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The Pianist's Craft: Mastering the Works of Great Composers

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ISBN-13: 978-0810882058
ISBN-10: 0810882051
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Hardcover, December 21, 2011
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Editorial Reviews


Each of this collection's 19 essays--all written by concert pianists, recording artists, college professors, scholars, mostly from the US but a few with international credentials--deals with the music of a single famous composer. Anderson (Brigham Young Univ.) did not impose a particular format for the essays and so they vary significantly in length and the depth with which the contributors discuss their assigned composer. Though each essay provides interesting information on the performance practices for the composer (tempi, phrasing, articulation, rhythm, and so on) and an overall survey of the composer's output, essays by Susan Duehlmeier (on Franz Shubert), Barbara Nissman (Sergei Prokofiev), and Jeffrey Jacob (George Crumb) rise above the rest. Louis Nagel's contribution proved to be the most fun, with the question and answer format so closely connected to the writings and music of Robert Schumann, the subject of his essay. The 250 musical illustrations throughout the essays are helpful in clarifying the concepts presented. The audience for this book is those who already have significant piano background and who might gain from the master-teacher experience and knowledge of these writers on their specialty. Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE)

The Pianist's Craft is a collection of 19 essays discussing the teaching, preparation, and performance of some of the most accomplished piano composers. Included are works by Bach, Haydn, Gershwin, Brahms, Liszt, and Chopin. The contributors are all recognized contributors to piano composition and include artists, teachers, recording artists, and clinicians. They discuss in depth such topics as the composer's tempo, articulation, dynamics, lyricism, and instrumentation. This book is meant for those studying piano at the advanced level, including pianists, instructors, and music scholars.
(American Reference Books Annual)

The book is a wonderful resource for teachers and students at the intermediate to advanced level of performance. Each chapter is devoted to a single composer; one author writes about the preparation, teaching and performing of that composer's works with regard to tempo, articulation, dynamics, ornamentation, repetitions and pedaling. More that 250 musical examples are included in the book.

Additionally, unique influences on each composer are discovered, creating better understanding and interpretation of the music

One will be grateful for the advice given on how to approach the technical demands found in the compositions of Rachmanioff and Scriabin and will be rewarded with information satisfying one's curiosity about Scriabin's synesthesia imperative read, and an indispensable aid to the pianist
(American Music Teacher)

Although most of the authors focus on the advanced literature, many of the fine ideas can be applied to the intermediate-level teaching repertoire. This book would be most helpful for experienced teachers or performers wishing to expand their understanding of the keyboard repertoire under the guidance of expert scholars and master teachers.
(Clavier Companion)

About the Author

Richard Paul Anderson is associate professor in the School of Music at Brigham Young University, where he has served for 39 years as a member of piano faculty. An author, teacher and composer, he also teaches theory and composition and coordinates the Group Piano programs for music majors and non-music majors. Anderson is the author of Beginning Piano Techniques (2006) and Ensemble: Keyboard Proficiency for the Music Major (2002), and he is also the co-author of Simple Steps to Playing the Piano (1999).

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (December 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810882051
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810882058
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,778,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Donald Manildi on February 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Editor Anderson has rounded up 19 colleagues, most of them academicians, a few being recognized performers, each of whom deals in their own fashion with a single composer. The 19 composers chosen (ranging from Bach to Crumb) represent the bulk of the standard piano repertoire. The essays run from about 8 to 15 pages, and most include some musical examples.

The book does not begin promisingly. Hilary Demske writes about the many diverse elements of Scarlatti's keyboard writing. She emphasizes how those elements invite similar diversity of approach from pianists--who she encourages to develop "deeply personal" interpretations, based on clean, unedited editions. All well and good, but she does not identify any such editions whatsoever, thus missing a major opportunity to assist her readers by comparing and evaluating the many available. Nor does she seem aware of Ralph Kirkpatrick's extensive, highly illuminating preface to his urtext of 60 Scarlatti sonatas (Schirmer), which aims at producing just the kind of informed interpretation that Ms. Demske advocates.

Next, Inge Rosar discusses Bach interpretation. She is a disciple of the late Walter Blankenheim (not well-known outside Germany), and she makes the astonishing statement that "I must thank [him] for all that I have learned about Bach." Apparently no other scholars, performers, recordings, written sources, personal discussions, or individual experiences have had any influence on her! She describes Blankenheim's ideas on such topics as phrasing and articulation (some worthy of consideration, others debatable), but as far as further references are concerned, which would again enlighten the interested reader, she mentions none (not even Paul Badura-Skoda's widely-praised book).
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mozart on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Richard Anderson's "The Pianist's Craft: Mastering the Works of Great Composers" is a must-have for anyone interested in learning more about interpretation, ornamentation, articulation, keyboards, singing tone, rubato, rhythm, color, lyricism, technical demands, and more about 19 composers from 19 authorities on the subjects.

I have found Jeffrey Jacob's comments on George Crumb extremely beneficial as I was learning a piece by Crumb the past few months. I love the chapter on Scriabin's 10th sonata. Scott Holden demonstrates extreme understanding in a fun and descriptive way. Neil Rutman discusses how to master pedaling in the works of Debussy, which some teachers would find very useful. Barbara Nissman is an authority on Prokofiev and her chapter is not to be missed. Irene Peery-Fox and Christie Skousen's chapters are phenomenal with idea on how to help students play, practice, and perform better the works of Rachmaninoff and Chopin.

This book is full of wonderful ideas and is a great resource for any serious piano teacher and student. I love how each chapter is concise and can be thought about and returned to as needed.

Don't miss out on this wonderful opportunity to read so many wonderful ideas about top works by different composers. Richard Anderson has done a phenomenal job putting it all together and letting the writers of each article speak for themselves. I appreciate the uniqueness of this book.
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