Mark Westcott Artist, Piano Teacher, Lecturer, Author

Dead Pianist Society

Next time you're scratching your head in confusion after hearing a performance of Lang Lang, or after hearing a performance of someone else who the current population of "they" say is "supposed to be good", you feel empty and musically unfulfilled, here is a little tale on the subject:

A few decades ago when I was a young struggling pianist in New York City I had the honor of having lunch with Richter. When we met at a cafe just across the street from Lincoln Center, every head in the place turned abruptly as I followed the legend through the door toward our table.

Just as we sat down, with barely a moment's pause, Richter looked intensely into my eyes and said in a thick Russian accent, "So tell me Mark who are you're favorite pianists?"

I managed to find the courage to blurt out, "They are all dead!".

Just as I was ready to crawl under the table, realizing I hadn't put his name at the top of the list, he began laughing uproariously saying, "You're right!, " and now pounding the table and telling the whole restaurant, "He is absolutely right. They are all dead"

If you're wondering whether what was true then is true now, I suggest starting a personal search of dead pianists, and with it, a private rediscovery of a truly great art as it was in the hands of real artists. Let me suggest some names: Solomon, Hoffman, Cortot, Edwin Fischer, Gieseking, and not forgetting Rachmaninoff. These are just a few, all before Rubenstein, Horowitz, Arrau and Serkin (a generation later). Let's all remember what made them so great and what is, for the most part, all but missing in most of the playing of recent days.



Lang Lang



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