Notes from the Pianist's Benchby Boris Berman
Pub. Date: 02/28/2002
Publisher: Yale University Press
Boris Berman, an internationally known Russian-trained concert pianist and highly respected teacher, here draws on his vast experience to explore issues of piano technique and music interpretation. Combining explanations and advice with anecdotes about his students, colleagues, and former teachers, he also provides many insights into the psychological aspects of musical performance and the teaching of music.
Berman thoroughly examines such practical matters in piano playing as sound and touch, technique, pedaling, and articulation. He gives tips on choosing editions, selecting the best fingering, memorizing, and making the most efficient use of practice time. He gives equal emphasis to issues of interpretation, discussing ways to decipher the inner content of a piece of music. And he offers suggestions about how to prepare emotionally for a performance, how to confront stage anxiety, and how to adapt teaching approaches to the individual students. Informative and entertaining, this book will be welcomed by piano students, teachers, and anyone else interested in the art of piano playing.
About the Author:
Boris Berman, professor of piano at the Yale School of Music, has given concerts and master classes around the world and has many recordings to his credit.
- Yale University Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)
Table of Contents
|Part I In the Practice Room|
|Part II Shaping Up a Performance|
|About the Author||215||(2)|
|Music Publisher Credit||223|
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Imagine you are a piano student playing a Haydn sonata for your professor. In the slow movement your teacher conjures up a Classical opera aria as an illustrative example, complete with specific characters, and even ventures to invent an imaginary reconstruction of the opening: 'Dio, che guar - da [rest] tut - ti gli~a - man - ti [rest] ¿' Chances are that you are among the lucky chosen ones in the class of famous Russian-American pianist Boris Berman. Your level of playing (and your budget) do not allow you to study with a professor of international stature at Yale University? There is no need for despair. Professor Berman has crystallized his most nourishing ideas in an astonishingly eloquent and lucid manner. 'Notes from the Pianist¿s Bench' is his highly informative, rational book of advice geared to the undergraduate and graduate piano student. Unlike those dry and overblown piano methods of early German theorists (Deppe, Breithaupt, Tetzel, Martienssen) Berman¿s prose is striking a perfect balance between the philosophical and the practical, between the erudite and the anecdotal, the comprehensive and the concise, imagination and realism, elementary and advanced; and it can definitely be comprehended by the educated layman, last not least thanks to the many highly appropriate musical examples. Unlike Heinrich Neuhaus, the legendary Russian teacher of Richter and Gilels, who opens his 'The Art of Piano Playing' with a deliberation on the artistic image (idea, vision), Berman¿s musical notes do not drop too far off the pianistic bench in the first part of this book. In fact he starts there where most diligent students hopefully find themselves presently: in the pratice room. But what a practice room this is! While yours (and mine) consists of four naked white walls with a big black piano in it, Professor Berman¿s practice room is a laboratory of experimentation and consideration. His enormous experience in performance practice, spanning all styles from harpsichord to Cage, allows him to approach a topic from several angles at the same time. Berman is especially afraid of exaggeration and dogmatic advice and believes our faults to be the extension of our virtues: 'My biggest hesitation about writing this book has been a fear that my advice will be misinterpreted or carried ad absurdum. Guided by the teacher, a young musician must learn to use common sense, both in making interpretive decisions and in deciding on appropriate physical actions to realize them.' Naturally this approach should be recommended to the modern passive student craving for simplistic recipes and instant solutions. Berman: 'Being a good student is not as simple a task as one might think. The objective of one¿s studies should be to become an artist, not to perpetuate one¿s status as a student. With some students I have the feeling that they fall in my lap as a piece of clay: `Here I am, mold me.¿ In some cases such an attitude is a reflection of the individual¿s general passivity, and in others it comes from being accustomed to spoon-feeding by their previous teacher.' It is quite obvious that Berman himself is familiar with the specific cultural background of ethnically diverse students. Consider his lesson to a student from Beijing who lacked an understanding of polyphonic texture: '[¿] I made the analogy with perspective in painting, but this concept was completely unfamiliar to her, probably because she did not have much experience with Western-style painting. To make my point, I showed her two pictures of birds, one a Chinese drawing and the other a Western landscape. I asked if she could tell me which birds in the first picture were closest to the viewer. That she was unable to do so was not surprising, because perspective was not a component of the artistic system of the picture. The student had no problem in answering the same question in relation to the second picture. Then I tri