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What music and exercises did composers like Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Paganini, Handel, Haydn, and Schubert use for a daily warm-up for piano and/or violin?

  • Chopin used Bach's WTC and Inventions. He did not play Czerny, but played double notes and invented original fingerings and a the beginning of a piano method.

  • Liszt played many exercises plus Schumann's C Sonate and Chopin's Etudes, and he wrote a book of exercises.

  • Rachmaninoff is rumored to have played Paul de Schlözer's A-flat major Etude every day.

The assertion made in reference materials that Sergei Rachmaninoff used Étude No. 2 in A-flat as his daily warm-up exercise may also not be entirely accurate (one source refers to this story as a legend). (SOURCE)

What did others do?

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  • I doubt Beethoven kept playing the piano after he went deaf. Bach and Handel probably composed at an organ or a clavichord if they worked at an instrument at all. Haydn wasn't a great performer - probably no more than competent. Composers who are not also performers don't need a regular practicing routine. – Alexander Woo Dec 19 '20 at 6:59
  • @AlexanderWoo - I've read reports that Beethoven still figured his way out and around on a piano after going deaf by sticking a long object into both the piano and his mouth and checking the vibrations produced while playing. – Dekkadeci Dec 19 '20 at 15:54
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I don't think you need to warm-up your finger for a daily practice, as you practice is a warm-up and training. If you have to study passagges, you are litterally warming-up your finger at the beginning.

I would suggest even to try the difficult passages for you at the beginning of your practising, before any movement on the keyboard. If you don't have any problem in that case, the passage is learned.

Last thing, don't think about Chopin, Liszt or Beethoven, etc.. The technique now is much more advanced than that time, they create the current technique with their compositions. Trust me, play the chopin's etude as warming-up is not very usefull if you don't really know how they work. In any case they are more than a warming-up.

Busoni in a letter:

Rules for practicing the pianoforte

  1. Practise the passage with the most difficult fingering; when you have mastered that, play it with the easiest.
  2. If a passage offers some particular technical difficulty, go through all similar passages you can remember in other pieces in this way you will bring system into the kind of playing in question.
  3. Always join technical practice with the study of the interpretation; the difficulty, often, does not lie in the notes but in the dynamic shading prescribed.
  4. Never be carried away by temperament, for that dissipates strength, and where it occurs there will always be a blemish, like a dirty spot which can never be washed out of a material.
  5. Don't set your mind on overcoming the difficulties in pieces which have been unsuccessful because you have previously practised them badly; it is generally a useless task. But if meanwhile you have quite changed your way of playing, then begin the study of the old piece from the beginning as if you did not know it.
  6. Study everything as if there were nothing more difficult; try to interpret studies for the young from the standpoint of the virtuoso. You will be astonished to find how difficult it is to play a Czerny, or Cramer, or even a Clementi.
  7. Bach is the foundation of piano playing. Liszt the summit. The two make Beethoven possible.
  8. Take it for granted from the beginning, that everything is possible on the piano, even where it seems impossible to you or really is so.
  9. Attend to your technical apparatus so that you are prepared and armed for every possible event; then when you study a new piece, you can turn all your power on to the intellectual content; you will not be held up by the technical problems.
  10. Never play carelessly, even when there is nobody listening, or the occasion seems unimportant.
  11. Never leave a passage which has been unsuccessful, without repeating it; if you cannot do it in the presence of others then do it subsequently.
  12. If possible allow no day to pass without touching your piano. [...] What do you think of these "maxims for Practice"? They are formed from my own experience.
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  • I think that it is obvious. I explained very clear that it is useless to warm-up your finger and in the Busoni's rules there is no mention about warming-up. – J03Bukowski Aug 22 '16 at 17:25
  • What was good to Mr. Busoni was not OK to Bach and Mozart, perhaps... – VassiaAlk Sep 5 '16 at 7:25
  • That is true. Every musician/composer found their own way for the daily practice and the warm-up. Personally I found the Busoni's rules very truthful, a good base for thinking. – J03Bukowski Sep 6 '16 at 11:59

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