Bach, My Piano, and Me

What is something about yourself that is essential to understanding you?


I hate playing baroque music. The urgency, the false sense of drama imbued in unnecessary ornamentation, the singular melodic idea, the abrupt changes from loud to soft...none of the characteristics of baroque music appeal to me. I find myself incapable of drumming up enough motivation or emotion to pour my soul into the piano while tapping out a much-despised Bach Invention. Displaying purely technical skill? Sterile and boring. Much more appealing are the warm, personal melodies of Romantic music that allow for interpretative freedom and colorful storytelling. My piano and I melt into a single entity when I play Chopin; my breathing aligns with the phrasing and dynamics of the lyric melody, and the formerly cold, lifeless keys become indistinguishable from my decidedly alive fingertips. In Chopin, I find myself narrating stories through the notes, while in Bach, I am simply playing the piano. Where baroque is rote, restrictive, and robotic, Romantic music is alive—brimming with enough raw emotion to make my breath catch, as I’m immersed in a whirlwind of music. The single defining trait that attracts me to Romantic music is its flexibility; Romantic music allows me to tell my own story through the music, rather than trapping...

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