Category Archives: Piano

Piano music at sunset/Im Abendrot

Pantelis loves walks but does not like to go out at sunsets because they slide into something indeterminate that makes him feel insecure.  Sunsets may lead to bliss or annihilation, or both. In lieder, sunsets come at the end of … Continue reading

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Taking favorite solo sections out of their piano concertos

Listening to the opening movement of the Brahms 1st piano concerto I am reminded of the great number of splendid solo passages that can be found in concertos of this kind.  Such passages may be the opening of the piece, … Continue reading

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Listening to classical cover versions

I read with special interest an interview that Benjamin Grosvenor gave recently on playing the Liszt sonata.  Instead of analyzing the work itself or placing it in the history of classical music, the 28-year-old pianist compared his recent recording to … Continue reading

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The pianist’s “divine madness”

Sequentia Cyclica (1948-49) is by any measure a demonic artwork.  One of the longest and arguably the most monumental piece of classical piano music, it is based on this theme, a version of the well-known Gregorian chant Dies irae: This … Continue reading

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Piano recitals (2)

Some recitals offer an anthology of great autonomous works from the canonical repertoire.  Others place works in a sequence to narrate the grand story of a composer, genre, or tradition.  A more recent kind of recital assembles a variety of … Continue reading

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Piano recitals (1)

Traditional piano recitals, both live and recorded, consisted in precocious and neurotic virtuosos performing anthologies of canonical compositions by precocious and neurotic geniuses.  This interpretive tradition has recently come to an end, together with its supportive critical and scholarly discourses … Continue reading

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Sheltered listening (Beethoven’s “Archduke Trio” under quarantine)

Why did classical music first, among all the artistic genres, respond with enthusiasm and generosity to the current quarantine, making large quantities of its resources freely and globally available?  Even though it is among the least popular genres, why did … Continue reading

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The presence of the friend

Close friends who practice together the exercises of friendship-as-ethic                             mold each other into their Aristotelian “other self” under a bright sun like Vienna’s. In addition to … Continue reading

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Listening to music as a skill

What if listening to music is a skill, like playing it?  For example, listening to these pieces for ruined pianos arguably requires a skill. In her book Intelligent Virtue (2012), philosopher Julia Annas, an authority in Greek ethics, draws on “the … Continue reading

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Listening to a mazurka by Chopin

Here is a tremendous instance of the birth of the lyrical subject in the 19th century. Listening to this early mazurka, you feel you are listening to something coming forth tentatively from your deepest self, not from an outside source.  … Continue reading

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