Saturday, January 08, 2005


I suppose for a musician to write about music is a difficulty. I know how it’s done. I know how the rabbit gets out of the hat. Music is more than just a magic trick, much more than the sum of its parts.

In the center of the round building at Indiana University are small lobbies with vending machines. Over their coffee the pianists would discuss rotating their elbows to ease stress problems in their arms. Who would be discussing the essence and meaning of the music they were playing?

I recall listening to a radio interview of Glenn Gould discussing his performance of a Beethoven piano concerto. He used the phrase “sublimating the octaves.” Glenn Gould was who he was because every note overflowed with meaning, because he never forgot about the essence. So what was he talking about? Octaves means playing two notes in the same hand an octave apart. They’re written into a piano piece because they both look and sound flashy. He decided not to give in to flashiness. He was looking for the meaning in what he played, and it was the success of these interpretations that made him such a great artist.

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