Posts Tagged 'piano'

Beethoven’s Violin Sonatas: Setting the New Performance Standard

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas are among the most famous works of chamber music history and represent, together with Mozart’s works for this instrument duo, the core of violin repertoire from the Viennese Classicist period.

Though composed in a short span in Beethoven’s creative life (nine of the ten were written between 1798 and 1803, with the final one appearing in 1812), these sonatas bear all the marks of Beethoven’s compositional innovation: the breaking of formal tradition, a vast emotional scope, skillful musical manipulation, and, of course, the trademark urgency and power.

The new Bärenreiter edition of the violin sonatas — or, as more appropriately titled by Beethoven himself, sonatas for the pianoforte and violin — offers a revolutionary editorial approach to the music that does more than simply hand down the text.

These new volumes, edited by historical performing practice expert Dr. Clive Brown, present an approach to performance that is quite different from what most of today’s musicians are accustomed to. This approach not only falls much more in line with what Beethoven would have expected, but also imbues the music with a renewed vigor and offers musicians an incredible array of opportunities for creativity.

“This is the highest quality of academic scholarship, but it is not only that: this edition has enabled me to bring these sonatas to life in a way that has not been possible before – this is historical research in the service of living and breathing music!”

Viktoria Mullova, Violinist

Here violinist Viktoria Mullova and pianist Alasdair Beatson demonstrate some of their most illuminating discoveries from the “Spring” Sonata (Op. 24) and show us why they’re excited to work with these new editions:

The Editorial Approach

Dr. Brown’s new editions of the Beethoven violin sonatas combine a traditional scholarly Urtext approach with a wealth of information on historical performing practice informed by the thorough study of recordings and editions made by 19th-century musicians, many of whom had direct contact with Beethoven himself or with others that did.

These historical sources reveal a striking discrepancy between performance and notation. Composers in Beethoven’s era, including Beethoven himself, simply did not write down a large swath of the expressive gestures that they would have expected musicians to make, including rhythmic and tempo flexibility, piano arpeggiation and asynchrony, portamento, cadenzas, and ornamental, rather than continuous, vibrato effects.

By not including these details in the text, composers created a space bursting with potential for the creative performer to exploit in what could and, most importantly, would be wildly distinctive and thrillingly emotional performances. In many respects, it was a creative freedom much more akin to jazz than to today’s renditions of classical music.

“I’m alerting people to the fact that we’re actually missing the point if we play the music exactly as it stands on the page. It’s not expressive in the way that they would have expected it to be.”

Dr. Clive Brown, Editor

In the 20th century, all that changed. Between the spread of recording, which captured and then propagated singular interpretive viewpoints, and the Modernist revolution, which sought literal adherence to the text, classical music performance lost its improvisational spirit in favor of technical correctness, leaving performance after performance of any individual piece to be, for all intents and purposes, much the same and even redundant.

In this edition, Dr. Brown provides a traditional Urtext violin part, plus a second edited violin part featuring suggestions for fingerings and bowings that might help the musician explore the text as a 19th-century musician would have. The edition also clarifies some notational conventions employed by Beethoven that went out of use since his time and were ignored or misunderstood in later editions, including the most recent Urtexts.

Dr. Brown’s edits and annotations are, it must be pointed out, intended only as suggestions to invite serious engagement with the soundscape of Beethoven’s musical era. They are not meant to be performed as written time and time again, but rather to serve as guides as we experiment with the music on our own.

“That’s what I would love to see classical musicians getting back to: not being so frightened of making mistakes. In order to be really bold in performance, you have to be prepared to make a mistake.”

Dr. Clive Brown, Editor

Here Dr. Brown himself introduces this performance approach to us and explains how it helps us connect with the emotional essence of Beethoven’s music. He also discusses the importance of tempo in Beethoven’s music, gives us some stylistic examples of the expressive potential that we can begin to experiment with as we revisit Beethoven, and shares some anecdotes that bring Beethoven and his contemporaries to life:

For further information about Dr. Brown’s approach to Beethoven and a more detailed analysis of historical sources, please refer to the introductory text, “Reading between the Lines of Beethoven’s Notation,” included in the edition and the detailed Performing Practice Commentary available in full here:

About the Editor: Dr. Clive Brown

Clive Brown was a member of the Faculty of Music at Oxford University from 1980 to 1991 and is now Emeritus Professor of Applied Musicology at the University of Leeds and Guest Professor at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst (University of the Arts), Vienna. He has published numerous articles on historical performing practice and, as a violinist, pursues practice-led research.

Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora: The Best-Selling Anthology by William Chapman Nyaho

William Chapman Nyaho

While teaching at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 1991 to 2002, Ghanaian American pianist William Chapman Nyaho was struck by the utter lack of available piano scores by composers of African descent. To the extent that he could find any at all, they were mostly out of print or in manuscript form.

Shortly thereafter Nyaho found himself wandering the exhibition hall at an MTNA conference. He asked publisher after publisher for music by Florence Price. Publisher after publisher responded, “Who’s that?” Nyaho told them that she was an African-American composer and was told time and time again, “We only have Scott Joplin,” with the excuse being that there didn’t seem to be any demand for Price’s music. Nyaho replied, “The chicken or the egg: which comes first?”

Continue reading ‘Piano Music of Africa and the African Diaspora: The Best-Selling Anthology by William Chapman Nyaho’

Learning to Play Piano for the Very Young: The Perfect Pre-Primer for Preschoolers

Debbie Cavalier of Debbie and Friends, a music educator and Sr. Vice President at Berklee College of Music/DEO Berklee Online and one of the top children’s music artists in the nation, published Learning To Play Piano for the Very Young to provide a fun, engaging introduction to the keyboard. Cavalier created the book with her grandfather, noted arranger/composer Marty Gold.

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With this fun, new pre-primer piano method, young children may:

  • learn to read the treble clef and note names using colorful pictures
  • get started playing familiar melodies with their right hand
  • learn to play seven well-loved songs including favorites such as “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “Jingle Bells”
  • enjoy family sing-alongs with the guitar chord chart and lyrics included

Continue reading ‘Learning to Play Piano for the Very Young: The Perfect Pre-Primer for Preschoolers’

Mark Hayes: Perfect Postludes

The postlude following a service makes creation resound with praise and allows the congregation to leave the church proclaiming God’s greatness. As the signal for the congregation to disperse, it should be a stirring exclamation point to the service that connects the worship experience to the secular world to which the crowd of people is about to return.

PerfectPostludesWhat makes a perfect postlude? Mark Hayes answers this question with his new collection, Perfect Postludes: Hymns and Spirituals to Close the Service, which contains the following ten selections:

  • Jesus Shall Reign
  • I’m Gonna Sing When the Spirit Says Sing
  • Joyful Day
  • Christ the Lord Is Risen Today
  • O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing
  • I Want Jesus to Walk with Me
  • To God Be the Glory
  • Noble March
  • Lead On, O King Eternal
  • They’ll Know We Are Christians

Here Hayes himself describes his collection and what makes it so useful for today’s church pianist: Continue reading ‘Mark Hayes: Perfect Postludes’

Darcy Stanley: Seasonal Settings for Worship

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Darcy Stanley

Guest post by Darcy Stanley introducing her new collection of sacred piano music, Seasonal Settings for Worship. Stanley, a composer, arranger, lyricist and orchestrator, has published many choral works, solo and duet arrangements, piano arrangements and orchestrations. As a pianist, she has been designated Permanent Professional Certified Teacher of Music in Piano from Music Teachers National Association, and has served as adjudicator for various music festivals and piano competitions. Stanley worked as adjunct music professor at Faith Baptist Bible College for 15 years, teaching piano and Choral Writing and Arranging. She and her husband, Tim, live in Greenville, SC, where she is pianist and director of orchestra and instrumental ensembles at Cornerstone Baptist Church.

 

SeasonalSettingsForWorshipLet everything that has breath praise the Lord! (Psalm 150:6) I have had the joy of praising the Lord through music since I was a child. As a little girl, I found great joy in playing the piano and singing for anyone who would listen. My sweet grandfather was my favorite and most frequent audience!

Many years have passed since those early days, and I am thankful for the numerous opportunities I have had to serve the Lord and praise Him with music. Serving as church pianist for most of my adult life has given me an appreciation of the importance of music in worship services. Pianists need to be prepared with more than just a few of their favorite hymns. Special services and occasions require music that will specifically enhance the worship service with an intentional purpose. Continue reading ‘Darcy Stanley: Seasonal Settings for Worship’

A Short Foray into Beethoven’s Variations

Guest post by Dr. Dominik Rahmer, editor at G. Henle Verlag.

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The formal technique of “variations” played an important role in Beethoven’s work throughout his entire life. Critic Paul Bekker wrote in 1911, “Beethoven begins with variations,” and indeed this is true not only of the character of his oeuvre, but also of its chronological progression: Beethoven’s very first published work was his 9 Variations on a March by Dressler, WoO 63, which appeared in 1782.

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Dressler Variations, WoO 63: Beginning of the Theme

Similarly, we could add that Beethoven also ends with variations. The Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, which are amongst his last piano works, not only crown his creativity, but also, in the history of piano variations, are probably equaled only by Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

The panoply of variations within his multi-movement works also indicates how fundamental this technique is in Beethoven’s musical thinking. Consider, for example, the profound closing movement of the last piano sonata, Op. 111, or the grand finale of the 3rd Symphony.

Though the themes of these movements were usually Beethoven’s own inventions, here we will focus on the pieces composed as independent variation sets on popular melodies. This vantage point reveals some interesting finds. Continue reading ‘A Short Foray into Beethoven’s Variations’

Sightreading. Solved.

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Nancy and Randall Faber are pleased to announce the release of their newest digital support tool, the Piano Adventure Sightreading Coach. This innovative technology provides immediate feedback and assessment, making it the perfect companion to the Piano Adventures Sightreading books.

PianoAdventureSightreadingCoach

The Sightreading Coach “listens” to the student play along with the score, and instantly grades rhythm and pitch by highlighting incorrect notes and rhythms. Students can practice the exercise as often as they wish, and upload their best performance to the teacher in between lessons. Teachers can monitor student progress without using valuable lesson time, making at-home practice more accurate and efficient.

Continue reading ‘Sightreading. Solved.’

Tim Topham: The Ultimate Piano Teaching Conference

Guest post by Tim Topham, host of the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast.

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Well, this is super exciting news. After months of planning, we are just weeks away from Piano Pivot Live, my very own piano teaching conference here in Melbourne.

I’ve spoken and been to conferences for years now.

If you’ve been to a piano teaching conference, chances are you probably learnt quite a few things.

But there was probably room for even more professional growth.

Meet the speakers: Here are my fabulous keynote speakers for Piano Pivot Live

That’s why I’m going to do things a bit differently at Piano Pivot Live 2020.

It’s going to be a two-day conference that features the lot — workshops, teaching and of course tips on how to run your business.

I’ve hand-picked each presenter, and I’ve seen them all speak before so I know they’re fantastic. I’ve also included masterminding sessions so that you can make action plans right away…and much more.

Dual Focus: Business and Teaching

One of the big differences I think at Piano Pivot Live is going to be the dual focus on piano teaching and also business.

As teachers, we often start with that early on. We feel more comfortable teaching and being at the piano than we are with running a business.

This is where we let ourselves down — we can be a bit lazy with the administrative side or just don’t know enough about how to run a business and can actually miss out on maximising our income.

That’s why at my piano teaching conference, I want to put a big focus on piano teaching business as well as creative teaching techniques.

A well-paid, happy studio owner makes a happy piano teacher.

You will leave this conference excited and with actionable ideas you can implement RIGHT AWAY.

It’s unlike any conference you’ve been to before!

One-Stream, Group Learning

If you’ve been to a multi-day piano teaching conference, you know how crazy it can be trying to fit everything in

Sometimes, you just can’t.

Sessions clash or you don’t have the time to fit it all in.

Well, at Piano Pivot Live you won’t be forced to pick between presentations!

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Our one-stream event setup means we all share two days together, and listen and learn from each other.

Also, the presentations will not be passive.

Learn by listening and by doing. Experience workshops, live teaching, masterminds and implementation sessions.

Rub shoulders with some of the world’s most creative and innovative teachers.

Speakers and Presenters

As you might have guessed, I will be your host!

But I’ve also enlisted the help of some of the world’s brightest music minds to bring you the best in music pedagogy.

I have amazing keynote speakers in Samantha Coates, Carly McDonald, Philip Johnston and Anita Collins.

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The wonderful Nicola Cantan, Joyce Ong, Paul Myatt and others will also be speaking and presenting at the event.

There are a few different types of presentations you can expect at Piano Pivot Live from these wonderful speakers.

  • Keynote presentations: You can’t have a conference without some keynote speakers sharing their wealth of knowledge with you.
  • Live teaching: Watch me teach a student live on stage! You will see exactly how I teach creatively on stage for 30 minutes.
  • Masterminds, Fireside Chats and Panel Events: Connect with other teachers and share your knowledge in our mastermind sessions, guided by a topic expert. Ask your questions to our panel of experts. We’re here to help you.
  • Practical workshops: Sometimes you just have to DO things. After learning a variety of pedagogy and business techniques, you will brainstorm ways to implement them so you can leave the conference with an action plan.

More Information

To find out more about Piano Pivot Live 2020 and to grab your ticket, just click on the button below.

I’m so excited for you to share in what will be an incredible learning experience.

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TimTopham.jpgTim Topham has one mission in life: to stem the tide of children quitting music lessons by helping teachers maximise student engagement through creativity, technology and innovation. Tim hosts the popular Creative Piano Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as pedagogy, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, Californian Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: The New New Testament of Piano Repertoire

BeethovenVonRichardWagner1870 marked the 100th birthday of Ludwig van Beethoven. After denying the invitation from the “Beethoven Committee of Vienna” to appear onstage together with Liszt, Joachim and Clara Schumann to celebrate the event, Richard Wagner decided to write an essay instead. While this essay is notable as a broader investigation of Wagner’s aesthetic philosophy and ideals, it also remains an insightful exploration of both the artistic significance and enduring popularity of Beethoven’s music. For Wagner Beethoven’s music isn’t merely beautiful, a concept that is for him constrained by convention and subject to changing tastes and fashions, but sublime. Beethoven reveals a sort of Platonic ideal of melody, thereby liberating it from its historical moment, and connecting his listeners with a timeless, universal human truth. For Wagner it is Beethoven’s radical defiance against tradition and his intense emotional expressions that make his music a vehicle for revelation.

Though these strains are apparent across Beethoven’s entire oeuvre, it is in his piano sonatas that Beethoven’s boldest thoughts and gestures shine most brightly. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Beethoven was widely known as a brilliant pianist in his own right, giving him the natural freedom to stretch the boundaries of the instrument. Perhaps, though, it is also due to the nature of the piano itself: a solo instrument that lends itself to the realm of the personal and inward, even the diaristic, and one that, by allowing tones only to be struck and not sustained or driven forward, abstracts music into its most intellectually pure form, making it a prime medium for musical exploration and innovation.

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Ludwig van Beethoven

To explore Beethoven’s piano sonatas is to explore Beethoven’s musical innovations. In these 32 pieces, we see the concentrated version of the familiar trajectory guiding us from the Classical era into the Romantic: the experimental mimicry of his early years, the ego-driven defiance of his middle years where, at the height of his compositional powers, he most fully challenges convention, and finally his late years where, fully deaf, he introspectively explores the mysteries of life and death. Continue reading ‘Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: The New New Testament of Piano Repertoire’

5 Handy Tips for New Piano Lesson Enquiries

Guest post by Dr. Sally Cathcart of The Curious Piano Teachers. View the original on The Curious Piano Teachers blog HERE.

CuriousPianoTeachersLogoHave you had many new piano lesson enquiries recently? Do you ever find yourself caught ‘off-guard’ by phone calls? I know I certainly do! When this happens I can end up babbling on and feeling that I am not representing my work and worth to the best of my ability.

The next three months are probably the peak season for receiving phone calls or emails from potential students. Here’s some top tips from some of the highly organised Curious Piano Teachers members. Continue reading ‘5 Handy Tips for New Piano Lesson Enquiries’


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