Posted inOpinion

Winner Takes All

A bit of Beethoven here, a recital there—that doesn’t interest me,” the pianist Igor Levit said five years ago. Instead he wanted to become a thought leader, like Bob Dylan. Levit was reading Greil Marcus’s Like a Rolling Stone. “People like [Dylan] didn’t see music as a separate reality,” Levit told me. “They arrived on […]

Posted inInterview

Space for the Wrong

On a recent evening in Berlin, the pianist and composer Frederic Rzewski performed his virtuosic variations on a Chilean protest song, “The People United Will Never Be Defeated!” Physical and mental exhaustion are composed into the piece, and watching Rzewski play, I was struck by the similarities between the musical obstacles in his work and […]

Posted inInterview

Process of Emancipation

Talking to harpsichordists regularly, it’s easy to get the impression that issues of historical performance, musical philosophy, and even fashion weigh heavily on their minds. But how much do they really think about these big ideas while practicing and performing? I spoke with Alina Rotaru, a Romanian harpsichord soloist, continuo player, and teacher at the […]

Posted inInterview

Something Organic

I interviewed the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet by phone one recent evening, while he was in Paris. We made small talk, discussing a Caribbean vacation he took where he had to have a piano flown in to practice on. Then we moved on to the recording of complete works, movie music, and being a gay classical […]

Posted inReport

On the Road

When I received an email with an assignment to follow a piano technician during the course of his work, to explore the instruments and places he encountered, I found it hard to resist. I spent a few days on the road in Seattle with Stephen Brady—a soft-spoken, no-nonsense, award-winning piano technician who, in his spare […]

Posted inInterview

Homecomings

For Intro, we speak with the musicians who don’t show up in press releases. We hope to portray a diversity of background and experience in classical music. This is the first interview in an ongoing series. Andrew Trovato is a pianist, composer, and childhood friend. In the course of two long Skype sessions—he was lying […]

Posted inReport

Wind

There’s something about an annoying office job that makes you idealize working with your hands, even if you have—like me—no aptitude for it at all. Last winter, I applied for an apprenticeship at the organ builder Orgelbau Scheffler, in the tiny, former East German village of Sieversdorf, outside Berlin, with a romantic idea of learning […]

Posted inHistory

The Pianist’s Eye

The pianist Lilian Kallir was a formidable sight-reader who could easily play a Mozart Piano Concerto on the first reading, though she was mostly known for the instinctive musicality, tonal beauty, and precocious maturity of her playing. In 1991, presented with a last-minute change in a program, switching from Mozart’s Piano Concerto in F Major, […]