Seymour Bernstein on Piano Technique and Interpreting Beethoven

Video: tonebase Piano

In this conversation, a student engages with Seymour Bernstein, a renowned pianist and teacher, discussing various technicalities and nuances of piano playing, particularly focusing on Beethoven’s compositions.

  1. The conversation starts with a discussion about the use of the pedal for achieving legato and the balance between a dry and legato sound.
  2. The talk evolves into a deeper dive into Beethoven’s notations, particularly portato, and how to interpret and play them with the pedal.
  3. Bernstein uses the metaphor of an orchestra to emphasize the importance of character distinction in playing various musical lines.
  4. The student expresses concerns about possibly obscuring certain notes too much for Beethoven’s style, valuing clarity but acknowledging Bernstein’s instruction.
  5. The discussion returns to pedaling nuances, seeking a balance between dryness, legato, and clarity.
  6. Bernstein brings up his last recital, discussing the importance and personal impact of Beethoven’s Opus 126 bagatelles on him.
  7. The student shares the influence of Bernstein’s feedback on their playing.
  8. A significant portion focuses on the challenges and techniques of playing softly on the piano, emphasizing the importance of firmness and controlled key descent.
  9. The lesson concludes with a practical demonstration, using a pencil as a teaching tool for soft playing, underscoring the need for a consistent touch.

Throughout the conversation, there’s a clear emphasis on deep interpretation, personal connection to the music, and the melding of technique and artistry.

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