DE KUNST VAN HET PIANOSPEL (3rd edition)
edited and annotated by Albert Brussee and Ben Smits
Cornelius Berkhout, the teacher of, among others, the famous Dutch pedagogue Jan Wijn, wrote his De Kunst van het Pianospel (‘The Art of Piano Playing’) in the first half of the 1950s. For a long time the manuscript remained unprinted, circulating in the form of copies among some of his students. Especially Johan de Lichte, second cousin and former student of Berkhout, and the piano pedagogue Ben Smits, also a student and a good friend of Berkhout, did their very best in the past to get this Dutch piano method published. Publishers appeared uninterested, however.
I, too, having at some stage received from Jan Wijn a copy of his copy, was for many years of the opinion that this piano method was well worth getting into print. When I came into contact with Ben Smits, we decided to take on this far from minor task together. We reached a compromise whereby the lightly retouched main text would remain as true as possible to Berkhout’s phraseology and style, while a collection of end-notes would offer explanatory background information and remarks regarding the text itself. At the third printing were included annotations by Martin Kloos, for many years teacher of piano methodology and keyboard history at the Muzieklyceum and the Amsterdam Conservatory.
The book opens with a Preface by Martin Kloos and a Foreword by Jan Wijn. There then follow 17 chapters covering the complete piano technique. What is striking is that Berkhout always links the technical/physical aspect to the artistic dimension and refers to the regular piano literature through a great number of music examples. Towards the end of the book, the author strikes a completely philosophical/spiritual tone with chapters such as ‘Inner sound image’ and ‘Portrayal and artist’.
The book closes with four Appendices: a lecture and a hitherto unpublished review by Berkhout himself, a short, illustrated biography by Ben Smits, and an extensive study on the place of this method in the entirety of Dutch piano methodology by the present writer.
“The accountability of those presenting this not easily classifiable document is exemplary. When a choice has been made between versions, the version not chosen is to be seen in an end-note. Even where the editors rewrite unclear passages, we continue to witness the original in a note. The main text is in itself important enough to warrant publication, but this publication has gained much by the careful annotation and placement in historical perspective by Albert Brussee. It is the combination of the self-willed main text, the other Berkhoutiana (portraits, programmes) and the editor’s commentary that make this publication a Berkhout document that can hold its own alongside the two well-known books by and about Dirk Schäfer and the beautiful 1964 memorial issue about Willem Andriessen. ”
Klaas Trapman, Piano Bulletin 2005-1. (Translated from the Dutch)
COPYRIGHT, AVAILABILITY and PRICE
Published under the auspices of EPTA – Netherlands, by AB Music Productions & Editions, The Hague.
© 2004 Johan van der Lichte.
Final editing and layout: Albert Brussee.
Music examples and retouching of photographic material: Ben Smits.
Stapled/sewn, 222 pages, 96 music examples, 7 figures and full-colour cover.
This publication is available through the usual music channels but may also be ordered direct from the publisher.
Price: € 28.50.