Eating Poetry

My godfather, Eugene Hochman, was born in Hungary, 1900, into a family so poor that they sometimes “ate poetry” (as he told me) instead of food. As a teen-ager, he won the Hungarian national prizes for poetry-writing, essay-writing and mathematics. The first two came naturally to him; the mathematics, not; so his brother–who had won previously–tutored him in math because the family needed the prize money of about $100. And Eugene won. Read More »

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Lobster Sauce and Soft Pedal

News flash! “Lobster sauce” is so called not because it contains lobster—it doesn’t—but because it goes well with lobster. So I was wondering whether soft pedal is so called because it makes a sound that goes well with soft playing. Read More »

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Who’s Being Tested?

Like many malcontents, or seeming-malcontents, my old friend the Curmudgeon is an idealist. He’s a fine pianist, and a superb teacher—kind, humorous, patient, and resourceful— Read More »

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Machine with an Esthetic Purpose

My friend Gerry Sussman, of MIT, called to ask if I’d anything to say on parallelism of art and engineering. (He was preparing a talk.) I did have a remark that I’d never shared with anyone. “A work of art,” said I, “is a machine with an esthetic purpose.” Gerry got a kick out of this, and used it in his talk, Read More »

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From a Summer Festival in New York

Tuesday, Week Two: on the fifth floor, I run into Mr. K., with whom I worked last week. He complains passionately and despairingly that he’s suddenly unable to play simple trills in Scarlatti’s “Pastorale” sonata (K.9, D minor); but adds that he can still play double trills! Read More »

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A Beginner Doesn’t Need…a Good Teacher

In ninth-grade English one day, we were going around the room reading aloud, and I suddenly realized that, with just two exceptions, every good reader in the class had gone to the elementary school I’d attended. More than that, we’d all had the same first-grade teacher. I was impressed that the difference she made was still obvious eight years later! Read More »

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Contemplating Anxiety

Sit quietly and ask yourself what it would be like if Read More »

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“The Quickening Art”

The self returned to the self, or should we say, the soul returned to the self? Dramatic and joyous view of beneficial effect of music, with comments by the great clinician/writer Oliver Sacks, M.D. Look what happens starting at 2:35.

All of Dr. Sacks’s books are marvels, with music and other significant sound showing up repeatedly. Perhaps of special interest to musicians is Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain.

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Musical Myths I was Taught

Classical music good, jazz Read More »

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Right Country….

I once had an 8-year-old student — a delightful boy, a real charmer — and at the first Read More »

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