Playing the Piano

MINI COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

CHOPIN SERIES

 

Forms in Chopin Music As It Affects Performance

Jerome Lowenthal

Chopin Scherzo (Pre-recorded)

Jonathan Bass

Teaching Chopin From Early Intermediate Through Advanced

Ingrid Clarfield

Teaching Chopin From Early Intermediate Through Advanced

With Professor Ingrid Clarfield and Dr. Kairy Koshoeva

Chopin Fantasie and Barcarolle

Alexander Kobrin

(March 27th, 4-5 p.m. EST)

Chopin Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49

Chopin Barcarolle in F-sharp minor, Op. 60

Chopin Mazurkas (Pre-recorded)

Roberto Poli

(March 31st release)

RUSSIAN PIANO MUSIC

 

Prokofiev: many faces of the great composer

Boris Berman

Prof. Berman will discuss multiple facets of Prokofiev's style and piano writing, using as examples works from his different creative periods.

The internationally acclaimed pianist and Professor of Yale School of Music, Boris Berman is the world authority on the music of Prokofiev. He was the first pianist to record his complete works for solo piano, including all sonatas/ He wrote the book Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas. He was the editor of the authoritative edition of the scores of Prokofiev’s sonatas.

Mussorgsky. Pictures at the Exhibition. Behind the painting

Alexander Kobrin

Mussorgsky Pictures at the Exhibition. Behind the painting

Alexander Scriabin: The Russian Prometheus

Dmitry Rachmanov

Alexander Scriabin was a visionary Russian composer of the turn of the 20 th century, whose music encompasses a steep stylistic progression from his adolescent romantic works to the futuristic compositions of 1910s. Scriabin’s unique language was influenced by his mystical philosophy and by synesthesia, the association of sounds with colors. What Scriabin personified for the Russian music, Debussy represented for the French and Schoenberg and his circle – for the Germanic traditions: a bridge from the 19 th to the 20 th
centuries in the development of musical styles. Piano was Scriabin’s main medium. That is where he made musical discoveries, experimenting with harmonies and special sound effects, creating inimitable sonorities, impressions and characters. 2021-2022 marks Scriabin’s 150 th anniversary. To commemorate this benchmark, the pianist Dmitry Rachmanov will present a synopsis of the composer’s stylistic and spiritual
development through nearly three decades of creativity, discussing the historical and artistic environment of the time, focusing on the composer’s style as related to specific genres, offering musical examples with commentaries of the composer’s etudes, preludes, mazurkas, nocturnes, poems and sonatas.

Rachmaninoff Preludes. Epic stories of songs without words

Olga Kern

When creating the Preludes, Rachmaninoff used various techniques of textured and melodic presentation that allowed him to express the broadest spector of feelings and emotions, from sadness and grief to the feelings of  love, light and joy, the same as in his versatile vocal works, especially in his Romances. I would like to talk about this aspect of his preludes.

 

 

BEETHOVEN SONATA SERIES I

Beethoven Sonata Op. 10. No. 3

Peter Takács

"The early D major Sonata Op. 10 No. 3 was one of Beethoven's favorites. The 1st movement Presto bursts with energy, the Largo e mesto movement is profoundly expressive, presaging the drama in his opera "Fidelio."  The Menuetto emerges miraculously, like sunrise after a dark night. I call the rondo finale a "cat and mouse" movement, darting about playfully and unpredictably. Altogether a masterpiece of fresh inspiration."

Beethoven Sonata Op. 13

Victor Rosenbaum

Beethoven started writing the first of his 32 sonatas (there are a few earlier ones not usually included) in 1795, and the very first one (Opus 2 No. 1) makes clear that this is not a work of either Haydn or Mozart — striking out in new dramatic directions and more expansive use of the keyboard.  But it is in the C minor Sonata, Opus 13, commonly called the “Pathetique”, that Beethoven announces himself to the world as a distinctly unique musical voice.  Furthermore, he composes in a way that brings the inter-relationship of thematic ideas to a previously unexplored level.   My discussion of the sonata will focus on the composition, the character, and the challenges to the performer.  I hope to leave the listener with a deeper understanding of the work, tips for performance, and ideas for practice.

Beethoven Sonata Op. 54

Michael Lewin 

The Beethoven Sonata No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54 is the least played of all the 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas! This should not be the case! It is quirky, funny, challenging, virtuosic, and absolutely unique, not to mention being a very useful Sonata to have in your repertoire. Let's take a look at this unusual two-movement 11 minute work, and see what makes it different from all other Beethoven Sonatas and how to communicate its humor to an audience. Beethoven himself loved this Sonata, so should you!

Beethoven's Sonatas No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106

Daniel Shapiro
Daniel Shapiro will discuss Beethoven's mighty "Hammerklavier" Sonata, Op. 106, perhaps his "magnum opus" for piano.  He will attempt to give a sense of the meaning and character of the work as a whole. He will also traverse the piece in some detail, sharing ideas about form and expression.  He will also give some suggestions for approach, study and practice.  It is strongly recommended that viewers have their own score of the work, with measure numbers, to following along with. 

AMERICAN PIANO MUSIC

Discovering America

Stephen Drury

America has always had an uneasy relationship with classical European culture, especially musically.  The Americans who composed concert music for solo piano needed to discover their own true voices, influenced by European tradition but with independent, unique and idiosyncratic visions. The resulting works are amongst the greatest and most striking compositions of the past 125 years. We will explore music for piano by Charles Ives, Carl Ruggles, Henry Cowell, John Cage, Morton Feldman and Steve Reich, with special attention to pieces playable by intermediate level pianists, with sounds that won't drive the neighbors crazy!


 

Back to the Future Piano

Lisa Moore

“New York’s queen of avant-garde piano” (New Yorker) - will demonstrate, dissect and display some of the modern solo piano works she has recorded and performed - pieces composed by American mavericks Philip Glass (Mad Rush and Etude no.2),Don Byron (Piano Etude No. 5), Frederic Rzewski (Piano Piece no.4), Martin Bresnick (Ishi’s Song) and Julia Wolfe (Earring). Moore will discuss the learning and performance challenges that arise within each work - especially in the realm of touch, tone, rubato, and rhythm - as well as covering topics such as ‘how to choose new works’ and ‘getting to know the composers around you’. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to uncover these works with a master performer of the 'Music of our time’.


 

Friendship; Why I Play American Music (Not Offered Yet -Date TBD)

Ursula Oppens

A prolific and critically acclaimed recording artist with five Grammy nominations will demonstrate  and discuss works by Elliott Carter, Julius Hemphill, Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Singleton, and Ellen Taffe Zwillich


 

Pianistically Contemporary: Composing for Technique, Style and Musicality

Tom Gerou

My composing reflects contemporary mind that looks back for inspiration. In my heart I am a piano composer first. It is my pleasure to share thoughts, approaches, considerations, and techniques that are consciously employed to make each piece unique, performable, and offer musical challenge. Hidden composition tools within the music will be explored, allowing greater insight into each piece.


 

Practical, Purposeful and Plentiful - the Music of Dennis Alexander

Dennis Alexander

This Musicale session will explore some of the works by American educational composer, Dennis Alexander.  He will discuss his creative process while offering tips on how to compose award-winning compositions for students at all levels.  His 50-year career as a performer/teacher has also been very influential in his success as a composer of materials for pianists of all ages and abilities.


 

Music to Learn from and Love

Catherine Rollin

n this mini course,  Catherine Rollin will explore a few of her most highly regarded and well received series.  In all of her music, Catherine has aimed to create what she calls “real music.” Although her composing always has  pedagogical purposes at its core,  Catherine also feels it is of the utmost importance that pieces are intrinsically musical as well.  It is only with “real music” that students are inspired to practice and grow and most importantly: to love music.

 

Series discussed more in depth in this mini course with be: The Bean Bag Zoo, Lyric Moments, Museum Masterpieces and Spotlight on Style.  Catherine will also play one short piece from each of the other series to demonstrate the sounds and skills emphasized.  Teachers will learn much about teaching generally as Catherine analyzes how to introduce the music from the standpoint of technique, artistry and musicality.


 

Reimagine Beethoven and Ravel - Bridging Yesterday and Tomorrow

Inna Faliks

Faliks asked 9 composers to create works inspired by Beethoven's Bagatelles opus 126 and Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit. In this mini-course, she discusses the experience of recording the work during the pandemic, and how technology impacted this task. She delves into the piano world each of the nine diverse composers created and introduces their piano music. Finally, she demonstrates how programming today must look not only backwards but ahead. Composers include Peter Golub, Tamir Hendelman, Ian Krouse, Richard Danielpour, Mark Carlson, David Lefkowitz, Paola Prestini, Timo Andres and Billy Childs. 

 

Video about the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3XSTBEMJyA

on Navona here https://www.navonarecords.com/catalog/nv6352/

Professor Inna Faliks discusses her new, highly acclaimed project Reimagine Beethoven and Ravel, just released on Navona records (Gramophone review here https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/reimagine-beethoven-and-ravel-inna-faliks

Textura review here https://www.textura.org/archives/f/faliks_beethovenravel_schumann.htm

Pursuit by Billy Childs https://www.innafaliks.com/video/inna-faliks-plays-pursuit-after-ravels-scarbo-by-billy-childs/

Representation in Programming matters

Michelle Cann

The ethnocultural diversity of our nation is among our greatest strengths, but representation among performers, composers, and audience members of classical music has not reflected that diversity. The programming of works by underrepresented composers can educate all of us, and empower our next generation. 
Come and enjoy some of the most beautiful piano repertoire composed by African American composers

CLASSICAL STYLE

 

Performing Mozart: Understanding His language and the Role of Creativity in Interpretation

Robert Levin

The course will focus on details of Mozart’s notation and its meaning in performance, the sources of characterization in his music, and the idiomatic performance of repeated sections with reference to Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Sonatas with varied reprises.

The Piano Music of Haydn:  A Treasure of Inexhaustible Imagination and Wit

Jeffrey Swan

In his more than 60 Sonatas and other works for piano, Haydn demonstrates his amazing creativity and originality.  He never repeats himself, and every work shows his special genius for the unexpected .  At the same time, the works are full of an expressive and warm humanity and wonderful humor.  We will examine 4 of his Sonatas and explore how this underplayed and under-appreciated master, although not himself a virtuoso pianist, offers unique opportunities to every pianist and teacher.

Schubert: The Ultimate Song and Dance Man

Victor Rosenbaum

Schubert, who composed more than 600 songs, is justly known as a great melody writer. But

his music is just as full of lilting and charming (and sometimes driving) dance rhythms.

Furthermore, it his harmonies that are amazing and touching — in the way he slips, almost

magically, into an unexpected key or surprising chord. We will explore all these aspects of the

incredible Franz Peter Schubert.. Will show examples from the sonatas, and impromptus, and other short pieces”.

 

"Can we change the score?": Some Dilemmas in the Beethoven Piano Sonatas

Peter Takács

Of course the score is to be treated with the utmost respect, even reverence--it's the composer's message to us about how the music should sound. However, there are always questions, ambiguities, and mysteries that require us to look carefully at the small print in search for clues and solutions. We will look at several such cases in the 32 Beethoven sonatas, with some possible answers, or not!

 

PIANO ETUDES

 

Alexander Scriabin Etudes

Dmitry Rachmanov

Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915) was a symbolist Russian composer of the turn of the 20th century. He underwent a steep stylistic progression from his early Chopinesque works to his futuristic compositions of 1910s. Piano was Scriabin’s main medium. It was on this instrument where he made significant musical discoveries, experimenting with harmonies and special sound effects and creating inimitable sonorities, impressions and characters. The etude was one of Scriabin’s essential compositional genres. From his earliest Op. 2 No. 1 in C-Sharp Minor (1887) to the final three, Op. 65 (1911-12) which bordered on atonality, Scriabin penned 26 etudes, each of which presents innovative pianistic ideas. Dr. Rachmanov will follow the development of Scriabin’s etudes, giving an overview and highlighting a few with an in-depth look into their structure and character.

 

 

The Étude Returns

Scott Smith

Join us to celebrate the piano étude and the composers behind the music. You’ll learn more about your favorite études and discover some unfamiliar works that you will love. Scott will present pieces at every teaching level along with practice devices that make learning easy.


 

Means To A Musical End

Jonathan Bass

Technique should always serve a musical end. But how do we build a good technique? Jonathan Bass will share ideas and approaches from his own technical and musical journey, which he always highlights when teaching his own students. Jonathan will start with some basic exercises and principles, then move onto scales of different sorts before discussing two Chopin Etudes in detail, Op. 25 No. 2 in F minor and Op. 25 No. 11, 'Winter Wind'.  


 

Paganini of the Piano

Roberto Poli

What is virtuoso playing? To answer this question, Roberto will discuss the challenges and goals of playing Paganini’s 6 Etudes. He will focus on achieving musical purpose by stressing the importance of a variety of colors, voicings, and freedom. This course will also include advice on practice techniques, and how to overcome certain technical issues. 

 

ROMANTIC STYLE

 

Too Dry, Too Blurry, and Too Fast?

Yuan Sheng

Many of Chopin’s compositions have established a performance convention through years of aural tradition, as well as its evolution largely due to change of taste, development of piano making and increased capacity in performance venues. Pianists who love Chopin often find his tempo indications, pedal markings and slurs incomprehensible while learning his music. I will try to convey my understanding of these issues with the help of an 1835 Pleyel piano, a type of instrument Chopin loved during his lifetime as well as the newest urtext edition(s). I will perform and analyze Nocturne in F Major, Op. 15, No.1 and Mazurka in A Minor, Op. 17, No. 4, as examples.


 

An Intimate Brahms

Victor Rosenbaum 

If a lullaby is a love song to comfort a baby, there is something of the “lullaby” in much of Brahms’s music.  From the famous Brahms lullaby itself, to the late Intermezzi, Opus 117, which Brahms himself called “lullabies for my sorrow”, a tenderness and intimacy permeates much of this composer’s music.  Of course, tenderness is often the prelude to passion, and the music of Brahms exudes plenty of passion and drama as well.  Although Brahms did not write “program music” per se (music that tells a particular narrative), his music does seem to speak to us with direct emotions, telling the experience of the human condition.  These emotions will be explored as the key to understanding and performing the music of this great composer which is such a central, but too often overlooked, part of the pianist’s repertoire.  (Examples will be drawn from the 1st Ballade, Opus 10, the Rhapsody Opus 79 No. 1, the Intermezzos, Opus 117 No. 1 and Opus 118, No. 2)


 

Liszt: The Artist as Romantic Hero

Michael Lewin

Franz Liszt - his life and music epitomize the Romantic Era. A man of great contradictions. The greatest pianist of all time- who stopped concertizing in his thirties. Composer of over 1,500 piano pieces. Inspired by nature, art, literature, God, travel. Devoutly religious, yet famous for his many romantic liaisons. Inventor of impressionism, atonality, famed for pushing the boundaries of piano virtuosity and pianistic effects. Virtuoso, nationalist, writer, lifelong champion and transcriber of other composer's music. Let's take a look at this tremendously influential and charismatic figure, whose legacy is still felt by anyone who plays the piano. We will examine his famous Petrarch Sonnet No. 104, music of passion and poetry.


 

Beyond National Identity: Chopin’s Longing for his Motherland

Roberto Poli

Can Chopin’s music be autobiographical? His works, from the immensity of large-scale works such as the Polonaise Fantaisie, Barcarolle, and Cello Sonata to the simplicity of some of the last mazurkas and waltzes, tell us much about his life in a way that is profoundly touching, intimate, and poetic.


 

Superwoman: The Unique Compositional Voice of Clara Schumann in Her Piano Sonata in G Minor

Inna Faliks 

We will delve into the unique compositional voice heard in Clara Schumann's unjustly forgotten Sonata in G minor. Written when she was twenty and unpublished until 1991, the four movement work gives us many layers - fiery contrapuntal complexity, open hearted lyricism, orchestral thinking and pianism that was Clara's alone. 

BACH AND BAROQUE

 

Deciphering Bach- It’s Really Very Simple

Victor Rosenbaum 

Unlock the mystery of learning Bach’s keyboard music!  Our world class performing artists take us on a journey to explore many critical issues in playing Bach’s keyboard music. You will discover the beauty and fascination within the score and learn to approach, understand, and perform Bach’s music in a way that is true to Bach yet reflects your personal interpretation.  These 30 minute mini sessions will be packed with practical learning objectives and tips through repertoire like Inventions, Suites and Partitas, The Well Tempered Clavier,  and more. So bring your Bach questions and get them answered at these live events!

 

The very first Invention of Bach sounds simple and straightforward, but that one page of music

reveals many of the issues that one finds in larger, more complex pieces of Bach. A look under

the surface of the piece provides a glimpse of Bach’s compositional process and how

understanding what’s happening inside the piece provides the key for playing it musically.

 

This course is designed for students, teachers, and music lovers. Playing level from Bach Inventions to Goldberg Variations.


 

Is There Expression in Bach

Peter Takács

"The question is often asked: "Is there emotion in Bach?" Through cantabile works such as the Andante from the Italian Concerto and the C# minor Prelude from the Well Tempered Clavier Book I, I will show that the answer is an emphatic "yes", but that we must understand Baroque style, avoid "personal" emotion, and realize that Bach's religious faith is deeply reflected in his music."


 

A Good Way to Dance: French Suite in C Minor

Jose Ramos Santana

"A look at the dances found in the Suites using the French Suite in C minor as an introductory example to demonstrate the voicing and how it affects the phrasing in the different dances and their characteristics, so it can be applied to the larger English Suite and Partitas."


 

Comparing the Editions: Bach Well Tempered Clavier

Dmitry Rachmanov

What’s in the Edition? In the case of the Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier, the evolution of our

perception of this groundbreaking work, its stylistic and technical means, has developed,

undergoing drastic transformations and modifications over the centuries. 

When studying and comparing editions, no other work lends itself to more numerous outlooks,

including textual variants as well as added resources, such as tempo and expression markings,

dynamics, suggested articulation, fingerings, pedal marks and more. We also have the

opportunity to acquaint ourselves with commentaries and critical notes, the fruits of in-depth

research provided by some of the editors, shedding a new light on the scores and their

interpretive possibilities.