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Thread: Piano: The Composers Instrument?

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Default Piano: The Composers Instrument?

    It's fair to say that looking through history that most well known composers were very good if not absolutely amazing pianists (or harpsichordists and organists before the pianos invention). There are obvious exceptions to this statement like Dvorak and Sibelius who were good violists and violinists , respectively, and I believe Berlioz began on the guitar and flute. However, they all seem to have composed for the piano at some point. Even in other genres like jazz and pop the main writers of standards and big hits appear to be pianists or in cases like Mingus played the instrument as a secondary.

    So my questions are, how much of an an aid in composition do you believe it is to be at least proficient on the piano? Are there any great composers who completely shunned the piano? And is their a difference in the musical style of piano playing and non-piano playing composers?

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    I've created similiar thread long time ago, but it wasn't too popular: Tyranny of the fingers

    Piano supremacy is about possibility of playing big, fat chords easily. On violin or flute you can't search for insteresing harmonies and chords for the whole ensamble. It also has the most obvious and successive configuration of pitchs.

    The only instruments that can be alternative for piano are other keyboard instruments. Didn't Bruckner compose with organ most of the time?

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Dvorak may not have been virtuosic but he was an accomplished pianist and began his career giving piano lessons to the upper class of Prague.

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    JSK
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    Rimsky Korsakov wasn't a good pianist, but it was still his best instrument.

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    Air
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    Wagner and Berlioz are also exceptions.
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Air View Post
    Wagner and Berlioz are also exceptions.
    I mentioned Berlioz in my first post. I know Wagner was never a great pianist but if I remember correctly, he did recieve some tutelage in the instrument.

    The only instruments that can be alternative for piano are other keyboard instruments. Didn't Bruckner compose with organ most of the time?
    The question could have included all keyboard instruments but the piano has been by far the most popular for composers in the last 200 years and most organists can also play piano. I believe Bruckner did compose a lot at the organ as well as Cesar Franck but I am not sure how this influenced thir compositional style.

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    I think the instrument used to compose influences the composition greatly. Bruckners orchestral is grand and honestly sounds like organ music in contrast to Brahms whos instrument was the piano and whos orchestral music is contained and crystal clear. to put it vaguely.

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    Senior Member Romantic Geek's Avatar
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    My composition teacher, Dr. Kenneth Fuchs, was a flutist in undergrad (as he says, I like to say flautist).

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    Senior Member Argus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Romantic Geek View Post
    My composition teacher, Dr. Kenneth Fuchs, was a flutist in undergrad (as he says, I like to say flautist).
    Thats alright as long as he doesn't mispronounce his surname.

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    Senior Member Romantic Geek's Avatar
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    Lol, lots of people do.

    It's pronounced like you say Few...so it's Fewcks
    B.M. Music Theory - University of Connecticut
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    Senior Member jurianbai's Avatar
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    a guitarist will argue that guitar has the almost the same productivity with piano, but yet guitar/lute is not popular among great composer.

    for wind instrument, they can't hardly create a vocal pieces while using this instrument to compose , piano and guitar can.

    paganini is one come to my mind regarding composer with piano not as his main instrument.
    Last edited by jurianbai; Jan-23-2010 at 01:36.

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    D'yall think that you can tell from a composer's orchestral music whether or not they were pianists?

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    Senior Member Lukecash12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polednice View Post
    D'yall think that you can tell from a composer's orchestral music whether or not they were pianists?
    I'm going to take a wild guess, and say that a vast majority of those who wrote piano concertos could play the piano
    "Your mathematics are correct, but your physics are abominable..." Einstein

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukecash12 View Post
    I'm going to take a wild guess, and say that a vast majority of those who wrote piano concertos could play the piano
    Ha! Well, Dvorak at least couldn't, which is why is purrdy work is so often neglected I meant compositions without piano!

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Dvorak could play the piano!!! He just wasnt virtuous.. but at least he was good enough to earn a living giving piano lessons to the upper classes of prague during his student years.

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