Piano Forum



Hommage and Collaboration - Prosseda Plays Morricone
There are few names more synonymous with the sound of cinema than Ennio Morricone. The cultural titan was so prolific that nobody can say for certain how many film scores he actually wrote, but we have talked to a man who has played and recorded all of Morricone's compositions for solo piano. Read more >>

Topic: A defining performance for me.  (Read 2846 times)

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
A defining performance for me.
on: January 12, 2005, 02:49:20 PM
Have you ever had a "defining" moment when you finally thought "yes, there is a reason for all of this!"

We learned my grandmother was dying of an aggressive cancer, 8 months or so ago. Around October she asked me "play Malaguena, my favorite piece ever"  - I didn't know of what she was referring, but I looked it up.  I thought it might be a bit out of my reach (I've been playing just over a year, but I have made exceptional progress), but I wanted to learn it for her in time. We made a promise - "I'll promise to learn it for you Gram if you promise to stick around and hear it".  It was about this time as well that I started really understanding the techniques of learning as presented by Bernhard and Chang, so I went about it hoping somehow I could learn to play this piece well in a short time (You may remember the "Pauls Plan to Try it himself" thread a while ago).  I got all the notes memorized and playable, but not at a "performance level" (as far as I was concerned, that is, reaching the blazing 200bmp moments with crystaline clarity)

At Christmas I played it for her, not perfect of course, but so what. She was brought to tears and said "I can die now".

Last week shortly after the new year she passed away.  Gram always loved it when I played for her, so my mother convinced me to perform at the funeral.  Difficult of course, but I got up there and played two Chopin pieces she liked (the prelude in eminor and the waltz in aminor) -  mom and other family members asked prior "will you play Malaguena" and I said "no way, it's not ready for performance".. 

I found myself performing the Chopin with a clarity and ease I have never experienced before.. My ego was completely detached, I was in fact observing myself play these pieces, quite literally, better than I ever have.  The last note of the Waltz rang out and instead of getting up to return to my seat, I lifted my left hand and dropped it into the first chord of the Malaguena (having not considered actually playing it until that moment)

I could hear a outpouring of sobbing from many family members, as they knew what this piece meant to my Grandma, and nobody was expecting me to play it, not even me. I briefly said to myself "what am I doing! This isn't ready" but I quickly lost track of my thoughts.

Again, I found myself an observer,  all the inhibitions, places in the piece where my teacher wrote on the score "trust yourself" - places where I had been so consumed trying to get the explosive speeds, those thoughts and self-doubts were all completely missing (after all, I litereally picked the piece up less than 3 months ago) - My hands were quite literally on autopilot, I was in some kind of trance, tears running down my face as I played an essentially flawless, explosive and very emotional rendition, better than I had ever played it in practice, at home or at a lesson. 

Following the service,  the Choir director told me that in 25 years at that church, she has never heard that piano played so beautifully. The choir, none of whom knew my Grandma, were in tears as well.  The priest approached me and said, "my god man, Malaguena! I've heard that played by the masters and your reading of it was spectacular" -  my parents, extended family were all expressing their gratitude, how much it meant to them, how much it would have meant to Gramma.  My only comment was "I felt like I was unconcious the entire time I was playing"

To be able to do that for them, for her, just makes it all worth it.  It was a true moment of clarity, surrounded by sadness that punched right through into the hearts of everybody there, myself included.

-Paul

Offline shasta

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 492
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #1 on: January 12, 2005, 05:19:01 PM
Paul

Thank you for sharing your lovely story with us.  It's a beautiful reminder of how insignificant many of the facets of music which seem to preoccupy our lives (competitions, hourly rates, auditions) really are in the grand scheme of things.
"self is self"   - i_m_robot

Offline anda

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 943
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #2 on: January 12, 2005, 07:05:41 PM
keep playing. anytime you play you will feel her close to you - and anytime you play this, and anytime you even think of her, your granma will know. really.

Offline ehpianist

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 160
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #3 on: January 15, 2005, 03:14:52 PM
Just beautiful.  My grandmother was also the one in my family who was very attached to my piano playing.  I'm not a religious person at all but since she died I have always felt she has been guiding my musical path and has been around at every concert I've played.

Your grandmother will always be there listening.

Elena
https://www.pianofourhands.com

Offline Brian Healey

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 454
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #4 on: January 15, 2005, 04:57:49 PM
That's one of the most beautiful stories I've ever heard. Thank you Paul. The true purpose of music lies not in technique, but in its ability to affect the soul.

Peace,
Bri

Offline goalevan

  • PS Silver Member
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 241
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #5 on: January 17, 2005, 09:36:05 PM
that is an amazing story, congratulations.

Offline dinosaurtales

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 1138
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #6 on: January 17, 2005, 10:16:29 PM
Yes.  That's an incredible story!  Thank you!  I have had no such defining moment, certainly not one like that!
So much music, so little time........

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #7 on: January 23, 2005, 04:28:13 PM
thank you all for your comments!
 :)

Offline DarkWind

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 729
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #8 on: January 23, 2005, 08:33:12 PM
That's a beautiful story! Out of curiosity, which Malagueña was it? Was it Lecuona's?

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #9 on: January 24, 2005, 02:55:41 PM

Offline mound

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 554
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #10 on: January 24, 2005, 02:56:42 PM
It's interesting also, I've been reading "Effortless Mastery" lately (and recently read "Free Play, Improvisation in life and art" - and they both tend to point to getting into that state where you are in fact detached and observing yourself, without fear of consequence, result or even quality.

I wonder if I can find a way to put myself in that state, in a situation where there is no such pre-existing emotional undertone. If I could, I could wow audiences the world over! I haven't been able to play that piece in practice as well since.. I'm going to let it hybernate for a few months.


-Paul

Offline DarkWind

  • PS Silver Member
  • Sr. Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 729
Re: A defining performance for me.
Reply #11 on: January 28, 2005, 01:17:39 AM
Interestinly enough, that effect is not only on piano. One day, just a few weeks ago, I was spontaneously made to public speak. I started speaking, and got to a point where I was just, detached. It was weird.
 

Logo light pianostreet.com - the website for classical pianists, piano teachers, students and piano music enthusiasts.

Subscribe for unlimited access

Sign up

Follow us

Piano Street Digicert