Many pianists already have trouble performing Chopin’s 24 Études with ease. Godowsky probably didn’t think they were difficult enough and used Chopin’s. Few, however, went anything like as far as Leopold Godowsky () whose 53 Studies on the Études of Chopin have received a fair amount of bad press. Leopold Godowsky, Frederic Chopin, Marc-Andre Hamelin – Godowsky: Complete Studies on Chopin’s Etudes – Music.

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Godowsky’s Studies on Chopin’s Etudes have achieved a legendary status among piano enthusiasts. Born in Sozly near Vilnius Wilno, now in Lithuaniaon 13 FebruaryGodowsky remains unique as the only great classical virtuoso in keyboard history to be self-taught.

Before discussing Godowsky’s music proper, some mention of his pianistic abilities should be made. Whether this is the case is for academics to argue over. Pianovers Meetup 1 Digest.

The resulting music is some of the most fearsomely difficult rtudes to be composed for the keyboard – indeed, Godowsky also went so far as to compose a number of “warm up” studies, for the pianist to use beforehand. In addition to what is stated above, the left hand, commanding as it godowskky the lower half of the keyboard, has the incontestable advantage of enabling the player to produce with less effort and more elasticity a fuller and mellower tone, superior in quantity and quality to that of the right hand.

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Imagine slogging to learn and perfect this Godkwsky, only to appear doing nothing very much to an etuxes while performing it! Whatever it is, it is hard to dispute the compositional skill and ingenuity which Godowsky poured into these Studies.

Those Godowsky studies listed but not published are: The comments which I feel are particularly insightful are marked out in bold. Godowsky also arranged many works by J. Such difficult music is probably out of reach technically for most of us, but it is nonetheless a fascinating experience exploring, listening to and appreciating the music written by one of the most unique figures in the history of the piano.

To me it can only inspire admiration.

Special remarks on the studies for the left hand alone In writing the twenty-two studies for the left hand alone, the author wishes to oppose the generally prevailing idea that the left hand is less responsive to development than the right. Ce sera David Saperton, le gendre de Godowsky, qui enregistra dix transcriptions en avec quelques autres compositions de Godowsky. And who else could do so with such consummate artistry?


The preparatory exercises included in a number of the studies will be found helpful in developing a mechanical mastery over the pianoforte by applying them to the original Chopin studies as well as to the above-mentioned versions.

Godowsky used the opening 8 measures of Schubert’s “Unfinished” Symphony as the theme, composed 44 variations based on it, of course, heaping difficulty upon difficulty on succeeding variations and concluded the work with a cadenza and a fugue.

As it was their first venture from New York, I offered to join them. The inventiveness displayed in these particular Studies in the areas of polyphony, counterpoint, physical configurations and fingering, is nothing short of staggering, and was a source of great inspiration to Ravel when he came to write his Concerto for the left hand.

The prospective pianist is confronted with unexpected levels of difficulty, mostly concerned with mental challenges seldom if ever encountered anywhere else in the repertoire, requiring unflinching concentration and true dedication in order that all details are clearly presented and articulated. Not only does Hamelin have the “chops” he has been including various of the studies in his recitals both programmed and as encores for years now and it shows.

Being averse to any tampering with the text of any master work when played in the original form, I would condemn any artist for taking liberties with the works of Chopin or any other great composer.

The variety of contrapuntal and polyrhythmic devices Godowsky used is tremendous and it would probably take a book to discuss the Passacaglia in detail. The limited number of compositions which have been written for the left hand alone show a desire on the part of their composers to mostly develop the left hand in the direction of mere virtuosity.

It is worth quoting at length: The left hand is favoured by nature in having the stronger part of the hand for the upper voice of all double notes and chords and also by generally having the strongest fingers for the strongest parts of a melody.

Out of the 53 Studies, 22 are for the left hand alone and Godowsky’s comments on these Studies are worth quoting in full. His compositions are hodowsky only explored by pianists who are interested in the exotic repertoire of the piano literature.

Studies on Chopin’s Études – Wikipedia

Many of the variations feature such dense contrapuntal writing. Far from being disrespectful maltreatments of Chopin’s masterpieces, Godowsky’s elaborations aim to extend the limits of modern piano technique. The American critic James Huneker, who saw some of the first Studies in manuscript inwisely advised others not to wonder whether Godowsky had treated Chopin with reverence.


Pianists brave enough to tackle this music have often been content merely to get through the notes. These are fantastic exercises that push piano godowsoy to heights undreamed of even by Liszt.

I then transposed the Study to the left hand to see whether the same fingering could be applied to it: There was a long wait before any significant artist recorded another.

All was arranged accordingly, but at the last moment unavoidable circumstances prevented my accompanying them. Check out the right hand parts of Figures 2 a and 2 b and compare it to Godowsky’s creation Figure 2 c. It is impossible to think of another living pianist who godkwsky have carried off this enterprise with comparable success. This is the third complete set to appear on record. Das wurde auf zweierlei Art erreicht: The famous Etude Op. Hamelin is, of course, one of studes very few living pianists with the technique to play this music as it should be ogdowsky In an age where great pianists, including Josef Hoffman, Etudea Rachmaninoff and Arthur Rubinstein reigned supreme, all conceded that Godowsky had the most perfect pianistic mechanism of his time, and very likely of all time.

Geoffrey Douglas Madge, whose Dante set I have not heard, is a pianist whose technique, I etuddes suggest, simply is not up to the task. He always was experimenting with new techniques. My brother-in-law and his wife were among the close to one hundred human beings who lost their lives. The ‘density’ of the writing gradually increases and a late variation is shown in Figure 3 b. Taken as a whole, these Studies revolutionized piano writing and expanded the polyphonic and etudss capabilities of the instrument.

Update Required To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. Their gkdowsky is to develop the mechanical, technical and musical possibilities of pianoforte playing, to expand the peculiarly adapted nature of the instrument to polyphonic, polyrhythmic and polydynamic work, and to widen the range of its possibilities in tone colouring He provided me over the years with many interesting ideas and comments—all stemming from a deep familiarity with the music.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that the left hand is easier to develop when given an opportunity.