Piano Technique and Education with Harold Bauer


Now on his sixth American tour, Mr. Bauer is one of the interesting personalities of the music world. Considering the paths followed by the famous pianists of the age, Bauer's educational process is quite paradoxical.

He took private lessons from the famous violinist Pulitzer at a young age. He has reached such a successful level at the age of 10 that he made his first London tour as a violinist.

The musician named Graham Moore, whom he met during these years of tour, gave Baker some detailed ideas about piano playing techniques, and Bauer later worked on these techniques and took his own way. And not knowing that all this exchange of ideas will force him to throw away his violin career!

With the passing of time, he gave more attention to the instrument, studied the works of virtuosos in depth and thought about aesthetics in music.

Now he is a top performer in the world of intonation.

-The Etude Music Magazine / March 1912

The master pianist Bauer lives in an antique house buried in the narrow streets of old Paris.

It is very difficult for someone who does not know Paris to believe... That artists with such aesthetic tastes live in such run-down and commercial streets, among ruins...

I walked down a dirty street and climbed the stone stairs. The doors of all the buildings were similar to each other. Out of breath, I knocked on the flat wooden door opposite me.

I was at Bauer's house. I found myself in a quiet room in an expensive but tastefully furnished house, where there was no trace of the mess I had lived minutes ago.

Wide, large windows overlooked a lush garden. There was absolute peace and quiet.

In the music room just behind, Mr. Bauer was giving private lessons. Themes could be heard from Chopin's piano sonata.

When the lesson was over, he came out of the room and came to me.

“Yes, this is a rare house in old Paris that is passing by. I think it is a 300 year old building, such old buildings can still be found in the rue de Bac area” he replied “Your building gives the impression that it is forbidden to enter from the outside, but it is as if it opens to a completely different world through the door… Your garden, for example? An unpredictable beauty from the outside” my sentence.

Then we went to the music hall. We chatted there for about an hour.

“On the way to you, I kept thinking about what we should be talking about. Because you talked about the topics that inspired many publications. I guess I only have one question left, the wonderful tones you create on the piano and how you teach it?"

Mr. Bauer thought for a moment,

“I'm not sure I did that. Not a single beautiful tone on the piano is convincing to me. A tone on the piano can be beautiful if it is in the right place in relation to other tones.

You or me… Even if anyone on the street has no knowledge of music, they can press a single button and produce the tone we make.

A beautiful tone can be the result of two or more successive notes differing in intensity and intensity – which gives variety.

A flat and even tone is monotonous, dead. Diversity is life.

We stress even when we speak, this is a simplified example of what I'm talking about.”

Tonal Variety

“A singer or violinist can make a single note beautiful with variety. However, it is not possible to do this on the piano. You cannot color a single note, but you can do it with successive notes. How Does ? By using the differences of those notes and their relationship to each other, of course.

A note written in a melodic part may sound very unpleasant when I hear it alone, but it sounds nice where it belongs with the other notes. This is the relationship of tones to each other and allows for beautiful tone creation.

One of the most common problems is that piano teachers and students do not understand the instrument well.

A singer, flute or violinist knows his instrument very well, but the pianist does not tire himself too much, as he already has the keys ready at hand.

A good pianist should know very well the key mechanism, what happens inside the piano when a key is pressed.

You know that there are many successful methods for learning the piano. To me it all tends to be very long, tiring and doesn't touch on the critical points.

When pianists come to me, they play with the accumulation of years, but it seems that the years have passed with aimless work.

Take me for example. Because of necessity, I had to go pretty fast. I came to Paris years ago as a violinist, but later realized that there was no place for me in this field.

I had another opportunity. Ensemble work with a violinist and cellist… I immediately started working on gaining piano skills.

I went to consult with all the pianists I know – and I know a lot of pianists – and got the answer: “It will take months of technical study to play with respect.”

But I told them that I don't have such time. Then I turned to work to get the effects and tones I wanted. The position of my hand, whether it was curved or straight, did not concern me at all. I was starting to get the effects I wanted…

As time passed, as I began to enjoy this work, I thought about the position of the hand and fingers. But my opinion did not change, most of the time was spent on external factors and did not serve the essence of the matter.

For example, pianists struggle for years to be able to play the scales equally and balanced. Now I have no faith in that anymore. I'm not even sure that a scale should be played with equal tone and rhythm...

This is how a beginner plays scales…”

He sat down at the piano and played a scale of notes lost in each other.

Later “When they think they have the right education, they steal like this…”

In this work, all the notes could be distinguished…

“To me, such a teaching is not only erroneous but also poisonous!”

So you are saying that studying scales is not helpful?

“I recommend playing scale. Gives practice in curling the thumb under the hand! However, I do not recommend purely technical plays that are emotionless, without rhythm and variety.”

“In summary, I can give an example as follows; loud, soft, fast and slow. Don't be fooled by these raw sections… In this way, endless shadows and coloring can be made. Diversity and difference are tremendously important – this is life itself!”

“As you may have noticed, I do not believe in the concept of piano technique. As well as the excessive time spent on this. Time spent like this will get the pianist nowhere. Scales should also be uneven when played, they should be diverse and full of life. Otherwise, it cannot be distinguished by the operation of the machines.

It may be rhythmically equal, but playing a good scale should have rhythmic and tonal variations.”

“When starting a new piece, it is not correct to start with the technical part. I'll take the musical part first. I concentrate on what the composer thought while composing the piece, what themes and ideas were followed. When I see the picture as a whole, I go into details.”

“In this context, Ruskin's statement to Modern Painters magazine will help me express myself better. He says: Raphael and his contemporaries left behind many unfinished paintings and color works. This shows their experimentation in their art to achieve the perfect level. It has also proven that they consider art before technique.”

 Get Rid of Restrictive Rules

“The customary rules our ancestors brought to the art of piano were a disciplined line many of us followed in our education. However, this does not mean that there is no better way than the one followed.

We do not want to limit ourselves and our power, to set limits on it.

How can you play a piece the same way twice? You are different from yesterday.

The being with emotions and feelings is human, repetitions can exist for machines.

Remember the famous discussion of Socrates and Plato. To be a true artist, must an actor experience all the emotions he portrays in his role? Socrates' thesis was that "if this is what it takes to be a true artist, he must really be killed on the death scene".

Speed ​​Problem

Mr. Bauer explained the speed of piano performance and how to be fast:

“The quality of speed is identical with one's own nature. If even a child has this quality, he can present the five notes at the speed they should be played.

One person can walk faster than another and can go a long way in a short time. However, measuring time in this way is also a limiting factor.

The main question lies in understanding the spirit of the composition. Playing a little fast or slow in the background is not even the subject of this discussion.

Power Gain

Many pianists don't know what power is. They think that by applying too much force, they will have enough strength. Especially female students are in this trend.

However, the real power is the contrast, the contrast. Of course we have to give the necessary force in some passages, but this still leads to a conclusion that confirms me about the beauty of a tone. A note, which is a very loud disturbance on its own, is good if it comes in the right place and interest.

The quality and degree of power depends on the contrast. This choice is related to how much the artist assimilates the work.

This is his opportunity to reveal the spiritual and emotional meaning of the piece.


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