Alma Deutscher

Hey I wonder what you think of her Music and about her in general.

I am kind of fascinated and delighted. Can it be that the secret behind her are solely her parents and education or is she really some kind of exceptionally genius?

And if you have a bit more time here is a docu about her and composing her opera „Cinderella“.

Really interesting how she corrects the orchestra on details and seems to be in her absolute natural element.

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  • Sorry, I did lose my composure, didn't I ?

    Dave Dexter said:

    Is it really so shocking that different people take different things from music that you think is amazing? And to call it a "fact" that Julie/her students don't understand it . . . jeez. Where's the codex of objective musical right and wrong that you pulled that nugget from?

    Perhaps a bunch of people who've rearranged and reapproached Chopin's music to analyse it understand it better than you do.

    Manfred Goop said:

    This is shocking, but is explained by the fact that you don't understand his e minor prelude, which is an astounding work of art with a melody so powerful it has impacted my life and that of many others.

  • Well, perhaps there is a snoozing melody at the beginning, but perhaps to look at the whole arc one does see quite a dramatic picture.. First it starts on an upbeat, a big jump of an octave, and struck agin on the first down beat. The melody then hovers like a sigh on two notes for some while, while the lh chords pulse, slowly slithering downwards, with carefully chosen color changes..

    . Then, the melody drops a bit more, still a sighing two note motif with lots of space between utterances..until the melody then picks up rhythm with 7 consecutive 8th notes in dramatic swirl.. then hovers between 2 notes with the sigh motif again, before the dramatic rise and fall back down into the starting of the main theme, where it agains hovers - for a bit, but then suddenly spins and jumps a 6th, falls a bit, then jumps another 6th, then winds its way down dramatically.. down the last hovering few notes...

    I wasn't planning on writing this much, but got carried away (pedanticism be damned)… I think it is brilliant in its economy,  one lives a lifetime in 2 1/2 minutes..

  • It's not snoozy, it's a stunned brain after trauma, after a loss. The limited range is because of the pain.

    Or, as Sokolov would put it:

  • Manfred, you may have misunderstood me.   The Chopin e minor prelude is indeed a powerful, magnificent piece of music and one that I hold in the very highest esteem.  But it's not the melody that is memorable, in fact it is barely a melody.  If you just played the first seven measures of the right hand and didn't even imagine the left hand, didn't know it existed, I can't see how you could get too excited about it.  I think you might agree that the real power is in the left hand with its slowly moving harmonies, one or two notes changing at a time, gradually but inexorably descending.  Another great power of Chopin is that he often, as in the case of the e minor Prelude, hints at but doesn't give us a tonic chord in root position until much later in the piece.   When we finally hear the tonic chord in root position, we have a very definite sense of arrival and of rightness.  He doesn't give away the power of the chord too soon - he makes us wait for it, anticipate it.  None of this is a function of the melody.

    Me and my kids tried an experiment a few years ago which you might try some time.   We found a few people who aren't trained in music, haven't heard much music, and don't know anything about Chopin or classical music.  (In this town, this was hard to do!!)   We played the first seven measures of the RH of the Chopin e minor at the appropriate performance tempo and asked their opinions.  They said things like - that isn't a real piece, is it?  Is it finished?  Is it just an idea that needs to be developed?  They couldn't quite understand why we thought that was music.   Then we played the entire piece and their faces lit up.  

    I'm just saying, Manford, that a lot of melodies written for piano pieces were never meant to stand on their own, and it's well worth our while to see what else makes these pieces so powerful.   There is much more to Chopin than whistling a tune.

    I have studied that prelude for more than 50 years, by the way.  I do know a bit about it, and understand it quite well in fact.  ;-)

  • Julie,  Thank you for writing back without taking too much offense.

    I have no musical standing to be debating this with you, however, until someone stops me I will feel free to say what I think despite my lack of standing.

    It is your conceptual understanding that the melody is on the right hand. That is not my understanding of the e minor prelude. In general, even though I often say I love melodies, in fact I don't believe that melody and harmony or rhythm for that matter are separate things. The piece forms a whole and it is our artifice to break it down into components such as melody and harmony.

    This is in fact one aspect of Chopin's genius. Even though many of his pieces don't strike us as "cantabile" they are in fact pieces that in a way (again, my subjective view) extend the human voice but always make me think of the human voice even when they're completely not singable.

    Incidentally, have you heard this perspective before - the documentary below suggests that Chopin's primary focus and passion was for the human voice:

  • Does the e minor prelude qualify as microtonal?  Because every time the left hand switches to a new chord, there seems to be sound wave interference with the way the right-hand note is still resonating that shifts the frequency of the resonating note.

  • Hey Manfred-

    How interesting - you and I were both saying the same thing!  That the "melody" cannot be separated from the "harmony" or the "rhythm" or the tonal center or the downward movement or any other aspect of the piece.   It's just terminology.  In music we name things a little strangely sometimes because you really can't put a lot of what we hear, feel, perform, and write into words.  So I think we totally agree - the power is in the whole, not the parts.  We study the parts to see how they relate to the whole, but it's the whole that matters.

    I look forward to watching the documentary you posted when I have a spare hour plus.  It might be summer before that happens!  ;-) 

    But while we're exchanging great ideas about Chopin, I wonder if you know his a minor Prelude, and if you've watched a movie called "Autumn Sonata".  The movie is in Swedish, but I wrote down the translation of the part where the concert pianist (Ingrid Bergman) explains Chopin to her daughter.  I've used that as my guide for playing Chopin for many years.  I will see if I can find my English translation, but here is the "before" and "after" of the performance.  Interestingly enough, the same pianist played both scenes and the people in the studio couldn't tell any differences.  Whew!!!!!  They are worlds apart to me, and probably to you as well.

    Chopin Prélude op 28 nr 2 from Autumn Sonata
    Astrologists say: play Chopin full emotions on his sign of Pisces, or well above suffering on his Ascendant Virgo. Liv Ulmann and Ingrid Bergman seem…
  • Julie, I'm glad we agree on the "whole piece" perspective as opposed to dividing into melody and harmony.

    Yes, I know all of Chopin's preludes. I just watched the excerpt you sent of "Autumn Sonata". Thanks. 

    I would be curious to read the dialogue you mention. 

  • The striking thing for me with Chopin is actually his harmonic sense. The e min. Prelude would not be so emotive if it wasn’t for the suspensions and the beautiful smooth transitions. At present I am playing the d flat nocturne op 27 no 2 and am similarly struck by the languid yet beautiful and smooth chromatic and enharmonic shifts. The r.h. although thematic, feels more like improvisation at times and may well have been composed as such.

    I also think that Chopin used artifice as a means to arrive at the perfection we all know and love, because that is how it is done - the artifice is there in every enharmonic shift, in every exploitation of pianism and in every motif of the accompaniment . One does not notice it because it is overwhelmed and transformed in a context of sheer artistry and creative power.

  • I don’t know if that is relatable but harmony (skillfully) combined with melodie or with (leading) voices somehow can create a sculptural,  three-dimensional effect in my mind  and I love that (besides other, mostly emotional effects)! A melody (or a virtuosic soloist) on its own is nice, but it really feels like 2D to me compared. 

    Some more details about Alma:

    “In what sense is Almas Cinderella a childrens opera?
    In our family, a childrens opera is first of all a comedy, a story in which nothing terrible happens. The tragic plots of operas can be difficult for adults to take, and they can be quite horrifying for children.

    This approach also dictates the choice of operas that Alma is exposed to. For example, she knows all of Mozarts operas except one — Don Giovanni. A few months ago, she watched and heard Verdis La Traviata for the first time — it was an experiment because the plot has tragic elements. Its a sad story but not a barbaric one.
    How did she react?
    She cried a lot.
    What about Rigoletto?
    Id rather have my hand cut off than let her see that. Hansel and Gretel? Of course not. When I was about Almas age here in Israel, I was already very aware of the Holocaust, and it was very traumatic dealing with all the information, pictures and stories we were exposed to in school and on television.“

    “So what sort of music is Alma exposed to?
    There are no limits. My wife and I have very conservative taste. We love Mahler. Were fans of Bach and Beethoven of course. Alma knows Mahlers works but they dont speak to her.
    Nor does Brahms, and shes not that fond of Beethoven either. She likes Bach, but I wouldnt say he has the key to her heart. Ive also tried to play early music for her — Monteverdi and Palestrina — but she wasnt that into it.“


    "Of course, I love Mozart and I would have loved him to be my teacher. But I think I would prefer to be the first Alma than to be the second Mozart.“


    She is fully aware and has internalized that everybody (she meets:)) thinks she is some kind of next big once-in-a-lifetime genius. Can’t be healthy for a young mind, can it?

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