News for Students
SPRING HAS SPRUNG! Let's hear a cheer for flowers beginning to bloom, warm breeze, beautiful piano tunes wafting in the clear air!
WHAT is an "Etude"?? Harvard Dictionary of Music describes as "A composition designed to improve the technique of an instrumental performer by isolating specific difficulties and concentrating his or her efforts on their mastery. A single etude usually focuses on one technical problem; etudes are usually published in groups more or less systematically covering a range of such problems in a range of keys." This month we will focus on etudes. If asked to name one famous collection of etudes, many pianists would come up quite easily with those written by Czerny and Hanon, but immediately thereafter, one would probably say those by Chopin (I linked Pollini playing all twenty-four). There are, however, thousands of etude for piano, and every pianist should have a good number under their fingers! Those etudes by Claude Debussy are among the most glorious, in my opinion; listen here to a young Mitsuko Uchida practicing during an interview regarding her performance of the Debussy Etudes and see if you agree! To listen to the set in entirety, I link one of my fav pianists, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, performing the Debussy. Now, another set of etudes that I just adore are those incredibly difficult ones by Gyorgy Ligeti. Listen to No.13 dubbed "the Devil's Staircase", performed here by another favorite pianist of mine, Pierre-Laurent Aimard. There is also a good video by Aimard where he discusses this work in detail. Alright, enough! Now, let's get those fingers moving! What etude are YOU working on today?
In continuation of music that celebrates SPRING, I have linked a wonderful article from CRB, Classical Radio Boston, with many youtube videos imbedded. The writer begins with a poem, "Spring has sprung, the grass iz riz....", which made me smile as April is National Poetry Month! So, listen to spring-inspired music as you sit or stroll in the warming air - enjoy!
Have you ever heard of a "Lautenwerck"?? If not, you aren't alone! Turns out, the lautenwerck was probably Bach's favorite instrument. He wrote a number of keyboard works specifically for this instrument. No lautenwercks survived the 19th century; these days, those compositions are usually played on the harpsichord, or piano. What was the lautenwerck? It was a bit like a very delicate harpsichord, in fact, another name for them was a lute-harpsichord. Their strings are made of guts, originally from sheep (like lutes), which gives lautenwercks a warm, intimate tone distinct from brassy, metal-strung harpsichords. "Deceptive Cadence" from NPR Classical has a wonderful article linking more information and a performance on a lautenwerck which I will link here. While there are no longer original lautenwerck instruments from Bach's time, there are contemporary artisans building replicated instruments. So let's get practicing our Bach keyboard works just in case we ever run into one of these and want to put on a spontaneous performance!!
Thank you for your nice comments on my most recent online recital, "The Thing with Feathers"..... I truly enjoyed putting this recital program together and practicing towards for several months! Interested in watching? Contact me for a link!
One of my favorite quotes by Sergei Rachmaninov:
“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”
Hey, gardener/pianists, check out student Gwen's wonderful garden blogs! Visit Gwen's