My Search for the Old Russian Soul

When I was 23, I embarked on a feverish journey in search of the old Russian soul–if one can call it that. Every evening at 5pm, I locked myself in and immersed myself in Russian music, cinema, art, literature, biographies, history, and even the language, until 4or 5am each morning. This went on for many months, and I share some of the gems I found here–perhaps some will be a revelation. I imagined there were arcane truths and spiritual awakenings and unprecedented discoveries of arresting beauty passed down through the ages in the very soil and air there. Here I limit myself to discoveries on Youtube, and a couple of images that captured my imagination and have stayed with me ever since–it’s really too many to take in all at once here, but perhaps something will resonate with you. I would love to hear about favorites of yours, as surely you have many to add?

The Churches of Kizhi (c1764)

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Reflections on the Lake

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The view of Lake Lugano from a boat excursion on the “Paradiso”

If you were placed next to two living legends for a week, would you feel inspired, intimidated, overshadowed, amazed, or all of the above? I am still processing a period I just had at the Martha Argerich Project at the Lugano Festival with these two great musicians–memories that will last a lifetime. Two years ago, I had a similar opportunity with the two, but this was even more intense, more incredible, and more inspiring. Still, the lull after such a period is admittedly an enormous comedown.

Because of my close proximity as page turner for the rehearsals, recording session, and concert, I again have to severely limit what I can say publicly so as not to be intrusive into the private workings and process of what I witnessed. But I can say that these are the two hardest-working musicians I have ever witnessed. The first evening, I witnessed an all-night practice session in which Sergei Babayan demonstrated breathtaking prowess in pieces he is preparing for a Wigmore Hall, and also the Prokofiev Second Concerto. Simply hearing how he practiced with extroverted demonstration was enough to prove his abilities as a teacher, interestingly enough. Most material at this point was practiced largely at tempo except in select spots–but I had the sense that Babayan’s ability to process and adapt to change in syntax, fingering, and phrasing, is above the average of any musician I have seen. The practicing itself highlighted, almost to the pianist himself, chord voicings, pared-down structures of the piece, as well as infinite shadings in experimental succession. I feel had I learned to practice this way earlier in life I would have had many advantages. What is astonishing is Sergei Babayan’s equally inventive vivaciousness in life in each moment and in each story he tells–everything is expository and teaches about compassion, humor, understanding, and lots of bringing to awareness aspects of life that only a highly sensitive, perceptive person could bring.

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Pennsylvania Station: Destruction of an American Masterpiece

Built in 1910 by the famous architects McKim, Mead, and White, Pennsylvania Station was a masterpiece of the Beaux Arts style.

Built in 1910 by the famous architects McKim, Mead, and White, Pennsylvania Station was a masterpiece of the Beaux Arts style. Of enormous proportions, it took up two city blocks and was one of the largest public spaces in the world. It was the first station to divide travelers into arrivals and departures in two concourses.

 

It was a masterpiece of American architecture that evoked the great halls of Rome and the palatial railway stations of Europe, and was a crown jewel in New York City. At its peak in 1945, it handled 100 million travelers a year. Its destruction in 1963 after only 53 years provoked international outrage and was considered a “monumental act of vandalism” and started the historical preservation movement in the United States, saving Grand Central Station from a similar fate.

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Nicholas King and The Art of Giving Back

If I had to feature one young person who represents what living a dynamic life in classical music is all about in the 21st Century, it would be Nicholas King. Daring in his entrepreneurial vision and bold in his unusual pathways, he is quickly finding success and recognition both as a pianist and as a mentor to others in the organization he founded, The Art of Giving Back. From a childhood set of charity concerts in the meat department of a local grocery store, to an early appearance on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, to paying his tuition for summer study abroad by selling donuts in high school, Nicholas King is a man and musician who gets his way. Focused, articulate, and passionate, he was a pleasure to join in in conversation this spring at the Slow Train Cafe in Oberlin.

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Where were you born?

I was born and raised in California—I moved around a bit but mainly between Culver City and Marina Del Ray.

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Friendship with an Artist: Kaupo

Usually the most illuminating friendships–the ones that inspire us and change us–are the ones that happen by accident. I first met award-winning Estonian photographer Kaupo Kikkas through his famous portraits of the composer Arvo Pärt. I was drawn to the inner radiance, peace, and loneliness of his language–the same qualities that draw me, for example, to the works of Franz Schubert and the paintings of Edward Hopper. Click any image in this post for full size.

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Protected: Echoes of a Grand Age: Cleveland’s Vanished Euclid Avenue

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“Living the Classical Life”: Why Bother?

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Filming in Ohio: the early days were filmed as a portrait of me: there was not an idea for interviews yet.

An Accidental Start:

“Living the Classical Life”. So, what is it? Why do I bother hosting it when I should be practicing piano? How did it start? Why should anybody care?

The show seeks to illuminate the world of classical musicians, to interest new audiences, and to provide hope and wisdom for aspiring musicians from the experiences of seasoned performers. It is neither a blog nor vlog, nor merely an internet venture–though sometimes, for lack of category, people have referred to it as such.

Few people know it started out as a filmed portrait about me that accidentally turned into interviews within a series. Some of my closest friends in Oberlin wanted to help establish a short film to put on my website, but after filming in Ohio and in New York, it became clear that I was asking others about their paths, so Peter Hobbs and Elyria Pictures created an interview series out of footage of me with my close friend Joshua Roman, cellist. The first few episodes were derived from similar material. The early incarnation of the show was called “Zsolt Bognár and Friends” until the rebranding.

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A Half-Light between Heaven and Despair

Wilhelm Kempff's mountain-top estate is today the home of the Kempff Foundation Beethoven Courses

The view from Casa Orfeo: Wilhelm Kempff’s mountain-top estate is today the home of the Kempff Foundation Beethoven Courses. He built the home especially for the purpose.

Two years ago, I was in Positano for an unforgettable period in October 2013–somehow the sense of awe was so much that I could not bring myself to write about it until now. Every year, eight pianists from around the world participate in an intense two-week course on the interpretation of Beethoven Sonatas, which were a specialty of the great German pianist Wilhelm Kempff. These take place in the Amalfi Coast of Italy, which is of a jagged, stark beauty. Started in 1957 by Kempff, the courses are today led by the very illuminating Bernd Goetzke, who was the final pupil of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. I was very ill for weeks before I arrived, and was still very unwell during my stay; the impressions were nevertheless for a lifetime. Anybody who has had any type of extended convalescence understands the type of transformation that one goes through–almost as though a soul has aged through years of wisdom in sped-up time that simultaneously seems frozen while going through it.

Kempff was a master at spiritual illumination of music, and a poetic messenger of its essence. He was at his best in concert.

Wilhelm Kempff (1895-1991) was a master at spiritual illumination of music, and a poetic messenger of its essence. He was at his best in concert.

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A Winter Journey: The Making of a Recording in Berlin

The b-sharp Studios in Berlin

The b-sharp Studios in Berlin, where I recorded with Grammy-winning producer-engineer (“tonmeister” is the appelation in German) Philipp Nedel

What’s in a recording? The published reviews for my debut CD recording were dizzying, but I had had a tremendous amount of help from fellow musicians with the psychological preparation. For me, this sense of calm made all the difference. So, what was required of the intense world of the studio? Many of my colleagues have written to me to ask how I did it, and so I recall those intense three days in December 2010 here. It seems the feeling among all of us is that the stress of an unfamiliar process necessarily means a meltdown, given the costs involved. How does one not get bogged down in an impossible pursuit of committing perfection to disc?

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Have Piano, Will Fly

Musicians are great at freaking out, especially in the face of deadlines. Notes have to be learned and settled. The calm but sharp focus required ahead of concerts feels frighteningly ethereal. Memory has to be checked continually. So, what if you are scheduled to join a family vacation for two weeks, in the two weeks leading up to concerts in Europe? I did not see canceling a rare family vacation to Athens, the Greek Islands, and Rome as a happy solution at all. Had I not been sick for a very extended period this spring, I would have been ready for my concerts by now. But I wasn’t. I was at a total loss for what to do and feeling unwell about it.

The problems with bringing a piano began in Cleveland. Photo Tom Bueno

The problems with bringing a piano overseas began in Cleveland. I had no clue what to do. (Photo Tom Bueno)

The solution was suggested to me by Elizabeth DeMio, and then I remembered that Christopher O’Riley does this regularly and advised me in great detail–to fly an instrument over there. Great solution, but the problems only piled on from there. I had to think though, that over 100 years ago in 1909, Rachmaninoff sailed to New York by ship and was so nervous to premiere his own Third Concerto that he brought a silent dummy keyboard to learn the notes. He disembarked the ship and went straight to the rehearsals with the NY Philharmonic, and the conductors were none other than…Gustav Mahler and Walter Damrosch.

Rachmaninoff--pictured here in Amsterdam--took a dummy keyboard with him when sailing overseas

Rachmaninoff–pictured here in Amsterdam–took a dummy keyboard with him when sailing overseas. I don’t think he would have blogged about it though.

Many colleagues of mine have asked how I pulled this off for solutions for practicing on the road. I’ll keep and update a brief blog about practicing here on a traveling instrument through Europe. Cellists and violinists do this all the time. But cellos and violins are lighter.

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Preview: The Birth of a Russian Concerto

This poster/flyer has been circulating for weeks ahead of the event.

This poster/flyer has been circulating for weeks ahead of the event.

The question floating around Cleveland these days when asking about the new Piano Concerto to be premiered here is “What style is it in?” The assumption seems to be that a work by a famous young performer could only be derivative. If an unleashing of primordial energies and arcane secrets is a style, then Daniil Trifonov’s new work is in a category of its own.

Daniil Trifonov, shown here in an episode of Living the Classical Life, plays his work with great virtuosity and inner tension

Daniil Trifonov, shown here in an episode of Living the Classical Life, plays his work with great virtuosity and inner tension

Seemingly only the realm of comparisons satisfies in the 21st century: there are hints of harmonic language and rhetoric that have moved beyond the territory of the exploratory Rachmaninoff Fourth Concerto, and the manic energy of the Prokofiev Second and Third. There is a narrative sense of an epic fable, as only Prokofiev’s orchestral works could tell–the expressive and atmospheric string glissandi in the finale of Trifonov’s work recall the Scherzo of the Prokofiev Third Symphony, and a fairy-tale quality in quieter moments seems reminiscent of the “Tales of a Grandmother”. The darkness of the opening has hints of orchestration by Richard Strauss, as does the seductive waltz section of the finale with instrumental solos. Harmonies in the second movement are of a complexity and luminosity of middle-period Scriabin, while the interplay of orchestral and piano resonances sometimes goes beyond romantic-era discoveries–surely under the influence of composer Keith Fitch, who supervised the composition of the work. Despite all these comparisons, and a Russian character sometimes derived from Orthodox harmonies and rustic rhythms, this concerto is an energy that can hardly contain itself.

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“God is in the (Philadelphia) Details.”

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 - 1969), Architect

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886 – 1969), Architect

The great German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said about buildings that “God is in the Details”. If that is so, then Philadelphia has shown me that its essence as a city takes flight in the timeless beauty of its decorative elements.

I have been in Philadelphia for two weeks for an extremely intense period of study with Robert Durso, with whom I studied this summer in Princeton and with whom I shared a concert here in Philadelphia in March. Because of long daily walks to lessons from where I am staying on Walnut Street in Center City all the way north of Fairmount in the Museum District, I have had a chance each day to take pictures along the way. This was a very time-consuming project, but the beauty of the city made it worth my time, and gave me all the photos you see below. All the photos are my own; click for full size on any of them.

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artsJournal/Norman Lebrecht Feature about Zsolt Bognár

Norman Lebrecht, one of the most famous arts and culture journalists in the world; I grew up reading his books and articles

Norman Lebrecht, perhaps the most famous arts and culture journalist in the world; I grew up reading his books and articles

On August 7, 2013, Norman Lebrecht’s “Slipped Disc” and artsJournal published the following feature about my outdoor performance project in Cleveland. Lebrecht is one of the most famous arts and culture authors and commentators in the world, with a monthly readership of nearly one million people. It was exciting to have been contacted by him to be asked to write the piece, which I mirror here on my own site.

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Stages, Stagecoaches, Airplanes, and Old Europe

(This is the final post as part of a project involving the International Festival Society for my projects this summer–many thanks to Mr. Joe Piropato.)

Europe, Round Two: Concerts

Two trips to Europe with two weeks between, in Cleveland and in Princeton. The first was in the presence of Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan. The second was for my own concerts. The atmosphere is of course very different as such–it is tricky for a pianist to be on the road and find adequate time to practice. Chopin, for example, found great difficulties in the days of stagecoaches in which transcontinental travel took months–he had in one instance three days to practice “as he never had before” and to get into shape, physically and mentally. But, he did not have to do so too many times, as his lifetime total of concerts (upon which his reputation as one of history’s greatest pianists rested) totaled only 30. Liszt, however, gave over 2,500 concerts in countries that reached as far as Turkey and Russia. Thankfully I had neither to travel by stagecoach, nor by ship, but I was still in a constant state of wondering the condition of my peak performance. I wondered about my friend and upstairs neighbor in my building in Cleveland’s University Circle, Daniil Trifonov–he gives over a hundred concerts a year and is seemingly always on the road.

Frankfurt Airport--I wonder how traveling pianists did it in the age of stagecoaches?

Frankfurt Airport–I wonder how traveling pianists did it in the age of stagecoaches?

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106 Degrees of Princeton: Golandsky and the Piano

July 13-20: From Cleveland to Princeton at the Golandsky Institute and International Piano Festival: 23 photos and a diary of observations. “So, why Taubman?”

A mere week in Cleveland separated two trips to Europe, and between these was a week in Princeton I cannot ever forget. This intense week impressed in a lush setting for the Taubman approach for piano at the Golandsky Institute. I truly had no idea what I was about to experience.

Gateways through Princeton campus

Campus gateways–luminous and architecturally magnificent [All photos in this post are my own unless otherwise credited.]

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After Lugano-The Loire: Wine, Chateaux, and Roses–to Stormy Cleveland by Night

Vineyards stretched in peaceful fields across the horizon

Vineyards stretched in peaceful fields across the horizon, with wildflowers between

From Lugano to Tours in the heart of the Garden of France in Tours–wine country, a journey to see chateaux, cooking feasts, cool summer evenings, and a journey back to Cleveland to see the tall ships. Although my Lugano project blog finished with the Martha Argerich Project, there were so many people who requested more photos and tales of my travels, that this photo-post from France came about. The dream-like experience and lushness of central France is unlike anything elsewhere~

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#5: Final Blog Post–Conclusion of the Festival, Beethoven, and Bewilderment

Unusually somber light on the last day

Unusually somber light on the last day

The Wrong Side of Bed

One of my favorite books, set here in Ticino--the weather today was fitting too

One of my favorite books, set here in Ticino–the weather today was apt too

I woke up to this somber, half-luminous scene—the light over the lake was almost primordial, and then I suddenly remembered a book I had read years ago by Max Frisch. It was a reflection of my mood, which did not want the end of this festival of music in paradise. My hotel, after all, is in the aptly-named part of town called Paradiso. A taxi conveyed me to the hall and cost a fortune. I noted that people here drive like maniacs. It’s a small town. Why go so fast?

Max Frisch’s “Man in the Holocene” was a story of fate, acceptance of mortality, and one man’s struggle against nature in solitude. Incessant rains and waiting for the instability and landslide in the valley had the unsettled mood of uncertain doom. It was set in Ticino, the region which cradles Lugano. That suddenly struck me as I looked out the window. Sometimes, artists trying to define their work’s role in the world are also in their own Holocene.

Popularity Contests

The hall had lots of media and hoopla and self-important people with ridiculous demeanors. I found it all tiring and insufferable, just like the boring dead Swiss audiences who wouldn’t know the difference between their own funerals and trying to clap for a concert. Nobody here can compare to the enthusiasm, passion, and sincere excitement for the love of music from American or Dutch audiences, as one example. I downed an espresso and joined my teacher for the concert.

Everybody was excited to look important, just like at high school prom

Everybody was excited to look important, just like at a high school prom

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#4: June 30-July 2–In Close Quarters with Martha Argerich and Sergei Babayan

Endless hours of work, all-night rehearsals, backstage happenings, the concert, a collapse in the audience, and my “late” page-turn

In Person

These past three days were a whirlwind, and have felt exactly rather like five. To experience in the work, rehearsals, and behind-the-scenes life of two enigmatic great pianists—Sergei Babayan and Martha Argerich–is almost unthinkable. These days were apart from any sense of time and were dictated by the musical tasks at hand.

Because of my unique vantage point—an intimate look at the private world of artistic preparation and work, I must be especially careful in how I write this entry and to respect the privilege and trust I was given. What I can try to do is give a general sense of their uncompromising work, their incredible humanity, and the excitement I was able to derive from first-hand learning and observation.

By the time night-time rehearsals finished each morning, the view and light were amazing

By the time night rehearsals finished each morning, the view and light were amazing

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Legend vs. Human Experience

Contrary to popular legends about Martha Argerich around the time of a concert as moody, unpredictable, and tempestuous, I witnessed personally her deeply caring, kind, shy, and charming nature in all aspects. There are also legends–some she cultivated herself in earlier years–that she rarely practices and somehow deploys her consummate virtuosity without effort. Instead, I found that she is a relentless musical laborer, practicing 8, 9, 10, or 11 hours or more each day–truly working tirelessly for results (The same holds true for Sergei Babayan.) Argerich’s intuition leads always, and she selflessly asks lots of questions from her musical colleagues, gathering all input without any sense of ego. The rapport and mutual support that existed between Babayan and Argerich is something I will not forget as long as I live.

All around town and outside of Lugano, posters for the festival announce Martha Argerich

All around town and outside of Lugano, posters for the festival announce Martha Argerich

I am struck again and again by the highly sensitive, even vulnerable nature of creative artists—their refusal to trust themselves and their abilities without unimaginable reserves of work. I witnessed all-night rehearsals and repetitions that seemed superhuman. For performers to give so openly and emotionally of themselves, time does not leave room to build illusions of personal defenses. For this reason, artists at work must be sequestered and protected, encouraged, and even loved.

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Day 3: Martha Argerich Project Blog–Wardrobe, Bach, Maisky, and More

In this entry: Maisky at the Cinema, A triple wardrobe change, Lugano nightlife and restaurants, ballroom dancers in the streets, and other tales. Includes many photos~

[As part of an International Festival Society grant for my summer musical plans (including the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano) I am keeping a little daily log of the goings-on, because many of them have been extraordinary, weird, or surprising. This is a public blog post, so I tried my utmost to protect the privacy of all involved while recounting these stories.]

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A Summer Day in the City

Weekends here in Europe prove challenging for those attempting to keep gluten-free or low-carb diets, since the bakeries and cafés display their full repertoire to hapless passing visitors. Fortunately, the sheer amount of walking required here offsets the requisite guilt.

Old-world cafés with a view to the Lake are perfect for croissants and espresso

Old-world cafés with a view to the Lake are perfect for croissants and espresso, and perhaps the morning paper

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Blog: Martha Argerich Project–June 28, 2013

As part of an International Festival Society grant for my summer musical plans (including the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano) I am keeping a little daily log of the goings-on, because many of them have been extraordinary, weird, or surprising. This is a public blog post, so I tried my utmost to protect the privacy of all involved while recounting these stories.

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The Lugano Lake shore setting would be perfect for Prancercise®, though in this photo I do not seem to be partaking

 

About twenty giant blue snails greet the public on the way to the Festival.

About twenty giant blue snails greet the public on the way to the Festival

Excitement Builds at the Festival

Almost no sleep last night, due to the excitement of the concert and all the meetings with the legendary musicians. But then, the atmosphere here is framed by groups of musicians staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning, rehearsing and practicing for the concerts. It is hard to settle into a comfortable sleep knowing that Martha Argerich is still awake and practicing at the Radio hall at the top of the mountain as though there were no more tomorrows. Her prolific practice habits are the talk of the festival.

Martha Argerich at the piano

Martha Argerich at the piano

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Martha Argerich Project, Part 1

As part of an International Festival Society grant for my summer musical plans (including the Martha Argerich Project in Lugano) I am keeping a little daily log of the goings-on, because many of them have been extraordinary, weird, or surprising. This is a public blog post, so I tried my utmost to protect the privacy of all involved while recounting these stories.

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Mid-day in Paris

Cleveland-Paris-Basel-Lugano

Paris reflected through a market

Paris reflected through a market

A flight from a balmy Cleveland to Newark passed quickly because my flighty neighbors all wanted to speak, and all asked the same unlikely question “So, are you with The Orchestra?” …What is “The Orchestra”? I tell them that pianists usually play solo or as soloists with an orchestra, and their reaction usually betrays disappointment anyway.

It was the same thing—the same question repeatedly from a large group of friendly Texans–on the flight to Paris, so I feigned an interest in the TV and then actually delighted in an episode of “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” Colin Firth as guest. Firth emphasized that previous successes fail to give him any sense of security in approaching a new project. This sounds familiar to stage musicians too~

Parisian market display. "How is it possible to run a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?" -Charles de Gaulle

Parisian market display. “How is it possible to run a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” -Charles de Gaulle

Basel

Basel

After Paris (with two very longtime friends as my travel companions)—where we bumped into the distinguished cellist Amir Eldan vacationing from Oberlin–a TGV conveyed us and my newly-reunited suitcase to Basel, a city of medieval stock. It is almost a time portal into an older Europe.

 

The cleanliness of everything in Switzerland is beyond belief, as is the availability of wifi for facebookers on public transportation.

 

A must-see is the incredible collection of art at the Beyeler Foundation in Basel. The feature is currently 150 paintings and works from around the world by Max Ernst. The caged birds left an indelible impression on the passing musician.

"Forest and Dove" 1927 by Max Ernst (1891-1976)

“Forest and Dove” 1927 by Max Ernst (1891-1976)

Giacometti at Beyeler Foundation

Giacometti at Beyeler Foundation

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“Living the Classical Life”: The Complete Series

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New August 2014–the new official website for Living the Classical Life is launched!
http://www.LivingTheClassicalLife.com

 

Zsolt Bognár interviews Joshua Bell at his home in NYC, 2014

Latest Episode: Zsolt Bognár interviews Joshua Bell

 

Getting to the Heart of the World and Lives of Classical Musicians

“The essence of the artist’s inner world, work, and experiences–all of these illuminate the heart of why I host this show and hopefully inspire others with the humanity of my guests. I grew up watching Charlie Rose and “Inside the Actor’s Studio” and quickly realized that there is so much to be learned from real conversation that can never be taught in a formal setting.” -Zsolt Bognár

Living the Classical Life is hosted by Fractured Atlas, a 501(c)(3) public charity and needs your help to continue to reach wider audiences. Learn about our fiscal sponsorship program at our page here.

–August 2014: Yuja Wang, Pianist and Deutsche Grammophon Recording Artist

“Life—and music and what I do—has to be intermixed, has to be together, or else I feel like I’m not alive.”

In an unusually intimate portrait, Deutsche Grammophon recording artist Yuja Wang speaks of her life and work, demonstrating by musical examples throughout—including a delightful rendition of an Art Tatum arrangement of “Tea for Two.” She describes her musical aspirations in contrast with audience perceptions, the value of practicing and not practicing, learning and relearning a piece, and the importance of struggle for musical results. Running time 14 minutes.

–April 2014: Peter Takács- Pianist, Teacher and Winner of the William Kapell International Competition

April, 2014– “Luck favors the prepared mind.”

Peter Takács describes how a traversal of the complete Beethoven Sonata cycle takes the performer to the heart of Beethoven’s human qualities. He reflects on the performer’s relationship with the musical score, the recording process in the studio, and how to sustain spontaneity, demonstrating with musical examples.

–March 2014: Robert Durso, Pianist and Director of the Golandsky Institute at Princeton

March, 2014– How early do you really need to be a virtuoso pianist to succeed as a pianist in life? At one time people assumed that the world was flat—by a function of agreement.”

Filmed at his home in Philadelphia, Durso discusses misconceptions about musical promotion in the world today, the importance of balance, the role of teaching in a musician’s life, and describes his own encounters with the work and life of Dorothy Taubman as well as the controversies surrounding her work. The episode ends with a performance excerpt of Bach-Kurtág.

–Jan.2014: Christopher O’Riley, Pianist and Host of NPR’s “From the Top”

January, 2014-– “I want the audience not to come with preconceived notions but to decide on the evidence of their ears and their hearts what is good.”

Filmed in his home in Cleveland, Christopher O’Riley talks about his multifaceted musical life, from the practicalities of traveling with a keyboard to nurturing the next generation of musicians. He explains and demonstrates how he found his musical voice through a diversification of projects, ranging from his Radiohead arrangements to his Liszt Project.

Dec. 2013: Daniil Trifonov, Deutsche Grammophon Recording Artist

December 13, 2013–Releasing an up-close look at the art and world of Daniil Trifonov, filmed in Cleveland, Ohio. Winner of the Grand Prix in the Tchaikovsky Competition and the Rubinstein Competition, Mr. Trifonov is a formidable presence on the world’s stages and has been the featured soloist with most of the world’s major orchestras. In this episode, he demonstrates examples from the repertoire and shares insights into his work and life.

Episode Nov. 2013: Stephen Hough, Pianist and MacArthur Fellow

November 19, 2013–Today I get to release for the first time my feature interview with MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and pianist Stephen Hough–this was a huge team effort in Steinway Hall in New York and we are very proud of the result. The charm, humanity, and wit of this man is consummate. He discusses his diverse activities from painting to composing, the “irony” of his MacArthur Fellowship, being happy about getting older, competitions, dealing with failure, pressure, nerves, judgment, dealing with image-based industry, memorization, silencing critical thoughts, loneliness, and pacing one’s self in life and finding a voice. Also he discusses TV shows, recording the Liszt Sonata for iPad, the music of Bach, his childhood, humor, gay rights in the world, organizing his daily work, his wanting to become a priest early on, and the performer’s relationship to the political world. Have a look and let me know if you enjoy! Thank you Elyria Pictures, Peter Hobbs, Elizabeth Foley, Jutta Ittner, Steinway & Sons of New York, our publicist Jonathan Eifert, and of course to Stephen himself. Duration 40 minutes!

Heidi Kim Interviews Zsolt Bognár, October 2012

In October 2012, Heidi Kim of “Caffeinated Convos” blog interviewed Zsolt Bognár in Cleveland, mirrored here.

Cup 21: Growing into the Music

 

Performance at Berlin Konzerthaus, August 2012

Performance at Berlin Konzerthaus, August 2012

Cup 21 is Mr. Zsolt Bognár.

Hometown: Urbana, Illinois but has lived in Cleveland for the past 12 years.

Location: Panera Bread on Euclid Avenue

Drink: Panera Cappuccino (and their Power Breakfast Sandwich to boot, his favorite B-fast item there).

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