RUSSELL SHERMAN on MUSIC
(excerpts from his book entitled "Piano Pieces"*)

If you have a passion for music and the English language, "Piano Pieces" is a book for you. It is a unique autobiographical accounting of Russell Sherman's life in music, his own "transcental etudes" if you will - filtered through the prism of his superb artistic sensibilities.

The thoughts and experiences of a lifetime in this most transitory of arts (because it exists in time and space only at the moment one hears it) are distilled in insights, anecdotes and aphorisms that are both delightful and deep. The book is at once cerebral (with numerous, comfortable allusions to literary, historical, and scientific figures and ideas) and down to earth. And it proves without a doubt that next to his wife of thirty-some years, pianist and teacher Wha Kyung Byun ("Without her I would not be."), music is his greatest passion.

Below, a sampling of his wit and wisdom... read on and be seduced as we were by his prose. - ©GC/FanFaire

On PLAYING the PIANO/BEING A PIANIST:

"To play the piano is to consort with nature. Every molecule, galaxy, vapor, or viper, as well the sweet incense of love's distraction, is within the hands and grasp of the pianist. The result may be a mess or a blessing...."


"To master the piano is to master the universe. The spectrum of piano sound acts as a prism through which all musical and non-musical sounds may be filtered. The grunts of sheep, the braying of mules, the popping of champagne corks, the sighs of unrequited love...."

"To succeed as a pianist, one's intelligence quotient should reside on either of two distinct levels: an I.Q. of below 110 or above 140. The lively curiosity which distinguishes those who are in between will militate against the focused tenacity required to play the piano and to master its physical and structural labyrinths. It is like looking at Mars through a telescope for six hours each day while tracing the Byzantine network of its grooves and clusters, lines and patterns. One has to be a little inhuman or insane, stupid or brilliant."
 

(CLICK HERE for some Shermanesque ruminations on the HAND.)


On MUSIC in general
:

"Music is the art to which all other arts aspire."

"Music is an illusion designed to embellish and deceive coarse reality."

"The charm of music resides in its indiscriminate appeal to all the senses. A performance which has taste, vision, and a beautiful sound fashioned by the appropriate touch will be savored by the discriminating audience."

"Music is but one of the arts, but it lives in all of them. Music is directed toward the ear but appeals individually to all the senses and their mental counterparts."

"Music is a cake which grows as you eat it, which has seven layers and seven more for each layer."

"Music dispels the fear of mortality and the need for rigid and permanent identities. Music rejects the nine-to-five schedule, the hunger for cash, the encroachments and limits of crass appetitite."

"Music is a science for survival in the face of uncertain times and cosmic indifference."

"Music turns the mundane moment into a bower of infinite pleasure and redemptive understanding, assembling its flowing moments into orbits of mortality and complex time."

"Music is a revolt against Time - time as the chronicle of equal moments and of mortal spans."

"Music, both as composition and performance, is a dissertation on the meanings of time and the timeliness of meanings. The timings and meanings of a work change from moment to moment, while the internal and external variables are in such dynamic play as to prevent the same performance from happening twice."

"Music aims for transcendence, for the gathering of rosebuds and the rendezvous with eternity."



*"Piano Pieces" - by Russell Sherman, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (NY) 1996, 244pp.
Photo: courtesy - ML Falcone





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