PIANO EXERCISES OF VLADIMIR HOROWITZ: STRETCHING
The greatest of
all modern classical pianists was Vladimir Horowitz, blessed
with both legendary technique and musical genius.
spend some time in their career listening to and being
fascinated by this great artist.
people don't know is that Horowitz was a teacher of sorts in
the later years of his life. I say, "of sorts" because he
taught only other major artists, usually early in their careers.
Pianists who were lucky enough to study for a while with the
capricious, temperamental Horowitz report that he was an
excellent communicator and was able to impart some of his
knowledge. The secret of the rest of his genius was gossamer and
inspiration, and is non-transferable to any student.
students spoke and wrote of their experience.
are several technical exercises that are not known to many
professional pianists. These he passed down to his students, if
they needed them.
fond of saying that technique was not his province as a teacher.
I think what he meant was that a basic virtuoso piano technique
is assumed, and the levels of bravura he could spread upon that
were assumed as well. One has to have a fearless technique to
even begin thinking about playing music in the way Horowitz did.
You can't be worrying about the next note.
Rachmaninoff, the great Russian composer and pianist, was a good
friend of Horowitz. When asked about his Third Piano Concerto,
Rachmaninoff loved to say, "It is written for elephants."
Meaning that it
takes the strength of an elephant to get through this grand
elephants need exercise, so what did Horowitz do to maintain his
technique? (He was notorious for not practicing, like a bad boy,
but was still able to dazzle at any moment.)
The first thing
one notices about the music of Rachmaninoff is that the hand is
stretched to the utmost, demanding positions of the fingers that
other music simply never calls for. Horowitz knew that
maintaining the SIDEWAYS limberness of the fingers was crucial.
One has to be strong in LATERAL movement of the fingers as well
as the simple and more familiar up and down of the keystroke.
thumbs on Middle C.
right pinkie up to the second E above Middle C, a tenth away.
left pinkie down to the second A below Middle C, a tenth away.
Put the right 4th
finger on the first C above Middle C.
Put the left 4th
finger on the first C below Middle C.
Put the right 3rd
finger on the first A above Middle C.
Put the left 3rd
finger on the first E below Middle C.
Put the right
index finger on the first E above Middle C.
Put the left
index finger on the first A below Middle C.
those who read music, like this: