Essay Sample Dedicated to Claudio Arrau, the Pianist

Published: 2022-11-04
Essay Sample Dedicated to Claudio Arrau, the Pianist
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Music
Pages: 8
Wordcount: 1952 words
17 min read

A pianist is a person who is talented to play the piano which is used mostly in western music. The piano is a musical instrument that was invented in 1700 by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Italy. The piano has strings and produces acoustic tones that can be used to add value to western music. The art of playing the piano goes beyond being able to make musical strokes on the key of the piano because it is an expression of speech. Since the piano invention, it has significantly contributed to the western music development and publishing. The pianist plays a significant role in the development of music by giving music a unique identity depending on the set of sounds produced by the Piano (Von Arx 3). The piano, therefore, has immensely improved music by increasing the range of musical capabilities that can be offered by the keyboard instrument. There are many people over the years who have been exemplary in performing the piano and in the 20th century, Claudio Arrau has been able to dominate as the best pianist of all times due to his passion and effortless piano playing prowess. This paper will assess the life, career, and contribution of Claudio Arrau as a pianist in the 20th century.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Background Information

Claudio Arrau was an American pianist who was born in Chile to an eye doctor Carlos Arrau, and his mother was a piano teacher in 1903. His family was prominent in Chile, and his great-grandfather was initially from Spain and was sent to Chile by King Carlos III of Spain. Claudio Arrau was able to advance and dominate in piano playing in the 20th century due to the early lessons that he received from his mother while he was still young (Carter 26). At only the age of five, Claudio made his debut performance in Santiago where he played Mozart, Beethoven and Frederic Chopin tunes. When he was ten, Claudio Arrau had an opportunity through the government sponsorship to go to Berlin where he enrolled in the Stern's Conservatory of Music where he was able to improve his art of playing the piano, and after one year at the age of eleven, Claudio Arrau was able to play F. Liszt's tune the Transcendental Etudes which at the time were considered to be the most difficult tunes which depicted his talent and passion for playing the piano through his early accomplishments (Navickaite-Martinelli 229).

By 1918, Claudio Arrau was already conducting concert tours in Europe which further improved his standing in piano music. During the tour, Claudio Arrau received high commendation because of the maturity in his tunes and during this time he was learning from the best conductors such as Nikish, Furtwangler, and Mengelberg. Later on, Claudio Arrau returned to South America where he further conducted concerts in Santiago de Chile and later on made his first North American tour in 1924 where he appeared with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Symphony. In 1927, Claudio Arrau won his first huge award in Europe by winning the Grand Prix Internationale des Pianistes in Geneva which was highly contested and later on toured the Soviet Union in 1929 and went back there in 1930 due to public demand which indicated his rising star as a pianist.

The Second World War disrupted Claudio Arrau career in piano playing, and he ended his relationship with Stern Conservatory after which he returned to Chile where he operated a piano school. When he visited the United States of America, Claudio Arrau received high acclaim and moved permanently in 1952 to the USA where he settled in the New York. In the USA, Claudio Arrau focused on teaching piano, concerts, and recording and this is the time that his L.v. Beethoven cycles became prominent, and in 1952 his performance was broadcasted in the BBC which made him even more prominent compared to any other pianist in the 20th century. Later in 1978, Claudio Arrau became a naturalized USA citizen and gave up his Chile citizenship although this did not stop him from becoming a legend back in Chile where he won the National Arts Prize in 1983.

Claudio Arrau's Achievements as a Pianist

Claudio Arrau fame came from his interpretations of the repertoire dating back during the Baroque to the 20th-century composers. Not only did this make him one of the most celebrated pianists in the 20th century but also exemplary amongst the composers of his time. Claudio Arrau had a significant interest in psychoanalysis which he credited for his success in performance by helping him to understand the work of the previous pianists. It has been recognized that there were passion and intellect in his approach to playing the piano (Tchernik 17). This made what others perceived as difficult easy for him by being able to record piano music by Robert Schumann and editing his work for publication. In the most important aspect, Claudio Arrau was a teacher and helped my people to be masters of the piano (Navickaite-Martinelli 219). Teaching people about the piano was an important approach of preserving music through Mario Miranda and Bennet Lerner in the 1960s. Many students of Claudia Arrau have contributed to the preservation of the piano and the development of future music.

Arrau's career lasted for eighty years an aspect that made it possible for him to make a significant impact on songwriting and recording tunes. As a teacher, Claudio Arrau was able to leave a legacy through the notes he left behind that have been used to develop the modern piano teaching. The recordings and lessons from the pupils have been the source of conceptual and practical aspects of piano playing. In the many concerts, the thousands who attended Arrau's shows were thrilled and entertained, and his recordings were also used to entertain people in live media. Arrau contributed to the development of the music industry which is a very important source of entertainment. Many good pianists today were able to learn their skills from Arrau and too will pass on the skills to new players showing the lasting impression of Arrau's piano skills because he was willing to share with others.

Arrau's Virtuosity

There are two main techniques that are illustrated in Arrau's technical development. Through pianistic calisthenics and simple rudiments, Arrau can achieve virtuosity by making it possible to flow to the second and higher sphere of piano playing which has significant complexity. This refers to the expression of musical feeling and character as an antimusical distraction as well as an end in itself. In his career, Arrau viewed both virtuosity and technique as inseparable in musical expression an aspect that he learned from Liszt. In virtuosity, it meant being able to reproduce what has been expressed in art. From Scarlatti keyboard music to all the future pianists' virtuosity was necessary to help performers to be able to master their repertory and the indispensability of this approach was that it was able to attract and please the audiences. However, virtuosity amongst the pianist has been viewed with controversy in which virtuosity has been branded as a mechanical athleticism for thrilling and impressing listeners whereas taste and the invention were recognized to have higher artistic value (Von Arx 26).

Arrau was very sensitive towards the unfavorable reception of Liszt's music, and he aimed at creating virtuosic elements in Liszt's composition into greater focus as a musical expression which denotes Arrau's attitude in favor of virtuosity and through the defense of Liszt music he was able to create an artistic persona. His approach was a manifestation of creativity and also the physical enactment in the performance. However, Arrau also approached the virtuosity technique from the dimension of spiritual dimension making virtuosity as an enactment as well as a metaphor (Stroh 31). Arrau was against the simplification of the passages by redistribution because of what he noted as the necessity of the written difficulty to express itself which made it possible to have conflict and contention (Horowitz). Arrau was able to develop this mindset through Beethoven interpretation from psychoanalysis although the idea was not limited in just Beethoven sonatas. Therefore, virtuosity from Arrau point of view represented a means to an end which helped create his artistic identity through his inner character the technique of virtuosity was cultivated as an external appearance.

Technical Concept in Arrau's Virtuosity

In the beginning, Arrau exercised to be able to acquire the technical knowledge and later on he was able to apply analysis which made it possible to grasp the mechanical aspects and through this he learned to appreciate them. Arrau kept the technique, and its expression differently in which he argued by the technique is a technique of musical communication, and through it, a teacher could be able to communicate with the learners. The oneness of the virtuosity and expression were coined during his performances of Liszt's music which he passed on to his students (Stroh 74). Arrau noted that compelling performance and musical meaning were important alongside techniques in playing the piano. In Arrau's perspective, his performance of the technique was a form of art and not just a craft, and the trained body was not a servant of the mind but its equal in musical intelligence and expression which complemented each other. Through this, Arrau made the movements of the body one with musical expression by integrating the technique and expression which he used to integrate the body and the mind and become an instrument.

The Arrau Piano Technique

Many of Arrau's students view his technique as an arm weight approach in which the arm and gravity were used instead of the muscular exertion of the finger in the production of his tones. From Arrau's perspective, the fingers played a significant role in the play of the piano, but he argued that they could not be isolated or work independently without the arm (Stroh 81). Arrau taught his students to play the piano using movement and weight of the entire arm and not just the fingers. Through this approach, Arrau's students were able to learn the difference between good tones and bad tones where the whole body was engaged in the art of playing the piano.

The fingers strength was also necessary for playing the piano according to Arrau by stressing that the finger technique was important and its performance depended upon the strengths and the ability of the player fingers not just the arm weight (Carter 283). Breithaupt was a major source of inspiration for Arrau's philosophy in the piano virtuosity technique. Breithaupt argued that both the weighting technique and the finger action were necessary for producing greater tones and only through the cooperation of the fingers and the arms can this be achieved (Stroh 83). As such, Arrau's disciples have commended that the finger and arm technique is superior in which the energy to play the strokes comes from the arm above the elbow, not just the fingers.

Students learning Arrau's technique were shocked by the complexity and simplicity at the same time. Most of the students did not get it right away, but they all appreciated the finger and arms cooperation technique. Arrau used the higher finger action to make a loud, brilliant passage and the minimal finger motion was used in cantabile playing. The higher finger action required one to lift the fingers high and strike the piano keys in which the arm was to cooperate and afterward to be relaxed. Although the higher fingers were similar to the 19th-century hammer touch the fingers were better in that lifting the fingers high did not restrict their movement because they were frozen but very mobile compared to the hammer touch which was immobile. This indicates one of the advantages of adopting Arrau's finger technique because it provided greater strength to strike the keys and also the motion.

Cite this page

Essay Sample Dedicated to Claudio Arrau, the Pianist. (2022, Nov 04). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism