Monday, June 24, 2013
Interpretation is very important in music. It's not enough to learn the notes only to sound good, you need to interpret the piece. Often great pianists have such unique interpretations that the same piece will sound different in each one's hands. Sensible interpretation, combined with a mastery of technique, is a goal that many pianists strive for, with very few ever reaching it at some point during their careers.
Fortunately, interpretative playing is a skill that is acquired with practice. It's certainly a good start if you have a natural talent for music, but it's not necessary. As you play pieces from different eras (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century), you'll acquire the taste of each of them. Pieces composed in the same period usually have so much in common in regard to structure and form. When interpreting, it's very important to remain within the boundaries of theses features, so as not to damage the quality of the music you're playing. For example, in Classical pieces, it is not wise to use rubato (the style of slowing down and speeding up tempo freely) when playing them. Of course there are always the exceptions, but usually Classical composers composed in strict tempos, i.e. one tempo throughout the whole piece or movement. However when playing from the Romantic repertoire, one must extensively use rubato in order to make sense of the pieces, and not sound like a robot. It's called "The Romantic Era" because much of the music composed at that time from different composers invokes emotion into the player/listener, not just plain musical lines like in previous eras.
When working on a famous piece, it's best to do a little research about it because it's highly likely that it was composed for a reason. Beethoven's Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata were composed out of love, but love has two sides, a bright cheerful one when you're with the one you love, and a dark sinister one when you simply cannot be with them. In Fur Elise he was apparently wooing his loved one (a student of his), but in the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata, it seems he was heartbroken and devastated. If you had similar experiences in your life, you can channel them into the music. Try to bring those painful/cheerful memories to life when playing a piece of corresponding emotion. Utilize your life experiences in music. Usually the great musicians didn't have a steady and easy life. In fact, most of the successful musicians lead bumpy lives with lots of ups and downs. They channel their personal lives into the music to create magical masterpieces. Great music comes from great lives, and great lives come from great experiences and lessons.