Live music feeds us in different ways. When we make music with our own hands and our own breath, something nourishing happens. Experienced live — at home or at school, in a park or bar or concert hall or hospital room — harmonies elevate us and rhythms get into our bones in ways that can’t be replicated digitally.
When I sing a Mozart aria buoyed by a cushion of live orchestral sound, or listen to a kids’ chorus read through a gospel tune for the first time, I feel alive to what’s best in myself and in others.
I’m all for the occasional moment of subway iPod ear-bud escapism, but I also need live listening, collaboration and performance.
“The life of the concert pianist is hard and can be a smothering profession. All the hours spent working, conjuring magic out of that big box of wood and wires, with only dead composers for companions, can feel like a form of captivity, the grinding, solitary hours of practise only intermittently relieved by work with colleagues, ensembles and orchestras and conductors, and of course concerts. It can be a tough, restrictive and lonely life. Then there is the traveling, living out of a suitcase, sometimes a different place each night, playing an unfamiliar instrument in a foreign concert hall of uncertain acoustic, fine foreign cities viewed through the fog of travel fatigue. These days, audience expectations seem higher than ever and so the pressure to achieve is matched only by the pressure to sustain, and the uncomfortable knowledge that one’s reputation is only as good as one’s last performance.”—Frances Wilson Are today’s concert pianists boring? | The Cross-Eyed Pianist
“There are no shortcuts. Stop looking for them. Concern yourself with two things - the sound you want and physical comfort. Enjoy the journey and you WILL get there!”—User “Kreisler” on the Pianoworld forums Pianist Corner | Piano World
i was making a lot of mistakes and then my archery instructor said:
“you make mistakes because you’re focusing on the target and not on your actions”
and i was like woah
thanks for giving me the best life advice i’ve ever gotten
guys just think about how applicable this is to EVERYFUCKINGTHING
What’s amazing is that both this advice (focus on your immediate actions) and its exact opposite (focus on the big-picture target goal) are equally true and equally necessary to master any skill. Wisdom is being able to hold contradictory ideas in your mind at the same time.
“There are so few notes,” the pianist Leon Fleisher said, “but so many implications.” The setting was a recent master class at Carnegie Hall. Fleisher, … was speaking about the Andante movement of Schubert’s B-Flat-Major Sonata … “There are so few notes, but the implications go back billions of years,” Fleisher went on. “You have to be like the Hubble Space Telescope, which sees stars as old as the universe. The stars are dead, but their light is reaching us just now.”—Alex Ross quoting Leon Fleisher The Sonata Seminar - The New Yorker
“The central work is Bach’s Chaconne in D Minor for violin, arranged as a left-hand piano exercise by Brahms. In a letter to Clara Schumann, Brahms told of his love for the Chaconne—“a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings”—and said that he enjoyed struggling in solitude to execute it with one hand, because “one does not always want to hear music actually played.” The miracle of Fleisher’s account is that, while he performs with astonishing dexterity, he retains that atmosphere of exploration, as if no one were listening. The most wrenching passage in the Chaconne comes toward the end, when, after an upward-striving, light-seeking section in D major, there is a shuddering collapse back into the minor. Here, as sonorous, multi-register figuration gives way to spare, confined lines, you may remember what you might have forgotten, that the pianist is using one hand, and that the impairment of the other has caused him much sorrow.”—
Alex Ross covers Leon Fleisher’s latest record in his New Yorker column this week.
Fleisher has struggled for years with focal dystonia that impairs playing with his right hand.
“There’s a moral imperative [in a capitalist system] to succeed or give up, and succeeding means growing—bigger audience, more profits, bigger budgets. To keep making art that isn’t successful by a conventional definition is an affront to a capitalist ideology—unless it can be recategorized as a hobby, a consumer activity. …And, in my experience, that is truly terrifying to artists: if I stop pursuing my work as a business, does that mean I’m a hobbyist prosumer dilettante, and therefore not serious? That is death or exile, banishment, existential crisis.”—