In a recent article in American Music Teacher Magazine, pianist and pedagogue Bruce Berr documents his ordeal overcoming a specific passage in Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto. Inspired by a live performance by Van Cliburn as a young man in Philadelphia, Berr spent years practicing, but was always haunted by “impossible” passages. One specific passage of rapidly ascending double thirds in the last movement is a nightmare to even the most technically sound pianists. Because of his desire to play every note, this became known to him as “The Passage”. A decade later, he saw a university artist perform this work and simply advised him that the “art of performing is sometimes the art of faking.”  From then on, he began to realize that simple modifications rearrangements to the music can make impossible passages possible. Because of this, he was finally able to realize his dream and perform the concerto decades later.

As someone that has performed this concerto with orchestra, I know firsthand of these difficulties, but was fortunate enough to have a teacher that was able to show me within the first few lessons alternatives to these sections, without sacrificing the musical intention of the composer. This has, however, not been the case with every piece and it certainly was not the case with Bruce Berr who waited a long time before realizing that “the art of performing, is sometimes the art of faking.”

I hope to create an online community of users of advanced/conservatory-level pianists that shows, via video or narrative, alternative fingerings or modifications that can be done to help pianists achieve success in the difficult sections of the piano repertoire. I welcome your comments and encourage you to use these videos and rate their use and effectiveness (or ineffectiveness).

If you would like to contribute a post, please email me directly at jdepedro@umich.edu.

Happy practicing!

Published in: on January 28, 2011 at 20:36  Comments (1)  

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