Between and he was a choral coach and subsequently an assistant conductor at the Bayreuth Festival. His courses in musical interpretation were legendary. For his many notable students, see here. As a leading musical figure, Cortot traveled for many international music events.

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It makes me hopping mad when people go on about the numerous wrong notes in his recordings. Would that they could begin to hold a candle to playing of such genius, flawed as the results sometimes were.

But these surface blemishes which would not pass the censors nowadays, admittedly detract from the playing not one iota — besides, he admitted he hardly had time to practise, busy as he was with his teaching, conducting, administrative duties and touring.

After just one week of practising the exercises, my playing of the piece improved dramatically. I still use them all the time, not just for the exercises Cortot designs, but also for his fanciful and poetic running commentaries which illuminate the music wonderfully. The essential principle of this method is to practise, not so much the difficult passage taken as a whole, but the particular difficulty it presents by reducing the latter to its elements.

The principle will hold good for all pianoforte practising; it does away with mechanical work which degrades the study of an Art essentially featured by sensibility and intelligence — and though it may appear superficially slow, ensures in fact definite progess. Cortot , Salabert. Even though Cortot belonged to the finger school of piano playing, he realised the importance of diagnosing the technical problem and coming up with an array of exercises that focus on it. Doing the mechanical work on the exercises rather than in passages from the music is a great idea.

Then, when you go back to music, it all works so much more easily, as though the hand had been lubricated. This might be transposition, but often seems to involve a pair of fingers in ever-increasing stretches, and I find myself constantly warning students only to stretch as far as is completely comfortable and to AVOID the sometimes unnatural and potentially damaging extremes of stretch he suggests.

Other than that, I find if you use these exercises, not only do you learn the piece so much quicker and more thoroughly, but you can transfer the thinking behind them to other pieces. Check it out here.


The Study Editions of Alfred Cortot



Alfred Cortot



Piano Sonata in B minor, S.178 (Liszt, Franz)


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