I was teaching Beethoven’s mammoth ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata today–that last movement fugue is incredibly difficult–pianistically challenging to say the least. My student, who has also brough Medtner’s g minor Sonata and Copland’s Piano Variations, was sharing how Egon Petri and Ernst Levy played the ‘Hammerklavier’–names we almost never hear unfortunately–and when Beethoven heard a 13-year old Franz Liszt–can you imagine the young Liszt being presented to Beethoven? Perhaps Beethoven was my age when he heard Liszt. He asked Liszt to play a Bach fugue–and then transpose it! The great pianists since Beethoven, many of them played the ‘Hammerklavier’–I asked my student why so many don’t today–he said, ‘It’s too hard!’ Well, it also seems hard to see major record labels lay-off top-tier administrators who have dedicated their lives to the industry–and it’s all going digital download–yes, the world is evolving into a new industrial revolution in technology, and we have to adapt to the changes. But we must always remember the great artists and the vast repertoire they performed in recitals–we must keep recitals alive, otherwise, the repertoire will shrink enormously–yet, who can pen a work such as the ‘Grosse Fugue’ or ‘Hammerklavier’ sonata? It always amazes me to think about what it must have been like to be around amongst these giants of composition.

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