Meet the Great Pianists: Vladimir Horowitz

The Russian-born pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1903-1989) is a true legend, and his name is still synonymous with the consummate piano virtuoso.  He electrified his audiences with his stupendous technique and his remarkable ability to draw out the tonal color of the piano.  He was also a nervous performer, and withdrew from the stage on numerous occasions.  Some of his many recorded performances are indeed messy, but at his best, he is a virtuoso without peer.  He enjoyed a twilight performing career in his eighties, when his playing was noted more for color, charm, and finesse than for the incredible bravura of his younger years.  His emotional intensity, technical ease, and sense of pianistic color, as well as his sheer delight in performing are all apparent in this performance of this Scriabin étude–one of his signature pieces.

Meet the Great Pianists: Martha Argerich

The legendary Argentine pianist Martha Argerich recently celebrated her 75th birthday.  A phenomenal natural talent, she won two major international competitions at age 16, then returned at age 24 in 1965 as the gold-medal winner of the Chopin International Competition in Warsaw.  Since then, she has never been off the international stage, thrilling audiences with her bravura technique and intuitive musicality as a solo and chamber musician.  Enjoy the young Martha Argerich giving a limpid performance of Ravel’s “Jeux d’Eau” or “Fountains”.

Why learn to play a musical instrument?

Is there a reason to take the years of time and effort to learn to play a musical instrument, other than the pure pleasure of enjoying music?  If you care about brain development, there definitely is!

Making music is a remarkable “whole-brain” activity that incorporates fine muscle control with visual and auditory processing, as well as analytical thinking and emotional involvement.  And if you perform, the stakes are even higher, with  memory, concentration under pressure, and communication with the audience all being important factors.

Watch the fun video below and see what happens to your brain on music!