schadenfreude

scha·den·freu·de
ˈSHädənˌfroidə/
noun
  1. pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

In a musical slump? Feel frustrated at your fingers? Take some comfort from realizing that the greatest pianists are, in fact, also very much human. (I really recommend you click through to watch it on Youtube; the description box is full of delicious little anecdotes and quotes!)

“The pianist should never be afraid to take risks.” – Horowitz
“In the old days wrong notes were the right of the genius.” – Arrau

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to memorize or not to memorize?

Liszt in concert (1842), by Theodor Hosemann (source)

Liszt in concert (1842), by Theodor Hosemann (source)

It’s not memorizing that’s the problem, a friend said once. It’s having to perform from memory. This 2013 New York Times article discusses the controversy surrounding the de facto requirement of playing works from memory, raising the valid point that, up to the time when overachiever Franz Liszt decided to play concerts memorized, most concerts were performed with music.

In earlier eras there was composed music, which was always played from the score, and there was improvised music. Since performers were almost always composers as well, as Mr. Hough explained, for a pianist to play, say, a Chopin ballade from memory would have been considered the height of arrogance, as if the pianist were suggesting that he had composed the piece.

Read the rest of the article here.

What do you think about the tradition of playing by memory? Is it helpful, or harmful, or becoming obsolete?