May 15, 2007

Pain and Secrets

For the advanced pianists, Pain and Secrets is a must read post by my Curtis colleague Hugh Sung in which he focuses on Erlkönig by Schubert, a four-minute piece of music that can seriously damage a pianist’s right arm.

When I was young and stupid, I did just that. The Pioneer Label came to Curtis to film Erlkönig for educational Laser Disc series. Five pianists rejected the project. I accepted along with baritone Reginald Pindell.

As I anxiously searched for a clever solution in the chapters of Am I too loud? by the legendary
Gerald Moore, our beloved Lys Symonette, who coached us, still insisted on not faking the piano part, particularly with camera close-ups.

While we produced a remarkable performance, in retrospect it wasn’t worth it. My right arm was burning up so badly that it hasn’t been the same ever since.

Play smart. Stay healthy.

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