Changing Music Indicates Changing Times. Welsh music, as recorded in the Welsh Triads, adjusted its music to changing times. Here’s how. In ancient England, changes were foreshadowed by “perpetual choirs.”
How did I discover this? My source is City of Revelaton by the Reverend John Michell. The Welsh Triads are verses of great antiquity. They were written by “prehistoric bardic historians.” Unique choirs are mentioned:
One at the now existing site of Glastonbury Abbey.
Another operated at the site at which Stonehenge now exists.
A third was at Llantwit Major at Glamzorgan.
2,400 saints worked each site. Each kept a perpetual chant going. Each of the 24 hours of the day, at each site, occupied 100 saints with singing.
As the Times Varied, Changing Music Marked Their Song
The character of time changes with the seasons. As light can change by the hour, so could their song. Another aspect of song was planetary. The school of Pythagoras believed that each planet had its own pitch. As their distances from each other changed, so did the music.
We are currently living through times of great change. Music that heralds beautiful melody will lead the way. In all aspects, people will buy what is beautiful. I was taught to play with beautiful tone. Play well-formed two-note phrases are key. Also, how to emphasize the note that is tied over the measure. My instructor was Mischa Kottler.
In looking to this beautiful past, I am helping to lead the way to the future. We all need beautiful things in our lives. When times are difficult, all need the beautiful in art, poetry and music. To this end, I am working full time this year. I will be playing piano from Christmas to Easter. This will be six days weekly. The location is at the Gasparilla Inn on Boca Grande.
Until Christmas, I am working to bring musical beauty back at the Crab and Fin Restaurant on Saint Armand’s Circle. I play three days weekly. Call for specifics. Wear something comfortable, but beautiful. Enjoy a tasty and well-presented meal while dining outdoors to my piano music.
Numerous pianist-composers have written their own finger exercises. At times these exercises were performed away from the piano and were termed “finger gymnastics.” E. Piccirilli mentions in his book, Gymnastics and Massage of the Hand, published in 1914 in Rome how the conductor of La Scala, Tonassi, had seen Franz Liszt use such exercises before sitting down at the piano. A detailed description is given in Piccirilli’s book. These finger gymnastics were confirmed by a blind keyboard player, Luigi Modulo, who was the organist at S. Simon Grange. Modulo said that Liszt had shown these exercises to a friend of the director of the Institute of Padua; and that the institute produced the best students. I will deal with these forgotten exercises in future blogs.
Carl Czerny and the Beethoven lineage
Carl Czerny wrote exercise books to facilitate the playing of Beethoven; among them were The School and Velocity and The Art of Finger Dexterity. My own instructor, Mischa Kottler, demonstrated his lineage back to Beethoven and the Czerny exercises and directed me on how to play Czerny’s studies. Mischa studied in Vienna in the 1920’s with Emil von Sauer, who studied with Franz Liszt, who studied with Carl Czerny who studied four years with Beethoven himself. Beethoven was a great innovator of piano technique and passed his secrets on to his students. I know which of the techniques I employ were, in fact, used by Beethoven. I have already blogged on this website about his innovative prepared thumb and will blog about other key techniques.
Cortot’s elaborate finger exercises based on Chopin
Chopin wrote two volumes of concert etudes; his opus 10 and opus 25. They include studies in every key. We see the influence of J.S. Bach who Chopin not only admired and regularly practiced; but also imitated Bach’s use of diverse key signatures in his own compositions. After studying with von Sauer, Mischa then went to Paris to study under Alfred Cortot. Cortot, in turn, was tutored by a pupil of Chopin. When I was taught the Chopin etudes, Mischa insisted that I purchase the edition written by Cortot. I had to send my order to Paris in order to purchase it. Alfred Cortot wrote an introduction with elaborate instructions for each etude. I had to play these”pre-study” studies for Mischa as part of my “going through the mill”. For my next blog I will discuss a great study for assisting small to medium sized hands, which I invented; so, I am at liberty to demonstrate it.