Category Archives: Books about Music

The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations

Originally posted on Ramblings:
I have been captivated, to the point of losing sleep, by The Secret Piano: From Mao’s Labor Camps to Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the autobiography of Zhu Xiao-Mei, a pianist who was born in Shanghai in 1949, the year…

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Rejoice. There’s a disconnect.

Thought I had my summer reading material planned. A couple of books by Harold Schonberg have been started but not finished – The Great Pianists and Lives of the Great Composers. I love his writing. He brings to life the … Continue reading

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A passport to anarchy

Carl Czerny – composer of that myriad of musically boring etudes – was a big fan of the ritardando. In his Klavierschule, he allows it everywhere: when the main theme returns when a phrase is to be separated from the … Continue reading

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Was Mozart really a genius?

Bathed in an environment of music from birth, and blessed with an exceptionally good teacher (his father), Mozart was very good for his age. But a prodigy? A genius? He was pushed, prodded, and encouraged by his entire family to … Continue reading

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A Top 5 List

High Fidelity is a novel by Nick Hornby about a guy named Rob who works in a record store.  It’s funny, poignant, heartbreaking, and hopeful. Rob has a penchant for making lists – of imagined conversations, ex-girlfriends, and pop music. … Continue reading

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An unquenchable thirst for sharps and flats

“I live a life of primitivity with the mind of a child and an unquenchable thirst for sharps and flats … Living in a cave, I am almost a hermit, but there is a difference, for I have a mistress. … Continue reading

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Strike the head with a hammer.

I tell my students to make up a story for the pieces they play. There’s no right.  There’s no wrong. They might need a prompt. Engage the imagination and let them fly with it. No story any student comes up … Continue reading

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Living pianos

The piano: a complex set of mechanics that results in the creation and re-creation of the widest range of sounds – exquisite, exciting, dynamic, dreamy – an all-purpose instrument, complete, lending itself to every genre – solo, or as part … Continue reading

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The Aquarium

It’s Performance Class week. It’s almost too easy for me by now – I almost feel guilty for how little I’m actually working this week. But these classes are so valuable. Last night one class was with the 9- and … Continue reading

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The real thing

Certain things are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. (~Joe Queenan).  My blogger friend David Kanigan continues to post an assortment of awesomeness … Continue reading

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The soul of the piano

Oh the gaps! It was one of those moments. I was reading a book on pedal technique and a 150-Watt light bulb came on. How could I not have known? I knew that pedal was more than just a means … Continue reading

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An Equal Music

Every rehearsal of the Maggiore (String) Quartet begins with a very plain, very slow three-octave scale on all four instruments in unison: sometimes major, as in our name, sometimes minor, depending on the key of the first piece we are … Continue reading

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