Thank you to those who donated to Piano Society in 2017.

"Fur Elise" by Beethoven. Common mistakes to avoid

Discussion in 'Technique' started by Vladimir Dounin, Mar 3, 2019.

  1. Vladimir Dounin

    Vladimir Dounin New Member Trusted Member

    Nov 8, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Last Name:
    First Name:
    Let's imagine that you are a composer and you demand in court to exact (collect) $ 100,000 from me for defaming your good name and undermining your business.

    You claim that I'm doing this, playing fake notes and a fake rhythm on my record of your composition.

    I say that I play everything exactly as you wrote.

    How can a judge decide on our case with you?

    A judge will bring a person to court who can write music with notes or use a program that does the same. Comparing the obtained record of my performance with the original, the judge immediately finds out who of us is right and who is a liar?

    And I would lose my $ 100,000 even if I believed and argued that my fake performance is much better than your original music.

    In this way, Beethoven would today become a billionaire only with his "To Elise" because almost no one plays Beethoven's authentic music, claiming to do so.

    I did not find on Youtube a single pianist, who played in “Fur Elise” the music written by the composer. Everyone I've heard substituted Beethoven's great music with his/her own cheap fictions, which are clearly much worse than Beethoven’s original.

    In this set of my 8 Videos, I will point out for you and play these mistakes, comparing them with the original. Because I want you to get rid of them. I fight with errors of this kind (of the others and my own) for many decades and I want to help those who make similar mistakes or even do not even suspect them.

    April 27, 1810 Beethoven wrote for a girl named Elise or Theresa (Beethoven’s handwriting was not legible), whom he loved and wanted to marry her (but was refused), the piece in her album with the words "for a long memory."
    And no one in the world knew this music for almost 60 years until 1867, when neither Beethoven nor this girl had long been alive.

    In “For Elise” there is something magical. Several times people came to me and said that they were not interested in music and were not going to do it. They just wanted to learn how to play the first part “A” of this piece.

    However, to do this, they had to learn so much interesting about music that they continued studying music and remained friends with music for life.

    If we play the correct notes (Pitch) on the piano at the right Time and with the right Intensity (Intensity means: "the personal strength of each SEPARATE note”, but not the loudness (volume) of all the notes together), then our music is perfect. Unfortunately, the humans can not play like this, they ALWAYS do mistakes at least in one of these three: in Pitch, in Timing or in Intensity of the notes.

    Let's start with the correct Pitch of the note in this piece. It would seem that it is impossible to make a mistake here, because everyone knows every note of “Fur Elise” and there are reliable publications.

    However, Vladimir Ashkenazi and his followers manage to play a false note D (Re) instead of E (Mi) as many as seven times in b.b. 7, 15 and similar. Probably Vladimir skipped harmony lessons at the Moscow Conservatory or forgot that the Seventh D (Re) in V7 chord can not under any circumstances be allowed to go upwards and be resolved into A (La) in classical harmony, especially for as much as five notes up.

    Unfortunately, today some unscrupulous publishers are already printing these false notes “according to Ashkenazi” instead of checking with the first edition. (Listen to this part of my Video).

    Pianists often make mistakes in the bar 21, 22 and similar to them. They play "too many" or "not enough" repeats of the notes "E-D#" (Mi - Re#). This problem does not arise at all if you use a modern metronome WITH A HUMAN VOICE and set it to 6/16 instead of 3/8 during the learning period. A student can count ALOUD on 6 and himself as well, if he is not too lazy to do so. A count on 6 in each bar simply does not let the student to make a mistake here.

    Beethoven did not write a single slur in this piece. All of them were invented by editors in order to increase their pay for the “intellectual property” they brought into Beethoven’s music. Therefore, the right place of these slurs is only in the garbage, they must be ignored, and it is better to get the edition without false slurs.

    Judging from his music, Beethoven imagined Elise as an angel. And the angels play harp, as we know, but neither violins, cellos nor saxophones. To make the piano sound like a harp, we should play staccato, not legato.

    The next issue is Timing = (Rhythm and Tempo).

    About the Rhythm:

    Here the error in the rhythm seems impossible as well, since the whole piece consists of a smooth flow of the same sixteenth note. However, there is often an illegal stop at the point, where the right hand "takes the baton" from the left.

    Another mistake: the slow triplet is played usually instead of the fast thirty second notes in section "B".

    About the Tempo:

    Every literate musician knows that stability, inviolability of tempo are mandatory in classical music. However, almost all pianists, including the most famous ones, rock the pace like a boat on the water, even inside each bar, not to mention every phrase.

    And they do it not because of their intention to look stupid and illiterate, but because they can not afford a slow and steady pace:

    Bad music is a torture both for listeners and for the musician himself. Short torture is undoubtedly better than a long torture. Therefore, all those who can not play slowly and beautifully substitute the beauty of music with the maximum speed of performance. They simply have to play extremely fast and with an absurd tempo rocking to distract the listeners and themselves from insuperable problems for them in the melody.

    Too slow performance still does not kill the music. But too fast turns it into a caricature, cartoon, parody.

    (Listen to this part of my Video)

    Lovers of the Italian opera, one of which was Beethoven, immediately recognize the typical declaration of love in the style of "bel canto" with the first notes of section "B" and up to cruel laughter in response to this confession. Everyone understands that it is impossible to admit love in a hurried patter. No one will believe a confession of love made at the pace of a gallop.

    However, most pianists play the entire piece, including its section "B" very fast, even clearly faster than they are able to play the chords of the transition from section "A" to "section B." Therefore, they play these chords twice as slow as if they say: "Excuse me, guys! I can not play these difficult chords any faster." And immediately after these chords, they again switch to the previous gallop instead of a declaration of love. This sounds ugly and ridiculous.

    Nobody will like the look of a house made of bricks of different sizes instead of one strictly defined. No one will like the wobbly, unstable rhythm and tempo even in the music of Beethoven.

    (Listen to this part of my Video)

    The biggest and most difficult problem in this play is the Intensity of the notes. Usually pianists do not know which of any two notes they need to play louder, and which is quieter. And this is the same catastrophe for the musical language, as ignorance of the correct stresses in the words of any other human language.

    No amount of emotion, passion and expressiveness will save you if you are not able to pronounce words with the correct stress. People will be disgusted if you will speak all the way "tomorr-O-w" instead of "tom-O-rrow", "even-I-ng" instead of "E-vening", etc. Unfortunately, classically trained musician do not want to know the correct, natural pronunciation of musical words. Instead, they apply everywhere their false, totalitarian "universal rule" of stresses in musical words: they always stress the note on count "ONE".

    The problem is that at the same time the correct, natural pronunciation of musical words is known to EVERYONE in the world, except for "classically educated" musicians who have been brainwashed on this subject. Unlike all other musicians and listeners in the world, they believe that every note on count “ONE” should be louder and every note on count “two” should be quieter.

    They simply took this rule from military bands that perform all their soldiers' marches this way.

    However this "universal rule" does not work absolutely for music written not for the feet and legs but for the heart, mind and soul.

    I have already published many articles and videos on this topic with specific rules for pronunciation of the most common words of music. These rules save you the ocean of time when working on a new piece and amaze everyone with your “musicality” when you sight-read.

    However, there is good news here. Any of us, even after brainwashing, can easily restore our original ability to correct, natural stresses in musical words. Even if you do not know any rules or forgot them, you can always find out which of any two consecutive notes (your choice) needs to be played louder and which one is quieter?

    All that is required of you for this test is to play the melody you need slowly and in the low octave. Because the ability of our ears and brain to distinguish and analyze Intensity in a low register and a slow pace is tens times better than in a high register and fast.

    (Listen to my tests of this kind on my Videos).

    Everyone who plays classics should realize that a handful of musicians with their totalitarian "universal accent" for all musical words can not change the natural musical language of all other people in the world or refuse to communicate with them because of the differences in their musical languages. At the same time, all other people in the world can abandon musicians with this ugly problem in their musical language EASILY and have almost completely refused them nowadays. At concerts of classical music, we see fewer and fewer people.

    Pronounce the musical words correctly. Do not replace the beauty of music with insane speed and the thoughts of great composers with ridiculous nonsense.

    And you will enjoy the beautiful music together with your listeners

Share This Page