Practice Tips for Developing a Solid Technique in Piano Performance
Practicing is both an art and a science. Every student of piano performance must remember that their achievement on the instrument will be the direct result of the amount of time and the quality of their practicing.
The art and science of practicing is not just time spent at the instrument but time spent listening to the music the student is working on, studying and understanding the harmonic analysis of the music as well as researching the time period and technical characteristics of the composer of the piece you are working on.
In addition to this, it is advisable for the student to prepare a weekly plan outlining the time spent on specific techniques, repertoire, sight-reading and review of old or previously learned repertoire.
The purpose of technique is to serve the pianist’s imagination and realize his/her interpretive ideas…
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Granados often called the poet of the piano is frequently compared with Chopin due to the highly ornamental figuration as well the influence of nationalist folk music in their melodies and rhythms. Granados indicated they are Goya-like or Goya-esque hence the name ‘The Goyescas’.
Regarding Goyescas, Granados wrote, “I am enamored with the psychology of Goya, with his palette, with him, with his muse the Duchess of Alba, with his quarrels with his models, his loves and flatteries. That whitish pink of the cheeks, contrasting with the blend of black velvet; those subterranean creatures, hands of mother-of-pearl and jasmine resting on jet trinkets, have possessed me.”
The story of Goyescas is based on a series of six paintings from Francisco Goya’s early career, inspired by the stereotypical young men and women of the majismo movement. “majos” and “majas” are known for their bohemian attitude and spirited nature. In this tale of the goyescas, the four main characters are Rosaria an enchanting aristocratic woman, her lover Fernando the captain of the royal guard, Pepa the maja and Paquiro the majo / toreador. A love triangle is formed when Paquiro flirts with Rosaria and invites her to a dance. Although she ignored his advances, Fernando did observe Paquiro’s advances and now does not trust Rosaria. Pepa also infuriated by Paquiro’s attentions to another woman seeks revenge. Later at the party, tensions are high and culminate in the two majos seeking to fight a dual. Later Rosaria sings a mournful ballad to a nightingale as she fears she will lose him. Fernando approaches and she begs him not to go to the dual and tries to reassure him of her devotion only to him. He still does not fully trust her, and wishes to prove his majismo, and promises to return to Rosaria victorious. Alas, Fernando is fatally wounded in the dual, and the grief stricken Rosaria drags him back to the bench where she sang to the nightingale and professed her love to him. Fernando then dies in her arms.
Quejas o La Maja y el Ruisenor the fourth piece of the Goyescas is the only one in the set with a key signature. The monothematic piece is based on a folksong Granados heard sung by a girl in the Valencia countryside. Granados transforms the haunting melody into five variations. It is the scene where Rosaria sings mournfully to the nightingale. The variations start in f# minor, move to b minor and back to f# minor which follows with the nightingale responding in a beautiful cadenza of elaborate figuration. Although there are five variations of the folksong, the piece is written in an improvisational manner where the variations flow directly into the next.
Alicia de Larrocha’s mesmerizing performance of Granados beloved
Quejas, o la Maja y el Ruiseñor (aka The Maiden and the Nightingale)
 Timothy Jones, BEETHOVEN The “Moonlight” and other Sonatas, Op 27 and Op 31, p. 15
II. Ave Maria
III. Benediction de Deus dans la Solitude
IV. Pensee des Morts
V. Pater Noster
VI. Hymne de L’enfant a Son Reveil
VIII. Miserere D’Apres Palestrina
VIIII Andante Lagrimoso
X. Cantique d’Amour
Many innovative concepts are explored in this suite such as constantly changing meters, no key signatures in addition to emphasis on the tritone. Liszt develops these innovations further in his later compositions. Fifty years later Liszt once again returned to the exploration of atonality in his Bagatelle ohne Tonart (Bagatelle Without Tonality).
On the autograph manuscript of Funérailles,Liszt writes October 1849. Liszt indicated it was an elegy written as a tribute to three of his friends who died in the failed Hungarian Revolution. Prince Felix Lichnowsky, Count Laszlo Teleki and the Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Lajos Batthyany. It was a colossal defeat to the Hungarian people.
Death of Chopin October 1849
The intuitive use of material from Chopin’s heroic Ab Major Polonaise Opus 53 leads to speculation that this piece was more than an elegy to the Hungarian people but also an elegy to his dearly departed colleague F. Chopin.