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Pianos and Pianists - Consultant Editor Ates Orga

The Pianist Speaks:

(1902 - 88)

We so often hear it said there's only one way to play a passage or piece, though there may be many wrong ways. I often feel like reversing this dictum by saying there are several right ways and only one wrong way. That is to say, if the way you are doing has nothing in common with any of the right ways, it surely must be wrong. On the other hand, if there were but one right way, how monotonous! Where would there be a place for individuality? Ask four or five great pianists to play the same work and will not each one render it a little differently from all the others? Each will express himself; he cannot help doing so if he is truly sincere.

We hear, too, much about tradition in piano playing. What is tradition, anyway? How have these laws become crystallized around the music of Bach, of Beethoven, of Chopin - that these composers must be played in just a certain way? Who says they must be?

To be sure, we feel the music of Haydn and Mozart expresses beauty for its own sake - simple beauty and charm. So tradition says it must be played with simplicity. Well and good. But one man's idea of simplicity may not be that of other men. And so we can have much diversity, within bounds, as it were. It is the same with Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and the moderns. Even if critics do prate of tradition, we must still be able to express our individuality - within reason. Otherwise piano-playing would descend to the level of hidebound so-called tradition.

- from an interview with Harriette Brower, Modern Masters of the Keyboard, New York 1926. Solomon, 'the wonderful boy pianist' from Spitalfields in London's East End, was then in his early twenties, having just made his New York Town Hall American debut to sensational notices.

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