As much as I'm opposed to the notion that musical learning is directly transmitted from teacher to student, it did cross my mind that musicians may fall into generational groups in terms of their shared practice or thinking. If so, as a pianist I suppose I belong to Generation 8 (Gen 8.0). I'm imagining that "classical" music as a culture of cultivating the durable repertoire of classics begins around 1800, and may be centered on the person … [Read more...]



Last summer, I went to Iceland to record Nico Muhly's Drones & Piano. I planned to spend two days in the studio, walk around Rejkavik, go to the Blue Lagoon, and fly back to New York. When I arrived at Greenhouse Studios, the door was opened by Nadia Sirota. I had no idea she was going to be there. According to Nadia, she "kind of Jedi Mind Tricked" me into recording another of Nico's drone pieces with her, Drones & Viola -- after I … [Read more...]



During some days in late summer, I practiced Beethoven's Fourth Concerto. I'm sure the windows were open. My Juilliard piano teacher, Jacob Lateiner lived on 84th Street, just around the block. I mentioned I was learning Beethoven's Fourth Concerto. "I know," he said. Pianists are prone to be overheard. The piano can be a loud instrument. Living in close proximity to others, in a New York City apartment, or a suburban house -- practicing is … [Read more...]



Do we covet music that signifies, encodes, or provokes sadness? As a child, when told to play with feeling Jacob Lateiner asked, "Which one?" In classical music, it does seem that emotion has come to mean sadness, or anger. When we see the marking "espressivo" we pour on the sentiment. The no-nonsense American clarinetist Charlie Russo told an over-emoting student: "Put a Band-Aid on it!" Not too many classical players explore emotion in … [Read more...]

One Hand


From the school's library I checked out again the copy of Messiaen's Le merle noir (The Blackbird) that I used last fall when I played the piece with Paula Robison. Since then, many markings were made in the piano part. I don't mark anything in the scores I use, but when I opened the music again there were all the things pianists write: dark circles drawn around printed dynamic markings, fingering, penciled-in lines showing correspondences … [Read more...]



Sometimes a piece of music is "withdrawn" from a composer's catalog. Music that was composed, published, and available is taken back -- rescinded. You can't get it anymore. Usually, the composer has thought better of it: the music doesn't hold up now, the composer's style has changed a lot, it's an early piece that just doesn't seem good enough for public display... All of Philip Glass's early non-tonal music is unavailable now. I play(ed) a … [Read more...]