by Ernst Bacon
Commonplaces entries 'On the piano' . . .
"The realest playing is often pure illusion. This is shown by the player who, when contending with a defective or untuned instrument. succeeds nevertheless in imagining ideal sounds and transporting his hearers out of all awareness of the piano's blemishes. He compels them to hear imaginarily along with himself. This beautiful art is, of course, lost in the recording." (p 151)
"As in climbing high mountains, the progress one makes toward the final summits of mastery are often so slow as to be imperceptible. The difference between being there and being almost there is something only the Alpinist fully understands." (p 153)
"Why shall we not say "great," and speak of "genius"? We know what is meant, though we fail in definition. The tribute we deny our living Olympians, we lavish then on plastic and synthetic gods, rich in things, not to emulate, but only to envy. It takes courage today to salute greatness." (p 155)
Entitled simply Notes on the Piano, Ernst Bacon has written a book that ranges widely about all aspects of creative life. As Paul Horgan said, "What he says about aspects of music can apply as strongly to other arts, even to the art of living and feeling as a truly civilized man." An accomplished composer, pianist, writer, and teacher, he presents an easy and entertaining guide for players at all levels of expertise. The book offers valuable tips on working, listening, and playing habits in five sections that cover "The Performer," "The Learner," "The Player and Writer," "The Observer," and "Technically Speaking."
This is as much an essay on the nature of humanism as it is about the piano.
Notes on the Piano by Ernst Bacon. University of Washington Press, 1973 (1963)