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 Post subject: That Thalberg guy...
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:08 am 
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Location: Gulfport, MS, USA
So, I'm reading up on stuff that I've read before but long forgotten for my piano pedagogy class, and I come across the story of Sigismund Thalberg. anyway...it seems this guy's claim to immortality, if not his career, was shut down by Liszt and Chopin. Like, Chopin didn't take much of an active role in the duel itself, but he did assist Liszt in a performance during the battle between the two virtuosos, and there's a bit in one of his letters to Jan Matuszynski, from 26 December 1830:

Chopin wrote:
Thalberg plays famously, but he is not my man. He is younger than I, pleases the ladies very much, makes potpourris on La Muette, plays the forte and the piano with the pedal, but not with the hand, takes tenths as easily as I do octaves, and wears studs with diamonds. Moscheles does not at all astonish him; therefore it is no wonder that only the tuttis of my concerto have pleased him. He, too, writes concertos


lol...and this was from the early beginnings of Chopin's fame. So who is this Thalberg guy again? He was quite the rage in his time, but he hasn't a single recording on Piano Society. I found a few on YouTube (no concertos!), though. Here's one:

Moses in Egypt

Well, it's not that great, in my opinion. Something that's both not that great and virtuosic is bound to get ignored, right?

But I can think of some examples of virtuosic music that isn't that great that remains to be popular today, so that can't be it...

What do you guys think of Thalberg?

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:38 pm 
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I have never heard any of Thalberg's music. (don't have time to listen to the link).

What Chopin said in that letter is funny. I think the most scathing part is the part about 'playing piano with the pedal instead of the hand'. I read an article that Thalberg, after listening to Chopin play a recital, walked out onto the street and started shouting. When asked why he shouted, Thalberg said, "Ive been listening to piano all evening and now, for the sake of contrast, I want a little forte."

In another article it reads: Chopin could not tolerate pianists who took liberties with what he wrote. Once, after Sigismond Thalberg had embroidered one of his nocturnes, Chopin congratulated him, then asked coldly, "Whose composition was this?"

And in another book about Liszt it reads: Not until the last quarter of the 19th century did pianists appear who could stand comparison with him. Of Liszt’s major rivals in his lifetime, Chopin, who influenced him, gave few concerts and never toured after settling in Paris in 1831. While Chopin developed new types of piano style, Liszt was the one who created modern virtuosity. His other great rival, Sigismond Thalberg, excited the public and was an elegant virtuoso stylist, with, however, a stereotyped method: he placed the melody in the center of the keyboard (using the thumbs of both hands and the sustaining pedal to prolong the sound), ornamenting it with florid counterpoint, arpeggios and chords above and below. Neither he nor his music had much staying power.

Sooo...I am little curious now. Maybe tonight I'll try to listen to Thalberg.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:28 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 30, 2007 6:35 am
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Location: Gulfport, MS, USA
pianolady wrote:
Sigismond Thalberg, excited the public and was an elegant virtuoso stylist, with, however, a stereotyped method: he placed the melody in the center of the keyboard (using the thumbs of both hands and the sustaining pedal to prolong the sound), ornamenting it with florid counterpoint, arpeggios and chords above and below.

Ha! The thumbs-melody! :lol: Called by Thalberg's fans the 3-hand effect.

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 11:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:03 pm
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Here are the only two files I have of Thalberg.

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