CHOPIN: REAWAKENING 55+ YEAR-OLD MUSIC & MUSCLE MEMORY

Well, if I did not experience it myself, I would have had a hard time believing it. In just 4 days, I learned to play one of Chopin’s masterpieces – the Waltz op 64 No. 2 in C# minor. The last time I played it, if I had played it before at all, would have been in the late 1950s. So more than 55 years ago.

This waltz is the No. 6 element of the famous Chopiniana – Ballet Blanc, or Les Sylphides – adapted to orchestra, and first introduced to public by the Russian composer Alexander Glazunov in 1893 – 44 years after Chopin’s death.

This music came to me in a dream on Feb 11 of this year, along with several other Chopin pieces, some of which I have also already recorded. But Elizabeth and I have been busy with a multitude of activities since then. So it was not until last week that I started to play this particular waltz. And it took off like wild fire. Even the fingering (and my old mistakes – I now remember) returned effortlessly. 🙂

It was like being 13 all over again. Except that now I wanted to get it right. Or at least as perfectly as my arthritic right hand would allow it. Hope Monsieur Chopin approves, wherever he may be today.

So here’s my first recording of this walt on my Steinway. Later on, I will also post the Clavinova (orchestral) version of it, along with the Les Sylphides ballet as a video background.

Chopin Waltz in C# minor Op 64 No 2: Steinway rendition – music and film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – recorded in Scottsdale, Arizona on Apr 16, 2018

Here are also some more still shots from today’s recording session:

Chopin Waltz in C# minor Op 64 No 2: Clavinova rendition – music and film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – recorded in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 16, 2018


UPDATE APRIL 18, 2018

CHOPIN WALTZ IN c# MINOR: THE MAYERLING RENDITION

While (re)learning to play Chopin’s Waltz op 64 No. 2 in C# minor after a 55 -year+ hiatus, I had imaged of a love story unfolding before me.

My childhood friend from Yugoslavia, Dr Mira Pavlovic, a professor at a Medical School in Florida, who also played piano at the time we were both teenagers, wrote back to me and said that Chopin told his teacher after he composed this waltz that it was a story about an older gentleman courting and proposing to a young beauty.

I had no idea about that until yesterday. Yet when I was considering what visual images to use for my own recording of the piece, I thought of Mayerling.

The Mayeling tragedy was a series of events leading to the murder–suicide of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria (21 August 1858 – 30 January 1889) and his lover, Baroness Mary Vetsera (19 March 1871 – 30 January 1889). Rudolf was the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and Empress Elisabeth.

Since Chopin’s waltz does not end on a tragic note, I thought that perhaps my music video might be misunderstood by the viewing public. But after hearing what Mira had to say about it, quoting Chopin himself, I decided to create a Mayerling rendition of this wonderful waltz

 


 

Feb 2018

CHOPINIADA

Chopin was never one of my favorite composers. I played his pieces mostly to please others who reveled in his melancholy music.

What did I say last summer about Chopin when his Grand Valse Brillante came to me in a dream – that I thought some of his music was fluffy and maudlin? (too sentimental). And yet here he is, late my life, knocking on my doors and moving into my life again (see From my Dreams Journal: IBM AND CHOPIN, Feb 12, 2018).

Which inspired me to work on a “Chopiniada” music video.  It will be a”ballet blanc” (white ballet), a shorter version of Les Sylphides, also known as “Chopiniana.”

Alexander Glazunov had already set some of the music in 1892 as a purely orchestral suite, under the title Chopiniana, Op. 46. In that form, it was introduced to the public in December 1893, conducted by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. I have also done the same, recording some of it on my Clavinova, some on my Steinway.

Once I have mastered the five new Chopin waltzes, including the two from my dream, I may produce the full version of Les Sylphides. Meanwhile, here’s an introduction to the project:

And now, h ere’s my abbreviated, 16-minute version of Les Sylphides ballet, which runs for about 30 minutes with a full Chopiniana suite.

“CHOPINIADA 2018”, MY PRELUDE TO “CHOPINIANA” – a film by Bob Altzar Djurdjevic – recorded in Scottsdale, Arizona – Feb 19, 2018 on a Steinway and a Clavinova – with Mariinsky Imperial ballet Les Sylphides dance (video only)


By the way, the term Les Sylphides fits perfectly Chopin’s music. Its a French expression that comes from the “Sylphs” – mythological air spirits, like air elementals akin to Santa Tierras (female earth spirits. Maybe that’s why I used a sort of derogatory term “fluffy” to describe Chopin’s music, without realizing that at higher levels that actually means ethereal – divine – heavenly.

 

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