It's All in the Fingers

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 - 01:39 PM

Recently I went to a birthday party where there was a piano. When asked to play, I had one piece in my fingers, the Op. 118 Intermezzo by Brahms--the Intermezzo isn't party music. That incident reminded me of a piano teacher saying "always have a piece in your fingers." In this case I needed two.

While growing up, I was expected to play when company came to our house, and typically I would improvise "Amazing Grace" or "What a Friend We Have in Jesus". Those were perfect for my father's crowd. Not sure if there's anything in my fingers right now, but if I could sit down at the piano and magically play one work, I'd play Franz Liszt's Transcendental Etudes because of its emotional depth and virtuosic display.

What can you sit down and play or what singular piece of music would you love to be able to play?

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Comments [15]

Elizabeth from Hoboken, NJ

Actually, I'd love to be able to play the Intermezzo Opus 118, #2. It's my very favorite piece of music. No matter what mood I'm in, it's the right thing.

Stressed? It relaxes me.
Sad? It helps me cry and feel catharsis.
Happy? Makes me happier.
Mad? Calms me down.

Jun. 10 2010 10:36 AM
Dianne Chapitis from Canada

What wondrous synchronicity to hear Oblivion being played so soon after posting my comment !! Truly a goosebumps experience ! Thank you. I am working on a contemporary dance duet to"Oblivion"

Dianne Chapitis

Apr. 28 2010 09:29 PM
Dianne Chapitis from Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Knowing that music,especially live ,is such a wonderful conductor of moods, it would be wonderful to play Piazzola's Oblivion, in hopes that it would inspire the party to move and sway in this gorgeous rhythm !

Apr. 28 2010 08:47 PM
Kevin from New York

If I could play anything at a party, expecting people to pay attention, it would be Couperin's Tic-Toc-Choc. The only time I successfully played anything at a party was when, softly, in the background, I picked my way through the first movement (andante grazioso theme and variations) of Mozart's sonata 11. It was a small dinner party - maybe a dozen people, tops - and everyone was involved in the same conversation; even me, as I was playing!

Apr. 26 2010 07:46 AM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

A former girl friend, lo these many years past, once pressured me into playing something on the guitar (classical) for a small group of friends, most of whom were not, as far as I knew, classical music fans. Luckily I was able to pull out a simple but atmospheric standard, the anonymous "Romanza", which made her happy (though our romanza didn't last).
Stranger, perhaps, was being asked by my uncle and his wife to sing something for his in-laws, at a house that had no piano. Though not strictly "in the fingers", I did the opening lines of "il balen del suo sorriso" from "Travatore": not typical party music either.

Apr. 23 2010 10:51 AM
Elizabeth Sutaria from Union,N.J.

If I could play the piano(I tried but was a
dismal failure!)--I would play" Rhapsody in
Blue"by George Gershwin.I often wonder
what picture Gershwin had in his mind when he composed that music. I would
have to play it on a grand piano ,at dusk,
in my beloved New York City!!

Apr. 22 2010 09:37 PM
Hector Vargas from Mexico city

For the crowd and me, a boogie piece in Pinetup Perkins style..just for me, any of Bach´s "Goldberg variations".

Apr. 22 2010 04:47 PM
John Christiano from Franklin NJ

I never had piano lessons, but from my trumpet and vocal education I can pick out the melody of almost any tune if I have the music....and a piano.

If I could really play, my first pieces would be Fur Elise and Moonlight Sonata. Then, well, the list gets too long.....

Apr. 22 2010 10:09 AM
Larry from CT from Stamford, CT

That's the problem with being asked to play something at a party. You never know what the crowd will relate to and you're being put on the spot. In a sense this is wrong and you should not be blamed if what you played didn't go with the mood of the event.

I would love to be able to play any piano sinatas by Mozart or Beethoven.

Apr. 22 2010 03:30 AM
Nale from Montclair, NJ

I am a pianist-wannabe, and envy those who just sit down and play without having to look at their fingers.
If I could play anything (well), I'd want to dazzle the crowd with Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumble-bee and Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody #2.
I'd also sneak in Gershwin's Sweet and Lowdown for piano solo.

Apr. 21 2010 10:34 PM
Jordan Rab from Rio de Janeiro

My wife, Sonia, - a gifted Brazilian pianist, would play Debussy's 'Arabesque' and then 'Odeon,' by Ernesto Nazareth, Brazil's Scott Joplin. Both are always well-received, though very different.

Apr. 21 2010 10:27 PM
Jonathan Blunk from Cortlandt, NY

I've thought about this a lot. Though I don't play piano (I play the upright bass), I've always wanted to learn Professor Longhair's "Tipitina" or his version of the Ray Charles hit, "Mess Around." I've tried to bribe my daughter's piano teachers to help me, but no luck. I'd love to be able to "walk right in" to a party and bang out one of those tunes on the piano. Someday, I will.

Apr. 21 2010 08:38 PM
Kathleen from Brooklyn NY

For years, I had several half songs that I could start...then stop. Recently I've gotten a Kawai digital piano. I took lessons as a kid and learned these pieces but over the years they 'left' me (Moonlight Sonata, Sonata in C,Mozart, Bach's Prelude & Fugue in C, an Aragonaise). But I was astonished to find out that the Aragonaise is a genre of music! I didn't know which one I knew?!?!So I was ecstatic to find a huge music book with my Aragonaise - that is from Le Cid!! A very impressive song, though in my fingers a little faulty. But it works for parties! Slightly off topic, it amazed me that the songs came back to me a few measures at a time as I played my 'music brain' awake with scales and exercises. Such a lovely feeling.

Apr. 21 2010 08:02 PM
harlanjames from Broooklyn NY

I'm a jazz/pop piano player with a large repertory of American Songbook standards that I can play and improvise on. But I have a really hard time learning thoroughly notated piano compositions in any genre. Two that I would like to be able to play correctly and with brio are J.S. Bach's "Italian Concerto" (all three movements) and Duke Ellington's "New World A-Comin'." And let's add James P. Johnson's "You've Got to Be Modernistic."

Apr. 21 2010 04:39 PM
Frank Feldman

When I'm in practice, I can play everything, at least badly, if I've a score in front of me. But now I just rattle off a jazz tune or two in my junior league Bill Evans way.

Apr. 21 2010 04:28 PM

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