Chopin, Frederic Chopin, Irina Morozova, piano, piano instruction, The Special Music School

Music and Words Revisited in Chopin’s compositions

In a lifetime, a few flashing moments of inspiration may guide our musical journey, deepening our understanding of a composer and his music.

In this nostalgic universe of enlightenment, I treasure a precious parcel of wisdom imparted by gifted pianist/teacher Irina Morozova at the Special Music School in Manhattan, 2014. In a private sitting with an icon in the world of mellifluous phrasing and heaven-on-earth renderings, I absorbed her convincing, poetic alliance of words and music in the Chopin literature. The initial introduction that encompassed the Rondo No.2, Op. 16, was a desired segue way to a phrase-centered discussion of the composer’s ethereal Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9, No.2.

At this juncture in the Fall, 2014, I’d been studying the “nocturnal” composition, having struggled with various phrase marks, that if literally obeyed, would seem to impede a long musical line, with sub-gestured lifts of the hand.

Morozova’s ideas and demonstrations that were pertinent to my introspective process, became embedded in my consciousness, growing over time in a memory bank, to be drawn upon in a re-learning sequence of Chopin Nocturnes, Mazurkas, and Preludes.

Knowing the challenges my adult students face in their individualized creative journeys through Romantic era piano literature, I thought a timely revisit of the pianist’s treasured epiphanies in the attached video would be a valuable source of learning and inspiration.

NOTE: Morozova’s understanding of words and the breath in alliance with tasteful rubato, requires supple wrists relaxed arms, and a natural application of weight transfer.

irina-morozova-crop

A sample of Irina Morozova’s Chopin-rendered musical poetry.(The composer was wedded to the opera in his embrace of Bellini)

Chopin Mazurka, Op. 63, No.3

***

My own growth spurts in interpreting Chopin have been nursed along by my long-time, East Coast friend whose playing and mentoring are powerful influences upon the greater community of students and teachers.

Chopin Mazurka in G minor, Op. 67, No. 2

Chopin Nocturne in Eb Major, Op. 9, No. 2

LINK:

http://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/lms/faculty/irina-morozova/

Grigory Sokolov, Irina Morozova, Livia Rev, Murray Perahia, piano, piano methods, piano teaching

Does any one piano method or playing approach work?

Most piano teachers get inquiries from parents who are riveted to “methods.” The most frequently posed question is, “can you tell me how you teach?”

Under duress and painted into a corner, a prospective mentor’s perfect, all-encompassing answer seems unattainable. And upon closer consideration, a boundary limited approach for every student who crosses the threshold or logs in by Skype is virtually impossible.

In the larger sense, I respond with the “singing tone” as my point of departure…interspersing my music vocabulary with “relaxation, fluidity, fluency, the joy of learning, exploring, experimenting.” While I can’t attach myself to a specific method, I can say that I don’t teach Taubman, or represent a pure Russian School approach if it exists. Yet considering all the powerful musical influences in my life including Lillian Lefkofsky Freundlich, Ena Bronstein, Eugene Lehner (my chamber music coach); Murray Perahia, my classmate, cruising through the High School of Peforming Arts, and in the past few years, the artistry of Irina Morozova and Grigory Sokolov, their overall contributions synthesized in some way to make my teaching and learning process a never-ending repository of revelation, reflection, and refinement.

Therefore, when I hear about rigid do’s and don’ts encapsulated in a fixed teaching METHOD that’s disseminated for mass consumption, I have my doubts.

Surely in the pedagogical realm, students need guidance about what causes tension, strain, rigidity in their approach to the keyboard, and how the breath can affect phrasing, nuance, swells, resolutions. And the context of a composition, its historical period, structure, theoretical dimension are all part of the creative learning process. But when various choreographies are considered, the music itself is the best guide.

As a perfect example, Livia Rev, a Hungarian pianist, residing in France, performs here in 2010 at age 94. Notice how each Czerny etude with its particular musical landscape is well realized by the pianist through her diverse physical motions that include supple wrist dips (“breaks”) that are frowned upon by strict Taubman method followers. (According to Taubman tenets, these motions are supposed to cause injuries such as carpal tunnel) Yet far as I know, Rev has not been afflicted.

If Livia Rev inhibited her organic response to Czerny’s music, we would be denied the gift of her artistry.

In a touching flashback at age 43 (in 1959) Lev serenades a group of enraptured children with two of Schumann’s Album for the Young pieces. These are charmingly played with impeccable phrasing and nuance.

***

Various great pianists have different styles and physical approaches to the piano. Sokolov and Perahia are both poetic players with postural and playing contrasts.

Perahia’s motions are somewhat more economical than Sokolov’s.

In the teaching universe, Perahia’s masterclasses are structurally and theoretically charged in his musical cosmos with little in the way of technical guidance, whereas other artists fuse the technical dimension of playing with matters of phrasing and dynamics.

Snatch of a Perahia Masterclass

Finally, as piano methods abound, one must be circumspect about any approach that is now and forever a perfectly spelled out route to so-called piano mastery. Strike that last word since no one arrives at the golden juncture of perfection simply because there’s always room for growth and development.

***

LIVIA REV (WIKI)
Lívia Rév
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Lívia Rév (born July 5, 1916) is a classical concert pianist.

Rév was born in Budapest, Hungary. She started her studies with Margit Varro and Klara Mathe. Aged nine, she won the Grand Prix des Enfants Prodiges. Aged twelve she performed with an orchestra. She studied with Leo Weiner and Arnold Székely at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, with Professor Robert Teichmüller at the Leipzig Conservatory, and with Paul Weingarten at the Vienna Conservatory, having left Hungary in 1946.

Rév lives in Paris, with her husband Benjamin Dunn.

She has won the Ferenc Liszt International Record Grand Prix.

Rév has performed across Europe, in Asia, Africa, and in the United States. She has been the soloist with conductors such as Sir Adrian Boult, André Cluytens, Jascha Horenstein, Eugen Jochum, Josef Krips, Rafael Kubelík, Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt, Constantin Silvestri, and Walter Susskind.

Her first US appearance was in 1963 at the invitation of the Rockefeller Institute.

She is well known for her light touch and clarity. Her recordings vary from complete Debussy Préludes, Chopin Nocturnes, and Mendelssohn Songs without Words.

Irina Morozova, Oberlin Conservatory, piano pedagogy, piano playing, piano teaching, piano technique

Piano Technique: No Pain, Much Gain

Sometimes we learn a floating, flowing path to beauty through the unfortunate school of HARD knocks. To this effect, I recall my esteemed Oberlin Conservatory piano teacher dealing in mindless, stressful repetitions of meaningless exercises that caused joint pain and unremarkable displays of flat-lined, tightly squeezed playing. His teaching, to an extreme level of adherence to workhorse regimens (Pischna, et al) caused me to reel into a pleasure zone that my New York City piano teacher had kept as a safe haven after graduation day. I returned to her fold just in the nick of time.

With my Performance-Piano degree in hand, I was reunited with the singing tone and its physical/musical dimension, unencumbered by methodical routines that could extinguish the very basis of my love for the piano as an expressive instrument.

In retrospect, through decades of my own teaching, I observe students having to surrender the false security of grabbing, squeezing, and attacking the keys in their week-to-week practicing. It’s almost taught as a cultural norm to work so hard as to sweat–to extract pain to attain proficiency in nearly every endeavor, whether it be sports, music, or taking exams in any number of fields.

One is conditioned to meet a challenge head on, taking the bull by the horns with aggressive advances toward an imagined VICTORY of great magnitude.

But most of us have learned through a process of ELIMINATION, that pianistic fluency, by analogy, is not a strength enduring pursuit with an expected grit your teeth stoic approach. But rather the execution (oops) of scales, arpeggios, chords, Etudes, Nocturnes, Sonatas… and the rest should be natural outpourings with an aesthetic balance of physical and emotional forces—meaning, that the journey to beautiful playing should be paved with artful motions, feelings, fluid approaches, and imbued imagination.

Modeling a B minor scale as a stage by stage learning experience, we can extract a natural sequence to mastery without the preconceived EFFORT that is bundled with negative reinforcements. Instead, practicing should have a path of least resistance.

A few of my adult students are immersed in B minor, so I prepared a short video to steer them into more relaxed, non-confrontational directions. By focusing on floating, flowing images, we collectively refresh a harmonious musical journey.

And by example, this extraordinary pianist’s artistry is the ultimate in what sounds effortless and ethereal.

Classical music blog, Irina Morozova, Mannes College the New School for Music, piano blog, piano recital

Pianist, Irina Morozova in Concert at New York’s Mannes College

Irina Morozova concert release

Each year, when compiling my favorite You Tube beamed performances, I invariably dote upon the artistry of Irina Morozova. Her playing is simply heavenly, resonating with a heart-melting singing tone that weaves through undulating, well-sculpted phrases.

It took only a smattering of HD transported Chopin offerings to catapult me to Subscriber status and then virtual Facebook Friendship. Naturally, such boundless cyber ties were transcended in my cross-country journey to Morozova’s teaching sanctuary in the heart of Lincoln Center. (The Special School/Kaufman Center proved to be a rich repository of budding musical talent)

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/manhattans-special-music-schoolkaufman-center-has-a-wealth-of-gifted-students-and-teachers/

As a privileged bystander, riveted to my camcorder and iPhone capturing inspired pedagogical interplays that would reach the blogosphere, I especially treasured Irina’s generous offer to share her thoughts about Chopin’s heart-throbbing Nocturne in Eb in poetic framing.

Such inspired outpourings have an immediate hypnotic effect and provide a teasing opener to what will prove to be an amazing display of music-making on February 23rd, 8 p.m. at Mannes College the New School for Music, where Irina is a faculty member.

So please don’t miss this event!

***

BIO: Irina Morozova

Piano; B.M. with Honors, Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music; M.M., Manhattan School of Music; piano studies with Vladimir Shakin, Galina Orlovskaya, Arkady Aronov; performances include Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, New American Chamber orchestra; participated in Film America’s “Music in the 20th Century” series; awards include Frinna Awerbuch, San Antonio International Piano Competitions; teaches, performs at International Keyboard Institute and Festival in NY; faculty, Mannes College of Music, Manhattan school of Music, Special Music School.

“Irina Morozova made her New York debut with a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1996 after winning Artists International Auditions. Critics raved, “Morozova possesses an astonishing beauty of sound and power of ideas…she is the sort of pianist who can turn a simple phrase into magic….”

“Born to a musical family, Irina Morozova began her musical studies at the Leningrad Special Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with honors from the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music where her major teacher was Galina Orlovskaya. Studying with Vladimir Shakin at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, she performed in the concert halls of Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and many other cities in the former Soviet Union. She also toured former East Germany and appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the famed Schauspielhaus.

(A list of performance credits is too long to tabulate, though they encompass a variety of international venues.)

“Ms. Morozova received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Dr. Arkady Aronov. Since 1997 she has been on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and the Special Music School at Kaufman Center.”

***
My catalog of interviews, etc. with Irina Morozova that explores her wide range of musical activities: performing, teaching and recording

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/ethereal-piano-playing-another-irina-with-an-i-in-the-middle-brings-heaven-to-earth/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/irina-morozova-pianist-shines-playing-gershwin-virtuoso-transcriptions-on-cd/

http://www.amazon.com/Irina-Morozova-Plays-Gershwin-Concerto/dp/B001FOC3HS/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326918501&sr=8-1-fkmr1

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/irina-morozova-pianist-waxes-poetic-about-phrasing-chopins-music-in-words/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-right-chemistry-between-piano-teacher-and-student/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/a-six-year-old-child-is-awakened-to-the-singing-tone-and-how-to-produce-it/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/?s=teaching+piano+with+artistry

classissima.com, Irina Morozova, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano blog, piano blogging, playing scales, Special Music School Kaufman Center

Teaching piano technique with artistry at the Special Music School/Kaufman Center

Master teacher, Irina Morozova infuses her piano lessons with an expressive music-making approach that applies to technique and repertoire.

Scales, arpeggios, chords, Czerny etudes, etc. are not compartmentalized as pedantic exercises bundled in torturous repetitions. To the contrary, they’re the substance of a musical craft that she honors with specific, singing-tone framed demonstrations of kinetic fluency and phrase-shaping.

In the following lesson excerpts, Irina mentors Olivier, a gifted 12-year old, during the scale and arpeggio segment of his lesson. To cap the second video, a snatch from a lively Czerny Etude is offered. (Op. 822, No. 9)

As Irina aptly says, “It’s so much fun!”

***

A minor Scales

A minor Chords, Arpeggios, Czerny Study

LINKS:

http://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/sms

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/manhattans-special-music-schoolkaufman-center-has-a-wealth-of-gifted-students-and-teachers/ (Lesson segments with 6th grader, Daniel Mori–Clementi Sonata in F# minor; Liszt Leggierezza)

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/a-six-year-old-child-is-awakened-to-the-singing-tone-and-how-to-produce-it/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/irina-morozova-pianist-waxes-poetic-about-phrasing-chopins-music-in-words/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-right-chemistry-between-piano-teacher-and-student/

During the interview below, Irina Morozova discussed her approach to teaching Daniel from the very beginning of his studies. (included is a 2012 sample of her student’s artistry)

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

BIO: Irina Morozova

Piano; B.M. with Honors, Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music; M.M., Manhattan School of Music; piano studies with Vladimir Shakin, Galina Orlovskaya, Arkady Aronov; performances include Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, New American Chamber orchestra; participated in Film America’s “Music in the 20th Century” series; awards include Frinna Awerbuch, San Antonio International Piano Competitions; teaches, performs at International Keyboard Institute and Festival in NY; faculty, Mannes College of Music, Manhattan school of Music, Special Music School.

“Irina Morozova made her New York debut with a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1996 after winning Artists International Auditions. Critics raved, “Morozova possesses an astonishing beauty of sound and power of ideas…she is the sort of pianist who can turn a simple phrase into magic….”

“Born to a musical family, Irina Morozova began her musical studies at the Leningrad Special Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with honors from the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music where her major teacher was Galina Orlovskaya. Studying with Vladimir Shakin at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, she performed in the concert halls of Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and many other cities in the former Soviet Union. She also toured former East Germany and appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the famed Schauspielhaus.

(A list of performance credits is too long to tabulate, though they encompass a variety of international venues.)

“Ms. Morozova received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Dr. Arkady Aronov. Since 1997 she has been on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and the Special Music School at Kaufman Center.”

classissima.com, early music education, Irina Morozova, music education, piano blog, piano instruction, piano lessons, piano pedagogy, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, teaching piano to young children, The Special Music School/Kaufman Center

A six-year old child is awakened to the singing tone and how to produce it

The earliest exposure to the piano in the primary lesson learning environment comes with an opportunity to teach the singing tone– to sensitize young ears to the instrument’s capacity to resonate with beauty. It’s not just an ear-training experience. The exploration of physical/musical expression, with imagination intertwined, can fill a very young child’s lesson with the most essential ingredients of learning. These lay the groundwork for further growth and development over time.

Irina Morozova, an inspiring pianist and teacher, invited me into her elementary learning sanctuary at the Special Music School/Kaufman Center. It was on a balmy autumn Monday afternoon that I propped my tripod in a crowded corner of a room with two grand pianos; a small child perched at the Steinway; her dad watching, and a camcorder in automatic recording mode.

In the morning I had observed advanced instruction with Olivier and Daniel. The latter, a sixth-grader, had been mentored by Irina since Kindergarten so I was about to understand how a student could progress from musical infancy to a level of conspicuous maturation under the wings of a great teacher.

In summary, a rich musical journey taken in baby steps becomes meaningful when all the senses are tapped into, and imagination infused. Even the very youngest piano student can absorb what it means to “sing” through the piano, and how to enlist graceful, supple wrist fluid motions to create beauty and experience sensory fulfillment.

Thanks to Irina Morozova and Hana’s parents for permitting this glimpse at a lovely work in progress.

Links:


https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/manhattans-special-music-schoolkaufman-center-has-a-wealth-of-gifted-students-and-teachers/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/irina-morozova-pianist-waxes-poetic-about-phrasing-chopins-music-in-words/

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-right-chemistry-between-piano-teacher-and-student/

During the interview below, Irina Morozova discussed her approach to teaching Daniel from the very beginning of his studies. (included is a 2012 sample of her student’s artistry)

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

BIO: Irina Morozova

Piano; B.M. with Honors, Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music; M.M., Manhattan School of Music; piano studies with Vladimir Shakin, Galina Orlovskaya, Arkady Aronov; performances include Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, New American Chamber orchestra; participated in Film America’s “Music in the 20th Century” series; awards include Frinna Awerbuch, San Antonio International Piano Competitions; teaches, performs at International Keyboard Institute and Festival in NY; faculty, Mannes College of Music, Manhattan school of Music, Special Music School.

“Irina Morozova made her New York debut with a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1996 after winning Artists International Auditions. Critics raved, “Morozova possesses an astonishing beauty of sound and power of ideas…she is the sort of pianist who can turn a simple phrase into magic….”

“Born to a musical family, Irina Morozova began her musical studies at the Leningrad Special Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with honors from the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music where her major teacher was Galina Orlovskaya. Studying with Vladimir Shakin at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, she performed in the concert halls of Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and many other cities in the former Soviet Union. She also toured former East Germany and appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the famed Schauspielhaus.

(A list of performance credits is too long to tabulate, though they encompass a variety of international venues.)

“Ms. Morozova received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Dr. Arkady Aronov. Since 1997 she has been on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and the Special Music School at Kaufman Center.”

Daniel Mori, Irina Morozova, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano blog, piano blogging, piano teacher, The Special Music School of Kaufman Center

Manhattan’s Special Music School/Kaufman Center has a wealth of gifted students and teachers

The Special Music School-Kaufman Center

The original vision of Vladimir Feltsman, the Special Music School, with its serious commitment to musical development, is a K-8 public school with a private endowment. Located in the hub of Lincoln Center on W. 67th, its easy access to the great concert halls of the world, and the Juilliard School make it a draw for students in all five boroughs. For 15 openings, there may be 500 applications.

front desk The Special Music School

More About the School

“Special Music School, P. S. 859, is the first and only public elementary school in the United States that combines a full academic program with performance-oriented music training within the regular school day starting in Kindergarten. The music program includes private instrumental lessons and classes in music theory, history and chorus. The academic program emphasizes an integrated learning approach that develops problem-solving skills through hands-on cooperative learning experiences. The dedicated staff and faculty are committed to helping each child realize his/her full potential musically, academically, and socially.

“The Special Music School is a public/private partnership between the New York City Department of Education and Kaufman Music Center. As a public school, Special Music School is tuition-free. The Department of Education, through tax levy funds, provides the academic program and materials, while Kaufman Music Center, through its annual fund-raising efforts, provides each student with a full, merit-based music scholarship. The School is located in Kaufman Music Center’s facility at 129 West 67th Street, west of Broadway.”

In 2013, a “new” high school was added in a separate building in the Martin Luther King Educational Complex a few blocks from Kaufman. “… Dedicated to providing talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional along with a rigorous curriculum,” this secondary educational tier promotes “the development of the student as a musician for the 21st century.”

Performanc Class The Special Music School

I was fortunate to observe three piano students in the elementary grades taught by Irina Morozova, a towering pianist and teacher in the great Russian tradition.

The first of her brood, Daniel Mori, began his lessons in Kindergarten and has musically flourished under his able teacher’s wings into sixth grade. With awards and competition-related honors amassing, the youngster approaches the piano as a singing instrument with an embedded technical fluency grown assiduously by Maestra Morozova.

In these recorded lessons-in-progress, Daniel works on the Clementi Sonata in F# minor, Op. 25, No. 5, and Liszt’s Leggierezza.

The Special Music School Website:

http://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/sms

Links to blogs about Daniel and his progress:

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/the-right-chemistry-between-piano-teacher-and-student/

During the interview below, Irina Morozova discussed her approach to teaching Daniel from the very beginning of his studies. (included is a 2012 sample of her student’s artistry)

https://arioso7.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/pianist-irina-morozova-blends-a-satisfying-career-of-teaching-and-performing-videos/

Irina Morozova BIO:

Piano; B.M. with Honors, Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music; M.M., Manhattan School of Music; piano studies with Vladimir Shakin, Galina Orlovskaya, Arkady Aronov; performances include Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, New American Chamber orchestra; participated in Film America’s “Music in the 20th Century” series; awards include Frinna Awerbuch, San Antonio International Piano Competitions; teaches, performs at International Keyboard Institute and Festival in NY; faculty, Mannes College of Music, Manhattan school of Music, Special Music School.

“Irina Morozova made her New York debut with a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1996 after winning Artists International Auditions. Critics raved, “Morozova possesses an astonishing beauty of sound and power of ideas…she is the sort of pianist who can turn a simple phrase into magic….”

“Born to a musical family, Irina Morozova began her musical studies at the Leningrad Special Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with honors from the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music where her major teacher was Galina Orlovskaya. Studying with Vladimir Shakin at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, she performed in the concert halls of Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and many other cities in the former Soviet Union. She also toured former East Germany and appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the famed Schauspielhaus.

(A list of performance credits is too long to tabulate, though they encompass a variety of international venues.)

“Ms. Morozova received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Dr. Arkady Aronov. Since 1997 she has been on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and the Special Music School at Kaufman Center.”