In this middle section, I analyze a recording of Nyiregyházi, some of his compositional pursuits, plus dive into the conflicts between objectivity of today and piano playing from the Golden Age.
In this first part of the article, I discuss Nyiregyházi the man, and what it means to be a performer of the Golden Age of Piano Playing
Happy New Year!
A new year and some new plans for my blog. Over the next several months, I am planning to shift a lot of my focus towards a long neglected project: a sight-reading exercise book. I have several pedagogical exercises to specifically develop sight-reading skills and I think it's high time that I finish it.
But not to fear, my blog is a venue I value. So, I will be re-purposing some old articles that I have written but never published and presenting them in serialized form. First will be this article on Ervin Nyiregyházi which I wrote for a peer-reviewed journal but ultimately decided to pull. Second will be a doctoral essay that I wrote for a philosophy of education class on one aspect of college music curriculums. Finally, I will go all the way back to a master's degree work on Russian pianism in the music of Samuel Barber. Each article will come with an introduction to set the stage.
So-who was Ervin Nyiregyházi? I'll get to that answer more properly in the article. For now, I will say that he had a life story which can easily sound like a fantasy. Over years of talking about him, I think I've found the most concise way to make it most believable-which you'll read-but you owe it to yourself to check out the incredible biography, Lost Genius, by Kevin Bazzana.
I had heard his story and listened to a few recordings of his as an undergrad. I didn't understand his playing. His playing, to be sure, is difficult to understand without context. For me, that context came when I read After the Golden Age. Nyiregyházi's playing started to make sense, and the more I got to know his work, and the story of his life, the more I adored his true genius.
His playing truly transformed my sense of musicality, of what expressivity truly means. Studying Ervin Nyiregyházi was the true impetuous towards my artistic journey that I spoke of in my Artistic Messages series last fall. I wrote a clunky thesis on him for my master's degree, full of good intentions but weak arguments. I presented on him subsequently and honed my message, strengthened my scholarly skills.
This particular article came out of an international presentation that I gave in November of 2014 in London, England. It was to be published in a peer reviewed journal, but I decided that I didn't feel comfortable putting it out as a scholarly essay. Ultimately, it's still an impassioned, shamelessly subjective artistic credo, more than it's a scholarly essay. Sharing the work here seemed more academically honest, and certainly fitting with the message of my blog.
So, the article will come out in 3 parts: January 15th, January 25th and February 5th. It is a big read, but I do hope that it will prove useful for many people. For now, I thought it would be easiest to include the bibliography for the entire article all at once, from the outset, so it's down below. Let me know what you think!
"Modern performers seem to regard their performances as texts rather than acts, and to prepare for them with the same goal as present-day textual editors: to clear away accretions. Not that this is not a laudable and necessary step; but what is an ultimate step for an editor should be only a first step for a performer, as the very temporal relationship between the functions of editing and performing already suggests." -Richard Taruskin, Text and Act