Books on piano technique and interpretation?

Questions and discussion on technical, teaching and performance matters
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Books on piano technique and interpretation?

Post by agitated_mongoose »

Do there exist any books on piano technique that are worthwhile reading? Books on interpretation and other pianistic problems are also welcome.

I've read a few things from the Golandsky institute that were not really helpful, as well as a book by Tobias Matthay. I'm coming around to the conclusion that it's impossible to write about technique in a useful way (beyond platitudes about relaxation, etc.) and that getting in-person lessons with a good teacher is the only way to progress here.

(Actually, there are some helpful YouTube channels, but also a lot of low-quality content there. Let me mention this little-known channel by a working pianist as exemplary; the link is to a video representative of his philosophy on playing.)

There's also the infamous book by Chang, which is freely available. There's a lot of good advice there, but also some very questionable statements (playing piano while sick causes brain damage?) and perhaps an overemphasis on memorization and hand memory as opposed to sight-reading. In terms of practice advice, I found this short blog post very sensible; essentially it's a summary of Chang's book with the bad parts taken out.

However, regarding interpretation and learning about new works, books on specific composers have been very useful to me. Let me mention David Schulenberg's book on interpreting Bach's keyboard works and the The Alexander Scriabin Companion by Ballard, Bengtson, and Young as particular standouts, though of course there are many others.
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Re: Books on piano technique and interpretation?

Post by WalterNiemann »

Here is a little selection:
- Matthay, Tobias: Musical interpretation
- Mattay, Tobias: The Visible and Invisible in Pianoforte Technique
- Pauer, Ernst: The Art of Pianoforte Playing
- Czerny, Carl: Op.500
- Czerny, Carl: Letters on the Art of Playing the Pianoforte
- Hummel, Johann Nepomuk: The Art of Playing the Pianoforte
- Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel: Treaties on Keyboard Playing and of course
- Cortot, Alfred: Rational Principles of Piano Technique

They are all available on IMSLP. Hope this can help you.

Best regards

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Re: Books on piano technique and interpretation?

Post by MichalSzcz »

... it's hard to recommend anything specific without knowing anything about you. I am making an assumption that you are an intermediate player who does carry more physical tension than he would like, but is competent enough to progress out of the method books and handle say, prelude in C major from the WTK or Fur Elise. On youtube, I must recommend cedarvillemusic hosted by John Mortensen. The man has my admiration and respect and his content is excellent. Binge watch and his videos, and in case you need a refresher course, binge watch them again.

I also like Graham Fitch's demonstrations.

Books: Tobias Matthay is great. There's also a book by Gyorgy Sandor that I borrowed from the library long ago that saved me from a carpel tunnel and a horrible teacher. It was definitely by Sandor. Ones from my own library:

... the pianist's problems, by William S. Newman
... the young pianist, Joan Last [it's really a piano pedagogy text but worth reading even if you don't teach]
... elements of piano technique, Ernest Hutcheson [great supplement to Matthay]

... it helps to remember that what you do to the piano, the piano does back to you. Nothing metaphysical, just simple Newtonian mechanics: For every actions there's an equal and opposite reaction of equal magnitude and force.

edit: The books I own in print, many I bought second hand. I do know the Hutcheson is in print b/c I replaced my copy just this year. There PDF copies of older editions floating around [like from 1907]. There's always the two booklets by Walter Geiseking I forgot to mention.
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