Homage to András Schiff

Though it is extremely unlikely, Mr Schiff, that you will ever find your way to this obscure Norwegian blog spot, I address whoever may be reading it in English, as what I am writing is intended for you.

Or rather, not only for you; also for some of the people you hoped to reach when you allowed the Guardian to post links to recordings of each and every one of your eight remarkable piano recitals of and about Beethoven’s sonatas, at Wigmore Hall – I believe it was in 2006 [sic]. I am also addressing some of the people who (in 2012) insist on preventing us from enjoying your work and that of others.

In the course of the past week (in 2012), after I had discovered the Guardian’s link from 2006, I learnt that none of the people I told about your recitals at Wigmore Hall, had ever heard about them.

Not to beat about the bush, I hasten to insert the link to your recitals here:

Guardian and Andrass Schiff recitals

I find that though I have listened to “classical music” since I was born, I learnt and am still learning a great deal from your recitals; not only about Beethoven, but about music in general. And that was, perhaps, why you sacrificed your copyright interests; for as you say in your very first lecture, “music education is not what it should be”.

There is a chasm between “classical” and “popular” music, notwithstanding the fact that even “classical” music was once popular. Moreover, just as Beethoven could not help learning from Hayden – and personally, I do understand his reluctance to admit the fact – popular music owes most of its bag of tricks to classical music. The chasm is, in my mind, based on the wide-spread misunderstanding that “classical” music is esoteric, something that requires special skills.

You say that music should be played, not talked about, but frankly, I think you have proved the very opposite: interpretation of what is construed as esoteric, also requires words. And your words are just perfect!

I carry very little influence, I’m afraid. Or rather, I don’t normally care what influence I carry. Only when I see a good thing that should be made known to many, do I deeply regret that I do not have a bevy of acolytes.

Apart from a sincere desire to express my gratitude to you for the delicious hours I have spent listening to your Beethoven recitals, I have another agenda:

When I had listened to what you played, and your quiet explanations of why you played what you played the way you played it, I was convinced that there was overwhelmingly good reason for playing the way you did. I turned to an Internet store to buy four records played by you. Had I not heard your recitals, I would never have known more of you than that you are one of a large number of star pianists.

I repeat:

– I heard your exposés and was grateful because you gave them to me.
– I heard your exposés and was convinced that your interpretation of Beethoven sonatas was well-founded, to say no more.
– I heard your exposés and felt they awakened in me an interest to hear more Beethoven.

I now turn to producers of music and film, and IFPI who have much – very much – to learn about me and from you.

[“IFPI – International Federation of the Phonographic Industry – represents the recording industry worldwide with some 1400 members in 66 countries and affiliated industry associations in 45 countries.”]

  • I am a discerning customer.
  • I will not accept unquestioningly whatever you put on my plate.
  • I have no time to wait until a film or record is on sale where I live: I want it online when I am ready for it.
  • I don’t buy blindly: I want information about the film/record I download.
  • Unless you cater to what I want, I will buy nothing from you.

I admit that I do not represent a majority of your customers or potential customers. I put it to you, however, that people like me make up quite a large group, and unless you are absolutely certain that you will top every popularity list, you should consider our requirements.

As a result of IFPI’s absurd and counter-productive demands to the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK), I and many others no longer have the chance to hear about records we might want to buy and films we might want to see. For instance, the likelihood of our hearing András Schiff is virtually nil. So chances are that sales of his records will be paltry in Norway. That is, of course, unfortunate for those who miss something they never even knew existed. It is also unfortunate for András Schiff and for the company that issues or publishes his work.

Fortunately for me, I read the Guardian, which was where I found the delicious link that has generated such a flurry on my part. Unfortunately for András Schiff, most Norwegians do not read the Guardian and are victims of IFPI, meaning they will hear no presentation of his or anybody else’s music (or films).