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{ Category Archives } Literature

Various systems grading difficulty of pieces

There are various systems grading difficulty of pieces. Rough guides, YMMV. Hinson’s Guide to the Pianists Repertoire and Friskin/Freundlich’s Music for the Piano. They both use level of difficulty as: Easy, Moderate, Moderately Difficult and Difficult Graded 1-5: Henle has a rating system of 1-9 The Great Britain ABRSM has a respected system. Canada’s Royal […]

Bach’s Crab Canon on a Mobius Strip

The first canon from Bach’s Musical Offering, BWV 1079, illustrated cleverly as a Mobius strip (wait for it to come about 2/3 of the way through the video).  A crab canon is a form in which the notes are first played forwards, then in reverse order, then forwards and reversed against each other.  Cool!

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 […]

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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 […]

Novels about pianists

I recently read two novels about pianists that my wife gave me for Christmas, and both were excellent. I will also briefly mention a third I read several years ago. I’m not going to try to write very thoughtful or complete book reviews here; I’ll briefly describe them and then point to reviews elsewhere. The […]

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Public domain (free) music score library

The International Music Score Library Project as an attempt “to create a virtual library containing all public domain musical scores, as well as scores from composers who are willing to share their music with the world without charge.” This looks very well stocked: they claim over 8000 works and over 14,000 scores. On a spot […]

Previewable repertoire for students

Philip Johnston, author of Practiceopedia and founder of, is not just a music educator (and entrepreneur), but also a composer. At he sells scores of his music for students. I have no idea how good his pieces are for teaching but he offers a very interesting feature: the student or teacher can preview […]

Free sheet music

The Best Free Sheet Music Websites: don’t drop the piano