Menahem Pressler

Menahem Pressler

Artistry in Piano Teaching
William Brown
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/03/2008
Format: Hardback 23 b&w illus., 78 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35241-5
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Runner-up, 2009 International Piano Book of the Year Award

As soloist, master class teacher, and pianist of the world-renowned Beaux Arts Trio, Menahem Pressler can boast of four Grammy nominations, three honorary doctorates, more than 80 recordings, and lifetime achievement awards presented by France, Germany, and Israel. Former Pressler student William Brown traces the master's pianistic development through Rudiakov, Kestenberg, Vengerova, Casadesus, Petri, and Steuermann, blending techniques and traditions derived from Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt, and J. S. Bach.

Brown presents Pressler's approach to performance and teaching, including technical exercises, principles of relaxation and total body involvement, and images to guide the pianist's creativity toward expressive interpretation. Insights from the author's own lessons, interviews with Pressler, and recollections of more than 100 Pressler students from the past 50 years are gathered in this text. Measure-by-measure lessons on 23 piano masterworks by, among others, Bach, Bartók, Debussy, and Ravel as well as transcriptions of Pressler's fingerings, hand redistributions, practicing guidelines, musical scores, and master class performances are included.

Author Bio

William Brown is a professor of piano who has contributed to Piano Guild Magazine and PedalPoint. He lives in Bolivar, Missouri.


“As soloist and pianist of the world-renowned Beaux Arts Trio, Menahem Pressler can boast of accomplishments and awards, but perhaps most of all he can boast of his work as a master class teacher. This examination of his performance and teaching includes the exercises and principles he uses to guide the pianist's creativity toward expressive interpretation.”

“[Brown] provides a fine reference tool for the pianists not so fortunate as to have studied with Mr. Pressler, and for those who did, a means to reflect upon and deepen their understanding of this remarkable musician.”
 — Joel Harrison, Artistic Director, American Pianists' Association

“This is a loving paean to Pressler (b. 1923) written by a former student with a wealth of input from other former students. . . . A good selection for collections supporting study of the piano. June 2009”
 — Choice

“This book offers an invaluable insight into the world of this outstanding musician and his teaching. July 1, 2009”
 — American Music Teacher

“Brown's Menahem Pressler allows us to gain a unique perspective on the contributions of this extraordinary man and the impact he has had on the lives and music making of so many. February 1, 2010”
 — Clavier Companion

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Table of Contents

I: His Teaching
1. A Brief Biography
2. The Studio
3. Pressler's Early Training
4. The Debussy Competition
5. Opportunities in America
6. Bloomington
7. General Aspects of Pressler's Teaching
8. The Technical Approach
9. Principles of Expressive Performance
10. Guides for Practicing
11. Technical Helps
12. Pressler's Humor
13. Pressler at the Met: Beethoven's Sonata Op. 110
14. Pressler at the TCU/Cliburn Piano Institute

II: The Music
15. Johann Sebastian Bach, Partita No. 2 in C minor, S. 826
16. Béla Bartók, Out of Doors
17. Ludwig van Beethoven, Concerto No. 5 in E- flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" Beethoven, Sonata, Op. 81a "Les adieux"
18. Johannes Brahms, Sonata in F-sharp minor, Op. 2
Brahms, Trio in B Major, Op. 8
19. Frédéric Chopin, Nocturne in E major, Op. 62 No.2
Chopin, Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58
20. Claude Debussy, Selected Preludes
"Les collines d'Anacapri" (Bk. 1, No. 5)
"Feux d'artifice" (Bk. 2, No. 12)
Debussy, L'Isle Joyeuse
21. Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI:50
22. Franz Liszt, Après une lecture du Dante
23. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sonata in B-flat major, K. 281
24. Serge Prokofiev, Sonata No. 7 in B-flat major, Op. 83
25. Maurice Ravel, Gaspard de la Nuit
Ravel, Le Tombeau de Couperin
Ravel, Piano Trio in A minor
26. Franz Schubert, Fantasie in C Major, D. 760, "Wanderer"
27. Robert Schumann, Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
Schumann, Kreisleriana, Op. 16
28. Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, Concerto in B-flat minor, Op. 23
29. Carl Maria von Weber, "Perpetual Motion" (Sonata in C major, Op. 24, Finale)
Appendix A: Pressler's Musical Ancestry
Appendix B: Lineage of Piano Teachers
Appendix C: Tributes
Appendix D: Studio Rosters (1955-2007)
Index of Compositions

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