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Avior Byron

My name is Avior Byron and I am a musicologist, blogger and composer. I write books, articles and a blog about music, performance, research, and theory. Read more at my about page

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The interpretation of Rudolf Serkin - lesson plan

The interpretation of Rudolf Serkin

Once a month I conduct a meeting which is part of ‘Beit-Midrash Musika’ in the Keshet community in Mazkeret Bataya (where religious and secular Jews educate the children together). The meetings are dedicated to musical interpretation which has many issues that are connected to the performance and interpretation of tradition in general. The people who come to this program are interested in both music and pluralistic interpretation of Jewish/Israeli culture. The next meeting is dedicated to the famous pianist Rudolf Serkin. I have included in this post a brief of the lesson plan and some videos of Serkin performing.  

The pianist Andras Schiff wrote that ‘Rudolf Serkin is one of the great unsung heroes among the giants of musical performance.’ Serkin influenced a huge amount of important pianist in America and beyond it. Most of the lesson is based on what I have read in the book Rudolf Serkin: A Life  by Stephen Lehmann and Marion Faber (Oxford, 2003).

Here is the lesson plan for the ‘Beit-Midrash Musika’ that I will do tomorrow.

lesson plan

1. Listening

2. Early influences: Swarzwald school, Schoenberg (objectivity, ‘ethical’ interpretation, total dedication to the composer, Society for the Private Performance of Music (1918-1921).

3. Berlin: turning away from Schoenberg, Adolf Busch, playing from memory, Sachlichkeit, unified tempo, clarity, going beyond sound.
4. Toscanini: ‘architecture with passion’.
5. Listening
6. Serkin’s attitude towards recordings, his attitude towards listing to recordings when building an interpretation.
7. Listening.

8. The way excessive practice influences one’s performance, Serkin relation to the musical score, Serkin’s ‘religious’ interpretaion of music, suffering as an ideal, choosing the difficult solution, practicing with physical pain. Conflict and tension when performing.   

9. Listening.

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