When I started to really get into practicing piano, I bought hundreds of CD’s full of piano music. I had this desire to hear what was out there. I would listen any chance I would get. I was always reading as much as I could, and if there was ever a time that I heard of some music I wasn’t familiar with, I would get out there and buy a few more CDs.
I didn’t know what the staples of the repertoire were. I just bought everything. I would have a loved to have a simple list of pieces I should go listen to. So that’s what I’m trying to create here.
Classical musicians are typically stuck to their sheet music. If they don’t have music in front of them or memorized they are often completely handicapped at their instrument. There are two major ways that a musician can play music without reading. One is playing by ear, and the other is improvisation.
The art of improvisation is now mainly associated with jazz music. Did you know, though, that improvisation in classical music was commonplace well before jazz was every played?
Our modern piano has a very rich history. Classical pianists regularly play music that was written for an instrument other than the modern piano they play it on. In recent decades there has been a movement to playing music on what are called “period” instruments. This means that performers play classical music on instruments that were more like the instruments that the composers actually wrote the music for.
Understanding that our modern instruments are different than the instruments composers wrote music for can help the performer understand the music they are playing better and improve their performances.