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"Playing Mozart's Piano Pieces as Mozart Did."
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John Thomas
2015-07-22 03:44:51 UTC
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RACHEL NUWER, NYT, JULY 20, 2015

Classical piano pieces by such composers as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin likely sounded much different when the masters first performed those works than they do today. Pianos themselves have changed considerably -- but so, too, has technique.

Over the past decade, a growing number of musicologists have begun to take a closer look at how technique shapes not just the sound of music, but also the audience's emotional response to it.

"Music has one foot in physics and one foot in aesthetics," said Rolf Inge Godoy, a professor of musicology at the University of Oslo. "Body motion is essential for shaping the outcome of the sound, both in terms of what you actually hear and in terms of the visual impact on an audience."

Dr. Godoy uses optical motion capture -- also employed by the animation industry -- to study the physics of musical movement. Infrared cameras capture light from reflective markers placed on a cellist's hands or a percussionist's body, recording the performer's motion at up to 500 frames per second and at an accuracy to one-third of a millimeter.

Recently Dr. Godoy turned the technology on a fascinating question: How were such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and Hummel's Etudes, Opus 125, originally played, and how might that have made a difference in sound and in audience reaction?

To find out, Dr. Godoy struck up a collaboration with Christina Kobb, a doctoral candidate at the Norwegian Academy of Music and head of theory at Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo. Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more] http://tinyurl.com/ocfozhj
Lionel Tacchini
2015-07-22 06:02:11 UTC
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Post by John Thomas
Ms. Kobb has
developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano
according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more]
http://tinyurl.com/ocfozhj
That's interesting.
--
Lionel Tacchini
Bozo
2015-07-22 12:15:26 UTC
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Recently Dr. Godoy turned the technology on a fascinating question: How were >such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and Hummel's Etudes, Opus >125, originally played,
Mary Louise Boehm's Vox recording of the Hummel Etudes ; not sure what technique she used:


MiNe109
2015-07-22 12:28:02 UTC
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Post by Bozo
How were >such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and
Hummel's Etudes, Opus >125, originally played,
http://youtu.be/UZrPxVrqAUI
Thanks! I sampled John Khouri on spotify but can't recommend those
despite his nineteenth century style piano.

The layout of the music certainly encourages the upright posture mentioned.

I guess the headline writer thought Mozart would attract more attention.
I enjoyed the Kobb video included.

Stephen
Mark Zimmer
2015-07-22 14:33:42 UTC
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Post by MiNe109
Post by Bozo
How were >such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and
Hummel's Etudes, Opus >125, originally played,
Mary Louise Boehm's Vox recording of the Hummel Etudes ; not sure
http://youtu.be/UZrPxVrqAUI
Thanks! I sampled John Khouri on spotify but can't recommend those
despite his nineteenth century style piano.
The layout of the music certainly encourages the upright posture mentioned.
I guess the headline writer thought Mozart would attract more attention.
I enjoyed the Kobb video included.
Stephen
Bach's finger technique as described by Forkel just seems totally alien to me; I have tried it a couple time and can't make it work---and certainly not at speed.

===============================
According to Sebastian Bach's manner of placing the hand on the keys, the five fingers are bent so that their points come into a straight line, and so fit the keys, which lie in a plane surface under them, that no single finger has to be drawn nearer when it is wanted, but every one is ready over the key which it may have to press down. What follows from this manner of holding the hand is:

(1) That no finger must fall upon its key, or (as also often happens) be thrown on it, but only needs to be placed upon it with a certain consciousness of the internal power and com­mand over the motion.

(2) The impulse thus given to the keys, or the quantity of pressure, must be maintained in equal strength, and that in such a manner that the finger be not raised perpendicularly from the key, but that it glide off the forepart of the key, by gradually drawing back the tip of the finger towards the palm of the hand.

(3) In the transition from one key to another, this gliding off causes the quantity of force or pressure with which the first tone has been kept up to be transferred with the greatest rapidity to the next finger, so that the two tones are neither disjoined from each other nor blended together. The touch is, therefore, as Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach says, neither too long nor too short, but just what it ought to be.

Earlier, Forkel had referred to C.P.E. Bach's statement in his Essay:

Some persons play too stickily, as if they had glue between their fingers; their touch is too long, because they keep the keys down beyond the time. Others have attempted to avoid this defect and play too short, as if the keys were burning hot. This is also a fault. The middle path is the best.31

Continuing his description, Forkel wrote at length:

The advantages of such a position of the hand and of such a touch are very various, not only on the clavichord, but also on the pianoforte and the organ. I will here mention only the most important.

(1) The holding of the fingers bent renders all their motions easy. There can therefore be none of the scrambling, thump­ing, and stumbling which is so common in persons who play with their fingers stretched out, or not sufficiently bent.

(2) The drawing back of the tips of the fingers and the rapid communication, thereby effected, of the force of one finger to that following it produces the highest degree of clearness in the expression of the single tones, so that every passage performed in this manner sounds brilliant, rolling, and round, as if each tone were a pearl. It does not cost the hearer the least exertion of attention to understand a passage so performed.

(3) By the gliding of the tip of the finger upon the key with an equable pressure, sufficient time is given to the string to vibrate; the tone, therefore, is not only improved, but also prolonged, and we are thus enabled to play in a singing style and with proper connection, even on an instrument so poor in tone as the clavichord is.

All this together has, besides, the very great advantage that we avoid all waste of strength by useless exertion and by constraint in the motions. In fact, Sebastian Bach is said to have played with so easy and small a motion of the fingers that it was hardly perceptible. Only the first joints of the fingers were in motion; the hand retained even in the most difficult passages its rounded form; the fingers rose very little from the keys, hardly more than in a shake [trill], and when one was employed, the other remained quietly in its position. Still less did the other parts of his body take any share in his play, as happens with many whose hand is not light enough.

In the chapter entitled "Bach the Teacher," Forkel tells us:

The first thing he did was to teach his scholars his peculiar mode of touching the instrument, of which we have spoken before. For this purpose, he made them practice, for months together, nothing but isolated exercises for all the fingers of both hands, with constant regard to this clear and clean touch. Under some months, none could get excused from these exercises; and, according to his firm opinion, they ought to be continued, at least, for from six to twelve months. But if he found that anyone, after some months of practice, began to lose patience, he was so obliging as to write little connected pieces, in which those exercises were combined together. Of this kind are the six little Preludes for Beginners, and still more the fifteen two-part Inventions. He wrote both down during the hours of teaching, and, in doing so, attended only to the momentary want of the scholar. But he afterwards transformed them into beautiful, expressive little works of art. With his exercise of the fingers, either in single passages or in little pieces composed on purpose, was combined the practice of all the ornaments in both hands.
==================================
HT
2015-07-22 15:29:22 UTC
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Ms. Kobb may be an excellent musicologist but I just wonder whether this is really the way Mozart played. If it is little changed since my first lessons in the early 1950s. BTW, what a boring performance of the etude.

Henk
MiNe109
2015-07-23 02:19:45 UTC
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Post by HT
Ms. Kobb may be an excellent musicologist but I just wonder whether
this is really the way Mozart played. If it is little changed since
my first lessons in the early 1950s. BTW, what a boring performance
of the etude.
She's not a musicologist. She's a pianist who has studied treatises and
with access to old-style pianos tried to apply the techniques described.

While Hummel was a student of Mozart's, the application to Mozart, as
opposed to applying generally to early keyboard music, is mostly in the
headline.

The performance is meant as a demonstration, not as a performance.

Stephen
HT
2015-07-23 10:22:59 UTC
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Post by MiNe109
She's not a musicologist. She's a pianist who has studied treatises and
with access to old-style pianos tried to apply the techniques described.
I had a broader definition of musicologist in mind.
Post by MiNe109
While Hummel was a student of Mozart's, the application to Mozart, as
opposed to applying generally to early keyboard music, is mostly in the
headline.
Applying to early keyboard music (including Mozart?) but nevertheless not very different from my earliest piano lessons. The method must have competed for at least two centuries with other piano methods.
Post by MiNe109
The performance is meant as a demonstration, not as a performance.
In that case: a boring demonstration. <g>

Henk
MiNe109
2015-07-23 14:30:31 UTC
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Post by HT
Post by MiNe109
She's not a musicologist. She's a pianist who has studied treatises
and with access to old-style pianos tried to apply the techniques
described.
I had a broader definition of musicologist in mind.
Post by MiNe109
While Hummel was a student of Mozart's, the application to Mozart,
as opposed to applying generally to early keyboard music, is mostly
in the headline.
Applying to early keyboard music (including Mozart?) but nevertheless
not very different from my earliest piano lessons. The method must
have competed for at least two centuries with other piano methods.
Yes, the techniques described are fairly well-known if not universally
applied. For instance, playing from the first finger joint is something
I've only seen recommended as a technical exercise (as opposed to a
technical foundation).

My understanding is today's prevalent techniques (weight-transfer,
arm-drops, etc) arose with the iron-frame piano later in the century.
Post by HT
Post by MiNe109
The performance is meant as a demonstration, not as a performance.
In that case: a boring demonstration. <g>
No argument there! The Mary Louise Boehm performances linked by "bozo"
are much more enjoyable.

Stephen
laraine
2015-07-24 00:36:24 UTC
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Post by Bozo
Recently Dr. Godoy turned the technology on a fascinating question: How were >such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and Hummel's Etudes, Opus >125, originally played,
http://youtu.be/UZrPxVrqAUI
Oh my gosh, etudes everywhere!



(Czerny Op.740/49)
Bozo
2015-07-24 02:27:55 UTC
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Libetta plays Hummel with " modern " fingers :



Horowitz plays Liszt more or less "flat " :


laraine
2015-07-25 03:21:58 UTC
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Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/psWOnDBh2ZI
I think there's something to be said for playing scale passages with
curved fingers (and octaves with straighter fingers), but Ms. Kobb and
Hummel might disagree about the scales. Perhaps a slightly different
sound would be produced the other way.
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/zS5LRRsNYZk
He's famous for his glorious tone brilliance -- that might be a way to
obtain it --helps to be strong.

Seems that the shape of the hand would be very important too, and
whether one is playing on a modern piano or not..

C.
O
2015-07-27 15:29:16 UTC
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Post by laraine
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/psWOnDBh2ZI
I think there's something to be said for playing scale passages with
curved fingers (and octaves with straighter fingers), but Ms. Kobb and
Hummel might disagree about the scales. Perhaps a slightly different
sound would be produced the other way.
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/zS5LRRsNYZk
He's famous for his glorious tone brilliance -- that might be a way to
obtain it --helps to be strong.
Seems that the shape of the hand would be very important too, and
whether one is playing on a modern piano or not..
Horowitz played everything just about flat. A piano teacher's
nightmare. ("But Horowitz does it!") It worked for him, but there's
more than flat fingers that will get you to sound like Horowitz.

-Owen
laraine
2015-07-29 02:09:42 UTC
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Post by O
Post by laraine
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/psWOnDBh2ZI
I think there's something to be said for playing scale passages with
curved fingers (and octaves with straighter fingers), but Ms. Kobb and
Hummel might disagree about the scales. Perhaps a slightly different
sound would be produced the other way.
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/zS5LRRsNYZk
He's famous for his glorious tone brilliance -- that might be a way to
obtain it --helps to be strong.
Seems that the shape of the hand would be very important too, and
whether one is playing on a modern piano or not..
Horowitz played everything just about flat. A piano teacher's
nightmare. ("But Horowitz does it!") It worked for him, but there's
more than flat fingers that will get you to sound like Horowitz.
-Owen
Now he had a special piano too...
Someone pointed out this video, where he plays a Moszkowski etude with
very curved fingers...tone maybe not so important there.



And he also plays the right hand of the Chopin black key etude with
straight fingers --can you imagine that! He gets little bits of tone
brilliance from it though.

You know, just looking on the web, I see lots of disagreement about curved
vs. flat, and there are apparently different "schools" of technique, as well
as a lot of other variables to think about.

Some mention curled fingers in 18th c. music, and perhaps they are thinking
of harpsichord, where you're trying to make a plucking sound, IIUC.
Maybe it would help to know the details of one's fortepiano action.

C.
laraine
2015-07-29 16:23:53 UTC
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Post by laraine
Post by O
Post by laraine
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/psWOnDBh2ZI
I think there's something to be said for playing scale passages with
curved fingers (and octaves with straighter fingers), but Ms. Kobb and
Hummel might disagree about the scales. Perhaps a slightly different
sound would be produced the other way.
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/zS5LRRsNYZk
He's famous for his glorious tone brilliance -- that might be a way to
obtain it --helps to be strong.
Seems that the shape of the hand would be very important too, and
whether one is playing on a modern piano or not..
Horowitz played everything just about flat. A piano teacher's
nightmare. ("But Horowitz does it!") It worked for him, but there's
more than flat fingers that will get you to sound like Horowitz.
-Owen
Now he had a special piano too...
Someone pointed out this video, where he plays a Moszkowski etude with
very curved fingers...tone maybe not so important there.
http://youtu.be/mkjvlm5N_0M
And he also plays the right hand of the Chopin black key etude with
straight fingers --can you imagine that! He gets little bits of tone
brilliance from it though.
I take it back... I looked at the black key etude, and it actually
works well to play it with hands flat. You're on the "black key plane",
so to speak, so not a problem.

C.
laraine
2015-07-29 16:31:41 UTC
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Post by laraine
Post by laraine
Post by O
Post by laraine
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/psWOnDBh2ZI
I think there's something to be said for playing scale passages with
curved fingers (and octaves with straighter fingers), but Ms. Kobb and
Hummel might disagree about the scales. Perhaps a slightly different
sound would be produced the other way.
Post by Bozo
http://youtu.be/zS5LRRsNYZk
He's famous for his glorious tone brilliance -- that might be a way to
obtain it --helps to be strong.
Seems that the shape of the hand would be very important too, and
whether one is playing on a modern piano or not..
Horowitz played everything just about flat. A piano teacher's
nightmare. ("But Horowitz does it!") It worked for him, but there's
more than flat fingers that will get you to sound like Horowitz.
-Owen
Now he had a special piano too...
Someone pointed out this video, where he plays a Moszkowski etude with
very curved fingers...tone maybe not so important there.
http://youtu.be/mkjvlm5N_0M
And he also plays the right hand of the Chopin black key etude with
straight fingers --can you imagine that! He gets little bits of tone
brilliance from it though.
I take it back... I looked at the black key etude, and it actually
works well to play it with hands flat. You're on the "black key plane",
so to speak, so not a problem.
C.
I mean horizontal plane, not "airplane", in case that wasn't clear.

C.
Daniel Pyle
2015-07-22 12:22:19 UTC
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Post by John Thomas
RACHEL NUWER, NYT, JULY 20, 2015
Classical piano pieces by such composers as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin likely sounded much different when the masters first performed those works than they do today. Pianos themselves have changed considerably -- but so, too, has technique.
Over the past decade, a growing number of musicologists have begun to take a closer look at how technique shapes not just the sound of music, but also the audience's emotional response to it.
"Music has one foot in physics and one foot in aesthetics," said Rolf Inge Godoy, a professor of musicology at the University of Oslo. "Body motion is essential for shaping the outcome of the sound, both in terms of what you actually hear and in terms of the visual impact on an audience."
Dr. Godoy uses optical motion capture -- also employed by the animation industry -- to study the physics of musical movement. Infrared cameras capture light from reflective markers placed on a cellist's hands or a percussionist's body, recording the performer's motion at up to 500 frames per second and at an accuracy to one-third of a millimeter.
Recently Dr. Godoy turned the technology on a fascinating question: How were such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and Hummel's Etudes, Opus 125, originally played, and how might that have made a difference in sound and in audience reaction?
To find out, Dr. Godoy struck up a collaboration with Christina Kobb, a doctoral candidate at the Norwegian Academy of Music and head of theory at Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo. Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more] http://tinyurl.com/ocfozhj
I have watched the embedded video, and it looks exactly like the way I was taught by my piano teacher in the 1970's (he having been a student of Mme. Vengerova in NY). What Ms. Kobb has done, therefore, does not seem so revolutionary -- but it is a welcome corrective to recently fashionable technique.
g***@gmail.com
2015-07-23 03:56:49 UTC
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Post by John Thomas
Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more]
- Then anyone who leaves behind him a written manual, and likewise anyone who receives it, in the belief that such writing will be clear and certain, must be exceedingly simple-minded.

Plato
HT
2015-07-23 10:06:54 UTC
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Post by g***@gmail.com
Post by John Thomas
Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more]
- Then anyone who leaves behind him a written manual, and likewise anyone who receives it, in the belief that such writing will be clear and certain, must be exceedingly simple-minded.
Plato
<g> Written texts can only remind one of what one already knows (Phaedrus 275d).

Henk
Gerard
2015-07-26 09:30:04 UTC
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Post by John Thomas
Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play
the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more]
- Then anyone who leaves behind him a written manual, and likewise anyone
who receives it, in the belief that such writing will be clear and certain,
must be exceedingly simple-minded.

Plato
====================


Applies to Plato's writings as well.
laraine
2015-07-23 23:29:29 UTC
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Many learn to play piano with curved fingers rather than have them flat as a pancake, which can be damaging. That works well in general, I think. I've been told, though, and I believe I agree that there is some music where straighter fingers work better, such as some places in Mozart sonatas, for example, and usually in earlier rather than Romantic music. It's just easier to play and make the proper sound. (Harpsichord touch is rather different, however.)

Now I wasn't aware of all those details about angle of the arm to keyboard, or ease of sliding. And I did like the kinds of sound she got out of that historical piano.

C.
gggg gggg
2021-11-18 07:20:52 UTC
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Post by John Thomas
RACHEL NUWER, NYT, JULY 20, 2015
Classical piano pieces by such composers as Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin likely sounded much different when the masters first performed those works than they do today. Pianos themselves have changed considerably -- but so, too, has technique.
Over the past decade, a growing number of musicologists have begun to take a closer look at how technique shapes not just the sound of music, but also the audience's emotional response to it.
"Music has one foot in physics and one foot in aesthetics," said Rolf Inge Godoy, a professor of musicology at the University of Oslo. "Body motion is essential for shaping the outcome of the sound, both in terms of what you actually hear and in terms of the visual impact on an audience."
Dr. Godoy uses optical motion capture -- also employed by the animation industry -- to study the physics of musical movement. Infrared cameras capture light from reflective markers placed on a cellist's hands or a percussionist's body, recording the performer's motion at up to 500 frames per second and at an accuracy to one-third of a millimeter.
Recently Dr. Godoy turned the technology on a fascinating question: How were such classical pieces as Mozart's Variation K. 500 and Hummel's Etudes, Opus 125, originally played, and how might that have made a difference in sound and in audience reaction?
To find out, Dr. Godoy struck up a collaboration with Christina Kobb, a doctoral candidate at the Norwegian Academy of Music and head of theory at Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo. Ms. Kobb has developed an unusual expertise: She has learned how to play the piano according to techniques described nearly 200 years ago...[more] http://tinyurl.com/ocfozhj
https://groups.google.com/g/rec.music.classical/c/l9JBFpJ6QgY

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