The Neglected Consolations of Franz Liszt

Franz Liszt's beloved Consolation No. 3 in D-flat Major from the Six Consolations S.172, is a character piece frequently performed by the advancing pianist in recital and festival adjudications. Reminiscent of a nostalgic nocturne, Consolation No. 3 features a stunning melodic line and unpredictable harmonic nuances that have surely contribute...

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Deciphering Chopin’s shorthand in the posthumous Mazurka in F minor

If someone had told me a decade ago that I was going to produce the first (and, so far, only) published reconstruction of Chopin's posthumous Mazurka in F Minor that includes every uncanceled measure of the composer's sketch, I would have laughed. But apparently when a performance opportunity inspires a research obsession, unexpected things can hap...

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Touching Debussy, Teaching Alchemy

faries-are-dancing The Fairies are Exquisite Dancers, Illustration in 'Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens' by J.M Barrie

Sound is touch at a distance. Jad Abumrad, from Radiolab "Sound is touch at a distance." I heard this quote at a recent talk given by Radio Lab creator, Jad Abumrad, and I couldn't get it out of my mind. Over and over it repeated itself. Mothers sing to babies after they put them down as a way of continuing physical contact, Jad told us. So, i...

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From Schumann to Schoenberg

Schoenberg-450px-Blaues_Selbstportait-schoenberg

Cover: Blaues Selbstportrait, 1910 by Schoenberg Breakfast was not a good idea before tackling measures seven and eight that featured sixty-fourth notes and tremolos, as well as a meter shift from 6/8 and 3/8 to 2/4, among other mind-bending directions. Is playing music meant to induce nausea?  At age ten, I took one year of piano lessons. Ado...

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Moving from Sonatina to Sonata: Bridging the gap with Johann Wilhelm Hässler

Progressing from late-intermediate level sonatinas by Clementi and Kuhlau to early-advanced level sonatas by Mozart and Haydn can be a challenge for students. The piano repertoire does not have many well-structured eighteenth-century pieces of good musical quality by well-known composers that bridge this gap. The Six Easy Sonatas by Johann Wilhelm ...

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Bumping into Brahms: A conversation about the Intermezzo, Op. 118, No. 2

JM: Oh! Sorry sir, you startled me! I almost bumped into you. But wait, I know you! Are you not Herr Doktor Brahms? Brahms: Guten Tag? Bitte, kein Doktor. I am amazed that we have somehow encountered one another here. Might it be because I have played so many of your wonderful song accompaniments and piano pieces recently? Would you possibly be wil...

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Learning John Cage's Sonatas and Interludes

I couldn't use percussion instruments for Syvilla's dance, though, suggesting Africa, they would have been suitable; they would have left too little room [on the stage] for her to perform. I was obliged to write a piano piece. I spent a day or so conscientiously trying to find an African 12-tone row. I had no luck. I decided that what was wrong was...

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Richard Wagner at the piano

Richard Wagner at the piano

Wagner was the ultimate drama king and a lightning rod for controversy, yet he remains one of the most fascinating and uncompromising figures in the arts. Richard Wagner's 200th birthday is being celebrated this year at major opera houses including the Metropolitan Oper...

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A master class on three favorite Beethoven sonata movements

The thirty-two sonatas of Beethoven are often cited as the pianists' New Testament, with Johann Sebastian Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier being the Old Testament. These treasured works are a staple in piano teaching studios throughout the world, and are also required repertoire in the most demanding international piano competitions. A sonata or fugue ...

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Opus 111: A revelation

No one questions that Beethoven's controversial choices in his work are appreciated as groundbreaking. But nearly anyone would question a choice made by a young pianist to deviate from instructions printed in Urtext scores. As a young student, celebrated pianist and best-selling author Seymour Bernstein made that conscious choice in a passage of Be...

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The completion of De Profundis: Instrumental Psalm for Piano & Orchestra by Franz Liszt

Excerpt 1: Liszt’s dedication page. “De Profundis Psaume Instrumental pour Orchestre et Piano Principal by F. Liszt.” Dedicated to the Abbé Felicité de Lamennais.

The instrumental psalm De Profundis for piano & orchestra by Franz Liszt (Raabe: 668, Searle: 691) is an unfinished, though virtually complete manuscript held by the Goethe and Schiller Archive in Weimar, Germany. It was composed during the late summer of 1834 while Liszt was staying at La Chênaie, in Brittany, having sought out the company of ...

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Questions & Answers

Preparing for Liszt  The Questions & Answers column of Clavier Companion typically deals with issues related to elementary and intermediate level piano instruction. This issue of our magazine is devoted to a celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt. Most of Liszt's compositions are so demanding, both in their musical cha...

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The Pedal Piano and the Schumanns

In 1845, Robert Schumann wrote what are undoubtedly some of the most beautiful and enduring pieces of music for the pedal piano, his Six Etudes in Canon Form, Op. 56; Four Sketches, Op. 58; and Six Fugues on the Name B-A-C-H, Op. 60 (for organ or pedal piano). Schumann was an enthusiastic student of counterpoint, and his interest in the pedal piano...

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Which Chopin?

There have been numerous collected editions of Chopin's music since his death, and few of them agree on anything. Why is this? The answer lies principally in the complexity of the source tradition, and I include under that heading both manuscript and early printed sources. It may be helpful to attempt a rough classification of these sources. Sketch...

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Robert Schumann and the art of musical composition

Following hard on the heels of the Mendelssohn bicentenary, 2010 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Robert Schumann (1810-1856), a composer who will surely garner his full share of symposia, concerts, and special events reassessing his place in the European canon. To a large extent, Schumann has fared better in music histories...

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How do you teach the rhythm challenges in Debussy's Clair de lune?

In this department over the past thirteen years, many authors and myself have alluded to two different meanings of the term "rhythm." Prosaic rhythm (also called counting rhythm) is the mere timing of events decoded from the printed page using counting or other methods. Poetic rhythm is much broader, encompassing virtually everything...

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What do Beethoven's piano sonatas reveal about his pianism?

from the series: Let's Get Physical: Technique  Scott McBride Smith, Editor  Hans von Bülow, the nineteenth-century pianist, conductor, and master class teacher won fame for his meticulous musicianship and formidable technique. His sarcastic bon mots to students were legendary. "You have but one qualification for playing th...

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You consistently have high school students that play extremely difficult repertoire such as Chopin Ballades. How do you prepare them to play this difficult repertoire at such a young age?

I am amazed when I see high school students effortlessly playing advanced repertoire, and I have observed that certain teachers seem to constantly have students at this level. Wondering how this is accomplished, I asked two such teachers, Paul Wirth and Donald Morelock, to share some of their methods. Of course success...

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About Piano Magazine

Piano Magazine is the leading resource for pianists, piano teachers, and piano enthusiasts. We bring you informative, interesting, and inspiring ideas on all aspects of piano teaching, learning, and performing. The official name of Clavier Companion magazine was changed to Piano Magazine in 2019.

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