Here you are the GOLDEN RULE, detected under the surface of Chopin's and Neuhaus' writings.

 

Motto:

 

       How dares thy harsh rude tongue sound this so pleasing news?

 

                   (after Shakespeare)

 

                                            

 

 

I. Creating the music – according to the Chopin's and Neuhaus' points of view, means:

"The expression of particular artistic Idea completed by a certain combination of the sounds... "

II. Both these Masters firmly advised to  let sounds live...

 

That is why:

Firstly, as I think, in playing the piano we should consider the use of Vision of the each one sound as the basic source of an artistic power.

Such "background image" created in the pianist's Fantasy by his/hers anticipative hearing could give the definite support to the entire process. This commanding device will factually work as nearly infinite source of energy, but under one, the very clear condition yet: it must truly be vivid, active and dynamic – not motionless and static. Only in this case it could fulfill the real sounds with emotional colors and give them the power 'to fly'...

Attention, 1: the greater musical talents complete this 'procedure' just instinctively; they really do not have to think about such kind of mental/emotional act, they are used to accomplish nearly reflexively already from the most earliest periods of theirs piano studies.

Do we may speak about musical and/or instrumental instinct? I am profoundly assured, yes! Moreover, we even should to. In any case, the ability to think musically and, consequently, the ability to complete any kind of musical creation on instrument via internal anticipative [also – creative] hearing, but not via deliberating about notes, keys, names of sounds and/or about hands – is the most basic feature differentiating musical talent from the musically poorly gifted human being.

Maybe, thoroughly theoretical kind of thinking for all them, who are strongly gifted in music, is as necessary as aural device for the rabbits. Unfortunately, to us all who are not so greatly talented, such internal [creative] musical sounds' forecast, being the essentially valuable skill, commonly becomes yet the most difficult element in the way toward the professionally competent piano playing.

Attention, 2: what in the piano training is deprived of its emotional and sound-creating imaginary base, automatically becomes mechanical and, consequently, possess nothing common to the art of playing the piano. Purely mental and/or mechanical analyze of the process of creating the music and the forthcoming performance built on such a soil, would generate as deficient quasi-artistic event, as deficient are these plants, which are grown being deprived of the solar warmth and light – or children, who are brought up being separated from theirs own parents and grandparents' love.

The very interesting phenomenon related to this matter is that one: lack of the purely mental and/or mechanical analyze of the process of creating the music on the piano puts the actually negative signs on the forthcoming performance in remarkably smaller extend than would cause the lack of vivid emotionality, creative internal hearing and imagination.  

Attention, 3: only long-standing experience in work with both, outstandingly gifted and outstandingly poorly talented students authorizes me to form the conclusions of that kind I have written down in the paragraphs above. On the other hand, let you understand me well: I do not think, really, I am delivering "the absolute truth". I have personally experienced enough many times indeed, the Life is always ready to surprise us, and especially then, when we become convinced we have recognized its Laws until the last end.

Frankly said, I do not believe, any human being may rightfully declare, he/she factually knows in which order all the mental/emotional/and the bodily structures and mechanisms are co-operating within the mind & body entirety belonging to any Greater MUSIC Master. Who knows, perhaps the both kinds of these factors, mental and the bodily ones exist herein like anions and cations in the electrolyte. Yes, I know very well, analogies do not explain too much...

Some Masters are still to a certain extent "acidic", when the others represent rather "base-like" nature. Of course, this analogy, as any other one, depicts the problem truly roughly, indeed. In fact, all the events one could meet up on the Earth, are of so specific character that we truly have no right to conclude WHAT factually have determined theirs character and a course, and of WHAT KIND were the factors that finally decided the real shape of this or that particular event.

Let you believe, I really do not like to find any kind of the "philosopher's stone". On the other hand, I strongly believe in possibility to find out and/or establish some basic directives, which would be able to offer the music teachers worldwide much more firm fundamental pedagogic support than it has been known before.  

 

 

 

 

F. Chaliapin – let you listen to the voice of The Artist! It really teaches a lot! Let you be patient, please, watching this video-clip! The Master's voice will appear just after about 5 minutes. 

If the pianist does not like to put the piano sing expressively, maybe he should start to look for another profession... I do not like to say, all the singers factually sing – many of them just try to form their voices, and this is exactly the same kind of work, several piano schools are proposing to the pianists; I mean, technique-building separated from the musical thought-building. The results have then the same quality and commonly produce the very similar results: pains in muscles and bitterness in the soul.     

 

III. Chopin said, "In this unlimited sounds' entirety we have to find a Zone, which vibrations could be controlled [by our ears] with the greatest ease."

Therefore:

The possibly high quality of anticipative INTERNAL hearing ought to be understood as the first and most important thing in the professional piano schooling. Even serious manual difficulties could be improved via mental energies focused on searching for the proper sounds' dynamic and coloristic volume. This happens because the action of that kind RATIONALIZES the usage of energy, generally. It means, the adequate aural self-control definitely rationalizes the output of physical power in playing the piano. Though, such Zone we are actually speaking about, cannot be detected if anticipative INTERNAL hearing would not be able to create the PATTERNS the pianist could compare with the factually created sounding result...

! Attention: Vladimir Horowitz said:

                                            a. "For strength, imagine the fingers singing."

                                            b. "Strength comes from playing musically."

! The Golden Question: do you agree, the most powerful factor, which actually decides when and what we are choosing at last, is the particular feature of instinct, strongly rooted in the individual, very specific kind of moral, sensual and – in the area of Arts – purely aesthetical ground?

! You, Dear Visitor, can answer as you like, but my Golden Answer looks as follows alike:

- Yes, I definitely agree! And, that is why any sort of the mechanically-oriented instrumental schooling should be seen as the almost rootless formula, which, focusing the students' attention on very secondary elements of the matter, definitively isolates them from possibility of positive approaching toward the essence of the matter.

 

 

 

At this point we finally must give the proper name to the entire thing:

- individual will to find, recognize, re-create and express the REAL VALUES we feel, we have discovered under and inside of all the structural features of any musical OPUS.  – is a core of the cores, we are debating about on all the numerous pages of this Web Site.

How to help the student to increase this Will, perhaps, is the most decisive factor in the professional piano schooling, generally. In my opinion, going toward this goal: waking up the artistic sensitivity and creativity of us alone and of our students is the unique 'Golden Way' that would guarantee both the quality and the permanence of progress in our Art as well, as would yield the relatively high level of satisfaction from the style we live and survive...

 

IV. Prof. Neuhaus said: "Technique cannot be created in a vacuum, just as you cannot create a form devoid of any content."

Therefore:

The guiding position of the artistic Fantasy ought to be taken into serious consideration in the piano schooling worldwide. This postulate must have reference to the each one sound, motive, phrase and, as well – to the musical Form in its entirety.

V. Our "playing mechanism" is built from not only fingers and hands, from wrists, elbows and shoulders...

That is why:

Beyond doubts, Chopin's and Liszt's famous opinion, "the fingers activate the hand", should be understood as follows: fingers are and must be seen the most active elements of the hand. The fingers yet, being deprived of the enough clever help given by upper parts of the hand, actually would not be able to complete all the necessary work by themselves only...!

All other parts of the hand must work as elements of the great virtual bow, giving fingers the real protection against keyboard's resistant force and directing them into the side each one particular phrase is going on. If these other parts of the hand would only be hold being just loose or even "very free", they might factually cause many troubles yet, overloading the fingers and wrists. The next erroneous solution is a will to uncontrolled usage of upper parts of the hands INSTEAD of using the fingers' naturally big motoric power.

 

 

The spinning surface of the potter's wheel is The Guarantee of possibility the pot or the amphora could get the beautiful shape; when the wheel will STOP.... – the work would not already be possible.

The Move is the most basic attribute of Living, generally. Therefore, the vivid musical thought is a virtual base [and the Guarantee] FOR the artistic character of being of the sounds' produced by the pianist; the lifelessness of the musical thought reflects in the character of the made sound. Completely.

NO ONE physical action could factually be completed being separated from the specific kind of the MENTAL – and WHY NOT – from the strictly instinctive DECISION CREATING PROCESS. Subsequently, it should finally become clear, only mental ability to originate the PROPER and ENOUGH quickly made "decision", makes possible that the Playing will develop and go ahead without any serious obstacles and/or brakes...         

As it had formerly been said, the primary vision of the sound, generated in and by the pianist's fantasy, must actively support each one really produced sound in its full length, giving it energy and forming its character according to specific features of the pianists' personal artistic image of actually realized musical Form.

Please, let you have a look at this quotation now; it would inform you, how the real pianist-virtuoso describes hers own way of interpreting of this topic:

 

...what I have noticed over the years is that my interpretations are more directed and more potent -- Partly because I am clearer in what I want to convey, but also because I feel so much more comfortable on stage and that allows me greater flexibility -- and I can really take a trip with the composer.

Rebecca Penneys

 

 

Clicking on the links below you will get an opportunity to listen to the Three Etudes of Chopin, composed for the Methode des Methodes of Moscheles & Fétis in 1839, and to the Hungarian Dance F Major (arranged for the two hands by Brahms himself), played by Ms Penneys. In my opinion one would find herein the definite noblesse and harmony, definite sound culture, definite clearness of musical thinking, absolute technical sovereignty – shortly said, nearly non plus ultra...

 

Ms Rebecca Penneys is a Steinway Artist.

Here you are the links, Welcome!

Chopin

Brahms

Surprise...

VI. As it had been told clear enough in the § V, our "playing mechanism" is not built only from the fingers and hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders! Of course, fingers and hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders do exist in our bodies, and therefore [ ! ] the pianists should perfectly well know, how to deal with all these elements when they begin to play the piano...

Searching for the solutions related to piano-mechanical side of playing, one could find very many bits of truly priceless information regarding this subject in the texts written by Prof. Neuhaus. As I hope, you would not believe, Neuhaus had taught Richter how he should move his fingers and hands, and THAT IS WHY his piano technique was in so good condition just from very early stages of his career. Considering the fabulous piano technique of Emil Gilels, one might enough profoundly be assured, too – it was NOT Neuhaus, who showed him, how to brilliantly perform even the most difficult figurations, arpeggios, double tones and octaves... Such thinking would truly be childish, even bizarre... Only they, who have never seen and heard the real greater instrumental talent in the action, could believe that such kind of technique is obtainable just for all! And, that the full success in the matter depends only on quantum of the time one would be able to sacrifice to just THIS, but not THAT kind of practicing, naturally – proposed by THIS, but not THAT method, indeed!

.Lord save us from so deep "innocence"...!..

On the other hand, watching HOW the real talents are doing their job surely is greatly instructive. My conclusions based on such observations could be found, essentially, on all the pages of this Web Site. 

In my opinion, the both Masters [Chopin and Neuhaus] presented clearly different approach toward the aesthetical side of music making on the piano. Richter as a pianist could be understood as a sample of the artistic features being very, very close to the Neuhaus' piano Ideal. Ignacy Friedman, partially – Josef Hofmann (besides: both represented the typical Polish middle class and have been born in Cracow; Friedman studied in Vienna under Leszetycki; Hofmann played for Anton Rubinstein in Berlin) and partially – Vladimir Horowitz represented more or less the Chopin-like style of playing the piano as well, as the next famous, former Neuhaus' student – Emil Gilels.

But now, openly said, after listening to the recordings made by Ms Penneys, I experienced something like an illumination: yes, THIS is THAT STYLE HE perhaps might like to accept as the accurate one...! That is why the photo of Her is being placed on this page.

 

The link to the recording done by Chaliapin could be found here for the exactly same reason. This is the demonstrative material for comparisons in a scope of the expression; Chopin cannot stand the dull neutrality in the art; Chaliapin is going very near to the border, which cannot be crossed, but to which – from the other hand – it is necessary to aspire.

 

What we are looking for, is the harmony in expression, the sincerity and clarity in musical thinking, the genuinely logical construction of Form. These all virtues, based on sincerely warm humanity, additionally spiced by truly healthy herb of an intelligent humor – yes, in my opinion this is how the Chopin's Piano Idea should be understood and put into practice. Honestly said and historically thinking, this Chopin's Ideal has been fully achieved only by the one and sole pianist in the History – it was Leopold Godowsky, who considered himself an affiliate of the Polish piano tradition. His classical mind (means: harmonically built, like the Chopin's own, besides) and extremely great piano talent featured as well with the purely instrumental skills, as with deeper predilection to melodic and polyphonic approach to performed and composed music, truly sharp feeling of humor and the strong will to see and define all the things as they factually look alike, are making him the factual heir of the Chopin's Crown. This is not the purely accidental event, Neuhaus, who studied the piano in his class in Vienna, based his teaching so firmly on the Chopin's Method...

 

Leopold Godowsky

I know very well, we could speak quite a long time about THIS theme, at the last end yet, we will experience something like a feeling of incompleteness and imperfection related to all, what had been formerly told. Without a doubt, knowing this all quite well, I still decided, I shall finish this paper at this point! Thank you very much for your patience and interest toward better understanding of the very basic elements of Piano Art! Wanting to get some more bits of information related to teaching the piano developed after the Chopin's and Neuhaus' systems, let you feel free to ask about any kind of problem you might actually be interested in! Thank you very much again!

- S. K.

 

              

 

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Actualized: 2008-03-31