As I listen to others play the piano, as I eat, or walk down the sidewalk — all I think of is the passage of music I struggled with yesterday, a passage I have been playing at least for 25 years.
I consider it from many angles, rolling it over in my mind. To be completely cognizant and conscious of every detail in a complicated scripted piece that’s played by memory is to be safe.
Is it after all a misguided act? To reprise these publications, these products crafted for the middle-class home-user? That we should toil to replay them for large audiences in large rooms? Again and again? What kind of flattery?
“Considered from the viewpoint of a traveling virtuoso, the concert yesterday was very satisfying. — The heat had reached the highest point of the year. I was dead tired. But, a beautiful piano, good acoustics, and the great expectations of the audience hypnotized me for the two hours I spent on the platform…
“At last, I have learned how to engage with the first movement of the ‘Waldstein’ Sonata that never quite blossomed before. And I have played it almost thirty years!!
“…From the viewpoint of a thinking artist, no longer young, it was an unpardonable and unrecoverable waste of energy, of time, and thought, to make an impression of no importance for a brief moment on an insignificant glob of people.”
Busoni in Denver, 1910