Leopold GoDOHsky

Sunday, May 30, 2010
Leopold Godowsky was a Polish-American composer, who, as far as I can tell, was legally insane.

For example, he decided that Etudes of Frederic Chopin (which are already incredibly difficult) weren't challenging enough already, and rewrote them. He reversed some of them so the left hand was playing the fast parts. He wrote some entirely for left hand alone. He combined two different ones into one piece.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I decided to try to learn a few for myself. I chose the variation on Op.25 No.4. It has been reduced to be played entirely on the left hand, but there aren't too many notes on the paper, so it can't be THAT bad, can it?

So let's see what we've got here. Hey, these first three notes aren't too bad, so the rest of the piece can't be ....... ohhhhhhhhhh WTF:

Those numbers you see above and below the notes? That's telling you what fingers you should be using to play each key. Since I know most of you aren't pianists, try this exercise instead:

Using your left hand, on your computer keyboard hit the left Shift key with your pinky, and the letter "M" with your thumb. Now, WITHOUT LETTING GO OF THE "M", reach over and hit the period key with your middle finger, and the right Shift key with your index finger. Not so easy, eh?

Alright, well let's move on and see what else we have. Hey, lots of finger substitutions, and ... oh what the hell is this?!?!


For you non-pianists, hold down the left Shift key with your ring finger. Now hit both the "N" and the "M" key with your thumb. It's not too hard to do when thinking about it, but try doing it in the midst of regular typing!

Well let's see what the rest of this line has to offer:

Ow ow ow ow ow! Finger substitution isn't that uncommon in music, but this is unreal!

On your keyboard, hit the left Shift key with your pinky and the "M" key with your thumb. Now, without letting go of the "M" key, replace your thumb with your middle finger. Now, while still holding down "M" with your middle finger, hit "C" with your pinky, the comma with your index finger, and the slash key with your thumb. Now try doing it in one fluid motion!

OK fine, what does the last line torture us with?

I'm not even going to worry about the chord part for this demonstration. On your keyboard, with your left hand, just hit the following keys in rapid succession:

1) "Y" with your pinky
2) "G" with your pinky
3) "T" with your middle finger
4) "F" with your ring finger
5) "D" with your pinky
6) "E" with your ring finger

Well I don't know about you but my hand is already cramping, and we're only on the first page. Well done, Mr. Godowsky.


~*~Coy~*~ said...

I knew there was a reason I've never followed the fingering on many pieces. For me, they're just "suggestions". Maybe that's why I've never become a virtuoso pianist. haha