OK, I Have No Good Excuse for Posting This . . .

. . . other than paternal pride [surely one of the more benign vices, and one for which kind readers will forgive me]. It's a video clip of my son Sam at his piano recital at Yale last spring: some Preludes and Fugues from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. It's a very home-made job, quality-wise, but there's some truly lovely playing here (though I know I'm not terribly objective on this -- duh!). Sam's always had a special relationship with Bach -- to have a 12- or 13-year-old in the house playing the 5-part fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier, and not just playing them but playing them really beautifully -- is a strange and wondrous thing; and to my ear, his performances of Bach can stand comparison with even the great ones out there (Gould, Richter, Tureck, Perahia, ...).

And should any of you happen to find yourselves in New Haven CT this Friday evening, Sam's giving his senior recital at 8 PM in Sudler Hall. It's a wonderful program -- more Bach, some Schubert impromptus, Mozart Sonata K. 570, and the 3d Chopin Ballade. [If that's not a nice sample of the greatest achievements of Western civilization, I'm not sure what would be].

You have every reason to be very proud of your son. The older I get, the more I appreciate Bach, Mozart, Schubert, Chopin, and other giants of Western civilization.
12.10.2008 8:56am
You're allowed to kvell.
12.10.2008 9:04am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):

can stand comparison with even the great ones out there (Gould,

One hopes without the low moaning.
12.10.2008 9:09am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
And you're right, he does sound quite plausible.

Having set the world record for number of years in the John Brimhall First Year Piano Book, I'm just a touch jealous.
12.10.2008 9:12am
Mary Rue (mail):
You should be proud! He's terrific. I'd love to hear him in person.
12.10.2008 9:18am
That does sound interesting, and by chance I will be in New Haven this Friday, but I can't find it on Yale's University Calendar or the Music school events page, even under student recitals. Is it open to the general public, and are tickets required?
Not sure why it's not on the music school page (though probably because Sam's not a student at the "music school" but at yale college?) - in any event, it is open, and no tickets required. Sudler Hall at 8 PM ...DGP
12.10.2008 10:18am
hey (mail):
There's talented to a father, and then there's that video. If only your son had a father who was as prodigious with a video camera as he is on the piano!
12.10.2008 10:19am
Randy R. (mail):
Hurray! As a piano teacher myself (only two students, which is at best a part time avocation), I applaud any parent that gives his children piano lessons. I know that the cost can be high for such lessons and a sacrifice, but it's one worth giving. I can't tell you how many adults tell me, upon hearing that I teach, that they took piano when they were a kid, rebelled, and now they kick themselves for not doing it more. And they wish they could take it up again.

When your child rebells (he will at some point), keep it up. You'll have arguments and fights, but you must always keep him going to lessons until he at least graduates from high school.

What you are doing is invaluable, and I only wish more parents would do that for their kids. We would have a much better society if we did.
12.10.2008 10:26am
Duffy Pratt (mail):
Bach, Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. All from a very small geographical area and from a very short time span. I think four of them were living in Vienna all at the same time. Was there something in the water?

A similar sort of confluence came in Paris in the art world in the late 1900s, and in London for literature in the mid-late Victorian era. These localized explosions of genius in a particular field fascinate me. {Me, too. Philadelphia in the 1790s [political thought], NYC in the 50s . . .DGP}

And yes, you should be proud of your son. The problem is not with the picture, but there is no way to really capture the sound with a video camera microphone. Because of that, I have no opinion about where he stands in relation to Gould, Schiff, Hewitt, Richter etc...
12.10.2008 10:31am
DCTenor1 (www):

I'm listening to this on my headphones at work. What a wonderful soundtrack to accompany boring admin law tasks. Beautiful! You should be very proud!

12.10.2008 10:41am
Raffi (mail) (www):
You should definitely be proud of your son. He's great. It helps, of course, and here I betray myself as a traditionalist, that he's playing music that's entirely without equal but it's also incredibly difficult music, and he carries it off marvelously.

Also, I love that he does it without a lot of affectation in terms of moving around, swaying, and so on. I understand why all that happens, but some of even the greatest musicians seem to me as an outsider to be hamming it up a bit.
12.10.2008 10:49am
David Warner:
What else is a blog for?

Here's hoping he's as well-tempered as his klavier.
12.10.2008 10:53am
David Warner:
In other news, I was looking for an excuse to link these well-tempered guitarists.
12.10.2008 11:04am

Bach, Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn. All from a very small geographical area and from a very short time span. I think four of them were living in Vienna all at the same time. Was there something in the water?

Only Schubert was from Vienna. The "something in the water" was the prestige and wealth of the Habsburg court.

In 1938, right before Nazi Germany invaded Austria, Hitler had a meeting with the Austrian chancellor. Hitler yelled at the chancellor, told him that Austria was a worthless country, and that it should surrender. The Austrian chancellor replied something to the effect of "but if Austria is so worthless, why do we have Mozart and Beethoven?" Hitler got furious and reminded the chancellor that they were not originally from Austria, but had simply chosen to move there. The chancellor smiled and said "that's my point".

It reminds me of the old joke: the Austrians' greatest achievement is convincing the world that Beethoven was an Austrian and Hitler was a German ... DGP
12.10.2008 11:12am
Randy R. (mail):
"Only Schubert was from Vienna. The "something in the water" was the prestige and wealth of the Habsburg court."

Great story!

We mustn't forget that the public in 1790s Vienna knew all the rules of music, just as today most people know all the rules of a football game. They were highly educated people who knew what the sonata-allegro form was, and most of them could play an instrument themselves. Some scholars estimate that there are thousands of compositions from that time period that were performed once, and have never seen the light of day since then. When you have that much composing going on, some cream will rise to the top.
12.10.2008 11:21am
Mike Keenan:
Great playing!
12.10.2008 11:23am
Mark E.Butler (mail):
Great stuff! Thanks for the link--and your paternal pride is well earned. Parental direction/encouragement counts for something, eh?
12.10.2008 11:33am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Sounds like we have the next Rick Wakeman or Keith Emerson on our hands.
12.10.2008 11:35am
Artless Fugue (mail):
Paternal pride is in order. The love of Bach is the most civilized of affections. The ability skillfully to realize that love is an all-transcending achievement (of which I am thoroughly envious).
12.10.2008 12:06pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
Thanks for the opportunity to hear your son. He plays beautifully and it sounds like his dad's pride is well warranted. As one who took lessons for many years and never got near to his proficiency, I really appreciate the amount of work and talent that goes into a recital like this.

Also, there is really something about JS Bach. I can listen to his music all day.

BTW, Bach didn't have much, if anything, to do with Vienna or the Hapsburgs. He was primarily a church musician at St. Thomas Lutheran Church in Leipzig who had gigs with royalty at Weimar and Cothen early in his career.
12.10.2008 12:26pm
Barbara Skolaut (mail):
You're Dad - you have every right to be proud of your boy.

And he's given you plenty to be proud of! Thanks for sharing it with us.

[Bet Sam didn't expect to have quite so wide an audience.... ;-p ]
12.10.2008 12:42pm
"[If that's not a nice sample of the greatest achievements of Western civilization, I'm not sure what would be]." I remember reading that the great achievements of W Civ were its maths, music,science &technology. Awfully hard on Shakespeare, I thought.
12.10.2008 12:45pm
raven397 (mail):
Truly a great performance on the video. You are deservedly proud. I never studied any instrument, which is now regrettable.
Spengler, a columnist at the Asia Times, has an interesting column on the popularity of piano instruction in China. They have 365 million students, vs. our 6 million--
12.10.2008 12:52pm
oledrunk3 (mail):
Great performance. His phrasing and dynamics are ideal for a modern piano. Maybe some day he will try a harpisichord. His approach suggests a talent for that instrument.
12.10.2008 1:01pm
Barbara said it all: "...You're Dad - you have every right to be proud of your boy......

Over and out! :)
12.10.2008 3:41pm
As someone who honestly is not given toward adding to a chorus of compliments like those expressed above, I must say I found this quite beautiful.
12.10.2008 4:42pm
LM (mail):
You're rightly proud. You should be maybe even prouder that your young adult child lets you kvellingly post your videos of his performances on the internet.
Sounds like you have kids ... :) Sam didn't know I was posting the link here at the VC -- he'd probably roll his eyes if he finds out/DGP
12.10.2008 5:43pm
Johnny Canuck (mail):
And will music be the focus of your son's career, or just one of his many talents?
that's the current plan ... he's applied to several conservatories for piano performance studies for next year, and we'll see what happens. It can be a rough life, I know, but when you can play like that ...?
12.11.2008 12:37pm
Eli (mail):
For those of you seeking more of Sam, here's a video recording from his performance last night, featuring Chopin's 3rd ballad, more Bach and a Mozart sonata. Also, slightly better camera work.
12.12.2008 1:20am
Sk (mail):
"{Me, too. Philadelphia in the 1790s [political thought], NYC in the 50s . . .DGP}"

I'm curious what you are referring to in NYC in the 50s.
Jazz? (I thought Jazz was more NYC/Chicago/Kansas City. Perhaps you mean specifically bebop?).

12.12.2008 10:06am

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