Prokofiev in a Train Station

August 20, 2016 Comments Off on Prokofiev in a Train Station

Prokofiev has been dead for some time now, and, unlike Elvis, has stayed away from public appearances since then. But here’s the lovely second movement of the 7th Sonata, alive and well and appearing in a train station in Delft.

Another reason to learn to play the piano: you can bring the dead to life.

Why Learn to Play The Piano?

December 28, 2015 Comments Off on Why Learn to Play The Piano?

“What are piano lessons FOR? ” This question from a parent of a talented student once stumped me. It’s in the category of If You Have To Ask You Won’t Understand The Answer. But I’ve been looking for answers to it anyway, ever since.

Here’s an excellent one: If you are in a French train station with time on your hands, you can start improvising on the station piano. Some stranger who also knows something about the piano might show up and play along.

You can make music together. That sentence is loaded with metaphorical meanings old and new. The literal meaning is rich enough, however, to warrant learning to play the piano.

Why learn to play the piano? You can make music with a complete stranger in a French train station.



Funny enough: Victor Borge

December 26, 2014 Comments Off on Funny enough: Victor Borge

Not his funniest 8 minutes, but the only instance I’ve seen of Borge playing with The Beatles AND the Maharishi in the front row.

Art is in the details

February 10, 2014 Comments Off on Art is in the details

Just like God and the devil. Here’s a video about how stage hands at Carnegie Hall dealt with Horowitz’ extreme fussiness over where to place his piano on stage.



Shopping for a digital piano?

June 22, 2013 § 1 Comment

digital piano

digital piano (Photo credit: studiocurve)

Simone Dinnerstein tests some digitals

sorry, you’ll have to click on the link to the video.

Digital pianos have taken over the entire low and middle end of the piano market. They are affordable, portable, available, reliable and you can practice at 2:00 am via headphones.  The good digitals are so  much better than the junky uprights I played as a child!

But how do they compare with a really good piano, the kind we pianists play now that we are grownups?  This little video shows Simone Dinnerstein testing and discussing various digitals. She is rather sweetly critical of several models and pleased with  the highest of the high-end Yamahas.

YouTube’s top pianist invites you to her Royal Albert Hall rehearsals

June 4, 2012 Comments Off on YouTube’s top pianist invites you to her Royal Albert Hall rehearsals

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Live streaming via webcam of Valentina Lisitsa’s practice for an upcoming recital. A true piano geek’s entertainment.

Maria João Pires Plays It Cool Under Fire

May 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

What are a performer’s worst fears? How about being ready to play one Mozart concerto and hearing the orchestra start a different one?  This video shows the fine pianist from Portugal in just this situation. She shows amazing aplomb, calmly switching from one concerto to another, without the score or visible anxiety.

Something similar once happened to me. I was  playing in the orchestra as a last minute addition. The piece was unfamiliar to me (a trombone concerto) and in those days before YouTube I had never heard it. The orchestra started playing and I was counting my rests, getting ready to come in, but-what the heck were they playing? It was nothing like what was in my part. They were in a completely different key, a different tempo and a different meter. Was this piece really that far-out? Did I miss something?  Maybe I was not as good a musician as I thought. And why was the conductor flashing the peace sign at me so insistently?

Oh! Not peace-TWO! Second! Second movement! It seems that everyone but me knew that they were skipping the first movement and starting with the second. Surprise!

Luckily I was just playing the piano as part of the orchestra and the spotlight was on the soloist. But I can break out in a sweat any time I want just by remembering those first few moments of confusion. How Ms. Pires pulled off this calm switcheroo is beyond me.

To return your pulse to its normal serenity, here is Ms. Pires playing the lovely second movement to the fifth Bach keyboard concerto, BWV 1056.

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