Noted Pianist to Speak about his Art

Renowned pianist Boris Berman, professor at the Yale University School of Music, will deliver a lecture and demonstration titled “The Making of a Pianist, the Making of a Musician” on October 27 at 5:30 p.m. in Sudler Lecture Hall, William L. Harkness Hall, 100 College Street.

Berman’s talk, which is free and open to the public, will touch on themes he covers in his newly published book, “Notes from the Pianist’s Bench” (Yale Press 2000). Written for musicians as well as general readers, the book touches on a wide range of topics, from finding the best fingering for a specific Chopin etude to overcoming stage fright. The book is a collection of engaging, personal essays about the making of music and the meaning of music in one artist’s life.

“My experiences as both teacher and performer have convinced me of the fallacy of separating practical and ideal aspects of the art of playing piano,” he writes in his preface.

Berman offers specific advice on how to convey emotion through music and how to summon up intense feeling on command.

“It becomes necessary for a performer to find a way to let the music talk directly to his heart,” he writes in the chapter titled “Technique of the Soul.” “But how does one do it? And how does one cope with the lack of inspiration when the day and time of the performance arrives and the performer simply does not feel like playing?” His answers are thought-provoking, inspiring and eminently pragmatic.

“Notes from the Pianist’s Bench” explores the psychology of making and teaching music in ways that apply not only to pianists, but to all kinds of performers, teachers-even politicians. His approach to getting the most out of practice sessions and to tailoring instruction to the personality of each student has broad implications in many arenas.

Furthermore, the book provides to the non-pianist a glimpse into a very specialized world. When Berman writes about what a performer should do when he realizes he has made a mistake in front of a live audience, the reader is transported inside the artist’s head and sees the concert hall from an entirely new perspective.

Berman has performed in more than 40 countries and been the featured soloist with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, the Atlanta Symphony, the Royal Scottish Orchestra, the Philharmonia of London, and many more. He is a frequent performer in major recital series, and has appeared in many music festivals, including Marlboro, Bergen and Ravinia.

Born in Moscow, Berman studied at the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory and toured extensively throughout the Soviet Union as a recitalist and guest soloist with numerous orchestras. In 1973, he immigrated to Israel, where he taught at Tel Aviv University. He currently heads the Piano Department at Yale School of Music.

Berman was founding director of the Yale Music Spectrum series (1984-97), which was praised for the inventiveness of its programming.

Berman has recorded under the Philips, Deutsche Gramophon, and Melodia labels. For Chandos, he recorded the complete piano works of Prokofiev. Most recently, he completed a disc of music by Debussy for Ottavo, as well as a recording of works for piano by John Cage for Naxos.

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