11/25/12

Quote: Improvisation in History

 

Felix Mendelssohn

 

Domenico Scarlatti

Franz Schubert

Johannes Brahms

Georg Friedrich Händel

Ludwig van Beethoven

Although Beethoven’s supreme art of improvising on the piano represents a peak in the history of solo extempore playing that was probably never surpassed, or even reached again, the old tradition was still carried on after him by some composer-virtuosos, by church organists, and sometimes by concert artists. From the 14th century almost to the present, stretches the long series of great improvisers on the organ, on the harpsichord, on the piano – from the blind Landini and Paumann, also blind, through Hofhaimer, Frescobaldi, Domenico Scarlatti, Bach, and Handel, through Mozart and Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and many others to Cesar Franck, Brahms, and Bruckner. Finally some interesting exceptional phenomena should be mentioned, like the four-handed extemporizing on two pianos of by Mozart and Clementi, by Beethoven and Joseph Wölfl, by Mendelssohn and Moscheles, by Chopin and Liszt… These were the final relics of the old ensemble improvisation in the art music of the West.

 

–Ernest Thomas Ferand, Improvisation in Nine Centuries of Western Music

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01/29/12

Improv Quote of the Day: Chopin Unbound

Frédéric Chopin as portrayed by Eugène Delacro...

The other day I heard Chopin improvise at George Sand’s house. It is marvelous to hear Chopin compose in this way: his inspiration is so immediate and complete that he plays without hesitation as if it could not be otherwise.
 But when it comes to writing it down and recapturing the original thought in all its details, he spends days of nervous strain and almost terrible despair.

– Karl Flitsch