An Interview With One of Today’s Top Pianists

For the parents who dream of their children becoming concert pianists. Read this inspiring post about the life and career of pianist Rami Bar-Niv.

This post was originally presented by Grand Stand.  The interviewer is Dee Nilsen.

What inspired you to play the piano?

 My piano-teacher mother started my elder brother on the piano. He lasted one day proclaiming that piano was for girls. I was next in line…

At what age did you start playing?

I was 5 YO.

What memories/stories do you have of piano lessons?

My mother used to put on the piano the only clock we had at home, told me to practice half an hour and closed the glass door. Every day I moved the clock ahead 5 minutes so I’d have to practice only 25 minutes (I didn’t want to make it too obvious…). Every evening at the 9 pm news my parents could not understand why the fine clock was wrong…

 

Do you have a favorite piece/style of music to play?

Anything from Bach to Gershwin. My favorite piece is the one I’m playing at the moment.

 

As an adult, why do you still enjoy playing the piano?

It’s my profession. I give concerts all over the world, I better enjoy it. But practicing is hard work.

 

Do you have a favorite experience that involves the piano?

Playing for Leonard Bernstein, performing for 5000 people in Mexico, performing for the American Ambassador in Israel at his home, performing for the president of El Salvador and his family, and many other similar cases.

 

If you teach piano, what has been your most memorable teaching experience?

Each one of my current piano camps for adult players of all levels leaves me with memorable teaching experience. It’s just the wonderful students, their love for the piano/music, their serious attitude, and their improvement. 

 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not playing the piano?

Composing music, helping out and mentoring students and colleagues, being with my family and grandkids, watching movies, and traveling. I also do sports, used to do karate, nowadays I do walking, swimming, and my own exercises.

 

What do you/or have you done for a living?

 

Giving concerts all over the world, composing music, teaching private students, giving master classes, running my own publishing and record company, running my own music management/agency, writing a piano-technique book, and running my piano camp for adults.

Where do you live?

I share my time between the USA and Israel.

You can learn more about Rami Bar-Niv by following the links below.

Scott Joplin

Happy February everyone. I wish you all a happy Valentine’s day and a wonderful Black History Month. In honor of African Americans, we will be putting up some information on some on some of the best and most influential African American musicians in the world. 

Today we’ll talk about a famous pianist and composer named Scott Joplin. Mr. Joplin gave his whole life to the music profession. He was born in Texas in the 1860s to a family of railroad workers. He gave up life as a railroad worker to follow a career as a traveling musician. Even though it was hard he kept at it. He never gave up playing and writing music even when no one saw how good he was. 

Continue reading

Robert and Clara Schumann

Robert and Clara Schumann

Romance in the Romantic Period

Robert Schumann is considered a first rate composer. In addition to piano music he wrote music for; chamber ensemble, symphony orchestra, choral music, many songs for piano and voice and even an opera. Schumann’s “Album for the Young” contains some of the most beautifully written music for young pianists! All of my early intermediate level students learn selections from this great work. Schumann’s inspiration for the for the pieces in his “Album for the Young” came from watching his own 8 children play and grow. Since this work is such a treasure for both piano students and piano teachers I thought it would be interesting to learn about Robert Schumann and his very musical wife Clara Wieck Schumann. Continue reading

Bach Dynasty

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The Bach Family

If you ave ever studied the piano for any length of time, chances are you’ve played music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. Bach was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Germany smack-dab in the middle of a supremely musical family! In fact, the Bach family boasts over 50 known musicians and several notable composers. There were so many musical Bachs that in the town of Efurt, all musicians were called “Bachs” (which I guess would make me a “Bach” too). Continue reading

Mozart’s Sister

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Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart

Most of us have heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1795) child prodigy, master performer and composer of over 600 works. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is considered by many to be the greatest musical genius that has ever lived! But there was at least one other musical genius in the Mozart family. Her name was Maria Anna Walburger Ignatia Mozart but she was know by her nick-name Nannerl.

Nannerl Mozart was Wolfgang’s older sister. Many music historians believe that Nannerl was every bit as talented as her younger brother. As children they toured Europe their father Leopold amazing audiences with their talent. Leopold described Nannerl as: “one of the most skillful players in Europe”. Nannerl and Wolfgang both studied music with their father and spent their childhood immersed in music. So what happened to Nannerl?

Maria Anna Walburger Ignatia Mozart (Nannerl) was born on July 30, 1751 in Salzburg Austria. She and her brother Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart were the only two surviving children of the seven children born to their parents Anna Maria and Leopold. Nannerl began harpsichord lessons with her father around the age of eight years old. We know that both Wolfgang and Nannerl were extremely gifted players people called them “wunderkinder” which means “wonder children.

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In addition to being a brilliant musical genius we can surmise that Nannerl was a hard working and very strong person. She practiced hard and maintained a demanding concert schedule traveling from Paris to Vienna. That might not seem like much today but back in the 1700’s transportation meant riding in horse and carriage, a slow and uncomfortable way to go. As a child Nannerl also survived smallpox, typhus, and almost died of bronchitis.

Nannerl continued performing until the age of 18 when she was left behind and no longer allowed to continue with her musical performances. At that time it was considered acceptable for female children to play in public, but public performance was considered a distasteful endeavor for grown women. Composing music was also a taboo for women at that time. So Nannerl’s musical career was ended before it had a chance to really begin.

We know from letters and writings that Nannerl and Wolfgang were very close. We also know that she did write at least one song. In al letter the younger Mozart wrote, “I am amazed, I had no idea you were capable of composing in such a gracious way! In a word your lied is beautiful. I beg you to try to do these things more often.”

Nannerl’s father Leopold was very controlling. Wolfgang stood up to him but Nannerl did not. She fell in love with Franz D’lppold, a captain and private tutor but her father did not allow her to marry him. She later married a magistrate named Johann Baptist Franz von Berentold zu Sonnenberg who had 5 children from his two previous marriages. Together Nannerl and Johann had 3 children. Nannerl named her eldest son after her father. She allowed her father to take him and raise him for the early years of his life. This continued until the older Leopold’s death in 1787. Some people think that the grandfather Leopold may have been trying to turn his grandson into the next great Mozart genius.

In addition to all of her other troubles Nannerl lost her beloved brother Wolfgang in 1791 when he was only 35 years old. I can only imagine that this was a devastating loss for her. She spent her later years teaching music lessons and eventually became blind. She died on October 24, 1829.

No one knows what became of the lied Wolfgang spoke of in his quote,or if Nannerl wrote any other music. Some people like to imagine that she may have written music and that her famous brother presented it as his own but there is no evidence to support this theory.

Things have certainly come along way since Nannerl’s day. In most places women today have many choices about what they would like to do. We can only imagine how much more beautiful Mozart music the world would have if Nannerl would have had the opportunity to become a composer like her brother.

10 Wacky Facts About the Worlds Most famous Piano Players

From time to time we have gotten  an awesome guest post from Ms. Neuman and the folks  at TakeLessons.com. on our sister site palomapiano.com. This is the first guest post for PianoParents.net and we are all so excited!

TakeLessons.com matches students with teachers. They have an extensive list of qualified teachers that teach just about any subject you can imagine. Do you want to learn Chinese? Does you child need help with math? Would you like to learn to knit? Check out TakeLessons.com. You’ll find a great teacher right in your area or online!

If you are by chance looking for a piano teacher why not log on to TakeLessons.com you’ll find some really great teachers there. Including me!

Without further ado here’s the infographic;

10 Wacky Facts About the World’s Most Famous Piano Players

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Mysteries of Music History/ The Story of Fur Elise

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I can think of no better way to begin the PianoParents.net blog than writing about the number one, most popular piano piece of all time. The very reason many people  dream of putting their fingers on the keys in the first place. This darling of piano students all over the world receives millions of downloads and internet searches every year. Decade after decade Beethoven’s  ‘Fur Elise ‘ stands as the undisputed champion of the piano classics countdown. And that’s no small feat as there are literally millions of pieces in the piano repertoire.  ‘Fur Elise’s ‘ music delights the ears and captures the imagination of just about everyone who hears it, but did you know that there’s a great mystery behind this piece of music? A story that’s bound to make you love this little gem of Beethoven’s even more. Continue reading