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#1261337 09/02/09 09:08 PM
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I've had these questions on my mind and was hoping to get some insight here. Is it just me or does anyone else get so tired of hearing the same pieces by popular composers being played over and over again to the point where it's almost unenjoyable to listen to them anymore? I'm sure most of you know which pieces I am referring to here. It often makes me want to learn pieces that are seldom performed to audiences or that are lesser known. I would imagine that competition judges experience this trend quite alot. Will certain classic pieces never die or get "old" despite over-popularity and exess performances of them? Is there such a thing as a piece being overly popular or played too much? What do you think.


Last edited by rinforzando; 09/02/09 09:10 PM.
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May I suggest you look at the upcoming Unsung Heroes Recital, featuring the works of obscure composers? http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubb...sung%20Heroes%20E-cital.html#Post1257761

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I agree with you that a certain amount of ennui can occur when pieces are played over and over, but many of these pieces are favorites because they are so beautiful...and some are just crowd pleasers because they are flashy.

Originally Posted by rinforzando
It often makes me want to learn pieces that are seldom performed to audiences or that are lesser known.


I'm very much one of these people. I seem to fall in love with music that is less mainstream and I especially enjoy working on it because it feels so fresh and full of surprises. For example. Bach's WTC book 1 is more popular than book 2. I prefer book 2. Brahm's Opus 118 is very popular. I'm learning 119. etc. I'm lusting after Bach's E major concerto.

Centuries ago when I auditioned for music college, I played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor Opus 3 #2. It's flashy and dramatic and IMO overplayed. Frankly, I'm now very tired of hearing it. I also think it doesn't have the richness of some of his other preludes. In addition, to the Rach, my teacher suggested I prepare an off-the-beaten-path Chopin Waltz. He said the judges hear pretty much the same thing over and over and would enjoy hearing something a little different. I played Opus 34 #2 in A minor and I think it was appreciated.

I'm not suggesting there is anything wrong with learning and playing more mainstream music, I'm just comfortable with my individuality an enjoy exploring new things. I certainly was a different kind of teen back in the day - running to the practice rooms rather than socializing in study hall. There's nothing wrong with learning the old warhorses, but I prefer the sparkle of something "new".



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Some would say that there's a reason that overlooked pieces are overlooked—an allusion to a lack of durable musical quality. I don't think that makes sense as a general statement, and, unfortunately, lack of popularity and lack of exposure form a vicious cycle of causation: unpopular works don't get played or heard much; pieces that don't get played or heard much remain unpopular.

Like Deborah, I tend to gravitate toward the less familiar.

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I don't think it is only you at all - I've felt that way for years. And in some ways, it seems to be getting worse. I have lost track of how many pianists have either just finished, or are in the middle of, or are just started doing all of the Beethoven sonatas. It's dreary to even think about the lack of imagination displayed in that fact.

And then there is another subset doing concerts that include either all 4 Ballades or all 4 Scherzi of Chopin, or both in alternate seasons. Why??? It's very poor programming, I think, since none of that music is underexposed in the first place, and hearing them back-to-back doesn't show them to best advantage. I think it's related to the fact that complete sets of this or that became the standard in the recording biz, over doing mixed recital recordings, and now we, in real life, are asked to sit through the resulting sets of this or that, which has absolutely nothing to do with putting together a good recital program.

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I have been "gravitating toward the less familiar" too, as Steven says. I am particularly drawn to the Russian Romantics lately. I have been discovering spectacular music, and it's opened up a whole new world for me. It's style is familiar enough, but it's new to me.

I had the good advice of past teachers to invest in good volumes and build a music collection. When I was tired of working on my assigned piece I would sight-read through other pieces in the books just for fun. As a result, my ear became bored of several nice pieces that I never actually "studied."

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Originally Posted by heidiv
I have been "gravitating toward the less familiar" too, as Steven says. I am particularly drawn to the Russian Romantics lately. I have been discovering spectacular music, and it's opened up a whole new world for me. It's style is familiar enough, but it's new to me.

I had the good advice of past teachers to invest in good volumes and build a music collection. When I was tired of working on my assigned piece I would sight-read through other pieces in the books just for fun. As a result, my ear became bored of several nice pieces that I never actually "studied."


This is a problem for me, getting bored with my own repertoire. As a returning intermediate/perfectionist, I have to work like crazy to get a piece to sound even half way decent, and by that time I'm already beginning to get sick of it. It becomes a chore to keep these pieces in playable condition, but since I've plowed so much work into them, I hate to lose them.

I'm spending too much time boring the crap out of myself. But if Carnegie hall calls, I need to be ready, right? :>)

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I would just like to make a plug for "over-played" pieces...or what I'd rather call "familiar favorites". If those close to you have no knowledge at all about classical music or piano, there IS something special about being able to play something for them that they recognize as "real classical music" that they know that "real professional pianists" play.

Also, it's not uncommon for some of us to be asked why we work so hard to play ourselves when we can just listen to recordings...and we argue that there is something special about playing it yourself. This is equally true of well-known pieces. Just because it's "overplayed" isn't much of an argument for not playing it yourself **if you really love the piece and want to**.

Of course people who have been heavily involved in music for many years (especially if they are or were music majors or piano teachers) are likely to have pieces they are "sick" of hearing. If you have no particular leanings toward particular pieces, go for the lesser known stuff, but if you really love a piece and could play it well and have something to say about it, I don't think you should ditch something just because some people say it's "over played".


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There are sometimes other factors that determine what one chooses to play.

As I age and as life experiences remind me more and more of my own mortality, there are certain pieces that I've never played but have always wanted to. Some of them, indeed, most of them are from the standard repertoire. Be that as it may, as I think that some of them may finally be within my technical grasp, I'm going to make an attempt at them "before it's too late," as they say, regardless of whether they are over-played or unknown.

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Originally Posted by rinforzando
I've had these questions on my mind and was hoping to get some insight here. Is it just me or does anyone else get so tired of hearing the same pieces by popular composers being played over and over again to the point where it's almost unenjoyable to listen to them anymore? I'm sure most of you know which pieces I am referring to here. It often makes me want to learn pieces that are seldom performed to audiences or that are lesser known. I would imagine that competition judges experience this trend quite alot. Will certain classic pieces never die or get "old" despite over-popularity and exess performances of them? Is there such a thing as a piece being overly popular or played too much? What do you think.



How does it matter what other people play? I play what I like. It is true that pieces can lose their specialness through excessive repetition, but there is a joy in playing any piece very well. Music is a performing art, so the old proverb "You can never step into the same stream twice" applies, IMO. It's all about your attitude. After I had been receiving instruction for two years (I was already at a beginning-intermediate level when I started lessons), my piano teacher gave me this little Czerny piece to play that is ridiculously simple. I was almost insulted and said, "This is too easy". He said "What does it mean to be too easy?" He said, "The hardest thing is to play any piece well." Twelve years hence, I still study that little Czerny and find joy in playing it well.

Clayton -

Last edited by Clayton; 09/03/09 04:09 PM. Reason: Deleted some junk

My listening obsessions:
Kurt Atterberg - Piano Concerto in Bb
Claude Debussy - Cello Sonata
Johannes Brahms - Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2
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Didn't Liszt forbid his students to play his own Hungarian Rhapsody Nr 2 in his hearing because he was so sick of hearing it?

I'm really of two minds on this - sometimes I have to be hit over the head multiple times with a piece before I appreciate it - sometimes I even have to learn to play it.

But I also see the how many pieces show at a disadvantage in sets even though they're convenient for performers and publishers to bring off. Sometimes hearing a familiar piece "out of context" can lead to appreciation. Sometimes to appreciate a piece you have to hear it when you're "off guard." My own recent experience with this was hearing just a scrap of the beginning of the Fantasy Impromptu in a movie. I'd never realized how nice the beginning is because I was always subconsiously waiting for the "chasing rainbows" part.


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There is nothing wrong with repetitive play of the classic or any music for that matter. For me, every time something is played again, another revelation is made known.

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Originally Posted by Musicwoman
There is nothing wrong with repetitive play of the classic or any music for that matter. For me, every time something is played again, another revelation is made known.


For me too...



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Music is my best friend.


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Originally Posted by -Frycek
Didn't Liszt forbid his students to play his own Hungarian Rhapsody Nr 2 in his hearing because he was so sick of hearing it?


Similar to what Prodigal said, this piece is great for my non-classically inclined friends (which is unfortunately almost all of them). Playing this piece never fails to bring a smile to ones face. Which is probably the main reason I won't allow myself to tire of playing it.

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Originally Posted by -Frycek
Didn't Liszt forbid his students to play his own Hungarian Rhapsody Nr 2 in his hearing because he was so sick of hearing it?

I once read that Liszt felt the same way about the Chopin Bb minor Scherzo.


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^ Good gods, that piece was hackneyed even back then?!?!?


Die Krebs gehn zurucke,
Die Stockfisch bleiben dicke,
Die Karpfen viel fressen,
Die Predigt vergessen.

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Originally Posted by argerichfan
Originally Posted by -Frycek
Didn't Liszt forbid his students to play his own Hungarian Rhapsody Nr 2 in his hearing because he was so sick of hearing it?

I once read that Liszt felt the same way about the Chopin Bb minor Scherzo.


Yeah, he said something like "every English governess plays it" - - -


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Originally Posted by sotto voce
Some would say that there's a reason that overlooked pieces are overlooked—an allusion to a lack of durable musical quality.
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This makes me wonder.. Is it possible for pieces to lose their flare over time? Does a Beethoven sonata give as much of a "punch" as it did 100 years ago? 50 years? 20?

It also makes me wonder how certain popular pieces maintain such a status and also if future generations will hold a new standard of repertoire. The modern or contemporary era we live in now doesn't seem to hold much in terms of compositional output as did the previous era's which leads me to believe the popular pieces of today will stick around for quite some time.


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