Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Dead Pianists Society

Surely we live in the golden age of books about pianists. I look forward to contributing to this era of excellence with my book about Leonard Pennario!

There are two new books out about dead pianists which I am excited to see.

One is about Moriz Rosenthal. It is edited by Mark Mitchell and Allan Evans.

There is the Moriz Rosenthal book pictured at left. Indiana University Press was nice enough to send me a note about it at work so I am planning on checking it out and reporting on what is inside. It is sure to be interesting. Rosenthal was a student of Carl Mikuli who was a student of Chopin. He also studied with Liszt.

Here is a sentence I love that I just read on Wikipedia. "Rosenthal's own student Charles Rosen, in an interview published in the June 2007 issue of BBC Music Magazine, recalled Rosenthal's having said little of his studies with Liszt except that luring Liszt from the café to the studio at lesson time was a challenge."

Ha, ha! That reminds me of my interviewing Pennario. He would always have some funny detail he would want to laugh about. You were supposed to be taking care of scholarly stuff and instead you are both sitting there laughing.

The other piano book is about Ignaz Friedman and it is by Allan Evans, the co-author of the Rosenthal book. That is the Friedman book pictured at left. I love on the cover how Friedman's first name is huge and his last name is smaller. That big "Ignaz," right in your face. That is Ignaz Friedman pictured at the top of this post.

Friedman was a child prodigy and as a kid participated in Busoni's master classes. That would be something to read about. I cannot wait to check this book out. I bet there is all kinds of fascinating stuff in there.

Norman Lebrecht praised the Ignaz Friedman book, so that certainly bodes well. But one thing. Lebrecht writes: "Nothing is harder to bring back to life than a dead pianist, no matter how effervescent or influential. The art dies with the fingers."

I do not think so!

We have recordings! We have testimonials and memories. We have our romantic imaginations. We have these pianists' artistic heirs. Now, try bringing a dead sanitation engineer back to life. Or, I don't know, a dead bureaucrat, someone who worked for the Water Authority. I think that would be tougher.

These books about old dead pianists, bring them on!

Those old dead pianists live on, to me!


  1. Indeed! Thanks to recordings and books, those old dead pianists do live on. And that is a good thing.

  2. Larry, I just received the Moriz Rosenthal book. It is so exciting! (Either that or I am such a nerd.)