano technique CR Alexander Refsum Jensenius

It turns out not to be as outdated or useless as many assume.

It changes not only how the music of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin sounds but also the ease with which the performer can play it.

Here is a story from The New York Times that the Ear had stashed from about a year ago.

But he thinks it still seems timely – and fascinating.

And he hopes you do too.

Here is a link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/21/science/playing-mozart-piano-pieces-as-mozart-did.html

See what you think and leave a comment.

The Ear wants to hear.


Classical music: To play or not to play Hanon? Should piano students do five-finger exercises as well as scales and arpeggios? Sergei Rachmaninoff thought so and Stephen Hough thinks so. What do today’s piano students and teachers think?

May 28, 2015
5 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Should piano students play exercises?

Should they play repetitive five-finger etudes by Hanon (below and in a YouTube video at the bottom), Czerny and other pedagogues?

Should they learn and play scales and arpeggios?

hanon 1

Should they learn them separately? Or within the context of a musical composition?

These remain controversial questions.

But the British classical pianist Stephen Hough (below top) recently blogged about how he and Sergei Rachmaninoff (below bottom) – often considered the greatest pianist of the 20th century as well as a major post-Romantic composer –- defend the practice.

Hough_Stephen_color16

Rachmaninoff

Here is a link to the recent blog post by Stephen Hough for The Guardian newspaper in the UK:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/stephenhough/100076542/remembering-what-nourished-our-roots/

The Ear wants to know what you think, especially if you are a pianist, a piano student or a piano teacher.


Classical music: Here are 10 myths about Mozart. How many did you believe? Plus, WYSO’s Youth Orchestra Honors Recital is FREE at 7 TONIGHT at Oakwood Village West.

January 16, 2015
5 Comments

ALERT: This Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Oakwood Village West Auditorium, located on Madison’s far west side at 6209 Mineral Road, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras (WYSO) will present the Youth Orchestra Honors Recital.

The recital will feature eight talented young musicians who participated in the Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition this past fall and were runners-up.

Tickets are FREE, but space is limited. WYSO advises getting there early for this event.

This recital will feature the following performers: Isabelle Krier – Violin; Sarah Moniak – Flute; Nikhil Trivedi – Clarinet; Thea Valmadrid – Violin; Aurora Greane – Violin; Jessica Liu – Violin; Roy Weng – Violin; and Antonia Rohlfing – Piano.

Sorry, but no word on the program.

WYSO clarinet

By Jacob Stockinger

The birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (below, circa 1780 in a detail from a portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce) is coming up.

Mozart c 1780 detail of portrait by Johann Nepomuk della Croce

The most famous of the Classical-era composers was born on Jan. 27, 1756, and died on Dec. 5, 1791, just shy of his 36th birthday.

Even in his own time, there were many myths about Mozart, about his life and his work and his death.

Our own times have added others.

Here are 10 of those Mozart Myths.

http://www.classical-music.com/article/10-mozart-myths

The Ear finds the myths interesting, both entertaining and enlightening.

What ones did you buy into?

I myself believed the one about his copying of Allegri’s famous “Miserere” after one hearing and also the so-called “Mozart Effect” that increases intelligence.

And what is your favorite Mozart work? There are so many to choose from.

Leave word in the Comments section.

My own Mozart Favorites change over time.

Right now, I favor the Piano Concerto: No. 27 in B-Flat Major, K. 595. You can hear it in a YouTube video at the bottom. It features a performance by Mitsuko Uchida and conductor Jeffrey Tate with the English Chamber Orchestra.

Did anyone ever use simple scales and arpeggios more beautifully than Mozart?

But ask me next week, and I will probably have a different choice.

 


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