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The Teaching Legacy of Rosina Lhévinne: An Interview with Daniel Pollack

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"Audiences across five continents—North America, Europe, Asia, South America and Africa—recognize the pianism of Daniel Pollack for its signature colors in sound, coupled with over-the-edge thrilling virtuosity, giving his performances an electrifying element that catches the imagination of concert audiences. Critics speak about 'his astonishing pi...
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A Partnership in Music and Life

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An Interview with Angela Cheng and Alvin Chow The National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy is thrilled to welcome Angela Cheng and Alvin Chow as the 2019 NCKP Conference Artists. This will be the second appearance at NCKP for the wife-husband duo, having first performed in 2005 as a tribute to pedagogue and mentor Nelita True. This year, Angel...
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Seymour: More than an introduction

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My introduction to Seymour My earliest exposure to Seymour Bernstein came during childhood, after hearing several student performances of his beloved impressionistic suite, Birds . Inspired by one of Bernstein's own pupils, Birds charts the progress of a precocious student named Christopher as he moves towards specific pianistic goals—such as evenn...
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An interview with Seymour Fink, master technician

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"But that's the way my professor showed  it to me!" Her eyes were open wide,  her voice a wail. I was talking to a young teacher whose student had just  played—poorly—in an international festival. In a subsequent masterclass I  tried to show her a more efficient, better sounding way to teach her students  to play chords. It...
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Digital Only: Remembering Seymour Lipkin (1927-2015)

Two weeks before the death of eminent pianist and conductor Seymour Lipkin, Patricia Stowell had the opportunity to interview him for Clavier Companion magazine. Lipkin first gained public attention in 1948 after winning first prize at the Rachmaninoff Fund Piano Contest in New York. The Detroit native had studied with Rudolph Serkin and Mieczyslaw...
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Benjamin Grosvenor: Beyond his years

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When Benjamin Grosvenor walked onto the stage of Oberlin College's Finney Chapel, he easily could have been mistaken for one of the many piano majors on campus. From the opening measures of the Bach French Suite in G Major, however, any thoughts that Grosvenor was anything but a seasoned professional were quickly put to rest. At just 25 years of ag...
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DIGITAL ONLY CONTENT: Speak out! Five-and-a-half minutes with composer, Lynda Lybeck-Robinson

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I met Lynda on FaceBook about five years ago and life has brought us together in real life many times since. The harmony in her compositions is a refreshingly unexpected departure from much of the pedagogical literature, and my students (young and old) all know who Ms. Lynda is. She mentions " Coal Miner's Lullaby"  from Alaska ...
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A legacy of excellence: An interview with John and Nancy Weems

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Through their teaching, John and Nancy Weems have instilled in their students a love for music and a commitment to artistic pianism. In addition to a long-standing record of top awards in local, district, and state Texas Music Teachers Association competitions, John has taught winners of the National MTNA Baldwin Junior Achievement Award, the Natio...
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Recording Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas in the 21st Century: An Interview with Steinway Pianist James Brawn

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The great pianist and conductor Hans von Bülow once called Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas the New Testament of music. This bold declaration foreshadowed the lofty status Beethoven's Testament now holds in the Western canon of classical music. It also set the stage for an impressive lineage of recordings, beginning with the first-ever complete cycle by Artur Schnabel—the celebrated Austrian pianist known to Harold C. Schonberg as "the man who invented Beethoven." Among those who followed in Schnabel's footsteps are some of the greatest pianists of the 20th and 21st centuries—Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Wilhelm Backhaus, Daniel Barenboim, Alfred Brendel, Annie Fischer, and the list goes on—and so it comes as no surprise that many pianists today treat this massive undertaking as a right of passage.

In one sense, however, it's also dangerous to enter the company of such esteemed colleagues. How does one "compete"? What new can be "said" of music that has been a staple of the repertoire for so long? These are some of the questions facing Steinway Artist James Brawn as he continues his Odyssey—now half finished—to record von Bülow's New Testament.


Your project invokes a monumental legacy of inspired Beethoven interpreters. Do you feel the weight of history on your shoulders?

While it is true there is a great historical legacy of recordings, the only pressure I feel personally is to do these piano sonatas justice and play them as faithfully as I am able. The works of the great composers, like Beethoven, are such a privilege to study and perform, and I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to record this cycle for MSR Classics.


As an artist, do you draw on the work of those who came before you? Or are you a lone wanderer?

Perhaps I'm more of a lone wanderer, in the sense I've always done my own thing and in my own time. Certainly when I was a student—until my early twenties—I was influenced by my teachers, as well as recordings and performances by great living pianists. So at that time, there was always someone looking over my shoulder, so to speak. But for the last twenty years I've managed to focus on music that I can't live without. The Beethoven sonatas have become extremely important to my being, and communicating this personal passion in recital, recording, and teaching is the inevitable outcome.

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Hélène Grimaud: Reflections in the water

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The January 2016 release of Hélène Grimaud's recording Water (Deutsche Gramophone) was landmark in many ways, perhaps most significantly as a memento of a concert that took place in Wade Thompson Drill Hall of the Park Avenue Armory in New York in December 2014. tears become…streams become… was its name. Anthony Tommasini of The New York Time s cal...
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Beyond the Notes: An interview with Elvina Pearce

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Elvina Pearce studied piano with Isabelle Vengerova and pedagogy with Frances Clark. For more than six decades, she has presented recitals, workshops, and master classes in more than forty states as well as in Canada, the Republic of China, and Australia. Highlights of her pianistic career include recitals in Taipei, Taiwan, and Perth, Australia, a...
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Seeking Authenticity: An interview with Valentina Lisitsa

Valentina Lisitsa is a formidable pianist with dazzling technique and an ever-growing fan base. A self-made luminary, she was arguably the first classical musician to catapult herself from relative obscurity to superstardom using social media alone. At forty-three, the Ukrainian-American virtuoso now boasts 300,000 subscribers to her YouTube channe...
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The complete musician: A conversation with Robert Levin

The complete musician: A conversation with Robert Levin
Robert Levin is a master keyboard artist who performs on the harpsichord, fortepiano, and modern concert grand. He is also a conductor, theorist, musicologist, author, and professor, and his career has taken him all over the world. He is especially known for improvising embellishments and cadenzas in Classical repertoire, and he has recorded for pr...
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Always give your maximum: A conversation with Menahem Pressler

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Menahem Pressler, best known as the pianist of the unparalleled Beaux Arts Trio for more than fifty years and a revered Distinguished Professor at Indiana University's Jacob School of Music for even longer, continues a daunting schedule of performing and teaching. At age ninety-two, he shows no signs of slowing down, as plans for the future and the...
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Respect and love for the music: A conversation with Martha Argerich

Respect and love for the music: A conversation with Martha Argerich
I had the privilege of meeting Martha Argerich, for many the greatest living pianist, when she performed Schumann's concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall earlier this year. It was a stunning performance, and the audience enthusiastically cheered her return to the City of Angels. It was hard to imagine a more vi...
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Alan Fraser discusses piano technique

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It must have been something in the air, in the early years of the last century. From Australia to Israel, independent thinkers were looking for solutions to make living physically in the modern world easier. What does it take to live comfortably and pain-free? How can we function more efficiently— and effectively?  The theories of one of ...
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More Than Just the Notes: An Interview with Sean Chen

Attendees of the 2015 National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy will have the exciting opportunity to hear guest artist Sean Chen—a brilliant pianist who was the first American in sixteen years to win an award (the third-place Crystal) at the 2013 Van Cliburn competition. Among his many other accomplishments and honors, Sean was also awarded the 201...
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Dedication to excellence: An interview with Ingrid Clarfield

Ingrid Jacobson Clarfield has given lecture recitals, workshops, and master classes in more than a hundred cities across America, including many at state and national conferences of the Music Teachers National Association. She has presented master classes and pedagogy sessions at the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the TCU/Van Clibur...
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The miracle of music: An interview with Stephen Hough

Stephen Hough has been called a Renaissance Man. In 2009 he was named one of the top twenty living polymaths by The Economist and Intelligent Life magazines. In addition to a full international concert schedule, the award-winning pianist and recording artist—who in 2014 was made a Commander of the British Empire—has been prolifically blogging on Th...
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Louise Goss: In Memoriam

Louise Goss: In Memoriam
In April, the world of piano pedagogy lost a legend. In the following pages, friends and colleagues of Louise Goss pay tribute with remembrances and recollections.  In the "old days," all senior piano majors at Oberlin were required to take piano pedagogy. I will never forget the excitement our professor exuded when she presented to us the bra...
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