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Chopin: living the piano player's life

I'm finishing up reading "Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times" by Dr. Alan Walker. I've really enjoyed it. Two things that stand out to me among many: First of all, that whether you're a 21st century jazz pianist on the road or a 19th century Chopin, you still have to travel, find a a place to stay and get where you're going, show up and play, try to get paid, eat, and deal with both accolades and indignities of all sorts. Because of his physical frailties (and ever present tuberculosis), all of this was often a struggle for Chopin, not to mention arranging all this without the use of internet and high-tech communications. Second, contemporary newspaper reviews and personal letters by various people who heard him play in concert or more likely in a salon/living room almost uniformly mention his ethereal, light, flowing touch at the piano. We're not likely to ever hear recordings of that touch, because there was no recording technology except the ears, memories, and descriptive vocabularies of people who were there. So all pianists today may try to get that sound when they play Chopin, but they can't be certain. I saw Keith Jarrett play many times, so when his piano sound is described, I can agree or not, but I was there so I know what I heard. And of course recordings exist. Not so with Chopin. And it seems that his touch at the piano separated the way his playing of his own music sounded as compared to that of other great pianists then and now. Perhaps one day they'll data-mine the DNA of people long gone and find a way to let us hear what they heard. For now, we can read about Chopin, listen to others play his works, and of course, learn them ourselves.

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