Robert Estrin - piano expert

How Did The Great Composers Create So Much Music?

Discover why so many compositions were written

In this video, Robert explains how the greatest composers of all time came up with so much music that we still enjoy today.

Released on February 3, 2021

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to livingpianos.com. Robert Estrin here. The question today is a mind-boggling one, which is, how do the great composers come up with so much music? It just seems impossible. When you think about Brahms, and Beethoven, and Bach, and Mozart, and so many other composers, it almost seems like it's magic. Like something got handed down from the heavens or something, because it doesn't seem like there was a person, Beethoven, who actually could write such fantastic music.

Well, to a great extent, the secret is that we only have a tiny glimpse of their music, because most of the great composers made music up spontaneously, constantly. They were known to be tremendous improvisers. Of course, all we have, because audio recording was not developed until centuries later, we only have the written scores of these great composers to go by, but we get glimpses as to what the great composers actually improvised, and some of their fantasies. Like for example, you think about Bach and you think about very regular, beautifully crafted music. Like his first, Prelude for the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book One in C major.

Beautifully crafted work, that obviously was written out. But what about music that he just made up? Are there any glimpses into that? Well, yes, for example, his, Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, the way that starts out, it's very rhapsodic and spontaneous in nature.

It's an amazing work, that goes places you would never expect. And it gives you a little glimpse of what these composers were able to create, just on the fly. And this is their seeds for their compositions. And this isn't just true of the early composers. Think about when you listened to a Chopin Nocturne, and just imagine the melodies that Chopin and Liszt made up. Sometimes you'd have these parlor gatherings, and they go back and forth, as did other great composers, Anton Rubinstein and other 19th century composers. It was one of the things that they did, where they played for one another spontaneously. Listen to the opening phrase of the B-flat minor Nocturne of Chopin. And the second cadenza is something that, no-one would think of writing this. He just must've played this and figured out a way to write it down. Listen to what I'm talking about here.

It's a very, very rhapsodic, off the cuff phrasing. It's not metered. And it just gives you a little hint as to what these composers did on a daily basis, by themselves, for their family, for their friends, and all kinds of get togethers.

So what I'm doing for you today is, I did a little bit of an improvisation to try to show that classical improvisation is something that is still with us today. And there are a number of us that still make up music, because it's richly rewarding, and it could be the seeds for compositions. I hope you enjoy this.

Have fun with music. That's what I believe all the great composers did. There's joy and passion in their music because it wasn't just a tedious task of sitting there, laboriously, and lonely nights of crafting great compositions, although that's a part of music. A part of practicing and learning music is also being able to spend the time to learn scores, but having fun with it and not losing the love of music is what it's all about. And I believe those are the seeds of the great composers. So enjoy your music, explore things and see what you can come up with.

Thanks again, once again, I'm Robert Estrin. This is livingpianos.com, your piano resource. Thanks to all my subscribers. We'll see you next time.
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