The Pianist's Craft

Mastering the Works of Great Composers

Edited by Richard Paul Anderson

Hardback - £72.00

Publication date:

21 December 2011

Length of book:

304 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810882058

No pianist can experience the full flowering of her art without eventually grappling with those great musical minds who composed specifically for piano. In The Pianist's Craft, Richard Anderson collects from his fellow pianist-scholars 19 articles on the teaching, preparation, and performance of works by the greatest composers in the standard piano repertoire. This collection ranges in subject matter from Inge Rosar's meditation on playing Bach on the modern keyboard to Gary Amato's assessment of Haydn's sonatas, from Christie Skousen's review of tone production in Chopin to GwenolynMok's foray into recreating Ravel's works on an Erard piano, the same used by Ravel himself.

Readers will find essays as well on Mozart's piano compositions, Beethoven's sonatas, the influence of Schubert's lieder on his piano works, and works by Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Bartók, Gershwin, and Crumb. The contributors—all recognized nationally and internationally for their contributions as performing artists, teachers, recording artists, and clinicians—write thoughtfully about the composers whose work they have studied and played for years. Each author addresses issues unique to the individual composer they have chosen to explore, examining questions of phrasing, tempo, articulation, dynamics, rhythm, color, gesture, lyricism, instrumentation, and genre. Valuable insight is provided into teaching, performing, and preparing these great works.

The Pianist's Craft these great artists and teachers answer questions for readers that are otherwise only addressed in conferences, master classes, and private lessons. In this collection of essays, key points of information and instruction are offered with over 200 musical examples included as illustration. The Pianist's Craft is intended for teachers and students of the intermediate and advanced levels of piano, instructors and performers at the university level, and those who love piano and piano music generally.
Each of this collection's 19 essays--all written by concert pianists, recording artists, college professors, scholars, mostly from the US but a few with international credentials--deals with the music of a single famous composer. Anderson (Brigham Young Univ.) did not impose a particular format for the essays and so they vary significantly in length and the depth with which the contributors discuss their assigned composer. Though each essay provides interesting information on the performance practices for the composer (tempi, phrasing, articulation, rhythm, and so on) and an overall survey of the composer's output, essays by Susan Duehlmeier (on Franz Shubert), Barbara Nissman (Sergei Prokofiev), and Jeffrey Jacob (George Crumb) rise above the rest. Louis Nagel's contribution proved to be the most fun, with the question and answer format so closely connected to the writings and music of Robert Schumann, the subject of his essay. The 250 musical illustrations throughout the essays are helpful in clarifying the concepts presented. The audience for this book is those who already have significant piano background and who might gain from the master-teacher experience and knowledge of these writers on their specialty. Summing Up: Recommended.