Friday, February 3, 2017

Imagery in the Learning and Playing of Music -Collaboration of Teacher and Student - Walter Gieseking and Karl Leimer...

One of the most intriguing examples of the implementation of the process of imagery is, for me, the collaboration of a noted  pedagogue, Karl Leimer, and his most famous student, the celebrated pianist Walter Gieseking.
Teacher and student collaborated in 1932 in the creating of a method of learning music, especially for the piano, by way of a kind of internalized form of absorbing material before actually performing, which Gieseking brought to greater clarity following the passing of Leimer.
Briefly, the method involved  the learning of the music chosen by 'playing' the music through the reading of the material and the allowing of the senses involved to formulate the core character of the composition before actually performing the music at the piano. By 'visualizing' the music through inner sensory reaction to what is read, and allowing the meaning of the thrust of the composition to form into a reality evincing enough for actual playing of the music, such issues as muscle memory and the eventual formation to an interpretive stance, or view, combine to form the product as a precursor to actual playing of the music.
In a piece of considerable duration, I can only assume  that sections of that particular music be gone over by the above process until the entire piece will have been dealt with.
Up to a point, I can perceive the ways of this process, as I have, from time to time, taken a saturating look at a relatively short piece in total before actually touching the keys, and it does indeed help in  the conceptualizing of the music chosen.
However, this method, as utilized, evidently, by Gieseking, probably made sense, as this man was endowed with staggering powers of memorization, let alone, almost illimitable powers, as well, in sight reading. He could go through music just a few times and have it totally memorized. There were times, unbelievably,  that he memorized and then performed the piece IN PUBLIC without having touched the piece beforehand.  Imagine playing music in concert without having actually played that piece. Gieseking  practiced very little - he once said that after learning how to read, his formal education was over.  Back in the late forties and into the fifties, Gieseking was one of very few pianists who learned every piece of music that Mozart ever wrote, and then recorded the entire contents. I think that the recording can still be gotten.
And he learned  and performed all of the music of Mozart in a matter of weeks.
No wonder that this man conjured the sounds of the piano, unequaled, in my opinion, that he did. His legendary memory simply gave him more time than, perhaps, any other pianist we know of, to work on the issue of timbre and dynamics as, arguably, his Signature.
What with his views on Hitler and  Nazism, remaining in Germany throughout World War II, he remains one of the great miracles of the twentieth century.


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