Arabesque Nr 1 by Claude Debussy

Listening to music compositions can lead to visual creations. It is fascinating to see different versions of the same music piece. I would like to invite you on a visual journey and discover Claude Debussy Arabesque with visuals by Pascal Barnier

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Video Concept: Pascal Barnier “Fantasy notes” Reflection Nr. 2 Contemporary piano project. Ugo Armano was born in Padua (Italy) in 1956. He began piano studies at the age of five and has studied with Silvio Omizzolo and Oliviero De Zordo. He was then initiated into electroacoustic music by Teresa Rampazzi. As a performer, he has won many international contests including the Arturo Toscanini Contest. This activity developed his taste for improvisation and, finally, for composition. Ugo Armano is currently artistic director of the Anton Diabelli Association teaches music and carries on with his carreer of pianist.

Moonlight Sonata - Thumbnail

It is persiflage of the most often played piece in youtube. Pop-art satire! In our Video Beethoven the pianist is sitting on the moon and watching the Earth while playing the moonlight sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven. The change of view and the sensation of being “lost in space” gives a new tingly feeling to interpret this wonderful classical sonata piece for youtube Beethoven.

Some personal thoughts about music and intuition based on listening to the recordings of Maestro Horowitz

Vladimir-Horowitz

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant”. Albert Eistein
One day I was studying the danse macabre of Saint-Sans and listening to the recording of Wladimir Horowitz. When I was reading the music during my listening, I realized my expectation of the music was different as all the corporal strict notation in the score was very freely interpreted. I tried to play along and had difficulty to follow him. Then I put the music aside, closed my eyes and listened again and suddenly the piece started living. It was amazing, how fresh and energetic and alive it sounded! Every note was captivating and I could not stop listening. Then I stood up and tried to dance to the music and do some arm and hand movements and was fascinated how organic the music performance was. It seems like Horowitz released an internal flow out of the written dead and dry ink on the paper.

Italian Humanist of Middle Age Leon Battista Alberti (1407 – 1472) once said, “We shall borrow all our rules for our proportions from the musicians who are the greatest masters of this sort of numbers and from the music itself wherein the Nature shows herself most excellent and complete.” In the Middle Ages the liberal arts education consisted of Music, Arithmetic, Geometry and Astronomy, the so called Quadrivium. Surely, at first the educated person would learn to master a musical instrument due to the mathematical and proportional aspect of music. Even then, it was all very clear that actually playing music or even just hearing it would foster a creative moment – that would boost our instinctive facilities. At first, it sounds like a contradiction: Music has numbers, proportions, strict rules and they all need to be obeyed. Playing music is all about the intuition, inborn unexplainable facility to shape these numbers and harmonic proportions into tones. The magic moment of flow occurs when everything starts fitting it – your body movements, your state of mind, emotions and your personal something…

My personal experience was many times I had difficulties with some music pieces and would be searching for analytical ways to cope with them. I would be doing everything written by a composer but still the essence of the music would escape. Only a source of inspiration like reading a book, or walking in the forest, or dancing to the music would give me a key to my interpretation. New impulses would arrive when I allow myself enough room for improvisation in my interpretations. Maestro Horowitz once said that his idea of a most interesting recital would be to play several performances of Ballade nr. 1 of Frederik Chopin in one concert. So improvisation and intuition go hand in hand. Both are so important in life, and they are certainly a product of self-contemplation which is developed through artistic practices and music in particular.
There were several postulates that the ability to read music and play different musical instruments teaches pattern recognition allowing for faster conceptual mapping enhancing intuitive abilities. In other words, it strenghens our intuition. Kay Shelemay, Professor of music in Harvard says, “All humans come into the world with an innate capability for music. At a very early age, this capability is shaped by the music system of the culture in which a child is raised. That culture affects the way people hear sound.” However if it is not developed further, this ability stays under cover, only to be re-discovered later eventually through the conscious effort. One way to bring intuition back into your daily life is through short creativity breaks.
It would be interesting to hear your experiences. Does intuition help you and/or how do you make use of it? It would be great to hear your opinion. Please visit us at www.movingclassics.tv for more insights. Thank you for reading.

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Do women suffer discrimination in music? Could you hear the female touch by listening to pianists with closed eyes?

anna blog

Once I played a recital and was approached by a gentleman after a concert who asked me with an expression of surprise on his face why there were so few female pianists. I immediately thought about the stars like Helene Grimaud, Martha and Katja but he was not happy with my answer. He wanted to go deeper. His argumentation was that the winners of the piano competitions are mostly men. I must admit I was at a loss at that moment what to answer. But the question remained open for me and did not leave me for days. The notorious joke of Horowitz about three kinds of pianists was in the air too….
The next “reminder” came two days later, when one agency asked me to call back a client who was looking for a pianist for dinner gala with classical repertoire, my joy disappeared within a second as a lady on the phone said that this job opportunity is open only for young male pianists.
The third time the same question re-appeared was a reader’s letter in the UK Pianist magazine; it was a question if there is something like a female touch and if we could tell from listening with closed eyes when a woman is playing.
All three incidents were a trigger for me to write this blog. To begin with, I asked befriended piano teachers in schools and universities about the gender distribution. The answer confirmed my own experience: it was 80 /20 percentage for schoolchildren, where girls were the majority. (Surely guys were doing sports in their free time). The music major faculties showed a different percentage, it was more like 50/50. I looked through the latest statistics of the competitions and it confirmed my own experience of taking part in them. For example, the recent Tchaikovsky competition statistics was that the third of the pianists were females (from 35 listed competitors) but the finalists were all men. The Chopin Competition was interesting to follow too: in the preliminary round it starts with 45% of women, and then the proportion diminishes. The third round has 35% and the grand finale only 20%. The figures were eloquent enough – I wanted to find out the reasons. Curious as I am, I consulted the youtube and entered Chopin Scherzo Nr. 3 in cis moll. I suggest you do it too: the results were fascinating, nearly all famous pianists of the past and even recent competitors recorded this piece. I chose Chopin as it has strong female component in it: But now we are back to the controversial topic. I am sure you will ask me to define “female” too. Back in the 19th century, the role of a woman and the word “female” was clearly defined. Clara Schumann or Cecile Chaminade were balancing their lives within the society where a woman was supposed to be taking care of the family and children and not pursue music as her career. Not so with the girls’ upbringing, it was a sign of good manners to play a piano. So a teacher (of course, it was a man) would come to give piano lessons.
Well, we are talking about clichés, it all starts in our early childhood when our parents pay attention to our education in conformity with the roles. When we speak of “female” qualities, the first associations that come to our mind would be sweet, sensitive, less aggressive, motherly, caring. ..The masculine qualities would be strong, daring, aggressive, risky… The thesaurus has no limits but the words are clearly defined. Music as a word sounds feminine to me, due to Greek mythology with 9 muses, the goddesses of inspiration of the arts. Euterpe was “rejoycing well” or “delighting” goddess of music. In modern language, the word “muse” is someone who inspires a musician. In the rock culture of 60s there was a phenomenon of groupies who were female fans following the music stars everywhere… This leads to another question, if the culture of being a fan and musician adoration cult is more of a “female character” phenomenon..
The youtube comparison of the Scherzo brought interesting results: after having listened to about 200 videos, I would say, yes, women tend to take slower tempi, they are more sensitive in the lyrical passages, they phrase differently, they pay attention to more details, men tend to be better at big forms, they have clearer structure and concept feeling, they are louder, more aggressive, faster. There are two exceptions: Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimmerman, but as the old saying goes, the exceptions prove the rule. Another thought would be, if the male composers wrote the music in a “manly” way, then the men would best understand it? I often heard from many people that female pianists cannot be good at Rachmaninow as they would not possess the strength and stamina to get through the concerts. We all heard the stunning performances of Tschaikowky Piano Concerto by female pianists. Men would often say that the sex appeal would make it easier for women to get attention. But the experiences of Rubinstein, Liszt, Pollini and many young 20 year old pianists show that their sex appeal work exactly the same way for the female audience and if you take into consideration that the classical music audience is getting older and women outlive men, you get exactly the gender preferences.
What is your opinion about this topic? Is there discrimination in music business? Do you perceive music differently when played by a man or a woman?

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Thumbnail - Dulcamara


Tried many time to get a good visualisation…

Hope this one is good enough to show you…
Live it is no problem, if a beamer is there, but to record the visualisation is difficult…
Maybe someone knows something about recording the screen with a better resolution…