chapter  11
14 Pages

Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss

In dealing with the late German Romantic school of Wagner, Strauss, and also Humperdinck, we must first acknowledge that the coach must do some considerable “woodshedding” in order to play those composers’ scores. Learning to play these scores is a task comparable to learning several of Beethoven’s late sonatas all at once. It is true that in playing a score at the piano, a coach does not have to play every note written. The reduction is supposed to show what the singer will hear and frequently goes beyond the capabilities of even the best coaches to play every note. Still, achieving even a modest degree of expertise at playing the scores will require hours of practice. It takes time and effort to get all of the chords correctly played and to find just what is important to play. This is sometimes referred to as playing the melos, the sounding composition, as opposed to every note the composer wrote. Pride may make a coach want to play everything, but it is probably not going to be possible.