25 August 2009

Leopold Godowsky. Miniatures for Piano, Four Hands

A few words written by composer in 1934 about this cycle.

My 46 Miniatures for four hands (for pupil and teacher) were composed to enable the beginner – whether  child or adult – to start  the art of pianoforte playing with music as good and inspirational, as aesthetic and character-building, as the music we hear at serious public concerts. The novice's introduction to music should be, from the start, attractive, inspiring, cultural.
My aim is to interest while I instruct; to educate while I entertain. It is the modern trend of pedagogy to make the acquisition of knowledge so attractive to the student that it becomes a source of joy and pleasure to him, while he is being instructed and is assimilating information. 
The treble (upper) part is for the pupil; the middle and bass part, for the instructor. However, when the pupil advances sufficiently to do so, the second part can, and should be, used by the pupil, while the Primo is played by the teacher. Strange as the statement may seem, the treble or upper part or Primo, which are all synonymous terms, may be played with equally great benefit by the advanced player. The reason for it is the fact that the Primo part is built mainly on five adjacent white keys (five numbers are on black keys only), thus maintaining an ideal position of the hand all the time. When strong accents happen to occur on the fourth or fifth fingers, the accents have to be given by the weaker fingers, as there is no passing under of the thumb. The incalculable advantage of such procedure will be enlightening to all who play.
An equally important purpose that is dear to my heart is to increase the interest of the teacher in his work. In having to study the "Secondo" – that is, the teacher's part – so as to be able to play the Miniatures with the pupil, the teacher will develop his own interest, ambition, ability and musicianship to a point where he will be bound to teach with greater pleasure, with increased enthusiasm, and intensified application. He will then have to keep up as a pleasurable duty a repertory of four-hand pieces, just as the concert pianist has to keep up his repertory for concert work. He will thus maintain unflagging interest in his pedagogic activities. The classroom should, in this way, become as inspiring as the concert-hall. I may incidentally draw attention to the faсt that all the numbers of this series are admirably suited to analytical instruction of every phase of composition (melody, harmony, counterpoint, ancient and modern dances, miscellaneous forms, etc.), and are particularly useful in classes for music appreciation and sight-reading.
In conclusion, I wish to state that any and all of the Miniatures are suitable for concert performances when arranged in attractive groups of contrasting numbers, preferably to be played by the two performers on separate instruments. All Miniatures are particularly qualified to be used on the radio, due to their conciseness, brevity and diversity of content, mood and form.

High quality sheet music of the Second Suite for Piano, Four Hands by Leopold Godowsky may be downloaded online.



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