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Never use a score

I never use a score when conducting my orchestra. Does a lion tamer enter a cage with a book on how to tame a lion? — Dimitri Mitropoulos, conductor Zographos, Achilleas (2017) Music and Chess. Milford: Russell Enterprises Inc.

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Practice slowly

“One must practice slowly, then more slowly and finally slowly.” – Camille Saint-Saëns Cited in: The Piano Quarterly, 1974, p. 24.

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Jan Lisiecki on interpretation

My approach is to sit with the score and make my decisions about what Andante means or what piano means in a certain context; often you go back to recordings and find that nobody’s ever really played it that way. You ask yourself ‘Why is that? Did I misread or misinterpret something? Or is this […]

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A performance can be greater than them

I remember a few years ago being at a summer academy in the south of France, with Dominique Merlet. The whole atmosphere was great there, as we were a group of like-minded people, keen to learn, work and share ideas in the gorgeous setting of a little medieval French village. The concert at the end, […]

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A good performance

A good performance is one that moves me. But it is not only the passion and emotion expressed in a performance that move me, it is also allowing the clarity of the structure, as well as the different characters, to shine through, a well-judged balance, a sense of architecture of the whole piece and, at […]

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Schnabel on recording

Having spent five days recording five Beethoven sonatas and two concertos, Schnabel wrote to his wife: This week was an ordeal, a torture chamber. “What does not kill me makes me stronger,” says Nietzsche. Hopefully (probably) this is true. I had no idea of how outrageous a process the recording on discs could be. Like […]

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Bernstein on immersive performance

It happens because you identify so completely with the composer, you’ve studied him so intently, that it’s as though you’ve written the piece yourself. You completely forget who you are or where you are and you write the piece write there. You just make it up as though you never heard it before. Because you […]

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Difficult music is the easiest to play

Scriabin’s fiery D#-minor Etude, with its relentless triplets and huge leaps, used to just fall under my fingers, while the Lento final movement of the Copland Sonata was a minefield of wrong notes. Why is that? Is it just because we practice hard music 20 times as much as easy music, or is it psychological, […]

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Born for music

“I was born with eyes closed listening to my heartbeat from my mother’s womb… There, without knowing it, I discovered that I would be born and would die for music…” – Alicastro Source: Peer Music.‘

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Rachmaninoff on interpretation

As the talented student grows older he must seek within himself his interpretation.  Does he wish to know how to play the cantilena of Beethoven or Chopin? He must feel it himself!  Talent is feeling, the feeling that every player experiences in his innermost consciousness… It takes years of work to understand and think out […]