Skip to content

{ Category Archives } performers

More virtuosity?

Why does there seem to be such a significant increase in technical proficiency among young pianists (NYT)?  Better diet and training (like athletes)?  Growing population (more chances for genetics to provide outliers)?  Greater wealth enabling more and better study and practice? I was floored by Yuja Wang’s combination of flawless technique (at age 20) and […]

Sonatina in Laugh Major

As my friend and occasional teacher Polly vanderLinde pointed out, the sonatina form is not correct, but one wouldn’t want to take this *too* seriously. Kathy Jensen of Hornheads performing Unaccompanied Laugh Sonatina for Soprano Op.99.2.

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 […]

Music in the heart

I just read The Song is You, by Arthur Phillips.  Usually I only write here about books concerning pianos and pianists, but this novel about music and art and passion is so good I wanted to make note. The story focuses on Julian, a young middle-aged director of commercials who loves his iPod, and Cait, a […]

Tagged , ,

Yuja Wang coming into her own

A year and a half ago I was effusive after seeing 21 year old Yuja Wang in her debut recital in Ann Arbor.  This year, she has been getting glowing to ectstatic reviews from around the world during her major tour.  This one is from the SF Gate, after her Wed 20 May 2009 concert […]


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 , ,

Harriette Brower, Piano Mastery

Harriette Brower’s 1915 book, Piano Mastery, is online in a public domain Project Gutenberg edition.  She recounts interviews she did with about 20 master pianists and teachers (e.g., Busoni, Paderewski, Goodson), includes essays on interpretation by William Mason and William Sherwood, and offers her own essay on technique (from hand position through practicing, memorizing, tone […]

Tagged , ,

Another novel: The Piano Teacher

I recently read Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher.  I previously had seen the arresting and controversial movie based on it, starring Isabelle Huppert.  Jelinek is Nobel Prize winning novelist who writes in the post-war Germanic realist-nihilist style, often with graphic and disturbing sexuality. As a novel for pianists, this one disappoints. The main character Erika […]

Tagged , ,

Lang Lang cannot be bottled

Lang Lang has as many critics as fans it seems: he is too showy, his technique outstrips his musicianship, etc. The thing I find most wonderful about him, and that all artists can celebrate, is the boundless fun he has and how comfortable he is expressing his feelings.  Perhaps this particularly appeals to me because […]

Tagged , , , ,

Yuja Wang: Force of nature?

On 20 Jan 08 I attended a startling — in a wonderful way — concert. Yuja Wang gave a piano recital in magnificent Hill Auditorium. Only 20 years old, Wang has been on a very successful world tour for the past two years, after studying with Gary Graffman at the Curtis Institute. Last year she […]

Tagged ,