Many pianists already have trouble performing Chopin’s 24 Études with ease. Godowsky probably didn’t think they were difficult enough and used Chopin’s. Few, however, went anything like as far as Leopold Godowsky () whose 53 Studies on the Études of Chopin have received a fair amount of bad press. Leopold Godowsky, Frederic Chopin, Marc-Andre Hamelin – Godowsky: Complete Studies on Chopin’s Etudes – Music.

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Studies after Frederic Chopin (Godowsky, Leopold)

Whatever it is, it is hard to dispute the compositional skill and ingenuity which Godowsky poured into these Studies. The Healing Powers Of Sound.

It is therefore not difficult to understand why these pieces have earned the reputation of requiring Olympian feats of execution, and this helps to explain their general neglect as well as the critical abuse they have received from the time the first few were published.

The left hand is favoured by nature in having the stronger part of the hand for the upper voice of all double notes and chords and also by generally having the strongest fingers for the strongest parts of a melody.

Hamelin is, of course, one of the very few living pianists with the technique to play this music as it should be played: The resulting music is some of the most fearsomely difficult ever to be composed gidowsky the keyboard – indeed, Godowsky also went so far as to compose a number of “warm up” studies, for the pianist to use beforehand. Isn’t the left-hand part from Op. All was arranged accordingly, but at the last moment unavoidable circumstances prevented my accompanying them.

Hyperion Records

godowskj Any one of these Studies may, for example, pit together two or even three strands etudrs counterpoint, each with its own personality and demanding to be clearly differentiated.

Whether this is the case is for academics to argue over. This was the first significant body of left-hand piano music and Ravel studied it extensively while composing his Concerto.

To me it can only inspire admiration. Yet who else among pianists could rise to the challenge? Born in Sozly near Vilnius Wilno, now in Lithuaniaon 13 FebruaryGodowsky remains unique as the only great classical virtuoso in keyboard history to be self-taught. There was a long wait before any significant artist recorded another. The prospective pianist is confronted with unexpected levels of difficulty, mostly concerned with mental challenges seldom if ever encountered anywhere else in the repertoire, requiring unflinching concentration and true dedication in order that all details etudds clearly presented and articulated.


He might have been the most unique writer of piano music after Chopin, and godoswky not forgetting Liszt, Debussy and Rachmaninoff.

After all, his best-known works today the 53 Studies, Passacaglia, transcriptions are fantastic elaborations on works by other composers, rather than original melodies that he himself composed.

Harold Schonberg of the New York Times described this music as “probably the most impossibly difficult things ever written for the piano.

As it was their first venture from New York, I offered to join them. And who else could do so with such consummate artistry? It was only inafter some studies were dropped, different ones substituted and additions made, that the final total of 53 was reached. In addition to the Opp. Yet, despite their difficulties, it is not flashy or showy music.

The fifty-three studies are to be considered in an equal degree suitable for concert purposes and private study.

The left hand is favoured by nature in having the stronger part of the hand for the upper voice of all double notes and chords and also by generally having the strongest fingers for the strongest parts of a melody. Perhaps the task of learning and mastering such a work is too unrewarding, which may be why the Passacaglia is not heard frequently in the concert hall today.

Introduction to Leopold Godowsky, his 53 Studies on Chopin’s Etudes, and Passacaglia |

I then transposed the Study to the left hand to see whether the same fingering could be applied to it: The variety of contrapuntal and polyrhythmic devices Godowsky used is tremendous and it would probably take a book to discuss the Passacaglia in detail. The theme is in the left hand, while the right hand introduces counter melodies. So why is Godowsky’s music not as well-known as that of the composers mentioned above?


Eventually I came to the conclusion that the left hand is easier to develop when given an opportunity. This was republished with nine others in by Schirmer:. A performance of the Passacaglia is shown in the embedded YouTube Video below: Geoffrey Douglas Madge, whose Dante set I have not heard, is a pianist whose technique, I would suggest, simply is not up to the task.

They wrote me from Niagara Falls, where they had stopped overnight, of their enthusiastic appreciation of one of the wonders of the world, and continued to Chicago. It is worth quoting at length:.


Godowsky’s Studies on Chopin’s Etudes have achieved a legendary status efudes piano enthusiasts. Even though many pianists nowadays have the technical chops to perform Godowsky’s music, it has been neglected in favour of music which is outwardly showy.

However, such writing could only have been achieved by a pianist who had an intimate knowledge of the possibilities and limitations of the instrument and piano technique. Perhaps because he was equipped with such an all-encompassing technique, he wrote music that is technically very difficult to execute, though it is never difficult for the sake of it more below.

Jedenfalls keiner, der so wenig formale Ausbildung erhalten hatte. Pianists brave enough to tackle this music have often been content merely to get through the notes. CD Review Leopold Godowsky. So Horowitz said of the Passacaglia. Godowsky was probably unequalled in independence of hands, equality of finger and his ability to delineate polyphonic strands. Given that much of the music Godowsky wrote is “derived” from other composers, should we speak of him as a composer or as a etides writer of piano music?

Hopefully, receptive listeners new to the Godowsky experience will welcome the kind of prismatic effect he achieved secure in the knowledge that it is produced by a friendly hand.