Piano Sonata in A major D. 664, Op. posth. 120
In this masterclass, Professor Michel Béroff is accompanied by student Samuel Bach, who is interpreting a piece by Franz Schubert, the Piano Sonata No. 13 in A major D. 664. Professor Béroff points out the sort of nostalgia emanating from this piece and how it might differ from other sonatas that usually are more joyful or light. He mentions how finding the tempo might be difficult and the importance of marking breathes and silences. To properly understand how to interpret a piece, modern pianists have to keep in mind what instruments were originally intended. He shares various tips to improve harmonious sound, to reduce one's inclination to perpetrate dynamic changes, and to include left hand attention and pedal work while practicing.
To avoid doubling-down using dynamic effects,
To control footing and left hand to achieve harmonious consistency,
How to keep interpretation light and simple, and how difficult it might prove to be,
How to portray naivety when it is necessary.
Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 120 was likely composed in the summer of 1819 when the composer was vacationing in the Austrian countryside. In a letter to his brother, he described the scenery as “unimaginably lovely,” which is reflected in the sonata’s beautiful melodies. Schubert dedicated the piece to a young woman he met in the town of Steyr, Josephine von Koller. The first movement, Allegro moderato, presents two flowing themes in sonata form grounded by underlying rhythmic motifs. The second movement, Andante, is flowing and monothematic, evoking a pastoral spirit. It is characterized by a recurring rhythmic figure of a long note followed by four shorter ones. The delightful third movement, Allegro, is light and carefree, described by musicologist Karl Wolff as a “Viennese waltz danced in heaven.” Schubert’s shortest complete sonata, this work captures the joy and contentment of youth in the summer.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Michel Béroff’s feedback and comments.
He won, in 1967, the first prize at the first international Olivier Messiaen piano competition
Michel Beroff was born in France in 1950. After graduating from the Paris conservatoire in 1966, he won the following year the first prize at the first international Olivier Messiaen piano competition. He has been since considered one of the most outstanding interpreter of Messiaen’s music. He then went on to play with the most prestigious orchestras around the world under the direction of such conductors as Abbado, Barenboim, Bernstein, Boulez, Dohnanyi, Dorati, Dutoit, Eschenbach, Gielen, Inbal, Jochum, Leinsdorf, Masur, Ozawa, Previn, Rostropovitch, Sinopoli, Solti, Tennsted, Tilson-Thomas, Zinman. As a chamber music partner , he has been very active playing with Martha Argerich , Barbara Hendricks Jean- Philippe Collard, Augustin Dumay, Pierre Amoyal, Lynn Harrell.
As a conductor, Michel Beroff has been conducting the chamber orchestra de la Scala de Milano, the Russian state Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Lyon, the Orchestre National de Lille, the Cannes chamber orchestra, the Berkeley symphony, the Montréal youth orchestra.
Professor Emeritus at the Paris Conservatoire, where he taught for 25 years, Michel Béroff is giving regular master classes in many countries, including Japan, China, USA, Italy, Germany and France.
Exclusive EMI artist for over 25 years, Michel Beroff has published more than 50 recordings ; among them the complete works for piano and orchestra from Liszt, Prokofieff and Stravinsky , conducted by Seiji Ozawa and Kurt Masur. For Deutsche Grammophon, he has recorded Ravel’s left hand concerto with the LSO and Claudio Abbado. His latest recordings include the complete piano music from Debussy. Michel Beroff has been awarded five times the “Grand Prix du Disque”.
As a publisher, he participated for Wiener Urtext , to a new edition of Debussy’s piano music. For the japanese network NHK, he realized, in 2006, a serie of fifteen master-classes on french music.
As a jury member, he has been serving in many important piano competitions, including Tchaikovsky, Van Cliburn, Leeds, Clara Haskil, Rubinstein, and Marguerite Long competitions, among others. Many of his students have won top prizes at international competitions ; the latest one is SeongJin CHO, who won the Chopin competition in Warsaw.
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna, Austria in 1797 and displayed a natural musical talent at an early age. Growing up in a musical family, Schubert’s own brother would be his first music teacher. At 7-years-old, the young boy was sent to audition with Antonio Salieri to begin his formal education. After a successful meeting, Schubert was recruited to sing mezzo-soprano in a small choir for the services in the imperial Hofkapelle. Around this time, he learned how to play the violin, counterpoint, figured bass, singing, and organ lessons by his father.
His education would continue at the Royal City College, where he would remain for the following five years. During these early years of his life, Schubert already began to compose is first masterpieces. By adolescence, his understanding of composition deepened, and the now prolific composer wrote 150 songs by eighteen-years-old. Many of the lieder he wrote during this time are still widely celebrated for their mastery today. They include, An die musik, Nacht und Träume, Der Erlkönig, Ich wollt, and more.
Despite the composer’s genius and the fact that he managed to publish some of his works during his lifetime, Schubert was economically unstable, which worsened after 1824 after showing early symptoms of syphilis that would eventually take his life in 1828.
Franz Schubert’s work embodies two periods of classical music: Viennese classical and early Romanticism. His pieces are emotional and poetic in nature, but nevertheless fit a classical mold. Schubert enjoyed experimenting with expression, modulation and was very influential in the genre of the Lied.