…but that doesn’t mean that just anyone should.
Until WWII virtually every pianist was also a composer. It was part of their music education, along with improvising. There are those who feel that it’s a tragic loss that we no longer require our students to compose, or compose ourselves.
Here’s the thing, though. Just because you can put notes on a piece of manuscript paper (or a music notation program) doesn’t mean it’s automatically good music, even with continued effort and practice. Some people have the ideas for new compositions, poems, fiction – and some don’t.
Reading (playing) through the reams of music that are piling up in my studio, it’s apparent why quite a bit of the stuff in those old anthologies are not played much. They’re just not very good. A lot of those good pianists should never have had their compositions published.
I’m not trying to rationalize anything or look for excuses (my son says I am) but I happily read the following in The Great Pianists: Anne Caroline de Belleville was a fabulous pianist in the early nineteenth century; she was one of Czerny’s best students, apparently her technique was better than Clara Wieck’s, and even Chopin, not one to compliment other pianists, thought highly of her playing. However, “after 1846 she devoted herself to composition and published 180 pieces, nearly all of them pretty bad drawing-room music.”
I have too much music. I’m going through stuff and sorting it into piles to give away to various people/organizations – a spring cleaning of sorts. Much of it was passed on to me, or it was music that I picked up very cheaply, or that I was sucked into buying at workshops and have never used. There’s a limit to how much sight-reading material I need. My problem is that I’ll probably give away too much, regret it in a few weeks or months or years, and then spend more money re-buying what I once had.