February 2012 MTNA e-Journal

New Music And The American Pianist
By Kristin Elgersma, NCTM, with Madison McCarney
As the first step of a larger project to collect, examine and categorize post-1970 solo American piano repertoire, a research survey of United States university piano faculty members was conducted. This online survey was e-mailed to 452 piano faculty members at 217 U.S. colleges and universities. One hundred thirty professors completed the survey, for a response rate of 29 percent. Unsurprisingly, most faculty members reported that their students do not study a great amount of 20th or 21st century music, with a quarter of all American piano students playing absolutely no music written after 1970. In general, teachers with more experience (full professors) assign more contemporary repertoire. The respondents expressed a strong desire to learn more about this music, but expressed reservations about having enough time in the traditional course of study to cover the full range of the piano repertoire. Examination of the results offers insight into how pianists engage with the contemporary American piano repertoire, and brings to light further questions about and attitudes toward this music. [Read More]


Chopin’s Pianism And The Reconstruction Of The Ineffable
By Jonathan Bellman
More than 160 years after his death, the music of Frédéric Chopin still occupies a uniquely privileged place among pianists and listeners. Numerous recordings of his music, from the early days of recording to the present, chronicle the evolving varieties of Chopin interpretation. Relatively few realize, though, that modern approaches to Chopin’s music are quite different from his own style, about which his students and contemporaries had a good deal to say. The thundering, dramatic Chopin of our large concert halls would have been entirely foreign to him; intimate performance circumstances, subtleties of rubato (several different kinds), articulation, dynamics, pedaling, and even interpretive ornamentation all contributed to a pianism that was agreed to be both inimitable yet essential to his music. An informed and creative approach to Chopin interpretation, coupled with a healthy skepticism for “the way Chopin is played,” produces strikingly fresh and vivid readings of his music. [Read More]