Virtuoso

Last updated

A virtuoso (from Italian virtuoso [virˈtwoːzo] or [virtuˈoːso] , "virtuous", Late Latin virtuosus, Latin virtus, "virtue", "excellence" or "skill") is an individual who possesses outstanding technical ability in a particular art or field such as fine arts, music, singing, playing a musical instrument, or composition. [1] This word also refers to a person who has cultivated appreciation of artistic excellence, either as a connoisseur or collector. The plural form of virtuoso is either virtuosi or the Anglicisation, virtuosos, and the feminine forms are virtuosa and virtuose.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a regional or a traditional language in these countries, where Italians do not represent a historical minority. In the case of Romania, Italian is listed by the Government along 10 other languages which supposedly receive a "general protection", but not between those which should be granted an "advanced or enhanced" one. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Late Latin Written Latin of late antiquity

Late Latin is the scholarly name for the written Latin of late antiquity. English dictionary definitions of Late Latin date this period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries AD, and continuing into the 7th century in the Iberian Peninsula. This somewhat ambiguously defined version of Latin was used between the eras of Classical Latin and Medieval Latin. There is no scholarly consensus about exactly when Classical Latin should end or Medieval Latin should begin. However, Late Latin is characterized by an identifiable style.

Art Creative work to evoke emotional response

Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts (artworks), expressing the author's imaginative, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. In their most general form these activities include the production of works of art, the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art.

Contents

According to Music in the Western civilization by Piero Weiss and Richard Taruskin: [2]

Piero Weiss was an Italian-American pianist and musicologist. Born in Trieste, his mother was a symphony violinist and the niece of novelist Italo Svevo. In 1938, at the age of 10, he fled Fascist Italy with his family, ending up in New York City in 1940. In New York, he studied piano with Isabella Vengerova and Rudolf Serkin, music theory and composition with Karl Weigl, and chamber music with Adolf Busch. In 1944, at the age of 16, he began his career as a concert pianist. He performed throughout the United States and Europe up into the 1960s, and also performed for radio broadcasts. He recorded works by Debussy. Ravel, Schubert, and Schumann.

Richard Taruskin American writer

Richard Taruskin is an American musicologist, music historian, and critic who has written about the theory of performance, Russian music, 15th-century music, 20th-century music, nationalism, the theory of modernism, and analysis. As a choral conductor he directed the Columbia University Collegium Musicum. He played the viola da gamba with the Aulos Ensemble from the late 1970s to the late 1980s. Taruskin received his B.A. magna cum laude (1965), M.A. (1968) and Ph.D. in historical musicology (1976) from Columbia University.

...a virtuoso was, originally, a highly accomplished musician, but by the nineteenth century the term had become restricted to performers, both vocal and instrumental, whose technical accomplishments were so pronounced as to dazzle the public.

The defining element of virtuosity is the performance ability of the musician in question, who is capable of displaying feats of skill well above the average performer.

Especially in music, both critics and musicians have mixed opinions on virtuosity. While the skill implied is clearly positive, musicians focused on virtuosity have been criticized for overlooking substance and emotion in favor of raw technical prowess. [3]

More commonly applied in the context of the fine arts, the term can also refer to a "master" or "ace" who excels technically within any particular field or area of human knowledge—anyone especially or dazzlingly skilled at what they do. [1] For instance, Ken Jennings's initial success on Jeopardy! was described as a "virtuoso performance. [4] "

Ken Jennings American game show contestant and writer

Kenneth Wayne Jennings III is an American game show contestant, computer scientist, and author. He is the second highest-earning American game show contestant of all time. Jennings holds the record for the longest winning streak on the U.S. game show Jeopardy! with 74 wins. He also holds the record for the highest average correct responses per game in Jeopardy! history with 35.9 during his original run and 33.1 overall including tournaments and special events. In 2004, Jennings won 74 consecutive Jeopardy! games before he was defeated by challenger Nancy Zerg on his 75th appearance. His total earnings on Jeopardy! are $3,522,700, consisting of: $2,520,700 over his 74 wins; a $2,000 second-place prize in his 75th appearance; a $500,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions (2005); a $300,000 second-place prize in Jeopardy's IBM Challenge (2011), when he lost to the Watson computer but became the first human to best third-place finisher Brad Rutter; a $100,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! Battle of the Decades (2014); and a $100,000 second-place prize in the Jeopardy! All-Star Games (2019).

Jeopardy! is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin. The show features a quiz competition in which contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers, and must phrase their responses in the form of questions. The original daytime version debuted on NBC on March 30, 1964, and aired until January 3, 1975. A weekly nighttime syndicated edition aired from September 1974 to September 1975, and a revival, The All-New Jeopardy!, ran on NBC from October 1978 to March 1979. The current version, a daily syndicated show produced by Sony Pictures Television, premiered on September 10, 1984.

History

The meaning of virtuoso has its roots in the Italian usage of the 16th and 17th centuries, signifying an honorific term reserved for a person distinguished in any intellectual or artistic field. The term evolved with time, simultaneously broadening and narrowing in scope as interpretations went in and out of fashion and debates unraveled. Originally a musician was considered a virtuoso by being an accomplished composer, theorist, or maestro, rather than a skilled performer. [5]

Maestro title of extreme respect given to a master musician

Maestro is an honorific title of respect. The term is most commonly used in the context of Western classical music and opera, in line with the ubiquitous use of Italian musical terms.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the word shifted in meaning, and many musicians applied it without considering merit, sometimes to themselves. Sébastien de Brossard in his Dictionnaire de Musique (Paris, 1703) [6] [7] approached the word virtuoso by its Latin root virtu emphasizing exceptional training, especially in theory. This position was also defended in Johann Gottfried Walther's Musicalisches Lexicon (1732) favoring the theorist over the performer. Johann Mattheson's Der brauchbare Virtuoso [8] (1720) maintained the respect for the traditional "theoretische Virtuosen" (theoretical virtuoso) but also paid tribute to the "virtuosi prattici" (performer virtuoso).

Sébastien de Brossard French composer and music theorist

Sébastien de Brossard, pronounced [se.bɑs.tjẽ də brɔ.saːr], was a French music theorist, composer and collector.

Paris Capital and most populous city of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, as well as the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018. The city is a major railway, highway, and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly. Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, and is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, but the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015.

Johann Gottfried Walther German musician and composer

Johann Gottfried Walther was a German music theorist, organist, composer, and lexicographer of the Baroque era.

Johann Kuhnau in his The Musical Charlatan (Der musikalische Quack-Salber, 1700) defined the "true virtuoso" once again emphasizing theory ("der wahre Virtuose") describing the "highly gifted musician" ("der glückselige Musicus") or "performer virtuoso" as having nothing more than practical facility.

In the late 18th century, people began to use the term to describe an instrumentalist or vocalist who pursued a career as a soloist. The tension about the merit of practical virtuosity started to grow at the same time and intensified in the 19th century, only to remain an open debate since then. Franz Liszt, considered one of the greatest of all virtuosos, declared that "virtuosity is not an outgrowth, but an indispensable element of music" (Gesammelte Schriften, iv, 1855–9). Richard Wagner opposed the triviality and exhibitionist talents of the performer voicing his opinion strongly:

The real dignity of the virtuoso rests solely on the dignity he is able to preserve for creative art; if he trifles and toys with this, he casts his honour away. He is the intermediary of the artistic idea [9]

Examples

Well-known examples of historical virtuosos include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, Niccolò Paganini, György Cziffra, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Antonio Vivaldi, Charles-Valentin Alkan, Jorge Bolet, Arthur Rubinstein and more contemporary artists such as Krystian Zimerman, Valentina Lisitsa, and Yo-Yo Ma.

Related Research Articles

Classical period (music) genre of Western music (c.1730-1820)

The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 and 1820.

Pianist musician who plays the piano

A pianist is an individual musician who plays the piano. Since most forms of Western music can make use of the piano, pianists have a wide repertoire and a wide variety of styles to choose from, among them traditional classical music, jazz, blues, and all sorts of popular music, including rock and roll. Most pianists can, to an extent, easily play other keyboard-related instruments such as the synthesizer, harpsichord, celesta, and the organ.

Franz Liszt Hungarian composer and pianist

Franz Liszt was a Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, music teacher, arranger and organist of the Romantic era. He was also a writer, a philanthropist, a Hungarian nationalist and a Franciscan tertiary.

Barthold Heinrich Brockes German poet

Barthold Heinrich Brockes was a German poet.

Johann Nepomuk Hummel Austrian composer and pianist

Johann Nepomuk Hummel was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist. His music reflects the transition from the Classical to the Romantic musical era.

A rhapsody in music is a one-movement work that is episodic yet integrated, free-flowing in structure, featuring a range of highly contrasted moods, colour, and tonality. An air of spontaneous inspiration and a sense of improvisation make it freer in form than a set of variations.

Historically informed performance approach to the performance of classical music

Historically informed performance is an approach to the performance of classical music, which aims to be faithful to the approach, manner and style of the musical era in which a work was originally conceived.

György Cziffra, was a Hungarian virtuoso pianist and composer. He is considered to be one of the greatest pianists of all time. Among his teachers were István Thomán, who was a favourite pupil of Franz Liszt.

Ludwig Rellstab German poet and music critic

Heinrich Friedrich Ludwig Rellstab was a German poet and music critic. He was born and died in Berlin. He was the son of the music publisher and composer Johann Carl Friedrich Rellstab. An able pianist, he published articles in various periodicals, including the influential liberal Vossische Zeitung, and launched the music journal Iris im Gebiete der Tonkunst, which was published in Berlin from 1830 to 1841. His outspoken criticism of the influence in Berlin of Gaspare Spontini landed him in jail in 1837.

Henri Bertini French composer

Henri Jérôme Bertini was a French classical composer and pianist. He was born into a family of musicians and attracted the attention of François-Joseph Fétis when he toured Europe as a child prodigy. As an adult he was admired both as a soloist and as a chamber musician; it was said that he played with Johann Nepomuk Hummel's simplicity and elegance without sacrificing the brilliance of the instrument. As a composer he had an original style which was rich in musical ideas, attractive melodies, and effortless harmonies. In 1848 he retired from the musical scene and settled in the Dauphiné in south-east France.

Beethoven and his contemporaries

During the course of his lifetime (1770–1827), Ludwig van Beethoven enjoyed relationships with many of his musical contemporaries. Beethoven was famously difficult to get along with, and the history of his relationships with contemporaries is littered with arguments, misunderstandings, and reconciliations. Beethoven had well-known fallings out with his one-time teacher, Joseph Haydn, with the piano virtuoso and composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel, and the German composer Carl Maria von Weber. Conversely, he regarded Franz Schubert positively, praising the latter's compositions on his deathbed.

<i>Hexameron</i> (musical composition) collaborative musical composition pub. 1839

Hexaméron, Morceau de concert S.392 is a collaborative composition for solo piano. It consists of six variations on a theme, along with an introduction, connecting interludes and a finale. The theme is the "March of the Puritans" from Vincenzo Bellini's opera I puritani.

Enrique Graf is a Uruguayan born, American naturalized musician.

Symphonic poems (Liszt)

The symphonic poems of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt are a series of 13 orchestral works, numbered S.95–107. The first 12 were composed between 1848 and 1858 ; the last, Von der Wiege bis zum Grabe, followed in 1882. These works helped establish the genre of orchestral program music—compositions written to illustrate an extra-musical plan derived from a play, poem, painting or work of nature. They inspired the symphonic poems of Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Richard Strauss and others.

Lev Nikolaevich Vlassenko, was a Soviet pianist and teacher.

Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon Pontifical Academie under the direction of the Holy See

The Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuosi al Pantheon is one of the Pontifical Academies under the direction of the Holy See. The complete Italian name of the academy, Pontificia Insigne Accademia di Belle Arti e Letteratura dei Virtuosi al Pantheon, includes the adjective insigne (illustrious), often omitted in official English translations. The term Virtuosi al Pantheon is also usually left untranslated, but, in any event, should not be taken in the English musical sense of “virtuoso” but rather “artists of great merit”. The Pantheon in Rome was the historical home of the academy. The term “academy” is meant in the Renaissance definition of the term as an association of learned persons and not an institution of instruction.

Lisztomania hysteria around composer and pianist Franz Liszt

Lisztomania or Liszt fever was the intense fan frenzy directed toward Hungarian composer Franz Liszt during his performances. This frenzy first occurred in Berlin in 1841 and the term was later coined by Heinrich Heine in a feuilleton he wrote on April 25, 1844, discussing the 1844 Parisian concert season. Lisztomania was characterized by intense levels of hysteria demonstrated by fans, akin to the treatment of celebrity musicians today – but in a time not known for such musical excitement.

Roberto Urbay Cuban pianist

Roberto Urbay is a Cuban concert pianist and piano professor.

International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs

The International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs is a piano competition for amateur pianists, held in Paris, France. It has been held annually since 1989. The competition is widely considered to be one of the top-level competitions for amateur musicians in the world.

Johann Sebastian Bach's music has been performed by musicians of his own time, and in the second half of the eighteenth century by his sons and students, and by the next generations of musicians and composers such as the young Beethoven. Felix Mendelssohn renewed the attention for Bach's music by his performances in the 19th century. In the 20th century Bach's music was performed and recorded by artists specializing in the music of the composer, such as Albert Schweitzer, Helmut Walcha and Karl Richter. With the advent of the historically informed performance practice Bach's music was prominently featured by artists such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gustav Leonhardt and Sigiswald Kuijken.

References

  1. 1 2 "Merriam-Webster Online, Official Definition" . Retrieved 2009-09-21.
  2. Weiss, Piero; Taruskin, Richard (1984). Music in the Western World: A History in Documents. Schirmer. p. 430. ISBN   0-02-872900-5.
  3. Bose, Sudip. "On Virtuosity." The American Scholar. http://theamericanscholar.org/on-virtuosity/
  4. "IBM's Watson "Jeopardy!" Computer Comes to CHM - @CHM Blog - Computer History Museum". www.computerhistory.org.
  5. "Grove Music Online". Grove Music Online. Retrieved 2006-03-14.
  6. Sebastien, de Brossard (1703). Dictionnaire de Musique (2nd ed.). Paris: Christophe Ballard.
  7. Morton, Joëlle. "Brossard". Joëlle Morton. Retrieved 2006-08-24.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2006-08-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. Gesammelte Schriften; English translation, vii, 1894–9, p. 112