By Kenneth Hamilton
Kenneth Hamilton's e-book engagingly and lucidly dissects the oft-invoked fantasy of an exceptional culture, or Golden Age of Pianism. it truly is written either for avid gamers and for participants in their audiences by means of a pianist who believes that scholarship and clarity can move hand-in-hand. Hamilton discusses in meticulous but full of life element the performance-style of significant pianists from Liszt to Paderewski, and delves into the far-from-inevitable improvement of the piano recital. He entertainingly recounts how classical concert events developed from exuberant, occasionally riotous occasions into the formal, funereal trotting out of predictable items they are often this present day, how a regularly unhistorical "respect for the ranking" started to change pianists' improvisations and diversifications, and the way the medical customized arose that an viewers can be obvious and never heard. Pianists will locate nutrition for notion the following on their repertoire and the traditions of its functionality. Hamilton chronicles why pianists of the prior didn't constantly start a section with the 1st notice of the ranking, nor finish with the final. He emphasizes that anxiousness over mistaken notes is a comparatively contemporary psychosis, and taking part in completely from reminiscence a comparatively contemporary requirement. Audiences will come across a brilliant account of ways tremendously diversified are the recitals they attend in comparison to concert events of the earlier, and the way their very own position has reduced from noisily lively members within the live performance adventure to passive recipients of creative benediction from the degree. they're going to notice whilst cowed listeners finally stopped applauding among routine, and why they stopped speaking loudly in the course of them. The book's large message declares that there's not anything divinely ordained approximately our personal concert-practices, programming and piano-performance types. Many features of the trendy strategy are unhistorical-some laudable, a few in simple terms ludicrous. also they are a long way faraway from these fondly, if deceptively, remembered as constituting a Golden Age.
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Extra info for After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance
Or should we strive to re-create, however imperfectly, what we think the original impression might have been—that is, favor the spirit over the letter? Busoni strongly argued the latter (as I will discuss in more detail later); critics, auditioners, and examiners often need to promote the former. After all, it supposedly allows us to evaluate a performance in a more ‘‘objective’’ way. 58 Richard Taruskin, in a typically trenchant and amusing review of the recent Cambridge University Press histories of nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, regards present-day historical writings as showing a struggle between an implicitly old-fashioned work-centered view of history as a chain of canonic great masterpieces bestowed on us from Parnassus by the muse of music, which he labels ‘‘the Romantic position,’’ and a ‘‘realist 58 Lydia Goehr, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
It places the playing of Liszt, Anton Rubinstein, Busoni, and others of their era into a mystical category of its own, by its very nature resistant to analysis, and both unapproached and unapproachable by present-day performers. It also can turn biography into scarcely credible hagiography. ’’ Legions of grateful pupils were happy to testify to this. The issue of credibility already worried some of those students more than a century ago. When William Mason wrote his memoirs, he was obviously concerned that the praise he had given his master’s talents would seem exaggerated to readers who had not known the man or ever heard his playing.
20 AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE before 1867, when Steinway and Sons scored an overwhelming success in the Paris International Exhibition with its iron-framed, overstrung grand, was originally intended for instruments signiﬁcantly different from the modern concert piano (here deﬁned for convenience, though tendentiously, as a Hamburg or New York Steinway Model D). Those who have played on a range of well-maintained late-nineteenth-century pianos, both European and American, even here often notice a more mellow tone and slightly lighter action.
After the Golden Age: Romantic Pianism and Modern Performance by Kenneth Hamilton