This blog celebrates its tenth birthday today! As many would imagine, keeping a blog alive and well for ten years takes much time, effort, and a large amount of writing. And I’m sure there are still many piano topics I have yet to cover. When this website took shape back in 2012, I had no idea what blogging would entail, and would never have believed that I’d still be posting here so many years later.
Blogs can be a useful marketing tool, particularly if you are a writer and musician, and I am perpetually grateful for the numerous opportunities that this site has afforded. It really has allowed me to develop my work as an author because it has introduced my writing to leading publishers, and it has also been a useful aid for my teaching and workshops, too.
As part of my celebrations today, I would like to revisit an interview series that was launched not long after this blog’s inception: The Classical Conversations Series. In this series, I interviewed, on camera, over 40 eminent Classical concert pianists and teachers over a period of two years. Each interview was published on my YouTube channel as well as here on the blog. I thoroughly enjoyed filming, editing and curating this series; it was done at a time when I had little work because I had just recovered from an illness, and it proffered many a life’s lesson.
I have chosen a selection of my favourite interviews for you to enjoy, and have linked them all below. Each interview evokes different memories for me, and it’s been fun reflecting on this project, which now feels like a lifetime ago.
Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa, was my first interviewee; this interview was undertaken on a very cold wet afternoon in Cardiff (Wales, UK), before she was due to give a live BBC Radio 3 broadcast with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. I have met with Valentina and her husband, Alexei, on many occasions since this interview, and it has been exciting watching her career flourish from a ‘YouTube Sensation’ to an international star:
I interviewed French-Cypriot pianist Cyprien Katsaris at the French Institute in London after he had given a recital at the It’s All About Piano Festival held in 2013; as I recall, the interview took so much time that I nearly missed the last train home! However, I think it captures his charismatic personality very well:
Russian pianist Andrei Gavrilov’s interview was another memorable one for me. It took place in 2014 at the beautiful concert hall at Monkton Coombs School in Bath (UK) after he had given a fascinating master class and performance. In my opinion, his sometimes unorthodox views and interesting persona are displayed effectively here:
Paul Lewis was one pianist that I was very keen to interview, having always been an admirer of his playing. He lived in Chesham (Buckinghamshire, UK) at the time and so did I; I had seen him around the town but had never met him. One morning, I was shopping at my local supermarket and I noticed that he was picking up food in the next aisle. I was delighted that he accepted my invitation to be interviewed, despite the fact that I was dressed in my gym gear!
Our chat was undertaken in his music room in the garden of his home, and, as with so many of my interviewees, his musings off camera were even more interesting than the interview itself.
Celebrated pianists Angela Hewitt, Boris Giltberg, and Federico Colli were all interviewed at Jacques Samuel Pianos in London (a huge thank you to Managing Director Terry Lewis for his wonderful help with this series). All three pianists provided wonderful insights into their practice regimes and favourite repertoire:
Stephen Kovacevich’s interview was significant for two reasons: firstly, it was the last that I did, and, secondly, because he offered so much compelling information about his life as a world renowned pianist and, particularly, about his issue with nerves. This interview was undertaken in his piano room at his apartment in London:
Thank YOU for supporting and reading my blog posts over the last decade, and here’s to the next!
For much more information about how to practice piano repertoire, take a look at my piano course, Play it again: PIANO (published by Schott Music). Covering a huge array of styles and genres, the course features a large collection of progressive, graded piano repertoire from approximately Grade 1 to advanced diploma level, with copious practice tips for every piece. A convenient and beneficial course for students of any age, with or without a teacher, and it can also be used alongside piano examination syllabuses too.
You can find out more about my other piano publications and compositions here.