Etudes (French for “studies”) are instrumental works, usually requiring considerable athleticism or dexterity, intended to help develop particular technical skills at whatever instrument. The great ones, like those of Chopin or Debussy, transcend the level of being mere exercises, and are great works of music, frequently preformed in concert halls. Bartok wrote only these 3. He performed them for the first (& last) time in 1918 to an unprepared and shocked audience.
This performance is by a young (age 25 at the time of this recording) Russian pianist Mark Taratushkin. For whatever reason, even though I have heard various recordings of these works, his performance here really impressed me, somehow transcending the sheer virtuosity required. Bravo!
I was a a student T.A. at Cal Arts 1975-1976, and I was tasked with instructing fellow students on the operation of the Optical Printer and the Oxberry Animation Stand (skills I acquired from the great Pat O’Neill, a mentor). In the course of teaching Optical Printer techniques, the class did little film experiments (which I used to keep in film cans that I labeled “pr. cl.”, my abbreviation for “printer class”). I left CalArts before the end of the 1976 academic year to work at Industrial Light & Magic on a film called Star Wars, and the classes were ably taken over by David Wilson. One of the students in the class, Rick Blanchard, ended up with the “little experiments” and created this film. Crazy, but I have no memory of how I ended up with a print of the film, which I had digitized a number of years ago, along with other films, and promptly forgot about.
CalArts optical printer, circa 1973: