Solutions concerning technique and interpretation
12. How to Study Chopin’s Études?
More information If I have been able to write this chapter it is above all thanks to my first professor, Bolesław Woytowicz (photo on the left), a student of Aleksander Michałowski who himself was one of the disciples of Karol Mikuli, a student of Chopin. Michałowski shared with Woytowicz many of Chopin’s recommendations. I will mention some of his advice on these pages.
For those curious souls, I will share the repertoire of Woytowicz taken from public concerts during the years 1915-1965 - a musical choice undoubtedly inspired by Josef Hofmann.
Bolesław Woytowicz - excerpts from his 1915-1965 repertoire (original version under the cursor)
As a young man,
followed Hofmann’s concert tours which were famous because he never played the same recital program twice during the same season. It goes without saying that the repertoire is written here in Polish, but for a musician it is easy to understand; the Polish terms
● 6/ Mozart - Sonatas “(all)”
● 14/ Chopin - Mazurkas (30), Etudes “(all)” , Preludes “(all)” etc...
● 38/ Debussy - “complete works” (except the Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra).
In 1959, B.Woytowicz recorded the complete Chopin Etudes. The Opus 10 recorded on this disk is already available on YouTube. You can listen to each Etude separately: to show the list, click on “More” in the YouTube window - help . To complete the recorded etudes available on the Internet, I have added here the Etudes from 0pus 25 and the Three Posthumous Etudes. Regarding the latter: Woytowicz recorded them in the order of the Polish Music Edition (PWM / Paderewski), i.e. n° 2 in D flat major and n° 3 in A flat major. Some editions reverse the order of these Etudes.
The General Rules
(valid not only for the Chopin Etudes)
● The most important General Rule of professor Bolesław Woytowicz, is the following: all the “technical tricks” which consist of passing from the RH to the LH and vice versa, must be carried out imperceptibly. That is to say that someone listening and not watching the pianist’s hands must not be able to tell that the pianist is “dividing” notes in a different way than is written in the score. Nevertheless, Woytowicz himself did not always follow his own rules, as we can see, for example, in the first Etude from opus 10. I myself have been accused of a few inconsistencies. I will carefully study each comment of this type and if I find it justified, I will note it in the fragment I comment.
● Of course I believe it is useful to note that every exercise, without exception, must be played with the fingering that has been chosen as permanent.
● In Preliminary Advice, I have already outlined several recommendations of a general nature concerning the development of the exercises.
● IMPORTANT: One must always test the fingering of a rapid passage at full speed, even if you are not yet capable of doing so perfectly. In reality, what seems easy when you play slowly does not work, as a general rule, at full speed.