5 Organ Improvisations

Five organ improvisations, recorded 18 January 2021 (1-3) and 19 January 2021 (4, 5). In the first three improvisations, the music expresses the passion of life. I have studied Messiaen’s organ music and this is how I came to develop this style, which is atonal by nature. (While it is all spontaneous and I do not have any musical understanding of complex harmonies as Messiaen had it). In other words, it is pure intuition.

The last two improvisations are tonal and based on jazz harmonies and the quint cycle. They express a romantic take … and I have actually been weeping when rehearsing them … they express the deepest of my soul.

—Roland RD-700 Stage Piano
—ZOOM H6 Handy Recorder (Audio Interface)
—MacBook Pro 15”, Adobe® Audition
—DaVinci Resolve 17

Take Away Wisdom

Haiku

The stomach loves simple food.
The soul loves simple honesty.
The body loves simple exercise.

All things come to one whose mind is whole.
All people come to one who is humble.
All trials vanish in the face of one who seeks peace.

When rice is cooked neither too hard nor to soft, it is alive.
When soup is clear and tasting freshly, it is alive.
When water is drunk in the breeze of spring, it is alive.

Warmed up tea is lacking chi.


God is not American

God told Peter Fritz Walter

—I am not American and will not be American in the future.


Observations 2003

—The only true saviors are those who saved themselves from total adaptation to our eternally standardized values, behavior norms and meaningless system requirements, and who realized, while being totally obnoxious, their own daring reality. They succeeded because of all idiot-opponents they were confronted with, not because of caring and intelligent friends they had social intercourse with.

—The wisest people are those who understand themselves, not those who pretend to understand others or the big causes of human struggle. Those latter ones, while they may have big names and perhaps fought for big causes, have a narrow mind and they work in secret only for their own filthy business. They are the politicians and strategists, the doers and managers. They change reality for the rat cause and the destruction of true humanity. They are the clones of a future Mega-Frankenstein that they anticipate with their hybrid arrogance and their eloquent and ‘clean’ opinions. They will clean, for sure. And, as a result, another few millions of humans will die for another rat cause—that will be propagated as the long-awaited ‘New Order’ of the day.

—The wisest are usually those that are totally rejected in any given society or group. For all those who are ‘normal,’ the common rats, I have no feeling soever, and they surely have no feeling for me. So much the better for both of us. Let them walk in peace—in their eternally dirty and filthy self-sufficiency!

—The strength of a family resides in its tolerance for those who are contradicting the family cause and not for those who are affirming and blindly perpetuating it. Democracy is not bred in the nest of paper constitutions, but in the nest of touchy human flesh, opposing views and clashing opinions. Such was my family. It was a great family in that it had enough tolerance and enough flesh to tolerate me as its constant and fierce contradictor!

—Those who say that creativity is the result of circumstances, such as a happy childhood, caring parents or a favorable cultural environment are entirely off-track. They do not see that creativity is an urge that is a soul-matter and that is even stronger when it is met with indifference or outright hostility. The best spirits are those that revolt and that are eternally unsatisfied about their condition. And we have no need for saviors, for the human condition as it is, is enough to itself. It has produced enough geniuses through all times, and this without fertilizers, artificial flavoring and well-meaning hens. The best sons and daughters are those who ran away from their homes, for they have understood the true value of survival instead of complying with the death of a homey and schizoid complacency.

—Fascism is an excuse-paradigm. It is founded upon the denial of the true self, the denial of our natural power and ability for self-realization. It is preaching a junk-reality that deforms life into a crippled defense-ideology that demands self-sacrifice in order to compensate for true realization. What it offers is a fake-reality through perverse strategies and games that it regards as a demonic acting-out of mythical power that is, in reality, a manifestation of powerlessness. Its destructiveness comes from the lazy submission of those caught in its claws, not from their ‘mean’ or ‘bad’ character setup. While Hitler was perhaps mean, many of those who executed his orders were not mean but diligent servants. This is what makes fascism so dangerous. Society can cope with terrorists and killers but it is at great pains to cope with ‘convicted’ citizens who apply the ‘good order,’ cost it what it will, or the ‘good cause’ they hold for ‘justified’ because it ‘cleans out all previous evil.’ Only right education can deal with wrong ideologies. And only humane order can prevail over the last of all ‘clean’ causes that brought about holocausts.


Der Gast

Er kommt in Unschuld und Freude,
Allgemein erwartet, vorgepriesen
Als der wichtigste Mann.

Solange er schwieg,
War er der noble Gentleman.
Doch als er redet, geht’s um Butter
und schmutzige Satés.

Seine Tagesordnung.
Er gibt Kommentare
Und war dazu nicht eingeladen.

Er war ein kommentierender Gast.
Ein Weißer im schwarzen Land.
Und kommentierte schwarzweiß.

Ich bin ein Kreter, kein Hellene, und bei weitem kein Christ.
Und werde wohl niemals ein Mensch der Neuzeit sein.

Sand und Investment,
Schütte das Alte zu, das Faule.
Unschuld des Sandes, der alles verdeckt.

Neues Land, positive Kraft des Anfangs.
Ein Araber im fremden Land,
Auch er ein Gast.

Aber erfolgreich mit Sand, mit Land.
Sei ein Araber?
Fett, süsslich doch well-connected.

So kommt man gut zu neuem Land.
Zu Neuland.

Agenda eines Deutschen
Bei ihm ging’s um Butter
und schmutzige Satés.

Obsediert von Fett,
wie konnte er fettlos sein?

Obsediert von Schmutz,
wie konnte er rein sein?

Er verkauft Butter und Lügen,
weil er mit schmutzigen Löffeln isst.

Ein Buttersadist,
der alles schwarz macht, weil schwarzsieht.

Der wichtigste Mann
Ein zweiter Anthony Robbins?

Gerufen als der wichtigste.
Infantile Wichtigmacherei.
Ego-Inflation.

Nicht das starke Ego bläst sich auf,
Sondern das schwache, das schwarze.
What about ‘Be Yourself?’

Dummheit is Fragmentation.
Intelligenz ist Integration.


An die Neonazis

Verlasst eure Eierschalen und Schneckenhäuser,
Statt auf Judenkindern herumzutrampeln.


Download Take-Away Wisdom (PDF)

This is another book of mine, not what is printed on this page …

Download Idiot Guide Quotes (PDF)

Learning Chinese

It has been a while … with learning Chinese … I started back in 2000, the year my mother died and when I decided to sell the family property in Germany and move to Asia, with the ultimate goal to move to, or close to, China. Why was that? I was always a great admirer of Chinese Ancient Wisdom, also called Scholarly Daoism, a wisdom teaching that I know is quite popular today among German, French, and American intellectuals.

I am studying with the ASSIMIL method, which uses both brain hemispheres, and therefore achieves better results than the usual methods that use only the analytic mind (left brain hemisphere). I am sharing my lessons here, or at least a certain number of them:

https://chinesewithease.wordpress.com/

And now I have again restarted … and feel so good about it all. There is something really uncanny about the Chinese language: it energizes me, it seems to contain vital energy, or what the Chinese call ch’i. There is ch’i in the language and when I am fatigued after several nights working through with about only one to three hours of sleep per night, then taking up Chinese and listening to it energizes me, and after about half an hour, all fatigue is gone!

I have now 1000 followers on Medium and this is largely due to my writings about Western Daoism.

https://medium.com/the-ancient-chinese-integral-way-tradition

There is one post that attracts most of the visits:

https://medium.com/the-ancient-chinese-integral-way-tradition/12-characteristics-of-the-daoist-sage-d127f7a97f9

And this is my website about Daoism:

https://peterfritzwalter6.wordpress.com/

Thus, within the context of studying Daoism, the ancient philosophical wisdom of China, learning the Chinese language is imperative to me! But I must be particularly stubborn … after all it’s now 21 years and I still do not speak it … what is wrong with my learning? I think I need exposure, I have not found anybody here who could practice Chinese with me and I was actively searching for such a person. So if that does not work out, there is only one way, that is, after Chinese resolves its second COVID-19 wave, to travel more often to Shanghai and the West Lake and perhaps also Beijing, for making friends and actively practicing Chinese.

In the meantime, I was contacted by Listenable.com, as they are looking for online teachers, and I will prepare a course about Western Daoism. I am really looking forward to it, for it is a subject that fascinates me since many years. I consider Chinese Daoist philosophy as one of the highest expressions of spirituality on the globe, while it is not very popular for that matter.

I have also published an article in China, for a Chinese Tour Company, entitled ‘Daoism in China.’ It is on Medium:

https://medium.com/the-ancient-chinese-integral-way-tradition/daoism-in-china-6891ede6efff

Organ and Harpsichord Recordings, 2019

Youtube Playlist

In this series of recordings from 2019 I play a few pieces of my repertoire, and some of them both on the organ and the harpsichord. I am of course using internal sounds of my Roland RD-700 stage piano, while I did have to creatively modify the existing sounds for both instruments, which took me quite a while and a sustained effort.

There are several reasons why I prefer to record Baroque music with instrument sounds that are closer to their origins than the modern concert grand piano. First off, an electronic keyboard will probably never reproduce an original Hamburg Steinway D, with all that this involves. Especially the resonance of the piano’s body, the internal reflections of the sound, the resonance of the other strings, and the very specific hammer touch and pedal noise are all not reproduced by the admittedly outdated technology that my Roland RD-700 uses.

Kenneth Gilbert, the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 and 2

Second, and more importantly, the music when played on the instruments it was composed for, sounds more convincing, more integrated somehow, more at ease with itself, so to speak, and more tranquil. Let me give an example. Take the recordings of the WTC 1 and 2 by Svjatoslav Richter played on a Steinway D, and compare that with Kenneth Gilbert’s rendering of the same pieces on a historical harpsichord. Well, there is an entire philosophy behind both ways to render Baroque in our time, and the two groups shall never meet …

For me, the Gilbert recordings are ultimately convincing, as here not only sound and content are matching, but also speed and Baroque mentality. With Richter’s recordings, the tempi of the Preludes are often either two fast or too slow given the Baroque ideal of ‘temperance’ in all kinds of self-expression.

Temperance means to go a ‘Middle Way’ between the extremes. That excludes to hammer down a piece without any sensitivity in the way Richter did for example with Prelude 2 from WTC 2. What excels in his play is piano technique, and you hear that he must have endlessly repeated the piece to get it so perfect, but that kind of perfection comes at a high price: it denies the music its originality, its embeddedness in Baroque, which was a time where no extremes in art and music were tolerated. The ‘performance paradigm’ dates from the late times of Beethoven till today but was not part of Baroque mentality. Hence, to hammer these pieces or any other Baroque pieces down, for that matter, is not what musicology suggests, and it is not for the palate of musicians who prefer originality over imitation! And I am one of them …

The Gilbert Album excels in precisely avoiding all such extremes, and the pieces are all played in a balanced, reposed, laid-back manner that is in sync with the Baroque ideal of moderation. In addition, the instrument has its say as well: you cannot ratter down a piece on a historical harpsichord as you can do that on a modern concert grand, because the instrument has its natural limitations, and those need to be respected!

And we all know that Richter respected no pianos at all, and played on pianos that were absolutely impossible for recording, for he just did not care! That is not responsible musicianship, for there is not only the performer but also the instrument, and this instrument must be a total expression of the musical philosophy behind the composition!

Here is all the contents of the Youtube Playlist:

J.S. Bach

—Invention 1, on both the Organ and the Harpsichord (BWV 772)
—Invention 4, on both the Organ and the Harpsichord (BWV 775)
—An Adagio from the Little Keyboard Book (BWV 691)
—A Minuet from the Little Keyboard Book (BWV 841)
—A Moderato from the Little Keyboard Book (BWV 924)
—Two Allegros from the Little Keyboard Book (BWV 927, 928)
—A Moderato from the Little Keyboard Book (BWV 939)

G.F. Handel

—Suite 8, Allemande
—Suite 15, Allemande

A Mute Audience

The Webolution, Essay and Audio
https://peterfritzwalter2.wordpress.com/2021/01/14/the-webolution/

I am talking about ‘The Mute Society.’ It is a phenomenon that I experience since starting web publishing back in 1998, when still working as a corporate trainer in Indonesia, a country offering a high level of human contact and lively communication, with people genuinely interested in high-level content. And while I have experienced social isolation in Germany, and previously in Switzerland during the time of my doctoral work in Geneva, this was never the case in South-East Asia, especially Indonesia. Contact-making was so easy and business people would be grateful for exposure to training and facilitating services coming from Europe in the form of an experienced trainer.

On the Web, then, I had to experience that complex and intellectual content is not what attracts followers and generally, people who have a certain IQ for being curious about novelty content, original ideas, and generally, content that is geared toward sharing and not toward money-making.

A woman once wrote me: ‘Dr. Walter, how come that there are no ads on your sites, do you give it all for free?’ I replied: ‘It never came to my mind to make money out of social sharing!’ I consider it really as a perversion of the original idea of sharing ideas that is the very foundation of publishing to focus on the ultimately goal of ‘making money from my sites.’ Let us not forget that when Gutenberg invented printing, he intended social sharing, not a mercantile profit. Encyclopedia Brittanica writes:
—Gutenberg’s printing press was considered a history-changing invention, making books widely accessible and ushering in an ‘information revolution.’

I needed several years to start a successful mailing list, it somehow did not work for me, and I tried recently again with Mailchimp and finally now have 70 members on my list, and that, I consider already as a success given my former isolation. But I am talking here about a phenomenon I consider as part of the West and Western people. Here in South-East Asia, there is remarkable interest in my publications but there is the language barrier, while for English-speaking, French-speaking and German-speaking people I am of course coming over as an easy content provider, but there is no serious interest in what I have to offer, and social media do not bring any advantage here. I have now 2,783 connections on LinkedIn, but they are absolutely useless as a resource of possible readers and followers of my 200+ books, ebooks and audiobooks. Here and there I get a LIKE for some post or the other, but all this is absolutely insignificant given the novelty, originality and availability of the content I am providing!

In truth, Western society is a no-brainer, it has no intelligence, is mechanistic and gadget-addicted, and it shuns and always shunned those who are beyond the social manipulation, the media dominance, and the general whitewash into ‘adaptive stupidity’ that is so characteristic for postmodern Western culture. It is a no-culture after all, and has decimated and genocided all those native populations that were real cultures, which means that they were (and are) social in the true sense of the word: based on sharing ideas, not on sharing consumer stupidity and intellectual mediocrity and apathy.

That publishing was and is sharing of ideas, is the cultural basis of democracy, and there is no other, if today’s masses of profit-addicted idiots and ‘marketers’ recognize it or not. In my essay ‘The Webolution’ which I wrote as early as in 1998, at the start of my ‘Internet career,’ I expand further on this subject, and also on the political role of the Internet. This essay, as original as it is in its conception, has not delivered to me one single line from one single thinking individual anywhere in the world.

If I had not a spiritual mission and were conscious of it, I would since long have opted out from providing pearls for the pigs, in this brainless, boring and intellectually poor society!


Well, I should be precise about the terms and notions I am using. When I speak of *society* in this context, I mean the accumulated populations of the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and France, and no other populations. This is not prejudice, by the way, but fully based upon 30+ years of experience. And I have to put a reservation here for the United States for it is the perhaps only country in the world that hosts both sides of the spectrum, and is the living representative of a lively counter-culture that contains all the diversity and democratic values that the mainstream seems to have lost over the last two decades.


I should also emphasize that I consider as emotionally much smarter both the Nordic countries in Europe (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc.) and the Southern countries (Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc.), as well as the countries in South-East Asia such as Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, etc. It is old tradition in these countries to think not only with your left brain, thus analytically, but with both brain hemispheres engaged, thus holistically. I have lived in most of these countries in Asia and long-term, such as Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia and can witness for the emotional smart of their populations. My publishing success in these countries is impaired solely by the language barrier, while those who are proficient in English and have read some of my writings gave me more appreciation and understanding than any Westerner. The worst are the people from my own country, Germany. There is to be a single one still to write me an email in now twenty years of publishing in German language!


For those of you who doubt my allegations regarding Germany, please read my autobiography, and you will see for yourself. I cannot think of a more stupid country to grow up in as a talented boy.
https://peterfritzwalter4.wordpress.com/lorenz-c-schuster-sons/

And for those of you who doubt my general experience of self-publishing (1998 to now), let me put a few simple facts here:
—In every of the 100+ books of mine, my email address is contained in the ‘Author Contact’ section. To this very day, not a single person anywhere on the globe has sent me an email to tell me impressions from the book.
—I get personal emails from people who have read some of my writings, about two to three per year.
—For having published 115 Paperback books, and a same amount of Kindle books and 70 Audiobooks (Audible), I receive around 500$ of royalties per month. This is the ‘reward’ for thousands and thousands of hours put into the sharing of it all …


Ultimately, the West has all their reasons to suppress the truth that the smartest country on earth is China, and no other country! Most of the inventions that are claimed by the West are pure fake, for they were preceded, some of them by several thousands of years, by Chinese inventions. Examples are paper, printing, money, and many from the field of agriculture …

The Genius of China
https://geniuschina.wordpress.com/

The Difficult Choice

Bach and Handel

For long years I have been improvising and composing cocktail piano music. It was a choice that was not entirely voluntary, but caused by lacking piano technique for playing classical. But this has changed, and I have largely upgraded my pianistic abilities and am now in state to fully play classical.

But again I am confronting a difficult choice. Intuitively with all my force of inner conviction into Baroque, with an exclusive focus upon J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel, should I choose to play other music as well? In my younger years and partly under supervision by piano teachers, I have been playing pieces by Beethoven, Schumann, Grieg, Chopin and other romantic composers as well as Debussy (Arabesque) and Rachmaninov (Preludes, Études Tableaux), but to include all of this in my present repertoire would largely exceed my time-limit for practicing. I am not a full-time pianist and devote most of my time for writing and self-publishing, and the production of audiobooks. I am also into art and photography, with a constant output of new productions.

I spent almost all of last night listening to:
—Arthur Rubinstein playing Chopin
—Claudio Arrau playing Schumann
—Various pianists playing Ravel
—Pierre-Laurent Aimart playing Messiaen
—Svjatoslav Richer playing Prokofiev

I was then convinced I should include these composers in my choice, but this morning I think really the contrary. It would be foolish from a technical point of view to overcharge myself with variety, for the piano technique for those works is so entirely different than the technique required for Baroque.

And there is my emotional level … not to be neglected. I am presently practicing several Handel Suites, and the WTC, Little Keyboard Book, Inventions, French and English Suites and some of Goldberg by Bach, and this music really fills me with joy, on a daily basis.

I have had a time in my youth when I played lots of Chopin and must honestly admit the music put me often times in a state of depression. I have never felt, generally, that romantic music could induce in me and even slight approximation of the joy I experience when playing Baroque.

This was so extreme that for several years I have played it only using the Harpsichord sound in my Roland RD-700, not the piano sound. This has changed now, because I believe there is simply no better sound than Steinway D Concert Grand (which is fortunately available as a full sample in the Roland).

So I am back at the source, so to speak, and have to modify my post with my repertoire once again … and hopefully this time definitely.

I shall post here some samples of few recordings I made playing Baroque both on Harpsichord and Organ. I will have to publish them on Audiomack (audiomack.com) first, then will insert them here.

My Dream Instrument

My present digital piano is the 19-year old Roland RD-700 Stage Piano. The piano sound is quite good and not (yet) perverted into modern jazz sounds. Yet one note gives a violent noise when being touched and there is no Roland dealer here in Cambodia where I could get that repaired.

So I am aspiring for the future into buying the first real hybrid piano, the Kawaii Novus NV-10. It is a fantastic idea, the entire playing mechanism is acoustic and from wood like in a real grand piano. The sound is integrated and from Onkyo, the very best in Japan in terms of musical reproduction.

Traditional Piano Playing Mechanism

The instrument thus ‘feels’ like Grand Piano when you play it. In addition it comes with advanced e-features, such as a huge collection from Kawai but also from Steinway, of playable music and exercise pieces. Also the iPhone can be connected and you can use the piano as a full-blown stereo …

NV10

The speaker outlets, produced by Onkyo, can be seen on the next photo.

As the price tag is more than 8000$, this acquisition needs to be carefully planned. For the good luck, Madison Music in Phnom Penh, just told me two days ago that they can order this instrument which is not the case, for example, for the new Roland RD-88 or the Roland RD-2000 stage pianos.

My Repertoire

Fingerings are highly personal; they must be adapted to the size and form of the hands of the performer. This is the crux with all musical score editions, for they must find a certain ‘middle standard’ where the fingerings fit for most hands. If pianists and composers like Rachmaninov, Rubinstein or Richter were to write fingerings, the result would probably be unusable for most people—simply because of the immense size of their hands!

Let me elaborate a little more here on the topic of consistent fingerings. The ground rule is namely internal consistency, which is often just not respected by score editors, not even the famous Urtext edition by HENLE, Germany that I am using.

Often what you can observe is that in the two parts of a piece, you have two different fingerings—even in HENLE—for basically the same passage but transposed to a quint higher or lower. Memorizing a piece inter alia depends on the consistency of fingerings across all the parts of a piece.

I take lots of time now to think about the fingerings before I start practicing, for I have not done that in the past with the sad result that for one, I did not reach perfection in rendering a piece, and for two, the piece vanished out of my ‘finger memory.’ Why is that?

The human brain loves nothing more than similarity, to clone patterns, to repeat the same pattern instead of making up a new pattern. That means when you apply the same fingerings to a musical pattern that appears in Part 1 of a piece, and then re-appears in Part 2, your brain will help you memorize the pattern in its two different transpositions if only you apply the same fingerings.

Hence, it really makes sense to think profoundly about the fingerings to use when you start looking at a new piece.

As a result of my lacking attention to this matter in the past, I have had to change fingerings across all my repertoire of Baroque music, both with Bach and with Handel. This was a pure waste of time of course, and I also had to re-practice the pieces then with the new and definite fingerings. So do not do it like I did, but be attentive to the fingerings from the start, and adapt them as is best for the size and ability of your hands!

Good luck!


Johann Sebastian Bach

Little Keyboard Book

—BWV 924 (Moderato)
—BWV 927 (Allegro)
—BWV 928 (Allegro)
—BWV 841 (Minuet)
—BWV 691 (Adagio)
—BWV 924a (Moderato)
—BWV 925 (Moderato)
—BWV 933 (Moderato)
—BWV 934 (Allegretto)
—BWV 935 (Allegro)
—BWV 936 (Allegro)
—BWV 937 (Moderato)
—BWV 938 (Allegro)

Inventions

—BWV 772
—BWV 775
—BWV 779
—BWV 785

French Suites

—BWV 812 (Allemande)
—BWV 813 (Allemande)
—BWV 814 (Allemande)
—BWV 815 (Allemande)
—BWV 816 (Allemande)
—BWV 817 (Allemande)

English Suites

—BWV 808 (Allemande)

Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 1/2

—BWV 846 (Praeludium)
—BWV 858 (Praeludium)
—BWV 862 (Praeludium)
—BWV 868 (Praeludium)

Well-Tempered Clavier, Vol. 2/2

—BWV 871 (Praeludium)
—BWV 881 (Praeludium)
—BWV 884 (Praeludium)
—BWV 887 (Praeludium)
—BWV 893 (Praeludium)

Goldberg Variations

—Variation 1

Partitas

—BWV 825 (Allemande)
—BWV 826 (Allemande)

George Frideric Handel

—Suite 2 (Allegro)
—Suite 3 (Allemande)
—Suite 3 (Variations 1, 2)
—Suite 8 (Allemande)
—Suite 11 (Allemande)
—Suite 12 (Allemande)
—Suite 15 (Allemande)

The Study of Fingerings

I have learnt over the years that it is of the highest importance for me to be crystal clear about the fingerings I am using. For years and years I have been practicing pieces from the WTC, and in general, and did not retain the pieces in what pianists call ‘finger memory.’ This has changed only recently, about a year ago. Suddenly I became aware that the culprit here for the ‘forgetfulness’ was wrong fingerings, while they might be right for other people.

Bach, WTC 1, Prelude 17, BWV 802

Let me give a recent example. I am now studying again WTC1, Prelude 17, BWV 802. On the photo of the score you see my fingerings. They are definitive now, but were not before, or they were so awkward before that my body somehow refused to memorize them. Let me be very clear about this point, there are only very few fingerings that I leave intact from the HENLE URTEXT edition I am using. Most of the fingerings I have radically changed, and now they are perfectly adapted to my hands.

Now let me be honest, pianists are rather divided about this subject. While most pianists would agree that the working out of fingerings belongs to the first approach to a new piece, Svjatoslav Richter, in the before-mentioned interview in German language with Johannes Schaaf in Tours, replied to Schaaf’s question if he noted all the fingerings, with: ‘Das mache ich nicht.’ (I do not do this). Then he talks about the importance of repetition, but I believe that repetition makes it only worse when the fingerings are wrong for you.

Other Examples of Complex Fingerings

Purposeful Fingerings

Inventio 14

There is a brilliant example of purposeful fingerings, which is Bach’s Inventio 14. I was never aware of this and used fingerings that employ the middle fingers, thereby making the passage easy to play. I had tried with what I would consider as purposeful or ‘pedagogical’ fingers (using the three weaker fingers, 3-4-5) and found it too difficult.

That went on for years. It was really in a flash of insight this morning that I became aware that the purpose of this piece is to train the weaker fingers, thus the fingering 3-4-5 should be used for these critical passages.

Fingerings in Bach’s Inventio 14

The ‘trick’ was then to slightly modify the sequence and play 3-4-5-3-2 instead of 3-4-5-4-3. The latter was what I tried before, over so many years, without succeeding in a smooth rendering of these passages in the left hand. But by ending the sequence on 3-2, two goals are reached. The weaker fingers do not fatigue so easily then, and the hand is prepared for playing the upper register with 3-2-1-2-3. This is the ultimate solution of this difficulty in my opinion, recognizing the pedagogical value of this composition by Bach.

Musical Performance, a Craft

I never developed a philosophy for jazz music and related genres. Regarding classical music, this was different, for I had from the start the intuition that classical music has some sort of philosophical basis. This intuition of mine was fully confirmed by the play of Svjatoslav Richter that I discovered in my early 20s.

—See my site, Svjatoslav Richter: A Retrospective, where I try to convey details about Richter’s musical genius and provide many Youtube links to his immensely convincing recordings.

Now, it was only in the interview with Johannes Schaaf in Tours, in German language, that Richter conveyed details about his own musical philosophy. He said he considered musical performance as a craft and the performer as a craftsman. This, he explained, was an important attitude that reflected itself in the way a pianist would practice the piano on a daily basis.

Let us inquire more deeply into this for I found this view really uncanny in the beginning and now have made it to my own musical philosophy and guidance for piano practice. To begin with, a craftsman differs from the virtuoso in that the public performance as well as fame and glory are largely secondary for him or her. What counts is the firm attitude that invites to a stoic handling of performance difficulties as well as a steady track record of daily piano practice. Richter emphasized that there should be at least 3 hours per day reserved for piano practice which consisted primarily in repeating the pieces over and over again to learn them. This repetition, he urged, is the basis of perfection, the perfection needed for playing any classical piano piece convincingly for any audience.

Contrary to pianists who emphasized the emotional impact of the music offered in public performances by the pianist—such as Arthur Rubinstein and Claudio Arrau—Richter’s view is by and large unemotional and rational, as well as analytical and philosophical.. Through my own accidented pianistic development, I found that indeed repetition is fundamental in learning the pieces and in handling them pianistically in the best mode possible. For when you see things that way, you become largely unafraid to play mistakes over and over again for you know that with the repetition this will reduce by and by, being replaced by ‘valid code’ so to speak, and beautiful lines of expression.

Richter has expressed himself often times about the uselessness of piano etudes and I have to give here an additional argument. Next to being useless, what the regular practice of playing etudes does is to induce feelings of inferiority, as there are no limits to the mechanical mastering of those, and anxiety. Emotional satisfaction and reward, on the other hand, is gained from playing ‘real music’ instead of fooling around, hacking around and trying around music that was composed ‘for a purpose.’ In other words, playing etudes is a waste of time; instead playing real music brings progress, but proper repetition has to be built-in the daily practice.

You can compare it with learning a foreign language. Everybody agrees that for learning languages lots of repetition is needed. Now, the practice of a musical instrument is also a language: the language of the music herself, and the language of the piano, with its mechanical details. How does the human body relate to the playing mechanism, for example, is one of those questions. Some piano teachers emphasize these technical aspects quite a lot but it is the wrong attitude, in my opinion, for one gets too much on the technical side of matters, while the focus should always be the music herself.

With this attitude of a craftsman, as a craftsman-pianist, so to speak, you will master every difficulty in piano performance, for the difficulty is no more difficult when you repeat the passage over and over again. This is a good thing, for you stop dissecting musical wholeness through judging musical pieces are ‘easy’ or ‘difficult.’ As this is constantly the habit of most students at music conservatories, they thereby inhibit their free learning and expression of piano music for they focus on the negative instead of being positive-minded overall. And it’s all arbitrary after all. For example, is Schumann’s Carnaval easy or difficult to play? Is Album for the Youth or Kinderszenen easier, or more difficult?

Well, this depends entirely on your attitude. The simple-looking pieces for beginners by Schumann and other composers are really not simple to play, most of them are difficult to perform in their childlike expressiveness, for you need to get down to this level of purity, which is not easy today, in our society of mass consumption and gadget-addiction! Carnaval is easy to play for the dedicated pianist, who practices stoically on a daily basis, and with a consistent framework of commitment: 3 hours! Or 2 hours only, but consistently and persistently and regularly!