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Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing (Dover Books on Music) Paperback – June 1, 1972
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From the Back Cover
This little book, written at the height of his career by Josef Lhevinne, the "inward poet of the piano," is a clear statement of principles based on his lifelong experience in performance and teaching. Lhevinne was, with Rachmaninoff, Schnabel, and Hoffman, one of the great modern masters, and was the first artist invited to teach at the newly formed Julliard Graduate School of Music.
Technique, through essential, must be subordinate to musical understanding. Complete knowledge of scales, apprehended not mechanically but musically; understanding of the uses of rests and silence, which Mozart considered the greatest effect in music; a feeling for rhythm and training of the ear; these are the basic elements of a thorough grounding in musicianship and are accordingly emphasized in the opening chapters.
The heart of the book is devoted to the attainment of a beautiful tone. Anyone who has heard Lhevinne play or has listened to one of his recordings will know how great were his achievements in that area. The secret lay, at least in part, in the technique he called "the arm floating in air," and in the use of the wrists as natural shock absorbers. The achievement of varieties of tone, of the singing, ringing tone, of brilliancy, of delicacy, and of power are all explained in terms of a careful analysis of the ways in which the fingers, hand, wrist, arm, and indeed the whole body function in striking the keys. There are further remarks about how to get a clear staccato and an unblurred legato, about the dangers of undue emphasis on memorization and the need for variety in practicing, and special comments on the use of the pedal, which should be employed with as much precision as the keys.
Throughout, specific musical examples are presented as illustrations. The author draws not only upon his own experiences and methods, but upon the examples of Anton Rubenstein and of his teacher, Safonoff, for this remarkably lucid and concise formulation of basic principles.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although this book is very short (the material is supposed to be basic, after all), Lhevinne manages to effectively illustrate everything he presents by applying each principle to excerpts from well-known classical pieces.
As a pianist who is trying to improve his technique, I would highly recommend this to anyone who is seeking to do the same.
In a nutshell:
(1) Remember that the musician is the horse and the pianist only the cart; and, rhythm being the "spirit of music".
(2) Always seek for a rich singing tone, touch being the key.
(3) How to do it? Use the cushion flesh of the fingers supported by loose wrists as shock absorbers; " hold" instead of delivering blows to the keys ; and also give your left hand parts indivduality and independence "and your playing improves 100%", and a lot of other practical tips...
Lhevinne truly is one of the pianistic giants of the first half of the last century, among the giants of the late Russian romantic school. Schonberg (I think it was) wrote of him as among the pantheon of performers, along with his colleagues Levitzky, Rosenthal, Rubenstein and such youngsters as Horowitz and the forever young Earl Wild. Rachmaninov said Lhevinne had the greatest left hand technique of any pianist. His few recordings, even though not re-mastered, leave you breathless.
I am willing to enjoy the idiocyncratic few pages of such a giant. If you were into baseball, wouldn't you enjoy a few pages of Joe diMaggio? Of course, probably not, if you use a waffle iron instead of a bat.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It makes me rethink a lot about piano playing. It is exactly what I need. It is very concise and explains surprisingly well on piano techniques which are easier understood if... Read morePublished 6 months ago by ec
The book discusses, generally, important aspects of professional piano playing, including some common mistakes of amateur players. A short, encouraging read. Read morePublished 10 months ago by MinhHai Nguyen
I don't doubt this guy could have played piano well, but he sure couldn't write a book.Published 10 months ago by Paul
A classic. He talks about the higher art of playing the piano. Short but worth the read. Don't expect grounded technique, this is the high philosophical ground.Published 11 months ago by Michael W Wisniewski
Wonderful tips for improving my piano performance. I will make this a desirous study plan!
Well written and so easy to understand. Read more
He tells you the basic skills you have to master and how to do so, in order to make sounds on the piano that people want to hear.
Very interesting. Filled with good information and some details of piano technique I haven't seen before. Read morePublished 21 months ago by cl
By reading this wonderful little book one can gain tremendous insight into production of a beautiful tone. Secrets for those who are interested.Published on January 17, 2014 by Amazon Customer