What are some persistent piano music

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Lost generation

Dear piano friends,

It's strange to think about the past 12 months again: Online concerts, piano memories from privateers who suddenly rediscover the instrument, bottlenecks in retail stores for digital pianos, because these are like “sliced ​​bread “Sold. The live level has so far been completely canceled except for a short period in summer 2020. The competitions were also repeatedly postponed, some were canceled entirely and others were mostly held online. What does all of this mean for the young pianists who are still hoping to establish themselves as artists?

On the one hand, many of these young pianists are still studying when they are actually preparing for international competitions. But even then there were major cuts. Online lessons, rarely direct lessons from the professor. Most young pianists are on their own, trying to complete some of the courses they need to get ahead in online lessons during their studies. However, when preparing for a competition program, they often have to accept their own knowledge and ideas. And then? Well, most of the competitions have long been postponed to autumn 2021, under the sword of Damocles that there can be no easing for entry into certain countries. That means: Many have prepared for free and will try to look into the future in order to offer their program to the audience and a jury in another competition or in the event of a further postponement. For many of these young pianists this means: They have no opportunity to introduce themselves to an international audience. Some will perhaps be over the age limit at a later event, others will try to assert themselves away from the competition - almost hopelessly without the possibility of live performances. And even if there will be live concerts again, nobody will wait for the as yet unknown young pianists, instead all organizers will try to hold their concerts that were already planned a season before - there will be few gaps for the young.

If you put it in an exaggerated way, several years of young keyboard artists are deprived of the opportunity to advance. That is tragic and hardly justifiable. Most of the countries understandably talk about the opening of general education schools. That is important, but the generation of current students is never actually looked at, is not in the public's consciousness. But this, too, is a factor that can hardly be neglected in our future society. Many of these students are very young, need guidance from their trainers, need guidance. Online lessons are not an alternative, but only a surrogate that ultimately ensures that the students do not completely fall into a hole.

But the concerts and competitions give young pianists the opportunity to stand out from the crowd. This has not been the case for a long time. What should I do? You have to support these young artists, privately and with the initiative of the national music councils. But they are also more interested in the big players than helping those who are still considered students. That has to change, otherwise we will lose a generation of promising pianists who could achieve great things.

The other pianists

Dear piano friends,

have you ever considered how many pianists are trained every year around the world? And how many then might not become a well-known pianist you've ever heard of? Well, there are many, downright innumerable. Often, however, the students who study piano do not even think of all the many tasks that pianists can do at the piano apart from the soloist.

The first thing that springs to mind are of course the many pianists who are constantly on the instrument at ballet institutions or who are constant companions of students in wind and string classes at music colleges. Because these are usually not students, but already highly trained pianists. It is not at all important that they almost never get into the limelight, because they make their profession important where it is needed, where they practice their profession every day with a lot of skill and love. Song classes are not exempt from this either. The orchestra also has permanent pianists who are called on the scene when a piano is in the score. Then they sit far back in the orchestra and play their part as part of the orchestra. Nevertheless, they are no less important than other pianists, no, all these pianists represent the basis of the pianist existence in our society, they are the humus on which music is based and flourishes.

Of course, one shouldn't forget the many music teachers who practice an extremely important profession that is still far too little recognized in our society. After all, they bring up the generations of music lovers, ensure that the love of music does not die out and that those who are lucky enough to make a big name also have an audience. Because once you have played the piano yourself, you will be thrilled to go to the concerts of great pianists. These piano teachers too were trained to be pianists at some point.

In the end, it is up to the numerous piano students themselves whether they strive for the big stage and eventually realize, frustrated, that they are not among the selected 1 percent who can make a living from asserting themselves as soloists, or from their profession as pianists Help them reach another level by doing what they can: playing the piano at a high level, in chamber music ensembles, in string classes or anywhere else where you need them as a connoisseur of the subject.

Of course, it must also be clear to us that there are far more pianists than those we can experience on the concert stage, regardless of whether they are in small or large halls. Even if you take the number of many small concerts, the number of those who can perform there is still small. We have to recognize that there are far more pianists who are responsible for ensuring that we can experience music in all its facets the way we want it to be. And then it simply doesn't matter whether we know the name of the pianist: But we should appreciate this work in every respect.

Everything at the beginning?

Dear piano enthusiasts,

it seems as if the world has stood still and now everything starts again with a zero hour. Somehow the months of restrictions and lockdowns spread a kind of reflection, of going into oneself and also of thinking about what is actually important in life. The time without concerts was a tough one for every piano fanatic, but especially for the many free and less famous pianists who had to survive.

But there were also those moments when you suddenly realized that you can do something in your own four walls that might bring you even closer to the music and the instrument: you could read books, you could dig up notes again, which you could had been lying in the corner for a long time and had long wanted to look at and try the piano again. Yes, and then there was the instrument that a normal employee might not have looked at for a long time, let alone played. Timid attempts to let the fingers remember how one or the other piece can be played were the first steps. Then one began to occupy oneself more intensely with the instrument, to clean it, to have it tuned by a specialist. Some soon decided that a new instrument would be the better solution.

So what did that time teach us when it comes to music and the piano? That even making music is a delight, that it gives you even more respect for the achievements of professional pianists, that you have to stick with the instrument if you want to turn to it again.

When “normal” life returns in many places, many will jump for joy, and that is clear. But we must make sure that we do not lose what we have discovered, learned, explored in an exhilarating way in the months in which we spent more time at home. Maybe every free minute we have is not really worth going abroad to look at other things that we may already know. Perhaps it is much more worthwhile to retreat to the walls of your home with the instrument or the piano music, to read, to listen to records and almost dusty CDs again. It is a soul work that we experienced there. But then it is our own decision how much we let ourselves be sucked back into everyday life. We should be happy when the situation relaxes, but we should pay attention and step inside ourselves so as not to forget the good it has taught us.

The digital world and the piano

Dear piano friends,

In these times of instability for the entire world of the corona pandemic, the digital element has come to the fore. Students are taught digitally on the instrument and in theoretical subjects, cameras that enable screen meetings are now just as standard as the various software offers that allow us to communicate. And already the first voices are loud who think that this also has its advantages. Ultimately, piano students no longer have to go to a specific location to receive lessons; piano teachers can stay at home, as they are rarely reimbursed for travel expenses anyway. And if it is not about instrumental teaching, then some higher education institutions are also quite interested in the fact that the theoretical subjects can still be taught via the screen.

Of course, a number of large companies have also recognized in the times of the pandemic how much costs can be saved if most of the employees work from home. This is really good for the CO2 balance, but for the communication, the things that you quickly clarify for work in a face-to-face conversation, tend to be negative. A certain tiredness and laziness creeps in there. Everyone is still calling for the live experience, for direct contact. But what about if the situation lasts until mid-2021? Will we immediately rush back into the fray of traffic to get somewhere? We're not used to that anymore. And if the client or employer does not want that or gives us time to do it, then many will probably decide against being stuck in traffic for hours every day.

But last at the beginning. Because if this becomes the “new normal”, then in music, in every phase of this music world, we will lose the acceptance for precisely those things for which so many are still fighting at the moment.

Nothing can replace direct contact, either in theoretical lessons or in practical use of the instrument. Digital technology should really only support us for once, the developers of such technologies had the idea that digital technology gives us more freedom and more leeway, but not that it should replace something interpersonal. But once wise business people have recognized the benefits of saving through this digital technology, then save yourself who can. We are already feeling it in many areas: banks want us to do our business with them digitally, and the spread of this “service” is increasingly integrated into our lives.

But music education, the music itself, must not become completely digital, even if we may still be able to accept that the recordings reach us on digital CD. Fortunately, the digital instruments, the digital pianos or the hybrid instruments enriched with digital technology are still so "live" and lively that they have to be played.

Therefore: Music has to stay live as much as possible.

A year to remember

Dear piano lovers,

It is almost over, this year 2020, which is memorable in every respect. Looking back is almost a little melancholy, because this year will surely stay in the memory of most piano lovers in one way or another. While at the beginning of the year we were all still hoping for a good year, the first infections with a virus soon appeared that spread so quickly that we will probably continue to develop the effects of the corona pandemic in the coming year Realities will be felt.

The good news: The piano has gained interest this year - as an instrument in your own home. The inexpensive instruments in particular were sold more than in the previous year, some of the piano manufacturers reported delivery problems as early as October, the sales were so good. The piano dealers with good workshops were able to almost mothball their presentation instruments because far too few concerts took place, but they are so busy in the workshops that they can hardly keep up with their work. Why? People remembered their own instruments again during the lockdown months, found they were not in the best condition, and correctly turned to their local dealer. That is something very positive about this idiosyncratic year.

But the rest is terrifying for the cultural landscape, including piano culture. Because it has been shown how little lobbyism culture has in the minds of politics. Although no sources of infection could be identified at the concert of classical music, it was generally decided that concerts should not take place in November either. This is a catastrophe not only for the organizers - especially the private ones - but above all for the artists. And here we do not want to name those who express themselves loudly and also quite effectively in the media, i.e. the better-known pianists, but here we want to name those for whom a performance for a fee of 500 euros or less is vital. The focus is not only on the psychological moment, that the artists hardly have any drive to sit down at their instrument to work on works, because they do not know if and when they can use what they have worked out again, but really the monetary. Many of the myriad of free and less focused artists have already had to give up making a living from their art and take jobs at supermarket checkouts to survive. That cannot be the handling of such people who maintain art. Because with that we lose a lot - namely our cultural foundations.

The free media landscape has also struggled and is still struggling. We at PIANONews have so far been able to survive on the bend and break, but above all, to keep the piano theme going, to give our readers something that makes them feel positive in these times. It is not easy, but our will is to survive in order to do just that: To continue to demonstrate to the general public the importance and the beauty of the culture in the piano segment. Let's all hope that things will improve soon.

With this in mind, I wish all newsletter subscribers a hopefully pleasant, exciting and healthy December 2020 and a good end to 2020.

Professional training on the instrument

Dear piano friends,

Of course, nowadays we want to experience interpretations on the concert stage that are flawless, that technically and interpretatively allow the pianist to experience a fundamental penetration of the works. But is this really still possible today, at a time when professional piano training is solely dedicated to reproduction? In earlier days more talents were required from a pianist who also had to be a musician in every respect: he had to improvise, had to know how to play other keyboard instruments, had to play from sight and, if possible, also be able to compose small pieces with the right ones defaults in counterpoint. Playing the figured bass was also a matter of course. When sound recordings began in the 20th century, and at the latest with the introduction of the editing technique for recordings, a superficial perfectionism was expected in piano playing, which resulted in the specialization in the sole reproduction of old works. Thus, in piano training, the sole reproduction at a technically high level was born, which ignored almost all of the other skills taught.

Only gradually and with the scientific preoccupation of comparing earlier training methods with today's ones, one gets to the bottom of this problem. Yes it is a problem. Because just by reproducing works on just one instrument (the modern grand piano), one cannot expect great musicians to develop during their studies. On the contrary, today's piano students struggle against recording technology, a technical perfectionism on the instrument that has developed into a standard over the past decades and which often leaves out personal design features. That is not to say that today's pianists - even young ones - do not Being able to be great musicians - only they often did not learn these skills during their studies, but out of self-interest in their freelance work. Of course the students have aural training, counterpoint and music history as subjects, but these do not concern practice on the instrument. Nowadays almost every pianist has to acquire all other knowledge himself - and that doesn't always succeed. You have to consider whether today's type of training does not need a revision, whether you might not have to combine the modern training with that of earlier days in order to get back again to train true musicians on keyboard instruments, those who can do more than reproduce music perfectly, which is only part of the profession of pianist.

Looking back and being open to new things

Dear piano friends,

Many of us like to look back: to live experiences with pianists on stage, using recordings from earlier days, maybe also to our own experiences on the instrument. This looking back has several facets: on the one hand, it is believed that hardly any experience today can leave the same impression as that of days gone by. On the other hand, one is willing to attribute more quality and depth to the old experiences. But is that so?
At a time when, due to digital media, constant reports of “news”, life seems to have become much more breathless than it was in earlier times, one thinks that the love of piano music gives a hold, represents something more permanent than all the other influences and negative news. And that is exactly how it is! You just have to weigh up whether you want to compare the past experiences of pianists on stage or in recordings, or from then on you accept it as synonymous with what you experience today, because one thing is clear: these rare moments still exist , in which one thinks that this experience, listening to a CD, a certain concert is unique, an experience that burns itself into the depths of the memory. One should stop comparing, romanticizing the old in the sense that it is viewed uncritically as better. But we are condemned to compare everything immediately; our brain perceives the stored experiences as an irrevocable reference of what we are newly experiencing. It is difficult to break free and appreciate the new as at least as exciting, interesting or worth experiencing.

Examples?

1. Piano recordings, heard from an LP that has been known to us since we were young. Here we know every crack and scratch, we know the interpretation of the pianist down to the smallest detail. On the other hand, how is a new recording supposed to exist when we have saved every rubato of the old recording in such a way that it has become the measure of all things?

2. The sound of an instrument: If we have been playing one and the same instrument since our youth, hearing it over and over and playing it, we will compare every other instrument with it.

3. The live experience. One could be that there was a special atmosphere that we experienced in a certain hall, that it was a special audience, that we attended the concert with someone special to us. At that moment the concert becomes something very special, regardless of the quality of the game.

openness

Of course, everyone will agree that some things were simpler, worked better, and were less interchangeable in the old days. Yes, it may be. But we still have to be open to the new in piano music. And not only in the music itself, which is constantly evolving, but also for the kind of interpretations that are constantly changing and also developing. This may be due to new editions of well-known works of music history, based on different views of the pianists, or due to new halls in which everything now sounds different than before. And the instruments are also developing and will always bring a new sound to the stage, perhaps more today than in the past 50 years.
Comparing is inevitable, but a critical attitude towards our own feelings should be the real basis for us to recognize great moments of the piano playing, the piano sound. Anyone who thinks that he has already heard everything and can therefore raise himself to one who knows better is wrong!