Mastering Rachmaninoff

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Knut
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 06 Apr 2016, 19:36

John Ruggero wrote:Sorry I misunderstood, Knut.
My fault, I'd say.
John Ruggero wrote:I think that composer is best concerned about "interesting" rather than "original", because worry about originality can lead to negative consequences like: the conviction that one's style must be totally different from anything ever heard before or that there is something terribly wrong with the unconscious borrowing that is a normal part of the creative process. An example:

A Sad but also Happy Story

A composer once wrote a piano piece that was such a huge hit among his friends that they constantly asked him to play it for them. Close to publishing the piece, he suddenly realized that he had subconsciously summarized the whole of Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata in his own piece and had even "borrowed" a long melodic sequence note-for-note from the famous piece, which was, as often in such cases, in the exactly same keys as his own.

Convinced that the public would immediately notice the borrowing, he put the piece in a drawer where it remained until after his death, whereupon a friend and disciple published the work. Instantly, the piece became one of the most beloved and famous piano pieces ever written. For over one hundred years, people wondered why the composer would not have published such a great piece. Finally, a student of Heinich Schenker noticed the connection and published an article about it. Did this affect the popularity of the piece or the esteem in which it is held? Is it a less good a piece because it is a little "unoriginal". Suppose the composer had destroyed the work? Suppose the composer had stopped writing it because he had immediately noticed the connection?

The composer was Chopin; the piece was the "Fantasy"-Impromptu.
Great story!

I totally agree. According to Ravel there are only two types of music: 'That which pleases and that which is boring', which I'd interpret as essentially the same thing. Ravel also made no attempt to hide his influences. He would say things like 'My music is, quite simple, nothing but Mozart', or, referring to a particular piece or passage, 'Here the harmony is pure Beethoven'. Even when the influences are easy to spot, the Ravelian treatment of the 'loot' is what makes it interesting.

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OCTO
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by OCTO » 06 Apr 2016, 19:54

Thank you for sharing with us such nice stories!
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John Ruggero
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by John Ruggero » 06 Apr 2016, 21:47

Knut and OCTO, I am glad you like this story, which is, of course, my own interpretation of the events.

Knut, I thought that we were in agreement on this; I was just having a little trouble expressing it. Ravel's remark reminds me of another story: when Van Cliburn won the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, Richter gave him a perfect score and everyday else 0, tilting the over-all scoring to Cliburn. When asked, Richter supposedly said: "Either they make music, or they don't."

For anyone who would like to read the article I mentioned, it is "The Fantasie-Impromptu: A Tribute to Beethoven" by Ernst Oster, which first appeared in 1947—it is reprinted in "Aspects of Schenkerian Theory" ed. David Beach (Yale University Press 1983)
Last edited by John Ruggero on 07 Apr 2016, 12:48, edited 2 times in total.
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Knut
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Re: Mastering Rachmaninoff

Post by Knut » 06 Apr 2016, 21:54

John Ruggero wrote: Ravel's remark reminds me of another story: when Van Cliburn won the first Tchaikovsky Piano Competition, Richter have him a perfect score and everyday else 0, tilting the over-all scoring to Cliburn. When asked, he apparently said: "Either they make music, or they don't."
Fantastic! :lol:

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