Updated: Dec 27, 2020
The great concert pianist and expert on Il Filo and Basso Continuo talks to me on the podcast.
Speaker 1 (0s): Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Nikhil Hogan show. I'm so privileged to introduce my guest today. One of the greats pianist, musicologist, and educator professor <inaudible>. He has given over a thousand solo concerto and chamber music performances all over the world. His recordings of Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Schubert, and Bartok have been issued in the United States. In Germany. Professor Zas holds a doctor of musical arts and piano performance from the university of Michigan and is a tenured professor of piano at the Hochschule for music Freiburg in Germany.
Professor's eyes. It's really great to talk to you today.
Speaker 2 (45s): Thank you. It's my pleasure to be talking with you.
Speaker 1 (48s): I want to go right to the beginning. How old were you when you started playing the piano?
Speaker 2 (54s): I was four and a half years old and I had a piano teacher with whom a Hungarian piano teacher shot all taught to log D with whom I studied until I was 13 years old, 12 between 12 and 13. At which point I switched thanks to our competition, which I won. I was switched to study with a professor of piano at the local conservatory of music.
She was among others, a student of Alfred quarto. And Lazare Livy in Paris.
Speaker 1 (1m 37s): Is this Eliza Sholan Ella. Is it Liza? Liza chola. Lisa Cholon. Right. And can I ask, was it a weekly lesson once a week or is it multiple times a week when you were growing up?
Speaker 2 (1m 50s): Well, it, it, it was a weekly lesson, but mrs. Jolen never looked at the clock. So sometimes our lessons went four hours, three on three on the half hours would not be exaggerated sometimes. Not always, but you know, depending on how well prepared I was.
Speaker 1 (2m 18s): Can I ask you when you were younger before your second teacher, how much did you play? You mentioned you won a competition. So how many, how many hours a day did you practice?
Speaker 2 (2m 28s): Well, to be Frank, I was also influenced at times when, whenever my parents gave me some mandarins or oranges, then I tended to practice more so, but, you know, I loved, I loved playing the piano. I was a little bit more of a music lover than a professional until about my teenage years.
And then later on, I realized that the music is indeed what I love the most. Can I ask what kind of music you were playing growing up? I would say I played the usual things that people in Europe were taught. I mean, I played sauna Tina's I played dances. I played some easier pieces of the virtual, so type, and eventually when I switched to mrs Ciolan, then I started really playing very difficult repertoire.
But up to that point, the, the most difficult thing I played, well, how about this? Actually, I was eight years old when I, I had my first experience with playing with an orchestra sh and it was the con <inaudible> Wolfgang, Amadeus, Mozart. And that was with the school orchestra. And it was part of a, in other words, I was not the only soloist.
There was also another person being showcased. So that was my first experience that was with the Mozart concert of Orlando. Do you have professors as, do you have absolute or perfect pitch? Yes. You know, that's a very interesting story with me because I had perfect pitch, which at, at some point became very discomforting and I'll tell you why.
Because for example, when, when I joined the choir of my music school, if the conductor didn't give us the absolute a perfectly, then I had trouble singing with them because I F I felt that that's not the right pitch, what I'm saying. And then the second thing was that my grandfather, in his home, we had a old, very old Viennese type of piano.
It was tuned almost half a pitch lower than the usual. And so I ended up eventually getting so messed up that I started transposing trying to play the right notes, so to speak. So, I mean, I just couldn't do it anymore. And there was most importantly an other issue. I don't know if you can imagine what this is like, but if you have absolute peach, then all the notes are simply there.
It's like a status quo. You don't feel any, any kind of emotional connection, whether the note was higher or lower, or you don't have any kind of orientation feel you are simply playing the hearing or singing the right note. And that at some point I didn't like that at all. So I made tremendous efforts to get rid of my absolute pitch, to be able to wait a second, wait, say, get rid of your absolute pitch.
That that's exactly what I said. I really made an effort to be able to let's say, shut off this perfect pitch sensation, and start really hearing the relative nature of music. Am I tell you it was, it was a liberating experience for me. That doesn't mean that I lost my perfect pitch. It's just that I was able to, to here in a relative sense,
Speaker 1 (6m 59s): What do you make professors are, is now, you know, of course, historical performances everyone's bringing in these old tunings quarter Miento and, and all of this kind of thing. What's your perspective on different tunings. It's not everything, I guess, different orchestras, different concert halls and different pianos, all tuned in different manners. Now you have perfect pitch. So what do you think about different tunings?
Speaker 2 (7m 22s): Well, you know, I studied, well, let's see, how shall I phrase this? I was for many years at Duke university processor and there we dealt a lot with performance practice. I was one of the professors dealing with performance practice and at one point, and this was my most adventurous thing. I played a solo recital, which I started out on a harpsichord.
Then I moved onto a forte piano, and then finally for the modern piano, and I can tell you, it was the most excruciating experience of my life. Not so much moving from the harpsichord to the forte piano, but moving from the fourth piano to the modern piano. I remember it, it takes, it had taken me quite a big pause between the first and the second half of the recital to re adjust to the touch of the mother and PM.
And I, I started this with a Bach Partita in B flat major, the number one, which is also the opposite, one of your hands <inaudible>. Then I moved on to the, a major piano Sonata Mozart on the forte piano, K three, three, three. And then after the intermission, I played the tremendously large rap. So the opposite one by Baylor, which is a very romantic piece, and it's a tremendously difficult piece.
So at, I, I never had problems with, with various tunings. In fact, I'm very sensitive to that, but I feel bad. The tunings are a that's part of life. So I, I never thought that that should be a problem. And for example, not, not too long ago, I purchased a, an playle piano and we have Kune did to a pitch level, which some people would say, it's the, the cosmic pitch or whatever.
In other words, it's not, it's not four 40, but it's four 32, right? You probably heard that there is heard about that. A natural unnatural vibration, which is the one to which our body was originally tuned. And you probably know that, for example, <inaudible> and many, many singers, even today, there are many singers who, who advocate going back to this pitch level of four 32?
Well, I happen to be one of them.
Speaker 1 (10m 31s): Did you find there is a difference between four 40 and four 32?
Speaker 2 (10m 35s): Oh, absolutely. And there is, it's not a matter of just a difference of pitch because pitch affects everything. So the whole harmoniousness of music sounds different. Yeah. I could put it very easily that with four 32, you really have a sense of Harmonix and the four 40 are yet already. You feel a certain disturbance, a sometime thing that makes you a little more nervous.
I don't know how else to say it, but on the other hand, I, I can, I'm so sensitive to, to pitch to the, to this day absolute pitch. I mean, I'm so sensitive that if something is slightly off, I tend to make completely misjudgments about what the features
Speaker 1 (11m 32s): Actually, one more question on pitch. So what is your perspective on equal temperament where the fifth are, are in the thirds are a bit justed, whereas you can have more pure intervals in other tuning systems. What's your perspective on that? Like for instance, just intonation.
Speaker 2 (11m 50s): Okay. I would like perhaps to take a little around about way perhaps related to what, how you presented me in the beginning as among others as a musicologist. Well, I don't consider myself a musicologist. I just consider myself an musician who needs to know certain things, which for him it's a practical things.
And in this sense, I don't know if you know, I have a, a, a talk about Mark and Frager. Malcolm Frager had also this kind of a problem with the word musicologist. So when he discovered in Poland, the, the incredible number of manual scripts of Mozart and many, many other composers European composers, then of course, many articles were written about him, his discovery and Mark, and the governor was absolutely furious that people call tiller music, college tested.
Very great. So now going back, going back to your question for me, this question of, of pitch is something practical. And let me give you a few examples and you might, you might have a laugh at them. Well, one of the experiences was that shortly after I came to the United States in 1970, I was hired to be a companies, to a group of, of girls, you know, gold camp.
I was supposed to play the piano improvise, kind of to whatever the girls were dancing. And I was supposed to find the right kind of music. So that was one of the first experiences with dancers. And that, that went pretty well. But then many years later, I was hired by a ballet company to do a piece by using works by Frederick Chopin.
And there's this, I had to play a total of eight pieces by Chapin. Some of them easier, most of them difficult, it included also studies of Chopin. So what happened is they told me, well, we played such and such pieces. And then they mentioned that they, they had all of these recorded by the piano pianist Pollini. Well, if you know, Pauline his recordings of Chopin etudes, I mean, the tempos are pretty, pretty fast, let's say.
And so I S I told them, Oh, no problem. You don't have to give me that cassette. I have those recordings at my home. I can just listen to them. And so we got to the first rehearsal and we start, and we started one of the, the etudes. And after about 20 seconds, the dancers stopped and they said, Oh, it shows me mr. Sass. But, you know, there's seems to be a problem. Here we are. We are not together.
Can we please start again? So we studied two, three times and we could never get it together. And so then they, I, I asked them the question is, is it possible that maybe, maybe the recording that you have, or, or the cause they mentioned that they had it on a cassette. So I, I asked them, can you please give me that concern? So it turned out that the cassette, which they recorded and with which they practiced, it was almost half a tone higher than the way politi played it.
So the only way we could do the concert and I didn't back out, I said, fine. I'll, I'll learn everything that fast. So I ended up playing faster than my average Joe Pollini, and the concept was went wonderfully. But you see for me this question of pitch, it's, it's a tactical thing, and I can feel, you see, I don't, I don't myself play pieces or, or instruments where I have the opportunity to, to use any of the tunings that you're mentioning.
But if you, if I hear one thing or if I hear another thing, I definitely very clearly and very strongly react to the differences. I don't, I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about the theory of these tuning things, but, but definitely my hearing is, is very sensitive. I want to just quickly touch on improvisation. Did you improvise as a child growing up or is that something you gained later or was it something you did your whole life?
Okay. As a child, I, I did something which you could call improvisation with my parents. It ended up a little differently. They used to say with a big smile on their face. And I understood immediately that that big smile meant, look, he's wasting his time again. So, so they said, Oh, look at, look at little TV, his, his, his, how did they say it, his fantasizing again?
So there's, this whole improvisational thing was not looked upon favorably, but by my parents. And of course I can tell you and anything I did that it was absolutely and structured. It had a no, I was in, I was, I was not trained in improvisation and much, much later when I went to the new England conservatory in Boston, United States there, I, I started taking some courses in what they called third stream music.
And that was something like a combination between modern, classical, such as Bartok, and then some jazz influences. And then for about a year and a year and a half at the most, I had these spells of doing my own thing combined, you know, but, but eventually that that's a streak stabbed. And, and I remember another experience, which is, is typical of the way I, I picked up things.
When I first went to the USA, I ended up in, in after New York, I went to Boston and in Boston, I meant, I meant I met, sorry, F American who taught, who told me and my friends, why don't I take you to, to a gospel concert? So we, we ended up in the huge arena with lots and lots of, lots of people. We, we were probably the only like white people in the whole audience, but I listened to all that.
And then for, for, for quite a while, I imitated the harmonies, the rhythms of whatever I heard. So I always had this, this natural inclination to, to imitate what I, what I heard you are, of course, a great concert pianist. Did your peers and the people in your ambit to the other people in the classical field at that time, was there, I guess, a prejudice against improvisation was that looked down upon, you know, the truth is it never even came up.
We never did anything other than recreate a music, which was already printed on the paper. So the improvisation was not at all a theme, not wasn't a topic, that's the truth. I know that may disappoint you, but not always. It's really important to know the history, to tell you the truth about this. And for me, this whole thing of improvisation and what, what, what, what it means practically for me is having discovered, you know, about my, my interest in the so-called ill Philo, the connecting thread in music.
It was through this connecting thread that I finally came to to study conscientiously this whole thing with positive mental. And, you know, in this sense, I must tell you that I started teaching in 1971 already and all my life. I had the feeling, and I couldn't say why, but I had the feeling that all the music of bar of Handel, Beethoven of Chopin, of, of, of shoe man, of list of brands, you name all these composers.
That, that sound how it sounded to me most of the time as Italian music. Now, I didn't know why, but one thing is for sure that as a child, I went to listen to operas a lot, a lot, a lot. I mean, I remember writing in my diary from as a little child, how excited I was to hear a performance with an Italian conductor in my, in the city I was born.
I mean, you have to realize now, city, we had a Hungarian theater, we had a Romanian theater. We had operas, we have absolutely incredible musical life. And I listened to all that. And somehow listening to all these Italian operas gave me the, the sense that later on. And I kept telling my students, you know, you have to go and hear some Italian Arias or operas to, to be able to place such and such.
So, so this is, this is how it became part of me. This is Italian culture. And I was so sensitive to these things that, for example, when some, some colleague of mine played something and they came to a certain chord, and then I immediately without knowing the rules of party. So I could tell that they have not, there is not correct. So it wasn't intuitive.
Speaker 1 (23m 5s): There's one question before we move on into that, I do want to ask something, cause this kind of blew my mind. You actually toured with composer, Bela Bartok son in the USA in 1973, he lectured, you performed as a pianist. I really would like to know about that experience in Portugal, of course, his Hungarian, your Hungarian. Can you tell me about that whole experience and the connection to Bartok?
Speaker 2 (23m 27s): Yes. Well, to start her, for starters, I should tell you that I didn't like Bartok. When, when I first heard it, I pretty much hated it. And then at one point about 1964, I
Speaker 3 (23m 47s): Went to listen to a Georgia in school, international competition, festival and competition. And I heard there somebody playing the Allegro Barb battle of Bartok. And of course this Barb barrel thing that was a euphemism of Botox because apparently what's happened is that some critics who were in the audience when they performed one of his works, they, one of the critics apparently made the remark, well, what can you expect from a nation of barbarians?
So basically a Lego battle meant for Bartok, Allegro Ungaro or Hungarian.
Speaker 2 (24m 34s): So, so that, that piece, that piece just, just impressed me so much. And then what happened in 1967 is I went to listen again to the, to the Baylor Barto, France list, international piano competition in Budapest. And there I met the curator of the Bartok archives last long, Sean fi and last, last show, he was so nice to me. He allowed me to tape actually on my magnetic tape, every single performance of Bartok, including performances of his, which were actually sealed.
And I mean, they were sealed because they belong to, to certain people. But the Bartok archives felt that if we don't now transfer these Edison cylinder recordings, you know, the Edison cylinders, they, they, after a number of decades, they started this integrating. So they were saved. They were put on tape and I recorded all that. And with this, this bar talk as a pianist, as a performer, because these were Bartok playing mostly music of his own, but also music of list of Chopin, of Mozart, all kinds of things.
I mean, Bartok was an extraordinary pianist, but interestingly, his style, his pianistic style was had absolutely nothing to do with modernism. His style was totally romantic because he was studying with a student list. And so if you hear Botox, even when he plays his own music, it sounds like romantic music. So, so this, this interest of course eventually led to my, my going to, to the United States.
And it so happened that the, the son of Bella, his name was also bill about jr. See what happened is there is a little background clarification I must make my grandfather was the Bishop of the Hungarian Unitarian church in Transylvania. And because Baylor Bartok jr. He was, he was already educated in, in Unitarianism because Bela Bartok first, originally he, he was to some extent involved with the Catholic church, but he, then he became practically speaking an atheist.
And he, even he even said about himself is he is an atheist who is more, more honest and, and more, more than the many of these, these religious people. But so, so he switched, he switched his religion to become a Unitarian. And because of this Unitarian connection of mine, I was put in touch with Bella Bartok's son.
And then, and then I found out that there were, there was a concept too, that was supposed to be organized. And the organizers decided on two pianists, one was <inaudible> and the other was I. So this is how it happened, that Shanda. And I went to tour with Bella Bartok son in 1970 series. Well, Bella bar talk, I mean, he was born in the 19th century, 1881 and he passed away. I think it's 1945.
That's three years before you were born. So it was his son a bit older at that point. Well, his son certainly was, was, was older than I, and what's interesting is I remember my first meeting with him. I was waiting in Boston at the train station and when the train pulled in, we see in the window and we just couldn't believe our eyes.
We thought we were looking at Baylor Bartok I'm in this Sanofi. It was a total of his father. Wow. But look alike. Yes. But he had absolutely no idea about music. I mean, they're the ears practically. I remember, I remember, I remember another little story of mine. How, how I be in the 1970s, 1970 was when I ended up in Madison, Wisconsin in the, in the summer to, to, to study there in the summer Academy.
One of the teacher was part by SCADA and I went to, to the local music store and I saw a LP long play recording, which claimed to have recordings of Baylor Bartok recorded on the VLT piano player. You know, the Veltin piano player was invented in the various city, which I teach now in Germany, in Freiburg. So already in 19 six, they were releasing commercial.
These, these piano rolls, which you then put into the mechanism and then you, they played back this, these recordings. So I, when, when I saw this recording, of course I, I purchased purchased it. And when I met the Bartok son, I told him, you know, I have a recording of your father playing on these piano players.
And Bartok sound was absolutely adamant. He says, there is no such thing. My father never made such a recording. The whole thing is just nonsense. And, and then I, I told him, look, I have listened to all the recordings of Bartok and I, I have good enough years to tell you that is indeed your father who is playing there. And he still didn't believe it. So I said, okay, look, I'll make a tape of, of this LP, which I have. And you take it back to Buddha Fest to the Bartok archives.
<inaudible> people decide this, this is about your father or not. And of course the Bartok people acknowledge that that was indeed his father playing. And the only thing that was, that was wrong on the recording was the date they gave the date of 1920. And that's not when the recording was made, it was made much later. And it was made actually in the United States, because what happened here is that the, the manufacturing factory of this, these piano rules here in playbook, they were not only bombed, but after they were bombed, the, the owner has actually set fire to all the books and all the documentation so that it wouldn't arrive into the hands of, of the occupying forces.
And he, he hid a huge number of piano rolls somewhere in the <inaudible>. And so many years later, an American has got wind of this thing and came to Germany and has purchased a great number of, of these piano rolls, including the piano, also below Bartok. And then he took them back to California and he played them back on a veil machine.
And this here, you have to understand another little issue, namely, because VLT destroyed all the documentation about how these roles are to be played back the Americans, when they won the second world war, they said, okay, all this veil, their thing belongs to us. And they appropriated without any question, all the rights to it. In fact, they didn't even consider any life.
They just said, this is ours, but, but then they found out that they had no way of playing back the errands. And so what they did is they invented themselves and use system to play back the roles. And this is actually a blessing because believe it or not, the American system of playing back, the Welter Rose was far superior to that, to that of the German system. So, so, so the recordings for Bartok were played back using this American system of reproducing the rolls and, and they are just fantastic.
I mean, some of these recordings sound so good that it's almost, I mean, you can still hear it, but it's, it's almost as good as a live performance of Bob and they are fantastic.
Speaker 1 (34m 12s): I want to talk about your Carnegie hall debut. You, you were mentioned in the New York times by Donald Heinerman. He said he proved to be quite a pianist, nevertheless, with the agility and power to storm excitingly through the double octaves of the lists of nada and to take from the risk, the even more difficult double octaves and the finale of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata in the style of such virtuosos as Emanuel ax and Vladimir Horowitz. So can you tell me about that, Debbie?
Speaker 2 (34m 40s): Well, this is the 1977 concert, which I gave in the Carnegie recital hall, which was reviewed by mr. Hanrahan and someone who was very familiar with, with New York concert life told me, because if you read the rest of the review, the rest of the review style, something like many young pianists, you know, starting to make a big splash in New York, bringing very difficult repertoire and they play to very virtuosic plea.
And that's where he introduced this comparison of mine with Emmanuel Alexa, Ladino horror of it. But, but basically he tried to turn down his praise by saying, you know, that I'm one of these young pianist is trying to make a big splash. So, so, you know, you have to, you have to be the whole, the whole thing. I mean, critics have a way of making sure that, you know, if, if things are not going to work out in the end and they can also say, well, you see, I already told you back then that he was just trying to make a big splash.
There's the mention of Horwitz there. This was a New York. Did you ever meet? And he was alive into the eighties. Did you ever meet Horwitz? Yes. Not only I met him. I even played for him the whole list or not. Yes.
Speaker 3 (36m 12s): Those were the years when Horevitz visited Ann Arbor, Michigan. And he, he did in Ann Arbor, something which he didn't do in any other city. Namely first he played a recital, a full recital, and then he played a concert with the orchestra and he played the Rachmaninoff concerto number three. And what, so what happened is he came to, to not only to play, but he also accepted the idea, which was suggested to him.
And it was very kind of him to say, okay, I will listen to a few pianists who are studying in, in Ann Arbor. And so that's how I, I ended up playing for him, the Alyssa data. And next day, when I told my teacher whom I was studying at the time that I played actually for her, which she said, won't be you play. I said, I played the list, Sonata.
You know, he prayed, practically told me in so many words,
Speaker 2 (37m 20s): You idiot don't you realize that it has to play that piece. I mean, so, so you see, I, then I understood why I was so nervous the, the whole you played because he was to play that piece, like, like in the next few days. So that was the most stupid thing I ever did. Did he, what did he say about your performance?
Do you get to talk to him? Well, that that's that's, you can understand that he was simply so nervous that he just didn't say a word about, about the whole thing.
Speaker 3 (38m 8s): And I now understand why I never thought I, you know, if I had known that horrible, which was actually a very nervous person before playing concept, I didn't know that I thought I didn't think anything about the whole thing, but he was very, very, very nervous and he didn't make absolutely, absolutely not any comment.
Speaker 2 (38m 33s): And then I did something worse
Speaker 3 (38m 36s): Because in the, after, after all his concerts, he came and had a masterclass, which he gave us the possibility to ask questions and stupid me, what question did I have to ask him? I said, mr. Homer, it's you have all these wonderful transcriptions of, of your variations on a Carmen. When will you publish them?
And he got so furious. He's he's his wife, his wife had tried to count him down and you know, his, his answer. I cannot tell you exactly how he answered, but basically the meaning of what he says, what he says, what, what, what, why are you asking me this question? What is your, your, your point of, I mean, why are you asking this question?
Do you think that if I'm going to publish this, this one of my transcription, do you think that that's going to be something more authentic? And, and then he said pretty much in the vein that, what, what, what would it mean authentic? Because you know, every time I played my comment variations, I played differently. So what's authentic about it. There is no possibility you call it.
Speaker 2 (40m 10s): I, it went off really, really just bang, bang, bang, slap, slap, slap. I'm the person who asks, he's got to chill out. I mean, come on, it's a studio.
Speaker 3 (40m 23s): No, no, but, but I mean, I mean, he made a very good point because, because this man, this man indeed, with every performance of his, there was a sense that the music is being created at the time when he plays. And this is getting back to your question about improvisation. What does improvisation mean for me, for me, improvisation means as a pianist that I play the piece in such a way that the audience will have the sense that I am creating that piece of music as I play it and everything I try to play.
I played that all.
Speaker 2 (41m 7s): I have a question, your Hungarian, does that give you greater insight into lists music? Well let's,
Speaker 3 (41m 17s): First of all, Liz did not speak Hungarian. He, he spoke best French then German in your little bit English, but I mean, he, his music to me, I told you already earlier, most of what lists wrote to me sounds like Italian music and sorry, you know, so there is, there is very little where I would say that he is approaching the Hungarian idiom in his later works.
For example, there is a piece called <inaudible>. Well, this chart, Ash macabre, you know, chair, that she's is a folk dance. And so, so the, the idiom in is, is definitely Hungarian. And he does in this late piece, you sometimes, if you wouldn't know it, you could believe it. If somebody told you that that was written by Bartok, you would say, ah, yes.
Yeah, it sounds like so, but that's that's as far as I would go,
Speaker 1 (42m 32s): I haven't even begun to scratch the questions I want to ask you. So let's quickly move on. I let's, let's talk about your beat over an article, which is figured bass and M and Beethoven's emperor concerto. Basso continuo orchestral crews are both. You talk about the controversy of Beethoven's figured based notation and the concerto score. Now, why was there a controversy about that?
Speaker 3 (42m 56s): Oh, you're asking me a question, which is not very pleasant to, to answer, but see, I was in touch was three people who have brought out so-called would text additions of the piano, sincerity, Beethoven. That, that one, the first one was cutin the second one, Powell Bududa Skoda with a score of the fifth piano concerto, where my name is even mentioned.
Actually cutin also mentioned as my name and the third one is Jonathan Del Mar while all three of them mentioned my name, but all three of them don't don't do what I was hoping that they would do. And I tried with all three of these editors to get them, to publish these concertos of Beethoven, the way that Beethoven meant that, that music to, to be read from his notation.
And he made his notation in the emperor concerto. So clear he notated when the pianist is supposed to play with both hands. When the pianist is only playing with his left hand, where the pianist is not playing at all, there were all kinds of detail notation of what the pianist is supposed to do. And if you, if you, if you now compare this to the general idea that you know, musicologists are saying that continue gradually died out.
I mean, why, why, why would the Beethoven suddenly in his fifth piano concerto, right? All his details. If continual was dying out, I mean, was he crazy for doing something that nobody was anymore interested in? No. It's because he wanted people to do the everything about this concerto, the way he imagined that it should be done. And why did he do that? Because before that, he had the performance of the fantasy, OPOs 84 piano orchestra and choir, the great fantasy in which we hear already premonitions of the ode to joy from the ninth symphony.
And he was also performing the fourth piano concerto. And while as it happened that in the fantasy at certain point, and this is all very perfectly documented, we know exactly the measure, so to speak where the orchestra and Beethoven went apart and Beethoven, instead of playing, he jumped up and he studied, waving his arms. And he knocked down the two boys who were holding the candles.
And then the whole audience studied laughing extraordinarily. I mean, it was a fiasco of extraordinary proportions. And so Beethoven decided at that point, he is never going to play again in the office, piano concertos. And that is why suddenly in his fifth piano concerto, he wrote out everything. In fact, let me tell you, let me give you an idea of a sense of how precise Beethoven was originally.
Beethoven wanted to write Italian words to the effect that in the, in the first movement, there is a Cadenza to be played and he wanted to write just the words, play this Cadenza, but then he must have realized he can write all he wants play this Cadenza, but back then everybody was playing their own cadets. So how will a bit of a make sure that people don't perform their own cadets?
Well, this is how it showed a bit of, in the words, he included them in the final version of that Cadenza. He included the horns. So in other words, there was no way of playing your own God dancers because in your piano, you have to play together with the orchestra. Can I ask you this question, professors, as did Beethoven, abolish, improvising, cadenzas, and concertos?
Speaker 2 (47m 31s): Well, the scene, what happened is because of this precise, Cadenza being included right into the score, which was
Speaker 3 (47m 41s): By the way, most unusual for that time. In fact, if you look at motels Culloden, so there is one single Cadenza, which mortared entered into the full score, autograph manuscript, and strangely enough, that's the concerto, K four 88 in a major. And this credenza that motor drove into the score. It has been criticized by countless musicians saying, Hey, there is no theme. There it's are just <inaudible> and chromatic scales.
And there is no notes, no, nothing to show off with. That's a terrible thing. We don't want to play that. So, so for the first time in history, Beethoven wrote out every single improvisational thing about what the soloist was supposed to do in the fifth piano concerto. And from then on this got, became such a, such a fixation in the world of composers that after Beethoven, nobody ever there anymore to leave the cadets to the improvisation of the, of the summaries.
So practically yes, Beethoven abolished the, the improvisation in the sense that by writing in, because of his deafness or in any case, now, some people say, well, he wasn't really deaf. He was just pretending to be there and all kinds of things, but whatever it is, him writing in this condenser meant that you no longer improvise you. I mean, who has ever heard of anybody improvising their own card inside the Schumann concerto or Brahms concerto?
Absolutely. You know, so that was the end of improvisation. Well,
Speaker 2 (49m 26s): I think one interesting statement in the article is the disappearance of continual and the romantic concerto can coincided with a concomitant disappearance of the double exposition. Could you talk about that? Well, this, this, this is a, of course it has a context and I'm, I'm talking about a certain context of certain piece, a certain thing that that happened, but see the, the, I would have to see exactly in what context this, this thing appears in, in my article right now, I'm not, I'm not quite sure that she, I wrote actually two articles on Beethoven's concertos.
I wrote one article, which deals with all the concertos and the masses. And in this article, I talk about notation on the one sense and what that notation on the other sense. And then I have a second article, which I wrote only on the ample concerto, in which, in which I then analyzed what exactly was better than trying to notate. So, so I don't know, you see this double exposition thing.
I mean, this, this was, this was the norm that, that we, we start from at home, then we wander off places and then we get back and, and you see many composers at, at some point they, they decided that this double exposition thing is actually a little bit tedious, less, just for example, in, in the summer, some of a show parents works.
We have the ma so-called first subject actually is never heard when the first subject is coming back in the, in the recapitulation or in the right exposition. But we go directly into the second subject. So this is, this indeed is a, is a general tendency. It doesn't mean that there were no composers who, who recapitulated, but even if they did, they tried to do something different when they recapitulated that expedition.
Speaker 1 (51m 55s): Here's what Robert Levin had to say about your articles. And Basso, continuo TBRS as his treatment of Beethoven's use of continue in the piano, concertos and masses is most valuable. He's a well known Mozart improviser do the two of, you know, each other.
Speaker 2 (52m 10s): We know each other very well. In fact, Robert livid was on the committee that hired me in thrive book to become a tenured professor,
Speaker 1 (52m 21s): The art and the skill of knowing Basso continuo has, I guess, decreased in the 20th century. Did you, did you find that other than Robert 11, where there other concert pianists who are familiar with this skill of being able to read figured bass and knowing how to implement it?
Speaker 2 (52m 38s): Yes. Well, you see this topic of figured bass came into the consciousness of the 20th century with the book by Ava and Paul Bududa Skoda called interpreting Mozart. And the, you should know about this book that parts of the book were written by mrs. <inaudible> and parts were written by mr.
Badu Lascaux. And so I know for sure, I met the person who was editing most, most, I could say editing the book as it was going, going to published. And,
Speaker 3 (53m 26s): And that person told me, by the way, be aware that not everything was, was written by, by the same person. Some, some chapters were written by mrs. <inaudible> by mr. And I know for sure that the continue article was written by mr. Paul <inaudible>. Now that I don't agree with the way mr. Barbuda Coda goes about this continuum. And then I re I came upon the recently upon the new edition of this book, and I, I read the one, one statement in it, and it just, it just seems to me to be a most irresponsible statement.
And that sentence just, is this the better the orchestra, the less continual playing is necessary? I mean, I mean, can you imagine what the now look, I don't know really who wrote this sentence? Because right after it, after this sentence, it goes on to say power Badora Skoda has tried different approaches and made the many practical experience while, excuse me.
If, if this one was written by Paul, by Duvall scholar, as for sure the original was written by him, how come he now suddenly talks about himself as Paul Badu at school that has to, right. So it sounds to me like, perhaps mrs. <inaudible> entered this, the sentence here about the better the orchestra, the less continue playing is necessary because you can imagine the, the practical meanings of this.
It means that if I now play with a conductor and if I start playing continue, that means that I'm telling him he's just a bad conductor. And the orchestra is no good. And the orchestra is not good. And the conductor is not
Speaker 1 (55m 31s): Well, you know, you, you actually quote CPE bark, who said, even in heavily scored, works such as opera is performed out of doors where no one would think that the harpsichord could be heard. Its absence can certainly be felt,
Speaker 3 (55m 45s): Yes, this is a most important thing. You'll see people. Most of the people never heard the difference between a performance of a Mozart or Beethoven concerto with, or without continue. And I can tell you from experience because ever since I knew about continuum, I always played all my performances with continue. And it always took a little bit of nudging until the conductor. You see w w we started, I told them always, look, let's just start.
And then if it bothers, you let me know. It turns out that they were not bothered. In fact, I got letters from contractors
Speaker 2 (56m 24s): Saying, you know, I really miss performing with you. You know, I just loved what you did with the tutees and all of this. Well, that's astounding. I mean, there's, is this, I mean, you are doing it. And you, you obviously, I'm sure you try to teach your students this. Do you find that this is, but this is a minority that this is not the norm essentially. Well, I mean, C conductors have two great egos. They wouldn't want the pianist to, to be doing their something while they are doing their to teach and the pianist to fully with their egos.
They wouldn't want to share their solo stature with doing a company man for the orchestra. I mean, there is too much ego involved in all this. And, and of course the, the saddest part for me is that all these, these three editors for four different reasons have actually not printed. The Basser continue of Beethoven the way they Tovan intended. It were texts supposed to be very authentic.
Yes, but you see little texts is always in the hands of an editor. And if the editor decides that the figure basis of Beethoven mean nothing other than orchestral cues, then such an editor feels the right. He can just completely ignore in the interment that which better than the road. And this is what happened with the first, the first editor Hansford cutin who published all the Beethoven concertos. And there is absolutely no continuing the score.
Then the second one, which, which was just the fifth younger concept of Beethoven here apart by the Roscoe, that was honest. And he tried to put in all the figure basis, but see what happened is the Island Burke publishing house. Didn't have all the fonts necessary to, to, to show what Beethoven wrote. So, so many things are missing in this additional power by the last quarter.
And then we have to meet the most unfortunate thing is the addition in veteran writer of, of Jonathan Damar, who aren't the ground that he found certain mistakes. There is no question that there are mistakes in, in these early additions, in these first additions of the Beethoven concertos. So based on this idea that he found mistakes in the, in the, in the first additions of Beethoven, he decided to publish the Beethoven's.
Basser continue in small print now in a small print in to, to everybody who, who knows the meaning. It, it, it means, well, you may,
Speaker 3 (59m 22s): Maybe you play it. Maybe you don't it's it's it's, you know, so the, the thing is in Beethoven, Stan, it was absolutely clear. And the, the, the fifth concerto it's absolutely clear the fifth concerto in the first edition has large prints for that, which is supposed to be played by the pianist and small prints for the accused, because see, back then the pianist led the orchestra along, but the first violinist, so there was a joint bleeding between first violinist and pianist.
And so the pianist also needed to, to have his skills. And the first violinist got that. There,
Speaker 2 (1h 0m 3s): There are cues and all of this, I mean, now, now that can you imagine, I will make to you a comparison, imagine all the notes in a score, the large print, like, like of, of certain color balls and the smart print, different color bars. And now imagine that you have this addition of, of Jonathan, the map where all, everything that is in the two, three is, is colored with the same ink, in other words, with small print.
So you can no longer differentiate between how, what is continue and what is not continue. And of course is excuses. Well, because there are mistakes. So basically he threw out the baby with the bath water, and that, and that is the setback.
Speaker 1 (1h 0m 58s): I want to end off on the topic of IL phyllo, which I think is a, is a really great topic. And is it the entrance and exit of every composition? And that is, that is that in the first few bars of, of a, of a tune. And can you define what L L phyllo is? Actually,
Speaker 2 (1h 1m 15s): Yes. See, the infill appeared in a letter of evolve garden, sorry, of a little pole motor to his son in which he coaxed his son into publishing more works of smaller size, but of quality. And one of the quality statements while this IL Philo, which is like a connecting thread and what in Philo means, and this is the difference between a theme and an infield.
You see, when you have a theme in this piece, that theme is a something which has integrity. You don't, you don't chop it apart, but what ill feel or means is you, if you are a musician who understands something about composition, then you can see within that theme, you can see what, what I like to call them building blocks. And these building blocks then, which you find within the opening measures of a movement are the building blocks with which the composer then creates the rest of the piece.
That is the difference then between a theme, which is something, a unit by itself and the infill, which there are many threads, because there are many building blocks within the opening theme. And these many threads then are going to be popping up in, in all the movements of the, of this piece or these building blocks. Something like certain contrapuntal patterns that, that you just know, you see them all the time in scores.
And they just they're, they're like recurring ideas that like, for instance, you, you knew you were telling me just earlier that you could predict chords just because of, you've heard so much music that you could almost predict where pieces go. Is it something like that? Well, the, the building blocks are of many different types. You can have melodic types, you can have rhythmic types, you can have harmonic types, you can have color coloristic types, register, higher register, lower register.
All of these things are variables, which, which affect a piece of music. So I, I don't really know how else to ask question, I guess a good question is teaching students this, how do you, how do you get better at developing this, this ability of, for El phyllo? Okay, let's give you a said the experience of nine. I've been out trying for many decades to get students, to, to be doing the bustle, continue in the general concertos.
And my experience is always the same. I find out that these students don't have any experience playing chamber music. So whenever they try to do something like continue immediately, you can tell these people have never, or very rarely have played with other peoples. In other words, they cannot incorporate the things they play in such a way that they sound like a normal part of the music.
It sounds always something that is external to the music. And that, that is absolutely no way. I mean, I played so much chamber music in my life. You know, I many, many of these orchestra members with whom I played and I did the continue, you know, they were smiling at me during the performance because they loved it. I, I basically was able to lead the, the orchestra, even though the conductor was there because you see, if you are a good continual player, you get your message across you don't, you can still let the conductor do all the temple and the beating
Speaker 3 (1h 5m 19s): Of the, of the, the measure. But, but you can still get through in such a way that you influenced the performance
Speaker 1 (1h 5m 27s): Question. So how does a student learn? Basso, continuo, what's a good way or general bus
Speaker 3 (1h 5m 34s): The best way would be. And I wish this would be introduced in the, in the curriculum of every university. There are about a 12 time, 12 times let's see, four is 48. There are 48 symphonies of Haydn for which Basso continuo realizations were created. Now, 24 of these continual realizations were created directly by Solomon, who was the first violinist and who played with Haydn playing at the Fort, the piano, the bass will continue.
So can you imagine that you are you're in England with Haydn in, in there and Solomon there, and Solomon is doing the conducting with his violin bow, and Haydn's playing at the forte, piano, and Solomon hears what Haydn is playing. And then he publishes a chamber music version of, of the Haydn symphonies, where you have the strings and you have a flute, and you have the Basso continuo realization of Solomon.
I mean, fantastic. I mean, if people were taught these things as part of a chamber music curriculum, I mean, there, you would have the possibility of doing some chamber music, but without chamber music, you can do, you can immediately tell this person just doesn't fit into the, into the answer.
Speaker 1 (1h 7m 6s): You actually kind of stepped into my, usually the last question I usually ask everyone, which is how would you reform music education? And you're a very experienced educator. How would you change music education, a young kids, high schoolers, conservatory, undergrads. What would you like to see really as a part of educational reform in music?
Speaker 3 (1h 7m 29s): Yes. My answer is one and the same for all ages. You'll see. We start always with the idea that music in music, there is such a thing as identity. For example, we have as at the entrance examination of practically every university in the world and every school of music and every, whatever, somebody, some music theory is, goes to the piano and plays you a Domi soul court and ask, what do you hear?
And the person says C major. And what is that? Yeah, consonant cord. Well, I asked the question, how do you know it's a major? How do you know it's consonance? Or they play a CE flat G and they say, okay, that's a C minor. And that's a consonant chord also. Well, excuse me, there is no such thing in music. We don't have any identities. You cannot put your finger on, on the one particular thing and say, this is that because in music context, identities can only be exactly.
You got it. Context. It's only through context that we can define identities in music. And that identity by the way, could last for only as much as a fraction of a second, right? Because at the next moment you already have something different. For example, there is this famous piece. I, I like to tell my students, you know, there's an F major, sorry, F minor prelude of bar, which goes, well, you have there two times F a flat, and you say, well, if it's F plate F a flat two times 10, it's the same thing.
Times two, there is no such thing in music because in music, the second F a flat which back road that already has a different base under it. So it has a totally different meaning. So you cannot talk about such things to me as saying, Oh yeah, that's the same FAA flat. No, it's not. So if people were, were made to understand that in music, we are dealing with the art of contextualization, that's when we begin to become musician.
And that should be the basis of, of music education and this whole thing of, of playing a chord and asking the students, what do you hear? I mean, this is the biggest nonsense.
Speaker 1 (1h 10m 9s): Well, I mean, the great professor <inaudible>, I mean, he's really one of the great pianists he claims he's not a musicologist, but I mean, he's written some great articles and he's a fabulous teacher at the university of Freiburg in Germany. Professor's eyes. I mean, I could have had you on for two hours, three hours, but why don't we come on again soon, because really so many questions for you.
Speaker 3 (1h 10m 33s): I very much appreciate you're very well informed questions about the topics here. You have given me a chance to express some of the painful things in my life as a musician.
Speaker 1 (1h 10m 47s): If people were interested in your work, if they're interested in listening to your recordings, to your lectures, your articles, where can they find you?
Speaker 3 (1h 10m 55s): Well, they'll find me certainly on YouTube. I have lots and lots and lots of recordings, and they can find my writings in academia.edu or to research gate, by the way, whatever I write about music is always, it always has a practical side to it. And that's why I don't like to think of myself as a musicologist, but as a practical musician. Thank you very much, mr. Hogan.
Thank you, professors, as talk to you soon.
Speaker 0 (1h 11m 28s): <inaudible> <inaudible>.