Pianist to Pianist

A collection of pianistic, pedagogical, methodical, musical, artistic, and cultural contemplations, concepts, observations, and concerns, from pianist to pianist, pedagogue to pedagogue, musician to musician and from a curious and critical observer.

While we – contemporary pianists – believe to be wildly innovative and imaginative, we seem to be destined to imitate and recombine pre-existing interpretation traditions. Searching for new expressions in an interpretation of historical piano music (older than 90 years) by referencing contemporary culture doesn’t enrich any longer. And it seems that we permit CD recording quality, institutional competition parameters, and the emerging showmanship and branding of the second half of the 20th century as main examples to imitate in the 21st. And yet – no new paradigm setting or changing pianistic idea was contributed in the past 50 years. We are cloning from a small genetic pool. We are playing from a card deck that has no faces any longer. Why not at least make our selection for imitation more inclusive, add a few trump cards to the deck?

There is an established but compromised academic interpretation tradition today: we play Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and many others in a quasi-romantic late 20th century tradition while trying to follow note and symbol Urtext editions. Why? We are in a castle with many ghosts and few spirits. If we are shackled in front of a cave wall, why not add a few of the old shadow-casters to behold? Short of trailblazing innovative and parameter setting interpretation approaches in the way of Gould, it should be, and actually is, our choice to interpret baroque, classical, and romantic music by imitating a multitude of traditions.

Why not interpret Schubert in the way of Liszt or Bach in the way of Busoni; or - for that matter - Liszt in the way of Busoni? How do we know their ways? We know their editions and commentary. Are they Urtext? No. Should we use Urtext? Yes. But why not - instead of to just blindly trying to obey scores - heed the insight and input of the great masters from the past and extrapolate their interpretation principles?

"The last romantic pianist …" died in the 20th century. So who is left? Aren’t we mostly playing, hearing, and promoting some sort of romanticized music and style in the 21st century? Who are then the septua-, octo-, and nonagenarian great pianists alive today "… the...

Chopin's famous fundamental five finger position (e, f#, g#, a#, b) is ingenious for finger independence, especially flat fingers (in PP), but inimical as a fundamental beginning position for the following reason: We have to practice and perform F and FF quite often in the 21st...

The imitation and replication of the melodic contours, overtone colors, quality of rhythm, and physical movements of the great masters - without necessarily grasping the vision and intent of the original - is a fundamental and progressive method for the aspiring young artist. Since man is...

To cultivate better results by making better decisions as an artist at the piano (road to mastery), one has to grasp, witness, and constantly improve the relations to 1) the instrument ~ its potential through knowledge of both anatomies and the mastery of physical technique, 2) the...