Bach's 2-part inventions - Which are your favorites or have played?

Discuss the piano literature and how to teach and learn it

Postby Stretto » Mon Jul 10, 2006 8:56 am

p.s. I think this thread for me was more related to a quest of where to start in choosing repertoire, particularly "classical" piano literature. That's why I started with 2 Part Inventions. They just seemed like a logical starting point.

Speaking of Bach 2 Pt. Inventions, it seems that I've heard from more and more adults starting lessons that they practically skip over basic method-type music and start in with music like the 2 Pt. Inventions. I would think of a person needing to be at a late-intermediate at least to start learning the Bach 2 Pt. Inventions. Why is it that students, at least adult students are starting with the 2 Pt. Inventions as though they are beginner pieces?
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Jul 10, 2006 10:28 am

Good point. To introduce Bach, it's sometimes best to start with Anna Magdalena or the Short Preludes and Fugues.

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Postby Stretto » Mon Jul 10, 2006 2:04 pm

Since the thread jumped to page 4, be sure everyone to look back at page 3 where Glissando wrote some suggestions for playing the Inventions and I wrote kind of a "winded" explanation of why I started the thread (although that's the boring part!).
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Postby Glissando88keys » Mon Jul 10, 2006 3:55 pm

Stretto wrote: I thought I liked simpler music but now after doing simple music, I've gotten a hankering for something more difficult! :laugh:

Well, I said all this again to explain that I started these threads in the repertoire forum when I was trying to find a sense of direction of where to go on learning music.

Your sense of direction will depend on your destination. Where are you headed? Do you want something more difficult, or something more satisfying?

I love the fact that the Inventions sound melodically pleasant while being great technical exercises. At the same time, I don't think I would be satisfied with only exercises. A diet needs variety, something more juicy perhaps. :laugh:
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Postby Stretto » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:04 am

That's a good way to look at deciding what music to play based on what one's goals are. I have learned a lot about where I would like to be headed just writing in these forums.

When you refer to Bach 2 Part Inventions as technical studies or exercises that leads me back to this question I posted a while back in the thread that I never did get any answers on. Anyone?

Stretto wrote:I'm gaining some good information in this thread, thanks so far everyone, hope others reading this are too. One thing I've learned is that I might need to educate myself more on what piano literature is considered 'teaching material'. Now I'm concerned that all these music books I have from college are simply considered 'teaching material' so I have a whole collection of 'teaching material' and not much 'regular' music. :( (As Dr. Leland stated, I guess it's unfortunate the stuff gets that stigmatism placed on it). Well, that leads me to another question: How does a person educate oneself on what piano literature is considered teaching material and what's not? Where would one start or what are some resources for researching this?


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Postby 108-1121887355 » Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:24 am

Good question - I leave this to Dr. Leland
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Tue Jul 11, 2006 4:53 pm

OK, guys, if you want my honest opinion I think the whole distinction between "teaching material" and 'legitimate' literature is a totally artificial one. There are many very simple compositions that great artists have performed because they are worth playing: for instance, Horowitz and many others played and recorded the Schumann "Kinderscenen" (Childhood Scenes) and Debussy's "Serenade for the Doll"; Ravel's beautiful "Mother Goose" Suite, for four hands, was written for, and premiered by, two 7-year old girls, and has since been performed by many great artists as well as arranged for orchestra and recorded by some of the top conductors.

To be very frank, I think the distinction came about because many method books have appeared over the years with--in some cases--a lot of insipid elementary pieces written especially for teaching that insult the intelligence of a six-year-old. I don't mean we should teach only music by the great composers--some very beautiful stuff has been written especially for the better teaching materials--but I'm against teaching music with no musical value whatever. It's just not necessary.

Conversely, any worthwhile piece at any level can be used as teaching literature, depending on the needs of a particular student. The teacher just has to be able to point out the musical elements, moods, high and low points, etc., as well as the technical aspects--which, as we agree, are all interrelated anyway.

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Postby Glissando88keys » Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:24 pm

Stretto wrote: One thing I've learned is that I might need to educate myself more on what piano literature is considered 'teaching material'. Now I'm concerned that all these music books I have from college are simply considered 'teaching material' so I have a whole collection of 'teaching material' and not much 'regular' music. :( (As Dr. Leland stated, I guess it's unfortunate the stuff gets that stigmatism placed on it). Well, that leads me to another question: How does a person educate oneself on what piano literature is considered teaching material and what's not? Where would one start or what are some resources for researching this?


???[/quote]
Any piece of music that contains the essential technical elements that are necessary for the student's technique to gradually progress would be considered good teaching material. This includes the major classical composers, contemporary, whatever, as long as the piece has a variety of technical elements.

It is also important to vary each student's repertoire. Many teachers fall back on the same old standard performance pieces, without discovering the more obscure compositions by the major composers. With the wealth of music out there, why settle for those same time-worn pieces?
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Postby Glissando88keys » Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:36 pm

Stretto wrote: When you refer to Bach 2 Part Inventions as technical studies or exercises that leads me back to this question I posted a while back in the thread that I never did get any answers on. Anyone?

The Two-Part Inventions, as you know, got their reputation as teaching material because Bach used them to teach his students, so I've heard. Chopin's Etudes (transl. "Little Studies") also got that reputation through the years.
I started learning Nocturnes before I ever played an Etude, so, evidently, that practice was thrown out the window by my teacher at the Conservatory.

There is a certain point in a student's technical maturity where the Inventions would be a good addition, however, it is not written in stone that they are de rigeur. Is it, Dr. Leland?
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Postby Dan » Mon Jul 30, 2007 9:02 am

I have learned the c major, f major, and b-flat major. the first time i heard the b-flat was in an anglican church service. it was played quite slowly, with great beauty and reverence, and it almost put me on the floor! To this day, when i play the b-flat I always try to capture that feeling i experienced that day: it remains my favourite of the set.
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