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Ruminations about why some virtuoso pianists book on the continent, leaving the US behind

I couldn’t help but obsess over why Grigory Sokolov, for example has no foreseeable concert appearances in the US. Surely I would have flown to NYC, perhaps for a LIVE main course plus a dessert of encores at Carnegie.

Horowitz said on camera, circa, 1987, that the 57th Street Hall of musical fame was NOT satisfactory.

“Too much resonance,” he proclaimed.

carnegie-hall-address two

It reminded me of the opposite as it applied to Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall when it was first built. Sounded like the soloists were muted in a box within a box. All those steely, over-hanging structures created a paradoxical effect.

But that’s not why Sokolov, and a few others of pianistic distinction shy away from the Big Apple’s dome of musical tradition, along with the 66th Street complex. (The latter houses the Met, Juilliard among other INSTITUTIONS)

I asked myself what kind of social networking is required for distinguished pianists to make it these days anywhere in the HOMELAND?

It couldn’t be a casting couch environment.

From having sampled the private confessions of a few big talents whom I respect, I discern that one has to do more than practice religiously and bedazzle musically, to draw a sizable audience in the cultural mecca of New York City–emanating out.

I don’t want to stoop to mention names of those who’ve acquired “careers” without necessarily coming near the musical caliber of others more deserving, but I can only come to the following conclusions:

1) In the US, pop star status helps..(add in good looks, flamboyance, and a glittery, MEDIA-driven persona)

2) Making a couple of behind the scenes movie appearances (that is, getting a booking to play the Classical music that drapes a swooning Liszt, in a Hollywood production, might be a springboard to a bigger limelight) But who knows?

3) Having a relative (parent, spouse) who has an established career is a valuable head start enjoyed by the lucky few who come with the pedigree. (I knew a very gifted pianist at the NYC High School of Performing Arts who married a Korean actress which lifted his off shore profile. He won’t jet to Manhattan anytime soon)

Competition wins NO LONGER guarantee the long, substantial exposure that brings bookings in the glaring cosmopolitan spotlight. Many super-technically proficient/athletic pianists fizzle out along with those who preceded them.

So what’s the best answer to my questions? I welcome closet responses from those who are braving a rocky terrain in the Apple and elsewhere–the very gifted pianists who fly off to Italy, Spain, and elsewhere to acquire the recognition they deserve.

Certainly, now that the mp3 and You Tube revolution are in full bloom, attendance at LIVE recitals may be dwindling. But where these same ONLINE exposures spawn flesh and blood audiences in Europe and Asia, the homeland is left behind.

That may be why Sokolov is content to stay away from a futile rat race here. He prefers to nest on the continent.

What’s the answer?

(P.S. I don’t believe, IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!)


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