Petri on composers...

(All the quotations below came from Mrs. Michaele Benedict's records)

On Bach and Busoni

Long notes (in Bach) are not necessarily to be brought out; for example, in the first Bach Prelude (Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I.)

"Bach sublimated all his contemporaries--swallowed them all up."

Of the Bach Chromatic Fugue: "Paint with a broad brush."

Chromatic Fantasy: Petri liked a minor ending, as the major ending makes a D7 chord with the beginning of the fugue.

"I don't like staccato (in Bach) as much as I used to. Make it always singing and melodious. You must always have the feeling that music is flowing. If one feels the other way, one should play the typewriter."

Quoting Busoni: The expression of the face is more important than the lines.

Quoting Schoenberg, after listening to a transcription for orchestra of a Bach fugue: "I always hear the theme; I never hear the fugue."

"Sometimes I don't know what Busoni is and what I am."

"Busoni's teacher, Meyer Remey, called the first four Bach Preludes and Fugues (Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I) the Elements: Water, Fire, Air and Earth." The B-flat major fugue he called "The Fair" (with gossiping women).

"Overtone pedal and legato pedal can be used in Bach, but not to prolong values."

On Beethoven

Concerning certain edited editions of Beethoven: "Go away. You stand between me and Beethoven."

Apropos of the tapping motives in Beethoven: "My theory is that Beethoven stuttered."

"The tradition in Beethoven and Weber is to hold back the tempo on crescendi."

Concerning Beethoven sonatas: "I learned everything from Bülow, and did I have trouble in unlearning everything!"

"Bülow was a kind of arbitrary man."

Of the Bülow edition of Beethoven in once place: "This edition, which I detest, unfortunately is right."

"Bülow always begins ornaments from Bülow (below). Of course, if Beethoven had written it that way I would hiccup and obey."

Beethoven Sonata, Op. 2, No. 3: "This is the Waldstein-Sonata when it was a boy."

Beethoven Sonata, Op. 2, No. 2: "Beethoven's fingering is best for the Scherzo left hand, to jump the thumb." Concerning this Scherzo: "Beethoven loves to poke people. Of a section of the last movement, "Obstinate Beethoven. It's like doing exercises and being very mad at having to do them."

"A C major fortissimo in Beethoven isn't just C major fortissimo, but triumph!"

Of the Beethoven Sonata Op. 90 (second movement): "More liquid calm".

Of the small note values in the second movement of the Beethoven C minor Concerto: "They look so black, but they sound ever so much whiter".

On Brahms

Quoting Brahms: A measure is not like a box of cigars, which will only hold 52 cigars and not 53.

Brahms Rhapsodie in E-flat: "Prepare chords in the air (just over the keys) without touching the keys beforehand." "Not so much rubato. Brahms was not that kind of person."

Repeats in the Brahms-Handel Variations: I start out with something, then do something different the next time (neither calculated alike nor different)."

Last movement, Brahms B-flat Concerto: "Never practice the thirds loud and slow, but light and quick. Everything in curves and continuous. Don't play up and down."

On Chopin

"Pull the blinds down when you play Chopin. Not too much sunshine."

Of Chopin played too percussively: "Knock-turn".

Sonata in B minor, 3rd movement: "You must feel your way in the dark harmonically."

"Chopin is very careful about writing pedal, but he always writes it wrong."

"The best thing (with pedal) is to educate your foot by your ear."

F minor Fantasy: "Rather go by the notes than by the pedal marks." Of the Lento section: "Dreaming and sort of searching. The forearm Rotary Club."

Of a crescendo in the Chopin Nocturne in C-sharp minor: "Spread your crescendo very thinly, like butter."

Of the Funeral March: "The Lento is not too slow in Chopin; not Adagio."

Of a passage in the Sonata in B minor: "That is my think, not my know."

Chopin Etude, Op. 10, No. 3: "Legato doesn't have so much to do with evenness (of tone) as with dynamic and rhythmic values." Cadenza on the diminished seventh: "Practice connecting the middle notes. Practice the fifth fingers supported (by the arm) and staccato."

Chopin Etude, Op. 10, No. 2: "Practice legato with the fingers on the keys. Practice with finger staccato, pulling the fingertip back slightly."

Etude, Op. 25, No. 12: "The windshield-wiper study."

Etude, Op. 25, No. 5, middle section: "Sometimes on the tops of the phrases a flower comes out. Slowly, with the notion of the motion."

On Liszt

Mephisto Waltz: "The best thing is to count in four bar periods. The same is true of the Chopin Scherzos. Liszt is always very regular. Of the first section: This is not Mephisto yet; these are the peasants dancing. Don't try to be devilish here; rather, be heavy and clumsy."

Of the second theme: "Quite a different atmosphere: a smell of sulfur."

In Liszt, you must play groups.

Of his Impromptu performance of a certain work, Petri commented: "This conception is quite all right, but it's not immaculate."

On Mozart

Of Mozart played without nuances: "Notes-art".

Concerto in D minor, first movement: "Don't make a habit of echo effects. They are like Dresden china. Make it intense and passionate, but not furious."

Concerto in D minor, last movement: "There is no occasion for making a row here."

Mozart Concerto, K. 414: "Mozart is here very gay and lively and has no use for all these finicky details."

Sonata, K. 333: "Mozart's instrumental compositions are operas in disguise. A new person comes in, fat and lively."

Busoni often played (the tenuto followed by slurred couplets) lingering and a little louder."

D Major Sonata, slow movement: "Like a lake, perfectly quiet. Don't throw any crescendo stones into it."

Published on 2002-10-04