The Pianist's Craft: Mastering the Works of Great Composers

By Holmes, Ruth Jane | American Music Teacher, August-September 2012 | Go to article overview

The Pianist's Craft: Mastering the Works of Great Composers


Holmes, Ruth Jane, American Music Teacher


[mouse] The Pianist's Craft: Mastering the Works of Great Composers, edited by Richard Paul Anderson. Scarecrow Press, 2012. www.rlpgbooks.com; 304 pp., $65.00.

Richard Paul Anderson presents 19 master piano teacher/performers who are premiere authorities on the compositions of the greatest composers for the keyboard instruments of all eras. The book is a wonderful resource for teachers and students at the intermediate to advanced level of performance. Each chapter is devoted to a single composer; one author writes about the preparation, teaching and performing of that composer's works with regard to tempo, articulation, dynamics, ornamentation, repetitions and pedaling. More than 250 musical examples are included in the book.

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Additionally, unique influences on each composer are discovered, creating better understanding and interpretation of the music. For example, the essayist cites the influence of opera, Flamenco guitar and Portuguese folk elements exemplified in the sonatas of D. Scarlatti.

Concerning J. S. Bach, the author wrestles with translating harpsichord music to the piano, and also deals with the lack of performance practice specifications by the composer.

Three chapters on the sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven assist in understanding the evolution of sonata-allegro form while contemplating the limitations of the keyboard instruments with which those composers dealt, and their impact on the evolution of the modern piano.

Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms, all romantic era composers, are viewed in relation to their respective inspirations and their impact on the development of piano technique.

A wealth of information regarding impressionism emphasizes the classicism and pudeur of Ravel's music and the impact of the new double-escapement piano action on his virtuosic style. …

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