Classical Pianist

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How did memorisation become a standard practice for pianists?

Prior to the nineteenth century, pianists generally played from scores in their performances. As the audience constantly looked for new compositions and the idea of performing pieces multiple times was less common than today, new music was produced and performed very frequently. It was unrealistic to expect performers to memorise everything within the small amount of preparation time available.

Some aspects of music composition practices were also influential upon the development of memorisation in becoming a standard practice. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the production of music had slowed down significantly, because composers no longer wrote for deadlines given by aristocratic patrons, but more often for art’s sake and also for the publication market. Surprisingly, this reduced rate of composition did not make the practice of performing from memory common in the early nineteenth century. It was even discouraged by Chopin because he worried that pupils performing without scores would overlook important musical details. In addition, he believed that the audience’s attention would move away from the music to the performer, not giving as much attention to the composers, and also thereby distracting the musician... [531 more words]

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