The Daily Beethoven: 5/4 Why Einstein Didn’t Like Beethoven (Except the Missa Solemnis)

After his colleagues updated the music system they had given him five years earlier, Einstein began repeatedly to play an RCA recording of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. It was an unusual choice for two reasons. He tended to regard Beethoven, who was not his favorite composer, as “too personal, almost naked.” Also, his religious instincts did not usually include these sorts of trappings. “I am a deeply religious nonbeliever,” he noted to a friend who had sent him birthday greetings. “This is a somewhat new kind of religion.”- From Walter Isaacson’s Einstein: His Life and Universe (Simon and Schuster, 2007)

Source: The Daily Beethoven: 5/4 Why Einstein Didn’t Like Beethoven (Except the Missa Solemnis)

Giant Steps — The Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch – NYTimes.com

Hersch, among the most sensitive of jazz pianists, is acutely sensitive to the proposition that his sensitivity makes his music “gay.” I took up the subject on a walk with him along the gravel path behind his country house. We heard hummingbirds in the beech trees and got to talking about nature and the conception of beauty as a value in gay culture. “I wouldn’t quite say that’s bull, but it’s a very dangerous idea,” Hersch said, slowing his gait. “The compliment I get the most often is, ‘My, you sounded really beautiful.’ I used to think, I want them to say something else, because I felt like that was a kind of, Oh, yeah, you’re gay — so of course you play lyrically and you’re one of the great ballad players. Of course. But now I just don’t care at all what people think. I think music should be beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with beauty. I’m attracted to beauty and lyricism, but I don’t play the way I do because I’m gay. I play the way I do because I’m Fred.”

David Hajdu, in Giant Steps — The Jazz Pianist Fred Hersch – NYTimes.com.

On practice

As with all learning, avoid errors, practice very slowly. You only get to move quickly through any passage by learning to move very slowly, very accurately. NEVER try to increase your speed except in very small increments as you master their performance at the slower speed. NEVER. It’s a total waste of time; worse, you’ll just make many difficult-to-correct errors whenever you do that. Everyone has the tendency to try to move faster, and this must be rigorously resisted in the interests of speedy and smoothly learning. Only seasoned musicians come to develop that control as a routine aspect of their practicing, and you have no idea how rapidly you can progress if you try to inculcate this maxim from the very outset. — David Sudnow

Forbidden to listen to the radio — his mother believed that if you wanted to hear music you should play it — Mr. Brubeck and his two brothers all played various instruments and knew classical études, spirituals and cowboy songs. Dave learned most of this music by ear: because he was born cross-eyed, sight-reading was nearly impossible for him through his early development as a musician.

Dave Brubeck, Jazz Musician, Dies at 91 – NYTimes.com

Forbidden to listen to the radio — his mother believed that if you wanted to hear music you should play it — Mr. Brubeck and his two brothers all played various instruments and knew classical études, spirituals and cowboy songs. Dave learned most of this music by ear: because he was born cross-eyed, sight-reading was nearly impossible for him through his early development as a musician.

Dave Brubeck, Jazz Musician, Dies at 91 – NYTimes.com

Assuming that the thoughtful student will agree that technique is paramount to the beginner, there is but one more condition to be accepted; the cultivation of a deliberate and tranquil approach toward practice. I cannot overly emphasize that a headlong anxiety to play “pieces” will not be productive; it is harmful from every aspect of good technical development. Only thoughtful, regular, and, yes, joyful daily practice will enable the student to develop mind, muscles, and spirit into a concord of execution and expression.

Aaron Shearer, Classic Guitar Technique, Volume 1

Assuming that the thoughtful student will agree that technique is paramount to the beginner, there is but one more condition to be accepted; the cultivation of a deliberate and tranquil approach toward practice. I cannot overly emphasize that a headlong anxiety to play “pieces” will not be productive; it is harmful from every aspect of good technical development. Only thoughtful, regular, and, yes, joyful daily practice will enable the student to develop mind, muscles, and spirit into a concord of execution and expression.

Aaron Shearer, Classic Guitar Technique, Volume 1