The Concert-Lecture

As the term itself suggests, the “concert-lecture” embodies two concepts in one, performance and debate. This dual event works upon the public at two levels. In the first, the experience is one of pure sound-colour communicated by the performer according to his or her charisma and personal interpretative skills (indeed, according to the Romantic ideal, music is the supreme vehicle for communicating human emotion); in the second, it is human speech that conveys meaning through words which address our intellect, not our feelings, and this factor prompts a more analytical process of appreciation in the listener.
Consequently, the concert-lecture enables the listener to grasp and savour the same musical work from two different but complementary perspectives – on the one hand, the inward, subjective experience of listening, and on the other, the outward, objective process of analysis and theory. The experience can be likened to a guided tour of an art


gallery or
exhibition, in which while the guide’s commentary may provide insights and therefore influence the way we perceive the works in question, our own prior impressions of the works may find their explanation in the commentary itself, and vice versa.


Each concert-lecture focuses on a central theme around which the works under discussion revolve. Before playing the entire piece through, various examples are played on the piano to illustrate the piece’s themes, their development and structure. These examples are followed by a brief analysis of the technical, stylistic, and historical aspects involved, as we try to ascertain what the composer’s personal circumstances and spark of inspiration at the time of composition. The analysis will draw on other disciplines, such as historical analysis, literature, philosophy, and art and music history, in order to place the piece in its cultural context, given that


the audience that is likely to be mixed, with music-lovers and aficionados, and not composed only of professional musicians.

Every concert-lecture is about two hours long
Relater and pianist ADALBERTO MARIA RIVA

A grand piano of good quality and in good condition. A microphone in the case of larger halls. Fees may vary according to the number of sessions selected from the overall program (one session alone is also possible).


La storia
del pianoforte

si ringrazia
Salotto Valperga


From the harpsicord to the conct grand piano, a brief narration through the most important stages which have made history of the instrument on the level of its construction and its literature.

The harpsichord and the imagination of Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence
Scarlatti: a Sonata

Problems of tuning: moderate or natural?

Viennese and English action, discovery of the character of sound
Mozart and the Stein and Walter pianos
Beethoven: the exercises of the Kafka manuscript

Birth of the modern piano technique
Muzio Clementi

The virtuosity of the Romantics
Fumagalli: La roche du diable, etude de bravoure

Pleyel and Erard:two different perspectives of constructing and playing the piano
Chopin, Etude opus 25 n. 1, Nocturne opus 27 n. 2,
Liszt, Legend n. 2: Saint François de Paule “marching on the waves”

Birth of modern piano
Steinway, Bechstein, Blüthner, Bösendorfer


From the Baroque to the Classical period, from Scarlatti to Beethoven, a brief history of one of the most important musical forms in the western instrumental music.

1 Scarlatti and Mozart: the imagination into music
Scarlatti: Sonatas K 303 - 25 – 201; Mozart: Sonatas K 311 – 570

2 Haydn and Clementi, construction and virtuosity
Innovation on the level of formal construction and technical discoveries
Birth of modern piano technique
Haydn, Sonata Hob XVI/49 – Clementi, Sonata op. 40 n. 2

3 Beethoven, first and second period
From the works from the his youth, dedicates to Haydn, to the dramatic style in the structure of the Sonata Form
Sonatas opus 2 n. 2, opus 10 n. 3, opus 27 n. 2.

4 Beethoven, second and third period
Triumph and decline of the Sonata Form
Sonatas opus 28, 53, Bagatelle opus 126


Five concert-lectures about the Romantic period, through its most important and best-known composers.

1. Robert Schumann, composer and critic.
The Schumann crusade against the “Philistines”, his double activity as a composer and as a critic, talent-scout (Chopin and Brahms), his connections with poetry and literature (Jean Paul): all these things influence his work: the most important pieces written by Schumann himself will be integrated with readings of his own reviews published in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, the newspaper founded and directed by Schumann from 1834 to 1844.
Fantasiestücke op. 12, Symphonic Etüden op. 13, Kinderszenen op.15

2. Franz Schubert and the “divine longueur”.
The influence of the Lied, the idiomatic German song, his instrumental writing and his poetical world. The analysis of the main features of Schubert’s music through the Impromptus and some piano sonatas.
Impromptus op. 90, and Sonata op. 120.

3. Frédéric Chopin, the prince of the piano.
His romantic language coming from a classical background, the formal and the quest for pianistic perfection, the influence of Italian belcanto, folk music (mazurka), and his elevation to the perfection, his research into timbre.
Mazurka op. 33 no. 4; Valse op. 64 no. 2; Nocturne op. 27 no. 2; Scherzo op. 39; Etuden op. 10 no. 1 and op. 25 no. 1; Berceuse op. 57, Sonata op. 35

4. Franz Liszt, the dominator.
The fascinating transcendental technique’s dual function: reaching the limits of the human capabilities in order to spellbind the audience, and the use of this discovery as a dramatic path into the heart of the major repertoire. The cultural importance of transcriptions, the invention of the recital, the concept of “struggle and purification” present in the majority of Liszt’s works.
Rigoletto, concert paraphrase, Soirée de Vienne, n. 6, La campanella, Ballade n. 2, Totentanz (piano solo version)

5. Johannes Brahms, the man coming from the North
Discovered and sponsored by Schumann, with Brahms the Romantic era achieves its full potential. His self-criticism and austere musical conception that, in the last works, resumes the Baroque and Renaissance ways of writing; the birth of Neoclassicism.
Ballate op. 10, Fantasien op. 116


The affinity of the piano with its native country is a very special story of genius and abandon which helps to understand why in the XIX century, the golden age of the piano, it was the melodrama which in Italy occupied the most important place in the musical context of that time. An astonishing situation which progressively forced instrumental music to take its revenge at the end of the century.

1. The piano, Cinderella of Italy
First act: Born at the beginning of XVIII century in Italy, thanks to the genius of Bartolomeo Cristofori, the piano however had its first success beyond the Alps far from its own country. It is for this reason that in the middle of XIX century to speak of Italian piano music was to consider only composers born in Italy but working outside their native country
Scarlatti, Two Sonatas - Clementi, Sonata opus 40 n. 2 - Rossini, Un petit train de plaisir – Liszt, La Campanella – Dante Sonata

2. Adolfo Fumagalli and instrumental music of XIX century
Second act: when the first symphonic institutions and concerts start to take place abroad, Italy is the kingdom of Melodrama. Despite of this situation unfavourable for instrumental music, Adolfo Fumagalli, pianist and composer from Milan, makes himself known in the whole country and in France, especially in Paris, the European capital for the piano in the middle of XIX century
Adolfo Fumagalli. Selection from «L’école moderne du pianiste» – Golinelli, Cicalata – Picconi, Adagio.

3. The revenge at the end of the century and the “Generazione dell’Ottanta”

Third act: at the end of the XIX century, Italian instrumental music finally gains an important place and starts a new life in taking its inspiration from the great tradition of the Renaissance ent Baroque. A short journey through the most important works of the most important composers who contribute to the creation of an “Italian” idiomatic musical language.
Busoni, Two Chorals and Sonatina Seconda – Martucci, Scherzo – Malipiero, Preludi autunnali. Respighi, Antiche danze e arie (1st book).

4. The XX century
Fourth act: between two world wars, chronical of our time.
Casella, à la manière de… – Dallapiccola, Sonatina Canonica – Sonzogno, Favoletta – Castelnuovo Tedesco, Three chorals on jewis melodies.


Gennaio 2012

Il concerto si è svolto tra l’ammirazione di tutti e la sorpresa dei pochi che non conoscevano l’eccezionale bravura del maestro Riva... in modo particolare è stato gradito quel suo rivolgersi al pubblico illustrando con un eloquio semplice e coinvolgente i singoli pezzi prima dell’esecuzione.
Anche questo suo porgere con tranquillità e acutezza tanti capolavori del più grande dei pianisti e di un grande compositore, non è da tutti. E nel maestro Riva tutto ciò si apprezza in quanto anche nei rapporti col pubblico festante e con gli appassionati ammiratori, si presenta con quella naturale affabilità, modestia e comunicativa che è una prerogativa di chi svetta sulla mediocrità spesso colma di tronfia arroganza.
Grazie, Maestro, per quanto ci ha elargito con stupende interpretazioni e generosa magnanimità. Arrivederci: noi tutti la aspettiamo con impazienza!

di Luigi Romani

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La musique de salon au Salon musical

Adalberto Maria Riva, notre conférencier et si délicat pianiste, a su recréer avec chaleur et simplicité l’esprit même des Salons musicaux: la réunion d’amis cultivés autour d’un piano (et de l’incontournable abat-jour!), pour écouter des musiques pleines de poésie. Une très belle soirée.

Paul Kristof

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© 2011 Adalberto Maria Riva