Where does one begin? I began piano lessons officially in the fourth
grade. I had my first keyboard when I was about four or five. It was a
Yamaha and it featured the playcard system, an early precursor to the
keyboards with computer discs today. We also had a Commodore 64 (That's
an early family computer for those of you born after ~1982) and I would
use a program called Music Processor to play music on the computer. It
enabled me to record and playback what I played. Quite advanced for its
time. This was my first exposure. I played everything from Are You Sleeping
to Billy Joel and Paul McCartney. The playcard system allowed the user
to play the melody and it would do all of the rhythm automatically and
adjust the tempo to the speed of the user as well. Small lights above
each key would light up when it was time to play that note. By the time
I was old enough to start lessons with my teacher at school I was already
playing hymns from the expired books at church. This was an excellent
way to learn. Lessons were quite boring to me and I rarely practiced the
lesson assigned. Rather, I was playing the Beatles, or television theme
music. Mind you that this is all on an electric keyboard and not a piano.
Eventually our family acquired an organ and I learned on it, but it was
second rate and eventually it stopped working properly. Then one day my
mother found a friend who had a friend who was looking to get rid of a
piano. This was quite an exciting day! We drove about an hour to get this
Kimball Artist Console. This was when I started to get more serious.
I really liked the sound of the piano in general, and I began to check
out music CD's from the local library and heard for the first time the
music of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Liszt. First was the Chopin Polonaise,
you know the one, in A flat major, op. 53 played by none other thant the
great Martha Argerich. There were also some solo works by Ashkenazy on
this CD. I particularly recall the Polonaise in A major, op. 40, no. 1,
the Etudes, op. 25, no. 11 (Winter Wind), op. 10, no. 3 and op. 10, no.
12 (Revolutionary.) This was amazing! I didn't know that such music existed!
I then purchased my first book of classical music. It was called Classical
Music Showstoppers. It had the Chopin op. 10, no. 3 and the op. 40, no.
1 and op. 53 Polonaises. I immediately began to learn the A major Polonaise,
a common starting place for young pianists. My next book was all Chopin;
a well rounded selection of all of the master's great works. I began listening
to Rachmaninoff and Liszt and fell in love right away. Then one day it
happened! I was channel surfing and came across the very beginning of
a film called Vladimir Horowitz: A Reminiscence during a PBS pledge drive.
I noticed that it was about a pianist so I continuted to watch and I was
amazed. After the program, the concert Horowitz in Moscow was aired and
I was hooked. I couldn't believe it! This was the beginning of what has
become one of my most enjoyed pastimes. The study of Vladimir Horowitz
and music and in particular that of Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Chopin, and
most recently Medtner. That's the background. If you want to know more
This is me playing Vladimir Horowitz's
Piano in January 2002.
Click the image to read about my first experience playing this piano
Piano Concerts I've Attended
October 1, 1996
Beethoven: Piano Sonata, op. 81a, "Das
Schumann: "Carnaval" op.
Chopin: Etudes, op. 10
UW Whitewater Irvin L. Young Auditorium
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Uhilein Hall
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme of
Paganini, op. 43