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Old 01-01-2007, 06:52 PM
vladimirdounin vladimirdounin is offline
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Default I am free - you are NOT ! You are brainwashed - I am not ! You are still under m

I am free - you are not ! You are brainwashed – I am not ! You are still under musical ‘Soviet’ occupation !

I want to discuss the problem that undermines and ruins our business like nothing else does on Earth. At the same time, this problem is still “invisible” for many pianists.

Question : Can a pianist be scared of his/her own ability to play beautifully and suffer because of it ? To help you answer, I would like to remind you that beautiful music is extremely powerful. It can change the minds and hearts of any human being and even of entire nations. A lot of people were executed in my country Russia and elsewhere for performing the “wrong music” or for performing the right music in the wrong way.

(In spite of deadly jeopardy many Russians enjoyed taking this risk. When serving my term in the Soviet Army, I met a private who amazed his comrades with performances of the first bars of “The International” (Communist sacred anthem). He was extremely lucky that nobody reported his vocal exercises to the Secret Police, because he “sang” them from “a very wrong” part of his body.

Renowned composer Rodion Schedrin wrote the Symphonic Poem “Naughty Tunes”. It was based entirely on the tunes of songs for which the singer was always “awarded” the standard penalty of “10 years in jail”. Schedrin was quite likely to have received those “10 years” if the political climate in USSR had worsened.)

Under the influence of beautiful music, people become better : they do not want to be mean, to participate in injustices, to rob, to kill, to lie, etc. Consider this: what person in power would want this to happen to people under his authority? Who would carry out his plans and orders ? This is the root of the problem. This is why the best performers and composers are kept or driven away from conservatories and universities, why all the favourites of audiences are always “eliminated” in the very first round of any competition, why they are banned directly or indirectly from the opportunity to transmit their thoughts and feelings to others through their beautiful music. I am not talking about myself. I am not the best and my situation is not the worst, but I know plenty of others who are much better musicians than I and who have not had even my opportunities.

Story No 1. After my performance at the All-Russia Competition, an old gentleman (composer Foret) whom I had never met, embraced me, saying “I voted for you because you played like our pianists did in the days of my youth, before communists seized power in 1917. Be careful : they always destroy people like you !”
His words frightened me : : SOME members of my family who had committed no crimes were executed simply in accordance with the Communist Party drive to wipe out the “old intelligentsia”. The word “intelligentsia” comes from the original Russian word borrowed by many languages with unfortunately the modified definition : “smart, well-educated, etc.”. Originally, it meant only “ the part of the population that thinks independently”. It signifies that any independently thinking street cleaner or taxi driver is “intelligent” but not necessarily every scientist or professor. No totalitarian regime tolerates this “part of the population”; they always root out any “intelligentsia”. Indeed, hardly any type of political regime in the world likes them.

My head was full of alarming thoughts : Did this fellow say the same things about me during the Board of Adjudicators’ discussion ? Probably yes, because another member of the Board Prof. K.Adjemov formerly friendly towards me, refused to speak to me afterwards and was furiously against me during the discussion, I was told. I remembered that a very old relation of a friend told me that my piano playing reminded him of young Rachmaninov (a personal friend of his) although “Rachmaninov did not play like this in the latter period of his life on his recordings”.

I knew well that Rachmaninov, Prokofiev, Horowitz, Hoffman, Metner, Stravinsky and plenty of other pianists escaped from Russia after 1917 : “these dregs had sold their motherland for a dirty sheaf of dollars”. But how could my playing resemble that of those traitors ? I had received excellent marks for my solid knowledge of textbooks like Yury Kremlev’s “Piano Technique”. I always remembered that “piano playing is a clear political issue”, that “piano technique is a powerful weapon of Soviet propaganda and we must use it in full strength against our ideological enemies”. I felt no joy from that victory ( I won a “pass” to represent Russia in the All-USSR competition) . I realized instead that something was very wrong within me and that I had to do something about it urgently.

Story No 2. Many years later, when I arrived at a very luxurious sanatorium ahead of a concert I was to give with two singers, a very strange looking man was on the stage where we were supposed be preparing. Obviously unauthorized to be there, he was playing on a huge concert Steinway in just a hospital gown with no trousers. I had to ask him to leave the stage and hall and be outside until we will start our concert. So, I headed towards him.

However, after two steps in his direction, I stopped and was absolutely transfixed to hear his rendition of Tchaikovsky’s Meditation, a piece that I had never much appreciated previously. The two singers had the same reaction. Instead of preparing our own concert, we listened for over an hour to stunning music from this trouser-less pianist. It was very difficult for us to perform on the same stage immediately after this improvised recital of one the of the greatest contemporary pianists : Oleg Boshnyakovich.

Later Boshnyakovich invited us to his own concert which we heard on the same stage and piano… it was a very banal and even a bit boring concert with the same program. “Why did you not play the same way for them that you did for us ?” I asked Boshnyakovich. “Who would ever allow me to play in this fashion ?” was his reply. I knew the bitter reason of these words. For almost half his life, this great pianist was forbidden to play the piano by other “pianists in power” because of his “complete incompatibility with the Soviet style of piano playing.” Instead he performed whistling on stage for many years to make a living.

Story No 3. In St. Petersburg I heard Svyatosolav Richter ask my teacher Vladimir Nielsen about the fingering for Chopin’ study No6 Op25. Later they argued about “Bydlo” from Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky and discussed Richter’s last recorded version of Rachmininov’s 2nd Concerto. Nielsen told him “Many years ago you played this concerto one hundred times better than Rachmaninov himself, because you were inspired by this music which Rachmaninov was not at the time of his recording. Rachmaninov was obviously rather tired of playing this great work over and over”. Nielsen however did not like Richter’s last recorded version.

I felt myself confident enough to visit Richter at his home where I asked

To be continued below
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Old 01-01-2007, 06:59 PM
vladimirdounin vladimirdounin is offline
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Default I am free - you are NOT! You are brainwashed - I am not! (CONTINUATION)

where I asked him : why is my teacher still banned from concerts in Moscow despite the end of political repressions ? Nielsen was always on the black list of Soviet censors; even his most famous students were not allowed to mention his name in their professional résumés. Because of someone’s report to the secret police, he was forbidden to play at the Chopin Competition in spite of his “pass No 1” at the All-Union selection, and so on.

Richter told me that he was unaware of this situation. He thought that Nielsen simply did not want to play in Moscow. “I will say something to the right people” he promised.

A few weeks later, Nielsen received an “unexpected” invitation and was able to play a concert at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow which was previously a drama theatre with poor acoustics for the piano. The best pianists in Moscow never play there. When I read the article about his concert in “Sovetskaya Musyka” (Soviet Music) written by the Docent of Moscow conservatory Leonid Zhivov, I learned the answer to my question “Why ?”. Zhivov wrote in this article “All pianists in Moscow should learn from Nielsen because his music is “alive”, not “dead”…

However, when I pointed to Nielsen that many of his phrases had “non-standard”, reversed accentuation and asked: “Don’t they make your music alive?”, he only ordered: “Shut up and never said this again anywhere!”
I can tell plenty of stories on this topic, but is it not strange that this very specific aspect of piano technique can cause so much passion and emotion ?

The reply depends on the answer to another question : what is the goal of Art in general ? If we say “Our goal is to reflect the whole world with all its beauty, love, passion, drama, and hope, etc. in our music”, then all possible ways are good except the boring ones.

However, of all the means at our disposal, only one is acceptable : the one which is “approved by the authorities” whose only goal is to make perfect idiots out of normal people. The authorities want obedient robots “ready to carry out any order of ANY government”, who are preoccupied solely with their jobs, watching TV and drinking alcohol and who will die or kill “no questions asked”. From the authorities’ point of view, music is used as a form of brainwashing. To convert people into robots they must be saturated with special “robotic music”. The essential ingredient of robotic art is that “there is no choice”, “there is no another way” (to quote from a real song that Soviet people had to repeat and listen to over and over again) other than the right one provided by the authorities. The pattern “LOUD soft LOUD soft LOUD soft” is absolutely indispensable for this task. This pattern works like a narcotic : look at people sitting in their cars and shaking their heads in time to the beat from their stereo speakers, at mass shows, military parades, etc.

Is the pattern “soft LOUD soft LOUD soft LOUD” any better ? It is not better at all. Everything on Earth is bipolar. There is North and South, left and right, heaven and hell, good and evil, etc. We have two eyes, two ears and nostrils, arms and so on. Imagine that artists were forbidden to draw “anything left” on their pictures: no left legs, no left ears, hands and no clothes with the buttons on the left side; no left-hand traffic portrayed in pictures of countries with motorcars, only right, right and right again.

This is exactly the situation in music. Nowadays, there are more than two generations of pianists who do not suspect nor even imagine that the music Left (one TWO three FOUR) and Right (ONE two THREE four) are equally legal and both absolutely necessary for any normal performance despite official theory in the matter. Listen carefully to any great pianist : no one plays only that “march-like” style; both patterns always support each other. This is what makes their music come alive. But WHAT do we have to teach our students instead ? Only what is written in our textbooks and dictionaries full of false rules and statements. We are only making idiots of our audiences, our students and ourselves when we blindly follow them !

Amazingly enough, some Western musical educators are much more “Soviet” than in Russia. The Russian word “soviet” for many centuries meant “advice” or “council” but since 1917 ”Soviet” has come to be understood as “Totalitarian.” However, no single “Soviet hard liner” hit upon the idea of forcing all musicians in the country to play wrong notes in Mozart or Handel just because some his illiterate editor was unable to print music properly; or of preventing pianists from using pedal; or of appointing one single institution in USSR to take exams from all the students in the country; or of making a list of which Beethoven Sonatas and Bach Fugues are “allowed” and which are “not” at exam performances. In this respect, Western educators have undoubtedly eclipsed the most totalitarian dreams of all Soviet musical evil - doers. They seem to sincerely believe all the written dogma of the so-called “Soviet piano school”, whereas the best Russian performers and teachers always laughed at it (when not in the exam rooms of course) and were great and brilliant not because but in spite of this dictatorship. To paraphrase a Russian saying : “He who knows and can – plays, He who knows but cannot –teaches, He who does not know and cannot – writes instructions for those who teach and play”.

The billions that Communists invested in musical education were not just charity from a bloody dictatorship. It was a battle for minds. If THEY won, we lost. Musical education in the West could not compete with the excellence of Soviet pianists and instead of selectively borrowing the best parts of the Soviet system; it has simply surrendered with discretion and copied only the worst part of this system: stupid dictatorship ( but without Russian inherited resistance to any dictates). Look around and you will realize that you are still living under musical “Soviet” occupation; many Western pianists are still “musical slaves” of a system that died many years ago whether or not they understand the meaning of the word “Soviet”.

In music, many of us are not as free as we would like to believe because we lack courage. We seem to adulate pianists who play faster because fast tempo appears to be the most important thing in music (confer e.g. “examination requirements”). This is nonsensical. In any language (music is only one of them) fast tempo is the LEAST important thing. Are the words “I love you”, “I hate you”, “I am your friend”, “I want to console you” or other words more effective because they are spoken “Presto” rather than “Allegro” or “Andante” ? Do you know any actor on the planet who is admired just because he/she speaks fast ? I doubt it. Fast speech is more of a handicap than an advantage for any actor, politician, priest, etc.

There is no reason to be scared of “robots” – they get high marks only from other “robots”, from their “maintenance people”. Audiences do not like them or their recordings. Robots are rather ridiculous because they can not play even two notes on their own without someone else’s CD downloaded in their head, and they are absolutely unable to play any piece slowly (because CD can not play slowly, of course). Ask any “robot” to play their piece in only ¼ of normal tempo, and robot immediately will “declare bankruptcy”: slow tempo is incompatible with an empty head. As soon as fair and honest competitions are opened to pianists of all styles, all robots will die off quickly.

Would you be unhappy if you were selling normal good pictures while someone else sold “one-eyed”, “one-handed”, “one-eared” pictures ? Of course not. This type of competition would be very useful for your business: people would compare and appreciate your art even more.

However, suppose you were the salesman of this “one-sided” art ? What would you feel about your competitor selling normal art ? What would you want to do to him and his wares ? This is the reason why so many pianists enjoy being sheep-dogs of our worldwide, global “musical concentration camp” packed with “one-sided prisoners”. They are always ready to attack anyone who dares to step off the path determined by our warders. (The standard phrase of escort to prisoners in Soviet Russia was “Should you make a single step to the right or to the left, it will be considered attempted escape and you will be fired upon immediately without warning.” One of our artists was shot in the arm because he raised his hand to touch a blossom on a tree above his head while he was being led in a line of prisoners.) Read a few posts at random in any forum and you will spot these pianists easily.

This situation explains why the “most overrated pianist ever” is detested so

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Old 01-01-2007, 07:04 PM
vladimirdounin vladimirdounin is offline
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Default "I am free - you are NOT ! You are braiwashed - I am not ! END


This situation explains why the “most overrated pianist ever” is detested so much by all “one-sided musicians” which is why he is the best loved pianist in Russia. All Russians have had more than enough of slavery and they appreciate freedom. Van Clyburn, a student of Russian refugees and who obviously played in a pre-1917 fashion, was and still is a symbol of Freedom in music for my country despite anything he lacked in technique.

Listen to any musical phrase of his and you can always hear the living variety of accentuations, just as in normal human speech of any language. No one “uniform accentuation” can compete with this way of “speaking and singing on the piano”. Bankruptcy is guaranteed. Many “kings of all the pianists of the universe” played in Russia after Clyburn and had empty seats in the hall at the end of their concerts, because they were only slightly different models of “robots” in a country “overstocked” with them.

Is there any way to end this “one-sided slavery” and become a normal “two-sided” pianist ? Yes, of course. Anyone can in just a few days. All you need to do is to play for a short period of time each piece of your repertoire in “reversed”, “left” instead of “right” accentuation. It is terribly difficult the first day and especially the first hour, but you will quickly come to appreciate the change. The next step is to play once with “left” then with “right” accentuation, then continue alternating. In this way, you will get a chance to choose the best accentuation for each phrase and store it in your memory. If you manage to play any piece “both ways” easily, then you are FREE for ever. In any of your phrases you will always play the accentuation that you prefer rather than because it is the only one you know
A big advantage of this approach is that your performances will always be fresh. You will be amazed to hear that you play differently each time. Your combinations of Right and Left accentuations never will be repeated because they depend on the state of your mind and soul at the time of performance. Each time it will be a kind of improvisation, and you never will be bored with any of your music.

Don’t be scared with this fact; remember words of the greatest pianists: “You have no right to play any piece on a rainy day the same way as you played it on a sunny day”. This approach will boost your creativity and you will be interested and inspired even when playing your old repertoire. Any audience will immediately feel and appreciate your style: everyone likes freshly cooked meals; no one likes “canned” or stale ones, especially in music.

To support this post, I have recorded a few randomly chosen pairs of absolutely different pieces with “Right” and “Left” accentuations. If somebody would be interested – I will send them for listening. To avoid being influenced by any previous experience, I have chosen the music to record from my students’ repertoire which I rather sight-read. I have never worked on any of it before as seriously as I would normally for myself. Some of my students play better than I because no one is a slave in my class. They are always FREE to choose ANY accentuation they prefer. As for me, I am not completely free yet, because my “slavery” lasted too long. However, I remember the words of Chekhov that the most important thing for any human being is : “to squeeze out the slave from ourselves drop by drop each day”.

Can ANYONE ELSE do the same and post recordings of the same pieces or others with BOTH types of accentuation: Left and Right? Who will take up my gauntlet? Prove for yourself now, that the title of this post is NOT about you!

I hope you succeed better than I. I wish this sincerely because I do NOT want to feel alone amongst “one-sided” robots. I am sure a lot of “musical humans” are alive out there somewhere. Make yourselves known, please !

In anticipation,

Vladimir Dounin

PS Try to do the same with any of your songs that I did on my "one - sided recordings": simply replace ALL your accents with their "mirrored reflections". (Do you know how great is look of the house with mirrors and how poor it is without any of them on the wall). Not for ever, just for a few times, for a change. It will give you the greatest opportunity of choice. Instead of unreasonable, suggested by our evil-wishers denial you will be always able to take fully INFORMED DECISIONS about the appropriate Left or Right accentuations in each of your phrases in the future.

Play in any group of notes (four eights or sixteenth, bar, phrase etc) the very first SLIGHTLY (read my FUR ELISE) softened and the last one SLIGHTLY stressed. That's all. It is so simple! And you will be amazed: how fresh and new for you will be any of your old pieces.

To encourage you and all the others to try this way, I pasted here below a real quote from the recent letter of my "distant student" from Australia (I never met her in real yet).

Standard HeaderHide Pane
Eleanor Sheldxxx <xxxxbird_22@hotmail.com>
View Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:24:45 PM

Thank you so much for sending me those. I've just been playing with these numbers - and it has an effect like magic on the overall sound when that stressing is applied. It's beautiful.

Be positive and logical: why not to look at the reflection? Why your reflection must look necessary worse than yourself? Even more, many of expensive, specially mastered mirrors make your look better than "original you".
(These mirrors make you more high and slim; enhance the colour of your skin etc. It gives you (that is especially important for each lady) confidence that eventually is stronger and works well, better than any beauty.

Good Luck!

Vladimir Dounin
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Old 12-22-2007, 02:19 PM
AnhMy+Tran AnhMy+Tran is offline
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Default Musics should stay far away from politics

I do not really understand you, but I think Musics should stay far away from politics.
I think I am free from your opinion, and I am independent in thinking.
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Old 09-03-2009, 09:48 PM
bestpianosoftware bestpianosoftware is offline
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Wow, I never learned the historicity of music before in just one post like I did with this posting. Thank you very much. you have proven your point. Music is indeed very powerful. yet its power needs to be directed properly.
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