Skip to content

{ Category Archives } essays

Denk: a musician with a brain

A few years ago my friend Marnie introduced me to Jeremy Denk’s piano performances, and his writings.  I’ve fallen in love with both.  But especially the two together: there are other great performers to listen to, and other great writers on music and life to read: there are few who are both. Another friend sent […]

Denk on Ives by Denk

Jeremy Denk is a terrific writer, the best I’ve read among contemporary serious pianists. His blog, Think Denk, is erudite and funny, passionate and inspired. He recently published an article in The New Yorker. In it he recounts his experience making a professional recording of Charles Ives’s Concord sonata, with reflections on the frustrations, opportunities […]

Tagged , , ,

Tickle those ivories

A lovely article by David Dubal about the power and joy of playing the piano: Some of my favorite quotes:   When you commune with Bach or Schubert, you can reach the heights of Mount Parnassus, where the atmosphere is rarified. Playing the piano should be an act without material value. The piano won’t […]

Tagged ,

Tears for appogiaturas

An article in the Wall Street Journal discussed research, some old. that suggests why certain musical pieces tend to arouse sentiment.  The author focuses on the use of appogiaturas, octave jumps (generally in songs), and transitions from narrow frequency range, low dynamic passages to passages that swell in dynamic and frequency range (think Celine Dion). […]

Schiff on Beethoven

Over the past two years, Andras Schiff played the entire Beethoven sonata cycle in a series of concerts.  As I recall, he played them only in Chicago, Ann Arbor, and New York (Carnegie Hall, natch).  I attended all of the Ann Arbor performances.  They were delightful: Schiff brought a different, very thoughtful and warm sensibility […]

Writing about writing about writing…

I like reading books about pianos and pianists. I sometimes write about them here. Turns out Joe Queenan likes doing both (the reading and the writing about it) as well (though he doesn’t write here). He seems to feel more strongly about it than I do.


Why music?

The Economist recently published an article summarizing scientific research into why humans so universally engage in composing and performing music.  Is it natural selection, or group selection?  An accident that has been elaborated as an invention?


Jeremy Denk, pianist and gentleman blogger

Jeremy Denk is a terrific pianist, known to many (including me) through his tours with Joshua Bell. Turns out he is also a terrific writer.  His blog is textured, dense, adventuresome (like the music of Brahms he rhapsodizes).  And he is a humorist: his “interview with Sarah Palin” about the Hammerklavier is to die for.

Tagged , ,