In 2010 Garrick Ohlsson, the first American to win The International Chopin Piano Competition (in 1970), delivered an insightful 80-minute lecture (plus Q&A) at UC Berkeley about what exactly makes Chopin's music so great. Highly recommended for anyone that likes seeing people who are really passionate about something explain their passion.
Valentina Lisitsa is a classical pianist who credits her current fame to YouTube, where she has uploaded more than 200 videos of her performances. Were it not for the popularity of these videos (Beethoven "Moonlight" Sonata op 27 # 2 Mov 3 - 7 million views; Beethoven "Für Elise" - 4 million; Liszt "La Campanella" - 3 million), she would be, in her own words, "totally dead" in "the age of child prodigies". Her newest work is not a thousand notes a minute as featured in some of her popular videos, but more minimal, as heard in "The Heart Asks Pleasure First," the first track from her album (Soundcloud snippet preview of all tracks) of music by minimalist composer Michael Nyman. [more inside]
Alice Herz-Sommer, the oldest known Holocaust survivor and subject of the film "The Lady in Number Six" has died at the age of 110. Before World War II, Alice was a concert pianist who travelled across Europe. During the war, Alice's mother and husband were sent to Auschwitz where they were murdered, and Alice and her six year old son were sent to Theresienstadt. Alice performed more than 100 concerts at Theresienstadt, and immigrated to Israel with her son after surviving the camp. [more inside]
Steve Reich's 3-movement (Fast, Slow, Fast) somewhat jazzy, somewhat rock-ish 2x5 was composed for 5 musicians and prerecorded tape, or two groups of five musicians. Here is Bang On A Can All-Stars (6 of them, no idea why) performing the piece. [20m] Here is a large group of BOACA-S performing it as a 10-piece ensemble. [21m] [more inside]
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is well-known for having been a child prodigy. A previously unknown composition of his, dated c. 1767, when he would have been 11 years old, (PDF of score) had it's premiere earlier this week. [more inside]
Mindaugas Piečaitis has performed his "CATcerto," an original score written to accompany Nora The Piano Cat's piano improvisation. Here's the video of kitty with orchestra. [more inside]
The Hatto Hoax. Joyce Hatto has been described as "the greatest living pianist that almost no one has ever heard of." Her performances of piano works by Liszt, Schubert, and Rachmaninov were praised by classical afficionados for their "addictively beautiful sonority, cultured musicianship, and total instrumental mastery." Since she died in June 2006, however, Hatto has been at the center of one of the stranger scandals to hit classical music in years. It's starting to look like some or all of her treasured, hard-to-find recordings made since 1990 are not her playing at all. [Via]
Andras Schiff's lecture-recitals on Beethoven's piano sonatas
"The sound was not of this world, it hovered in space like some celestial blessing". He could play the piano ”before he had learned to smile”, his mother said, and he gave his first concert at the age of six. He studied under Alfred Cortot, Charles Munch, Paul Dukas, and Nadia Boulanger. He was an esteemed teacher and critic at 19, an international phenomenon at 24. He escaped from his native Rumania to Switzerland in 1943 with his fiancée, a joint capital of five Swiss francs in their pockets. After the war, just as he had arrived in the pantheon of great performing artists, Dinu Lipatti was diagnosed with leukemia. In September 1950, near death, despite the urgings of his doctors Lipatti insisted upon one last recital at Besançon. As his wife recalled, this was the only way Lipatti could bear to take his leave of the world. Lipatti was so weak he could barely walk to the piano. But once he began playing, he became transformed. After performing 13 waltzes, he could no longer muster the strength necessary to perform the final selection. So he substituted Myra Hess's piano arrangement of Bach's 'Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring".(page with sound). Three months later, Lipatti died at the age of 33. After Lipatti's funeral, his old mentor Cortot wrote: "There was nothing to teach you. One could, in fact, only learn from you."
An interactive Shockwave-based look at Bach's Well-tempered Clavier. Go one level up and explore the entire coverage of Bach.