Yet another piano blog? Why on earth? Well, I’ll be honest: I don’t expect my blog to be widely read. This is for my own reflection and for the amusement of my friends and loved ones. Perhaps a few readers outside my immediate circle might drop in now and then, and if anyone should happen to find anything worthwhile herein, I’ll be delighted. Now that I’m launched, it remains to see whether anything worthwhile emerges. Very doubtful.
Who am I? I’m a 50-year-old gay, professional, Caucasian male, California-born and -raised and resident in New York State for the past 16 years. Professionally, I’ve been a librarian ever since I earned a masters degree in library and information science a couple of decades ago at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). My bachelor’s degree was in piano performance (University of Michigan), and between working on my degrees I went back home to the L.A. area to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. During that time I didn’t play the piano as much as I now wish that I would have, but such is life. I came to realize much later on that my love of music was, indeed, being nurtured inside me during those partially piano-less years through score study, listening, concert-going, journalling, and passing thought.
Since relocating to NYS I’ve taken to the piano again with a vengeance, and if there be anything in my story worth telling, it’s this: one *can* drop out of it and then return to it later in life, and experience it even better — on an even deeper, more meaningful level — than one did before. One of the more gracious compensations of aging, and thank God for that!
Currently I’m preparing for a concert in which I’ll be soloist with a student orchestra. Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto (newly learned for this concert! sometimes it’s felt like more ambition than sense, but more on that later), followed by an encore, a great favorite of mine — Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto. I’ve played the Warsaw with orchestra on three occasions previously. As for Rachmaninoff, my university piano teacher told me I’d never play him — but I slew that dragon by giving two performances of the 2nd Concerto at ages 39 and 44, each time with a student orchestra. Ever since then, RACH 2 is my custom license plate on my pick-up truck, celebrating what was for me a personal triumph in that the Second Concerto marked a breakthrough for me. Actually, the Second marked a breakthrough for old Rachmaninoff himself. He’d had sucha bad experience after the critics hated his First Symphony, and depression and a mental block set in … he just couldn’t compose. He consulted Dr. Nikolai Dahl, who was one of the early psychotherapists, and who used hypnosis on Rachmaninoff, telling him, “The Concerto will be a success.” Rachmaninoff conquered the mental block and depression and went on to compose his Second Concerto, which was an immediate hit and which has become one of the best-loved of all pieces of music. And he dedicated the Concerto to Dr. Dahl … true gratitude. True class. I like that. And I want to resolve to be just as grateful, each and every day that I have left on this earth.