Monthly Archives: July 2014

Get a grip!

I learned in school that “grip” involved fingers and (opposable) thumb; never thought about how one finger by itself has a kind of grip on a key—until 21 years ago, when I lost some sensation in my right hand. This makes me work harder; in big lateral shifts, I use

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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 […]

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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.

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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—

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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 […]

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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!

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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 […]

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