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The Performing Pianist’s Guide to Fingering

PDF The Performing Pianist’s Guide to Fingering First printing 2021

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Book author
  1. Joseph Banowetz
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The Performing Pianist's Guide to Fingering, the much-anticipated companion to Joseph Banowetz's The Pianist's Guide to Pedaling, provides practical fingering solutions for technical musical passages. Banowetz contends that fingering choices require much thought and consideration and that too often these choices are influenced by historical traditions and ideas rather than by actual performance conditions. By returning to the unedited original compositions, he strives to help the advanced pianist think through the composer's musical intent and the actual performance tempo and dynamics when selecting the fingering. Banowetz also includes valuable contributions by Philip Fowke, who examines redistributions by Benno Moiseiwitsch in Rachmaninoff's compositions, and Nancy Lee Harper, who explores the often very different approaches to fingering found in keyboard music of the Baroque era.

The Performing Pianist's Guide to Fingering will be useful to the advanced pianist and to instructors looking to guide students in improving this important art.



Preface

General Approaches to Fingering

Choosing the most useful fingering, especially in advanced concert litera- ture, can be a daunting task for even the most accomplished pianist. The choice of fingering can be controversial and challenging based on a wide range of fac- tors, including the period of instruments for which the work was written; dif- ferences in each performer’s technical approach; physiological differences such as sizes of hands and general physiques; performance approaches used by per- formers trained in the nineteenth century; and, above all, contrasting awareness and opinions regarding the musical message intended by the composer.

The Performing Pianist’s Guide to Fingering is intended to provide much- needed guidance in fingering for the advanced artist/performer. Examples that are used are from original, unedited urtext sources. Hopefully these will stimu- late the performer in their playing of each example and will also suggest similar approaches for a wide range of performance literature. This text is not intended for the average student or moderately trained teacher.

Many books contain general reference guides for fingerings, especially in areas where there is broad agreement on traditional approaches used by students and moderately advanced performers. These can be valuable. But too often in more demanding repertory not enough actual performance ability or imagination is reflected in the fingering possibilities. This is especially the case when an edi- tion is made by an accomplished scholar who adds fingerings after constructing a careful edition based on original sources, but unfortunately who is not an ac- complished performer. Even when an edition includes added fingerings by a fa- mous performer, the fingering may not be satisfactory for everyone’s hands and technical approach. Without doubt all fingerings should be examined. But the performer must always be aware that there is often more than one possibility for choosing a fingering that will function best under the pressure of a performance.

Above all, the advanced performer must explore all aspects of fingering and not simply rely on a given teacher or printed edition. Creativity and originality are characteristics of fingering that are of great importance for any serious per- former. Hopefully the present text will help to stimulate these highly meaningful aspects of piano performance!

Redistributions have been a sensitive topic for many pianists, who unfortu- nately are frequently bound by the layout of the printed score. Too often this limits pianistic capability and artistic possibilities. For this reason, a highly de
tailed discussion of redistributions has been presented. As well, performers fre- quently are bound by fingering approaches that do not take into account such factors as utilization of technical patterns, positioning of hands before jumps, use of block fingerings, alternate scale fingerings, octaves, and fingerings for melodic emphasis and special effects, to name but a few.

Each fingering concept is explained in detail so that the principle guiding a particular choice of fingering in a passage can be applied to other pieces. In none of the present discussions are fingerings displayed that have no application in other repertory. But it is critical to remember that at times multiple choices for advanced fingerings will be possible. These must be explored at the piano by the performer, to make absolutely certain that a fingering choice is the right one for use. Some multiple fingering possibilities have often been given in the present text.

Some fingering references are discussed that are from other editors, many of whom were famous pianists. Unfortunately, too many of today’s performers ig- nore editions made by editors such as Bülow, Busoni, Cortot, Godowsky, Mikuli, Moszkowski, Sauer, Schnabel, and many others. Even when you may not com- pletely agree with them, their ideas can be fascinating and stimulating. Finger- ings by these editors often give an insight not only into a given composer’s style but also furnish glimpses of their own performance approaches. Some of these editors’ works are discussed in the present text.

A detailed bibliography is included. Yet to single out various texts becomes a definite problem, because in many cases there is a significant amount of repe- tition of basic fingering principles. But texts by famous past figures such as Ru- dolph Ganz, Tobias Matthay, Heinrich Neuhaus, William S. Newman, and Wal- ter Robert, to name but a few, should be mandatory sources for any serious performer.

Of great interest is the appendix by the internationally renowned British pianist and pedagogue Philip Fowke. Through relatives of the legendary pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch (1890–1963), Fowke had access to Moiseiwitsch’s personal music library, which includes fascinating fingerings and redistributions made in the score of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. These are examined in Fowke’s section on Moiseiwitsch, and make a strong argument for using redistributions, especially since Moiseiwitsch was a close personal friend of Rachmaninoff’s. In addition to Moiseiwitsch’s numerous commercial disc recordings, there are vid- eos available on the internet of him performing music by Chopin, Liszt, Medt- ner, Mendelssohn transcribed by Rachmaninoff, original Rachmaninoff works, Schumann, and Wagner transcribed by Liszt.

Description in Russian

Руководство для пианиста по игре на пальцах, долгожданное дополнение к книге Джозефа Бановца «Руководство пианиста по педалированию», предлагает практические решения для аппликатуры технических музыкальных пассажей. Бановец утверждает, что выбор аппликатуры требует тщательного обдумывания и рассмотрения, и что слишком часто на этот выбор влияют исторические традиции и идеи, а не фактические условия исполнения. Возвращаясь к неотредактированным оригинальным композициям, он стремится помочь продвинутому пианисту продумать музыкальный замысел композитора, а также фактический темп и динамику исполнения при выборе аппликатуры. Бановец также включает ценный вклад Филипа Фоука, который исследует перераспределение Бенно Моисейвича в композициях Рахманинова, и Нэнси Ли Харпер, которая исследует зачастую очень разные подходы к аппликатуре, характерные для клавишной музыки эпохи барокко.
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