Tag: Beethoven貝多芬

[:en]Welcome, Maestro Polanski! [:]

[:en]I am beyond delighted to announce that Mr Polanski, a Beethoven specialist, is our guest teacher now for consultation sessions and will be available for regular lessons after June! He will also be conducting small masterclasses and workshops with us. How exciting!

Here is a little glimpse of Mr Polanski’s impressive music experience:

In a career of over 20 years, maestro David Polanski has been sharing the gift of music with students of all ages. A former student of world-renowned pianist Malcolm Bilson (Cornell University), maestro Polanski holds Master of Music degrees both in Fortepiano Historical Performance and in Musicology (Boston University), as well as Bachelor of Science degrees in Piano Performance and Pedagogy (Hofstra University). He is a specialist in the music of Beethoven as well as 18th and 19th century performance practice and aesthetics. In addition to piano tuition, he has been an active performer, accompanist, and composer working with many prestigious organizations including Harvard University, the Boston Ballet, Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung Berlin, Schola Cantorum Basiliensis, Universität Bonn, Universität Nürnburg-Erlangen, and Boston University. Incorporating rigorous music theory, history, and philosophy in his approach to performance practice, maestro Polanski brings an historically informed method to his dynamic conservatory-style teaching and coaching.

Mr David Polanski
Mr David Polanski



Technical Command and Musical Knowledge

These days I have been giving this simple guidance to my students. Whenever they get stuck in their practice, they must ask themselves, “is it technical or musical?”

Technical Command means two things : 1. appropriate application of technique, and 2. sufficient command of the technique applied.

For TC 1, you must find which technical application you need to execute that certain passage, is it more of a forearm rotation or an upperarm rotation? Is it the palm grip or knuckle issue? Or are your fingers not close enough on the keys before execution? Etc etc. Or for TC 2, you have the right technical application but you have trouble in making it happen with solid control, then how are you going to fix it? Is it just about slow practice that magnifies the movement? Or is it a preparation problem, meaning you don’t prepare your hand position early enough prior to the execution of the pattern in question?

Musical Knowledge on the other hand, includes : 1. harmonic and structural analysis of the music (form, sections, phrasing, tonality, key changes, chord progression, notes: chord tones and non-chord tones, and relationships between notes i.e. intervals etc) , 2. historical background of the music (genre, the composer, and the period – other genres, philosophy, aesthetics, and other arts e.g. literature), and 3. interpretation resulted from the understanding of both 1 and 2.

I would point out MK 1 is what most need for the basic interpretation for MK 3. Without 1 there is no basis and knowledge as to where one’s performance interpretation and discretion arises from. How do you know what to do with that particular phrase or chord or note in terms of emphasis, articulation and dynamics? What do you feel and how do you present it and what is the difference when there is a minor 6th but not minor 3rd, or even, and augmented 5th? Of course, now I am pointing out a very small detail here, but always, especially when you have little experience in analyzing the music, start with something big. You start with bigger sections, then find out where each phrase starts and ends, and also the repeated /similar patterns in terms of melody and rhythm. Look for the chords especially some special sounding ones, and the cadences which define the keys and key changes. Where are the secondary dominants? The pedal points?

Let me discuss further in the next post. I think there is already a lot to digest for now. Always one step at a time.

Until then,

Teresa Wong

Online and Consultation Lessons

Due to popular demand, I am now officially offering online lessons to anyone anywhere in the world who cannot reach me locally. I already have students around Asia region, regarding topics on ABRSM / Trinity diploma exams. Look forward to connecting to more of you!

I am also re-launching my consultation lessons – they are basically those I have been conducting in “piano clinic“. You can come in for one-off session in which I address any issues you have regarding technical issue, musical expression, structural analysis, historical musical knowledge and understanding, performance practice, or anything concerning your preparation for diploma level exams (viva voce and quick study, program notes) and interview/audition for local and overseas summer schools/music institutes/colleges/universities. It would be useful for teachers who have questions over their teaching and playing technique as well. Interested parties please contact me through twsomusic@gmail.com.

Thank you for your attention.

Teresa Wong

Technique Videos Recording Sessions
Technique Videos Recording Sessions

Workshop on Diploma Exams 2014
Workshop on Diploma Exams 2014

References: On Beethoven and Piano Sonatas

In the last piano workshop, some attendees asked me about references for further studies on repertoire in terms of analysis and background. Here in this post, I try to gather some useful information for you all to refer to so that you can have deeper understanding of the pieces you are working on and better preparation on your upcoming diploma exams.


Prolific music scholar Charles Rosen has written a substantial and significant numbers of books on Classical and Romantic piano music among many other subjects. I have read quite a few and found them useful. Some might be more challenging and difficult to read. Here are the ones I would recommend for further study on Beethoven’s piano sonatas and Classical piano music in general.

Beethoven`s Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion (more on Amazon.com)

The Classical Style: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven (more on Amazon.com)

Sonata Forms (more on Amazon.com)

If you are looking for strictly technical analysis, this might be the book for you:

A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas: Analysis by Sir Donald Francis Tovey (more on Amazon.com)

It would also be good if you know something about Beethoven himself, not only as a composer, but as a human being:

Beethoven: The Music and the Life by Lewis Lockwood (more on Amazon.com)

Beethoven’s Letters (see it on Amazon.com)

Beethoven As I Knew Him by Anton Felix Schindler (more on Amazon.com)


For something more on the leisure side, there are a couple movies on Beethoven, for example:

Immortal Beloved (1994) (more on imdb.com)

This movie produced by BBC seems to be watch-worthy based on the critics and comments. Read and watch (for free!) here:

The Genius of Beethoven (2005)


Here is an amazing series of talks by András Schiff on Beethoven’s piano sonatas, a must listen to for those who are serious about knowing more on this particular repertoire:


For instance, this is his insightful lecture on Pathétique:



Some other useful and simple information on sonatas:


I think this is all good for now, plenty of information on reading, listening and even watching for you to do! I will try to make more videos on the Pathetique to show you how to analyze, understand and practice the sonata better.

Until next post,

Teresa Wong