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Etude Magazine: Percy's SERIOUS Piano Lesson

Thu, April 11, 2019 6:27 PM | Susan Colson (Administrator)

The Etude was an American print magazine published between October 1883 and 1957, roughly the lifetime of Percy Grainger.  The magazine was published by Theodore Presser, the founder of the Music Teachers National Association

The Etude was aimed at all musicians, from novices to serious professionals. It printed articles ranging from popular interests to more-involved musical subjects --history, literature, gossip, politics—and contained write-in advice columns about musical pedagogy in general.  It also printed sheet music and discussions by famous pianists. 

In November 1920, Percy Grainger contributed his notes on how to play Edvard Grieg’s Norwegian Bridal Procession, including discussion of “two salient point of modern pianism: (1) the sustaining pedal, (2) non-stretching fingering.”  Find the full text of the article here. 

James Francis Cooke, editor-in-chief from 1909 to 1949, added the phrase "Music Exalts Life!" to the magazine's masthead, and The Etude became a platform for Cooke's somewhat polemical editorials. This change in editorial policy may have finished it. But in many way, the magazine moved with the times and embraced current technology, unequivocally supporting the phonograph, radio, and eventually television, and, by the late 1930s, fully embracing jazz. It was a true reflection of the heyday of piano.


  • Mon, February 22, 2021 10:47 PM | Deleted user
    A real master class for the piano. Amidst much brilliantly nuanced and perceptive advice about touch and dynamics, Percy illuminates one of his signature technical specialties in this article--viz., how to use all three pedals simultaneously--while leaving some confusion about another (viz., how to finger large rolled chords). I never understood how a pianist, who has only two feet, can be expected to play the three-pedaled final bars of the piano version of "To a Nordic Princess," until I read Percy's paragraph here explaining how to work all three pedals with two feet in measure 13 of Grieg's "Norwegian Bridal Procession."

    On the other hand, his advice in the diagram in the top left column of page 3 seems to include a "stretched" fingering under the "non-stretch" fingering bracket. It is true that some of these "non-stretch fingerings" appear in the Schirmer edition of his piano music, but the unusual size of Percy's hands permitted him to play and compose for all sorts of widely spanned chords and arpeggios (as attested by his many piano settings requiring 10ths and even 11ths from the pianist), so why did he need to design "non-stretch" fingering for his own hands?
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