Коллеги, это поразительно, но в сети найден оригинал американской публикации обсуждаемой статьи:http://www.sfinstituteofmusic.org/Rachmoninoff_2_interview_on_playing_.pdf
Interview with Rachmaninoff
TEN IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES OF BEAUTIFUL PIANOFORTE PLAYING
From an interview with Sergei Rachmaninoff, THE ETUDE (March 1910).
I. FORMING THE PROPER CONCEPTION OF A PIECE
It is a seemingly impossible task to define the number of attributes of really excellent
pianoforte playing. By selecting ten important characteristics, however, and considering
them carefully one at a time, the student may learn much that will give him food for
thought. After all, one can never tell in print what can be communicated by the living
teacher. In undertaking the study of a new composition it is highly important to gain a
conception of the work as a whole. One must comprehend the main design of the
Naturally, there are technical difficulties which must be worked out, measure by
measure, but unless the student can form some idea of the work in its larger
proportion his finished performance may resemble a kind of musical patchwork. Behind
every composition is the architectural plan of the composer. The student should
endeavor, first of all, to discover this plan, and then he should build in the manner in
which the composer would have had him build.
You ask me how can the student form the proper conception of the work as a whole?
Doubtless the best way is to hear it performed by some pianist whose authority as an
interpreter cannot be questioned.
However, many students are so situated that this course is impossible. It is also often
quite impossible for the teacher, who is busy teaching from morning to night, to give a
rendering of the work that would be absolutely perfect in all of its details. However, one
can gain something from the teacher who can, by his genius, give the pupil an idea of
the artistic demands of the piece.
If the student has the advantage of hearing neither the virtuoso nor the teacher he need
not despair, if he has talent. Talent! Ah, that is the great thing in all musical work. If he
has talent he will see with the eyes of talent--that wonderful force which penetrates all
artistic mysteries and reveals the truths as nothing else possibly can. Then he
grasps, as if by intuition, the composers intentions in writing the work, and like the true
interpreter, communicates these thoughts to his audience in their proper form.
II. TECHNICAL PROFICIENCY
It goes without saying, that technical proficiency should be one of the first acquisitions of
the student who would become a fine pianist. It is impossible to conceive of fine playing
that is not marked by clean, fluent distinct, elastic technique. The technical ability of the
performer should be of such a nature that it can be applied immediately to all the artistic
demands of the composition to be interpreted. Of course, there may be individual
passages which require some special technical study, but, generally speaking,
technique is worthless unless the hands and the mind of the player are so trained that
they can encompass the principal difficulties found in modern compositions.
In the music schools of Russia great stress is laid upon technique. Possibly this may be
one of the reasons why some of the Russian pianists have been so favorably received
in recent years. The work in the leading Russian conservatories is almost entirely under
supervision of the Imperial Music Society. The system is elastic in that, although all
students are obliged to go through the same course, special attention is given to
Technique, however, is at first made a matter of paramount importance. All students
must become technically proficient. None are excused. It may be interesting for the
readers of THE ETUDE to know something of the general plan followed in the Imperial
music schools of Russia. The course is five years in duration.
During the first five years the student gets most of his technical instruction from a book
of studies by Hanon, which is used extensively in the conservatories. In fact, this is
practically the only book of strictly technical studies employed. All of the studies are in
the key of C. They include scales, arpeggios, and other forms of exercises in special
technical designs. At the end of the fifth year an examination takes place.
This examination is twofold. The pupil is examined first for proficiency in technique, and
later for proficiency in artistic playing - pieces, studies, etc. However, if the pupil fails to
pass the technical examination he is not permitted to go ahead. He knows the exercises
in the book of studies by Hanon so well that he knows each study by number, and the
examiner may ask him, for instance, to play study 17, or 28, or 32, etc. The student at
once sits at the keyboard and plays.
Although the original studies are all in the key of C, he may be requested to play them in
any other key. He has studied them so thoroughly that he should be able to play them in
any key desired. A metronomic test is also applied. The student knows that he will be
expected to play the studies at certain rates of speed. The examiner states the speed
and the metronome is started. The pupil is required, for instance, to play the E-flat major
scale with the metronome at 120, eight notes to the beat. If he is successful in doing
this, he is marked accordingly, and other tests are given.
Personally, I believe this matter of insisting upon a thorough technical knowledge is a
very vital one. The mere ability to play a few pieces does not constitute musical
proficiency. It is like those music boxes which possess only a few tunes. The students
technical grasp should be all embracing.
Later the student in given advanced technical exercises, like those of Tausig. Czerny is
also very deservedly popular. Less is heard of the studies of Henselt, however,
notwithstanding his long service in Russia. Henselts studies are so beautiful that they
should rather be classed with pieces like the studies of Chopin.
III. PROPER PHRASING
An artistic interpretation is not possible if the student does not know the laws underlying
the very important subject of phrasing. Unfortunately many editions of good music are
found wanting in proper phrase markings. Some of the phrase signs are erroneously
applied. Consequently the only safe way is for the student to make a special study of
this important branch of musical art.
In the olden days phrase signs were little used. Bach used them very sparingly. It was
not necessary to mark them in those times, for every musician who counted himself a
musician could determine the phrases as he played. But knowledge of the means of
defining phrases in a composition is by no means all-sufficient. Skill in executing the
phrases is quite as important. The real musical feeling must exist in the mind of the
composer or all the knowledge of correct phrasing he may possess will be worthless.
IV. REGULATING THE TEMPO
If a fine musical feeling, or sensitiveness, must control the execution of the phrases, the
regulation of the tempo demands a kind of musical ability no less exacting. Although in
most cases the tempo of a given composition is now indicated by means of the
metronomic markings, the judgment of the player must be brought frequently into
requisition. He cannot follow the tempo marks blindly, although it is usually unsafe for
him to stray very far from these all-important musical sign-posts.
The metronome itself must not be used with closed eyes, as we should say it in Russia.
The player must use discretion. I do not approve of continual practice with the
metronome. The metronome is designed to set the time, and if not abused is a very
faithful servant. However, it should only be used for this purpose. The most
mechanical playing imaginable can proceed from those who make themselves
slaves to this little musical clock, which was never intended to stand like a ruler
over every minute of the students practice time.
V. CHARACTER IN PLAYING
Too few students realize that there is continual and marvelous opportunity for contrast in
playing. Every piece is a piece unto itself. It should, therefore, have its own peculiar
interpretation. There are performers whose playing seems all alike. It is like the meals
served in some hotels. Everything brought to the table has the same taste. Of course, a
successful performer must have a strong individuality, and all of his interpretations must
bear the mark of this individuality, but at the same time he should seek variety
A Chopin Ballade must have quite a different interpretation from a Scarlatti Capriccio.
There is really very little in common between a Beethoven Sonata and a Liszt
Rhapsody. Consequently, the student must seek to give each piece a different
character. Each piece must stand apart as possessing an individual conception, and if
the player fails to convey this impression to his audience, he is little better than some
mechanical instrument. Josef Hofmann has the ability of investing each composition
with an individual and characteristic charm that has always been very delightful to me.
VI. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PEDAL
The pedal has been called the soul of the piano. I never realized what this meant until I
heard Anton Rubinstein, whose playing seemed so marvelous to me that it beggars
description. His mastery of the pedal was nothing short of phenomenal. In the last
movement of the B-flat minor Sonata of Chopin he produced pedal effects that can
never be described, but for any one who remembers them they will always be
treasured as one of the greatest of musical joys.
The pedal is the study of a lifetime. It is the most difficult branch of higher
pianoforte study. Of course, one may make rules for its use, and the student should
carefully study all these rules, but, at the same time, these rules may often be skillfully
broken in order to produce some very charming effects. The rules represent a few
known principles that are within the grasp of our musical intelligence. They may be
compared with the planet upon which we live, and about which we know so much.
Beyond the rules, however, is the great universe---the celestial system which only the
telescopic artistic sight of the great musician can penetrate. This, Rubinstein, and some
others, have done, bringing to our mundane vision undreamt of beauties which they
alone could perceive.
VII. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CONVENTION
While we must respect the traditions of the past, which for the most part are very
intangible to us because they only to be found in books, we must, nevertheless, not be
bound down by convention. Iconoclasm is the law of artistic progress. All great
composers and performers have built upon the ruins of conventions that they
themselves have destroyed. It is infinitely better to create than to imitate.
Before we can create, however, it is well to make ourselves familiar with the
best that has preceded us. This applies not only to composition, but to pianoforte
playing as well. The master pianists, Rubinstein and Liszt, were both marvelously broad
in the scope of their knowledge. They knew the literature of the pianoforte in all its
possible branches. They made themselves familiar with every possible phase of musical
advancement. This is the reason for their gigantic musical prominence. Their greatness
was not the hollow shell of acquired technique. THEY KNEW. Oh, for more students in
these days with the genuine thirst for real musical knowledge, and not merely
with the desire to make a superficial exhibition at the keyboard!
VIII. REAL MUSICAL UNDERSTANDING
I am told that some teachers lay a great deal of stress upon the necessity for the pupil
learning the source of the composers inspiration. This is interesting, of course, and may
help to stimulate a dull imagination. However, I am convinced that it would be far better
for the student to depend more upon his real musical understanding.
It is a mistake to suppose that the knowledge of the fact that Schubert was inspired by a
certain poem, or that Chopin was inspired by a certain legend, could ever make up for a
lack of the real essentials leading to good pianoforte playing. The student must see, first
of all, the main points of musical relationship in a composition. He must understand
what it is that gives the work unity, cohesion, force, or grace, and must know how to
bring out these elements. There is a tendency with some teachers to magnify the
importance of auxiliary studies and minimize the importance of essentials. This course
is wrong, and must lead to erroneous results.
IX. PLAYING TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC
The virtuoso must have some far greater motive than that of playing for gain. He has a
mission, and that mission is to educate the public. It is quite as necessary for the
sincere student in the home to carry on this educational work. For this reason it is to his
advantage to direct his efforts toward pieces which he feels will be of musical
educational advantage to his friends. In this he must use judgment and not overstep
their intelligence too far.
With the virtuoso it is somewhat different. He expects, and even demands, from his
audience a certain grade of musical taste, a certain degree of musical education.
Otherwise he would work in vain. If the public would enjoy the greatest in music
they must hear good music until these beauties become evident. It would be
useless for the virtuoso to attempt a concert tour in the heart of Africa.
The virtuoso is expected to give his best, and he should not be criticized by audiences
that have not the mental capacity to appreciate his work. The virtuosos look to the
students of the world to do their share in the education of the great musical public. Do
not waste your time with music that is trite, or ignoble. Life is too short to spend it
wandering in the barren Saharas of musical trash.
X. THE VITAL SPARK
In all good pianoforte playing there is a vital spark that seems to make each
interpretation of a masterpiece - a living thing. It exists only for the moment, and cannot
be explained. For instance, two pianists of equal technical ability may play the same
composition. With one the playing is dull, lifeless and sapless, with the other there is
something that is indescribably wonderful. His playing seems fairly to quiver with life. It
commands interest and inspires the audience. What is this vital spark that brings life to
In one way it may be called the intense artistic interest of the player. It is that
astonishing thing known as inspiration. When the composition was originally written the
composer was unquestionably inspired; when the performer finds the same joy that the
composer found at the moment the composition came into existence, then something
new and different enters his playing. It seems to be stimulated and invigorated in a
manner altogether marvelous. The audience realizes this instantly, and will event
sometimes forgive technical imperfections if the performance is inspired.
Anton Rubinstein was technically marvelous, and yet he admitted making mistakes.
Nevertheless, for every possible mistake he may have made, he gave, in return, ideas
and musical tone pictures that would have made up for a million mistakes. When
Rubinstein was over-exact his playing lost something of its wonderful charm. I
remember that upon one occasion he was playing Balakireffʼs “Islamey” at a concert.
Something distracted his attention and he apparently forgot the composition entirely; but
he kept on improvising in the style of the piece, and after about four minutes the
remainder of the composition came back to him and he played it to the end correctly.
This annoyed him greatly and he played the next number upon the program with the
greatest exactness, but, strange to say, it lost the wonderful charm of the interpretation
of the piece in which his memory had failed him.
Rubinstein was really incomparable, even more so perhaps because he was full of
human impulse and his playing very far removed from mechanical perfection. While, of
course, the student must play the notes, and all of the notes, in the manner and in the
time in which the composer intended that they should be played, his efforts should by
no means stop with notes. Every individual note in a composition is important, but
there is something quite as important as the notes, and that is the soul. After all,
the vital spark is the soul. The soul is the source of that higher expression in music
which cannot be represented in dynamic marks.
The soul feels the need for the CRESCENDO and DIMINUENDOS intuitively. The
mere matter of the duration of a pause upon a note depends upon its significance, and
the soul of the artist dictates to him just how long such a pause should be held. If the
student resorts to mechanical rules and depends upon them absolutely, his playing will
be soulless. Fine playing requires much deep thought away from the keyboard. The
student should not feel that when the notes have been played his task is
done. It is, in fact, only begun. He must make the piece a part of himself. Every note
must awaken in him a kind of musical consciousness of his real artistic mission.