Tag Archives: piano technique

What could this exciting piece be?

When I was about 14 I heard the most amazingly passionate and exciting piece of piano music on the little transistor radio I carried to my ear, while waiting for a bus outside the two apartment blocks. They were entitled "Marlo" and "Oberon." As they were both of 1930s vintage, I have always thought that "Marlo" was really meant to be "Merle" for the block on the left.

What could this exciting piece be? I didn't have to wait very long, as it was only five minutes long--nothing could have maintained that level of passion and excitement any longer. It was a piece by classical pianist Franz Liszt, one of his Transcendental Etudes, entitled Wilde Jagd. No wonder it wasn't better known--who could be expected to get their tongue around that heavy Middle-Ages-sounding Germanic moniker? (Much later I discovered that Wilde Jagd, which means wild hunt, or chase, was indeed a Middle Ages tale, and had a much more svelte-sounding title in French: Le Chasseur Maudit or "The Accursed Hunter," used, among other incarnations, as the subject of a symphonic poem by Cesar Franck.)

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In the fingers

My young friend in Canada, Alexander Lang, writes to me that he is starting to work on Bach's Italian Concerto. His repertoire up to now, "but not warmed up" (sounds like eggs for breakfast; in my terminology, it's "in the fingers"), is mostly Chopin; Scherzos 2 and 3; Ballade 1 and 4; Etudes 2, 5, op 10; 12, op 12; Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise; Nocturne op 48 #1. Also Liszt's Wilde Jagd, Hungarian Rhapsody 2--"can barely manage it" (me too); a few Beethoven sonatas; some Debussy.

He has been reading my book on piano technique (Mastering the Chopin Etudes) and "trying your relaxed-hand technique and it makes a huge difference to especially my octave passages--they hardly take effort anymore. I also really like the single-note approach to technical passages, not going for sequences but individual notes and chords. I bet I could straighten out the Rhapsody with a little work."

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We have a book

I had a wonderful friend, a great lady who grew up in Edwardian England. She loved to recall anecdotes from her childhood, many of which went into the folklore of her family, and turned up over the following 80 years as suitable quotes for many occasions.

One such was the following: A parliamentary candidate came to her family's town and made a speech in the local hall. When asked a curly question, he responded: "We have a booklet." Since then, "We have a booklet" became the oft-repeated response to difficult questions.

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