Master class

Boris Berman teaches Chopin: Scherzo No. 1

Treasures of the Masterclass Media Foundation

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Boris Berman — Teacher, pianist

Sophie Dee — Pianist (student)

Program notes

The Russian pianist and pedagogue Boris Berman dedicates a masterclass to one of Chopin's darkest and most tragic works.

Boris Berman is known in more than fifty countries as one of the best piano teachers of our time. Before appearing with the Major orchestras, he was a student of Lev Oborin, an eminent professor at the Moscow Conservatory who trained many high-classed pianists such as Vladimir Ashkenazy. Then, Berman made himself known as a soloist and recitalist travelling the Soviet Union and working with renowned contemporary composers. He gave the first Russian performances of Schönberg's, Stockhausen's, Berio's or Ligeti’s works. Since 1979, he has been living in the United States where he has taught at the Brandeis, Boston and Indiana University, but also at the Yale School of Music where he is currently posted.

Although "scherzo" means "joke" in Italian, Chopin’s Scherzos are far from evoking some kind of humour. Scherzo No. 1, which requires a lot of technical ability, shows this tragic atmosphere. Chopin was 25 years old when he wrote it and he was in the middle of his most emotional and passionate creation phase. While the November Uprising against the Russian Empire was in full swing, the composer dedicated this work to his friend Thomas Albrecht, who convinced him of staying in Vienna, far from his Polish family, in order to dedicate himself to his musical career. However, it is not unlikely that this piece reports Chopin’s emotions in time of war, or tells the story of the rebellion of his country, Poland.

The Masterclass Media Foundation archives offer to students and music lovers around the world filmed masterclasses, given by the best talents, on the greatest works of the classical repertoire. Their primary purpose is to provide a valuable educational resource in order to perpetuate passion and knowledge from one generation to another.

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