Monday, March 18, 2013

Music for Children

Last night I performed for an audience of piano players two sets of pieces written by composers for their own children: Prokofiev's Music for Children and Schumann's Kinderszenen.  I was remarkably nervous because one of the pianists present is of a school of pianism that does not work small in any circumstance; as he had never heard me play I couldn't help but be aware of the chasm that separates us.

In the aftermath of the performance I have already enjoyed two deeply significant exchanges with audience members.  One was on the general point of whether children are capable of "getting" the subtleties in music composed for them.  I maintain that there is no better audience for subtlety than children for, though they may not be able to verbalize their responses, they are truly all ears.  Two memories come to mind:  The words "combobulous cauliflower" in an Edward Lear story about a voyage around the world with, among other creatures, a quangle-wangle.  By the time I got to the fourth syllable the audience of six-year-olds was prepared for the very worst.

The eminent pianist Mieczyslaw Horszowski advised me to "Play for children" as a way of fine tuning rhythm and phrasing within the spirit of both the music and myself.

The second conversation was about competitiveness: tomorrow's post.