After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern by Kenneth Hamilton

By Kenneth Hamilton

Kenneth Hamilton's publication engagingly and lucidly dissects the oft-invoked fable of an exceptional culture, or Golden Age of Pianism. it really is written either for avid gamers and for participants in their audiences by way of a pianist who believes that scholarship and clarity can move hand-in-hand. Hamilton discusses in meticulous but energetic element the performance-style of serious pianists from Liszt to Paderewski, and delves into the far-from-inevitable improvement of the piano recital. He entertainingly recounts how classical concert events developed from exuberant, occasionally riotous occasions into the formal, funereal trotting out of predictable items they are often this day, how a frequently unhistorical "respect for the ranking" started to exchange pianists' improvisations and variations, and the way the medical customized arose that an viewers can be visible and never heard. Pianists will locate nutrition for idea right here on their repertoire and the traditions of its functionality. Hamilton chronicles why pianists of the earlier didn't continually commence a section with the 1st word of the ranking, nor finish with the final. He emphasizes that nervousness over fallacious notes is a comparatively contemporary psychosis, and enjoying totally from reminiscence a comparatively contemporary requirement. Audiences will stumble upon a vibrant account of the way greatly diverse are the recitals they attend in comparison to concert events of the earlier, and the way their very own function has decreased from noisily lively contributors within the live performance adventure to passive recipients of inventive benediction from the degree. they'll notice whilst cowed listeners finally stopped applauding among hobbies, and why they stopped speaking loudly in the course of them. The book's huge message broadcasts that there's not anything divinely ordained approximately our personal concert-practices, programming and piano-performance kinds. Many points of the trendy method are unhistorical-some laudable, a few purely ludicrous. also they are a ways faraway from these fondly, if deceptively, remembered as constituting a Golden Age.

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Extra resources for After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance

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We can quite reasonably highlight certain common features if we wish, but whether these are more important than the differences is open to question. At any rate, Liszt’s teaching in his later years was frequently at variance with his verifiable practice earlier, as indeed was the musical world. He made his reputation, in other words, with a performance approach at odds in significant aspects with the one he taught toward the end of his life. 38 Forgivable vanity, one hopes. I remember how pleased I was myself as a piano student when I realized that I could ‘‘trace my lineage to Liszt’’ through lessons with Lawrence Glover, who studied with Claudio Arrau, who was a pupil of Martin Krause, who was a pupil of the great man himself.

Romantic Pianism and Modern Pianism My purpose in the subsequent pages is to examine some central characteristics of romantic pianism and concert conditions, of so-called Great Tradition playing, not in a musical equivalent of the quest for the Holy Grail, nor to reminisce wistfully about vanished and never-to-be-regained ‘‘good old days,’’ but as a guide to performance practice for professional musicians, music students, interested amateurs, and—not least—critics of our own era. There were, evidently, many stylistic features and approaches to performance more common to the players of the romantic era than to those of the present day, but those features are mostly neither irreproducible nor irrecoverably lost.

This may be so in terms of technical facility, speed, bravura, and energy. ). But we can nevertheless learn much from the general performance approaches evinced by these recordings. Early recordings allow us to hear much further back into the past than the bare recording date suggests, for many of the featured artists started their musical training in the middle years of the nineteenth century. Although Plante´ made his first discs in 1908, he was born in 1839, ten years before Chopin’s death. As a young man he had even performed in a duo with Liszt.

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