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https://vk.com/video487582480_456239032

Tchaikovsky's Children's Album is one of the most popular works in the world. Every pianist on the planet has probably played at least some pieces from this album. The album consists of 24 pieces, most of which are known, loved and, of course, played in every corner of the earth. However, among these beauties there is one ugly Cinderella that no one wants to play or listen to. This is "Russian Song" - №11. Even famous pianists avoid it and sometimes just "forget to play" it, performing only 23 pieces in concerts instead of 24.

However, it is impossible to avoid performing this piece if you are recording a record. If there are 24 songs on the cover, there should also be 24 songs on the disc.

At the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia, I was a student of the wonderful musician V. Nielsen
And one day my teacher had to record on the record Tchaikovsky's Children's Album. He rented a house in the village, brought a grand piano there and began to prepare for the recording. It was a hot summer and the windows were always wide open. Therefore, the whole village heard the sounds of the children's album for many hours every day.

And, of course, my teacher worked a lot on "Russian Song". He still wanted to find a way of performing in which this song would not be so ugly. And his efforts resulted in the fact that the villagers once gathered near his house. At first they stood in silence, then they began to make noise, and then very offensive cries were heard. "How can you, professor, teach others when you yourself cannot play even our simple song?"

I must say that my teacher was very fond of talking with the common audience about music. And he often gave us examples of how a cloakroom attendant, a cleaning lady, a firefighter on stage, etc. made very apt, precise observations that can be very useful to any performer. And in that case, of course, he did not fail to take the opportunity to talk to the people. And he learned something very interesting from the villagers.

But before I tell you about it, I ask you to listen to my recording of this "Russian song". I play it exactly as my teacher taught me to play it. It is only a few seconds long. So I play it three times: slow, medium and fast. And I very much ask you to try to guess: what exactly in the performance of this song could have caused the anger and mass protest of the villagers?

Please, watch after 4'30"

https://vk.com/video487582480_456239032

I hope that you listened carefully to my recording, but did not find anything wrong with either the song or its performance. I think that many generations have sung and loved this song exactly as it sounds in my fast version. This is a typical dance folk song. No worse and no less beautiful than any other.
So why is it that everyone, including the villagers, can not stand this song?

The trouble is that neither my teacher played it like that, nor all other pianists in the world play it like that. Instead, everyone plays the piece the way Tchaikovsky wrote it. He shifted the bar line in this piece one step earlier. And the song immediately turned into musical nonsense. If you strictly follow the notes exactly as they are written, then the Russian song sounds something like this:

please, watch after 8'01"

https://vk.com/video487582480_456239032

No wonder that the villagers hated this disgusting music so much and could not stand it. It is absolutely normal for everyone who really loves music.


I can assume that Tchaikovsky made this vivisection for the sake of a completely false idea in my opinion that music should be as similar as possible to the spoken language. "I want the music to express the word directly," - composer Dargomyzhsky wrote.

But good singers don't sing colloquially, they sing music. And the stress in musical words is just as different from the stress in colloquial speech as our movements when swimming differ from movements when walking. A different environment requires a different kind of movements, different actions, a different way of pronouncing musical or colloquial words.

I want to urge all pianists, all musicians in the world to stop mocking this absolutely normal, beautiful, lovely folk song and play it the way our listeners used to sing it and to love it.


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So you basically say that in this russian song all bar lines should be moved 1 beat, to the middle of the measures ? Or alternatively, that we should put the accent on the 2nd beat of each measure rather than the first?

Or do you want to shift the accent only in part of the measures? For instance not in the last 2?
In some places, there are slurs from the first to the 2nd beat. Do you want to split these when "moving the bar line"?

Why do you take such a large break before the last 2 measures?


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Wouter:

In the final version, at around 8:30, there is no pause before the final two measures.

However, after listening to all versions in Mr. Dounin's video, I don't see or hear why the first three versions (apart from difference in tempo) when compared with the last version, "this disgusting music," caused such "anger and mass protest."

Indeed, even the final version is so similar to the previously recorded versions in the video that I can't hear what all the fuss is about nor what the difference is that should make me appreciate more this "beautiful, lovely folk song."

I hope that eventually someone else will enlighten me.

Regards,


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It's not unlikely that Tchaikovsky "stylized" the piece.
Moving the measures might be part of that.
Changing harmonies also.
Do you have a generally accepted "folk" version of this song, maybe multivocal or with other instruments to give some harmonies? That would help understand how russians like to think of this russian song.

>I hope that you listened carefully to my recording, but did not find anything wrong with either the song or its performance.

Well, you have the notes but imho it does not sing at all. You put accents where I would not put them nor see them in the notation. Yes it might match the "folk" version but I'd like to hear that version first.


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Originally Posted by BruceD
However, after listening to all versions in Mr. Dounin's video, I don't see or hear why the first three versions (apart from difference in tempo) when compared with the last version, "this disgusting music," caused such "anger and mass protest."

I hope that eventually someone else will enlighten me.

Regards,

I cant enlighten you, but i think it is a nice and naive little story to present the topic. I doubt there was a mass of villagers gathering in front the window to protest against something so innocuous.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by BruceD
However, after listening to all versions in Mr. Dounin's video, I don't see or hear why the first three versions (apart from difference in tempo) when compared with the last version, "this disgusting music," caused such "anger and mass protest."

I hope that eventually someone else will enlighten me.

Regards,

I cant enlighten you, but i think it is a nice and naive little story to present the topic. I doubt there was a mass of villagers gathering in front the window to protest against something so innocuous.


I’m certain there wasn’t a mass of villagers, as well, based on the OPs history in posting other topics.


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That has got to be the most ridiculous load of pig cr@p I have ever seen!


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Originally Posted by dogperson
[quote=Sidokar][quote=BruceD]

However, after listening to all versions in Mr. Dounin's video, I don't see or hear why the first three versions (apart from difference in tempo) when compared with the last version, "this disgusting music," caused such "anger and mass protest."

I hope that eventually someone else will enlighten me.

Regards,


My teacher was absolutely convinced by the villagers after they sang for him this song with the words: "Праздник на дворE завтра пЯтницА, голубЯтницА". It is possible to hear these words with the correct stresses on Google Translate (Unfortunately its lady speaks too fast). "Prazdnik na dvorE, zavtra pYAtnitsA, golubYAtnitsA". These stresses show clearly that the bar line is moved in a wrong way for the sake of the single word "prAzdnik". All the rest words are badly affected (probably, Tchaikovsky did not know the words and wrote down just the melody).

For everyone, who knows and sings this song, it is the same unbearable nonsense, like if somebody plays "O Sole Mio" with the stresses "osolE miO". Or "santA luciA" instead of "SAnta lucIa".

And if you are doomed to listen this bullshit for several hours every day, you will definitely join the protesters against this musical torture.


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You are absolutely right: "we should put the accent on the 2nd beat of each measure rather than the first". Because only in this case all the stresses for the words:"Prazdnik na dvorE zavtra pYAtnitsA golubYAtnitsa" will be appropriate.

I do not believe any slurs (my teacher did not as well) because you never know: who exactly brought them here? For example, you will not find a single slur in the manuscript of Chopin's: Fantaisie-Impromptu In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 66. Chopin never put them there. However, you will not find an edition without 2 - 3!!! layers of absolutely unnecessary slurs. And if you will try to play a real legato in this piece then your audience will not hear your notes, they will be drown.

My large break before the last two bars is, of course, illegal. It is an obvious voluntarism. However, it is musically necessary to compensate the mentioned unfortunate shift in timing done by Tchaikovsky.


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Originally Posted by wouter79
It's not unlikely that Tchaikovsky "stylized" the piece.
Moving the measures might be part of that.
Changing harmonies also.
Do you have a generally accepted "folk" version of this song, maybe multivocal or with other instruments to give some harmonies? That would help understand how russians like to think of this russian song.

>I hope that you listened carefully to my recording, but did not find anything wrong with either the song or its performance.

Well, you have the notes but imho it does not sing at all. You put accents where I would not put them nor see them in the notation. Yes it might match the "folk" version but I'd like to hear that version first.

Yes, I agree with you that this song should be multivocal. This is a typical mass, choir song. I even tried to play an extension (repeat) of each line more close to females' voices after more energetic males at the beginning of each line.
This song is a dance song, therefore legato would be not appropriate for this "music for heels". A clear rhythmical structure is much more important.

Last edited by Vladimir Dounin; 07/27/21 02:48 PM.

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Originally Posted by BruceD
Wouter:

In the final version, at around 8:30, there is no pause before the final two measures.

However, after listening to all versions in Mr. Dounin's video, I don't see or hear why the first three versions (apart from difference in tempo) when compared with the last version, "this disgusting music," caused such "anger and mass protest."

Indeed, even the final version is so similar to the previously recorded versions in the video that I can't hear what all the fuss is about nor what the difference is that should make me appreciate more this "beautiful, lovely folk song."

I hope that eventually someone else will enlighten me.

Regards,

Imagine, please, that I am playing in the centre of Tallinn your anthem "Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm" with the stresses: "mU isAmaa, mU onn jA room". And I do it every day for many hours. How long I will wait for a mass protest of the Estonians, who are doomed to listen to this musical bullshit all days?
Exactly the same happened to the villagers and they could not stand it.

In the final version the pause is not necessary because I play the original version of Tchaikovsky. However, this pause is necessary for a smooth ending when I modified Tchaikovsky version and played Folk version.


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I cant enlighten you, but i think it is a nice and naive little story to present the topic. I doubt there was a mass of villagers gathering in front the window to protest against something so innocuous.[/quote]



Do you really think that singing or playing "god blEss americA" instead of "GOd bless amErica", or "don't cry fOr me argentinA" instead of "DOn't cry for mE argentIna" is innocuous and the audience will not protest against this musical atrocity?


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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
For example, you will not find a single slur in the manuscript of Chopin's: Fantaisie-Impromptu In C-Sharp Minor, Op. 66. Chopin never put them there. However, you will not find an edition without 2 - 3!!! layers of absolutely unnecessary slurs. And if you will try to play a real legato in this piece then your audience will not hear your notes, they will be drown.

You should cross check this point; the slurs in Chopin are coming from his own autograph as you can see by yourself in any facsimile. There are plenty of phrasing slurs everywhere.

Regarding Tchaïkowsky, the slurs are also based on his own writing in his autograph, as any good modern edition will explain. You can also cross check by looking at the fac simile.

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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
I cant enlighten you, but i think it is a nice and naive little story to present the topic. I doubt there was a mass of villagers gathering in front the window to protest against something so innocuous.



Do you really think that singing or playing "god blEss americA" instead of "GOd bless amErica", or "don't cry fOr me argentinA" instead of "DOn't cry for mE argentIna" is innocuous and the audience will not protest against this musical atrocity?[/quote]

I doubt you can produce any document that relates that tune to a particular actual folk song. In addition if you knew something about folk music, you would also know that similar melodic tunes were used for multiple songs with various words.

And there are tons of examples where the beat and the words accents dont fall together, so assuming that the musical accent should fall on the second beat just because there is a supposed song that would impose that is maybe true but there are so many unverified assumptions in there that no scholar would buy that as is.

As usual, all of that is not very serious. A nice story for kids. But if you believe that and want to play that song the way you like it, nothing wrong with me.

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Here is the greatest living Tchaikovsky pianist (and conductor), Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв playing the piece:



I rest my case.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
I cant enlighten you, but i think it is a nice and naive little story to present the topic. I doubt there was a mass of villagers gathering in front the window to protest against something so innocuous.



Do you really think that singing or playing "god blEss americA" instead of "GOd bless amErica", or "don't cry fOr me argentinA" instead of "DOn't cry for mE argentIna" is innocuous and the audience will not protest against this musical atrocity?



And there are tons of examples where the beat and the words accents dont fall together, so assuming that the musical accent should fall on the second beat just because there is a supposed song that would impose that is maybe true but there are so many unverified assumptions in there that no scholar would buy that as is.

As usual, all of that is not very serious. A nice story for kids. But if you believe that and want to play that song the way you like it, nothing wrong with me.[/quote]

You just repeated ( and confirmed in this way) my words on my Video that the stresses in musical words are different from the stresses in spoken (colloquial) languages. Therefore I disagree with Tchaikovsky's stresses.

I do not know your reasons to feel you yourself so great that a real story of my teacher who was highly respected by Richter, Sofronitsky, Golubovskaya, and many other great musicians is just "a nice story for kids"?

This is a link to my teacher's recording of the "Children Album". You can hear that he changed his way to play the "Russian Song" after this meeting with the villagers.



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Originally Posted by bennevis
Here is the greatest living Tchaikovsky pianist (and conductor), Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв playing the piece:



I rest my case.

That's not the piece in question!

Regards,


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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
This is a link to my teacher's recording of the "Children Album". You can hear that he changed his way to play the "Russian Song" after this meeting with the villagers.

Interesting !!


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by bennevis
Here is the greatest living Tchaikovsky pianist (and conductor), Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв playing the piece:



I rest my case.

That's not the piece in question!

Regards,

Bruce - I believe it is. What one are you thinking of?


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Originally Posted by Carey
Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by bennevis
Here is the greatest living Tchaikovsky pianist (and conductor), Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв playing the piece:



I rest my case.

That's not the piece in question!

Regards,

Bruce - I believe it is. What one are you thinking of?

My mistake! Sorry!

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Carey
[quote=BruceD][quote=bennevis]Here is the greatest living Tchaikovsky pianist (and conductor), Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв playing the piece:



I rest my case.

That's not the piece in question!

Regards,

Do you really enjoy Pletnev's rendition of the "Russian Song"? Would you like to have the item like this in your own public concert? Can you anticipate any applause for this boredom?


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Originally Posted by bennevis
Here is the greatest living Tchaikovsky pianist (and conductor), Михаи́л Васи́льевич Плетнёв playing the piece:



I rest my case.

Do you really enjoy Pletnev's rendition of the "Russian Song"? Would you like to have the item like this in your own public concert? Can you anticipate any applause for this boredom?


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With just a little research, here is a somehow more fact based information. It would be good that people make a minimal amount of cross checking vs writing stories for which they have absolutely not a single factual evidence other than alleged statements.

Tchaikovsky in his opus 39 reused what he had compiled previously under the 50 russian folk song in 1868. The Russian song is in fact "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" (Oh my poor head). See below a YT extract which is notated exactly the same way already (number 2).

This is documented in any good urtext edition of the opus 39.

The 50 russian songs were not notated by Tchaikovski himself. In a letter to Balakirev 1868, he wrote that he borrowed 25 from Villebois collection (Konstantin Vilboa), changing only some harmonisation, and is asking Balakirev if he could borrow the other 25 from him.

The collection of Kanstantin Vilboa, 150 russian songs, Airs Nationales Russe, published by Jurgenson does contain that song as one can see in the extract from imslp (number 8): https://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Villebois,_Konstantin.

The notation of Vilboa is exactly the same as Tchaikovsky.

In addition Rimsky-Korsakov reused that same song "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" which he also borrowed from Vilboa in his collection of 100 russian song opus 24. Also available on imslp https://imslp.org/wiki/Collection_of_100_Russian_Folksongs%2C_Op.24_(Rimsky-Korsakov%2C_Nikolay)

There one can find the actual text of the song with the music where it is clear that the accent is on the first beat (I am native russian so I read fluently), also notated exactly like Tchaikovsky (song 33), though he also added a 3/4 version with an upbeat.

It is not clear if Vilboa did just an harmonization or also composed some of the tunes based on traditional russian songs he knew. Extract from wiki: "Vilboa wrote nearly 200 popular songs such as the duet "The seafarers" ("unfriendly is our sea.." - "Нелюдимо наше море..") recorded by Maxim Mikhailov. These songs remained popular, for instance being sung at home by Shostakovich's engineer father.[2] Vilboa's song collection 100 Russian National Songs (Сто русских народных песен Saint Petersburg 1860) was an anthology of melodies collected by playwright Alexander Ostrovsky on a River Volga steamer in 1856. This collection was used by, among other composers, Rimsky-Korsakov in his By the gate a pine tree was swaying and other songs. "

Ostrovsky was a very famous playwright but was not a musician, so though it is confirmed he did made a Volga trip in 1856, he likely notated the words mainly as the Volga boatmen songs.


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Originally Posted by Sidokar
With just a little research, here is a somehow more fact based information. It would be good that people make a minimal amount of cross checking vs writing stories for which they have absolutely not a single factual evidence other than alleged statements.

Tchaikovsky in his opus 39 reused what he had compiled previously under the 50 russian folk song in 1868. The Russian song is in fact "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" (Oh my poor head). See below a YT extract which is notated exactly the same way already (number 2).

This is documented in any good urtext edition of the opus 39.

The 50 russian songs were not notated by Tchaikovski himself. In a letter to Balakirev 1868, he wrote that he borrowed 25 from Villebois collection (Konstantin Vilboa), changing only some harmonisation, and is asking Balakirev if he could borrow the other 25 from him.

The collection of Kanstantin Vilboa, 150 russian songs, Airs Nationales Russe, published by Jurgenson does contain that song as one can see in the extract from imslp (number 8): https://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Villebois,_Konstantin.

The notation of Vilboa is exactly the same as Tchaikovsky.

In addition Rimsky-Korsakov reused that same song "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" which he also borrowed from Vilboa in his collection of 100 russian song opus 24. Also available on imslp https://imslp.org/wiki/Collection_of_100_Russian_Folksongs%2C_Op.24_(Rimsky-Korsakov%2C_Nikolay)

There one can find the actual text of the song with the music where it is clear that the accent is on the first beat (I am native russian so I read fluently), also notated exactly like Tchaikovsky (song 33), though he also added a 3/4 version with an upbeat.

It is not clear if Vilboa did just an harmonization or also composed some of the tunes based on traditional russian songs he knew. Extract from wiki: "Vilboa wrote nearly 200 popular songs such as the duet "The seafarers" ("unfriendly is our sea.." - "Нелюдимо наше море..") recorded by Maxim Mikhailov. These songs remained popular, for instance being sung at home by Shostakovich's engineer father.[2] Vilboa's song collection 100 Russian National Songs (Сто русских народных песен Saint Petersburg 1860) was an anthology of melodies collected by playwright Alexander Ostrovsky on a River Volga steamer in 1856. This collection was used by, among other composers, Rimsky-Korsakov in his By the gate a pine tree was swaying and other songs. "

Ostrovsky was a very famous playwright but was not a musician, so though it is confirmed he did made a Volga trip in 1856, he likely notated the words mainly as the Volga boatmen songs.


Thanks a lot for your interesting facts and links. I knew about the song "Голова ль ты моя, головушка". If you are a native Russian (why "russian" in this case, btw?) then it should not be a problem for you to read available versions of the lyrics of this particular song? Do you think that the story about decapitated dead body on the street is one that inspired Tchaikovsky to compose the "Russian Song" in his "Children's Album"? Does it correspond in any way with the character of the piece? It is about traditional, folk lyrics of the "Голова ль ты моя, головушка".

We can try the version of Surikov with the same result:

Отчего ж, скажи, головушка,

Бесталанной ты родилася,

Или матушка-покойница

В церкви богу не молилася?

❉❉❉❉


Нет! Соседи говорили мне,

Что была, вишь, богомольная…

Знать, сама собой сложилася

Жизнь ты горькая, бездольная!

❉❉❉❉




Another version of the lyrics is a poem of Delvig: "To the birdy that I deliberated from her cage". This is a tragic poem about lost personal freedom. Do you think that the subject of our discussion ("Russian Song") is related to this poem?

And the most important:
Can you adjust technically in any way the words of any of these versions
to the music of the "Russian song" from the album? It is obviously impossible.

Что ж теперь ты думу думаешь,
Думу крепкую, тяжелую?
Иль ты с сердцем перемолвилась,
Иль одно вы с ним задумали?
Иль прилука молодецкая
Ни из сердца, ни с ума нейдет?
Уж не вырваться из клеточки
Певчей птичке конопляночке:
Знать, и вам не видеть более
Прежней воли с прежней радостью.

Last edited by Vladimir Dounin; 07/28/21 05:22 AM.

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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
Do you really enjoy Pletnev's rendition of the "Russian Song"?
Yes, because he plays it like a song (- similar to the way I'd play it), not a clodhopping, brutally-accented whatever, like you play it.


Quote
Would you like to have the item like this in your own public concert?
I wouldn't play any of these Children's Album pieces in my concerts - they are pieces for children to learn, not like his Op.72, or even The Seasons.

Incidentally, I don't know what your beef is. Folksongs get re-interpreted and re-arranged through the years by various composers and singers (including folk-singers).

For instance, do you think that the early folk singers would use harmonies like this, by a great English composer?


or accompaniments like this?


....or perform them with a knowing archness like this?

(If you can understand the meaning behind the lyrics, you would grimace - or chuckle...... grin)


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Fact is you did not read well my text. Tchaikowski did not compose the russian song in opus 39. He just copied what Vilboa had done. And Rimsky Korsakov published both the lyrics and the music together which shows that they are associated, if you would care to cross check. So your idea that some sort of song supposedly inspired Tchaikoswky is thus pure BS. In fact since almost all your points like Chopin fantaisie impromptu non existing slurs are pure inventions, you have a low credibility profile. The rest of your points i dont even understand what you are trying to say. Looks pretty confused to me. And your version even musically it is not very convincing.

Fact is that it is often the case that russian folk player do shift the tune, starting from different beats, but the accentuation remain constant. Some good example of that in Moussorgki pictures, promenade, bar 21 to 23.

BTW when Tchaikowski re harmonized the Vilboa version he actually westernized it. The original Vilboa version or the Rimsky K are both closer to a russian folk harmony. If you know something about russian folk harmony, you will see why.

If you have students, I am scared about what you are teaching them. But if you believe you are the only person on earth that plays correctly that little piece, I am happy to leave you with your illusions.

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Sidokar
You are going down a deep rabbit hole. Since you are not receiving direct replies, why don’t you let this go? I’ve seen it all before.


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Originally Posted by dogperson
Sidokar
You are going down a deep rabbit hole. Since you are not receiving direct replies, why don’t you let this go? I’ve seen it all before.

Dogperson, you are right. I felt it was necessary to at least inform about what was, to put it kindly, unverified facts. But further discussion seems useless at this point.

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Originally Posted by Sidokar
With just a little research, here is a somehow more fact based information. It would be good that people make a minimal amount of cross checking vs writing stories for which they have absolutely not a single factual evidence other than alleged statements.

Tchaikovsky in his opus 39 reused what he had compiled previously under the 50 russian folk song in 1868. The Russian song is in fact "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" (Oh my poor head). See below a YT extract which is notated exactly the same way already (number 2).

This is documented in any good urtext edition of the opus 39.

The 50 russian songs were not notated by Tchaikovski himself. In a letter to Balakirev 1868, he wrote that he borrowed 25 from Villebois collection (Konstantin Vilboa), changing only some harmonisation, and is asking Balakirev if he could borrow the other 25 from him.

The collection of Kanstantin Vilboa, 150 russian songs, Airs Nationales Russe, published by Jurgenson does contain that song as one can see in the extract from imslp (number 8): https://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Villebois,_Konstantin.

The notation of Vilboa is exactly the same as Tchaikovsky.

In addition Rimsky-Korsakov reused that same song "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" which he also borrowed from Vilboa in his collection of 100 russian song opus 24. Also available on imslp https://imslp.org/wiki/Collection_of_100_Russian_Folksongs%2C_Op.24_(Rimsky-Korsakov%2C_Nikolay)

There one can find the actual text of the song with the music where it is clear that the accent is on the first beat (I am native russian so I read fluently), also notated exactly like Tchaikovsky (song 33), though he also added a 3/4 version with an upbeat.

It is not clear if Vilboa did just an harmonization or also composed some of the tunes based on traditional russian songs he knew. Extract from wiki: "Vilboa wrote nearly 200 popular songs such as the duet "The seafarers" ("unfriendly is our sea.." - "Нелюдимо наше море..") recorded by Maxim Mikhailov. These songs remained popular, for instance being sung at home by Shostakovich's engineer father.[2] Vilboa's song collection 100 Russian National Songs (Сто русских народных песен Saint Petersburg 1860) was an anthology of melodies collected by playwright Alexander Ostrovsky on a River Volga steamer in 1856. This collection was used by, among other composers, Rimsky-Korsakov in his By the gate a pine tree was swaying and other songs. "

Ostrovsky was a very famous playwright but was not a musician, so though it is confirmed he did made a Volga trip in 1856, he likely notated the words mainly as the Volga boatmen songs.


Thanks Sidokar for the thorough research on this!

https://ks4.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/e/e0/IMSLP385986-PMLP624077-Rimsky-Korsakov_Op.24.pdf

Yes it's there with text, No. 33 on p. 66

I suppose this settles the discussion and makes it much clearer what Tchaikovsky was doing. And more, you found related recordings that I think put this into the right perspective to interpet what Tchaikovsky had in mind.

So it IS a folk song, and the vocals confirm the bar lines as written.

It even suggests that this is supposed for 4 voices, I assume choir. Brisk tempo.

So Tchaikovsky just transposed the song from G to F major and roughly kept the same harmonies but made it easier to play.

BTW what is the text about? Someone has his head hurting? Drank too much or so?


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In my original
Originally Posted by wouter79
Originally Posted by Sidokar
With just a little research, here is a somehow more fact based information. It would be good that people make a minimal amount of cross checking vs writing stories for which they have absolutely not a single factual evidence other than alleged statements.

Tchaikovsky in his opus 39 reused what he had compiled previously under the 50 russian folk song in 1868. The Russian song is in fact "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" (Oh my poor head). See below a YT extract which is notated exactly the same way already (number 2).

This is documented in any good urtext edition of the opus 39.

The 50 russian songs were not notated by Tchaikovski himself. In a letter to Balakirev 1868, he wrote that he borrowed 25 from Villebois collection (Konstantin Vilboa), changing only some harmonisation, and is asking Balakirev if he could borrow the other 25 from him.

The collection of Kanstantin Vilboa, 150 russian songs, Airs Nationales Russe, published by Jurgenson does contain that song as one can see in the extract from imslp (number 8): https://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Villebois,_Konstantin.

The notation of Vilboa is exactly the same as Tchaikovsky.

In addition Rimsky-Korsakov reused that same song "Голова ль ты моя, головушка" which he also borrowed from Vilboa in his collection of 100 russian song opus 24. Also available on imslp https://imslp.org/wiki/Collection_of_100_Russian_Folksongs%2C_Op.24_(Rimsky-Korsakov%2C_Nikolay)

There one can find the actual text of the song with the music where it is clear that the accent is on the first beat (I am native russian so I read fluently), also notated exactly like Tchaikovsky (song 33), though he also added a 3/4 version with an upbeat.

It is not clear if Vilboa did just an harmonization or also composed some of the tunes based on traditional russian songs he knew. Extract from wiki: "Vilboa wrote nearly 200 popular songs such as the duet "The seafarers" ("unfriendly is our sea.." - "Нелюдимо наше море..") recorded by Maxim Mikhailov. These songs remained popular, for instance being sung at home by Shostakovich's engineer father.[2] Vilboa's song collection 100 Russian National Songs (Сто русских народных песен Saint Petersburg 1860) was an anthology of melodies collected by playwright Alexander Ostrovsky on a River Volga steamer in 1856. This collection was used by, among other composers, Rimsky-Korsakov in his By the gate a pine tree was swaying and other songs. "

Ostrovsky was a very famous playwright but was not a musician, so though it is confirmed he did made a Volga trip in 1856, he likely notated the words mainly as the Volga boatmen songs.


Thanks Sidokar for the thorough research on this!

https://ks4.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/e/e0/IMSLP385986-PMLP624077-Rimsky-Korsakov_Op.24.pdf

Yes it's there with text, No. 33 on p. 66

I suppose this settles the discussion and makes it much clearer what Tchaikovsky was doing. And more, you found related recordings that I think put this into the right perspective to interpet what Tchaikovsky had in mind.

So it IS a folk song, and the vocals confirm the bar lines as written.

It even suggests that this is supposed for 4 voices, I assume choir. Brisk tempo.

So Tchaikovsky just transposed the song from G to F major and roughly kept the same harmonies but made it easier to play.

BTW what is the text about? Someone has his head hurting? Drank too much or so?

There is another great pianist - Arkady (Arcady) Sevidov. He plays the "Russian Song" in Anti-Tchaikovsky version as well.

https://allforchildren.ru/music/4da12.php


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In my original post I wrote that the "Russian Song" from the "Children's Album" by Tchaikovsky is not attractive neither for performers, nor for listeners. Both of them prefer not to play and not to listen to this boring song.
I brought here a real fact that is well known to the numerous students of my great teacher V. Nielsen (read wiki) that even plain villagers protested against the written by Tchaikovsky version of the song.

I showed in my video the version of lyrics the villagers used to sing and my version of performing this song in accordance with this version and instructions of my teacher who learned from the villagers the folk version of performance of this song.

I brought here my teacher's recording of this song. I brought the recording of a great pianist Arcady Sevidov who performs the Anty-Tchaikovsky version of the song as well.

I did it because I have a huge experience of concert work and I know FOR SURE, that normal people (not brainwashed by music schools), our usual audience likes this versions more than Tchaikovsky's one.

All I got from my local opponents is that I am a very bad person and everyone should play the same boring version ALWAYS rejected by the audience and our students.


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[quote=wouter79][/quote]

I sent you a PM. Kindly.

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Judging from the name of this particular forum there should be pianists. Why does no one want to discuss this problem with the "Russian Song" in a normal for pianists practical way?

I invite my dear colleagues to change their pose of judges, policemen, prosecutors, investigators, etc., and take the position in front of their piano instead.

It would be much more interesting for all the readers of this forum to hear your own recordings of this piece from "Children's Album" and everyone will know immediately if you really know: how to perform this song?


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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
[...]
It would be much more interesting for all the readers of this forum to hear your own recordings of this piece from "Children's Album" and everyone will know immediately if you really know: how to perform this song?

I am not sure just how "much more interesting" multiple recordings by various PW members of this piece would be. This piece, somewhat innocuous compared to the wealth of great Romantic literature available for the piano, is of little consequence, even of little interest as you yourself have pointed out by indicating how few people perform it. If you say that member recordings of this piece prove or disprove that we "really know how to perform this song," you are in fact saying that only if we play it the way you want it played do we know how to perform it.

Since you appear fixed in your position regarding the interpretation of this piece, why should anyone indulge you with their performance?

You have obviously made your point several times; now let's move on.

Regards,


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Originally Posted by BruceD
Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
[...]
It would be much more interesting for all the readers of this forum to hear your own recordings of this piece from "Children's Album" and everyone will know immediately if you really know: how to perform this song?

I am not sure just how "much more interesting" multiple recordings by various PW members of this piece would be. This piece, somewhat innocuous compared to the wealth of great Romantic literature available for the piano, is of little consequence, even of little interest as you yourself have pointed out by indicating how few people perform it. If you say that member recordings of this piece prove or disprove that we "really know how to perform this song," you are in fact saying that only if we play it the way you want it played do we know how to perform it.

Since you appear fixed in your position regarding the interpretation of this piece, why should anyone indulge you with their performance?

You have obviously made your point several times; now let's move on.

Regards,

F.Liszt told that all the conversations about music have no more value than one well-described dinner. In our discussion, I stated my point of view verbally and musically.

You and other opponents protested against my point only verbally. It is ineffective and unnatural for pianists in my opinion. This particular song is so simple that almost everyone can sightread it.

In this case, what is the sense to spend tons of time on scientific or pseudo-scientific researches on the Internet instead of just playing and recording this song? It takes only several minutes and everyone understands immediately: what exactly do you mean?


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@Vladimir - the amount of hyperbole you have brought into your rhetoric is really not helping your cause here.

Quote
Tchaikovsky's Children's Album is one of the most popular works in the world. Every pianist on the planet has probably played at least some pieces from this album.

This is not one of the most popular works in the world. It's not one of the most popular works for piano. I doubt that it's even Tchaikovsky's most popular work for piano, and Tchaikovsky is not even close to being one of the most popular piano composers. This intro casts great doubt on all the superlatives and rhetoric in the rest of your narrative, about which I know a great deal less.

Without diving into the rest of it, I will agree that Vladimir Nielsen's rendition of the Russian Song is much better than Pletnev's. Pletnev is a great pianist, but his recording of the Children's Album seems a bit uninspired. If Pletnev were to shift the barlines or "fix" his emphasis, that would not make his version as good as Nielsen's, which is much less lethargic in other ways — there's a lot more going on here than a difference in emphasis.

But your extreme rhetoric makes me want to argue with you (and I suspect makes others want to do the same). I sense that there's an interesting story behind what you are telling us, but it's lost in all the drama that has been dialled up to operatic proportions around brainwashing, protesting villagers, "disgusting" music, a misunderstanding in one of the most famous piano works of all time, etc., etc.

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This was a very entertaining topic to read, and i enjoyed the story that you presented. however, i do think its a bit exaggerated.

To people familiar with the original lyrics (if such lyrics exists), i guess it might sound unnatural if played the way tchaikovsky notated it.

But to most people, i don't think it makes much of a difference whether you shift the bar line or not. playing it the way Tchaikovsky notated it does not make it a "musical nonsense" as you described it. (Infact, shifting stresses in a piece of music can sometimes be a tool for the composer to add interest. Not emphasizing the meter does not automatically make music incomprehensible).

All in all, it's a nice story that might have some musical truth to it. but in the grand scheme of piano music & literature, it's merely a fun anecdote.

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Originally Posted by NightShade
This was a very entertaining topic to read, and i enjoyed the story that you presented. however, i do think its a bit exaggerated.

To people familiar with the original lyrics (if such lyrics exists), i guess it might sound unnatural if played the way tchaikovsky notated it.

But to most people, i don't think it makes much of a difference whether you shift the bar line or not. playing it the way Tchaikovsky notated it does not make it a "musical nonsense" as you described it. (Infact, shifting stresses in a piece of music can sometimes be a tool for the composer to add interest. Not emphasizing the meter does not automatically make music incomprehensible).

All in all, it's a nice story that might have some musical truth to it. but in the grand scheme of piano music & literature, it's merely a fun anecdote.

In two words: there is a problem with a "Russian Song" from Children's Album by Tchaikovsky. People do not like and avoid it. I (and some other pianists) know the solution that makes this song more attractive. I shared this solution with my colleagues publicly. And received in response an ocean of anger and indignation.


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Originally Posted by Vladimir Dounin
In two words: there is a problem with a "Russian Song" from Children's Album by Tchaikovsky. People do not like and avoid it. I (and some other pianists) know the solution that makes this song more attractive. I shared this solution with my colleagues publicly. And received in response an ocean of anger and indignation.

I think if you had said that, you would have gotten a much more generous response. There still would have been push back and room for skepticism or disagreement, but you would not have faced the "ocean of anger and indignation" that you encountered.

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"In two words: there is a problem with a "Russian Song" from Children's Album by Tchaikovsky. People do not like and avoid it. I (and some other pianists) know the solution that makes this song more attractive. I shared this solution with my colleagues publicly. And received in response an ocean of anger and indignation." Quote



I think if you had said that, you would have gotten a much more generous response. There still would have been push back and room for skepticism or disagreement, but you would not have faced the "ocean of anger and indignation" that you encountered.[/quote]

And what did I say instead of this? Tell me or quote me, please. I just explained to the readers: where is my knowledge from?

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Originally Posted by Jun-Dai
@Vladimir - the amount of hyperbole you have brought into your rhetoric is really not helping your cause here.

Quote
Tchaikovsky's Children's Album is one of the most popular works in the world. Every pianist on the planet has probably played at least some pieces from this album.

This is not one of the most popular works in the world. It's not one of the most popular works for piano. I doubt that it's even Tchaikovsky's most popular work for piano, and Tchaikovsky is not even close to being one of the most popular piano composers. This intro casts great doubt on all the superlatives and rhetoric in the rest of your narrative, about which I know a great deal less.

Without diving into the rest of it, I will agree that Vladimir Nielsen's rendition of the Russian Song is much better than Pletnev's. Pletnev is a great pianist, but his recording of the Children's Album seems a bit uninspired. If Pletnev were to shift the barlines or "fix" his emphasis, that would not make his version as good as Nielsen's, which is much less lethargic in other ways — there's a lot more going on here than a difference in emphasis.

But your extreme rhetoric makes me want to argue with you (and I suspect makes others want to do the same). I sense that there's an interesting story behind what you are telling us, but it's lost in all the drama that has been dialled up to operatic proportions around brainwashing, protesting villagers, "disgusting" music, a misunderstanding in one of the most famous piano works of all time, etc., etc.

I appreciated your undoubtful professionalism, bravery, and honesty, Mr. Jun-Dai. Without these three you definitely could not understand that Pletnev does not play this piece well and then say about this fact aloud publicly.

And I do not mind bringing my apology to you for my statement that Tchaikovsky is one of the most popular piano composers in the world. However, only on one condition. Tell me honestly (like you did it here already): how many pianists do you know, who will not recognize immediately music of the First Piano concerto, Barcarolle, the Neapolitan song by Tchaikovsky? Sorry, I do not believe that such pianists exist at all.

I did not visit each country of the world but I am teaching students practically from all the countries on the planet. Because I am living in a most multicultural city (Toronto, Canada). My numerous and the best by the way students from China do not know sometimes Moonlight Sonata and Turkish Rondo but I never met even one, who does not know Tchaikovsky. My previous job was in South Africa and many of my students and choir members were African African (I am afraid to describe them in other words, otherwise somebody will demand to kiss their boots like it is accepted in the world nowadays). And all these black guys knew Tchaikovsky as well.

If you have a personal problem with playing above mentioned popular tunes for such a test (to ask the pianists around you: if they recognize Piano Concerto No 1 or not?) I can make and send a recording.

Now I noticed that overpraised your honesty.

I quote you: "a misunderstanding in one of the most famous piano works of all time, etc., etc." Do not attribute this bullshit to me. At the very beginning, I stated clearly that this unfortunate song is just an ugly Cinderella among beauties but not "the most famous piano works of all time" as you say.


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I quote you: "a misunderstanding in one of the most famous piano works of all time, etc., etc." Do not attribute this bullshit to me. At the very beginning, I stated clearly that this unfortunate song is just an ugly Cinderella among beauties but not "the most famous piano works of all time" as you say.

I was referring to a misunderstanding in the Children's Album, which you claimed to be "one of the most popular works in the world". Where is the misattribution?

Quote
Tell me honestly (like you did it here already): how many pianists do you know, who will not recognize immediately music of the First Piano concerto, Barcarolle, the Neapolitan song by Tchaikovsky? Sorry, I do not believe that such pianists exist at all.

Unfortunately I don't have regular interactions with pianists much anymore, so this is not such an easy thing to investigate. I can tell you that I had to look up the Barcarolle (I recognise it) and the Neapolitan song (I do not recognise it). The piano concerto I know, but not well.

I can believe that there places in the world where Tchaikovsky's Barcarolle is more well-known than the Moonlight sonata, but I cannot believe there are many of them. I do not recall having ever seen the Barcarolle at a recital (though I probably have), and I have seen the Für Elise, the Moonlight Sonata, the Bach Inventions, the Kinderszenen, some of the Bach preludes, Chopin preludes, Nocturnes, Liebesträume, Songs without Words, etc., more times than I could count.

Tchaikovsky is definitely a popular piano composer — I'm not trying to argue that — though I think The Seasons (incl. the Barcarolle) is the one really popular work that comes up the most and it falls off pretty quickly after that. Such things are not really measurable in a way that would be to everyone's satisfaction, but in terms of popularity, I think he's just not in the same league as Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Mendelssohn, Debussy, Brahms, Liszt, Schubert, and Prokofiev, among others.

I wish there were a way to see a comprehensive list of all the recital programs from performances around the world, but alas that's not really possible as far as I know. I seriously doubt The Children's Album would make it to the top 100, but maybe I would be surprised? I would expect it to be in the top 1000 somewhere. I would not be surprised to see The Seasons in the top 100, but not near the top. But this is an imaginary list, so it's a moot point.

Even if many have, I expect the majority of pianists in the world have never played anything from the Children's Album, and certainly "Every pianist on the planet has probably played at least some pieces from this album." is a massive exaggeration.

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And what did I say instead of this? Tell me or quote me, please. I just explained to the readers: where is my knowledge from?

Ok, here goes:

Instead of "there is a problem with a "Russian Song" from Children's Album by Tchaikovsky. People do not like and avoid it," you said "among these beauties there is one ugly Cinderella that no one wants to play or listen to." (emphasis mine).

Instead of "I (and some other pianists) know the solution that makes this song more attractive," you said "No wonder that the villagers hated this disgusting music so much and could not stand it. It is absolutely normal for everyone who really loves music."

And in addition, you added "anger and mass protest of the villagers", "Tchaikovsky made this vivisection for the sake of a completely false idea", and "I want to urge all pianists, all musicians in the world to stop mocking this absolutely normal, beautiful, lovely folk song and play it the way our listeners used to sing it and to love it."

And that's just in your initial post. In your reactions, you included a lot of other strong, provocative, and extremist language. In your rhetoric, you are characterising everything as extremes, and essentially forcing anyone reading what you've written into a defensive posture (i.e., if they disagree with a piece of it, they'd better be ready for a fight, since you've made it clear how strongly you feel about it).

You've even go so far as to characterise this thread as "an ocean of anger and indignation." How is a dozen posts on an online forum an "ocean" of anything? And how is this mix of skepticism and grumpiness "anger and indignation"? The only anger and indignation I'm sensing in this thread is coming from you, and I really want to understand where that is coming from.

You are not leaving room for much discussion, and by stretching everything to the extremes, you're making it very hard for your original story to survive much of the discussion. It is an interesting story, and I do like the way that Nielsen plays the piece. But if someone prefers the Pletnev (I don't), this means they don't "really love" music and are "mocking" traditional Russian music? That's not a very kind way to look at other people's opinions, and it's what you started with before anyone even responded.

Last edited by Jun-Dai; 07/30/21 08:25 AM.
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I wish there were a way to see a comprehensive list of all the recital programs from performances around the world, but alas that's not really possible as far as I know. I seriously doubt The Children's Album would make it to the top 100, but maybe I would be surprised? I would expect it to be in the top 1000 somewhere. I would not be surprised to see The Seasons in the top 100, but not near the top. But this is an imaginary list, so it's a moot point.

Ok, trying to find some data on this, however incomplete. The children's album (Schirmer) edition ranks #236 in Classical Music (Books), comparing with #220 for Schumann (Album for the Young & Kinderszenen), #78 (Bach 2-part Inventions), #54 (Satie Gymnopedie), #67 (Chopin Etudes), #87 (Liszt Liebesträume and Consolations), loads of Czerny and Hanon, etc. This is obviously very flawed data (limited sample size, not very global, just a snapshot in time, doesn't include when the pieces are part of a compilation, etc.), but it's enough to indicate that they are probably more popular than I thought they were. Obviously there's some level of subjectivity in any statement like "one of the most popular" in terms of where one draws that line, but if you're thinking "top 100", then maybe it squeaks in?

It does look like someone did try to compile a list of repertoire from piano recitals: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30044125

Quote
This article addresses such questions by analysing a small sample of the nearly 15,000 recital repertoires compiled by George Kehler in his book The piano in concert, published in 1982. For each entry Kehler records the name of the performer, the date and venue, and the repertoire played. Entries are arranged under the names of the pianists in alphabetical order, and for each pianist in chronological order of the recitals. They are sequentially numbered from 1 to 14,708, though there are in fact slightly more than that number since in a few cases a series of two or more recitals (such as a Beethoven sonata cycle) has been grouped together under one entry number.

That book sounds amazing! :-) but I see no easy way to get ahold of it.

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Originally Posted by Jun-Dai
Quote
I wish there were a way to see a comprehensive list of all the recital programs from performances around the world, but alas that's not really possible as far as I know. I seriously doubt The Children's Album would make it to the top 100, but maybe I would be surprised? I would expect it to be in the top 1000 somewhere. I would not be surprised to see The Seasons in the top 100, but not near the top. But this is an imaginary list, so it's a moot point.

Ok, trying to find some data on this, however incomplete. The children's album (Schirmer) edition ranks #236 in Classical Music (Books), comparing with #220 for Schumann (Album for the Young & Kinderszenen), #78 (Bach 2-part Inventions), #54 (Satie Gymnopedie), #67 (Chopin Etudes), #87 (Liszt Liebesträume and Consolations), loads of Czerny and Hanon, etc. This is obviously very flawed data (limited sample size, not very global, just a snapshot in time, doesn't include when the pieces are part of a compilation, etc.), but it's enough to indicate that they are probably more popular than I thought they were. Obviously there's some level of subjectivity in any statement like "one of the most popular" in terms of where one draws that line, but if you're thinking "top 100", then maybe it squeaks in?

It does look like someone did try to compile a list of repertoire from piano recitals: https://www.jstor.org/stable/30044125

Quote
This article addresses such questions by analysing a small sample of the nearly 15,000 recital repertoires compiled by George Kehler in his book The piano in concert, published in 1982. For each entry Kehler records the name of the performer, the date and venue, and the repertoire played. Entries are arranged under the names of the pianists in alphabetical order, and for each pianist in chronological order of the recitals. They are sequentially numbered from 1 to 14,708, though there are in fact slightly more than that number since in a few cases a series of two or more recitals (such as a Beethoven sonata cycle) has been grouped together under one entry number.

That book sounds amazing! :-) but I see no easy way to get ahold of it.


Congratulations! You did a great job on the Internet, Mr. Jun-Dai. I am glad that you agreed to slightly promote Tchaikovsky in your popularity scale.

My ideas about popularity come from my personal experience: how many times my concert's audience requested this composer? And I must say that I NEVER received a single request for Prokofiev, Gymnopedie, Czerny and Hanon. Chopin, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Tchaikovsky were obviously more popular than the above mentioned.

However, you gave me an excellent idea to make here, on this site a concert consisting of requests. I hope that it would be a fun and accurate statistics at the same time. Thanks!

Last edited by Vladimir Dounin; 07/30/21 03:02 PM.

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I highly doubt there are people who request Tchaikovsky from a solo pianist except maybe for the June (Barcarolle).

If they want to hear some Nutcracker and Swan’s Lake that’s another story but not quite the same thing.

But I’m feeding the troll. Apologies to the other members.


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Originally Posted by CyberGene
I highly doubt there are people who request Tchaikovsky from a solo pianist except maybe for the June (Barcarolle).

If they want to hear some Nutcracker and Swan’s Lake that’s another story but not quite the same thing.

But I’m feeding the troll. Apologies to the other members.

There is no sense to argue about value of the Russian piano music verbally. It is obvious that you can not love it because you do not know it. I will try to record Russian piano pieces as soon as possible and make them available for you.

At the moment I started this project on Russian site "proza.ru". It is called "Concert consisting of your requests"

https://proza.ru/2021/07/31/1292


It is good to start a good deed with prayer. Therefore, I am pleased to start with the request "to perform" Ave Maria ".

I did not know which "Ave Maria" my listener had in mind (there were about fifty of them composed). Therefore, I recorded two pieces that are known to everyone: Bach - Gounod and Schubert.

http://vk.com/videos487582480?z=video487582480_456239033%2Fpl_487582480_-2

http://vk.com/videos487582480?z=video487582480_456239034

I hope someone will want to play these wonderful pieces themselves. You can see that they are extremely easy to perform.

You just need to know which note is louder and which is quieter. And you can find out it from my book "The Laws of Beauty in Music Unknown to Music Schools" posted here and on "proza.ru".

Good luck to all of us!


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