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Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas

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ISBN-13: 978-1574670714
ISBN-10: 1574670719
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

For anyone who plays the piano, Beethoven's 32 sonatas loom as the mighty peak of the repertoire. Taub, a concert pianist who has played them all, gives a performer's-eye view of the experience. Taub sets the tone on the first page by declaring that pianists enter into "an implied moral contract" with the composer to understand and respect his intentions. What follows is a close, careful reading of every aspect of performance from fingering to tempo. Like Rosen, Taub does not follow the standard division of the sonatas, opting instead to describe them as "Epitomizing Classical Styles" (Op. 2-49), "Experimentation" (Op. 26-31), "Post-Heiligenstadt, Crossing the Rubicon" (Op. 53-57), "Compression, Homogeneity" (Op. 78-81a), and "Summation, Transcendence" (Op. 90-111). These are thoughtfully construed categories, but Taub is more persuasive when arguing that each sonata is unique, and the most fascinating part of the book for any performer is the division of the sonatas into nine distinctive programs (this reviewer finds the Tempest/Hammerklavier combination especially intriguing). Throughout, Taub is intelligent, informed, exhaustive (74 musical examples grace the text), and genial if sometimes a bit dry. Definitely a performer's guide (Rosen's study will probably work better for larger audiences), this is highly recommended for any library serving pianists, amateur or professional, who want to play Beethoven better. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Pianist Robert Taub has performed throughout the United States, Europe, the Far East, and Latin America. From Merkin Concert Hall in New York and Kingston University in London to other venues worldwide, he continues to present the Beethoven piano sonata cycle regularly. His recordings of the complete Beethoven piano sonatas have been critically acclaimed, and Taub is renowned for his interpretations of contemporary music as well.

The Beethoven piano sonatas have been part of Taub’s life since the age of 8, when he ventured into Beethoven’s Opus 10 No. 1. Over the years he learned that the sonatas can be appreciated on many levels, and naturally he began to incorporate them into his concert repertoire. Taub’s Beethoven studies eventually resulted in his first performing all the sonatas as a cycle in Wolfensohn Hall at Princeton. His book Playing the Beethoven Piano Sonatas evolved from that performance and subsequent ones.

Taub served as the first artist-in-residence since T. S. Eliot at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and was the first musician to hold the honor. Now he performs with leading orchestras, including the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, and Hong Kong Philharmonic.

He also enjoys running, scuba diving, and restoring sports cars and motorcycles. In fact, the April 2001 issue of Classic Bike featured a motorcycle that he rebuilt. Taub resides in Princeton, NJ.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Amadeus Press (March 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1574670719
  • ISBN-13: 978-1574670714
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,764,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Introduction to Tovey's Edition of the Beethoven Sonatas begins: "The Pianoforte Sonatas of Beethoven must always be among the choicest possessions of all who love music and especially of those who make music their main object and study." Robert Taub is a performer and scholar -- he serves as artist-in-residence at Princeton University who has performed frequently and recorded the cycle of Beethoven's 32 sonatas. He has written an excellent if difficult book offering the insights of a performer into Beethoven's great music.

Taub's book will inevitably be compared with Charles Rosen's recent study "Beethoven's Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion." The books share many insights but are written from different perspectives. Rosen's work is broader and more historical in scope. Taub's book is the work of a concert pianist and it reflects, in sometimes a personal way, on how he learned the sonatas, how he interprets each of these remarkably individual works, and how he performs them. There is a great deal of detail on the technique of piano playing as applied to each sonata. We learn how Taub chooses his tempo, how he pedals, how he voices and emphasizes the notes in a chord, the decisions he makes in phrasing and in holding his fingers. We learn when and why he slows down and emphasizes a passage and when and why he strives to play a passage brilliantly.It is a work by a pianist which seems to me to be primarily for other pianists. although much that he says will be of interest to music listeners as well.

In learning and performing a complex work of music such as a Beethoven sonata, Taub tells us, a performer makes an implied moral contract with the composer.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on June 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
Playing The Beethoven Piano Sonatas by internationally renowned pianist Robert Taub, is compelling literature that analyzes the composition, performance, and emotion of Beethoven's famous and classic musical masterpieces in depth and detail. Written for advanced music students and serious-minded pianists, Playing The Beethoven Piano Sonatas also offers general advice for an ideal performance, as well as a wealth of "tips, tricks, and techniques" specific to numerous individual sonatas. Playing The Beethoven Piano Sonatas is very highly recommended reading for anyone with a fervent desire to perform Beethoven's great piano music to the best of their ability.
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By William Bernhardt on February 7, 2015
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Excelltne ideas and thought.
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